Time In Charge: 14 and a half years
Highest League Finish: 7th In Premier League
Honours: League 1 Runners-Up (16/17), Championship Runners-Up (18/19), Championship Champions (20/21)
Predicted Finish: 1st
FM16 Save: Here
PES20 Team: Here
I was absolutely over the moon when I had the idea for this league and found a copy of my Donny save file in a 2016 email to myself, which is how I used to back up files. Even though it wasn’t by any means a successful save, this sticks in my mind as one of the most enjoyable saves I’ve ever played. I grew up not far away and at the time of playing this game I’d just moved back up North from London and was living in Doncaster. I went to the occasional match too, so even though I know all too well that Doncaster is a shit hole, I have a real soft spot for Rovers.
TLDR: From League 1 to the Premier League in 4 years, then relegation and a player exodus followed by a rebuild and instant promotion. 7th place finish, then mid-table mediocrity ever since.
Forgive me if I’ve forgotten absolutely all of the details because this is a 15 year save I played 4 years ago, but the first 4 years after I took over Donny in 2015/16 were fairly run of the mill for a football manager save: Midtable in League 1, 2nd in League 1, midtable in Championship, 2nd in Championship. Our 5th year was our first in the Premier League and this is where this save got going for me, because we got a.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y b.a.t.t.e.r.e.d. Seriously, I think it’s the worst that any team of mine has ever done in any league. Essentially we got up to the Prem unexpectedly quickly and did not have a squad or a financial structure capable of competing. From the start of the season til January, we won 1 game, drew 5 and lost 13. In desperation I threw all of my wage bill at 6 month contracts for big name free agents Andy Carroll, Kyle Walker, Matthew Targett, Wayne Rooney and Gary Cahill, but our improvement wasn’t enough. We went down on 27 points, rock bottom of the Premier League.
Luckily I kept my job thanks to the good will I’d accrued from my recent promotions, so I survived the chop, only to have a mass player exodus on my hands. 20 players packed their bags and left us to an inevitable decline back down the league pyramid. BUT with the Premier League riches and fees from selling all of those players still dribbling into our bank account, we rebuilt. An army of new, better players were brought in, including personal favourites Angelino, who went on to be our starting left back for 9 years, Demarai Gray, who had 8 years with us, Patrick Roberts, who’s still with us 10 years later, and Diafra Sakho, whose 28 goals in 40 games the following season blasted us back to the top division.
We’ve stayed there ever since but we never did become a wealthy club or even a club capable of competing for Europe. We finished 7th in our first year back in the Premier League, but then normalised into mid-table mediocrity. With state of the art youth facilities now pumping out really good talent though, I don’t think that would have stayed the case for much longer had I kept playing. Despite their flaws, I love this group of players.
No 1 – Flemming Borup – Goalkeeper
Flemming’s not a modern sort of keeper, but as good old fashioned shot-stoppers go, he’s an exceptional talent and wouldn’t look out of place at a top club. My Doncaster team (you’ll be shocked to hear this I’m sure, after my first 3 club intros) play open, attacking football though, which doesn’t exactly help Borup’s stats. He’s conceded a whopping 173 goals in 101 appearances since his £12M move from Hoffenheim in 2027. I and my tactics will take the blame for that though, he’s a really good keeper.
No 2 – Esteban Devos – Right Back
As I said, I’ve forgotten a lot of the details from this save, but Esteban’s got a bit of a weird history. We loaned him from Bordeaux for that season back in the Championship in 20/21 and he was fantastic, notching 12 assists and averaging over a 7.5 rating. We couldn’t bring him back immediately once we got promoted, but he stayed on my mind and I brought him in for £13M in 2022. He had 5 really good years with us, but then was snapped up by Chelsea for £1M, I assume as he was running his contract down and I was resigned to losing him. Luckily, he warmed their bench for a year and came back, tail between legs, for £1.5M in 2027. He’s a solid and experienced full back, a fan favourite and I’ve obviously forgotten any differences we might have once had.
No 5 – Mourad Ben Youssef – Centre Back
Mourad’s the very definition of what FM once called a “Limited Defender”. He can tackle, mark and head the ball, position himself well and can get around the pitch thanks to his great athleticism. Nothing fancy required. I signed him from Tunisian side ES Sahel for £450k in 2024 and he’s been a staple of my back line ever since.
No 4 – Amadou Diallo – Centre Back
Diallo’s a new signing for Donny and it goes to show what a state our finances still are that he was my “big money” signing of 2030, signed for £18M from Southampton, which seems to have financially crippled us even further. He seems worth the investment though, with solid attributes across the board and infinite potential for growth. He’s also a bit more silky on the ball than Ben Youssef, which is bound to help.
No 3 – Santiago Salinas – Left Back
If you think Diallo’s transfer fee was impressive though, wait til you hear about Santiago’s gargantuan £24M move from Benfica in 2027. Salinas is one of the many players that really stuck with me from this save, no doubt thanks to his outstanding mental attributes. He’s a really polished all-rounder and he’s Doncaster Rovers’ captain.
No 7 – Mitch North – Right Mid
Mitch is 1 of 2 academy graduates in our starting lineup. At 20 years old he’s already been in my first team for 3 years and is really starting to shape up as a Premier League footballer. He’s quick, full of tricks and can take a man on or swing in a cross, as evidenced by his 22 assists in 77 appearances for the club so far.
No 8 – Pat Reid – Deep Playmaker
Maybe it’s rose-tinted glasses, but I remember Pat being genuinely one of the best 16 year olds I’ve ever seen on an FM save. To be honest though, I think I must’ve stunted his development a bit with some unhelpful loan moves. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still an excellent player and well worth the £500K I paid to prise him away from Derry City in 2021, but maybe he could’ve been better. As it stands, he’s still one of our best.
No 12 – Rodney Kongolo – Ball Winning Mid
Rodney, a DR Congo international, is a new signing at the Keepmoat. I really liked to have an experienced defensive marshal in my midfield in this save and Daniel Amartey was released in the Summer aged 35, so in came Kongolo. He looks good so far and is putting in some great performances for us. He complements Pat well too. Together they give us a good mixture of silk and steel.
No 17 – Patrick Roberts – Left Mid
It’s probably fair to say that at 32, Patrick’s best years are behind him, but what a servant he’s been for the club. Since signing on a free from Manchester City in 2020, he’s scored 52 goals and set up 71 more in 324 appearances. He is, as far as I’m aware, the only player in any of these 6 teams to achieve legend status at their club.
No 9 – Roar Nyhus – Striker
After 4 years of personal experience and growth, I still don’t know how to pronounce Roar’s surname. Nigh-Us? Nigh-Oos? Nee-Oos? Who cares though to be honest, because his name is ROAR. Signed from Norwegian side Jerv for a staggering £4k in 2024, Roar’s gone on to score 47 goals in 120 appearances. He’s quick, he knows where the goal is and he’s the 2nd biggest reason I was excited to find this save again.
No 10 – Dylan Brennan – Striker
And here’s the 1st biggest reason. I’ve been playing Football Manager/Championship Manager since I got the CM00/01 demo CD in a box of frosties and there has only been 1 player over these 20 years who’s moved me to buy a real life club shirt with their name and number on it. Here he is. Dylan came up through our academy as a young Irishman and has scored 46 goals in 126 appearances, leading to a change of heart and a first cap and goal for England a few months ago. It was against Northern Ireland though, so I’m assuming that that must have felt pretty good. He’s progressing like a monster and I’m tempted to revive this old save just to see how good I can get him to be. I’m incredibly happy that I finally get to show him off.
I think what sets this Doncaster side out from the rest and one of the reasons they’re predicted 1st in the League is because they have quite a bit of strength in depth. A lot of the players on their bench are young academy graduates, but the likes of seasoned centre back Filippo Romagna, seasoned playmaker Mikael Mansson (A club icon who deserves a special shout out for his 10 years of excellent service: 339 appearances since an £88k move from Hammarby), exciting playmaker Borja Lizárraga and experienced striker Albian Ajeti give them some fantastic options off the bench.
Would you like to take a guess as to our tactical style? That’s right! We play open, attacking football. We do play a 4-4-2 though, which is something a bit different. It’s probably one of the main reasons I haven’t won anything in this save to be fair as looking back on it, this group of players aren’t really good enough to have a 2 man central midfield and also to leave themselves wide open by playing expansive football, especially not in the Premier League. What an idiot I was back in 2016, eh? Thank God I’m now probably maybe marginally better at this fucking game.