Freddie Ladapo to Champions of Europe: my ultimate Football Manager success

My Football Manager addiction sees me playing the game on all formats: from the standard PC game, to the Touch version on my tablet (which was, frankly, a bit shit), and the mobile apps. The latter in particular I love because they feel like a nostalgic blast back to the fast-paced, easy-going games of old, and it’s easy to just blitz through seasons on the go.

I’ve been playing Football Manager Mobile 2018 fairly religiously while traversing the London Underground system on my way to work and on random travels for the last year. And I’ve had one particular game that has dominated my travelling life.

Boston United. Before randomly picking the team from the National League North, it’s fair to say I knew absolutely nothing about them. But now, 10 months later, not only have I grown the side into Premier League challengers, I’ve also brought European glory to Lincolnshire.

A miraculously fast rise through the leagues

My time at Boston began down in the lowly plights of the Vanarama National North, which didn’t take us too long to get out of as we went and won it. We lost just five league games and managed to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup.

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That took us into the Vanarama National, which we made equally light work of, racking up 98 points on the way to winning a second consecutive league title. We conceded just 38 goals in 46 games, and again made the fourth round of the FA Cup.

We were now a league side and, despite having minimal budget and a pretty useless squad, managed to reach sixth in the league and win the play-offs. Cup acumen wasn’t quite so strong, only reaching the second round of the FA Cup but making the third round of the Carabao Cup.

And the good times kept rolling for the Boston boys. We came second in our debut season at League One level, scoring 96 goals and racking up 88 points. A third round place in the FA Cup was followed up by reaching the final of the Checkatrade Trophy. Our squad at the start of the 2021/22 season was as below; and of this team, only Tyler Reid still remains at the club in 2029 – although his contract is about to expire.

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Success in these early days was largely down to the man, the legend Freddie Ladapo. Freddie racked up more than 200 goals for the club, including winning The Championship top goalscorer in 2024 before retiring at the club in 2027.

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Establishing ourselves

A fourth promotion in four years resulted in a big step up in class as we reached The Championship. We survived and reached mid-table, finishing in 15th position, but our matches were pretty exciting affairs. We conceded 95 goals and scored 92 in our 46 league games. We also made it through to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup but fell at the first hurdle in the third round of the FA Cup.

A good season followed, making the play-offs by finishing in fifth. We scored 20 less goals but, vitally, conceded 35 less and as a result got 74 points, an improvement of 12. But we couldn’t follow-up on that form and slumped down to 17th in The Championship as we racked up 20 points less in 2023/24. However, we did record a record fifth round FA Cup appearance.

2024/25 saw the side step up in form again, mainly because a bit more money came into the club with a few sales of players. We rebuilt and finished fourth with 82 points, making the play-offs, and duly winning the play-offs. We were in the Premier League after eight seasons!

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In the big time

Going into the Premier League my expectations were very low. We had a budget of about £5 million, were relying on loan players and had a very small squad that was beefed up with players we’d had since League One. But, the boys survived a poor start to the season, rallied and managed to finish in 13th, with 45 points from our 38 games. A solid start to life in the big time.

We built on that the following season, mainly because a bit more money started to pour in. We finished in 7th, racking up 60 points and making it to what was still a record fifth round of the FA Cup. However, we weren’t the most exciting of teams, scoring 54 and conceding 51 in our 38 games. That league position meant European football for the first time in Boston United’s history – as we qualified for the Euro Cup.

Unexpected success

The money now began to roll into the club, going into 2027/28 with around £30 million to pick up new players. I looked for transfer listed and unhappy players, and picked up bargains from abroad, such as the legendary Carlos Zuniga – who was the subject of a £99 million bid at the end of this season.

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The league form was solid yet unspectacular, as we finished in 10th on 53 points. However, away from the league we took our first European season by storm, and went and won it! That meant… Champions League football for Boston United!

The most recent season played – 2028/29 – saw things really get a little bit silly in Boston. We began the season by winning the European Super Cup then saw our league form pick up dramatically, finishing in third place after running Manchester United close to the title. We only lost five league games all season and conceded just 27. We also scored some huge successes along the way, including a 5-0 victory over United on the final day to confirm third place ahead of Liverpool, a 4-0 thrashing of Spurs and a 6-0 spanking of Chelsea. We also made the FA Cup Final, only losing it to Manchester City on penalties.

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But Europe, once again, was the main talking point. We waltzed through our first ever Champions League group stage ahead of Sevilla, Shakhtar and Ludogorets, and defeated Benfica in the First Knockout Round. We then recorded a ridiculous 6-1 first leg win over Paris Saint-Germain, in which we were 5-0 up at half-time, thanks to a four-goal haul from the brilliant wonderkid Danilo Domingues Piazon.

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Into the semi-final and we somehow knocked out Bayern Munich thanks to a 3-0 home win in the second leg. That set up a Champions League Final appearance, which we edged 1-0 over Juventus thanks to Felice D’Amico’s 17th minute goal.

Boston United, Champions of Europe!

This success led to all sorts of accolades, including being hailed as a “superstar” manager by my peers at a “star-studded gala,” which I’ve never seen on Football Manager before, but I love it.

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It’s been a remarkable journey at Boston, from non-league to Champions of Europe in 12 seasons, but I fully believe even better times are ahead as we’ve signed some fantastic young talent, including the attacking trio of Piazon, Luis Fantozzi and the newly signed 17-year-old Nicolas La Volpe.

Onwards and upwards, and let the good times roll at Boston United!

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