Welcome back to On the Break! If you missed the last post, we rounded out the 2028 season, our last with Defensor Sporting. This last post will be a bit of a ramble, one last look at this portion of the save! Let’s have a look back, and say goodbye to Defensor!
It’s been a month since I finished my spell with Defensor, and in that time I’ve barely touched Football Manager, or the blog for that matter. Sometimes I’ve wanted to and not had the chance, other times I’ve just not fancied sitting down to try and get my thoughts across. It has been on my mind though, and as much as I’ve loved this part of the save, there are some things I wish I had done or had happened differently.
THINGS I LOVED
I haven’t really fallen in love with Defensor as a club like I hoped I would, possibly due to their really poor season IRL (they were relegated to the Second Division for the first time since 1965). However, I have had a lot of players over the course of the save that I really have enjoyed, and some newgens that join my best ever list. As early as the very first day, I was excited to see that the squad boasted Juan Ángel Albín and Franco Zuculini, but they were instantly outshone by Ignacio Laquintana, who instantly became my key player, and my first heartbreak when he left on a free. From there we had four wonderful years where at least two players from each youth intake made it into the first team squad.
2022: Nahuel Paiva and Cristian Schneider
2023: Christian Colman and Diego de los Santos
2024: Pablo Leguísamo, Ramiro Centurión and Carlos Burgos
2025: Jhon da Luz and Darío López
Nine incredible newgens with 662 appearances for the club and 42 Uruguay caps between them, I couldn’t be any more proud of this aspect of the save. Including a couple of players who made first team appearances but didn’t quite make the full breakthrough, we could actually name a full academy 11.
It’s not just the academy players though, we’ve also managed to sign some great players over the save who I’ll remember for a long time. Santiago Mele signed all the way back in 2022 and despite a rough start has gone on to be unchallenged as our goalkeeper, meaning 4 really talented intake goalkeepers haven’t had a sniff. Víctor Valenzuela wasn’t around for long, but is up there with the largest impact any one player had on the side. He joined as a complete gamble in 2025, and originally I debated loaning him out to sell on for a profit, but he scored on his debut and never looked back. He scored 14 goals in 24 games from the right wing, including an astonishing 9 in 6 in the Sudamericana as we reached the Semi’s – a great achievement at the time. In more recent years, Osvaldo Flores and Santiago Brunel have added genuine quality that pushed us from title contenders to champions.
I may not have fallen in love with Defensor, but I have absolutely adored managing in South America. For sure it’s a continent I’d love to come back to in the future, but more importantly for me it’s the most out of my comfort zone I’ve ever been for a Football Manager save, having usually just stuck to the top 5 European leagues. It gives me the confidence to research saves in places I’ve never been and have very little knowledge and know that I can thrive and enjoy those experiences without giving up early.
The last thing I really enjoyed about this part of the save was the tactical progression I went through with the side. It was one of my early aims for the save to try and create an effective back three formation, and in the first season the squad offered just enough to allow me to do it, although there were a couple of problem areas. I set us up quite conservatively as I was in new surroundings, and progressively pushed to a more attacking style as the first couple of seasons went on. From there I felt it was time to ramp things up a bit as we switched to a 4-2-3-1 to get the best from Martín Rabuñal and Luciano Boggio. This coincided with a shift in my mentality, as I felt we were clearly ahead of our rivals and ready to join title fights, which we did for 2 years before we capitulated and crashed to 5th in the league. After that shocking campaign and a statistical deep dive, we came back with a 4-3-3 complete with an excellent combination of an Inverted Wing-Back, Mezzala and Raumdeuter down the right hand side that pushed us to the next level and ultimately won us a league title.
THINGS I WISH WERE DIFFERENT
I suppose we better start with the big one, the Copa Libertadores.
Of course I wish we had won the final, but that actually isn’t my regret from the competition. I felt a shift in the side in 2025, with our shambolic league form juxtaposed by an incredible run of form in the Copa Sudamericana where we crashed out in the Semi’s to River Plate. From there, we always felt like a bit of a cup side, capable of beating anybody in a one off game or over a couple of legs, but I always felt we were prone to a slip up in the league. What transpired was that we really overachieved in our Libertadores campaigns and reached the final sooner than I expected, and probably sooner than I would have wanted to as well. The side was looking very exciting and we with a couple of good signings we could have truly become the dominant side in Uruguay, but with the rules I set out it was time to walk away. I’m glad I set the rule as I did, I think I’d have spent the entire FM21 cycle in Uruguay if I hadn’t, but I wish I had a couple more seasons to really see this group of players develop before it was time to say goodbye.
The only other minor regret I have is more to do with my enjoyment of the game rather than the save itself. Squad building has always been my favourite part of the game, and the part I’ve been best at too. This was always going to be tricky this year with the addition of pandemic affected finances, but the save has relied entirely on free transfers. Not a single transfer fee, not a single loan. Now of course, this in itself isn’t a bad thing and many great saves use this as a restriction to keep things interesting. I didn’t plan for this to be a thing though, I enjoy transfer windows and signing players, and as the save moved on and I sold a few newgens I had some money available to make some deals. With the quality of players coming through the intakes, I subconsciously went down the route of keeping them around and using them to build the squad, whereas I probably would have had more fun, and arguably more or earlier success, if I had actively looked to attract fees for them and bought cheap stars to replace them. In the very first post of the save I panicked that the club had no scouting team and instantly hired scouts I couldn’t afford – and then inexplicably rarely used them. Since the beta of FM21 released I have 840 hours in the game, and the last time I signed a player for a fee was in the middle of November last year! I haven’t signed a player for a fee in the full release of FM21, and I feel like I’m missing out!
Not much left to do now but drop some images showing off some of the stats of the save.
It was certainly a more consistent affair after our arrival, with the yo-yoing between third and 11th a thing of the past of a more successful run at the sharp end of the table!
This is the team of the save as decided by the game itself, and although the side didn’t change much over the years there are some notable absentees here, none more so than Christian Colman who apparently wasn’t even good enough for the bench! For what it’s worth, I think this would be my best side of the save…
It’s probably cheating a bit to line my best ever side up in a formation we never used, but there were just too many good attacking players to fit them all in!
To finish off this post, and the Defensor Sporting portion of the save as a whole, I present my FAVOURITE XI from the save, the players I’ll hold the fondest memories of…
There we are then, the very last post covering Defensor Sporting! I’ve had a blast, huge thanks to everyone who’s read any of the posts, I’ve really enjoyed creating them. Don’t worry though, Maxi isn’t going anywhere, he’s got a World Cup to get his country to!
Next post will be an introduction to the Uruguay set up, with some familiar faces and a couple of matches already under our belts!
Thanks for reading.