“From not needed to a key player.” That was the first sentence of an article about Liam Kelly development in my FM17 save with Reading FC. Yes, this Irish midfielder or forward was on the transfer list at the start of the save but he became my key player for fifteen years.
In June 2031 he decided to retire from professional football and I lost my favourite player of this save.
(I know most of you love Danny Loader because of his unexpected rise, development and many goals but Liam Kelly is the best for me).
Liam Kelly was 20 years old at the start of the save and he was one of many in the Under 23s Squad listed for loan and also transfer listed.
I changed that immediately and moved him to the Senior Squad because I wanted to build the starting XI not around him but with him for sure.
Liam’s best-rated role is Shadow Striker and the second one is Advanced Playmaker. As I played with a 4-3-3 formation during the first one and half season with a defensive forward, target man and deep lying forward at the top. I played Liam as Deep Lying Forward and he was trained for this role as well.
“There were better forwards than Liam, that’s sure but I did not want to lose him and did not want to loan him out of the club.
Stats from the first season are not impressive as you can think but I was happy with his contribution. He took a part in 26 (13 in the starting XI) league matches and he scored two goals and made seven assists.
The second season has to be divided into two parts because I changed our primary formation during this season. He played as DLF and scored five goals in 14 matches until December 2017.
After some small injuries, he came back to the team when we started to play with the new formation.
It was 4-3-1-2 and during the first weeks I use Shadow Striker and Kelly played there. He finished this season with nine goals and three assists in the Championship.”
The third season was very good as we won the promotion to the Premier League and Kelly was one of our key players.
He scored 8 goals and made 11 assists in the 42 appearances in Championship and he was named in Reading Seasonal Best Eleven for the third year in a row.
I think all of you who follow me on Twitter had to be bored already during the first seasons of this save because Liam Kelly scored so many goals from Free Kicks and I love goals from Free Kicks so I shared his perfect goals very often.
As you may know, I changed our formation during the save time from time. When I started to use 4-3-1-2 there was a place for Kelly as Shadow Striker.
But I was sad to let Josh Barrett on the bench so I decided I will play Barrett in SS role and Liam Kelly became my first choice in False Nine role with Danny Loader in Complete Forward role.
Cooperation of these three players was absolutely fantastic and they played just for a fun.
After the promotion to the Premier League Liam Kelly had four “double-figure” seasons in 11 seasons. In 2020/2021 he scored 11 and made 12 assists. Two years later he scored 13 and made 11 assists.
It’s fun that he had probably his one of three best seasons one year before retirement. It was the 2028/2029 season and he played 42(7) matches, scored 19 goals, made 15 assists and was voted eighth times player of the match.
Liam Kelly played 541 matches for Reading, scored 176 goals and made 165 assists. He also played 56 matches for Ireland and scored 20 goals in these matches.
He was also voted Ireland Player of the Year on five occasions and Reading Player of the Year four times.
I slightly hoped he will decide to be a coach but he retired from football so I was not able to sign him to our staff same as I did with Jordan Obita.
“No player will get a number 38 after Liam Kelly retirement in this save. No player will deserve it even if he will be a worldwide superstar.”
Well, Liam Kelly was one of a couple players I decided to keep from the original squad and I will never regret it because it was great fun to watch his development, his comebacks after small injuries and his tries to be better in a new position when I decided to play with new or updated formations.
One last thing. I went back to the end of 2023/2024 season when he was 28 years old and tried to find similar players. It found me players who are capable of playing as AM and Striker (Kelly can play also as CM) and a couple of attributes with at least 15.
You can find there players like Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi, Kevin De Bruyne, James Rodríguez, Harry Kane, Thomas Lemar or Paulo Dybala in their late or best years…
If you would like to see some screenshots or if you’re interested in something from this save just let me know and we can talk about it. I’m always happy if someone is interested in something from my save.
Let me know there in the comments section, on Twitter or in my #mrkeysirensie channel in FMSlack.
Thanks everyone for the continuing support and thanks for reading.
The previous part of this save is HERE.
You can also join us in FMSlack and talk not only about Football Manager. What is Slack? Read this or ask me and others on Twitter for example.