I would say to get Roland, then invest in units.
4*/Premium generals have Hero Legends, get more for more resources, like Mithril.
Consider revising some setups, like 2/3 Varangians for Cnut (Vikings are pretty bad).
Get El Cid's Conquistadors for some more archer firepower.
I don't like Baldwin (gimmicky, meatshield) or Barbarossa (reinforcement troop) in combat. They are itemless (for F2P) and are mainly support/meatshields. You can get them for their HL, you have no problem with the cost. Barb has the excellent Teutons in his HL. If you do have their items, they become MUCH better and are worthwhile purchases.
You can invest territory coins for Caesar's Commentaries for Matilda of Boulogne, for 2 turn Calmness in a melee cav general (so she's pretty fast, but mediocre in combat). You could also get the Code of Medicine for Eleanor of Aquitaine for faster healing.
By - Appropriate_Ice_1720