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Welcome to the EFL in FM2020

Below you'll find brief introductions to the 71 clubs in the EFL, in order of their predicted finishing positions in game, together with information for ground capacity, and initial transfer budgets to help you make your choice. Please note that budgets are often different in FM Touch, but these should at least put you in the ballpark. If you spot anything wildly inaccurate, let me know.

Let's get this party started...

Edited by warlock
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1 Fulham | Capacity: 25,700 | Budget: £5m

A high-spending gamble worked for Wolves, who quickly secured their position in the Premiership, but it failed dismally for Fulham who tumbled straight back down. Defensively, the Cottagers look frail with Joe Bryan the only natural LB after the departure of Ryan Sessegnon, and brother Steven is expected to hold down the RB slot as Cyrus Christie starts transfer listed. Elsewhere, the squad relies heavily on loan signings in the form of Southampton’s Harrison Reed, Bournemouth’s Harry Arter, Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert, Wolves’ Ivan Cavaleiro and Cardiff’s Bobby Cordova-Reid. Fulham fans will be looking to a strong season from midfield general Tom Cairney and star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.

2 Leeds United | Capacity: 37,800 | Budget: £900k

Leeds finished third in the league last year and suffered the heartbreak of a playoff semi-final defeat. Yet again they must pick themselves up and mount another challenge. The squad is certainly capable – although the departure of Pontus Jansson has arguably weakened the defence, they held on to Kalvin Phillips and added creativity in the form of Wolves man Helder Costa alongside returning loanees Jack Harrison and Jack Clarke. Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah replaces Kemar Roofe up front. A touch of extra consistency could carry them over the line this time.

3 Cardiff City | Capacity: 33,280 | Budget: £5.4m

The difficulty of bouncing back to the Premiership after relegation has been amply demonstrated in recent years and Cardiff are currently showing no sign of breaking the mould. The fact that all-action midfielder Joe Ralls currently leads the club’s scoring charts perhaps illustrates why. The departure of star striker Kenneth Zohore to West Brom leaves the Bluebirds with Gary Madine leading the line, a player who has scored just three times since joining Cardiff four years ago, all of them on loan at Sheffield United. New signing Robert Glatzel does not look like a contender. Happily, there is better news elsewhere in the squad: GK Neal Etheridge starts the season injured, but Alex Smithies is a capable replacement, while CB partners Sean Morrison and Aden Flint look dependable, and the aforementioned Ralls has star quality. But getting goals out of a limited strikeforce will be a serious challenge.

4 West Brom | Capacity: 26,600 | Budget: £3m

After a solid 4th place last time the Baggies have started this season at a pace under new manager Slaven Bilic. All the more impressive given the departures of strikers Salomon Rondon and Jay Rodriguez, who have been replaced by Cardiff’s Kenneth Zohore and Southampton’s Charlie Austin. But IRL, West Brom are relying on goals from wide players, and FM managers may have to do the same. There’s been a strengthening in attacking midfield in the shape of Brentford’s Romaine Sawyers and Filip Krovinovic on loan from Benfica, although defensive midfield is likely to need reinforcement alongside Rekeem Harper and the ageing Jake Livermore and Gareth Barry. Star CB Ahmed Hegazy starts with a long term injury, leaving you dependent on 18-year-old Nathan Ferguson to shoulder the burden.

5 Stoke City | Capacity: 30,000 | Budget: £5m

Hopes of a rapid return to the Premiership after their 2018 relegation soon faded as Stoke lumbered to a 16th place last time. And it is questionable whether the squad is any stronger this time out – most of the new signings are free transfers or loans, with only Huddersfield RB Tommy Smith and Barnsley CB Liam Lindsay commanding fees. In better news, Stoke did hold on to star ‘keeper Jack Butland and feature the experience of Joe Allen in midfield. But they are threadbare in the wide areas with only Tom Ince and Sam Clucas with natural ability there. Playoff potential if you can get a narrow tactic working?

6 Huddersfield Town | Capacity: 24,500 | Budget: £6.45m

The high tide that carried the Terriers to two seasons in the Premiership has ebbed and this season could go either way: playoff contenders, or mid-table mediocrity. Many of the faces that carried Huddersfield to undreamt of heights have departed, and the club has pursued a policy of signing lower-league prospects like Reece Brown and Leyton Orient’s Josh Koroma. But there is plenty of quality throughout the squad: LB Terence Kongolo and CB Christopher Schindler remain. The form of Karlan Grant in front of goal will be vitally important.

7 Nottingham Forest  | Capacity: 30,500 | Budget: £3.5m

It is 20 years since Forest dropped out of the top flight and, apart from a 3rd place finish a decade ago, they have rarely looked like making a return. But after flirting with relegation in 2017, the last two campaigns have seen the club make steady progress - 17th two years ago and 9th last season. Could this be their year? A challenge for the playoffs looks like a decent prospect if you can get the best out of a squad that features a lot of new signings. There are 16 new faces at the club, replacing 15 departures but leaving a large squad still carrying a lot of deadwood. CB Chema looks the pick of the newcomers, but much will depend on familiar faces like Joe Lolley, Matty Cash and 31-year-old Lewis Grabban up front.

8 Middlesbrough | Capacity: 34,700 | Budget: £1.5m

It seems likely that Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson was set on a season of transition, but it’s hard to believe things have transpired the way he imagined with the club mired in the relegation zone, and fans enraged by events on and off the pitch. From a side arguably already short of quality, forward Martin Braithwaite and defender Aden Flint were sold, raising around £13m. John Mikel Obi and Stewart Downing were allowed to leave on free transfers, as was backup GK Andy Lonergan, who went to Liverpool. In exchange, Boro have brought in barely £2m-worth of talent in Charlton’s Anfernee Dijksteel at RB, West Ham’s Marcus Browne in midfield, and Marc Bola from Blackpool at LB. The result is a threadbare squad, compounded by injury. You’ll start the season with just three CBs, with Dael Fry missing for at least a month. Bola is your only fit LB. Central midfield is adequate but there’s a lack of cover in wide areas. One or two more injuries anywhere could be disastrous. Avoiding relegation will be a triumph.

9 Swansea City | Capacity: 21,000 | Budget: £0m

Swansea cashed in on two of their brightest prospects this summer with Oli McBurnie headed to Sheffield United and Daniel James to Manchester United. But the £33m raised has not been reinvested – only Kristoffer Peterson (from Dutch outfit Heracles) earned a fee, with Jake Bidwell on a free, and three loans completing the transfer business. The result is a squad that looks thin in key areas, with only three CBs and two natural strikers. There’s a strong spine to the team, but additional quality may be required for a promotion challenge and with no money in the kitty you’ll have to sell to buy.

10 Brentford | Capacity: 12,800 | Budget: £5m

The Bees switched to a 343 system for the second half of last season and it propelled them to 7th place in the form table in the last six months. Unfortunately, outbound transfers leave the side ill-equipped to repeat that performance this time with only one natural wing-back on each side and just three fit CBs in total, although they are three very good CBs. The squad is also rather light in central midfield, but is much stronger in the wide areas. The big question mark is up front. Star striker Neal Maupay moved on, and AMCs Romaine Sawyers and Emiliano Marcondes also departed. Nikos Karelis, a free signing from KRC Genk, and Bryan Mbueno from Troyes will have a lot to prove.

11 Derby County | Capacity: 33,000 | Budget: £10m

The loss of manager Frank Lampard is undoubtedly a blow to Derby, but the loss of thee of last season’s brightest loan signings may be more significant. Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori are back at Chelsea, and Harry Wilson went to Bournemouth. The late change of manager also impacted the club’s transfer dealings which, combined with a spate of injuries, leaves the squad in poor shape at the start of the season, although there’s some money available. You’ll have no RB for the start of competition with both Jayden Bogle and Andre Wisdom out for at least three months. The transfer of Arsenal’s Krystian Bielik and the loan of Brighton’s Matt Clarke reinforce central defence but otherwise you’re relying on 34-year-old Curtis Davies and the repurposed DMs Tom Huddlestone and George Evans. Evans also represents your only natural choice as a holding midfielder. The Rams came within a whisker of promotion last season; this season they might have to settle for a rebuild and a mid-table finish.

12 Bristol City | Capacity: 27,000 | Budget: £1m

Bristol City have made solid progress in recent years and could make another step up this season. They boast a strong squad with quality backups in every position that will allow them a lot of flexibility in tactical approach. The losses of CB Adam Webster and CM Marlon Pack will surely be felt, and it remains to be seen whether ex-Colchester man Sammie Szmodics can perform at a higher level. Long-term injuries to new signing Jay Dasilva and midfield stalwart Korey Smith mean they could miss most or all of the season. But with pace out wide and plenty of firepower up front, City shouldn’t struggle for goals.

13 Blackburn Rovers | Capacity: 31,600 | Budget: £2.5m

Having bounced back from a year in L1, Rovers managed a safe 16th place last time, but may struggle to improve again this year. The departure of star GK David Raya is a massive blow, although the season-long loan of Christian Walton from Brighton will help. At the other end, Rovers have bolstered the strikeforce of Ben Brereton and Adam Armstrong with the arrival of Southampton’s Sam Gallagher on a permanent deal, and they retain the services of one of the Championship’s strongest AMCs in Bradley Dack. With a bit of luck, Blackburn could secure a top-half finish; with a couple of key injuries it could be a long season of struggle. A good candidate for a long-term development project.

14 Birmingham City | Capacity: 30,000 | Budget: £5m

Ten years ago the Brummies hit their high point: a 9th place finish in the Premiership. But that was immediately followed by relegation, since when the club have looked more likely to exit the Championship the wrong way more often than challenging at the top. Last year’s 17th place (thanks to an FPP points deduction) was typical and, worryingly, the squad does not look much stronger this time. Key striker Che Evans has gone to Southampton, and replacement Alvaro Gimenez will have big boots to fill. Elsewhere, the Blues seem to have an abundance of ability, but it’s a challenge to get the most out of these perennial under-achievers.

15 Reading  | Capacity: 24,200 | Budget: £500k

Back-to-back bottom five finishes in the Championship underline how far the Royals have fallen in recent years. The position has been made worse by excessive spending on average squad players, many of whom have been moved on this season. Still somehow the club have managed to spend 12m to bring in strikers George Puscas from Inter and Lucas João from Sheffield Wednesday as well as a number of loan signings, including Chelsea’s Matt Miazga. So there’s a decent squad mixing experience and young talent that should do better than a relegation battle. But Reading fans have been here before...

16 Preston North End | Capacity: 23,400 | Budget: £4m

Preston enter their fifth season in the Championship (after a similar spell in L1) having settled for a disappointing 14th place last time. Key strengths will include a solid defensive setup that features Jordan Storey, Ben Davies and Patrick Bauer at CB, a dependable midfield that includes Ben Pearson, Alan Browne and Josh Harrop, and lively wide players like Tom Barkhuizen, Billy Boden and Andre Green (on loan from Villa). Against that, striker Louis Moult will miss the season with a cruciate ligament injury, leaving Sean Maguire as the key man. The return of Dave Nugent, fondly remembered for his goals for Preston more than a decade ago, seems unlikely to provide the same story this time. Full-back positions are a major weakness, with no natural LBs and playing RB Joe Rafferty there leaves no cover on the right.

17 Sheffield Wednesday |  Capacity: 39,800 | Budget: £0

A decent squad combined with a good tactic makes the Owls an enjoyable short-term save. The problems lie in the longer term with no transfer budget and a constant struggle to meet the restricted wage allowance. Which explains why Wednesday’s biggest signing this year has been QPR’s Massimo Luongo for £1m. And the better players are all approaching or the wrong side of 30, making it difficult to raise money through sales. But with Adam Reach and Barry Bannan running the midfield, Jacob Murphy on loan from Newcastle adding some flair out wide, and the goals from Fernando Forestieri up front, a promotion challenge is always possible. A couple of bad injuries and it could be a season of hard struggle.

18 QPR | Capacity:18,200 | Budget: £2.5m

Queens Park Rangers have spent the past four years trying to set the club on an even keel financially. But there’s also been a lack of coherent squad building and if you take the reins at Loftus Road you’ll be the ninth manager in that period. You’ll also inherit a squad that is long on injuries and loan signings, which is likely to make pre-season a trial. Bright spots include the attacking presence of Ebere Eze and the creative flair of Ilias Chair, and Yoann Barbet joins from Brentford in central defence. There’s a good core to the squad, but not a lot of depth. A predicted finish in 18th looks accurate.

19 Wigan Athletic | Capacity: 25,100 | Budget: £500k

Wigan have spent the last five years bouncing back and forth between L1 and Championship, so a finish in 18th last time was something of an achievement. The squad arguably looks stronger this season with the additions of Jamal Lowe from Portsmouth and Antonee Robinson from Everton, plus the long signing of Blackburn’s Charlie Mulgrew. But Championship survival may depend Kieffer Moore – can he reproduce his scoring record for L1 Barnsley at the higher level.

20 Millwall | Capacity: 20,100 | Budget: £1.5m

After returning to the Championship two years ago Millwall’s record could not be more different: a first season that saw them defy all the critics, rise to playoff contention and reach the FA Cup quarter-finals; last season a near-disastrous slump that saw them flirt with relegation before escaping the drop in 21st place. Of concern this time is the departure of striker Lee Gregory to Stoke, and there are questions about the ability of QPR’s Matt Smith and Reading’s Jon Dadi Bodvarsson to replace him. Better news includes the arrival of Bournemouth’s Connor Mahoney, who looks a good fit for Millwall’s traditional style of wing play, and Derby’s Alex Pearce who brings some experience alongside Jake Cooper in central defence. The third year back in the Championship could go either way.

21 Hull City | Capacity: 25,500 | Budget: £1m

The Allam family have been in control at Hull City for nearly a decade now and if there’s a long-term plan at the club it’s difficult to see what it might be. The Tigers allowed seven players to leave on free transfers in the summer while signing 12 for a total of £1.1m. Leicester’s Callum Elder and Palermo’s Norbert Balogh look like decent business, but Sunderland’s George Honeyman, Peterborough’s Ryan Tafazolli and Bolton’s Josh Magennis look better suited to L1. The best news for long-suffering fans must be the retention of Kamal Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen, although there are several Premiership clubs chasing the latter at the start of the game. Surviving a likely relegation fight would be a decent achievement.

22 Luton Town |  Capacity: 10,400 | Budget: £120k

Luton’s success in hauling themselves back to the second division from the depths of non-league football has been impressive, particularly in securing back-to-back promotions in the last two years. The obvious approach would be to stick with the proven formula: a hard-pressing diamong with rampaging fullbacks. Unfortunately, summer transfers of James Bree, Martin Crainie and Brendan Galloway seem unlikely to replace Jack Stacey and James Justin, now at Bournemouth and Leicester respectively. A new manager will have to find a new way of playing. Positive notes include the record signing of GK Simon Sluga, and Andrew Shinnie has Championship experience with Birmingham. If you can find the right tactic, survival should be achievable.

23 Charlton Athletic | Capacity: 27,000 | Budget: £2.5m

Charlton’s promotion last season, thanks to a win over Sunderland in the League One playoff final, was a great achievement and a highlight for fans who have suffered under the malign reign of chairman Roland Duchatelet. Unfortunately, the longed-for takeover appears no closer and promotion is unlikely to mark the start of a new era as Charlton struggle with one of the Championship’s smallest budgets. The club have spent almost nothing in the summer, but managed to strengthen the midfield with loan signings Beram Kayal, Josh Cullen, Sam Field and Conor Gallagher. There are few options in the wide areas, though, and goals will be hard to come by with the likes of 32-year-old signing Tomer Hemed leading the line. EFL Thread stalwarts have achieved great things with Charlton in recent years, but the challenge looks to be greater than ever.

24 Barnsley | Capacity: 23,200 | Budget: £2.5m

The return to the Championship was always likely to be difficult after the Tykes lost the heart of their defence with the departures of GK Adam Davies and CB pairing Liam Lindsay and Ethan Pinnock. Three new CBs have joined but none appears to be of similar quality. The situation is better elsewhere with a strong midfield partnership in Alex Mowatt and Cameron McGeehan, and Barnsley retain the services of star striker Cauley Woodrow. But much of the squad looks like L1 quality and they’re odds-on favourites for relegation. One for the miracle-worker.


Edited by warlock
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1 Sunderland | Capacity: 48,700 | Budget: £2m

After a precipitous fall through the divisions, last season was an opportunity to reset, regroup and restart. But despite enjoying the league’s biggest budget the Black Cats fell at the final hurdle. Yet despite strengthening the squad, they have started poorly in real life resulting in the sacking of manager Jack Ross as his side languished in mid-table. With CBs Jordan Wills joining from Coventry and Joel Lynch from QPR, and new fullbacks in Conor McLaughlin and Laurens de Bock, the backline should be solid, and striker Marc McNulty on loan from Reading joins a strikeforce already starring Will Grigg and Charlie Wyke, so there should be a ready supply of goals. The trick will be to find the right setup to get the best from a strong playing staff. Failure will not be tolerated.

2 Ipswich Town| Capacity: 30,300| Budget: £0

With the possible exception of Sunderland, Ipswich have the strongest squad in the division. They have retained the services of nearly all of their Championship players, and added additional experience in the shape of Hull’s Will Keane, and loan signings Luke Garbutt from Everton and Will Norris from Wolves. On paper they should have enough quality to secure automatic promotion, if not the title. An immediate obstacle is an early-season injury crisis with best defender Aristote Nsiala and crucial midfield pair Jon Nolan and Teddy Bishop set to miss the start of the competition. Hot prospect Jack Lankester will also miss the whole of the season. But they have good backups across the pitch and, barring further serious injuries, should be able to make a strong start.

3 Portsmouth| Capacity: 19,600| Budget: £100k

Back-to-back relegations in 2012 and 2013 saw Pompey plummet into a four-year spell in L2, but they have made solid progress since promotion in 2017, finishing in 8th and 4th in the last two seasons. Automatic promotion might be on the cards this time, if not for the presence of Ipswich and Sunderland. The loss of two key players in CB Matt Clarke to Brighton and the speedy Jamal Lowe to Wigan has been countered by the arrival of Sean Raggett from Norwich to bolster the backline, and Ipswich’s Ellis Harrison and Doncaster’s John Marquis will strengthen the strikeforce. Lifting Pompey back to the Premiership will be a good long-term challenge.

4 Fleetwood Town| Capacity: 5,500| Budget: £0

Fleetwood Town have made significant moves in the transfer market this summer as they look to build on a solid mid-table record. The main addition is that of Sheffield United’s Paul Coutts, one of the Championship’s stand-out midfielders prior to injury in 2017. He is joined by Jordan Rossiter on loan from Rangers. In defence, forum favourite Jimmy Dunne (loaned from Burnley) and Lewie Coyle (ditto from Leeds) should help secure the backline. But despite these newcomers, The Cod Army remains short-handed with a lack of cover out wide, and additional signings will be difficult. Even a couple of injuries could threaen the predicted Top Four finish.

5 Rotherham United | Capacity: 12,000 | Budget: £300k

The Millers have, in recent years, been the very definition of a yo-yo club, winning promotion to the Championship before quickly falling back. Seeking another promotion, they have made some shrewd moves in the transfer market. RB Matt Olosunde, a graduate of the Man Utd academy, brings some quality to RB, and Chiedozie Ogbene joins from Brentford to add pace and flair to the wide play. Rotherham lacked a reliable goalscorer last time – they were among the top ten for shots on goal, bottom ten for goals scored. They will look to Freddie Ladapo, signed from Plymouth, to remedy that shortcoming. A return to the Championship is on the cards; the bigger challenge will be consolidating that status.

6 Oxford United | Capacity: 12,500 | Budget: £50k

Oxford have two undoubted strengths: one of the league’s most consistent GKs in Simon Eastwood, and one of the league’s strongest midfields. To that core some good business in the loan market has brought in Liverpool’s Ben Woodburn, Chris Cadden, once of Motherwell, and Bristol City’s Matty Taylor up front. While the latter has struggled in the Championship, he has a proven record at the lower level but there’s a lack of quality backup in attack. A predicted playoff finish looks achievable, but getting goals out of Taylor might be vital.

7 Blackpool | Capacity: 17,300 | Budget: £50k

For the first time this century Blackpool start a season without the Oyston family’s involvement. That alone will make the season a success for many. But fans will hope that optimism can be converted into on-field achievement, and they have many of the tools at hand. The squad boasts two good ‘keepers, although Mark Howard will miss the first part of the season through injury. Plymouth’s Ryan Edwards joins Curtis Tilt in the centre of defence, and Norwich City have provided strength at fullback positions with loanees Rocky Bushiri on the right and James Husband on the left. Up front, ex-Rangers prospect Ryan Hardie could provide the goals. Promotion may be beyond them, but a good run at the playoffs would get the new regime off to a flying start.

8 Lincoln City | Capacity: 10,100 | Budget: £150k

Lincoln’s inexorable rise has carried them from the VNL to L1 in just three seasons, and while a season of consolidation might be expected, few expect them to struggle at the higher level. At the same time, the Imps have evolved their style of play, from the agricultural long-ball of non-league to a fast-passing ground attack last year. More guile and flair have been added in the form of Jack Payne and Jorge Grant, supplemented by the loan signing of Southampton’s Jake Hesketh. Up front Nottingham Forest’s young prospect Tyler Walker should add something different to the power of John Akinde. If there’s a concern it’s at central defence where ex-Derby man Jason Shackell, now 35 years old, is the only recruit alongside Cian Bolger and Michael Bostwick – an injury here will be difficult to deal with.

9 Coventry City| Capacity: 30,000 | Budget: £0

After promotion in 2018 Coventry surprised many last year by securing a Top Ten finish but face an additional challenge this time as they play home games ‘away’ at Birmingham’s St Andrews stadium. On the pitch, however, things look brighter as the Sky Blues have brought in no fewer than 15 new faces as they look to improve again. Midfield terrier Jamie Allen and solid centre-back Kyle McFadzean join from Burton. Chelsea graduate Fankaty Dabo should make the right back position his own. Loan signings in Bristol City’s Liam Walsh, and Villa’s Callum O’Hare should add some power and creativity in midfield. The question is whether Coventry can find goals from a limited strikeforce.

10 Peterborough United | Capacity: 14,000 | Budget: £400k

After Darragh MacAnthony took charge of the Posh in 2006, the club enjoyed three promotions, but for six years the fourth has eluded them. Finding goals should not be a problem with a potent strikeforce that includes Matt Godden and Ivan Toney, now bolstered by the arrival of Mo Eisa. And the midfield should provide the platform featuring the pace of Siriki Dembele and the quixotic genius of Marcus Maddison. The doubts lie elsewhere, but reinforcements have arrived in the shape of Christy Pym between the sticks, and Frankie Kent in central defence. The challenge will be in getting the component parts to work together.

11 Shrewsbury Town | Capacity: 9,800 | Budget: £200k

An ever-popular choice for a small-club challenge, Shrewsbury came within a whisker of promotion in 2018 before falling back to more familiar bottom-six territory last time. A strong summer of recruitment should see them moving back up the table. Powerful CBs Aaron Pierre and Ethan Ebanks-Landell join Man Utd graduate Ro-Shaun Williams in defence, Sean Goss joins the midfield from QPR, and Forest’s Jason Cummings could find goals at this level. If the new signings can gel, another playoff push might just be possible.

12 Milton Keynes Dons | Capacity: 30,000 | Budget: £200k

Having been top of L2 in October last year, the Dons looked likely candidates for promotion, but had to rely on a last-gasp victory over Mansfield to secure third place. This season they will surely be looking for a less-exciting period of consolidation, and modest business in the transfer market would appear to confirm that. Wolves’ Joe Mason replaces Chuks Aneke up front, and the signings of Charlton’s Ben Reeves and Colchester’s Brennan Dickenson look like good business in midfield. In defence the Dons have added former Man Utd youngster Regan Poole. The predicted finish in 12th might be optimistic but they should have enough to avoid a relegation scrap.

13 Burton Albion | Capacity: 6,900 | Budget: £150k

After a poor start to the season last year, Burton turned things around after Christmas and made a creditable run for the play-offs, albeit too little, too late. And building on that late momentum looks to have been hampered by the departure of key players in Marcus Harness to Portsmouth and CB Kyle McFadzean and strong midfielder Jamie Allen to Coventry. The arrival of Manchester United prospect Kieran O’Hara in goal is a positive, as is the loan signing of Chelsea youngster Richard Nartey, although both lack senior experience. Overall, the squad looks somewhat weaker while the competition is tougher, and Burton may have to settle for a season of consolidation before pushing on in season 2.

14 Gillingham | Capacity: 11,400 | Budget: £80k

As with Burton, Gillingham have lost key players with the departures of goalkeeper Tomas Holy and striker Tom Eaves, who left for Ipswich and Hull respectively. In Brentford’s Jack Bonham they have found a decent replacement in goal, but young Bournemouth striker Mikael Ndolji is untested at senior level. The Gills have added 15 new signings in the summer, but are still carrying a number of players the wrong side of 30 who are sucking up a large amount of a limited wage budget. A clearout and major restructure of the squad may be needed before progress is possible.

15 Bristol Rovers | Capacity: 12,300 | Budget: £50k

Bristol Rovers look to be mired in mid-table comfort. Going into their fourth season in L1, they might reasonably hope to follow crosstown counterparts Bristol City in the Championship, but they seem to be too far away from a new stadium and other facilities to make the breakthrough. Summer business has been limited, although CB Tom Davies from Coventry looks a good addition. But there’s a distinct lack of quality in the attacking wide areas so a new manager will have to find a tactical solution to an unbalanced squad.

16 Doncaster Rovers | Capacity: 15,200 | Budget: £50k

Since winning promotion from L2 in 2017 Doncaster have recorded a 15th place finish and a playoff disappointment last year. Their ability to repeat that performance is called into question by the return of key loan signings Mallik Wilks and Herbie Kane, who are back at Leeds and Liverpool respectively. Further, important players like Marko Marosi, Danny Andrew, Andy Butler and Tommy Rowe have also departed. It’s not all gloom at the Keepmoat: Reece James joins from Sunderland, while Arsenal loanee Ben Sheaf and Tottenham’s Kazaiah Sterling add quality to midfield. But Rovers look short of firepower up front and another season of safety might be the best they can hope for..

17 Wycombe Wanderers | Capacity: 10,200| Budget: £0

The Chairboys did very well to secure L1 safety last season following their promotion in 2018. And in real life they have stunned the pundits this year by spoiling the party for promotion favourites. But the ravages of time appeared to catch up with 37-year-old Adebayo Akinfenwa last year and this is surely a season too far for the veteran striker and it is difficult to see where the goals might come from. Right-back Jack Grimmer is a decent signing and the services of Newcastle prospect Rolando Aarons in attacking midfield is a bonus, but there’s no u23 squad to help and even a small injury crisis could be fatal.

18 Southend United | Capacity: 12,100 | Budget: £26k

Last season saw the Essex seasiders start brightly but injuries to key striker Tom Hopper and left-back Ben Coker produced a period of inconsistency before they found a long spell of of consistency of the wrong sort as they produced a 15-game winless streak that cost manager and club legend Chris Powell his job. Eventually they hung on to L1 status by their fingertips but their position is no more secure with the loss of midfielder Dru Yearwood to Brentford and Coker to Lincoln. In better news, there’s a good replacement for Yearwood in Man Utd’s Ethan Hamilton, and Joe Shaughnessy from St Johnstone brings some experience to central defence. Overall, the Shrimpers will do well to repeat last year’s last-ditch survival in the division.

19 Tranmere Rovers| Capacity: 16,500 | Budget: £50k

Tranmere never troubled the historians of English football’s top flight, but in the ‘80s and ‘90s Rovers built a reputation for late-stage Cup runs including a series of FA Cup quarter-finals and as runners-up in the League Cup in 2000. More recently they have endured a spell of non-league football, and confounded the critics last year by exiting L2 by promotion rather than relegation. This season they are hampered by the absence of star striker James Norwood, who left for Ipswich and it’s difficult to see where they will replace those vital goals. In better news, there’s on-loan potential from Chelsea’s Jacob Maddox, Man Utd's Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Villa's Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, but Rovers will do well to survive the season with L1 status intact.

20 Rochdale | Capacity: 10,200 | Budget: £50k

Since returning to L1 in 2014 Rochdale seemed to have established themselves with three consecutive Top Ten finishes, but then flirted with relegation in 2018 and struggled to 16th last time. Front man Ian Henderson has scored more than anyone in the league for a decade, but at age 34 reinforcements were needed and the loan signing of Rekeil Pyke from Huddersfield will help. But Henderson isn’t the only 34-year-old in the squad and there’s a long-term restructuring job to be done if the club is to push on again.

21 AFC Wimbledon| Capacity: 5,200 | Budget: £50k

The Dons’ rise from the depths of non-league football to L1 has been a story of consistent success, although they appear to have reached a high-water mark in the last three years, with finishes of 15th, 18th and 20th. But there are plenty of promising youngsters suggesting a better future ahead. Homegrown hero Will Nightingale leads a crop of young centre-backs, including Paul Kalambayi and Terell Thomas and the squad is set up to play a back-three with flying wingbacks so a new manager should be ready to embrace that system. Finding goals from a limited strikeforce may be a bigger problem to solve.

22 Accrington Stanley | Capacity: 5,200 | Budget: £100k

With a tiny ground and limited finances Stanley are always a popular choice for a long-term challenge. Historically, they have always overachieved relative to budget while playing good football, too. They have retained the bulk of the squad that achieved a mid-table finish last year, but will have to rejig the attack after Paul Smyth’s loan from QPR expired and Billy Kee will be unavailable in 2019 – youngsters Courtney Baker-Richardson from Swansea and Preston’s Connor Simpson will look to fill the gaps. Other areas have been reinforced too, with Leicester’s Lamine Sherif and Bolton’s Joe Pritchard joining the midfield, and West Ham’s promising young CB Ajibola Alese comes into the defence on loan.

23 Bolton | Capacity: 28,700 | Budget: £0

It’s less than a decade since Bolton seemed safe in the Premiership but their fall through the Championship and into League One was relentless. After bouncing back three years ago there was cause for optimism, but hope was crushed by off-field shenanigans and a brush with insolvency that saw the Trotters relegated again. Worse, they start the season with a 12-point penalty. Despite all that, they have managed to recruit a decent squad of free signings that includes Daryl Murphy, Forest’s Jack Hobbs, Hull’s James Weir, and Sunderland’s Will Buckley. Loan signings add extra quality in Forest’s Liam Bridcutt and Stoke’s Thibaud Verlinden. Forging this group of strangers into a coherent team will be a good trick; avoiding relegation might require a small miracle.

Edited by warlock
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1 Mansfield Town |  Capacity: 9,300 |  Budget: £50k

Last season, Mansfield Town enjoyed their best season in 15 years but it surely felt like failure after a final day defeat saw them drop out of the promotion places, and a playoff semi-final loss that consigned them to another year in the fourth tier. The squad is surely capable of automatic promotion with three good central defenders, capable fullbacks on both sides, a solid midfield, and quality wide players. The attack has been reinforced with the signings of experienced strikers in Nicky Maynard and Andy Cook, and additional reinforcement is provided by the loan signing from Leeds of Conor Shaughnessy. But failure is not an option and a new manager that isn’t dominating the division by Christmas could be sacked in a hurry.

2 Bradford City | Capacity: 25,100 |  Budget: £0

On paper, Bradford City should blitz this division: their stadium and fanbase are well-suited to the Champship. But since the Bantams fell out of the second tier 15 years ago they endured a long decline into L2. Promotion in 2013 saw a resurgent City climb to consecutive playoff appearances in L1, but collapsed to relegation last time. A clearout of deadwood has been undertaken, but they start the season with a number of injuries, including to key CB Paudie O’Connor, whose loan from Leeds is now permanent. They’ll certainly rely on goals from new signing James Vaughan, but the predicted automatic promotion looks very optimistic.

3 Forest Green Rovers |  Capacity: 5,000 |  Budget: £100k

Hipster’s choice Forest Green Rovers came close to a second promotion in three years last time out but came up short in the playoffs. Although top scorer Christian Doidge has gone to Hibs, and playmaker Reece Brown to Huddersfield, Aaron Collins might prove a decent replacement up front and the arrival of Kyle Taylor on loan from Bournemouth will boslter the midfield. A strong first team should see Rovers push for promotion again, although a small squad looks vulnerable to injury problems.

4 Scunthorpe United |  Capacity: 9,100 |  Budget: £0

For the last four years, Scunthorpe United pushed hard for promotion to the Championship. Unfortunately, last season they exited League One the wrong way. The backline looks useful at this level, and Jake Eastwood, on loan from Sheffield United, will compete with Rory Watson for the No.1 jersey. There’s decent quality in midfield, although there are arguably too many wide players and not enough centre-mids. But despite two loan signings up top in Rotherham’s Jamie Proctor and Barnsley’s George Miller, they may struggle for goals. They may be tipped for the playoffs, but there are always questions about a team who weren’t good enough to avoid relegation.

5 Swindon Town |  Capacity: 15,700 |  Budget: £57k

Swindon Town reached the L1 playoff final in 2015, but have suffered a steady decline since. They exited the third tier in the wrong direction in 2017, and despite hopes of a rapid return, turned in 9th and 13th place finishes in the last two seasons. Despite spending nothing in the summer, the Robins have found no fewer than 14 free and loan signings, including Lloyd Isgrove and Zeki Fryers from title-winners Barnsley, while Jerry Yates, on loan from Rotherham, should boost the strike department. A little luck could see them in playoff contention.

6 Plymouth Argyle |  Capacity: 12,700 |  Budget: £50k

In real life, Plymouth have been reshaped to play with three at the back, but while they have the wingbacks to do it, they’re sadly shorthanded in central defence – of five recognized CBs, new signing Will Aimson starts with a three-month injury, and of the others the barely-mobile Gary Sawyer and untested youngster Josh Grant (on loan from Chelsea) do not inspire confidence. There’s quality in central midfield in Jose Baxter, Conor Grant and Antoni Sarcevic, and creativity out wide from new signing Danny Mayor, and George Cooper, on loan from Peterborough. But the attack seems weak with no reliable goalscorer beyond Billy Clarke, whose best days are far behind him. Plymouth look to be another of the many recently-relegated sides who will find an instant return beyond them.

7 Colchester United |  Capacity: 10,100 |  Budget: £25k

Colchester’s financial model may lack excitement but it is sustainable and slowly producing a squad of quality players who look capable of promotion. The departures of CB Frankie Kent midfield creator Sammie Szmodics are blows, but the U’s have recruited Yeovil’s Omar Sowunmi to join CBs Luke Prosser and Tom Eastman, and Jevani Brown comes into midfield. The need for a more reliable source of goals than Frank Nouble and Luke Norris sees the loans of young prospects Freddie Hinds from Bristol City and Theo Robinson from Southend. A good bet for the playoffs, if not better.

8 Salford City |  Capacity: 5,000 |  Budget: £100k

Although Salford are tipped for a playoff run, and high-profile owners in the Class of 92 mean they’ll always garner headlines, this doesn’t look like a promotion-winning squad. In fact, it looks very much like the squad that finished a point behind Solihull Moors in the VNL. Of the newcomers, Richie Towell will bring experience to midfield, but other signings include Oscar Threlkeld who returns to English football after making just 14 competitive appearances during a year in Belgium, and Dan and Joey Jones and Brandon Thomas-Asante from non-league clubs. The loan signings of Jack Baldwin from Sunderland, and Sam Hughes from Leicester look better. A mid-table finish would be a solid achievement for the Ammies this year.

9 Walsall |  Capacity: 10,900 |  Budget: £50k

Walsall’s relegation last season had been coming. After reaching the L1 playoffs in 2016, there followed a steady decline to 22nd place last time. In preparation for a season in the bottom division Wallsall have signed a bunch of players but it’s hard to discern the plan. James Clarke joins from Bristol Rovers, adding to a bottom-heavy squad that features eight centre-backs and three wingbacks, while three new strikers bolster the attack. Yet Stuart Sinclair is the only addition at centre-mid, bringing the number there to just three. There are plenty of good players, but a new manager will have to solve the puzzle of how to put them together.

10 Oldham Athletic |  Capacity: 13,600 |  Budget: £0

When Abdallah Lemsagam took over the club in January 2018, fans thought the turmoil of the previous regime – with unpaid bills and winding-up orders – was behind them. But off-pitch rumblings have continued, making success on the field harder. Recruitment under the new chairman has also been “interesting”, resulting in a League of Nations squad that features a signficant number of French, African and Eastern European players. Summer recruitment featured a greater number of English players, but they included the likes of Chris Eagles (33), David Wheater (32), and Chris McCann (31). Alex Iacovitti from Forest, and the loans of Ashley Smith-Brown from Plymouth and Jonny Smith from Bristol City look better, but overall the squad seems weaker than the one that finished in 14th place last season.

11 Stevenage |  Capacity: 6,000 |  Budget: £50k

Stevenage have, in recent years, been comfortable in mid-table. And this term appear set for more of the same. Individually, the Boro have players who have produced some of the league’s best performances, and CB Scott Cuthbert, WB Luther Wildin and hold-up striker Kurtis Guthrie should continue in that vein. But a lack of goals has hampered progress – they were in the bottom three for shots last season – so will be looking for more production from Danny Newton and new signing Jason Cowley, who has a prolific record at non-league level. Among a host of new signings, Paul Digby from Forest Green, Dean Parrett from Gillingham and Tyler Denton from Leeds, look the pick of the bunch but too many of the rest look like squad fillers.

12 Newport County |  Capacity: 11,600 |  Budget: £35k

County’s achievements in the FA Cup over the last two seasons – holding Spurs in the Fourth Round in 2018 and beating Leicester and Middlesbrough en route to the Fifth Round last year - were not only impressive but of huge financial value. But the resulting fixture backlog last time also took a toll and arguably knocked Newport out of a promotion place before the disappointment of a playoff defeat. Aiding the cause this time will be GK Tom King, signed from Millwall, and CB Kyle Howkins from West Brom. They should be able to replicate last season’s achievements.

13 Northampton Town |  Capacity: 7,700 |  Budget: £10k

The Cobblers ventured a 3-5-2 tactic last year, despite not having the players to do it. A busy transfer window has seen them attempt to fill the vacancies. Nicky Adams and Joe Martin arrive in the wingback roles; towering striker Harry Smith will likely play targetman after a reasonable season with Macclesfield. But Northampton signed no fewer than 14 players, pushing the squad to nearly 30, and most will expect regular starts. Since few if any have a resale value, it’s an all-or-nothing gamble on promotion this season.

14 Carlisle United |  Capacity: 18,000 |  Budget: £0

Since relegation from L1 five years ago, Carlisle have first secured and then consolidated their position in the fourth tier. But there comes a point when consolidation starts to look like a lack of ambition. A reliance on free transfers makes it difficult to build a stronger squad, and if you remove the loan signings this season, you’re left with a group that looks dangerously like a non-league side. Of the loan signings, winger Nathan Thomas from Sheffield United, and striker Elias Sorensen from Newcastle bring some additional quality. You can assemble a decent First 11, but there’s a distinct lack of cover throughout.

15 Exeter City |  Capacity: 8,700 |  Budget: £10k

After back-to-back seasons in the playoffs, the Grecians missed out last time, finishing in 9th. They could do better this time with the addition of Charlton’s Nicky Ajose up front, joining Ryan Bowman who showed signs of quality late last year. Nigel Atangana should secure the base of midfield, and there’s creativity from Jake Taylor and Nicky Law. In the longer term, an ageing backline will need sorting

16 Cheltenham Town |  Capacity: 7,000 |  Budget: £50k

Cheltenham endured a torrid start to the season last year, but improved to deliver 10 wins in their final 15 home games, form that delivered a comfortable finish in the lower middle of the table. New midfielder Rohan Ince should be an able replacement for Nigel Atangana, and Gavin Reilly, on loan from Bristol Rovers, will compete with new signing Tahvon Campbell for a starting role in attack. The squad has no wide midfielders so a new manager will have to play with a back-three or some kind of narrow diamond. But the right tactic could produce a better finish than that predicted.

17 Crawley Town |  Capacity: 6,100 |  Budget: £5k

Hubristic talk of Championship football is long past for Crawley who, after relegation from L1 in 2015 have looked far more like candidates for relegation back to the VNL. And it is to the lower reaches that Crawley have looked for recruitment, signing Nathan Ferguson from Dulwich Hamlet, Jordan Tunnicliffe from Fylde, Jamie-Sendles-White from Torquay, and George Forrest from Romford. Better quality has arrived in the form of pacy, creative winger Gyliano van Velzen from Holland, and striker Ashley Nadesan, who brings a proven record of scoring. But they’ll have to ride out early-season injuries to Nadesan and Mason Bloomfield (on loan from Norwich), which leaves just Ollie Palmer to lead the line.

18 Crewe Alexandra |  Capacity: 10,100 |  Budget: £20k

Over the last three seasons, Crewe have suffered a bad case of winter blues – strong starts and stronger finishes have been undone by mid-season slumps that have consigned the Railwaymen to mid-table obscurity. They have the potential to do better with likes of captain Perry Ng in defence, Tom Lowery and Ryan Wintle in midfield, and the loan signing of striker Chuma Anene from FC Midtylland should provide an extra option in attack. If they can find a season of consistency a playoff run might be on.

19 Cambridge United |  Capacity: 8,600 |  Budget: £10k

Cambridge struggled for goals last season, finding the net just 40 times in 46 league games. Poacher Harvey Knibbs had been signed, hopefully to form a partnership with target man Jabo Ibehre. The departure of top midfielder Jevani Brown won’t help, and former Norwich man Wes Hoolahan does not look like a great replacement at 37. Defence looks solid and there’s quality in midfield, boosted by the loan signing of Tottenham’s Jack Roles. But a small squad starts with a number of injuries and improving on last season’s bottom-four finish may be difficult.

20 Grimsby Town |  Capacity: 9,000 |  Budget: £25k

Since winning promotion from the VNL four years ago, Grimsby have done well to consolidate their L2 status. But there’s been a lack of progress since and last season they were dependent on heroics from star player, goalkeeper James McKeown. Luke Waterfall and Harry Davis are dependable in central defence, but Ludvig Ohman who impressed after joining in January will be missing for three months. Loan signings in the form of Newcastle LB Liam Gibson, and Sunderland midfielder Ethan Robson will help the cause. But the squad looks paper-thin in places (there are two young right-wingers but none on the left) and goals will be hard to come by.

21 Morecambe |  Capacity: 6,400 |  Budget: £0

Morecambe can be proud of last season’s efforts which, despite the division’s smallest budget and a series of injuries that depleted an already-small squad, they finished in a creditable 18th place. This summer they have reinforced the squad with the signings of RB Adam Buxton from Tranmere, midfielder John O’Sullivan from Blackpool, and Tom Brewitt from Fylde. But it remains a small squad and another battling, backs-to-the-wall season will be required to avoid relegation.

22 Port Vale |  Capacity: 19,100 |  Budget: £150k

Since relegation from L1 two years ago, Vale have struggled to avoid another drop, coming dangerously close to relegation in both L2 seasons. The club is now under new ownership, and there’s a relatively generous budget available. Of 13 new recruits two that catch the eye are urgently-required strikers – Mark Cullen from Blackpool and Richard Bennett from Carlisle. David Amoo from Cambridge brings a bit of pace to the right wing, but overall it looks like another season of struggle.

23 Macclesfield Town |  Capacity: 5,900 |  Budget: £0

Macclesfield were odds-on favourites for relegation last season after promotion from the VNL but confounded the naysayers by avoiding the drop with a last-day draw against Cambridge. Emmanuel Osadebe, formerly of Cambridge, brings some quality to midfield, and loan signings of Owen Evans in goal, and Corey O’Keefe and Eddie Clarke in the fullback positions are welcome recruits to the cause. Unlike several of their competitors in the division Macclesfield can at least boast a full 25-man squad, even if quite a few appear to lack the quality – or the legs – to influence another tough season.

24 Leyton Orient |  Capacity: 9,300 |  Budget: £50k

After a brilliant promotion from the VNL, Leyton Orient had to cope with the tragic loss of much-loved manager Justin Edinburgh. While it would be a fairy tale come true if Orient could cement their L1 status, they face an uphill struggle and are strongly tipped for relegation. New strikers Lee Angol and Conor Wilkinson could be dangerous and Josh Wright, signed from Bradford City, looks a handy addition to midfield. The O’s have made only one loan signing so there’s potential for reinforcements, but it looks like a long, hard season.

Edited by warlock
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Great work putting this together @warlock, enjoyed reading it and certainly plenty of food for thought when I consider which team to select for my first 'proper' save on FM20.

I made the mistake of selecting Oldham as my first team on the demo... Completely going against my usual preference of picking a team that isn't too much of a challenge so I can experiment and enjoy! Oldham is currently the definition of a challenge. Only one CB of any quality (David Wheater who is out injured for three months), wingers completely devoid of any pace, very poor quality forwards and dire finances to remediate the issues. I struggled along for a while but was duly sacked in November 2019!

I learnt my lesson for my second demo save and picked a team I knew I would enjoy, Fulham. The Cottagers are a team I have a soft spot for after a long FM18 managerial career with them and many of the key players from that season remain, along with the addition of quality loan reinforcements that are mentioned in the opening post.


It was a fairly enjoyable season in which we finished 4th in the Championship (Play-offs still to play - will do this before departing to start my new save) however there were certainly a few frustrations which may be related to the match engine issues I have seen many others bemoan elsewhere in this forum. All season my wingers would constantly shoot from poor angles, even if they could easily square to a forward, and when my forwards did get a one-on-one they would invariably miss it. I understand that it may be my tactics, but I did experiment with a variety of different approaches and I am someone who has played a lot of FM and not experienced anything like this before. I also noticed that whatever instructions I gave them, my full backs would always cut back and never cross themselves, even when it would be so easy to do so.

We had the best average possession in the league (60%), the average best pass completion (85%), we conceded the least amount of goals (37) and kept the most clean sheets (25) but due to our ineffectiveness at the front, we drew 16 games, 10 of them 0-0! The most important stat that reinforces this issue is that we created the most chances in the league, across the course of the season, and these chances were for quality players such as Mitrovic, Greenwood (who I had on loan from United since January), Caveleiro and Knockeart, so they surely should have been able to convert more of the chances if the ME was functioning correctly. Mitrovic is our top goalscorer with just 11 goals.

Hopefully when I start my first non-BETA save the ME will be improved. The game is still very enjoyable overall but I wanted to share what I observed as it didn't seem normal to me.

Anyway, I need to put some thought into which team I go for next and I'd be interested to hear which teams other people are going for!

Edited by Dong21
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Thanks for doing this Warlock - look forward to your procrastination choosing a club to play.   Getting Forest Green promoted (and then falling out with the Chairman over a new ground) was my most enjoyable game in FM19, just as this was the most enjoyable thread to follow.

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@Dong21, @Clifton: Good to have you aboard for this year's adventure. I've dabbled in a few short experiments while getting the hang of the new version, but I hope to start a proper save tomorrow (just back from a weekend away so no time lately). I'm hoping to get through at least two or theee saves in each of our thee divisions. I've also decided that there are no rules for my saves this (last year, I avoided teams I'd managed in the recent past), so I'm pretty sure I'll be returning to Colchester and Mansfield, two of my favourite saves last year.


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@Dong21 Well, you're the first this year to post a progress report. Oldham are a shambles so a sacking was at least realistic! Nice job with Fulham, whatever the outcome.

I managed Bristol Rovers in the BETA version and found it really easy, surprisingly winning League 1 at a canter. In my first save on the release version 20.1.4 I've managed a team expected to do much better, but have struggled quite a bit so far (which could lead to a sacking if I don't get promoted). Out of the 71 clubs there's probably at least half of them coming under consideration, but for now a lot of them are in League 1 so that's where I am at.

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8 minutes ago, warlock said:

I've just looked at your academy... if Baston gets injured I admire your optimism ;)

I believe Bony is available on a free transfer, John Toshack maybe? :kriss: 

I didn't get much out of Cullen for Swansea last year, but Ayew could fill that void if necessary. I admire faith shown in U23 and U18 players (I've promoted a 17 year old striker to my first team squad, given him starts and minutes and been rewarded) but Swansea are definitely still light there though.

Edited by Jogo Bonito
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8 minutes ago, warlock said:

I've just looked at your academy... if Baston gets injured I admire your optimism ;)

Brandon Cooper and Liam Cullen are tearing it up for me

(In the Dutch Eerste Divisie)

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1 minute ago, swansongs said:

Brandon Cooper and Liam Cullen are tearing it up for me

With Cullen listed for loan, I'll certainly be making moves for him if I need a striker in L1 :thup:

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I've decided to randomise until I land on a League 1 team and so my new club is... Southend United.


Should be a good challenge. The five year plan is to be aiming for the playoffs but I'm hoping to reach that goal within a couple of seasons. The board also want to build a new stadium so we'll see how that affects our finances!


I can't get stuck in to the save until the weekend but then I have 5 days off work so hopefully I'll be back with an update soon!

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Started a career with Reading, disabled transfers first window. My aim is to just bring through our youth academy (sometimes stealing other clubs academy players). Im 11th going into new years day 2020, got some great youth prospect with Olise & Loader. Hoping to sell Puscas for a small fortune.

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Bristol Rovers (BETA)






League 1 table - a surprisingly easy and comfortable campaign



The tactic that suited the team and players


The squad that did it for me

The summer signings were Grant Ward (free), Aaron Connolly (loan), Jordan Shipley (loan), Jack Simpson (loan)

The winter signings were Omar Bogle (£82k) and Oliver Skipp (loan)

The players I let go in the summer were Kyle Bennett (loan), Michael Kelly (£20k), Alex Rodman (loan), Tyler Smith (loan terminated)

And in the winter Deon Moore (loan), Tony Craig (loan) and Victor Adeboyejo (loan terminated)



Edited by Jogo Bonito
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59 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

a surprisingly easy and comfortable campaign

Good work there. And good to see someone getting a 4132 working - gives me hope, because it was one of my favourite setups a couple of FMs ago :)

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45 minutes ago, warlock said:

Good work there. And good to see someone getting a 4132 working - gives me hope, because it was one of my favourite setups a couple of FMs ago :)

Yeah it had to be a winger-free formation and worked well. Unfortunately due to a BETA bug where home attendances were limited to seating capacity only, I lost £1.5m and made a second year unattractive. A really good club to take on though, highly recommended now the glitch is sorted.

My new game is underway and its 532 with wing backs, so quite a change in style.

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Hi All,

Starting a new save with Bristol City in the Championship. Looking for a long term challenge with limited funds (1 mil available in transfer funds & 2.5k in wages).

Jay DaSilva starts with an 8-9 month injury, Korey Smith is out for 8-9 months & Bailey Wright is out for 4-5 months which hurts.

Some exciting young talent at the club: H Massengo (5* Pot) A Semenyo (4.5* Pot) J DaSilva (5* Pot). Plus Brownhill, Palmer & Nagy as a midfield 3 all 24 & under.

Sold 3 players so far to raise some funds and reduce wage bill. No Transfers in yet apart from new HOY development.

Rodri 2.5mil (West Brom)

H Adelakun 2.2mil (Birmingham)

M Watkins 1.55mil (will update)


Really want to make this my main save this year. Will keep everyone posted. Please suggest any great purchases that would be beneficial on a tight budget.

Keen to see everyone else's progress this year. Good Luck All!



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Just to tie up loose ends in my BETA save, I am happy to report that, after beating Middlesbrough 3-2 on aggregate in the Play-off Semi-Finals, I went on to defeat Leeds in the Final to secure promotion to the Premier League!


As mentioned, I will now be stepping away from this save to make a start on my next challenge. Watch this space...

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@Jogo Bonito After dabbling a bit with Ipswich in the beta, I've decided to give them a proper go for my first full save of FM20. Just about through a long pre-season. Just one more friendly to go then we kick-off the season with a trip to Burton, followed by a stern test as Sunderland come to visit. Seven competitive games in total in August. I'll do a full introduction when we get to the start of real business.

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1 hour ago, Reece3 said:

a long term challenge with limited funds (1 mil available in transfer funds & 2.5k in wages).

Some of us can only dream of such luxury! Good luck :thup:

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14 hours ago, warlock said:

@Jogo Bonito After dabbling a bit with Ipswich in the beta, I've decided to give them a proper go for my first full save of FM20. Just about through a long pre-season. Just one more friendly to go then we kick-off the season with a trip to Burton, followed by a stern test as Sunderland come to visit. Seven competitive games in total in August. I'll do a full introduction when we get to the start of real business.

It's funny you should say that. I'll get you an extra seat in the Portman Road dugout. It's not an easy one, high expectations, lots of injuries, no transfer or spare wage budget. I'm around November of Season 1 with them, and will do my first update tonight hopefully. Bring it on!

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Ipswich: Season 1

The Tractor Boys present an interesting challenge this year. On one hand, they have a number of strengths - a squad that is mostly of Championship quality, a strong fanbase, and a youth academy with a good record of producing quality players. On the other, they start with no money for transfers and precious little room in the wage budget, a number of mid- to long-term injuries, and a board that demands automatic promotion in the first season. So the pressure is on, and there's no margin for error.

The squad

The obvious issue is the injuries. Arguably the best CB, Aristote Nsiala is missing for pre-season and at least the first month of competitive games. Central playmaker Jon Nolan is also missing until September, while CM Teddy Bishop and utility man Freddie Sears are both out until October at the earliest. Two of the brightest young prospects are also missing long-term: Tristan Nydam is out for six months, and striker Jack Lankester is likely to miss most of the season. Another major loss is GK Bartosz Bialkowski, who is out on loan at Millwall. He is replaced by Tomas Holy, a signing from Gillingham, and Will Norris on loan from Wolves. Both are decent keepers, but nowhere near the quality of Bialkowski. I'd have loved to bring the latter back from loan, but the £8k a week wage contribution rules that out.

Elsewhere, weaknesses in the squad include left-back where the only natural choice is Myles Kenlock. Luke Garbutt is on loan from Everton and can play there but in recent FMs he has progressed to a more natural role further forward. But there he competes with Danny Rowe and another loan signing, Tottenham's Anthony Georgiou. With injuries, the squad is also shorthanded in central midfield, particularly at the DM position. The staff recommend a 4-2-4 formation, but that looked a bit adventurous to me so I settled on a standard 4-4-2.

I wasn't impressed with Georgiou's attributes and I wanted a better backup at LB so his loan was terminated with a view to bringing in Southampton's Jake Vokins instead. But for pre-season I promoted youngster Bailey Clements from the u23s and he has consistently out-performed the more experienced Kenlock so Vokins' loan was cancelled. Then just before the season proper kicked off, fourth-choice CB James Wilson suffered an injury and with Luke Chambers set to miss the opening game through suspension I made a panic move and brought in Luka Racic on loan from Brentford - happily he is already rated higher than Wilson and is doing better on the pitch.

Early results


Pre-season was encouraging as we played 8 games without loss, with two draws - against Championship Blackburn and Belgium's Mouscron, and pleasing wins against Luzern and Sporting Gijon.

The season opener away at Burton was a reality check as we struggled to a 2-2 draw, and the following visit of Sunderland saw us eke out another draw without finding the net. That was followed by a R1 Carabao Cup tie against L2 Walsall and a convincing 3-0 victory seemed to kick-start our form. So we end the month unbeaten in the league with four wins out of six. We exited the Carbao Cup in R2 following a trip to Premier League Crystal Palace where we lost 0-4 - an unflattering scoreline that doesn't really reflect the quality of our play - Benteke bullied out backline from start to finish as they took their chances and we failed to convert ours. I feared a loss of confidence but we recovered well with a 2-0 win against Shrewsbury that put us top of the table.


Player performance


James Norwood leads the scoring chart with 4 in 7 appearances, ably supported by Kayden Jackson who has 3 in 6. Other strong performers include Alan Judge, CB Luke Wolfenden, RB Kane Vincent-Young, LW Luke Garbutt and CM Andre Dozell. Of current concern are captain Cole Skuse who has been very average, and LW Danny Rowe - the board are already on my case about his lack of production. But an unbeaten start and a position at the top of the division is cause for celebration right now.

Edited by warlock
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Sorry, meant to say limited funds in the Championship.

Was looking at a Stoke save prior to selecting Bristol City. Stoke begin with 5mil in the bank but have many valuable assets you can sell over the first couple seasons.

Bristol City has a smaller squad and starts with a significantly lower value squad.

Good luck with your save!

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Bristol City Update:

Finished Pre-Season with P5 W4 D0 L1

Pretty happy overall. Lost first Pre-Season game 4-0 to Dulsburg.

Changed tactic to a 4-3-3 wing play. Had 4 convincing wins including a good 2-1 win against Bologna.

After player sales had a Transfer Budget of 4mil with 23k in wages. Transfers in:

First position I targeted was R Wing - Weiman will play striker for me in some games. First Target was Carlo Holse from Copenhagen (He chose Inter).

Signed my second Target in Xadas from Braga for 1.6mil.

Second Position I needed was a backup CM just to add depth - Signed K Zachariassen from Sarpsborg for 210k. Has high work rate, teamwork & stamina (good team player).

Third Signing was G Alonso from Vigo for 29k. He is a 16 year old CB with 5* potential. Was transfer listed with 21 clubs chasing him.

Last Position I need is a LB with Jay DaSilva out long-term. At the moment I am looking at his brother Cole DaSilva. Poor stats but has 4.5* potential.

Will keep everyone posted.

Love all the saves starting!


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In all my years of FM this is the first time I have ever managed Ipswich Town

I'm old enough to remember the FA Cup win in 1978, their European UEFA Cup triumph of 1981, and their years of challenging for the old Division 1 title

Fast forward that by around 40 years, and here we are. Still in League 1, but this time it's as a third tier club

No longer do they have stalwarts like Cooper, Hunter, Beattie, Burley, Mills, Butcher, Wark, Muhren, Thijssen, Gates, Mariner and Whymark

No longer do they have a manager of the calibre of Sir Bobby Robson or Sir Alf Ramsey


This time it's the likes of Norwood and Judge being asked to deliver on the pitch

And with homage to famous names of yesteryear, it's down to Roy Race to put this club back on track (or should that be tractor...)



As @warlock mentioned, this is a just-relegated club that has high expectations from the board, fans and neutrals

They have a good stadium, fan base and facilities - but this is also a club that has some serious issues to contend with

The squad is injury-hit to say the least, there is no transfer budget or spare wage budget, and the board want an immediate return to the second tier

The Squad

This is the squad inherited, it has some decent players but there are definitely others in League 1 that have as much quality

The loan of Anthony Georgiou was terminated as he wasn't offering me anything that my own unwanted wingers couldn't

Harry Wright, Jack Lankester (injured), Teddy Bishop (injured), Tristan Nydam (injured), Corrie Ndaba and Armando Dobra went to the U23 group

I've also promoted 17 year old youth team striker Tyreece Simpson to the main squad, as he has lots of potential to work with



With no budget to speak of, there were just two summer arrivals - and both were on season-long loans

Young Brighton striker Aaron Connolly joined the squad with no wage contribution required by his parent club

And with most of the central defenders injured, Curtis Nelson came in from Cardiff with us paying £1800 per week of his wages

Heading out on loan were Dobra (Woking), Adam Przybek (Chelmsford) and veteran midfielder Cole Skuse (Fleetwood with an option to buy)

Will Keane was allowed to join Sunderland for a cut-price fee of £250k as I have never liked his goals per game ratios

I desperately tried to offload Kayden Jackson (value high compared to attributes and there are some killer appearance clauses heading our way too)

There were interested parties but no serious offers for him or unwanted wingers Danny Rowe and Jordan Roberts so all three are loitering around


With a threadbare squad, pre-season was quite decent especially as I tinkered with a few formations

The league campaign got off to a sluggish start though, with three draws before my first League 1 win

A shocking loss to Bolton followed that, but the month ended on a high with an incredible Carabao Cup win at Villa Park and victory over Shrewsbury


September was a bit better, with the only losses being at Rochdale (league) and a narrow 1-0 defeat against Man City in the Carabao Cup

Other than that, things have settled down nicely and the 532/352 formation is now working much better


The performance graph shows how difficult those early weeks were, but a certain confidence is now whipping around the club again


The tactics and formation

If only I could get my key striker James Norwood performing to the levels expected, things should continue to go well in East Anglia

So far he has failed as a pressing forward, poacher and target man, so that's something I need to continue working on



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13 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Young Brighton striker Aaron Connolly joined the squad with no wage contribution required by his parent club

Good find, and an absolute bargain! Fascinating to see you going with another narrow formation - you certainly seem to know how to get it working. As you might have noticed, Norwood is my top scorer playing as an AF, with Jackson as an F9 - both are doing well for me. But I'm in awe of your financial management. Never occurred to me that Keane could be moved on so quickly, and those surpluses in transfer and wage budgets should help you in January.

Keep it up!

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3 minutes ago, warlock said:

Good find, and an absolute bargain! Fascinating to see you going with another narrow formation - you certainly seem to know how to get it working. As you might have noticed, Norwood is my top scorer playing as an AF, with Jackson as an F9 - both are doing well for me. But I'm in awe of your financial management. Never occurred to me that Keane could be moved on so quickly, and those surpluses in transfer and wage budgets should help you in January.

Keep it up!

Cheers. I desperately tried to sign a different striker because I already managed Connolly at Bristol Rovers, but I couldn't get a WP for Nigerian free agent Gbolahan Salami who I took on trial in the summer. The guidance advice said I would get the WP on appeal if I paid him £4k per week, but that didn't happen. I might have to try Norwood as an advanced forward as he has really disappointed me so far. On the plus side, young Simpson has made quite an impression and is much more fun to manage than Keane or Jackson would be (the rookie is top trainer most weeks too).

Huws is a walking accident, having already been out with three injuries this season. I think Bishop, Sears and a few others might soon be fit to challenge for the bench though. The plan is to implement the youth and phase out most of the oldies and sub-standard senior pros, As for the formation, there weren't many alternatives really, I felt pushed to move Garbutt away from LB but didn't really fancy him as a winger. A midfield two didn't seem to allow Judge any freedom and was going to be too lightweight, and I needed two strikers. Edwards is probably the most unlucky to be on the bench, but he will be back-up as RWB (as you can see Vincent-Young has been a goal machine from that position so far).

You've made a great start and I really enjoyed your write up and approach. Best of luck to you too!

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8 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

the rookie is top trainer most weeks too

Yes, that's my experience with young Clements. Ditto your experience with Huws - a string of injuries, all of them minor but it means he's never fully fit. I've also lost Edwards for a month, and Nsiala was back for just two games and took a knock in training so will miss another week or so. Dunno what I'm paying my medical team for :rolleyes:

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Glad to see the thread up and running! Hoping to contribute a little more than I did last year... and that's including the several posts in which detailed my annoyance at being unable to select a team. A good start for both of you, @warlock @Jogo Bonito... did you plan to manage the same team as each other again, or is that just a coincidence? :lol:

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Currently having a bit of a time with Cambridge. Found a few interesting signings, including (and I have no idea how he appeared on my player search) an Argentine/Italian striker, who is creating all sorts of chances for me. Been involved in 16 goals (8g, 8a) in 27 games, and hes getting better as the season goes on. Also picked up Grant Ward on a free, and Harry Charsley from Everton on a free, be interesting to see how they fit into the side.

Currently 2nd in January. :D


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I heard the was a really good Barnsley save being written on the forums cough cough* ;)

@Jogo Bonito 

We love a 5 at the back tactic that actually works, a good start and Curtis Nelson is a great signing, I tried to get him for Barnsley on a loan with a view to permanent but he wouldn't come says a lot about us being in the Championship really.


Good luck getting Teddy Bishop fit, what a waste of talent, such a shame, basically a walking injury.

I'm confident both of you will bag the promotion at the first attempt, I'm also looking forward to dabbling into some more EFL teams that I have so more freedom with (unlike the no loan policy I'm currently using).

@Reece3 Good to see Xadas is cheap yet quality once again on FM :thup:


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2 minutes ago, Jamesbfc1887 said:

I heard there was a really good Barnsley save being written on the forums

And some of us have been following your story. A hellish struggle, to say the least. Hope the new year brings a bit more joy.

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6 minutes ago, warlock said:

Good see you back :thup:



Just managed to get in and sign this guy on a free (End of Contract) from under the noses of Anderlecht after he was spotted by one of my analysts :). Think he'll score for fun in League Two, and maybe a few in League One (if we go up)


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2 minutes ago, warlock said:

He looks a proper prospect. Still got your eye for a transfer :)

Hope so. Came through with that rating, and what attributes I could see, as well as him scoring for fun in friendlies, hes worth a risk.

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@Jamesbfc1887 Thanks, hopefully the 532 will continue to work well. I'm happy with Nelson & Connolly for sure. I'll take a look at your Barnsley topic too :thup:

Interesting arrivals at Cambridge @robterrace and as for you @DefinitelyTaylor the only words of encouragement I can give you is that your selection dilemmas will be much easier this year, with only 71 teams to choose from :lol:

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