jcoll Posted June 2, 2020 Share Posted June 2, 2020 (edited) I posted this experiment over on reddit over the space of a few weeks but thought I'd post it here in full before I simulate the experiment, It's a long read but hopefully an interesting one! Hopefully, this experiment will provide the answer to the following questions: What if the Premier League was split into 20 teams representing UK regions of equal population? Which region in the United Kingdom produces the best footballers? Where do the real footballing hotbeds lie in the UK? Essentially, I’ve split up the UK into 20 equal(ish) geographical regions, with the idea being that each region has a team made up of players born in that region. I’ve used this website which shows the population of each county, I then calculated that each team should be made up of players from a region of 3.26m people (65.171m/20). Teams are filled up with whole counties, except for Greater London which has been split up into 3 regions due to having around 9m people in total. Note: Due to the diversity of the county populations and the challenges of geographically dividing the UK, some teams have slightly more/less than the aforementioned 3.26m people. Split of Counties into Teams Team Population Counties 1 South-West 3,450,896 Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset 2 South-East 3,495,475 East Sussex, Kent, West Sussex 3 South Coast 3,135,638 Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Surrey, 4 London 1 3,369,234 London Boroughs: Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, Islington, Camden, Brent, Ealing, Hounslow, Richmond upon Thames, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Sutton, Croydon 5 London 2 3,009,408 London Boroughs: City of London, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Bromley, Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley, Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Newham 6 London 3 & Herts 3,199,939 Hertfordshire and London Boroughs: Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Haringey, Enfield, Barnet, Harrow, Hillingdon 7 South-West Midlands 3,661,711 Berkshire, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire 8 South-East Midlands 3,051,792 Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire 9 East Anglia 3,457,571 Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk 10 Wales & Hereford 3,169,324 Wales, Herefordshire, 11 West Midlands 3,420,627 West Midlands, Warwickshire 12 East Midlands 3,272,395 Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland 13 South Yorkshire & Humber 3,017,379 Derbyshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, 14 Greater Manchester 2,782,552 Greater Manchester 15 North-West 3,391,458 Cumbria, Lanchashire, Mersyside 16 North & West Yorks 3,434,422 North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire 17 North-East & Borders 3,127,298 County Durham, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, East Midlothian, Edinburgh City, Midlothian, Scottish Borders. 18 N.I & SW Scotland 3,082,203 Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire 19 North Scotland 3,405,207 Aberdeen city, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dundee City, East Dumbartonshire, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Highlands, North Lanarkshire, Orkney Islands, Perth and Kinross, Shetland Islands, Stirling, West Dumbartonshire, West Lothian. 20 West England 3,237,053 Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire Here we have it, the 20 regions have been split up. Team 14 (Greater Manchester) have the smallest population but hopefully the produce of the academies of Premier League giants Man Utd and Man City will come to the fore. Team 6 has the largest population, but it remains to be seen whether this will translate into footballing ability just yet. I have also made some maps using my below-average paint skills to help visualise the split geographically. England Map Scotland Map London Boroughs Map I picked each team using a database of players from Football Manager 2020. I extracted a list of players into excel and began manually allocating each player to a team based on their city of birth (according to FM). Ultimately, I ended up on a squad of 25 players for each team and have tried my best to allocate an even positional spread throughout each squad so that the AI managers aren’t forced to play any ridiculously attacking/defensive formations. Squads have been loosely picked around current ability, reputation and transfer value. Each team will be managed by a manager born from the region they are managing. I’ve allocated the manager with the highest reputation in each region according to FM to each team. This will add an extra element to the experiment and will be to interesting to see how much of an influence some of the better managers will have on their respective teams. Without further ado, I will reveal the teams one by one below in numerical order (I would also like some suggestions on team names for each region, as I am aware they’re not very creative!) __________ Team 1 – South-West - Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset – Population: 3,450,896.00 Media Prediction: 16th - Title Odds: 350-1 Manager – Darren Way (Plymouth, Plymouth U18) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Christian Walton GK Truro Blackburn ENG 23 Jack Butland GK Clevedon Stoke ENG 26 Max O’Leary GK Bath Bristol City ENG 22 Ben White D (C) Poole Leeds Utd ENG 21 Ethan Ampadu D (C), DM Exeter RB Leipzig WAL 18 George Friend D (LC), WB (L) Barnstaple Middlesbrough ENG 31 Jack Simpson D (C) Weymouth Bournemouth ENG 22 Jack Stephens D (C), DM Plymouth Southampton ENG 25 Jordan Storey D (C) Yeovil Preston ENG 21 Sean Morrison D (C) Plymouth Cardiff ENG 28 Tyrone Mings D (LC) Bath Aston Villa ENG 26 Martin Cranie D (RC) Yeovil Luton Town ENG Dan Gosling M (C) Torquay Bournemouth ENG 29 Josh Sims M (L), AM (LC) Yeovil New York Red Bulls ENG 22 Matt Grimes DM, M (C) Exeter Swansea ENG 23 Scott Sinclair M/AM (L) Bath Preston ENG 30 Xavier Amaechi M/AM (RL) Bath Hamburger SV ENG 18 Nicky Law M (LC) Plymouth Exeter City ENG 31 Dominic Gape DM, M (C ) Weymouth Wycombe Wanderers ENG 24 Ryan Leonard M (C) Plymouth Millwall ENG 27 Ashley Barnes AM (L), ST (C) Bath Burnley ENG 29 Isaac Vassell AM (RL), ST (C) Truro Cardiff ENG 25 Kieffer Moore ST (C) Torquay Wigan WAL 26 Ollie Watkins AM (RLC), ST (C) Newton Abbot Brentford ENG 23 Sam Gallagher AM (R), ST (C) Exeter Blackburn ENG 23 Likely Starting XI A region famous for Pasties, Cheese and Cider, the South West has brought to the nation many good things but unfortunately footballers (and managers) don’t seem to follow that trend. I had to search long and hard to find a manager that was born in this region. I eventually found Darren Way, who according to FM is the current Plymouth Argyle U18 Manager who recently had a spell in charge of League Two side Yeovil Town. Predicted to be in the bottom five come the end of the season, this squad seems like it will need a manager with a bit more experience to do anything of note. The squad lacks all round quality, especially fullbacks, let’s hope Darren Way is impartial to a 3 at the back system. Stand out players include Leeds United defender Ben White who has had a great season in the championship this year, Tyrone Mings, who has recently won his first England caps and Austrian U20 capped Burnley striker Ashley Barnes who looks like the best attacking option in the side. Amongst the rest of the team, Scott Sinclair will occupy the flanks and will be hoping to re-ignite the success he had at Swansea back in the 2011/12 season. Jack Butland will be competing for the number one shirt, who along with Tyrone Mings, shares the squads total England caps (10) between them. The team also some exciting young talent in Ethan Ampadu and Xavier Amaechi, who are both currently learning their trade in the Bundesliga. I am not hopeful for this team, considering the lack of top players and with the inexperienced Darren Way in charge but I’m hoping he can prove me wrong! __________ Team 2 – South-East - East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent – Population: 3,495,475 Media Prediction: 20th - Title Odds: 600-1 Manager: Lee Johnson (Newmarket, Bristol City) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Sam Walker GK Gravesend Reading ENG 27 Joe Day GK Brighton Cardiff City ENG 28 Paul Jones GK Maidstone Sheffield Wednesday ENG 33 Lewis Dunk D (C) Brighton Brighton ENG 27 Steve Cook D (RC) Hastings Bournemouth ENG 28 Adam Webster D (C) Chichester Brighton ENG 24 Joel Ward D (RL) Chichester Crystal Palace ENG 29 Grant Hall D (C) Brighton QPR ENG 27 Tommy Elphick D (C) Brighton Huddersfield ENG 31 Chris Solly D ( R) Chatham Charlton ENG 29 George Cox D/WB (L) Worthing Brighton ENG 21 Sam McCallum D/WB (L) Canterbury Norwich City ENG 18 Solly March M (RL), AM (RLC) Eastbourne Brighton ENG 24 Luke Freeman M/AM (RLC) Dartford Sheffield United ENG 27 Harrison Reed DM, M (RC) Worthing Fulham ENG 24 Jonny Williams M/AM (LC) Tunbridge Wells Charlton WAL 25 Gareth Barry DM, M (C) Hastings West Brom ENG 38 George Boyd DM, M (RLC), AM ( C) Chatham Peterborough ENG 33 Robbie Burton M/AM (C ) Gravesend Dinamo Zagreb WAL 18 George Thorne DM, M (C) Chatham Oxford United ENG 26 Conor Chaplin AM (RLC), ST (C ) Worthing Barnsley ENG 23 James Norwood ST (C ) Eastbourne Ipswich ENG 28 Conor Washington AM (RL), ST (C ) Chatham Hearts NIR 27 Matt Godden ST (C ) Canterbury Coventry ENG 28 John Akinde ST (C ) Gravesend Gillingham ENG 30 Likely Starting XI Up next, we have the combined counties of Sussex and Kent, the South East of England. Taking the reigns is Lee Johnson, current Bristol City manager, who has done well in recent years in the championship. However, in terms of ability it doesn’t get much worse. The media have predicted them to be rock bottom at the end of the season and have offered odds of 600-1 for a title win for Lee Johnson’s men. The squad does boast the experience of Gareth Barry, who is the record all-time premier league appearance maker (653) and has also been capped 53 times by his country will be a frontrunner for captain duties. Sunderland ‘til I die fan favourite Jonny Williams makes an appearance in midfield along with Solly March who looks to be the most promising player in the final third. The goalkeeper spot looks to be an issue with not one of the three goalkeepers being the first-choice keeper in their respective championship club sides. However, the Brighton duo of Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster look to be a solid partnership at the back and will be hoping to limit the amount of shots at goal. With weaknesses in Goal and up front the media’s prediction is probably warranted, Lack of goals looks to be a big worry with none of the forwards seeming to have top-level experience. I would be impressed with Lee Johnson if he could lead the South-East to safety with the resources at his disposal. __________ Team 3 – South Coast - Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Surrey – Population: 3,135,638 Media Prediction: 8th - Title Odds: 30-1 Manager: Neal Ardley (Epsom, Notts County) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Alex McCarthy GK Guildford Southampton ENG 29 Neil Etheridge GK Fleet Cardiff PHI 29 Simon Moore GK Isle of Wight Sheffield United ENG 29 Calum Chambers D (RC), DM Portsmouth Arsenal ENG 24 Matthew Targett D/WB/M (L) Eastleigh Aston Villa ENG 23 Jack Whatmough D (C) Gosport Portsmouth ENG 22 Lee Brown D/WB (L) Farnborough Portsmouth ENG 28 Jason McCarthy D (RC) Southampton Millwall ENG 23 Ethan Laird D/WB (RL) Basingstoke Man United ENG 17 Jack Hobbs D (C) Portsmouth Bolton Wanderers ENG 30 Joe Partington D (RC) Portsmouth Eastleigh WAL 29 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain M (RC), AM (RLC) Portsmouth Liverpool ENG 25 Mason Mount M (C), AM (LC) Portsmouth Chelsea ENG 20 James Ward-Prowse DM, M (C) Portsmouth Southampton ENG 24 Will Hughes DM, M/AM (RC) Weybridge Watford ENG 24 Tom Cleverley M/AM (C) Basingstoke Watford ENG 29 Matt Ritchie D/WB (L), M/AM (RL) Gosport Newcastle SCO 29 Joe Ralls M (LC) Aldershot Cardiff ENG 25 Conor Gallagher DM, M (C) Epsom Swansea ENG 19 Marlon Pack DM, M (C) Portsmouth Cardiff ENG 28 John Swift M/AM (C) Portsmouth Reading ENG 24 Danny Ings ST (C) Winchester Southampton ENG 26 Lyle Taylor AM (R), ST (C) Staines-upon-Thames Charlton MSR 29 Lukas Jutkiewicz ST (C) Southampton Birmingham ENG 30 Sam Vokes ST (C) New Milton Stoke WAL 29 Likely Starting 11 South Coast is managed by former Wimbledon and Watford winger Neal Ardley, current manager of National League side Notts County. Another manager who lacks top level experience will be hoping to make his mark at a higher level. This team has a bit of quality compared to the previous two and has plenty of premier league experience with a total of 10 players capped by their country. England Internationals Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mason Mount have genuine quality in the midfield and will be hoping to create the supply for Danny Ings to grab plenty of goals. However, In defence, Calum Chambers is the stand out player out of an average bunch. Neil Etheridge, who qualifies for the Philippines by virtue of his Filipino mother will compete with Southampton number one, Alex McCarthy for the starting keeper spot. Described as a ‘fairly determined’ squad, South Coast have a lot of industry in the team with players like Matt Ritchie, James Ward-Prowse and Tom Cleverley and will be hoping that this translates on to the pitch with some good performances. The overall verdict in this squad is that they have enough ability and experience to finish the top half and could even push top four in my opinion. __________ Team 4 – London 1 - London Boroughs: Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, Islington, Camden, Brent, Ealing, Hounslow, Richmond upon Thames, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Sutton, Croydon – Population: 3,369,408 Media Prediction: 6th - Title Odds: 9-1 Manager: Roy Hodgson (Croydon, Crystal Palace) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Jamal Blackman GK Croydon Bristol Rovers ENG 25 Freddie Woodman GK London Swansea ENG 22 James Shea GK London Luton Town ENG 28 Aaron Wan-Bissaka D/WB (R) Croydon Man Utd ENG 21 Luke Shaw D/WB (L) Kingston upon Thames Man Utd ENG 23 Ryan Sessegnon D/WB/M/AM (L) London Tottenham ENG 19 Max Aarons D/WB (R) London Norwich ENG 19 Ryan Fredericks D/WB/M/AM (R) London West Ham ENG 26 Chris Mepham D (C) London Bournemouth WAL 21 Jake Clarke-Salter D (C) Carshalton Birmingham ENG 21 Steven Caulker D (C) Feltham Alanyaspor ENG 27 Michael Mancienne D (C), DM Isleworth New England Revolution ENG 31 Callum Hudson-Odoi AM (RLC) London Chelsea ENG 18 Jack Cork DM, M (C) Carshalton Burnley ENG 29 Declan Rice D (C), DM, M (C) London West Ham ENG 20 Michail Antonio M/AM (R) London West Ham ENG 29 Bukayo Saka AM (RL) London Arsenal ENG 17 Emile Smith Rowe M (RL), AM (RLC) London Huddersfield ENG 18 Steven Alzate M/AM (C) London Brighton COL 20 Josh Murphy AM (RL) London Cardiff ENG 24 Patrick Roberts AM (RLC) Kingston upon Thames Middlesbrough ENG 22 Ademola Lookman M/AM (RL), ST (C) London RB Leipzig ENG 21 Lewis Grabban ST (C) Croydon Nottm Forest ENG 31 Sone Aluko AM (RLC), ST (C) Hounslow Reading NGA 30 Hal Robson-Kanu AM (RLC), ST (C) London West Brom WAL 30 Likely Starting XI The first of the three London teams, which spans most of south and west London is managed by Crystal Palace’s Roy Hodgson. Roy has been a football manager since 1976 and has a wealth of experience to draw upon, including a four-year spell as manager of his country. Despite being at the ripe old age of 72, Roy isn’t the oldest manager in the league.. The squad, tipped by the media to finish 6th, is an exciting young squad with plenty of players tipped to be a big part of England’s future. Premier League loanees Freddie Woodman and Jamal Blackman (who is currently playing at Bristol Rovers on his 7th successive year out on loan from Chelsea) will compete for the starting keeping berth. Man Utd fullbacks Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will almost certainly occupy their respective positions and will hope to offer an attacking outlet bombing on from their full back positions. One of England’s one cap wonder’s Steven Caulker, who currently plays for Turkish outfit Alanyaspor also makes an appearance in defence. In midfield, Declan Rice and Callum Hudson Odoi, both recently capped by England are the strengths which the team will rely on whilst fellow youngsters Ademola Lookman and Steven Alzate who has twice been capped for Colombia will also be looking to make an impact. In Attack, Euro 2016 hero Thomas Henry Alex (Hal) Robson-Kanu, Sone Aluko and Lewis Grabban will all fancy themselves to start. The youthful squad will bring a lot of pace and energy to the league and Roy Hodgson will be hoping for a top six finish at minimum. I think the squad has enough depth and quality to potentially go all the way. __________ Team 5 – London 2 - London Boroughs: City of London, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Bromley, Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley, Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Newham– Population: 3,009,408 Media Prediction: 1st- Title Odds: 4-1 Manager: Chris Hughton (Forest Gate, Unemployed) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Marcus Bettinelli GK London Fulham ENG 27 Rob Elliot GK London Newcastle IRL 33 Mark Howard GK London Blackpool ENG 33 Joe Gomez D (RLC) London Liverpool ENG 22 Chris Smalling D (C) London Roma ENG 29 Ryan Bertrand D/WB (L) London Southampton ENG 29 Michael Hector D (C), DM London Fulham JAM 26 Ola Aina D/WB/M (RL) London Torino NGA 22 Kortney Hause D (LC) Dagenham Aston Villa ENG 23 Semi Ajayi D (C), DM Crayford West Brom NGA 25 Kieran Gibbs D/WB (L) London West Brom ENG 29 Nathaniel Clyne D/WB ( R) London Liverpool ENG 28 Jadon Sancho M/AM (RL) London Borussia Dortmund ENG 19 Ruben Loftus-Cheek M/AM (C) London Chelsea ENG 23 Reiss Nelson M (RL), AM (RLC) London Arsenal ENG 19 Jonjo Shelvey DM, M (C) Romford Newcastle ENG 27 Bradley Dack AM (C), ST (C) London Blackburn ENG 25 Junior Stanislas M/AM (RL) Kidbrooke Bournemouth ENG 29 Jordon Ibe M (R), AM (RL) London Bournemouth ENG 23 Mark Noble DM, M(C) London West Ham ENG 32 Harry Arter M (C) Sidcup Fulham IRL 29 Ebere Eze M (C), AM (RLC) London QPR ENG 20 Tammy Abraham ST (C) London Chelsea ENG 21 Karlan Grant AM (L), ST (C) London Huddersfield ENG 21 Eddie Nketiah AM (RL), ST (C) London Arsenal ENG 20 Likely Starting XI The Media’s favourites, made up of London Boroughs including and east of City of London is the 2nd smallest in terms of catchment area but certainly doesn’t lack quality. Ex-Brighton manager Chris Hughton is in the dugout and has a strong team which looks to have Premier League level quality all round apart from maybe in the goalkeeper position in which Fulham’s Marcus Bettinelli appears to be the likely candidate to start. An all premier league back four consisting of Nathaniel Clyne, Joe Gomez, Chris Smalling and Ryan Bertrand, share 74 England caps between them look to be solid partnership and will be hoping to keep as many clean sheets as possible in order to be in with a chance in the title race. Key man, Jadon Sancho, one of, if not the most exciting player in the league, will be hoping to chip in with as many goals and assists as possible from wherever Chris Hughton deploys him. Jadon has 14 goals and 15 assists in 21 starts this year in the Bundesliga and should be uncontrollable for some of the defences he will be up against. Talented Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be hoping to remain injury free throughout the season and make a good partnership with Jonjo Shelvey who will be looking to dictate play in the middle of the park. Bradley Dack, who according to FM is likely to play off Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham will be looking to provide enough chances for Tammy who should have enough with the level of creative quality surrounding him. Overall, A very strong team who will be hoping to keep Jadon Sancho injury free all season. Probably rightly favourites for the title, however, will face tough opposition from some of the teams yet to come… ___________ Team 6 – London 3 & Herts - Hertfordshire and London Boroughs: Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Haringey, Enfield, Barnet, Harrow, – Population: 3,450,896 Media Prediction: 4th - Title Odds: 7-1 Manager – Gareth Southgate (Watford, England) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age David Button GK Stevenage Brighton ENG 30 Jordan Archer GK Walthamstow Fulham SCO 26 Jonathan Bond GK Hemel Hempstead West Brom ENG 26 Ainsley Maitland-Niles D/WB (RL), DM, M (C) Ilford Arsenal ENG 21 Reece James D/WB (R), M (C) London Chelsea ENG 19 Kyle Walker-Peters D (RL), WB (R) London Southampton ENG 22 Adam Smith D (R) Leyton Bournemouth ENG 28 Ciaran Clark D (C) Harrow Newcastle IRL 29 Alfie Mawson D (C) Hillingdon Fulham ENG 25 Adrian Mariappa D (RC) Harrow Watford JAM 32 Japhet Tanganga D (RC) London Tottenham ENG 20 Ashley Young D/WB (RL) Stevenage Inter ENG 33 Harry Winks DM, M (C) Hemel Hempstead Tottenham ENG 23 Adam Lallana DM, M/AM (RLC) St. Albans Liverpool ENG 31 Andros Townsend M (R), AM (RL) Leyton Crystal Palace ENG 27 Jack Wilshere M (C), AM (RLC) Stevenage West Ham ENG 27 Joe Willock M (C) Walthamstow Arsenal ENG 19 Sheyi Ojo M (L), AM (RLC) Hemel Hempstead Rangers ENG 22 Angel Gomes AM (RLC) London Man Utd ENG 18 Jake Livermore D (C), DM, M (C) Enfield West Brom ENG 29 Harry Kane AM (C), ST (C) London Tottenham ENG 25 Dwight Gayle ST (C) Walthamstow Newcastle ENG 29 Cauley Woodrow AM (C), ST (C) Hemel Hempstead Barnsley ENG 24 Benik Afobe ST (C) Leyton Bristol City COD 26 Jamal Lowe AM (RLC), ST (C) Harrow Wigan ENG 24 Likely Starting XI England’s hero of the summer of 2018, Gareth Southgate, takes charge of this side. Reaching the semis at the 2018 World cup is Gareth’s best achievement to date which arguably could have been seen as underachievement with the Fixtures and Squad England had. One of the more experienced managers in the league, Gareth will be familiar to plenty of the England boys in the Squad. Tipped to finish in the top 4, Southgate will be hoping to have a crack at his first trophy in (hypothetical) management. Spearheading the attack is Spurs’ Harry Kane, who is the highest rated player in the competition based on FM current ability. Kane will be a major threat to any defence he faces and is likely to be favourite for the golden boot. Behind Kane, the duo of Adam Lallana and Andros Townsend will offer some threat and creativity and will be hoping to feed Kane with an endless supply of chances. Jack Wilshere, who is probably best known for being the most injury prone player in the league will be hoping to stay fit throughout and make an impact whilst talented young midfielder Harry Winks will sit in front of the back four and dictate the tempo. In defence, there is a mix of youth and experience. Young defenders Reece James and Kyle Walker-Peters are joined by 39-time England capped Ashley Young who is currently playing his trade in Milan. Two from Mariappa, Mawson and Clark will occupy the central defender position assuming Southgate plays with a back four. Yet again for another team, the Goalkeeper position is a worry. David Button who is currently second choice for Brighton will likely start although it could be a toss-up between any of the three below-average stoppers. I have high hopes for this team, if Kane remains injury-free they will surely be in and around the title race. Team 7 – South-West Midlands - Berkshire, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire – Population: 3,661,711 Media Prediction: 18th - Title Odds: 500-1 Manager – Brian McDermott (Slough, Unemployed) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Luke Southwood GK Oxford Reading ENG 21 Jojo Wollacott GK Bristol Bristol City ENG 22 George Legg GK Reading - ENG 23 Jack Stacey D/WB (R) Ascot Bournemouth ENG 23 Joe Bryan D (L) Bristol Fulham ENG 25 Lloyd Kelly D (LC) Bristol Bournemouth ENG 20 Matty Cash D/WB/M/AM (R) Slough Nottm Forest ENG 21 Jake Cooper D (C) Ascot Millwall ENG 24 Jayden Bogle D/WB (R) Reading Derby County ENG 18 Sam Hutchinson D (C), DM, M (C) Slough Sheffield Wednesday ENG 29 Darnell Fisher D/WB (R) Reading Preston ENG 25 Alex Pearce D (C) Oxford Millwall IRL 30 Eric Dier D (C), DM, M (C) Cheltenham Tottenham ENG 25 Jed Wallace M (R), AM (RC) Reading Millwall ENG 25 Andy King DM, M/AM (C) Maidenhead Huddersfield WAL 30 Louis Thompson D (C), DM, M (C) Swindon MK Dons WAL 24 Herbie Kane DM, M (C) Bristol Hull City ENG 20 Callum O'Dowda M/AM (RL) Oxford Bristol City IRL 24 Josh McEachran DM, M (C) Oxford Birmingham ENG 26 Billy Bodin AM (RLC) Swindon Preston WAL 27 Theo Walcott AM (R), ST (C) Newbury Everton ENG 30 Dominic Solanke ST (C) Reading Bournemouth ENG 21 Bobby Decordova-Reid AM (C), ST (C) Bristol Fulham JAM 26 Charlie Austin ST (C) Hungerford West Brom ENG 29 Tyler Roberts AM (RLC), ST (C) Gloucester Leeds Utd WAL 20 Likely Starting XI The largest team by population out of the 20, South-West Midlands was the only way I could describe this group of counties (very uncreative, I know). Despite having the biggest catchment area of all the clubs, this doesn’t seem to translate to having the biggest impact on the pitch. Out of the 25 players, only 5 are currently playing in the top flight. Brian McDermott has been given the job of managing this team in the experiment, who has surprisingly been out of a job since May 2016 when he had his second stint as Reading manager which lasted only 6 months before he was sacked. With 87 England caps between them Theo Walcott and Eric Dier will look to provide leadership in a team which lacks quality all over the pitch. Eric Dier interestingly is predicted to start in defence for McDermott’s men. One of Leicester’s surprise title winners, Andy King adds to the experience but apart from the 3 mentioned players, this appears to be a fairly inexperienced squad. Dom Solanke, who was tipped for big things only a few years ago will likely partner Walcott upfront in a pacey duo. Charlie Austin will also be in the mix and will likely chip in with a few goals over the season. Matty Cash has a lot of potential and will add value to the team whether he plays at fullback or on the right side of midfield. This is another team which is lacking a top keeper, Jojo Wollacott is predicted to start. Wollacott has only managed 9 appearances this season at Forest Green Rovers so it doesn’t bode well for the defence in front of him. Overall, it doesn’t look great for this team, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this team in and around the bottom 3 come the end of the season especially with a worrying lack of quality in goal. Team 8 – South-East Midlands - Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire– Population: 3,051,792 Media Prediction: 14th - Title Odds: 200-1 Manager – Sean Dyche (Kettering, Burnley) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Karl Darlow GK Northampton Newcastle ENG 28 Simon Eastwood GK Luton Oxford United ENG 30 John Ruddy GK St. Ives Wolves ENG 32 Ben Chilwell D/WB (L) Bedford Leicester ENG 22 George Baldock D/WB (R) Aylesbury Sheffield United ENG 26 Jamal Lewis D/WB/M/AM (L) Luton Norwich NIR 21 James Justin D/WB (RL) Luton Leicester ENG 21 Jay Dasilva D/WB (L) Luton Bristol City ENG 21 Antonee Robinson D/WB (L) Milton Keynes Wigan USA 21 Darnell Furlong D (RLC) Luton West Brom ENG 23 Charlie l'Anson D (C ) Luton R. Majadahonda ENG James Clarke D (RC) Aylesbury Walsall ENG 29 Korey Smith DM, M (C) Luton Bristol City ENG 28 Lewis Baker DM, M/AM (C) Luton Chelsea ENG 24 Dele Alli M (C), AM (LC), ST (C) Milton Keynes Tottenham ENG 23 Izzy Brown M (RL), AM (RLC), ST (C) Peterborough Luton Town ENG 22 Matt Phillips WB/M/AM (R) Aylesbury West Brom SCO 28 Michael Jacobs M (RL), AM (RLC) Rothwell (Northants) Wigan ENG 27 Luke Berry M/AM (C) Cambridge Luton Town ENG 26 Teddy Bishop M (C) Cambridge Ipswich Town ENG 22 Callum Robinson AM (RLC), ST (C) Northampton West Brom IRL 24 Sean Maguire AM (L), ST (C) Luton Preston IRL 25 Ivan Toney ST (C) Northampton Peterborough ENG 23 Carlton Morris ST (C) Cambridge MK Dons ENG 23 Sam Baldock ST (C) Aylesbury Reading ENG 30 Likely Starting XI Another team with an uncreative name, apologies again to anyone from this region. Team 8 consists of counties Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire and will be managed by Sean Dyche. Expect a mix of deep croaky touchline shouts, direct football and hard work on the pitch. Dyche is experienced at the top level having managed in the premier league for 5 of the last 6 seasons and has even guided Burnley to the Europa League, albeit losing in the Playoff round to Olympiacos. John Ruddy, born in St Ives, will challenge Newcastle ‘keeper Karl Darlow for the starting berth in net. More strength in depth than most of the teams in the experiment in terms of the goalkeeper position. In defence, Ben Chilwell is the standout player and will look to bomb up the left flank and create a supply of chances for the team. On the other side Sheffield United’s George Baldock will hope to do the same, as he has done for Chris Wilders men all season. Luton native Charlie l’Anson, who rather amusingly is known in Spain simply as Charlie is currently playing for Rayo Majadahonda in Spain, Sean Dyche will no doubt remind him to keep it simple at the back. Milton Keynes born Dele Alli features in midfield and looks to be the best player in terms of ability in the team. Dyche will build the attack around Dele and will be hopeful he can provide a big impact and re-discover his form from the 2016/17 season by chipping in with plenty of goals. Chelsea duo Lewis Baker and Izzy Brown will be on the fringes of the team and will both be hoping to showcase their potential to Dyche. If Dele plays in a deeper role, Irish internationals Callum Robinson and Sean Maguire, who incidentally both play club football together at Preston, will make a claim to start up front. Despite being predicted to finish 14th, I can’t tell much difference between this team and the previous one who were predicted to finish 18th. I’d be surprised if this team does anything of note, although Sean Dyche can get the best out of his players that’s for sure. __________ Team 9 – East Anglia – Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk - Population: 3,457,571 Media Prediction: 17th - Title Odds: 400-1 Manager – Paul Warne (Norwich, Rotherham United) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Nick Pope GK Newmarket Burnley ENG 27 Angus Gunn GK Norwich Southampton ENG 23 Jed Steer GK Norwich Aston Villa ENG 26 James Tomkins D (RC) Basildon Crystal Palace ENG 30 Ryan Bennett D (C) Thurrock Leicester ENG 29 Sam Byram D (RL), M/AM (R) Thurrock Norwich ENG 25 Dominic Iorfa D (RC), WB (R) Southend-on-Sea Sheffield Wednesday ENG 24 Matt Clarke D (LC) Ipswich Derby County ENG 22 Cameron Carter-Vickers D (C) Southend-on-Sea Luton Town USA 21 Michael Morrison D (C) Haverhill Reading ENG 31 Charlie Daniels D (L) Harlow Bournemouth ENG 32 Morgan Fox D/WB (L) Chelmsford Sheffield Wednesday WAL 25 Luke Woolfenden D (RC) Ipswich Ipswich Town ENG 20 Todd Cantwell M/AM (RLC) Norwich Norwich ENG 21 Isaac Hayden DM, M (C) Chelmsford Newcastle ENG 24 Alex Pritchard AM (RLC) Orsett Huddersfield ENG 26 Josh Cullen DM, M (C) Southend-on-Sea Charlton IRL 23 Flynn Downes DM, M (C) Brentwood Ipswich Town ENG 20 Tom Adeyemi DM, M (C) Norwich - ENG 27 Joe Morrell M (C ) Ipswich Bristol City WAL 23 Joe Ward D/WB/AM (RL) Chelmsford Peterborough United ENG 23 Ian Henderson AM (RLC), ST (C ) Norwich Rochdale ENG 34 Macauley Bonne AM (RL), ST (C ) Ipswich Charlton ZIM 23 Charlie Brown ST (C ) Ipswich Chelsea ENG 19 Chris Martin ST (C ) Lowestoft Derby County SCO 30 Likely Starting XI The trio of counties of Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk make up the next team. Another team which aren’t predicted to fair well in the season, Team 9 will be managed by Paul Warne, who currently manages League 1 Rotherham United. Warne has had a great season so far and could well take the Millers back into the championship. Onto the players, Nick Pope is the standout player in an extremely average bunch of players. Pope is likely to have a hard season ahead of him with the amount of chances the team could concede. Alongside the only England International, Pope, the squad also features three players who have been capped by USA, Zimbabwe and Scotland. Angus Gunn and Jed Steer make up the goalkeeping contingent. Stand out players in defence include James Tomkins and Ryan Bennett who are no stranger to playing in the top flight. Spurs’ 8-time USA international Cameron Carter-Vickers who is currently on loan at championship side Luton Town also makes an appearance along with Sam Byram and Charlie Daniels in the fullback roles. Talented young player Todd Cantwell will provide the flair and creativity, alongside Isaac Hayden who will help to add a bit of balance to Paul Warne’s midfield. Apart from that, there isn’t much to shout about for the East Anglians. Chris Martin, who has been capped 17 times for Scotland at senior international level will probably play upfront with there seemingly being a huge deficit of quality in the attacking areas for this side. Goals will surely be a worry for Paul Warne, I think the only chance this team stays up is Nick Pope having a great season. ___________ Team 10 – Wales & Hereford – Wales, Herefordshire – Population: 3,169,324 Media Prediction: 12th – Title Odds: 100-1 Manager – Tony Pulis (Newport, West Brom) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Danny Ward GK Wrexham Leicester WAL 26 Wayne Hennessey GK Llangefni Crystal Palace WAL 32 Lee Burge GK Hereford Sunderland ENG 26 Ben Davies D/WB (L) Neath Tottenham WAL 26 Joe Rodon D (C) Swansea Swansea WAL 21 Connor Roberts D/WB (RL) Neath Swansea WAL 23 Neil Taylor D/WB (L) Ruthin Aston Villa WAL 30 Ashley Richards D (RL), WB (R) Swansea Cardiff WAL 28 Andrew Hughes D (LC) Cardiff Preston WAL 27 Adam Matthews D/WB (RL) Swansea Charlton WAL 27 James Collins D (C) Newport - WAL 35 Joe Walsh D (C) Cardiff MK Dons WAL 27 Gareth Bale M (L), AM (RLC), ST (C) Cardiff Real Madrid WAL 29 Aaron Ramsey M (C), AM (RC) Caerphilly Juventus WAL 28 Jarrod Bowen M (RL), AM (RLC) Hereford West Ham ENG 22 Harry Wilson M (C), AM (RLC) Wrexham Bournemouth WAL 22 Lee Evans DM, M (C) Newport Wigan WAL 25 Emyr Huws DM, M (C) Llanelli Ipswich Town WAL 25 Tom Lawrence M (RL), AM (RLC) Wrexham Derby County WAL 25 Joe Allen DM, M (C) Carmarthen Stoke WAL 29 Wes Burns WB/M/AM (R ), ST (C ) Cardiff Fleetwood WAL 24 Connor Wickham AM (RLC), ST (C) Hereford Sheffield Wednesday ENG 26 Ched Evans ST (C ) St Asaph Fleetwood WAL 30 Ellis Harrison AM (L), ST (C) Newport Portsmouth WAL 25 Aaron Collins AM (RLC), ST (C) Newport Forest Green Rovers WAL 22 Likely Starting XI The first team containing players born outside of England, Wales and Herefordshire are the tenth team to be revealed and will be managed by Tony Pulis, who gets the nod over Mark Hughes and Ryan Giggs. The thought of Tony Pulis ordering Gareth Bale to launch throw-ins on to Connor Wickham’s head is a frightening one indeed. The Welsh national team currently have their ‘golden generation’ of players having reached their highest world rankings of 8th only 4 years ago. The squad, rather staggeringly contains a combined total of 511 Wales caps. Wayne Hennessey being the most experienced with 84 caps for his country. The cream of the crop, in this team is certainly Gareth Bale who is capable of providing a lot of quality. Gareth is the second highest rated player in the league behind Team 6’s Harry Kane. Another key player in midfield is Aaron Ramsey, who will act as a box to box player and will give Tony Pulis’ men a bit of quality as well as work rate in the middle. Joe Allen will play in the quarterback role and will look to dictate play in front of the back four. The squad is made up of all welsh players apart from the three Hereford lads. One of those include Jarrod Bowen who will make an interesting partnership with Gareth Bale on the wings. Another is Connor Wickham who looks likely to start up front and will provide a platform for the team to build by holding the ball up for the more creative players. In defence, there is plenty of experience with the likes of James Collins, Ashley Richards and Ben Davies. The defence looks to be solid compared to the other defences in the league and should work together well in front of either Danny Ward or Wayne Hennessey especially given the discipline Pulis will bring. I think this squad has lots of potential and 100-1 title odds looks to be worth a couple of quid. Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have the potential to push this team right up the league, however, it remains yet to be seen whether Pulis gives them the freedom they need. __________ Team 11 – West Midlands -West Midlands, Warwickshire – Population: 3,420,627 Media Prediction: 9h - Title Odds: 35-1 Manager – Sam Allardyce (Dudley, Unemployed) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Ben Foster GK Leamington Spa Watford ENG 36 James McKeown GK Birmingham Grimsby ENG 30 Scott Brown GK Wolverhampton Port Vale ENG 34 Rico Henry D/WB (L) Edgbaston Brentford ENG 21 Nathan Ferguson D (RC) Birmingham West Brom ENG 18 Cyrus Christie D/WB (R) Coventry Fulham IRL 26 Richard Stearman D (C) Wolverhampton Huddersfield ENG 31 Tom Lees D (C) Warwick Sheffield Wednesday ENG 28 Max Lowe D/WB (L) Birmingham Derby County ENG 22 Danny Batth D (C) Kingswinford Stoke ENG 28 Jordan Clarke D (RC), WB (R ) Coventry Scunthorpe United ENG 27 James Maddison M (LC), AM (RLC) Coventry Leicester ENG 22 Jack Grealish M/AM (RLC) Solihull Aston Villa ENG 23 Nathan Redmond AM (RLC), ST (C) Birmingham Southampton ENG 25 Demarai Gray M/AM (RL), ST (C) Birmingham Leicester ENG 22 Romaine Sawyers DM, M/AM (C) Birmingham West Brom SKN 27 Nathaniel Mendez-Laing M (R), AM (RL) Birmingham Cardiff ENG 27 Jude Bellingham M/AM (RLC) Stourbridge Birmingham ENG 15 Dan Crowley M/AM (C) Coventry Birmingham IRL 21 Sam Morsy DM, M (C) Wolverhampton Wigan EGY 27 Callum Wilson ST (C) Coventry Bournemouth ENG 27 Troy Deeney ST (C) Birmingham Watford ENG 30 Andre Gray AM (R), ST (C) Wolverhampton Watford ENG 27 Kemar Roofe AM (RLC), ST (C) Walsall RSC Anderlecht ENG 26 Daniel Sturridge ST (C) Birmingham - ENG 29 Likely Starting XI The West Midlands is an area with plenty of Premiership and Championship level clubs and has produced many top players in the past. The current generation is predicted to finish 9th out of the 20 teams and will be managed by Sam Allardyce, who rather staggeringly has managed 7 premier leagues clubs in his career, more than any other manager. Allardyce also holds the record for the shortest ever serving permanent England manager, lasting just one game before being sacked due to corruption allegations. Big Sam will bring plenty of experience to the team and will demand a high work rate from his team. Troy Deeney is a player who will epitomise his manager on the pitch and will provide hard work, aggression and all round shithousery. Deeney will be certainly first pick for the captain’s arm band, alongside Deeney, the squad will benefit from the experience and leadership of 37-year-old Ben Foster, who has a total of 355 Premier League appearances and will start in goal. The squad lacks top level quality in defence and is very much a championship standard defence. In front of the back four FM has predicted Allardyce will start with Sam Morsy and Romaine Sawyers who are both capped for Egypt and Saint Kitts and Nevis respectively. Wonderkid Jude Bellingham will likely feature off the bench over the course of the season and could make a claim to start if he impresses enough. The main strength of this team will be in the attacking third, the team features an array of players with a mix of pace, creativity and flair. Grealish and Maddison, who are likely to fight over set piece duties should provide enough chances for the likes of Callum Wilson and Andre Gray who have genuine pace about them. Amongst the other attacking midfielders and forwards is Nathan Redmond, Demarai Gray and Daniel Sturridge. Sturridge is currently without a club having been found guilty of breaching gambling laws. A team with plenty of goals in it, I wouldn’t be surprised if they finish higher than 9th in the league albeit Big Sam will have to keep the defence and midfield organised so that they don’t concede too many. _________ Team 12 – East Midlands -Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland – Population: 3,272,395 Media Prediction: 19h - Title Odds: 550-1 Manager – Nigel Pearson (Nottingham, Watford) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Jordan Smith GK Nottingham Nottm Forest ENG 24 James Belshaw GK Nottingham Harrogate Town ENG 28 Scott Loach GK Nottingham Barnet ENG 31 Kieron Freeman D (RL), WB (R) Arnold Sheffield United WAL 27 Liam Moore D (C) Loughborough Reading ENG 26 Joe Worrall D (C) Nottingham Nottm Forest ENG 22 Liam Palmer D (RL), WB (R) Worksop Sheffield Wednesday SCO 27 Wes Harding D (RC) Leicester Birmingham ENG 22 Tendayi Darikwa D/WB (R) Nottingham Nottm Forest ZIM 27 Wes Morgan D (C) Nottingham Leicester JAM 35 Elliott Moore D (RC), DM Coalville Oxford United ENG 22 Joe Mattock D/WB (L) Leicester Rotherham United 29 Hamza Choudhury DM, M (C) Loughborough Leicester ENG 21 Tom Cairney M/AM (C) Nottingham Fulham SCO 28 Lee Tomlin M/AM (C) Leicester Cardiff ENG 30 Ryan Yates DM, M (C) Nottingham Nottm Forest ENG 21 Sam Clucas DM, M (LC), AM (L) Lincoln Stoke ENG 28 Ben Woodburn M (C), AM (RLC), ST (C) Nottingham Oxford United WAL 19 Tom Huddlestone D (C), DM, M (C) Nottingham Derby County ENG 32 Tom Naylor D (C), DM, M (C) Sutton-in-Ashfield Portsmouth ENG 27 Che Adams ST (C) Leicester Southampton ENG 22 David McGoldrick AM (C), ST (C) Nottingham Sheffield United IRL 31 Patrick Bamford AM (RC), ST (C) Grantham Leeds Utd ENG 25 Jonson Clarke-Harris ST (C) Leicester Bristol Rovers ENG 24 Tyler Walker ST (C) Nottingham Nottm Forest ENG 22 Likely Starting XI On the east side of the midlands, team 12 will be managed by Nigel Pearson who is infamous for his ostrich allegation against a journalist. Pearson is another experienced manager who has recently performed well at Watford bringing them out of the relegation zone after a terrible start to the season under Quique Sanchez Flores. East Midlands are predicted to finish 19th and look to be in a relegation scrap all season, Pearson may be a good manager to keep them up. There isn’t much quality throughout the squad, particularly in the goalkeeping position where it looks like Jordan Smith will start. Smith has been on loan this season at League 2 Mansfield Town from Nottingham Forest. Similar to the West Midlands, the defence looks to be largely championship standard with the exception of the hugely experienced Wes Morgan who is familiar to Pearson from his time at Leicester. Morgan will no doubt be a certainty for captain duties and should make a good partnership in defence with Reading’s Liam Moore. Tom Huddlestone will sit in front of the defence, Huddlestone has won 4 England caps but hasn’t been called up since November 2012 by Roy Hodgson. Alongside him is Hamza Choudhury who rather exotically has Bangladeshi-Grenadian heritage and should make a solid pairing with Huddlestone. In attack, Pearson has a choice between £15m Saints flop Che Adams, Patrick Bamford or Sheffield United’s David McGoldrick who has won 10 caps for the Republic of Ireland. There doesn’t appear to be much depth on the flanks so Pearson will probably have to adopt a narrower formation. Overall, the verdict on the East Midlands is not great, Pearson will have to do miracles for this team to avoid the drop. _________ Team 13 – South Yorkshire & Humber -Derbyshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, South Yorkshire – Population: 3,017,379 Media Prediction: 2nd - Title Odds: 5-1 Manager – Chris Wilder (Stocksbridge, Sheffield United) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Cameron Dawson GK Sheffield Sheffield Wednesday ENG 23 Joe Wildsmith GK Sheffield Sheffield Wednesday ENG 23 George Long GK Sheffield Hull City ENG 25 John Stones D (C) Barnsley Manchester City ENG 25 Harry Maguire D (C) Sheffield Man Utd ENG 26 Kyle Walker D/WB (R) Sheffield Manchester City ENG 29 Danny Rose D/WB/M (L) Doncaster Newcastle ENG 28 Mason Holgate D (RC) Doncaster Everton ENG 22 Jamaal Lascelles D (C) Derby Newcastle ENG 25 Matt Lowton D/WB (R) Chesterfield Burnley ENG 30 Liam Cooper D (C) Hull Leeds Utd SCO 27 Gary Cahill D (C) Sheffield Crystal Palace ENG 33 Kyle Naughton D (RL) Sheffield Swansea ENG 30 Daniel James M/AM (RL) Hull Man Utd WAL 21 Ben Osborn M (LC), AM (L) Derby Sheffield United ENG 24 Alex Mowatt M/AM (C) Doncaster Barnsley ENG 24 Max Clark D/WB (L), DM, M (LC) Hull Vitesse ENG 23 Ben Wiles M/AM (RLC) Rotherham Rotherham ENG 20 Louis Reed DM, M (C ) Sheffield Peterborough United ENG 22 Luke Brattan DM, M (C ) Hull Sydney FC AUS 29 Jamie Vardy ST (C) Sheffield Leicester ENG 32 Dominic Calvert-Lewin AM (RL), ST (C) Sheffield Everton ENG 22 Billy Sharp ST (C) Sheffield Sheffield United ENG 33 Lee Gregory ST (C) Sheffield Stoke ENG 30 Jack Marriott ST (C) Beverley Derby County ENG 24 Likely Starting XI Next up we have the combined counties of Derbyshire, East Riding of Yorkshire and South Yorkshire. Chris Wilder takes the manager job, who has been doing fantastically at Sheffield United this season. The squad features international level quality in defence with great strength in depth, Sheffield, in particular, have produced an amazing number of top defenders. The squad has a combined total of 220 England caps, with 200 of those coming from the defence. The starting back four has enough quality to compete in a top four Premier League team with the likes of the most expensive defender ever, Harry Maguire. Alongside him are Man City duo John Stones and Kyle Walker as well as Danny Rose at left back. The strength in depth is highlighted by players such as Jamaal Lascelles, Gary Cahill and Mason Holgate who may have to start from the bench. The back four will play in front of Sheffield Wednesday’s Cameron Dawson who looks to be a decent player who could play at Premiership level. Unfortunately, the quality in defence doesn’t quite translate into the midfield. The midfield three will have to work hard in order to win the ball back and give it to the pacey attack that features Dan James, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and the impressive Jamie Vardy. The squad looks made up to be devastating on the counterattack and Vardy will surely be in for a chance with the Golden Boot come the end of the season providing that the midfield can provide the chances. This teams looks very strong on paper and look like they won’t concede much based on the strength they have had the back. This team should be in and around the title race come the end of the season and will hope to prove that you can win titles with your defence. __________ Team 14 – Greater Manchester - Greater Manchester – Population: 2,782,552 Media Prediction: 5th - Title Odds: 8-1 Manager – Gareth Ainsworth (Blackburn, Wycombe Wanderers) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Luke Daniels GK Bolton Brentford ENG 31 Keiren Westwood GK Manchester Sheffield Wednesday IRL 34 Kieran O'Hara GK Manchester Man Utd IRL 23 Ben Mee D (LC) Sale Burnley ENG 29 James Tarkowski D (C) Manchester Burnley ENG 26 Brandon Williams D/WB (L) Manchester Man Utd ENG 18 Michael Keane D (C) Stockport Everton ENG 26 Rob Holding D (C) Stalybridge Arsenal ENG 23 Kieran Trippier D/WB (R) Bury AtlÃ©tico de Madrid ENG 28 Craig Dawson D (RC) Rochdale Watford ENG 29 Tosin Adarabioyo D (RC) Manchester Blackburn ENG 21 Joe Bennett D/WB (L) Rochdale Cardiff ENG 29 Phil Foden M/AM (C) Stockport Manchester City ENG 19 Dwight McNeil M/AM (RL), ST (C) Rochdale Burnley ENG 19 Dale Stephens DM, M (C) Bolton Brighton ENG 29 Danny Drinkwater M (C) Manchester Aston Villa ENG 29 Ben Pearson DM, M (C) Oldham Preston ENG 24 Joe Rothwell M (C), AM (RLC) Manchester Blackburn ENG 24 Ryan Kent M/AM (RL) Oldham Rangers ENG 22 Tom Ince AM (RLC) Stockport Stoke ENG 27 Marcus Rashford AM (L), ST (C) Manchester Man Utd ENG 21 Danny Welbeck AM (RL), ST (C) Manchester Watford ENG 28 Scott Hogan AM (R), ST (C) Salford Birmingham IRL 27 Tyrese Campbell ST (C) Stockport Stoke ENG 19 Jordan Rhodes ST (C) Oldham Sheffield Wednesday SCO 29 Likely Starting XI Greater Manchester are the only team out of the 20 to be made up of one county, the smallest region in terms of population but they appear to have some potential this season having been predicted to finish 5th. This is a region which has produced some fantastic players in the past including Geoff Hurst and probably most famously, part of the class of ’92 featuring Gary Neville and Paul Scholes Despite having a good mix of players, there doesn’t seem to be a great selection of managers born from the region. Gareth Ainsworth, who has done well in recent years at Wycombe will take charge, Gareth has been at Wycombe for 8 years and has oversaw promotion into League 1.Impressively Ainsworth is the longest serving manager in the premier and football league. Unsurprisingly out of the 25 players in the squad, 14 have come through the academies of Premier League giants Man Utd and Man City. Brentford keeper Luke Daniels will compete with Sheff Wed’s Keiren Westwood to start in goal. Infront of the keeper this is another squad with a strong defence, Burnley duo Tarkowski and Mee will make a good partnership if they start. Otherwise Michael Keane, Craig Dawson and Rob Holding will also make their claim for a starting spot in Ainsworth’s defence. In the fullback positions there is quality with Atletico’s Kieran Trippier who will also hope to be on set piece duties, on the other side is young Brandon Williams who has had a breakthrough season at Man Utd. Premier league winner and more recently Chelsea flop Danny Drinkwater is predicted to start alongside Brighton’s Dale Stephens. However Greater Manchester also have the extremely talented Phil Foden who will definitely feature in the team over the course of the season. Sharing 74 caps between them Danny Welbeck and Marcus Rashford will provide the firepower, particularly Rashford will be the key man in attack. Alongside them will be either Ryan Kent or Tom Ince, son of former Liverpool and Man Utd midfielder Paul Ince. Amongst the rest of the attacking contingent is Jordan Rhodes, who once was a prolific goal scorer in the football league. With some talent in important areas of the pitch, the team from Greater Manchester could quite possibly finish in the top four despite having the team with the smallest population out of the 20 by a fair bit. This is another team which will rely on their quality in defence and will be hoping to get as many clean sheets as possible. _________ Team 15 – North-West - Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside – Population: 3,391,458 Media Prediction: 3rd - Title Odds: 6-1 Manager – Phil Parkinson (Chorley, Sunderland) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Dean Henderson GK Whitehaven Sheffield United ENG 22 Sam Johnstone GK Preston West Brom ENG 26 Scott Carson GK Whitehaven Manchester City ENG 33 Trent Alexander-Arnold D/WB (R), DM, M (C) Liverpool Liverpool ENG 20 Conor Coady D (C), DM, M (C) Liverpool Wolves ENG 26 Phil Jones D (C) Preston Man Utd ENG 27 Jack O'Connell D (C) Liverpool Sheffield United ENG 25 Jonjoe Kenny D/WB (R) Liverpool Schalke 04 ENG 22 Aaron Cresswell D (LC), WB (L) Liverpool West Ham ENG 29 Martin Kelly D (RC) Liverpool Crystal Palace ENG 29 Scott Dann D (C) Liverpool Crystal Palace ENG 32 Leighton Baines D/WB (L) Liverpool Everton ENG 34 Ross Barkley M/AM (C) Liverpool Chelsea ENG 25 Scott McTominay M (C) Lancaster Man Utd SCO 22 Harvey Barnes AM (RLC), ST (C) Burnley Leicester ENG 21 Oliver Norwood DM, M (C) Burnley Sheffield United NIR 28 Tom Davies DM, M/AM (C) Liverpool Everton ENG 20 John Lundstram DM, M (C) Liverpool Sheffield United ENG 25 Matty James DM, M (C) Bacup Leicester ENG 27 Connor Mahoney M (RL), AM (RLC) Blackburn Millwall ENG 22 Rabbi Matondo M/AM (RL) Liverpool Schalke 04 WAL 18 Jay Rodriguez M (RL), AM (RLC), ST (C) Burnley Burnley ENG 29 Wayne Rooney DM, M/AM (C), ST (C) Liverpool Derby County ENG 33 Joe Garner ST (C) Blackburn Wigan ENG 31 Glenn Murray ST (C) Workington Brighton ENG 35 Likely Starting XI This is another region which has produced some fantastic players in the past, particularly from the city of Liverpool. Famous players to come out of Liverpool include Steven Gerrard, Robbie Fowler and Wayne Rooney (who features in the current squad). Again, the standard of players doesn’t match the standard of manager with Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson taking charge. Parkinson’s biggest achievement is taking League two Bradford City to the 2013 League cup final. Predicted to finish 3rd, this team has all round ability and is one of the stronger regions as many people expected. Dean Henderson, who has had a great season with Sheffield United, will start in goal and is one of the best goalkeepers in the league. FM is predicting that Parkinson will adopt a 3-4-3/5-2-3 system with two attacking wingbacks who are both at different stages of their career. Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has developed into one of the best attacking fullbacks in the world and on the other flank, the experienced Leighton Baines. In terms of the central defenders, the squad features premier league players including Connor Coady and Jack O’Connell who play their football at Wolves and Sheffield United respectively and have had a great season so far. Amongst the remainder of the defenders are Aaron Cresswell, Phil Jones and Jonjoe Kenny. In the midfield, there is plenty of premier league quality, with FM predicted that the central pairing will be young Scott McTominay and the more attacking option Ross Barkley. FPL legend Lundstram will make the bench and will be hoping to provide a few goals and assists to the team. In the wide areas, the talented young Harvey Barnes will probably play on the right and on the left Ainsworth will have a choice of either Jay Rodriguez or inexperienced Rabbi Matondo who plays his football at Schalke. __________ Team 16 – North & West Yorks’ -North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire – Population: 3,434,422 Media Prediction: 10th - Title Odds: 40-1 Manager – Steve McClaren (York, Unemployed) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Alex Smithies GK Huddersfield Cardiff ENG 29 Craig MacGillivray GK Harrogate Portsmouth SCO 26 David Stockdale GK Leeds ENG 33 Ben Godfrey D (C), DM York Norwich ENG 21 Charlie Taylor D/WB/M (L) York Burnley ENG 25 James Milner WB (RL), DM, M (RLC) Leeds Liverpool ENG 33 James Tavernier D/WB/M (R) Bradford Rangers ENG 27 Connor Goldson D (C) York Rangers ENG 26 Jack Hunt D/WB (R) Leeds Bristol City ENG 28 Andre Wisdom D (RC), WB (R) Leeds Derby County ENG 26 Jonny Howson D (RC), WB (R), M (C) Leeds Middlesbrough ENG 31 Fabian Delph D (L), M (C) Bradford Everton ENG 29 Kalvin Phillips DM, M (C) Leeds Leeds Utd ENG 23 Lewis Cook DM, M (C) Leeds Bournemouth ENG 22 Aaron Lennon M (R), AM (RL) Leeds Burnley ENG 32 Danny Ward M (L), AM (LC), ST (C) Bradford Cardiff ENG 28 Jack Clarke M (R), AM (RL) York QPR ENG 18 Jamie Shackleton M (C) Leeds Leeds Utd ENG 19 Marcus Tavernier M (C), AM (RLC) Leeds Middlesbrough ENG 20 Jacob Brown M/AM (R), ST (C) Halifax Barnsley ENG 21 Erling Haaland ST (C) Leeds Borussia Dortmund NOR 18 Mason Greenwood AM (R), ST (C) Bradford Man Utd ENG 17 Oliver McBurnie AM (RC), ST (C) Leeds Sheffield United SCO 23 Ashley Fletcher AM (RL), ST (C) Keighley Middlesbrough ENG 23 Josh Windass AM (RLC), ST (C) Bradford Sheffield Wednesday ENG 25 Likely Starting XI The region of Yorkshire would have finished 12th in the 2012 Olympics medal table if considered an independent country, the impressive production of line of sportsmen also includes some decent footballers as shown by the quality included within the South Yorkshire team. The North & West Yorkshire team doesn’t quite have the same level of ability however does boast some exciting names. Steve McClaren, nicknamed ‘the wally with the brolly’ as part of his unsuccessful spell as England manager failing to qualify for Euro 2008, will manage the North & West Yorks’ side. McClaren has managed in Germany, Holland and England since then and guided FC Twente to their first ever Eredivisie title in 2009. Since then, he has rather unsuccessful spells at the likes of Newcastle, QPR and Wolfsburg. The standout name within this team is the Norwegian wonderkid Erling Braut Haaland, who surprisingly was born in Leeds when his Dad Alfe-Inge was playing for Leeds in the late nineties. Haaland has been an absolute revelation in the past year and has scored for fun, even since joining Dortmund he has in averaging almost a goal a game. Haaland will be part of an exciting young attacking trio alongside Mason Greenwood and Oli McBurnie which will certainly be full of raw talent and ability with an enormous amount of potential. Amongst the rest of the team, James Milner is the most experienced player by a long way, Milner seems to get better with age and will probably put in a decent shift in any position with McClaren chooses to deploy him. Fabian Delph and Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips will form a tireless midfield duo and are both arguably premier league standard players who will make a big impact in the team. Bournemouth’s Lewis Cook who has been once capped for England will also throw his name in the hat to be a part of McClaren’s starting midfield. In defence, Norwich’s Ben Godfrey looks to be the standout player (apart from Milner) and will probably partner either Andre Wisdom or Connor Goldson at the back depending what system McClaren adopts. The number one shirt will go to Cardiff’s Alex Smithies, who has featured 21 times for Cardiff in the championship in the year so far and will offer a reliable choice in net, although probably won’t do anything spectacular. Haalands goals alongside Miners experience could prove vital to McClaren’s men having a good season as there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of quality to warrant a better finish than the currently predicted 10th place __________ Team 17 – North-East & Borders - County Durham, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, East Midlothian, Edinburgh City, Midlothian, Scottish Borders - Population: 3,127,298 - Media Prediction: 11th- Title Odds: 45-1 Manager – Gordon Strachan (Edinburgh, Unemployed) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Jordan Pickford GK Sunderland Everton ENG 25 Fraser Forster GK Hexham Celtic ENG 31 Scott Bain GK Edinburgh Celtic SCO 27 Ben Gibson D (C) Middlesbrough Burnley ENG 26 Chris Basham D (C), DM, M (C) Gateshead Sheffield United ENG 30 Dan Burn D (LC) Blyth Brighton ENG 27 Paul Dummett D (LC) Newcastle Newcastle WAL 27 Callum Paterson D/WB (R), M/AM (RC) Edinburgh Cardiff SCO 24 Adam Reach WB (L), M/AM (RLC) Chester-le-Street Sheffield Wednesday ENG 26 Dael Fry D (C) Middlesbrough Middlesbrough ENG 21 Hayden Coulson D/WB/M/AM (L) Gateshead Middlesbrough ENG 21 Jordan Henderson DM, M (C) Sunderland Liverpool ENG 29 Sean Longstaff DM, M (C) North Shields Newcastle ENG 21 Matty Longstaff DM, M/AM (C) North Shields Newcastle ENG 19 Jonathan Hogg DM, M (C) Middlesbrough Huddersfield ENG 30 Lewis Wing M/AM (C) Newton Aycliffe Middlesbrough ENG 24 Jack Colback DM, M (C) Newcastle Newcastle ENG 29 Jordan Jones AM (RL) Middlesbrough Rangers NIR 24 Giovanni Reyna M/AM (LC) Sunderland Borussia Dortmund USA 16 Sammy Ameobi AM (RL) Newcastle Nottm Forest NGA 27 Adam Armstrong AM (RL), ST (C) Newcastle Blackburn ENG 22 Leigh Griffiths ST (C) Edinburgh Celtic SCO 28 Andy Carroll ST (C) Gateshead Newcastle ENG 30 Jordan Hugill ST (C) Stockton-on-Tees QPR ENG 27 Martyn Waghorn AM (RLC), ST (C) South Shields Derby County ENG 29 Likely Starting XI The North-East of England is a football mad region which has produced amazing players in the past, including the likes of Chris Waddle, Gazza, Peter Beardsley, Michael Carrick and of course the legendary Alan Shearer. In terms of the Scottish contingent of the squad, Edinburgh is less known for producing football players compared to the other big Scottish city Glasgow, however the manager, Edinburgh-born Gordon Strachan will be representing the Scots. Out of the 25 players, only 3 Scottish born players make the squad, all of whom will probably be fringe players. The squad unfortunately doesn’t match the level of ability of its predecessors from the region. Sunderland academy products Jordan Pickford and Jordan Henderson, who lifted the champions league trophy last year, are the two stand out players from this region. Pickford has been England’s first choice goalkeeper for the past few years and is one of the better keepers in this league. Alongside Henderson in the midfield will be one of the Longstaff brothers who have both came through the Newcastle academy. Sean had his breakthrough season last season whilst brother Matty has emerged within the current season. Both brothers are a similar type of player with younger brother, Matty has a bit more energy and probably offers a more balanced option alongside Henderson. Another Borussia Dortmund youngster who was born in the UK, Giovanni Reyna, features in the attacking midfield. Gio was born in Sunderland of all places, when his Dad Claudio was playing in the North-East. Reyna is predicted to start in the number ten role behind either Leigh Griffiths or 9 time England capped and £35m man (at one point) Andy Carroll. Carroll has largely had a career of injuries and under-performances since his big money move to Liverpool but will always be a handful for defenders. In defence, the squad features some decent premier league players, including the likes of Ben Gibson, Chris Basham, Dan Burn and Welsh international Paul Dummett. Unfortunately, the strength in defence is largely in the central positions with the full back positions looking a lot weaker by comparison. Overall a decent team that should be in and around the mid table positions come the end of the season. Pickford and the defence should hope to keep the clean sheets to take the pressure off the attacking part of the team. __________ Team 18 – N.I & SW Scotland - Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire- Population: 3,082,203 Media Prediction: 13th- Title Odds: 150-1 Manager – Brendan Rodgers (Carnlough, Leicester City) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Trevor Carson GK Downpatrick Motherwell NIR 31 Michael McGovern GK Enniskillen Norwich NIR 35 Craig Gordon GK Edinburgh Celtic NIR 36 Kieran Tierney D (LC), WB (L) Douglas [Isle Of Man] Arsenal SCO 22 Jonny Evans D (C) Belfast Leicester NIR 31 Craig Cathcart D (RC) Belfast Watford NIR 30 Shane Duffy D (C) Londonderry Brighton IRL 27 Grant Hanley D (C) Dumfries Norwich SCO 27 Greg Taylor D (L) Greenock Celtic SCO 21 Declan Gallagher D (RC), WB (R) Rutherglen Motherwell SCO 28 Michael Smith D (RC) Ballyclare Hearts NIR Conor McLaughlin D/WB (R ), DM Belfast Sunderland NIR 28 James Forrest M/AM (R) Irvine Celtic SCO 27 Kenny McLean DM, M/AM (C) Rutherglen Norwich SCO 27 Stuart Dallas D (R), M/AM (RL) Cookstown Leeds Utd NIR 28 Paddy McNair D (C), DM, M (C) Antrim Middlesbrough NIR 24 Gavin Whyte AM (R) Belfast Cardiff NIR 23 James McClean D/WB (L), M/AM (RL) Londonderry Stoke IRL 30 Corry Evans DM, M (C) Belfast Blackburn NIR 28 David Turnbull M/AM (C) Carluke Motherwell SCO 19 Steven Naismith M/AM (C), ST (C) Irvine Hearts SCO 32 Kyle Lafferty ST (C ) Enniskillen Sunderland NIR 31 Josh Magennis ST (C ) Bangor Hull City NIR 28 Liam Boyce ST (C ) Belfast Hearts NIR 28 Steven Lennon M(C ), AM (RLC), ST (C ) Irvine Fimleikafelag Hafnarfjardar SCO 31 Likely Starting XI The team featuring Northern Ireland and my place of birth, I’ll be backing Rodgers’ men for when I come to simulate the season. I’ve also included Isle of Man (who technically aren’t in the UK, but I’ve thrown them in for the inclusion of a particular player. As mentioned, Brendan Rodgers will take charge of this team which could’ve had either Martin or Michael O’Neill at the helm and he will be hoping to take this team higher than their predicted finish of 13th. The squad has a wealth of international experience featuring 743 international caps between them from players representing Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. The squad’s composition is made up of 14 Northern Irishmen, 10 Scots and the one player born in the Isle of Man, Kieran Tierney who plays his international football for Scotland. Tierney is probably the key player in the squad and there may have a been a bit of bias about his inclusion to boost the chances of this team. Nonetheless he is part of a decent defence which includes 3 time premier league winner and 80-time Northern Ireland capped Jonny Evans. Amongst the rest of defence, there is Watford’s Craig Cathcart, Brighton’s Shane Duffy and Grant Hanley. The midfield and attack are underwhelming and features only one player currently playing in the premier league. However, James Forrest offers a threat from the right wing and will be hoping to use his pace and trickery to full effect. On the other flank will probably be James McClean who no doubt would turn his nose up at representing this region if called upon in reality. Leading the line will be either of the ageing duo of Steven Naismith or Kyle Lafferty who would offer a more direct option for Rodgers’ men. Finally, in goal, Craig Gordon should provide a decent option and has played in the premier league in the past. Despite my allegainces to this team, I’m not too hopeful considering the squad above, but fingers crossed Brendan can work his magic and a top ten finish would be a success! __________ Team 19 – Northern Scotland - Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dundee City, East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Highlands, North Lanarkshire, Orkney Islands, Perth and Kinross, Shetland Islands, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian - Population: 3,405,207 Media Prediction: 7th- Title Odds: 25-1 Manager – Alex Ferguson (Glasgow, Man United (Technical Director)) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Zander Clark GK Glasgow St Johnstone SCO 27 David Marshall GK Glasgow Wigan SCO 34 Liam Kelly GK Glasgow QPR SCO 23 Andrew Robertson D/WB (L) Glasgow Liverpool SCO 25 John Souttar D (RC) Aberdeen Hearts SCO 22 Graeme Shinnie D/WB (L), DM, M (C) Aberdeen Derby County SCO 27 Barry Douglas D/WB (L) Glasgow Leeds Utd SCO 29 Stephen O'Donnell D/WB (R) Bellshill Kilmarnock SCO 27 Stuart Findlay D (LC) Glasgow Kilmarnock SCO 23 Scott McKenna D (C) Kirriemuir Aberdeen SCO 22 Scott Brown DM, M (C) Dunfermline Celtic SCO 33 Craig Forsyth D (LC), WB/M (L) Carnoustie Derby County SCO 30 Charlie Mulgrew D (C) Glasgow Blackburn Rovers 33 John McGinn DM, M/AM (C) Glasgow Aston Villa SCO 24 Ryan Fraser M/AM (RL) Aberdeen Bournemouth SCO 25 Stuart Armstrong M (C), AM (RC) Inverness Southampton SCO 27 John Fleck DM, M (C) Glasgow Sheffield United SCO 27 James McCarthy DM, M (C) Glasgow Crystal Palace IRL 28 Callum McGregor DM, M/AM (LC) Glasgow Celtic SCO 26 Ryan Christie M/AM (RLC) Inverness Celtic SCO 24 James McArthur DM, M (RC) Glasgow Crystal Palace SCO 31 Robert Snodgrass M (RL), AM (RLC) Glasgow West Ham SCO 31 Greg Stewart AM (RLC), ST (C) Stirling Rangers SCO 29 Lawrence Shankland ST (C) Glasgow Dundee Utd SCO 23 Ross McCormack M(L),AM (LC), ST (C ) Glasgow - SCO 32 Likely Starting XI Yes, that’s right, the most successful football manager of all time is coming out of retirement to participate in this experiment. I had some doubts over the inclusion of Fergie as he’s not technically still in management, nonetheless I thought I’d throw him in as he is still classed as being able to manage on FM and it could add another mini-experiment in the context of this to see how Fergie would do coming back to management with this type of squad at 78 years of age. The remaining counties of Scotland represent this team and, like the previous squad, has plenty of international of experience. Champions League winner and probably the best left back in the league, Andy Robertson, is the key player in this team and adds some quality to the defence which doesn’t appear to be anything special outside Robertson with the remaining defenders largely being at mid table SPL clubs. The midfield of this team is certainly the strength, FM predicts Celtic duo Callum McGregor and Scott Brown to sit in a pivot in front of the defence. Both players provide a balanced midfield and have experience playing in Celtic’s dominant spell in Scottish football. James McCarthy will also make a decent option if the managers decides to play with a three in midfield. In front of those two, will be an attacking trio of premier league players Ryan Fraser, Robert Snodgrass and Stefan Armstrong. Fraser, in particular, will be a threat with his direct running and ability to beat his man on the wing. The striker position, however, appears to be lacking quality. FM is predicting Dundee United man, Lawrence Shankland, to start upfront although Ferguson also has the option of Ross McCormack who has previously been prolific in the championship for both Leeds and Fulham. It will be interesting to see what effect the manager has on this team, theoretically the team should overperform with an excellent manager and that’s perhaps why they are predicted to finish 7th. __________ Team 20 – Western England - Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire - Population: 3,237,053 Media Prediction: 15th- Title Odds: 250-1 Manager – Adrian Heath (Newcastle-under-Lyme, Minnesota United) Name Position Birth City Club Nat Age Joe Hart GK Shrewsbury Burnley ENG 32 Tom Heaton GK Chester Aston Villa ENG 33 Aaron Ramsdale GK Stoke-on-Trent Bournemouth ENG 21 Jack Robinson D (LC) Warrington Sheffield United ENG 25 James Chester D (C) Warrington Stoke WAL 30 Curtis Nelson D (C) Newcastle-under-Lyme Cardiff ENG 26 Ryan Shawcross D (C) Chester Stoke ENG 31 Nathan Baker D (C) Worcester Bristol City ENG 28 Amari'i Bell D/WB (L) Burton-on-Trent Blackburn ENG 25 Tommy Smith D (RC) Warrington Stoke ENG 27 Ryan Shotton D (RC), WB (R) Stoke-on-Trent Middlesbrough ENG 30 Tom Edwards D (R) Stafford Stoke ENG 20 Jesse Lingard M (RL), AM (RLC) Warrington Man Utd ENG 26 David Brooks M (R), AM (RC) Warrington Bournemouth WAL 21 Marc Albrighton M/AM (RL) Tamworth Leicester ENG 29 Ashley Westwood DM, M (C) Nantwich Burnley ENG 29 Morgan Gibbs-White M/AM (C) Stafford Wolves ENG 19 Joe Lolley AM (RLC) Redditch Nottm Forest ENG 26 Josh Brownhill M (RC) Warrington Burnley ENG 23 Jack Harrison M (R), AM (RL) Stoke-on-Trent Leeds Utd ENG 22 Nick Powell M/AM (C) Crewe Stoke ENG 25 Elliott Bennett D/WB/M/AM (R) Telford Blackburn ENG 30 Tom Bradshaw ST (C) Shrewsbury Millwall WAL 26 Steven Fletcher ST (C) Shrewsbury Sheffield Wednesday SCO 32 Louis Moult ST (C) Stoke-on-Trent Preston ENG 27 Likely Starting XI And, the final team in the experiment as you may have noticed is a strange combination of counties. This region was put together as the result of my mistake of having to construct a region made up of the qualifying population after incorrectly dividing the UK into 19 teams and having to pull a group of counties together from the other regions I’d already selected. Managing this team will be former Everton and Burnley footballer Adrian Heath. Heath has managed in the USA since 2008 after brief spells at Burnley and Sheffield United in the late nineties. An unfamiliar name to most in terms of management, it remains to be seen what impact he will have. Onto the players. At first glance the teams appear to be made up of a group of washed up premier league players with a sprinkle of young talent. Typifying this is the goalkeeping position, Joe Hart and Tom Heaton, will compete for the number one jersey alongside young Bournemouth keeper Aaron Ramsdale. It seems like most of the other regions would be begging for any one of these three considering the lack of ability in this position at most of the other teams. In defence, the trend continues with the likes of Stoke duo James Chester and Ryan Shawcross who are alongside Jack Robinson and Curtis Nelson in the centre back position. The squad has a decent amount of ability in the midfield, which includes Jesse Lingard who more well known for his off the field social media antics than his ability on the pitch. Bournemouth’s David Brooks will probably play behind the striker whilst another of Leicester’s title winners, Marc Albrighton, will play on the left. An ageing Steven Fletcher will probably play upfront with competition from Millwall’s Tom Bradshaw and Preston’s Louis Moult who don’t appear to be having great seasons to date. 15th is probably about right for this squad although the relative inexperience of Adrian Heath could have an impact on how the season goes. __________ I hope you’ve all enjoyed the write-up which has taken a fair bit of time. If there's any errors in the above please let me know and I can make amends before I run the experiment. In the next post, I’ll be showing the results of the experiment which will be simulated in Football Manager 2020 and also the results of the prediction game. I thought it would be fun to predict what will happen in the simulation, so if you want to participate add a comment with your predictions for the following. The awards will be decided by FM and I will also be adding a cup competition which will probably be knockout based to run alongside the league. __________ Predictions Top four (1 pt for Top four, 2 pt for correct position) 1. 2. 3. 4. Bottom three (1 pt for bottom three, 2pt for correct position) 18. 19. 20. Cup Winner - Player Awards: Top goal scorer - Most Assists – Most Clean sheets – Player of the Year – Young player of the Year – Manager of the Year - Edited June 2, 2020 by jcoll Changed title 3 Link to post Share on other sites More sharing options...
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