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FM[21] Finis Coronat Opus


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Must admit I don't think I've ever been quite so hyped about an FM release as this one. Mainly down to two factors, as a Chelsea supporter, the changes in the squad from last season to this are ridiculously exciting, and the second reason being the save I've thought / cooked up.

I had a lot of fun with the Sir Alex Ferguson challenge on FM20, I grew to like the Leicester City squad I had assembled, and attempting to keep up and match the challenge kept it interesting. However, the main downside was the random selection of a team, and being locked into that one club. As my interest in the save waned I cast around the forums for inspiration and found some in an @andychar thread where he attempted to make Fulham the most successful club in London. I've also liked the look of youth only threads for a while, however the consensus that the first few years aren't overly enjoyable until you get the youth prospects up and running has always put me off. Until I came to the realisation that, this is my save, I can do it however on earth I like. So:

I will manage Chelsea, with many MANY challenges to accomplish in the save.

I'm going to attempt to not only make them the most successful club in English football history, but also aim for the most successful club in the world.

 

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As the above two images show, Chelsea currently sit 4th overall all time in England, and no English club is anywhere near the top 13 clubs in the world. However, as I am here for hopefully a long time as well as a good time, for the purposes of this save I am wiping the history books for Chelsea clean and starting from a total of zero trophies! In order to keep up with the most successful clubs in the world I have loaded the appropriate leagues to be able to keep tabs on them and be able to update their totals. This is true for 11 out of the top 13, as Al Ahly and Al-Faisaly I cannot load. With regards to the domestic side, I will be keeping the table updated with regards to teams in the football league, so we will see if any clubs climb the trophy table with us and become our nemesis as the years unfold.

Sticking with challenges I have devised a series of goals to chase and record for players:

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The above image is just an example of the 46 achievements that I have to accomplish with players. I have also decided to split the save up into three phases. The 1st phase will be to attempt the majority of these achievements with the players and transfers available at the start of the game. At some point I will then move onto phase 2 which will be to attempt the same achievements with a youth intake only set of players. Then finally phase 3 is a youth intake of only domestic players.

Alongside the player goals I also have devised club goals as well:

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There are 42 of these, some will be ticked off, others will be compared to historical real life Chelsea records. There are a further 27 Chelsea specific records (all time appearance maker / all time top scorer etc) to chase after. 

There is a lot to keep me busy and a lot to try keep track of! I've accepted I might make mistakes! The records I've researched are accurate as of the end of the 2019-20 Premier League season, IE Liverpool's title win is included in the results. However for example the Scottish season was not completed at the point I copied these records. Any additions I will be making will come from in game data not real life results. 

Also, in real life Harry Kane might very well beat Alan Shearer's all time Premier League goal scoring record. However for the purpose of player records I will only be comparing Chelsea players in comparison to the record at the point I copied it down. As just thinking about attempting to keep track of every player and where they are in relation to the records makes my head hurt! 

Finally, I also write on the FM Stories forum, a version of this thread Remembered as Comets: Not as Dead Rocks will be posted there. I like the idea of telling the same story two different ways, and I like both communities. So here will be a media heavy, numbers based, achievement driven update thread. While the stories forum will hold an emotional narrative of what happens to the characters.

 

Edited by Mandy42
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9 hours ago, andychar said:

You have managed to hit my 2 weak spots. Chelsea and a save with a ridiculous target. 

Shut up and have my follow!

Good luck!

 

8 hours ago, dREIS said:

This looks fantastic. Good luck. 

Thank you both, hope you enjoy and I think I will need the luck!

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Slightly redundant picture as I indicated this was who I was going to manage. However, that is probably the closest 3d photofit I have ever managed to create. 

What a sexy beast!

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No Frank Lampard effect on these season expectations! Finish in the top 4, reach the FA Cup final and the Champions League Semi Final! Working towards being self-sustainable is new, and will be interesting to see.

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And I've seen this before, only required to play attacking football, however I will likely "lose points" for not having enough possession or being entertaining enough, even though they aren't required.

 

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If they want me to play attacking football this is how we will look to go about it. I wanted a formation that got the majority of my best attacking players on the pitch at the same time. I'm not really interested in a concept of how we will play or a set style, beyond the board requirements. Creating a club DNA and style of play on the pitch will be more of a phase 2 and 3 thing. Which I would assume will be harder, as creating an identity and style of play when I cannot control which positions I receive players in, will be interesting. But that is a problem for another day, or more likely another decade.

I have two other formations I am training alongside this on, a more conservative 4-3-3 with a defensive midfielder and a very defensive minded counter attack formation which will be used when we come up against better opposition. Regarding players, it is interesting that Mendy is listed as the starter, and Kepa is an agreed backup. Chilwell, Gilmour and Anjorin are the players who would be in and around this 1st team line up but are injured. Ethan Ampadu, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley and Tiemoue Bakayoko are all players I could make use of but are on loan. 

An initial look shows no real room for Baba Rahman, Emerson is only really needed until Chilwell gets fit. Danny Drinkwater is not required, and Olivier Giroud will see limited time when his aerial presence and ability to hold the ball up are required.

 

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1 hour ago, abulezz said:

That's an awesome set of challenges, surely going to keep you motivated throughout the year. 

Thanks!

If not longer than a year, I am not the fastest player due to real life commitments, and I like to go into detail in my posts. I don't see myself buying next years game (having bought 3 in a row) so this could see me motivated hopefully for a long time!

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over 24 hours since I downloaded the beta and I play my 1st game. It's the intra squad friendly which isn't something I always go for, but figured with a new version I might as well. Interesting you get the new options this year with regards who exactly you will play from the clubs players. I picked the first vs second XI option, which made it a more competitive game but meant each team had a fairly depleted substitutes bench. The result was 1-1 which for a new set of players, playing a new system and formation is a fair enough result. We created an ok amount of chances, of varying types, there were some wayward and disjointed passing but that is to be expected. The midfield was very chaotic and interceptions and miss passes were flying all over the place. Though that part of the field was probably the most equally contested between the two XIs what with Mount and Kante being in the first team and Kovacic and Jorginho in the second team.

The first XI had a goal wrongly chalked off for offside which is frustrating. The ball is crossed in Giroud is the furthest player forward and offside, but the ball is played way beyond him to the far post where Werner arrives and buries the cross into the net. However the goal is ruled out because Giroud is ahead of play. I understand that the interfering with play offside rule might be difficult to code, but if that isn't what the developers are trying to implement then they could at least not count players who are offside and don't touch the ball.

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Pre Season 2020

Those of you who have followed my previous saves know how I feel about pre season friendlies. Who am I kidding, it's been quite a while since I dusted off a save so everyone probably needs a reminder. For me the opening friendlies are nothing more than getting as many players in the first team squad match fit as possible. Having nailed down a starting XI before the beginning of competitive fixtures is a bonus, but having the biggest pool of players ready to go in game week one is the priority. I always make sure I pass on the fitness and performance message during my team talks, whether we win or lose the focus has to be on getting better, both physically and tactically.

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Which means as disappointing as the Rennes loss was, I didn't get carried away. Scoring 13 and only conceding 2 definitely looks impressive. However the 3-1 win over Watford was anything but a sure thing. We were trailing from a Joao Pedro strike in the 68th minute. It took us until 4 minutes from time to get level, then we didn't look back. The same in the two following games. We look our most likely to score in the minutes after we have just scored, like our momentum snowballs and we become harder to stop. Though the best performance was likely the second 45 minutes against Hamburg. With the majority of the 1st team away on international duty the starting XI was rather ragtag to start with. Add in pre season fatigue and by the end of the 90 minutes we might as well have been fielding an under 18s team. The fact they continued to boss the fixture and didn't concede is a nice addition.

Speaking of additions, I've brought in two players on top of the large pool of talent that Chelsea had already signed before I took over.

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Edwards can play anywhere across the pitch as an attacking midfielder. He prefers the right side due to him being very left footed. I like having a backup for each position on the pitch and he rounds out my quartet of wide players.

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He might not be rated as a wonderkid like he has been for the previous few versions, but at only £2.5m I was willing to bring him in as competition for Reece James, as Azpilicueta is the wrong side of 30. He also has a long throw which could add another weapon to the armoury.

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In the out column it was more about freeing up wages and moving players on who were not going to feature in my plans. Plus the large number of loans for promising youngsters. Which as this is partly an achievement thread, we picked up these two already

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The last one for sending a scout to watch the trial day. I didn't end up signing anyone, but I did find this guy.

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As much as this is about wiping the record books clean and starting again, I couldn't resist. Nor could I resist this:

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In a slightly more serious note. Pre season wouldn't be complete without the hype regarding potential award winners later in the season.

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Never saw it before, like that if you don't have a player on the list it gives you the closest odds player in the squad to getting on the list.

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Three players on the Young player list! Much more like it.

Final note, I found my logos and portraits from last years version so this will be the last post with the daft boat crest for Chelsea! 

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September 2020

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Game Week 1

Yes the joyous images are back! lets get down to business of our opening day in the Premier League. Historically, I dislike opening day as it always seems to be a rude awakening after a smooth pre season.

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Man City massive favourites to win the league, with us odds on to finish where our media prediction suggests in 3rd. Which would suit me just fine

.So week by week round up. Starts with the results of the "big 6" and anyone who is in the European spaces that week in the league table. Every 5 seasons I will reassess the "big 6" if a club has been outside the European places for 50% or more of those seasons then they will lose their status and be replaced by someone else. As always if there is a team you want an update on that I am not focused on please let me know. There will be a competition round up at the end of the season(s) to keep tabs with the most successful club table. However, that is all running before we walk. 1st things 1st opening day fixtures in the Premier League.

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Book makers curse hits City at home straight off the bat. And Chelsea star Willian wastes no time opening his Arsenal account.

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Liverpool always seem like a machine in my saves and they have started no differently here.

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Four goals in two other games, with Man Utd struggling the most to take the points.

Then it was our turn, starting away to Wolves, not the worst game, but by no means easy either. In the 1st half we dominated possession but seemed unable to break the deadlock, our shots either going wide or straight at the Wolves keeper. Defensively we looked fine, and Wolves seemed unlikely to threaten, however I would have said the same about the Watford friendly, and they drew 1st blood in that game. When the 2nd half began much like the first, I came to the edge of the technical area and shouted at the players that I wanted more end product for our effort. Shortly after this scrappy effort finds it's way in. Not sure how this gets by Werner in the middle of the box and gets to Pulisic sliding in beyond him. However I do like how both wide players play inverted so that they occupy defenders inside the box and create space for the wingbacks. The right wingback is the one set to an attack duty so good to see Azpilicueta getting up the pitch. 

1 goal to the good I made my first change, a flagging Mason Mount, who had played twice in the international break, made way for Jorginho a player who doesn't really fit into my plans and I have been trying to swap for a midfielder at PSG. As we passed into the last third of the game I brought on new signing Jedvaj and Hudson-Odoi to bolster a flagging right side. Once more we chipped away down the right, until Timo Werner managed to steer the deflection off the goalkeeper into the net to double our advantage. 

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In the late kick off another 4 goals see Leicester top of the league!

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Our next game is Southampton at Stamford Bridge for the first home game on my tenure.

 

 

Edited by Mandy42
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6 hours ago, abulezz said:

Got the first win out of the way - the team is capable for sure. 

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indeed the 1st slab on hopefully a long LONG journey

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Edited by Mandy42
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September 2020

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Game Week 2

A game a week so far as we play our 1st home game of the season against Southampton. Before the game in the tactical briefing it is suggested to me that we go with a very attacking mentality, and 6-7 attack orders in the team to maximise our chances of getting a positive result. Yes Southampton drew their opening game, however there are no easy games in this league and I am wary of playing directly into their hands and giving them ample space in which to counter into. However, I figure the board want us to play attacking and entertaining football, lets see what happens. 

The first 20 minutes or so are nervy, we boss possession, have a goal ruled out correctly by VAR for offside, but we aren't really making any headway. Pulisic seems to be getting the lions share of the ball and the chances cutting in from the left, but so far he has been denied by the Southampton keeper. However from a Southampton goal kick we win the ball back and drive into their half. After a few rash Southampton challenges Pulisic has the space to slot in past the keeper at the near post. He has now scored 2 in 2. Our opponents don't learn their lesson, after a poor through ball by Azpilicueta ends up right in the keepers hands, we then proceed to win the ball back at midfield from the ensuing goal kick. A defence splitting through ball finds Kai Havertz who takes his chance across the keeper into the bottom corner of the net.

Not much else happens up until half time. I introduce Callum Hudson-Odoi, I mull over who to bring him on for. Pulisic is playing better, but is the more tired and has been carded. Ziyech isn't really having an influence on the game but is fresher. I swap him for Pulisic. His impact in the second half is immediate. Three minutes after the restart he beats a Southampton player to a bouncing ball on half way. He controls it and surges into the opposition half, curving his run to stay away from chasing defenders before smashing the ball past the enrushing keeper.

Our 4th comes moments later. Kante tracks back into the right wingback position to win the ball back, showing why he is still a key part of the 1st team. He frees Havertz down the right wing, whose low cross to the penalty spot provides Timo Werner with a tap in. He now is also on 2 goals in 2 games.

We have certainly found a rhythm, as we strike again just a few minutes later. It's early in the season but Mateo Kovacic plays potentially the through ball of the season to slice open the Southampton defence and give Hudson-Odoi his second of the game.

Perhaps 5 minutes pass before we score again. Much like Hudson-Odoi's 1st goal, we clear a Southampton attack to midfield. This time Kai Havertz collects the ball he runs unopposed into the Southampton box, he has Werner with him and I keep waiting for him to provide a cross similar to the one for Werner's goal. However Kai goes it alone, placing his shot into the bottom corner beyond the keeper. It is now 6-0, I might have to play with a very attacking mentality against bottom half opposition every time!

Definitely slowing down now as we don't score again for perhaps 10 whole minutes. From a throw in on the right.  We put the ball into the box, it is pulled back  for an advancing Kovacic who scores with a shot that goes right through the Southampton keeper.

With 20 or so minutes left to play I introduce Ben Chilwell to give him some 1st team minutes after his return from injury. I also remove Kante who is flagging after covering pretty much every blade of grass on the pitch. It is probably Kante's withdrawal that aids Southampton in gaining a consolation goal in the 81st minute. They string together their longest passage of play in the game and manage to feed the ball into Danny Ings in a very central position who makes no mistake with his strike.

However, not wanting to let Southampton have the last word, we strike again almost straight from the kick off. A Havertz through ball finds Mount, who came on for Kante, in behind the defence and with the simple task of stroking the ball home for our 8th! 

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Liverpool, Leeds and Leicester continue their impressive winning starts. While Arsenal need a Villa own goal to get their 2nd win.

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City look less than convincing in the late game but get the job done.

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Spurs bounce back against a Burnley team who imploded in the last 10 minutes!

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That sees us top of the league on goal difference! Though there is still a massively long way to go.

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The win did see us collect this steam achievement

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While we go away to League 1 opposition in the Carabao next.

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September 2020

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3rd Round

We play away at MK Dons, it's a pretty much full rotated team as every weekend we play a league game, and midweek we play in the cup.

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This isn't the team we field, but this is the formation. The game is televised, and after the high of the 8-1 win, I am definitely feeling more cautious about a potential giant slaying. So I go with a more solid formation and only an attacking mentality. It's most definitely a 2nd team performance, made more challenging by playing a less trained formation. We should have enough quality to see off MK Dons however, even though we do struggle. It takes until the 65th minute for us the break the deadlock. Hudson-Odoi spreads the ball from left to right, he finds Marcus Edwards in space on the right wing. After what appears to be a moments hesitation Edwards accelerates past the defender and strikes with power beyond the Dons keeper. 

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That is our only goal in a performance that sees the Dons manager suggest we aren't as good as we think we are. Ultimately I don't care, as we are through to the next round.

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Where we are drawn against 1 of only 4 non Premier League clubs left in the competition, and the only League 1 team still in the hat.

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September 2020

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Game Week 3

Potentially our toughest test yet sees us go away from home to face local rivals West Ham. While my backroom staff indicate that this route 1 playing outfit is nowhere near our standard, the fact it is a local derby means the form book is thrown out and anything could happen. However, that said, and even though we are away from home, they recommend sticking with our very attacking approach. Keen to make hay while the sun shines, pad our goal difference and be able to be more conservative against tougher opposition, I keep things the same. 

There is a lot of press hype in the build up about the rivalry and the pressure on the team not only to get a good result, but also for the players to keep their collective heads in the game. I play down this problem, suggesting that my players are professional enough to stay on the right side of the law. However in the pre match team talk both Thiago Silva and Fikayo Tomori are displaying an aggressive mentality. We have a goal rightly ruled out for offside within 5 minutes. Kante is booked within the first 10 minutes and as the 1st half grinds on without us having broken the deadlock, over two 3rds of the team have shifted to an aggressive mentality. With 39 minutes played Kovacic once more displays his quality, providing an almost tap in for Hakim Ziyech's 1st goal for the club. 

At halftime I tell the players in a very finger wagging assertive manner that the job isn't done and they have to guard against complacency. This seems to calm everyone down and we go out for the 2nd half much more composed. Our 2nd goal comes once again from winning the ball back from a long opposition goal kick. A Ziyech cross field ball finds Pulisic racing into the area on the left. Vladimir Coufal, West Ham's Czech right back is with him. It is unclear who touches the ball last, but the ball bounces off the on rushing Hammers keeper and comes to Pulisic's feet. Coufal makes a nuisance of himself again, clearing it out towards the right touchline hopefully to safety. However Ziyech is quickly onto the clearance, he delivers a smart 1st time cross back into the box. Which Timo Werner connects with to net his 3rd in 3 Premier League games, before the West Ham defence can recover.

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Man Utd leave it late to make it 3 wins from 3. Southampton bounce back to break Leeds winning streak. While Man City do what needs to be done to keep making up for their opening day loss.

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Leicester win again in the midweek game.

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No idea why 4 teams already have a game in hand but oh well. Depending who plays who, only 4 teams have a chance of remaining perfect through the end of week 3.

 

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September 2020

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4th Round.

Rotation once more as Burton come to Stamford Bridge. Being at home I keep the more attacking formation, I also break one of the rules of football management my dad taught me. He always said that if you had a player transfer listed, it meant you no longer required their services, thus under no circumstances should they play in your team. Otherwise it suggested you were wrong to list them as you still needed them in some capacity. Both Danny Drinkwater and Jorginho in the match day squad saw me break that rule.

It is however a Drinkwater rocket from outside the box, just after the 5 minute mark that puts us ahead. While we remain in control, it does take a Hudson-Odoi strike from almost the same spot to double our advantage on 32 minutes. We strike again before halftime, a quick counter from a Burton throw in deep in our half, sees Abraham release Edwards down the right. He cuts into the area and finishes smartly across and under the keeper with his favoured left foot. That is now his 2nd goal in two starts in the Carabao cup.

3 up at halftime and I introduce 18 year old Austrian Thierno Ballo for the 2nd half. On 62 minutes he connects with a Ben Chilwell cross, to score his 1st goal for the club and our 1st headed goal of my tenure. At 4-0 up I bring on Harvey Vale, another U18 squad player who hopefully will be a striker for us in years to come.

Burton claim consolation goal with a smart passage of play from a recycled corner. However much like the Southampton league game, conceding only makes us want to have the last word. Which Mason Mount does with a 1st time volley which the keeper gets too, but is unable to keep out. Final result is 5-1 and we go into the hat for the Quarter Final.

That is the last game of the month of September, but before we close out the month we are drawn in another competition, the group stages of the Champions League.

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Thanks to the Sortitoutsi license update there is no Zebre here. Although playing them in my 1st Champions League is not exactly how I wanted to reveal that. Also, Rennes, the only team to beat us in pre season, being in our group as the lowest seed didn't fill me with joy either. Other end of the month shenanigans include

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Kai wins the player of the month award for September.

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With the only perfect record through 3 matches I win the manager of the month award.

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Which means 1 month into the save and we have chalked off our 1st player achievement on the list! I doubt we will keep up that ratio for long. Strangely, I don't have any personal manager achievements on my list. Though I don't feel the need to add any, the list is long enough already!

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Though steam gave me something to commemorate the occasion. 

 

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October 2020

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Game Week 4

Home to Villa, sticking with the very attacking mentality, and then taking two weeks off for the international break. Speaking of Internationals I completely forgot that this was an achievement in the list.

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This will probably be the way of the save, I keep finding or remembering achievements on the list, or not noticing I have one until I go back to check the list, and updating it after the fact. Either way this achievement is likely to be more interesting in phase 2 and 3 rather than starting the game with a squad brimming with established internationals.

Back to Villa, and before the game, the press in the tunnel inform me that this is captain Azpilicueta's 275th appearance for the club. Shame it doesn't count towards any of the achievements, but no matter. Either way, in the 1st minute of the game our captain collects a Villa goal kick, he carries the ball all the way to the right edge of their box. Whether he intended to cross the ball, or bend it into the top corner is uncertain, an irrelevant, the ball is in the back of the net and we have a fantastic start!

Having started so quickly, we continue to put pressure on the Villa defence, however as the half drags on and we are unable to extend our lead, Villa seem to be getting to the point where they are weathering the storm. Just before halftime, Villa launch another long goal kick up the pitch. This one is coming down halfway inside our half, and until Thaigo Silva comes charging across and heads it back up the pitch, it looks as though it will land at the feet of the Villa player. Pulisic pounces on the clearing header and drives directly upfield. He slides the ball through the centre of the Villa defence, and as Timo Werner angles his run to stay onside, he finishes low and hard past the onrushing keeper.

We start the second half without any changes, however the early exchanges are to Villa's advantage, yes we have scored twice but the majority of our chances are being blocked, cleared and then countered. I dial back the mentality to attacking, and as most of the chances are coming down our right, into the space Azpilicueta is leaving due to his attack duty, I pull him back to a support duty instead. 10 minutes into the second half and one such Villa attack down our right sees Jack Grealish get into our box from the right wing. He comes off "second best, in a robust challenge with Thiago Silva," which I think is ME code for Silva blew on his hair and he fell over. Silva wastes no time checking if the Villa man is ok, instead pressing forward down the flank. He then delivers a perfect long through ball for Werner to scamper onto and score his 2nd of the game.

Villa still look their most dangerous when they take the ball off us, so with a 3 goal advantage I make the unprecedented change of mentality to very defensive. It does have the desired effect of nullifying the Villa countering threat. However they do see more of the ball. One such moment on 74 minutes shows what Grealish can accomplish if he stays on his feet, as he puts a first time ball into the near post area which Villa convert to make it 3-1.

I have a problem now, I have lots of tired players, Abraham was injured in training earlier in the week. I want to take Werner off with Juventus in the Champions League weighing on my mind. However Werner isn't tired. In fact he has multiple opportunities to seal his hat trick, but last ditch clearances deny him.

No such problems for Hakim Ziyech, who with time running out in the game curls in a free kick which is too much for the Villa keeper to stop. Then only a few moments later Ziyech is the provider as he delivers a central free kick for Kai Havertz to head in

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City leave it very late to get the better of Arsenal

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Leeds continue their impressive start

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Man Utd make it 4 1-0 wins in a row.

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Spurs just can't get going, and need a stoppage time equaliser.

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October 2020

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Game Week 5

I had my weeks mixed up, Tammy Abraham did get injured, but he was injured in training away for England on the international break. So I must have kept Werner on the pitch to try get him his hat trick and knowing I had the international break before he would be needed again in the Premier League. Which he certain was needed, in our toughest test of the season so far, away to Everton at Goodison Park. We dial back the mentality to positive from the start of the game. Although from the way we are playing you can't tell. We completely dominate and if it wasn't for an inform Jordan Pickford we would be well on our way inside the first 20 minutes. 

As it is, it takes a Timo Werner bullet header from a Leandro Paredes free kick to put us ahead. Leandro showing his quality in just his 1st start. Unfortunately our hard work is cancelled out by a rather tame Alex Iwobi header from a corner. The main problem, the corner was ours, Everton clear and work the ball down the pitch before scoring at our back post. 

More Pickford heroics keep the game level, and we ride our luck at times before the game finishes 1-1 and we have dropped our 1st points of the campaign. Interesting, at the end of the Villa game, a journalist asked me how well I thought Martinez the Villa keeper had played. Now it didn't feel right to praise a player we had scored 5 past so I made no comment. No such question regarding Pickford despite him almost singlehandedly keeping this game a contest.

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Insane result against an in form Leicester

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Spurs continue to struggle.

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West Brom had TV they needed to catch up on it seems.

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A stoppage time penalty denies Man Utd and keeps us top.

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October 2020

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Group Stage Game 1

Why not play Juventus away for the 1st game of my 1st European campaign. I haven't checked, but I think that means we play them at home in the last game? Joy if I need a result. Also, while it is Juventus with regards to the club, the mod I downloaded hasn't changed where we are playing. Zebre stadium it is. 

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I generally use the 3rd tactic spot for a wildcard tactic I only use on rare occasions. Away to Juventus and likely to be under the cosh seems like a decent reason to line up with someone nobody has seen before. However, the other side of that coin is, with my team already playing quality opposition I am now asking them to play in a way they are not as familiar with. Every choice has it's consequences I guess. Once again the graphic just shows the formation, this isn't the line up for this actual game.

My initial reaction to the tactic is positive. For the first 30 minutes or so Juventus seem to have no clue what to do, they have less of the ball and are unable to create any clear chances. As the half draws to a close however they are getting more and more joy out wide. Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado both going past Tin Jedvaj and Ben Chilwell whenever they like. Alonso is suspended from last season and Azpilicueta is on the bench available to play either side depending which wingback needs replacing.

At halftime I tell the players to keep up the good work, and they do, for 10 minutes of the 2nd half. We play a long hopeful ball into the right channel, which allows Cuadrado to bring the ball forward. He lays it inside for Dybala who hits a beauty from outside the box. 

Two minutes later when Cuadrado once more has the ball, and plays a similar ball in to Dybala I fear the worse. Especially when the Argentine plays a looped through ball over the defence for Ronaldo to run onto. Mendy collects the ball off Ronaldo's toes, after composing himself he plays the ball long to the halfway line. Werner gets there before his marker and is able to turn upfield on the left wing. He centres the ball to an unmarked Havertz who draws us level!

That is unfortunately as close as we get. With our players tiring and Juventus happy to patiently work the ball from side to side. Cuadrado beats two players as he comes in from the right wing, before finishing high and hard at the near post. With 10 minutes left of the 90 Werner is away behind the Juve defence, but Buffon does enough to force his attempt agonizingly wide of the post. But we have been reduced to long hopeful through balls from our defenders for our striker to chase.

Ronaldo puts the tie beyond doubt with 5 minutes left, stealing away from tired defenders to head in a Cuadrado cross from inside the 6 yard box.

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Gent and Rennes shared the honours, meaning the only way is up!

 

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October 2020

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Game Week 6

Three games in 6 days now as we look to bounce back from the our first loss of my reign. We have mid table Newcastle away. We are once more very attacking, and Leandro Paredes who was signed too late to be in the Champions League squad, plays in the league instead. I want blood, I want another 8-1 win to help get rid of the taste of the loss from my mind. That is stupid, losing to Juventus in a game where we created chances isn't as bad as the media are making out. Luckily the board are not on my back about losing, however they aren't happy about the Everton draw!

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Before we play Arsenal do everyone a favour by damaging the Liverpool machine!

 

12 minutes in and cruel luck sees Newcastle ahead against the run of play. Not happy, and I demand more from the players. With 20 minutes left in the half we strike back, Kante again shows his worth by breaking up Newcastle possession. Once more Pulisic is through the middle with the ball at his feet. And once again he splits the defence for Timo Werner's profit.

I hope Werner never gets injured, as minutes before halftime, he sweeps home at the near post to send us in 1-2 up at the break.

Straight from the 2nd half kick off, Newcastle win the ball back, they go direct and get their reward at the far post. I have to take some responsibility for this goal. I introduced Reece James at halftime, hoping he could get 45 minutes under his belt as he returned from injury. He is beaten all ends up in the build up.

With the scores back level, we go back to work. Only a couple of minutes later we retake the lead. Kante ghosting into the box to finish low after some patient build up. I like this goal, it is similar to the goals Kante was scoring under Sarri when he played in a more advanced position.

Back in front, I make tactical changes to keep it that way. I once again swap us to very defensive, and pull back the lines of engagement. I am willing to give Newcastle slightly more of the ball, I just want my players deeper in my half in order to deal with the route one long balls that are coming our way.

The game settles down and we are closing in on the final 15 minutes when Callum Hudson-Odoi connects with a Marcus Alonso cross to head into the bottom corner. This goal had me out of my seat with a clap of my hands, and sent one of my dogs scurrying upstairs.

Into the last 10 minutes and Alonso shows anything ZIyech can do, he can do better, as he curls a left footed free kick into the top right corner. The goalkeeper nowhere near it.

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Leicester bounce back, but Spurs can't even buy a win

 

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Leeds falter but both Manchester clubs finish strong.

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Then before the end of the week Arsenal do us all a favour by remaining inconsistent

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October 2020

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Group Stage Game 2

Gent are the lucky team who play us next at home, I am looking for not only a win, but a response to get us back on track with regards the competition as a whole. Remember, the board want a semi final appearance!

Much like the Villa game we are ahead within a minute. Three Gent players are drawn to Abraham inside the box, and although they block his shot, the rebound falls to Pulisic for him to stroke home.

Just over 10 minutes later and this time Abraham does score able to peel away from his marker he heads in at the near post.

With 10 minutes left to go in the half Abraham doubles his tally. Mount pounces on a cross field pass and carries the ball forward, Abraham bundles in at the near post after Gent are unable to clear their box.

Into the 2nd half and I pull the mentality back to very defensive, mainly to reduce the intensity and let the players have as much of a rest as they can while still having to play 45 minutes of football. When we win a penalty in the 55th minute Abraham takes and converts it for his hat trick. Mount is on the pitch, but he has been banned from even uttering the word penalty, having missed his last two.

10 minutes later and poor play from Gent sees a wayward back pass look as though it will go for a corner. Pulisic rescues it on the by line and pulls it back, Abraham calmly converts his 4th of the game. A few minutes later and we make it 6, Ziyech, with his 1st touch having been introduced for an injured Marcus Edwards, latches onto a perfect ball from Reece James and scores easily.

The game winds down without further incident, and while a 6-0 win goes some way to restoring our chances in the group. The biggest goal comes in the 89th minute.

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Rennes have done to Juventus what they did to us in pre season.

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Which while it makes everything to play for, due to head to head record with Juve we stay 3rd despite superior goal difference.

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October 2020

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Game Week 7

Palace at home rounds out the month. They are 16th, and my scouts who went to see them tell me they are crap. 

It takes us 20 minutes of sustained pressure but we get the breakthrough with Ziyech sweeping home a peach of a Havertz through ball. Unfortunately not only do we not kick on from there and take control of the game, but 2 minutes later Palace equalise from a free kick. Then three minutes later, after poor use of the ball down the right, we are unable to apply a decent press as Palace bring the ball up the pitch. A Townsend pull back, allows Luka Milivojevic to bury a strike from outside the area. From 1-0 up to 1-2 down in 7 minutes. 

We limp to halftime and I spend the interval smashing water bottles around the changing rooms. It might have to become a regular thing as we come out better in the 2nd period. Though it takes until the hour mark for us to go back in front. Christensen stops a Palace clearance from going into touch. He then plays a ball that looks more clearance than pass. However, Havertz latches onto it behind the defence. His strike is parried clear by the keeper. But only as far as Ziyech who is following in at the far post, and scores his 2nd. 

Five minutes later we turn the screw again. Kovacic, on at halftime to try improve quality in midfield, plays a cross field ball from the right wing. Alonso runs onto it from the left and just on the edge of the area he drives low into the bottom right hand corner. The dog is running upstairs before I am even halfway out of my chair with a yell.

To get us back into the game I had gone with wider attacking width, now we had restored the advantage I changed that, and deployed my faithful very defensive mindset. Into the last 15 minutes and Kovacic again plays a ball into the box, Hudson-Odoi is after it and smashes a strike in at the near post from a tight angle.

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Spurs draw again. City are held by Leeds.

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Man Utd keep up the pressure but Liverpool capitulate to a stoppage time Grealish winner

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Still early days but the gap back to minimum requirement 4th place is now at 5 points. 

 

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On 18/11/2020 at 15:05, abulezz said:

Seven games in and already building a nice lead. Man United are guaranteed to slip up soon - it's what they do nowadays. 

Here's hoping! they seem rock solid at the back so far.

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November 2020

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Group Stage Game 3

Rennes away, the same fixture we lost in pre season. The same fixture Juventus lost in the last game. Nothing to report on the awards front, I finished 2nd in the manager of the month award for October behind Ole at Man Utd. Though I might be round his house to steal a 3rd of the award trophy as we were on the same points. I'd ship the other 3rd off to Pep as he was also tied with the two of us. In other awards Kai Havertz came 3rd in the young player award, Timo Werner was 2nd in the player of the month and Hakim Ziyech's free kick was only good enough for 2nd in the goal of the month award.

This was the 1st of our back to back games against Rennes. A win would lift us above them into a qualifying spot, a draw would drag the whole saga out another week, a loss would be a coffin in our chances of qualification as the head to head criteria would make it harder to move above them.

In the end we went one better than pre season, we kept a clean sheet, but otherwise it was a poor game all round. We had 13 attempts at goal, 8 of which were on target, but nothing of any real quality or substance to challenge their keeper Gomis. The worst part of the whole evening was Kante, who had been rested the week before against Palace to not be suspended for the Liverpool fixture, sustained a calf strain in a bad tackle during the second half. He is not only going to miss the Liverpool game but could miss as much as 5 weeks of football.

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A Ronaldo inspired Juventus saw off Gent 3-1 to keep them in top spot.

 

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November 2020

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Game Week 8

Just the small matter of the defending Premier League champions Liverpool sandwiched between our two crucial Champions League games. That said Liverpool had lost their last two league games, and only managed a 2-2 draw against Inter Milan in their Champions League game. Missing Kante, and knowing I now needed the shot in the arm of a win against Rennes in our next fixture to realistically qualify from the group. I didn't feel it was a good idea to try go toe to toe with Liverpool despite their poor recent form. I can only guess that is what Leicester attempted to do when they were brushed aside 6-0.

I didn't want to capitulate control completely though, so setup with a positive attitude and clicked "submit team" with as many fingers and toes crossed as possible. We slightly edged the opening exchanges and this Pulisic golf chip cross saw Ziyech put us ahead.

Liverpool's press was a constant threat, lots of 50/50 balls, we rode our luck until 35 minutes when Liverpool finally broke up our play and surged forward. I had seen enough and brought us back to defensive mentality. We got to halftime, and I told the players to keep up the good work.

The second half Liverpool turned the screw, we rode more of our luck. Our players steadily tired throughout the 2nd half, somehow we were closing in on the end of the game and still held our slender lead. Ziyech had to hobble off injured in the dying seconds of normal time leaving us with 10 men. For the last 30 minutes we had been set to very defensive, had a standard line of engagement and defensive line. Usually our wingbacks would be either attack or support, they were both defend. The ball winning midfielder is normally on support because it's Kante and he's amazing. It was set to defend. We were more disciplined, slowing down our goalkeeper distribution and playing at the shortest possible passing to try retain possession. 

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We survived 6 minutes of injury time, a Liverpool free kick and a last minute penalty appeal to hold on. There is a decidedly different write up of this game in the FM Story forum version of this thread (the link is in the intro post at the top). It's probably the most enjoyable post I've written regarding this save, and I think demonstrates what I want to do regarding the different styles of telling the same story.

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Man Utd stay locked with us except on goal difference. Spurs draw again, they would be even worse off without Son's late goals. Man City drop more points.

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A 2 horse race out front, 5 points back to 3rd and 6 back to 4th. Liverpool still have a game in hand but a win won't lift them any further up the table.

 

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November 2020

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Game Week 9

After our defensive heroics at Anfield, we faced the real test the week after. I've noted in most of the saves I document on here, that although I am nervous facing bigger teams, I tend to do well against them as they come and play. The provide us space to create chances. Add to this the fact that while the board don't like us losing to a top 6 rival, then have more patience for losing to a team of similar stature than they do a smaller or lesser team. So the week 9 game against Fulham was the one that I was really dreading.

That was until I read the scout briefing. Fulham were 17th in the table due to them trying to play the expansive possession football that had seen them get promoted. Fingers crossed then that we would get the space and chances we needed to keep our run going.

I thought we were off to the perfect start in the 3rd minute, Marcus Edwards sweeping home a Mateo Kovacic through ball, however it was called back for offside. In the pouring London rain we laboured. It took us till stoppage time in the 1st half for Mason Mount to convert a penalty. I personally didn't want him to take it, but the "change player" graphic shows up on the dugout section of the screen for only a second or so before the penalty actually occurs. So I was unable to switch him out. Though he scored, having failed on his last 3 chances.

It took us considerably less time to double our advantage. Tammy Abraham finishing off a slick passing move, to put us in the driving seat. I shut up the shop, not to give Fulham any ideas on the break, and to keep the players fresh enough to not have to bring in too many big guns. As I was saving them for the pivotal home game against Rennes. 

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Leicester managed to equal our result to keep their top 6 challenge very much alive.

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Spurs manage to draw yet again, but what a result for us!

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Liverpool bounce back

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thanks to @abulezzand @DavidBeckham for the assist with this result! 

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Which sees us alone at the top of the pile, the only team in the league yet to lose. 

 

Edited by Mandy42
added @abulezz as on re reading the save noticed he cursed Utd for me as well!
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November 2020

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Group Stage Game 4

The second of two games back to back against Rennes, the 3rd time we would play them in just 4 months. We lost the first friendly meeting, drew the away game, now we would face them at Stamford Bridge, still looking to leapfrog them into a qualification spot. To round out November we would face Brighton away, not the hardest opponent, and we now had a fledgling 3 point game. Realistically we had a 6 point game to the minimum board expectation in the league. Where as they wanted a Champions League semi final appearance. All of which I added up in my mind and decided I had no choice but to field the best team I could for this game. Unfortunately due to his injury in the away game, I still didn't have Kante to call on.

Just like the Fulham game, we started fast, with the ball in the net after only 2 minutes. Yet just like the Fulham game, the goal was ruled out for offside. Who else but Timo Werner could be counted on to break the deadlock in the 27th minute. A smart ball behind the defence, and a 1st time strike across the keeper saw the ball go in off the base of the far post. It reminded me of "that" Cantona goal, where he chips it in off the  upright, just, lower down on the post...

Unfortunately our lead didn't survive until half time. Almost! but on 44 minutes. Joshua King surged onto a clearing header, carrying the ball into our half and managing to hold it up for reinforcements to arrive. Some quick passing on the edge of our box, saw  Eduardo Camavinga stay a whisker onside and finish low to level the game up.

I demanded more from the players at halftime, not happy to being held to a draw for the 3rd half of football in a row against this team. We dominated in the second period, though Rennes were a constant threat on the counter. Joshua King especially dangerous at carrying the ball long distances. However, on 72 minutes Mason Mount converted his 2nd penalty in two games to once again put our noses in front and lift us into 2nd place in the group. Though our lead was short lived. Scant 6 minutes later Mathis Floch (we all know what that rhymes with!) curled a free kick into the top left corner past a despairing Kepa. 2-2 with 12 minutes to play.

I didn't fancy our chances, not only of getting something from this game, but also from getting the required results against Juve and Gent in our final two games to see us into a qualification spot.

I had thrown on Tammy Abraham on 70 minutes for a tiring Hakim Ziyech. When he converted from a corner in the 3rd minute of injury time I couldn't contain my joy! So much so I finally managed to work out that you can make 5 subs in Champions League games... 

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Juve saw off Gent to keep them top. A win against them in our last game would see us take over top spot. However, "just" qualification from the group is the key concern at the moment. 

 

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November 2020

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Game Week 10

Last game of the month before we go into the 8 game hell that is December. Away to Brighton, who have shipped a large number of goals against both Manchester clubs. I have one eye on the Juventus home game in three days which means it isn't the strongest team that goes to the east coast.

A strong 1st half performance puts us in control. Mason Mount puts away his 3rd penalty in 3 games in the 14th minute. It takes us until a minute into stoppage time at the end of the 1st half to double our advantage. Tammy Abraham finishing a nice passing move, 0-2 up, no more than our dominance deserves.

Thinking the game is done I set the team to defensive to try rest legs and not force too high a tempo in the 2nd half. I am left to rue that decision almost straight from the kick off. As a Yves Bissouma thunderbolt, from outside the area sees Brighton respond in the 47th minute, However, other than scaring me into not introducing any of the youngsters until later in the half, ultimately it made no difference to the result.

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Now the full version has dropped I can go back to this way of showing our results!

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Would have preferred the reverse of this result, or a draw might have been perfect. But at least it sees pre season title favourites City slipping even further behind.

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Speaking of slipping further behind! Liverpool drop more points.

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Those were the only notable games played before the end of the month. So the table looks like this.

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Off the pitch we  get a very useful draw in the FA Cup 3rd round.

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Plus I steal another manager of the month award. Unsure how both of the other managers score 300 points when they played 2 games compared to my 3....

 

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December 2020

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Group Stage Game 5

Good news, we don't have Juventus in our last game of the group, also if we get a win against them here in game 5 then we will qualify from the group. Bad news, we need to beat them tonight in order to have any chance of finishing top for the "easier" draw.

Being at home I take the gloves off, go with the very attacking formation and tell the players they should want to get revenge for the reverse fixture in Italy. 

There are 56 seconds on the clock when we get the ball in the net. Fabulous link up play between Pulisic and Werner, during a counter from a Juventus corner. My only fear now is there is a long way to go!

The game is much more even than the first match. Especially out wide, where more aggressive play from our wing backs means that the Juventus players are required to defend more and are unable to freely maraud up the pitch. Instead they are forced to play hopeful long balls into the channels. Winning one such ball, close to the half hour mark saw us double our tally. A smart run from Werner allowing him to latch onto a precision pass and slot home. I feel a bit calmer now and begin to believe we can get something from the game.

Though this is Juventus, they keep plugging away, creating half chances trying to get back into the match. As we near halftime they begin to see more of the ball. With 3 minutes left to play they have a free kick on the left, the work it across the pitch to the right wing. A low cross, finds Alex Sandro in space just outside the 6 yard box. He should score, but his effort thunders off the inside of the post and out into the 6 yard box. Unfortunately, our attempted clearance smashes into the back of Tomori, and ricochets into the net to bring Juventus right back into it.

At half time I tell the players they have been the better team and to keep going. The second half is much like the 1st, although we don't score within the 1st minute of the restart. After our bad luck at the end of the 1st period, it is our turn to profit less than 10 minutes into the 2nd half. Play is called back from a corner due to there being suspicions of hand ball. VAR determines that this is indeed the case and we are awarded a penalty which Mason Mount converts to restore our two goal cushion. Also the offending player is Matthijs de Ligt, who has been booked in the 1st half for a rash challenge. The hand ball sees him receive a 2nd yellow and Juventus are down to 10 men.

We try turn the screw, but Hakim Ziyech has a goal correctly ruled out for offside on 57 minutes, only 3 minutes after we converted the penalty. Juventus don't sit on their laurels. Just like the first leg Paulo Dybala finds space for a net busting strike, which Mendy obviously thought was going to go across him, but ends up in the top right hand corner. 3-2.

Werner grabs his 2nd, once more with a great run, and a placed finish, onto a decent pass. I don't however like how this move starts, no real point passing it around between keeper and defender to then punt it long, before having to rely upon Kante to win the ball back in midfield. 

With our 2 goal cushion restored and us playing against 10 men I move the mentality to defensive, to try run down the clock. We are into the last 10 minutes before Werner scores again. He gets his hat trick, hanging on the shoulder of the last defender, Hudson-Odoi plays the ball into the box and he takes advantage of an unorganised offside trap by Juventus. 

Into stoppage time at the end of the game, and now I am happy for my keeper to play it long from the back. Especially when it leads to an injured Callum Hudson - Odoi, having the space to get in behind the defence and score our 6th goal. 

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That 6-2 win puts us top with 1 group game to go. Equal or better Juventus' result and we qualify top of the group!

 

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December 2020

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Group Stage Game 6

Seems strange to play back to back Champions League games, don't think I have ever done this in a save before! Probably organised to get them out of the way so the rest of Europe can have their precious Christmas break, while us English clubs do the decent thing and provide festive football entertainment for the whole world. However other  teams, some of them in European competition, still have Premier League games while we have played two European games in a row. Which perhaps means we are just lucky.

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Writing this from work you are going to get the full list of results where I hadn't previously cut the screenshots down!

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That sees Wolves up into the top 6 jumping over a lackluster Liverpool who have now lost or drawn as many games as they have won this season.The Manchester clubs continue to work hard to stay in touch with us. With Man Utd on equal points but 10 goals behind, albeit having played an extra game. 

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Later in the week both London clubs secure the same score line. Despite them being at opposite ends of the table.

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Tottenham move up to a woeful 13th. 10 points dropped from 5 draws sees which other wise would see them securely in the top 6.

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An Everton win sees them up into 6th. Dropping Liverpool further back.

The after all of that shifting and changing in the Premier League, we get to our game against Gent. Will teach me not to update more often as Gyazo seems to have lost / never uploaded the goal highlights from this game. We ran out comfortable winners in the end. Pulisic on 17 minutes and Werner in the 2nd minute of stoppage time at the end of the 1st half ended the game as a contest. We shut the shop in the 2nd half and saw out the game. Juve put 3 past Rennes in the 1st half alone in their game. But all they could do was vent their frustrations, in the end as long as we won their result was meaningless.

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Top of the group meaning we had done everything in our power to secure an easier draw in the next round. Though only time will tell in that regard.

 

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December 2020

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Game Week 11

With it all tied up in the Champions League bar the draw for the next round, it was time to turn our focus back to the league. Though off the pitch we did get a look at our first youth intake.

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Colour me less than impressed. Not even a single understudy for Kante, not even a bad one! And overall not a great group of young players. Lucky we are still in phase one and I can continue to build the squad from external sources. 

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Liverpool's horrendous season continues! Though them taking points off Man City would have been the better result for us. Oh well, we have business to take care of against bottom spot West Brom.

Always when playing struggling clubs at the bottom of the league, there is the chance of an upset, or the frustration of dominating without coming away with all 3 points. For the 1st 15 minutes it seemed this could be the story of the day. We kept putting balls into the box, and West Brom just kept dealing with them. Until we got a lucky bounce in the box, and Marcus Edwards made the most of the space afforded to him by slotting home to put us ahead.

As with most games so far this season, we seem at our most deadly, when the other team has the ball, and near the end of either half. Thus with only 7 minutes left in the 1st period, and with West Brom having a goal kick. Marcus Edwards wins the ball back near halfway, before running off the ball into the penalty area to slot a placed finish beyond the keeper to double our lead.

In the 2nd half I deployed the now usual tactical changes of bringing down the mentality and bringing on youth and 2nd team players. One such player Thierno Ballo, produced this fabulous solo effort from a West Brom corner which rounded off a professional display.

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Only our game and the Liverpool game this "week". December really does seem to be playing havoc with the fixture list.

 

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December 2020

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Game Week 12

Wolves at home, though first we have some European football news.

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We play Lazio in the next round of the Champions League

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The full draw looks a little something like that.

So to 7th placed Wolves coming to town. The 1st half was cagey to say the least. It took until injury time before the break for us to breakthrough. Tin Jedvaj, making the most of a well worked overlap, to score his 1st goal for the club. Unfortunately for Tin his status as latest club hero lasted all of about 20 minutes. As he nonchalantly passes into his own net to score for both teams in the same game.

To say I was fuming is an understatement. I made this feeling clear to the players and the reaction is instant. The tempo and gusto is increased, and we push for another goal. We are level for only 5 minutes, before Tammy Abraham, smartly finishes at the back post after a Kante cross somehow makes it through a tangle of players ahead of him.

With less than 20 minutes left in the game I was hoping that would be that. However, we never really grabbed a controlling grip on the game. Thus it wasn't surprising that Ruben Neves, drew Wolves level with a goal of the season contender. If there is one downside to having Kante in the team. It might be that he feels it is his personal duty to chase down every opposition player and try win the ball back. The space Neves finds himself in, is due to our bald French marauder charging over to the touchline trying to win the ball back. That said, the strike is pretty phenomenal.

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1st points dropped at Stamford Bridge. While other results looked like this.

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Man Utd take advantage of our slip up. While Liverpool and Spurs continue their struggles 

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December 2020

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Game Week 13

Before we play, Man Utd are away at Fulham. Of course there are other games. But already so early in the season, they are the 1st result I go looking for.

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They are held! Spurs are beaten by Wolves, which is perhaps a cautionary tale as to how acceptable our point could be.

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Speaking of points. This one was a lot more frustrating than the Wolves game. Arsenal just didn't turn up to play. Call me old fashioned but I expect women to put out when I pay for everything on the 1st date, and I also expect it to be the responsibility of the home team to drive the game and positively go looking for the win. But no! Arsenal sat 7-8 players behind the ball anytime they didn't have it, then looked to break with pace whenever we lost the ball. After a couple of near misses where we could have conceded I withdrew almost all of our attacking intent in order to nullify the danger. The game limped uneventfully through the next hour, with the Gunners unwilling to actually try come win the game off their own impetus. I probably would have been even more annoyed if Man Utd had won, and I felt I needed to equal their result. However with them only drawing, this shameful display kept us top and maintained the status quo.

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Liverpool finally remember their shooting boots!

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This weeks winners are Man City who have closed to within 4 points of the top, albeit having played a game more.

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December 2020

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Quarter Final

We play Championship Watford, to make it 3 games out of 3 in the competition without playing top flight opponents. It didn't take us long to stake our claim on the game. On 8 minutes Marcus Edwards gets on the end of a perfectly delivered free kick from Leandro Paredes. The young winger beating attempts from Watford to play offside from the set piece, he connects with the ball on the 6 yard line. The keeper stuck between whether to come for the ball or not. 

Watford respond to going behind by keeping the ball, playing it around for a couple of minutes. Until Mateo Kovacic steals the ball on the halfway line and drives forward. After a crunching tackle halts his advance, the ball is worked out to the right for Edwards. He once more places calmly beyond the keeper to double his tally. We have played 11 minutes and are two goals up.

Four minutes later from a Paredes corner, Tammy Abraham makes a nuisance of himself at the back post. Drawing a defender and the goalkeeper to him. As the ball drops dangerously in the box, Kovacic has the simple task of poking it into the empty net.      3-0 up with only 15 minutes played. I feel the job is done and swap to a defensive mentality, changing the majority of the attack duties to support. If this was a league game I might have kept the hammer down until halftime in an attempt to reap the rewards of an improved goal difference. However with this being the cup, and the result having no bearing at all on the next round, I drew a line under it and just wanted the game to play out.

On the half hour Edwards scooped his hat trick by converting a penalty to make it 4-0 after just 30 minutes played. In the second half I introduced Kurt Zouma and N'golo Kante for some fitness after returning from injury. Halfway through the second period Troy Deeney finished a well worked Watford move, however it was unable to spark any form of revival and remained just a consolation.

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Our run of not facing Premier League competition comes to an end. However that might only be because only 4 Premier League teams are left! Man Utd vs Liverpool is the other Semi Final

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December 2020

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Game Week 14

We play Brighton at home, when we played them away we shot to a 2-0 lead before having to hang on at the end after they pulled a goal back. But before we play, in the early game, this happened.

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It is becoming more and more a 2 horse race. With Man Utd taking 3 points from 3rd place City. Also, after our back to back league draws, we are overtaken at the top, at least until we play our game.

Speaking of our game, it is Brighton who have the best of the early running. Lashing a shot just wide of the near post with Mendy stranded. We follow suit, having played 10 minutes, Kai Havertz blasts wide from a loose ball on the edge of the area. When our opening comes it arises just as we talked about in the tactical briefing before the game. They suggested we switch back to a very attacking mentality, after we had calmed it down against Arsenal. To go with this, they felt that we needed more attack duties for the players in the starting 11. Thus both wingbacks as well as the front 4 players were told to attack. Reece James driving to the byline, allows him to pull back a simple tap in for Timo Werner. 

Brighton seem to capitulate, and we see the majority of the ball after we score. It takes a set piece just after the half hour mark for us to double our lead. Hakim ZIyech delivers to the back post for Thiago Silva to get his head on it. He cushions the ball down for Kai Havertz to strike. It is a very tight angle but the keeper is committed to the initial cross and the net is exposed. 2-0 

I will admit to thinking the game is done at this point. Let the players continue as they are until the break then tighten up in the 2nd half. Brighton have other ideas. They bring the ball the full length of the pitch with the longest string of passes they have put together. Neal Maupay finishes the move, beating Mendy to a ball into the area and finishing beyond our onrushing goalie. They waited until stoppage time at the end of the 1st half but they all count.

Still in shock, I tell the players at halftime that they are doing well, but can do better. This leads them to believe they can start the 2nd period in the same manner as they ended the 1st. Brighton come out fired up right from the kick off. They take the ball down to our end. Neal Maupay scores his 2nd, technically a minute before he scored his 1st. although there has been a 20 minute interval between the two goals.

I am not a happy camper. The rain begins to fall to match my mood as I bark orders at the players. I introduce Tammy Abraham on the left wing as a replacement for a flagging Pulisic. The change, and the shouting provide an instant reaction. Abraham finds the net, however he is judged to be offside and parity remains. I scream and shout some more, not wanting to face a 3rd successive draw, never mind any thoughts of losing the game. Hakim Ziyech responds to my touchline abuse, smashing a right footed strike in off the post with just less than 20 minutes to play. We retake the lead and I waste no time this time, reigning in the team and setting our defensive stall out to maintain our advantage.

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Man Utd were top for all of 2 hours, however it was enough to make me nervous. Especially as at 2-2 they would have been staying top. Arsenal draw level with City back in the chasing pack. Spurs get a win to keep them out of the drop zone, but Liverpool just cannot seem to put together any momentum.

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December 2020

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Game Week 15

Last game of the year is away to Leicester at the King Power, who sit in 5th place before kick off. Must admit that I have a softish spot for Leicester having managed them in my Sir Alex Ferguson save in FM20. That save was part of the inspiration for this save. Before we play there are a couple of earlier games, one of which is Man Utd. Are they going to play before us every week now until the end of the season?

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Arsenal unable to keep up with the pace Man Utd are setting. For the 2nd week in a row Man Utd end their game top of the league.

I felt this could be the game where we had our 1st defeat. That was before kick off. As far as teams at the top end of the table go, we got a 0-1 away win at Anfield, a snoozing 0-0 draw at Arsenal and now we were playing Leicester. The early exchanges indicated it was going to take a stroke of quality, or indeed luck for either team to get something out of the game. Both goalkeepers played out of their skins in the opening 15 minutes and the game seemed to have nail biting 0-0 draw all over it. Until we received our stroke of luck. Direct running saw Pulisic carry the ball to the edge of the Leicester box. There, a mix up between two opposition defenders sees the ball run free into the area. He still has the imperious Schmeichel to beat. His 1st strike beats the Leicester Vice Captain and strikes the post. The rebound returns kindly to Pulisic who shoots again, this time across the keeper. The ball nestles in the bottom corner, but not before Schmeichel had somehow gotten a touch to it and almost pushed it wide!

The game settles back down again, both keepers being the best players on the pitch. Just before the half hour mark Mendy comes to claim a through ball similar to the one he messed up in our last game against Brighton. This time he delivers it short to our defence. A couple of passes around our area and the Kovacic plays it long. I am out of my seat and surging into the technical area to lambast the players about the pointlessness of playing it short to hoof it long. Out of the corner of my eye I see Timo Werner latch onto the long ball, and finish beyond Schmeichel to double our lead. My clenched fist quickly becomes one of punching celebration, and I keep my mouth shut before sitting back down.

An otherwise straight forward second half is made fraught at the end by an Ayoze Perez goal with just under a minute of normal time to play. How the rest of the game has unfolded it looks like a consolation. However, with 6 minutes added time to play due to a lengthy stoppage for Pulisic to receive treatment before being withdrawn through injury, I am not counting my chickens before the final whistle. A nervy stoppage time period is played.

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But we hold on for the win and retake top spot. Not sure I can survive this back and forth for the rest of the season!

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Least we aren't Spurs!

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This week they do fall into the relegation places! Arsenal climb to 3rd, with a game in hand against everyone around them. Though even if they win it they are 6 points behind us.

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January 2021

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Game Week 16

We are into the New Year! although, I seem to have been a bit hasty wrapping up the December month. I foolishly thought that after I played my game, then that was the official end of the calendar year. Easy mistake to make! So yes, there are other teams in the league.

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I hope I win my game 4-1 and not lose it! As that seems to be the agreed score line. I didn't however bag an end of December table. Oh well, the one at the end of week 16 will have to do.

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This gentleman had his work permit agreed on the 1st of January and will be going straight into the starting line up as 1st choice keeper. He cost £15M which I personally think is a steal.

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Tah also received his work permit on the same day. He cost £20M which is a little less on the steal side. We will see as the window progresses who leaves, as currently almost every player in the squad has a wanted sign next to them.

Our 1st game of the New year sees us host Leeds, who, after a blazing fast start have settled into mid table quite comfortably. The board asked me if I wanted to rethink my plans for the coming season, what with how successful we were currently being. I've never done this before, and not sure I ever would. I am a firm believer in getting board room support by overachieving as early and often as possible. Hence I declined to suggest I would try win the league this season. It might be a new year, but some things don't change.

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One is Liverpool's bad form. The other Man Utd playing before we do. Here we go again, down to 2nd until we play our game.

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Spurs New years resolution to get out of the relegation zone is off to a bad start. Not as bad as City's performance against Fulham though!

We set our stall out to be very attacking, like usual, especially at home. This game started much like the Arsenal game, in that we had all the ball, and Leeds kept all their players behind it. However, unlike the Arsenal game, Leeds attempted to counter whenever they could, mainly from defending corners. They looked at their most dangerous whenever we gave the ball away. However, A Mateo Kovacic strike on 25 minutes settled us down, well it settled me down! I immediately drew us back to attacking, hoping that would reduce the threat Leeds posed on the break. Hakim Ziyech put us two up with a volleyed finish, form a Ben Chilwell cross. I didn't wait until halftime to change the mentality again. Straight to defensive. I instructed the players to guard against complacency in the 2nd period. I also introduced Thierno Ballo during the break. Billy Gilmour came on mid way through the 2nd half. I think my New years resolution is to try blood the clubs young players more, where possible. Get me in the mindset long before we get to the terrifying point of phase 2 and 3.

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We saw out the rest of the game. Leeds finished the game with an xG score of 0.05. 

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3rd week in a row of bouncing between 1st and 2nd. Not only is it bad for my nerves, it means I get asked about "making top spot our own" in every flaming news conference!

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January 2021

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Semi Final

One of the changes to the current season due to the ongoing health situation is that any Carabao Cup fixtures that had previously been held over 2 legs, are now decided in one match. Feels good to be only one game away from my 1st final in the job. However, we have to get past Man City in order to reach it. I must admit I am nervous, playing games against the Manchester clubs and Liverpool always fill me with dread. They have the ability to be anything from nail biting draws to complete blow outs for either team. That uncertainty about what to expect is what leads to the nervousness.

We are the home team, and my backroom staff have advised me to approach the game with a positive outlook. They probably mean that as much for me personally as they do the mentality of the team. 

It's a cagey game, each team creating half chances and neither side really getting a firm grip or control of it. As time winds down near the end of the game I find myself neither frustrated at it still being level, nor fortunate that we are still in the game. In the last 10 minutes I chance my arm and put us up to attacking, the game opens up and both teams have their most clear cut chances. We hit the bar and post in quick succession. Which Gabriel Jesus charges free during a quick counter from our corner kick, only to drag his resulting attempt at goal extremely wide. 

Penalties it is, a baptism of fire for our newly signed goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic. He gets very close to 3 out of the 4 penalties, but in the end the quality is too good and he cannot save any of them. 

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On the other hand our 1st and 4th penalty are saved. I have already described Mount's marmite nature with penalties, I went with him as his body language indicated he was up for taking one. Conversely I had Timo Werner as our 5th taker, as his stats suggested he would be a good pick but he didn't look like he wanted to step up and take one. As simply as that we are out of the competition, our next game is away to Sunderland in the FA Cup. I still plan to play a reduced strength team, just hoping to not be out of two cups in a week!

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Spurs just can't seem to get over the line to get 3 points

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Arsenal seem unable to generate the consistency required to catch ourselves and Man Utd.

Both these games were played in the league while we were in the cup. Will update the table after the FA Cup game

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January 2021

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3rd Round.

Interesting here that a minimum requirement from the board is to reach the final! So no pressure, definitely hoping to avoid a banana skin away to Sunderland.

 To the game. No disrespect to Sunderland, but in the opening 15 minutes we were awarded 4 free kicks in dangerous positions. Marcus Edwards stood over all of them, he hit the wall twice and blazed the 3rd over the bar. Perhaps this is why, when the 4th was on target. Sunderland goalkeeper Lee Burge, made a complete meal of it and the ball ended up in the back of the net. Rather harsher for the keeper and unfairly for Marcus it went down as an own goal.

There was no luck involved with Marcus Edwards second goal. Coming only a minute after the 1st. It involved what is becoming trade mark direct running from Thierno Ballo. Tenacious pressing to win the ball back, and a crisp finish from Edwards once we had regained possession. 

The game stagnated then, and seemed as though it would continue in such sedate fashion. A rather debatable penalty awarded to Tammy Abraham for going down in the box saw us go 3-0 up and that was all she wrote for my 1st foray into the FA Cup.

Oops! completely forgot the Sunderland consolation goal. Jack Diamond with his 1st goal of the season. Not much to say from our point of view. Those of you watching closely will see Ben Elliot, an U18 academy graduate who I brought on for Kante. Plus a not so diamond attempt at a save from our new keeper.

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We were second name out of the hat for the 4th round draw. Away to League 1 Shrewsbury.

 

Edited by Mandy42
forgot the sunderland goal! how rude
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January 2021

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Game Week 17

Here it is, Spurs away. One of the reasons I fielded a weaker team against Sunderland. I didn't want to take Spurs bad form and league position for granted. I've had big 6 teams in previous saves have bad times and been at the wrong end of the table, yet they have always recovered. However Spurs really do look like a genuine relegation contender. As far as I can say that just looking at the results they have posted. However, it's a derby game, so the expression that the form book goes out the window definitely could apply.

Reece James calms me down in the 5th minute, with a goal from a direct free kick. Hugo Lloris can only palm it into his own net. To give him the benefit of the doubt, multiple players move across his eye line as the ball is in the air. But I am both surprised and delighted it is in the back of the net. Not only does it calm me down, but it seems to put pay to any Spurs attacking intent before it really starts. They stack players behind the ball and we struggle to make further inroads ourselves. Probably just as well we scored from a set piece!

In stoppage time in the 1st half we score again. Hakim Ziyech with yet another superb finish. This one on his left foot from outside the box. Kovacic seems to really be growing into his box to box midfielder role, not only shooting from outside the box himself, but driving forward with the ball more. This clip also highlights one of the reasons why Spurs have spent the whole half being so ineffective. Without the ball, they leave only Son up field, and try to find him with forlorn long high balls up to him. Which Silva and Tomori have no problem with dealing with.

Speaking of Tomori, he (and a couple of other players in the squad) started the day with an aggressive mentality. At 0-2 up in the game I saw no reason in risking him for the 2nd half and replaced him with Jonathan Tah. It seems to be raining penalties for us at the moment. This one slightly more compelling a shout than the Sunderland one. The ref used VAR to check, my 1st opinion was the foul occurred outside the box. Amusingly while the ref went off the pitch to check the video replay, there seemed  to be all sorts of pushing and gesticulating from the players on the field. Hugo Lloris had sprinted from his goal line to the center circle to protest. 

The penalty was awarded and with Mason Mount recovering from injury it was down to Thiago Silva to step up. He scored, just as he did in the Carabao shoot out.

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I think this occurred before the game, as I was asked in the post match press conference about a manager (I assume the caretaker) who I had never heard of. I was polite to him but I did indicate that seeing Spurs fail so miserably this season was one of the funniest things I had ever seen.

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Everton did for Arsenal last week, and now see of Utd for us! Amusingly Man Utd did kick off before we did, but only by 15 minutes. Which meant the table didn't update with them having played a 17th game until my game had finished. Which kept me guessing as to the result right until the end.

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Liverpool continue to bounce back, but City can't capitalize on the Utd loss.

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Nor can Arsenal, though both came from behind to rescue a point.

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For the 1st time in a long time  there is daylight between us and the chasers!

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January 2021

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Game Week 18

London derby after London derby with us travelling to Craven Cottage next to face @andychar's much abused Fulham. (The abuse he put them through in his FM20 save, not any indication that he actually likes them). We put 2 past them in the home game. I was rather complimentary of them and their manager Scott Parker during the build up. That was until Parker replied in his press conference with the insult of "I'd prefer such praise to come from someone I respected instead of Neil Greenwood to be honest." What a swine, now I hope we stomp all over you.

If we were going to stomp all over them, well we didn't do it straight away. The opening half hour was a lot more even and open than I would like (see I said they were playing well!) My fury at Parker's comments only intensified when this set piece was turned in. Now it might be my mood, but on closer inspection of this video I don't think this goal should stand. After Steve Atwell informs Kante he isn't going tolerate anymore fouls after this one, he doesn't blow his whistle to restart play. Nor is there any indication from the Fulham player he wants to take a quick one. The quick set piece is the only reason I am letting Dominik's useless swan dive of an attempt at making a save slide.

Fuming I demanded more from the players. In all honesty I was unsure how they would react. I thought that this was the 1st time we had been behind in a game all season. However a quick scroll back through the thread reminded me that in Week 6 we trailed to Newcastle away until we won 2-5. Luckily after much ranting, as much ranting as you can squeeze into 3 minutes. We were level. A rocket from Kovacic, after what looked like a hefty shove at the very least, if not an outright elbow from Ziyech in the build up. 

At halftime I noticed that Tomori was either picking up on my mood, or he was still feeling aggressive from the Spurs game. Heck maybe he was feeling aggressive about me subbing him in the Spurs game for feeling aggressive. Either way I subbed him for Tah again.

Second half and it was still much more even than I would like. I began to fear that a draw, or heaven forbid a defeat, was not the best way to consolidate our position after Utd lost to Everton last week. The this happens. It is said that champions find a way to win when they are not playing well. It is probably also said that they receive the rub of the green when it is required. Of all the games for this to happen in! I think the game engine is so shocked that it forgets to add up how many goals Timo has scored.

 It also seems that Kante had managed to go into Steve Atwell's book with a yellow card after his discussion in the build up to the Fulham goal. So he came off for Leandro Paredes. Leandro goes on to get booked in the last 20 minutes of the game while playing in the same role as Kante had. I take this as unspoken validation that Kante would have been sent off for a 2nd yellow if he had remained on the pitch. I'll take my manager of the month award right now thank you very much.

Although it took until the 90th minute for Timo Werner to give us a 2 goal cushion, and put the game beyond doubt. After the calamitous 2nd goal Fulham never really threatened again. Regarding our 3rd goal, I love the simplicity of the Kovacic pass to Mount, taking out pretty much the entirety of the Fulham midfield with one ball. 

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In other news

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Managerless Tottenham don't improve. Everton make it 3 wins in a row.

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Arsenal bounce back.

A point for Wolves is enough to keep them in the top 6

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Liverpool are pegged back 3  times but cannot find a winner against 10 man Leeds

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Man Utd also bounce back.

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We still have Utd to play twice, however barring a complete collapse, those are the two games standing between us and the title.

 

 

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January 2021

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4th Round

I said in the previous round that I had played a weakened team against Sunderland. I think I need to rephrase that and say I didn't play my 1st team. Because, looking at the team I fielded for this game, against an even lower league opponent, there is nothing at all weak about it. Case in point:

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Completed what I regard as my final dip into the transfer market this window. A steal at £10M up front and £1.6M in installments over the next year. At least in my opinion for someone of his ability. The reduced price might be because he is documented as being prone to injury. He came to us with a "bruised knee" on t he 11th of January, so I haven't risked him until now in order to allow him to recover. Interestingly I was 1st alerted to him when my scouts made me aware he only had 6 months left on his current contract. Try as I might (and I tried 3 times) he had no interest in signing a deal and was hanging on for a better offer from Napoli. With more and more teams becoming interested in an end of contract deal I decided I wanted him enough to put my money down up front. The board are happy to have brought in a player of his caliber, however they moaned that we now had "an abundance of players looking to make the difference in the final 3rd".

Well.... 1stly isn't that what we want in a team that is supposed to play attacking football? And 2ndly, as an out and out striker we have Werner, Abraham and now him. So it's not the most stacked position in the squad!

Also as an interesting aside, the shirt number 99 is his preferred number! So obviously I aim to please.

He started against Shrewsbury and fate obviously decided to shine on me and therefore him. A blatant hand ball lead to us receiving a penalty. The fortune came when the game engine informed me Mason Mount was going to take it, and also gave me time to frantically click the "change player" button. As I am sure most of you have been in a situation where the game almost mocks you with how quickly it removes the option to change taker. All I could think of was how much of a morale boost it would give our new striker if he netted on his debut. I didn't stop to think how crap it might make him feel if he missed from the spot. Good job he scored then! 

Unfortunately for Shrewsbury their day got twice as difficult 2 minutes later When Christian Pulisic, returning from injury, swept home a low near post cross. That quick fire double saw us to halftime. I left the players as they were until the 60th minute when I introduced a triple substitution from the very much academy filled bench. Thierno Ballo had started the game and I wanted him to stay on. Milik our new signing was going to stay on and play the full 90 minutes. I replaced Paredes with Ben Elliot, and introduced two other academy players Aleksi Heino and Jude Soonsup-Bell Both had been approached and bid on by a variety of clubs so far during the window. I had offered both new / professional contracts to ward off potential suitors but bids kept coming in. Especially for our 16 year old Finnish winger come striker Aleksi, when clubs are willing to offer upwards of £2M for a 16 year old you know you are potentially onto something special. 

Thus I decided to fully sweeten the deal I would give them both a run out in the FA Cup. With the game looking over with 30 minutes to play they both came on. This meant having to shuffle the players around a bit and Milik ended up in a shadow striker role, which fabulously he loves just as much as being a poacher, so he might player there more often! It certainly didn't limit his eye for goal, netting his 2nd with this header which I initially thought was nailed on for coming back for offside.

Not as quick fire as our 1st half double, but this perfectly placed header, from Jonathan Tah, 8 minutes later, rounded off a perfect professional performance.

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On 25/11/2020 at 21:39, Mandy42 said:

November 2020

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Game Week 9

After our defensive heroics at Anfield, we faced the real test the week after. I've noted in most of the saves I document on here, that although I am nervous facing bigger teams, I tend to do well against them as they come and play. The provide us space to create chances. Add to this the fact that while the board don't like us losing to a top 6 rival, then have more patience for losing to a team of similar stature than they do a smaller or lesser team. So the week 9 game against Fulham was the one that I was really dreading.

That was until I read the scout briefing. Fulham were 17th in the table due to them trying to play the expansive possession football that had seen them get promoted. Fingers crossed then that we would get the space and chances we needed to keep our run going.

I thought we were off to the perfect start in the 3rd minute, Marcus Edwards sweeping home a Mateo Kovacic through ball, however it was called back for offside. In the pouring London rain we laboured. It took us till stoppage time in the 1st half for Mason Mount to convert a penalty. I personally didn't want him to take it, but the "change player" graphic shows up on the dugout section of the screen for only a second or so before the penalty actually occurs. So I was unable to switch him out. Though he scored, having failed on his last 3 chances.

It took us considerably less time to double our advantage. Tammy Abraham finishing off a slick passing move, to put us in the driving seat. I shut up the shop, not to give Fulham any ideas on the break, and to keep the players fresh enough to not have to bring in too many big guns. As I was saving them for the pivotal home game against Rennes. 

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Leicester managed to equal our result to keep their top 6 challenge very much alive.

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Spurs manage to draw yet again, but what a result for us!

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Liverpool bounce back

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thanks to @abulezzand @DavidBeckham for the assist with this result! 

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Which sees us alone at the top of the pile, the only team in the league yet to lose. 

 

Lol!

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January 2021

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Game Week 19

The halfway point of the season is upon us! Feels like it has flown by. Interestingly there is at least one team we haven't played yet (Man Utd) There must be another as we have played Brighton twice, and we are about to play Liverpool twice. Speaking of Liverpool.

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Won't lie, I was hoping for an easier run to the boards minimum expectation of an FA Cup final!

But before we get ahead of ourselves we have them at home in the league. Maybe because we are at home, maybe because they are struggling in the league, but I ain't gonna make any tactical changes ahead of this game. We are gonna smash them in the mouth with our very attacking mentality, or... die in a flaming wreckage trying. Sometimes "big" games against "top" sides are a complete washout as far as attacking football is concerned as both teams play it safe and are more afraid of loosing than actually playing the game. Case in point our Carabao Cup semi final which was stretched out to a rather dull 0-0. No such chance in this game. The 1st 20 minutes I couldn't take my eyes off the pitch. The midfield was a churning cauldron of cut out passes, passionate sliding tackles and last ditch blocks. There was space for both teams to exploit if they could get the ball where it was needed. A player with time on the ball always had options to switch the play to a team mate in acres of space. However the relentless pressing from both sides kept the game scrappy and tight rather than wide open. Shockingly, while both teams had chances, neither side had a shot registered on target due to last ditch defending.

On 24 minutes we broke the deadlock. New signing Arkadiusz Milik getting away down the right, before he either attempted the tamest shot of the season, or the greatest through ball in the history of football. A confused Liverpool keeper didn't get down well enough to the ball and Pulisic taps in at the far post.

Then, straight from the restart, Pulisic wins the ball and attempts to charge into the Liverpool third. Trent Alexander-Arnold, infuriated at losing the ball scythes him down from behind, the referee has no hesitation in showing him a straight red card. In the space of 2 minutes I feel a sense of relief I wasn't expecting to feel during this game. Usually this season I have toned down our mentality when we have a 2 goal cushion. Against Liverpool I would have been tempted to ease off once we went in front. However with Liverpool reduced to 10 men, Mo Salah going off to be replaced by James Milner I felt able to see where this would go and stick with very attacking.

Whether Liverpool haven't been told to calm down, or they simply can't adjust to only having 10 men on the pitch. The game continues in a very similar vein to the preceding 20 minutes. Robertson on the Liverpool left and James our right wing back are having their own private battle out on the touchline. James got the better of his opponent with a key block in the build up to our 1st goal. However on the half hour mark Robertson manages to deliver a ball into the box. We clear it, Pulisic charging down our left wing. He delivers a looping deep cross into the Liverpool box. Hakim Ziyech meets it on the volley. Exploiting the space left by the marauding Robertson. 2-0

Going down another goal seems to do nothing but infuriate Liverpool. They push harder, the game is now if anything more open than before. We have the ability to exploit the space created by the sending off. Liverpool now find room as more of our players are up the pitch eager to join in on the attack. The mood is still feisty, players on both side are booked, and I fear the worst as Kante and Fabinho (both on a yellow) clash near the halfway line as they both chase down a cleared corner. The ref however waves play on and the ball comes back to our keeper.   We work it down the left to (who else) Pulisic. His cross this time is too deep and Ziyech has to hold the ball up on the byline. His low cross finds Mason Mount on the penalty spot, and he smashes in our 3rd.

Halftime and I tell the lads I am over the moon but we are going to keep going. The 1st 5 or so minutes of the 2nd period are just as frantic as the entirety of the 1st half. However cooler heads seem to prevail on the Liverpool side and they go about trying to keep the ball. They don't really do much with it. Short periods when we get hold of the ball, all Liverpool can do is clear it for us to recycle again. On the hour mark, one such passage of play leads to Chilwell crossing from the left and finding Werner, who slots home 1st time to put us 4-0 up.

5 minutes later and Kovacic cuts out a rather tame Milner pass on the edge of our area. Hudson-Odoi comes down the left and crosses again for Werner, who finishes much more emphatically, across the keeper into the top right corner. 5-0.

2 minutes later and Liverpool have a corner. The delivery is poor and we clear it well. Hudson-Odoi is onto the clearance and in their desire to get any form of consolation goal, Liverpool are once more exposed. In an almost carbon copy of the last goal, Hudson-Odoi plays in Timo Werner who finishes across the keeper, this time into the bottom right corner. A well taken hat trick from our leading scorer. 6-0.

Once more the game slows down. Until in the dying minutes of normal time a simple cross from Reece James finds Pulisic at the back post. The American peels away from an exhausted Liverpool defence, and guides the ball into the net. 

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Still don't really believe it!

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Almost as rare as a Spurs win

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Man Utd do their best to keep us honest. But even with them to play twice they are unlikely to overhaul our superior goal difference. Arsenal are slowly staking a claim to the 3rd step of the podium with Man City the best of the following 5 teams who can stake a claim on the last Champions league spot. 

 

Edited by Mandy42
forgot to link the 6th goal
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January 2021

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Game Week 20

Away to Crystal Palace rounds out the month, and while I don't expect a repeat of the Liverpool result, I am naming an unchanged team. As after you win 7-0 against the reigning league champions it seems only fitting the same players should get to play again. Palace are up for it, and in the opening 20 minutes they have 5 shots, all of which are on target. While none of them tested our keeper, their xG steadily climbs and sits at 1.20 after their 5th attempt. When Hakim Ziyech converts this short free kick routine, I quit while we are ahead and go completely defensive. Wary that if the game continues in the same vein then it will be only a matter of time before Palace make one of their chances count.

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While it wont score points from the board for being attacking or overly entertaining. I wouldn't have received a pat on the back for drawing or losing the game either!

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Utd put Arsenal in their place.

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Wolves continue to cement a place in the top 6. Liverpool bounce back against Villa

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Spurs put back to back wins together for what seems like the 1st time this season.

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Man City win to close with Arsenal

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Liverpool back into the top 6 and Spurs climbing away from the relegation zone.

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February 2021

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Game Week 21

Home to Newcastle begins the shortest month of the year, however before we get to that, we have some awards action from the end of last month.

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Clean sweep when it comes to the player of the month award!

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Comes as no surprise that if you are 3rd in the player of the month award you are gonna be top of the young player award

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When your players win awards you get the credit!

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You've seen the 3 players we have signed this January, here are those we let go. A general thinning down of the squad, mainly in positions where we had already at least 2 other players. Then it came down to age, quality and size of wages. Case in point, Alonso to Arsenal I had to pay him £2M in loss of earnings to get him to sign their contract. But that still saved us £10.5M from what we would have paid him over the course of the remainder of his contract. 

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Only £29M left to spread around the remainder of the Premier League after you remove the spending of the 4 clubs shown here. We also made a profit of £54M on our January dealings.

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But the board are only "pleased" with my transfer dealings. Probably because they would like "high profile" signings and are devastated I haven't made any.

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I'm devastated that a 10 minute hat trick that sends him top in the golden boot competition isn't enough to see Timo Werner into the team of the week.

Anyway to this weeks game. I switch the teams around and play a very much 2nd tier XI after playing the 1st team for the last two fixtures. It is only in the opening exchanges that I remember Newcastle were the 1st team to make us trail in a game this season. They once again play with a direct style that gets the ball into dangerous areas and puts us under pressure early. We slowly grow into the game, and the further we get into the half the better we look. With 10 minutes before the half Callum Hudson-Odoi sweeps home to give us the lead.

With my half time team talk still ringing in their ears. Marcus Edwards goes on a run from the kick off, doubling our lead. 10 minutes later we break up a Newcastle throw in, Kai Havertz drives forward, his eventual pass finds Marcus Edwards, who secures his 2nd and our 3rd.

3-0 to the good I introduce some youth team substitutes, pretty much ending our attacking intent. Nowhere is this more evident that when Jamal Lewis, intercepts a poor corner and charges the length of the pitch to score a consolation goal.

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Both Manchester clubs win away from home.

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While both London clubs lose at home.

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Remarkably Liverpool are only 5 points off 3rd place. Spurs sit 14th but only 1 point above the drop.

 

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February 2021

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Game Week 22

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I suggested the last game was a rather 2nd tier XI, it wasn't really. But with 7 games this month, with Liverpool in the FA Cup next, and the Champions league returning at the end of the month I had to rest players somewhere. We had 2 goals correctly chalked off for offside near the end of the game, but otherwise a draw was a fair result. 

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After losing to Utd, Arsenal see off City

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Spurs hang on for a massive 3 points.

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Man Utd close up to us at the top. Liverpool profit from Wolves and Everton losing. Now only 3 points from 3rd

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