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Sophara United - Academy players only, for better or worse (The sequel to the Kafra series)


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Hello and welcome to my FM21 save write-up! I’m taking a different approach this year – some of you might know my Kafra saves (starting in 2016 up till 2020), and if you are familiar with it, you will know that my saves are focused on youth development – as in, I don’t buy any outside players and only use players that my academy churns out. It’s always been my greatest passion in FM, so I figured for FM21, I will focus totally on that.

Basically, the whole idea is instead of focusing on the team (now called Sophara United), I will instead follow the careers of the best players the Sophara Youth Academy produces. Most, of course, will remain with the team (especially during the later years when – hopefully – Sophara United becomes an established world-class club), and while I will do a short review of the season of the club as whole, I will only focus on the best players the academy gives me.

Hopefully, my idea turns out to be enjoyable as it theoretically sounds in my head. The updates will come at the end of the season, as per usual, and the point is to be able to give more in-depth analysis and reviews on the players that actually matter now that it is a limited number.

Sophara United will be starting in the Vanamara South and - as always - the hope is to make it to the Premier League and finally win the Champions League, something that has alluded me all these years with my Youth Development saves. 

Edited by abulezz
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I started with zero backroom staff, so the first thing I had to do was get some help.

This is the best I could come up with for now:

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Not my ideal candidate by a long shot, but at least his stats are reasonable. I don't like hiring Assistant Managers who are close to retirement - I like getting them on the come up and having them stay with the club for decades. That will have to wait, obviously. For this level, he is going to benefit me greatly in terms of the level of coaching - his Defending and Fitness training will be crucial this season.

 

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New isn't bad and I'm reasonably satisfied considering his 8 JPA and 6 JPP were the highest I could find of any candidate interested in the job. Working with Youngsters, although I am not sure how big a part it plays, is relatively high. He has a Fickle personality which I am not a fan of, but I will be looking for a better alternative next year anyway.

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We have had a fine start to the season, as expected. The few Create-A-Players that I made are playing about two levels lower than their talents should be, but the biggest surprise has been the performance of 16 year old striker Danny Marriott thus far. Marriott is not a player a created - he came with the team but was a newgen so I kept him - and although his attributes are not all that impressive, he has been bagging the goals and was the league's best player throughout October. 

I was disappointed with our loss to Dag & Red - they are not doing so well in the Vanarama National so I thought we might have a chance. Their players are definitely not more talented than our overall, which is why I felt we underachieved with that result and ended up throwing away potentially prize money that would have went a long way to help us. 

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November was when we felt our first. We lost a tough match against table rivals Maidstone, conceding 5 goals, and while the other results in the month went our way, it was because of heroes of specific players each match as opposed to a strong collective performance. For example, we might defeated St. Albans 3-2 but it took a MotM effort and a 9.5 Match Rating from our GK Fiberesima to ensure the 3 points went our way. The next game, we took a 1-0 away victory against Concord because our defense - in particular CD Kelly - playing out of their minds to keep a Clean Sheet while our offense couldnt get out of first gear.

That finally caught up with us in December - Hemel Hempstead, at the time 20th in the league, gave us a scare as they came back from 3-0 to almost equalize the match in the last 10 minutes. After that, we lost three in a row, including losing our first home match of the season against promotion contender Dulwich Hamlet who outplayed us in front of our own fans. Our loss against Havant & Waterlooville was our first game of the season where we failed to score a goal. However, despite shrinking our lead, our immediate competitors in the league Dorking and Maidstone were unable to overtake us.

We returned to form in January, even though the 0-0 against Dorking was a bit unfair as we were the much better team. We ended the month having built on our lead significantly, and I was happy to see Thomas Hogg (who started the season as our 3rd choice striker) play so well that he earned a starting spot while I shifted Neal to the left wing. 

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MARCH 2021 UPDATE

We started February with a loss to Ebbsfleet, who used the win as a platform to push themselves into the Playoffs picture. The rest of the month went pretty smooth - we won our Home games, including a 6-4 nail-biter against Slough, and managed to keep two consecutive Clean Sheets in our final two matches. Thomas Hogg continued to impress, scoring in 3 of our 5 matches and netting 5 Goals total.

March has been tough - we have seen our lead at the top dwindle from 11 Points to 6 as Dulwich Hamlet makes a late season push, and in our last match of the month, we lost only our second Home game of the season. Welling United, despite being down in the 1st half, pulled themselves together and thoroughly outplayed us on their way to a comfortable 3-1 victory at Sophara Park. Our defense has been catastrophic in March - 13 Goals conceded in 5 Matches - and our performances in the 2nd of half of the last 4 matches has been abysmal. In our two Away draws to Dartford and Chelmsford, we scored all our goals in the 1st half and then collapsed in the 2nd half - in both games, we allowed our opponents back into the match to snatch away points from us. Against rivals Maidstone, it took a last second goal from our right-winger Friend to get us the 3 points, and then we imploded in the 2nd half against Welling United. Hopefully we can refocus and pull together a strong April because if this trend keeps up, we might see ourselves struggling to maintain our place at the top of the league. 

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Youth Intake 2021

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Our first Intake! The likelihood of it being a bad Intake was low considering how shallow and lacking talent my squad is (with the obvious exception of a few players), but it was better than expected. There are a number of personalities I am going to have to work on to change, but otherwise this is a good collection of talent. The players below are who I think are the most impressive coming out of the Sophara Football Academy:

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1 hour ago, scarp said:

Looks like an easy promotion for you :) How does your best player look like?

Our form is starting to get inconsistent and teams like Dulwich Hamlet are picking up steam - might not end up being as straight forward as I'd like.

Did you want to see my best player by form or by ability? 

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2 hours ago, abulezz said:

Our form is starting to get inconsistent and teams like Dulwich Hamlet are picking up steam - might not end up being as straight forward as I'd like.

Did you want to see my best player by form or by ability? 

Ability :)

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So the five players below are my most talented players, but unfortunately they will not be returning to the club. They were Create-A-Players that I made to help support me through the first season (which they did), but I don't think I will be following their careers as they are not products of the Sophara Football Academy. 

To answer your question @scarp, I would say Neal is my strongest player by ability this season. Too bad we're not good enough for him to resign!

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EDIT: Sorry! Was reading this thread and forgot it wasn't my own!

Looks a strong start and I've always followed your work. I do wish I had players like those that you created though - far too good for that level!

Edited by _Ben_
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1 hour ago, _Ben_ said:

EDIT: Sorry! Was reading this thread and forgot it wasn't my own!

Looks a strong start and I've always followed your work. I do wish I had players like those that you created though - far too good for that level!

No worries and thank you for always reading! I tend to dislike spending too much time in the Vanamara leagues so its like a cheat I came up with that Im OK with, lol. Little boost to get me going. 

Edited by abulezz
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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2021/2022

 

 

TEAM REVIEW

We won it at the end, but given the talent I had at my disposal, it should have been easier. That is a worrying sign going into next season in the Vanarama National because my 5 top players have left the club for bigger and greener pastures. I was able to retain our most important player in Danny Marriott, whose goals were an integral reason why we won the league. The striker outshone his Create-A-Player counterpart in Kyle Neal and delivered 35 Goals in 40 Games. We had a top-notch GK in Isaac Fiberesima – unfortunately he just stopped showing up for training late in the season and throughout the summer so his fate is now on the bench. Although we managed to win the league, there were too many mediocre performances that were saved by the heroics after one player – surely that is not the way to succeed. They are a young club, but the pattern was that of complacency after taking leads, especially in the second half. It bit us hard a few times, and that allowed the league be closer than it should have been for most of the season.

Still, I am nitpicking. We played great for the most part and delivered results with our backs against the wall a few times, as well. Our defense conceded more than I would have liked, but they were solid and had a couple of stretches during the season where they turned it up and won some games for us. The midfield was inconsistent – we had great wing play in Neal and Friend but hugely inconsistent performances from our CMs. Our offense was our jewel – Marriott, Neal, and Hogg had a rotation going and all 3 players scored 20 Goals or more.

Overall, we had a good to great first season. We faltered in the cup competitions, but I was not too concerned with those this season. The challenge now is being comfortable in the Vanarama National – historically, I haven’t seen much of a difference in competition level between the two, but this is a new version of the game so let’s see. Just before the game loaded into the next season, I also got approval to increase our Junior Coaching funding, so we will now have an Average Junior Coaching rating going forward. Baby steps!

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PLAYER OF THE YEAR

ISAAC FIBERESIMA (2020)

Goalkeeper - 18 Years Old

It must be known first that his attitude is complete trash. He missed more training sessions than he attended and was always “shocked” he got fined. It did not start out like that – through the first two months of the season he was the league’s best player and was a rock star. Then it went downhill, and he will be starting the season next year on the bench. Putting that aside, even though his form slipped after he started missing training for “going out in the town last night” he still consistently put in 7-8 AR performances – for this level of football, he was brilliant. I don’t think I have ever had a GK in one of my youth saves dominate games the way he did but seeing as it is very unlikely he stays with us I won’t be bothering to do a full write-up. Yes, I’m pissed at him for his wasted potential – he could be so much more.

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THE ORIGINALS 2020

DANNY MARRIOTT (2020)

Striker - 17 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

His 35 Goals is second only to Dave Tarpey’s 43 Goals for Maidenhead in 2016/17 in the history books of the Vanarama South, but he did entrenched his name in it by becoming the youngest ever goalscorer in the league’s history. He was our most important player, scoring goals that kept us in games and winning games countless of times. Not only that, he was also efficient (88% Pass Completed and 56% Shots on Target), he was unselfish (11 Assists), and a leader on the team. He was an unlikely hero, as well – surrounded by more talented Create-A-Players, it was he who outplayed them all and showed the most improvement in his attributes throughout the year. He signed a new contract that is going to keep him with us until at least 2024, which is important because he is most likely to have the best career in the early years of this save.

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

He doesn’t turn 18 until February next year, so he is on the young side even for a youth player – having to gain that experience of playing at a competitive level for his talents is going to be extremely beneficial. I worked on his Quickness for most of the year, and then switched him up to finishing after he improved 2 points. The only knack was that he didn’t show much progress in his Technical abilities, but hopefully we can get his Finishing up to over 12 by the end of 2021/22.  His Mental attributes also showed decent improvement – he managed to grow both his Composure and Decisions by 2 points. I wish he was more of a leader – he isn’t vocal and despite a year in my mentoring group, he did not manage to increase his Influence past Light. Overall, I am happy with his progress considering his age and the fact that we are all still Part-time, but I will be on a mission this pre-season to increase the quality of the coaches on my staff.

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CAREER

Marriot had a dream debut season – he was starter from the beginning and was immediately firing at all cylinders. He became the youngest ever goalscorer in Vanarama South history with his 25th minute goal against Slough in the team’s first ever match, and that set the tone for the rest of the season. By the end of it, he had 35 Goals and won the league’s Top Goalscorer award. At this point, fans would have developed a very special affinity to him already, and would have appreciated the fact that he signed a new contract to stay with us for 3 more years as opposed to immediately leaving for bigger opportunities. He is developing a reputation of being a quiet yet focused star player – sort of like Kawhi Leonard in the NBA. An exceptional debut season will definitely mean he would be considered one of the most exciting young prospects to watch in the upcoming Vanarama National season, and I am sure his age will be a talking point for many pundits as they try to predict what kind of career he might have. He ended the season as our most valued player at £13.75K.

 

 

WILL WATTERS (2020)

Central Defender - 18 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

We had two Create-A-Players in our defensive line this season, but it was Watters (not one of them) who was our best defender outside of the GK position. He had a 7.12 AR along with a highly impressive 83% Pass Completed number. He was consistent, he was tough, and he was efficient. He was also named new Team Captain after the departure of Kyle Neal, so he will be leading the team on the pitch and I have full confidence in him. Easily one of the best CDs in the South this season and I would envision him being the same way next year. 

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

Watters did a good job this season – his Marking went up 1 and his Positioning up 2, both direct beneficiaries of his individualized training. He got worse at some abilities that shouldn’t affect his influence on the pitch, but I’d like to see more improvement in his Physical abilities. I might consider switching his training to something more fitness based like Stamina or Strength, but he has great Jumping Reach (15) thanks to being so tall. I’d like to see his Physical traits develop faster next season as he is entering the age where you usually see that happen.

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CAREER

Committed to the team, over-achiever, tough, and a hard-worker – I would imagine that would be Watters reputation as a player. Naturally, that makes him the ideal candidate for the Team Captaincy that Kyle Neal has vacated, and after a very strong season, he has now taken an additional step up the legend tier by being named Captain. He would definitely be one of the fans’ favorite players on the team at this point in his career.

 

 

ELLIOT STEPHEN (2020)

Central Defender - 18 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Our rock at the back alongside his partner Will Watters in the center, his performances tailed off towards the end of the season, putting the only blemish on an otherwise impressive debut season. He started the season off playing down the left-back but he struggled – instead of benching him, I shifted one of my vastly superior Create-A-Players to the left full-back position and put Stephen in the middle. He immediately responded with performances in the 7s, improving so much that his AR quickly rose above 7.00 before his late season dip in form. He signed on for another two years at £75 per week and is going to be integral for us in the upcoming season.

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

Not much this season – I have all defenders work on Defensive Positioning and he is no exception, and we saw the benefit of that as his Marking jumped 2 points this season. His Mental attributes also took a nice increase which I am happy about – it tells me he is focused and not ready to stagnate. Essentially, his Positioning also took a 2 point increase – both Marking and Positioning are direct recipients of the Defensive Positioning training. More progress like this next season will see him be good enough to be at the level in no time.

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CAREER:

Any member of the team that won the title will be revered by its fans, and Stephen was a big part of that. He was a starter throughout, has the narrative of adversity and the adjustment he made to overcome it (switching positions and thriving), and also the connection with the fans after he had a couple of really strong games (2 PoMs.) He would be considered an exciting prospect to watch by analysts in the Vanarama National simply because he is guaranteed playing time and he is also Grenadian with hopes of representing them at the national level.

 

 

MANAGER REVIEW

It was a good first season but the ending was bittersweet. I thought I might be able to hang out to one or two of our Create-A-Players, but they all left. Thankfully, the game-generated newgens that came with the club were of a relatively higher level than what I usually get. I wanted to go further in the FA Cup, and we had a good chance, but its OK as I ended up getting an investment in Junior Coaching. The Sophara Park expansion came on its own, although I don't think we'll get it up to capacity next year. Our wage bill is firmly under control, so next year should be a good year to swell the bank account a little bit in anticipation of a move upward. Do I think it will happen next year? Nope. I don't think we'll be close, but I am interested to see how some of the lesser players and the Intake 2021 players develop. 

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Edited by abulezz
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Yikes - this is one of the worst starts I remember having in my youth-only saves to a season. Save for a couple of victories against similar opponents in terms of talent, we have been overrun. I am definitely missing my Create-A-Players at this point, although Danny Marriott is currently leading all scorers in the National league with 13 Goals from 12 Games. Despite our high number of Goals Conceded, our best player thus far has been our new starting GK Danny Dixon, whose 7.45 AR is one of the top in the entire league. We are currently in 20th Place, one spot ahead of Bromley and the dreaded relegation zone even though we are tied on points with them. 

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Well done on promotion, a lot tougher now, that is looking more like my run of results in FMT20 lol

(Mine isn't youth only though, so mine would be even worse if I tried that)

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18 minutes ago, Maw74 said:

Well done on promotion, a lot tougher now, that is looking more like my run of results in FMT20 lol

(Mine isn't youth only though, so mine would be even worse if I tried that)

Thanks! The National league is kicking my ass, though - I don't think I have struggled so much just trying to stay out of the relegation zone. 

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OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2021 UPDATE

 

The struggle is real. We haven't had a prayer away from home - thankfully, we managed to pull a few results our way at Sophara Park thanks to our offense but this year, in general, has been super tough so far. Danny Marriott has been carrying (I mean CARRYING) this team, keeping us two points above the relegation zone as we head into December. It's been tough, I'm not going to lie - having to deal with games like our 4-0 loss to Barnet or our 4-1 at Leyton Orient where it could have easily went to 6 or 7 Goals Conceded is not fun. Simply put,, our team is no where near the standard it should be at this point and it's a matter of developing our players and hoping for a good Intake. I switched up my formation (I like playing with two strikers) to a more modern 4-5-1 attacking line-up, which meant Hogg would be relegated to the bench. It has not really changed anything, but I figure the more bodies in the midfield supporting our defense the better at this point. I really need that mid-season form to peak and put a nice safety cushion between us and the relegation contenders before our imminent late season crash.

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DECEMBER/JANUARY UPDATE

Out of 27 possible points, we only managed to earn 7 points during this stretch. We did manage to earn our first points away from home, with a draw at Eastleigh coming before a 4-3 win (our first Away win of the season) at Wealdstone. Of course, we then went on to drop both of our home matches to end the month where my nightmares come into fruition - the relegation zone. Danny Marriott continues to be the best scorer in the league - I can't imagine where we would be without him. So far, this season has been a disaster but luckily we are just a win or two away from safety and we have a relatively weak February coming up in terms of talented competition. The hope is we will be able to push back into safety by the end of the month in anticipation of a great Youth Intake - fingers crossed.

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1 hour ago, scarp said:

Fingers crossed that you get out of the drop zone mate!

 

58 minutes ago, Maw74 said:

Not looking good but hopefully you can turn it around and survive the drop.

 

7 minutes ago, DazRTaylor said:

You can do it and survive.  👍

So currently we are one point on top of the relegation zone. Nerve-wrecking. 

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ACADEMY CLASS OF 2022

On paper, all that potential looks super exciting. In reality, only the GK is ready to step in the starting lineup right away. This is also not an encouraging set of personalities - luckily for me, Ed New (who just might be the worst HOYD I have ever signed attribute-wise) has his contract expiring in the summer, so I will be looking to upgrade after this season. As for the Class of '22, Jonathan Aboayge - who is still just 15 - will take over the starting GK position immediately as his talents already have surpassed my other two GKs in the first team. Other than him, however, there doesn't look like anyone is ready for the same move. Patrick van Loen isn't too far off from competing for a spot in our defensive line, while Shaun Jones has decent foundational attributes. Steffan Thomas looks like a copy of my current starting RW Doumbia, so if he shows quick improvement, he might see himself fighting for a chance to start. 

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2021/2022

 

 

TEAM REVIEW

I don’t know how I got through this season. Honestly, it was the most frustrating, toughest year to get through that I remember. I don’t know if SI have increased the difficulty of the lower leagues or it was just that the standard of my team was THAT bad, but I rarely struggle like this in a league. We ended up surviving rather comfortably (20th Place, but 5 points between us and the first relegated team Bromley), but that 113 Goals Conceded was something else. To put it in perspective, 99 Goals Conceded was the next worst number, proudly held by fellow newly promoted outfit Dulwich Hamlet – if this was real life, we would be developing a little rivalry with them at this point. What saved us, as is usually the case with my teams, was our offense – Danny Marriott set all types of records and nearly scored 50 goals in the league on his way to winning the league’s Top Goalscorer and Player of the Season awards. Our 86 Goals Scored was tied for the 3rd highest mark in the National league, which is something to be proud of and also something I intend to take advantage of better next season. In Cup competition, we managed to advance to the 1st Round of the FA Cup before falling to Wycombe away from home, so that went OK. We were disappointing in the FA Trophy, however – we lost in our first game away to struggling Weymouth (who are in our division) in a toothless performance.

Our embarrassing defense was simply lacking in talent. Outside of Elliott Stephen, we didn’t have a single player with over 3/5 CA for almost the entire year before Cody Hargreaves (’21) showed some improvements in training to bring it up to 3.5/5 CA. We got relief from our Intake, which gave us Jonathan Aboayge who happens to already be our best GK by a long shot. Given the lack of talent in the back, I expected us to struggle. The most disappointment facet of my team has to be our midfield – while not super-talented, they should have done a lot better. None of the starters played up to expectation – I am really disappointed in Bick as he has enough talent to do well at this level. I figured maybe it was my tactics, so I switched it up and put focus on the middle, but it didn’t do anything to their form. Both the defense and the midfield should go out of their way to tank our offense and Danny Marriott in particular – I can’t imagine what our season would have been like without him. He broke our record, the National league record, the Universe’s record – he scored 49 Goals in 44 League Appearances. I don’t think I have ever had a performance like that in the lower leagues in any save. There was no comparison to him – not our team or in the league as a whole. Imagine what he would have done with a proper midfield behind him. Want to know how bad our midfield is? Despite Marriott’s 49 Goals, Lefteris Fligos led our team with only 11 Assists. They were that incapable they couldn’t even ride Marriott’s record-breaking season to gain a few extra assists.

The hope is we show some real improvement next season. Logically, it should happen – this is a very young team so they will collectively improve both individually and as a team. I am not aiming too high – another season free of relegation is the goal. Our board have approved the beginning of a £350K Youth Facilities improvement just after the season ended thanks to our comfortable financial situation (our wage budget is around £1.5K total per week and we were sitting on about £800K at the end of the season before the investment.) I also tried my luck in getting Junior Coaching improved and the response was positive – we should now see that improve from Average to Adequate. Almost my entire backroom staff will be getting changed during the summer, including my Assistant Manager Newson who is retiring.

 

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PLAYER OF THE YEAR

DANNY MARRIOTT (2020)

Striker - 18 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

He scored 49 Goals in 44 League Appearances. I think it is pretty self-explanatory how his season went! He was the Vanarama National’s Top Goalscorer and Player of the SeasonI don’t know where we would be without him – he is literally the only reason we survived the drop. Without his goals, which was a new Vanarama National league record as he crushed the old record held by Matt Tubbs (37 Goals in 2010) we would’ve probably been the worst team in the history of the Vanarama National league. His 7.24 AR matched last season’s number, although his 4 Assists did drop from 11 and his 4 PoMs was a decrease from 6 PoMs last season. He remained a ruthlessly efficient player – his 86% Pass Completed and 64% Shot Target percentages were amongst the top in the league. The truth is, he had no equal and almost all opposing teams had no answer for him. Long may his reign on top of the scoring charts continue.          

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

He did not progress as well as I had hoped, at least not in the Technical side of things. He continued to show growth in his Physical attributes as he entered his late teen years, but even that was just the natural point or two that every player should see as they leave their youth years. I don’t know if his stagnation is a result of bad coaching or if his potential is limited. He is still very young as he just turned 18 years old a few months ago but given his new individual focus on Shooting, I would have liked to see a point or so improvement in his Finishing. As he stands, he has already proven to be a beast for this level of football – his Attacking attributes are fantastic and I am happy about the improvement in his Pace and Acceleration as he was lacking in speed overall. I do want to see his relevant Technical abilities take a step upwards next season – I can only imagine what he will do to the rest of the league if that happens.

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CAREER OVERVIEW

After an amazing debut season, Marriott has cemented himself in the history books of the club as our first legend despite only playing two seasons. Anyone who can win Top Goalscorer two years in a row and set a new league record with an amazing 49 Goals is going to be an immediate fan favorite. Considering the important role he played in keeping us up, I would say that at this point, Marriott is practically worshipped as a god by the club’s faithful. He stands so far apart from the rest of the squad in terms of importance that I would imagine – at least to the Sophara fans – one would equate him as equal to Sophara United as someone like Salah for Liverpool or Raul (at his peak) for Real Madrid. I can’t imagine him not being almost all of our fans’ favorite player. In 84 League Appearances so far, he has managed 84 Goals, an incredible 1:1 ratio, and 7.24 AR. His reputation as an all-around monster took a bit of a hit this year as his assists number dropped substantially, but his efficiency with the ball at his feet remained spectacular. We are lucky to have him, and after two sublime years, I would think all of our fans agree.

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Class of 2021

LEFTERIS FLIGOS (2021)

Left Winger - 17 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Disappointing rookie season from who is probably our best player from the ’21 Youth Class, which is looking poorer and poorer by the month. He led the team with 11 Assists, but considering how many goals Marriott scored, this is not an impressive number. His 81% Pass Completed does point to the fact that he was relatively good with the ball at his feet, and his 5 Goals came efficiently as he registered 55% Shot Target. His 0.37 DpG, however, left much to be desired and showed his inefficiency pushing the ball forward and moving with the ball. At the end, he registered a poor 6.63 AR as he failed to showcase any kind of consistency that could be relied upon.

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

Nothing. What a disappointment. I thought he had a chance to build on his rather decent foundation as a winger, but the only thing we got all season was a point increase in Dribbling. Before we get too excited, that was negated by an unexplainable 2 point drop in Finishing, something that will affect his ability significantly as he is an offensive player. I think I am most disappointed in his complete lack of Physical development – given that other players have shown decent improvement in those attributes, I am left to the conclusion that he simply is not trying hard enough. His Work Rate is a terrible 4, and while his Personality is Balanced he has not shown any signs that he could be on the verge of a improvement spurt. Also, his Strength is 1, which should render him basically unplayable. I wish I had better options down the wings.

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CAREER OVERVIEW

His debut season was forgettable – he managed a few goals and led our team in assists, but he was simply not good. He showed no improvement in training and his form was very inconsistent all season. In other words, he stayed totally the same as the season went on as opposed to improving. At this point, I would say the fans are disappointed in him – he was part of the first Youth Class the team ever had and was penciled out as the most talented player in it. I would imagine he has his defenders who are preaching patience and that he is young and will figure it out, but the word out of our training sessions is that he is lazy and doesn’t want to work hard.

 

Class of 2020

ELLIOT STEPHEN (2020)

Central Defender - 18 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

A personal favorite of mine thus far, he remains one of the only positive points about our otherwise terrible defense. He was just as good as last year – 6.95 AR this season as compared to 6.93 AR during his rookie year while improving his TpG from 1.07 to 1.25 this year. He improved his Assists to 4 – when your CD is providing as many Assists as some of your midfielders, you know you have a problem. If his Leadership was higher, I would have made him Team Captain. He has yet to pick up an injury in his two seasons with the club and he is our highest rated defender at 5/5 CA – what more could I ask for from a CD?

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

He showed some improvement that I can take some solace in – although he didn’t improve much in any one category, he showed 1 Point improvements in a bunch of different ones. He built on his Mental attributes but was disappointing in his Technical and Physical ones. He stands at 1.90 meters so he is not a small man, but his Strength and Fitness need a lot of work. He obviously has his head on right because he showed his improvement came almost exclusively in his Mental attributes. Hopefully his lack of improvement in the other attributes doesn’t mean he has limited potential.

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CAREER OVERVIEW

After two seasons, Stephen is probably our most important defender and is likely to be the fans’ pick as our most reliable player outside of Marriott. His imposing height is a unique trait and his professional demeanor – albeit quiet and somewhat timid around the team – would have endeared him to our fans. He has been consistent thus far and he proved he is more than capable of handling the rigors of a more advanced league. He is still only 18 years old, although the impression I get is that he is very mature for his age and seems older than he is.

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MANAGER THOUGHTS

It was a hell of a season – I am no rush to repeat the anxiety I lived trying to stay alive in the Vanarama National this year. My hope is that an additional year will see Sophara United improve enough that we won’t find ourselves in a relegation battle come the end of the season. It is going to be a busy summer as my entire coaching staff’s contracts run out and I will not be renewing them in hopes that I can do better, which I hope will in turn improve the development of my players. Our Youth Level is getting increased thanks to our £350k investment, our finances are stable and healthy (and they will be the same next season as our wage bill is very low), and I managed to get our Junior Coaching improved to Adequate from Average. If my players can show some collective improvement, I am sure they will make my life a lot easier. The good news is we have a new GK that is miles better than what we previously had, so hopefully he will help us improve our defense a bit. I expect another tough season, but I am hoping it will be less tough than our first in the National league.

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