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


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END OF NOVEMBER 2023/24 UPDATE

The '23 Youth Class has done wonders for the talent level on the team - we started the season with 3 straight victories, and that set the tone for the next few months. Even though we went through a rough patch in September (one win out of 6 games), we still managed to end November in 11th Place, 5 Points away from a Playoff spot and 5 Points away from the relegation zone. We have scored more goals than conceded (41 Goals Scored, 37 Goals Conceded) and our defense isn't the worst in the league! Our offense has been firing on all cylinders - we ended November as the best offense in the league thus far.

Our offense has been led - of course - by Danny Marriott. He has 12 Goals in 18 Appearances, but for the first time in the last few years, he has a partner up front who has taken some of the burden off of him. Ross McDonald started the year very poorly, and based on that I switched him from being a Target Man to playing as an Advanced Forward, and he has responded very positively. He is now standing at 9 Goals in 20 Appearances, adding 4 Assists and an 84% Pass Completed to the mix, as well. The star of the squad has been our GK and current Player of the Year Jonathan Aboagye, however. His 7.50 AR is ranked 2nd in the Vanarama National - an exceptional record for a GK. The addition of '23 Youth Class graduates Ben Sharp and Otis Spence to the defensive mix has all been positive for us.

While we still have had lapses (losing 5-2 to Scunthorpe, 4-0 to Solihull Moors, 5-1 to Tranmere) the squad has also managed to pull off some impressive results, like the the 5-0 win over Aldershot and the 5-0 over Dorking. If we can just keep up this stretch for the rest of the season, I would definitely not mind a mid-table finish. I'm loving the fact that I have not gotten into a relegation zone scrap yet, and I hope we have left that in the past. 

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6 minutes ago, B.W.G said:

That's a very close league table at this stage of the season.

Also nice to see that you have an excellent group of players coming through this season!

I wonder where Excellent ranks - is it a step below the Golden Generation? 

5 minutes ago, _Ben_ said:

Some steady improvements this year and I am very envious of this intake!

Yes, we've had good progress this season after two years of suffering. 

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1 minute ago, abulezz said:

I wonder where Excellent ranks - is it a step below the Golden Generation? 

Yes, we've had good progress this season after two years of suffering. 

Golden Generation is the best but I'm not sure if it's Excellent or Terrific is the step below but both should be high up in terms of the preview.

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YOUTH INTAKE 2024
 

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A fantastic Intake - really happy with the potential here. Yes, the personalities could be better, but even that is an improvement over the previous Intakes. We already saw what one good Intake can do to elevate the team in the lower leagues, so if we can get some good players who develop quickly, it is not a reach to think that we could be competing for a Play-Off spot next season. My HOYD is excited about Luke Bell, and while he looks good, I am excited about Diallo. Our legendary striker Danny Marriott continues to refuse to sign a new contract and with a few short months to go before his current one expires, Diallo is looking like a natural replacement for him. We have some fresh winger talent to look through - again, if they show quick development, they could be in the starting eleven sooner than later. Our defensive prospects also look ready to crack the rotation. Overall, on paper, this looks like my best Intake yet. The money invested in our Youth facilities/recruitment/coaching is paying dividends quick. 

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2023/2024

 

 

TEAM REVIEW

VANAMARA NATIONAL: This was our third season in the Vanarama National and slow and steady remained the mantra. Our first season was straight out of hell, our second season was a struggle but we managed to have a bit of a more comfortable time, and our third and current season was relatively fine in terms of staying away from the relegation zone. The main reason for that was our strong start – we won our first 3 games and although our form became inconsistent and unremarkable after that, it allowed us to stay high enough about the relegation zone that it wasn’t really a concern for us through the course of the season. The young team also had a decent stretch in late December going into mid-January where we didn’t lose once over 6 matches. February and March were painful (2 wins in 11 Games), but we managed to gain 5 Points in April to finish off the season in 17th Place – our highest finish ever. Our 51 Points were also our most ever, eclipsing the 49 Points we registered last season. Danny Marriott took his natural position on top of the league’s goalscoring chart with 32 Goals, while our GK and two-time Sophara United Player of the Year Jonathan Aboagye’s 7.44 AR was 2nd highest accounting for all players in the league this season. Our defense continued to show improvement – in 2021/22, our first season in the Vanarama National, we conceded 113 Goals, while last season we dropped that down to 95 Goals with both times being ranked as the worst defense in the league. This season, we conceded 84 Goals and were no longer the worst in the league (2nd worst). We also managed to increase our 68 Goals from last season to a league-leading 82 Goals this year, bringing our GD down to -2 which was the best we have registered so far in the Vanarama National. We finished 7 Points above the relegation zone, which in my opinion means this was a successful season.

FA CUP/FA TROPHY: It took everything we had to advance past Chippenham (21st in Vanarama South) as we defeated them away 2-1 in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round only to be drawn with Tranmere (14th in League One) in the tournament’s First Round. We heroically registered a 4-4 draw at home before being demolished 5-1 away from home, but we were expected to lose anyway so I was happy we managed to make it difficult for them. Meanwhile, our performance in the FA Trophy continued to underwhelm – a 5-1 home victory over Dartford (11th in Vanarama South) was quickly overturned by a 3-0 home loss to Scunthorpe (2nd in Vanarama National), who outclassed and outplayed us in every way.

CLUB PROGRESS: On the 7th of November 2023, the club voted out Chairman Nick Blofeld (who was running for his 3rd straight term) and brought in Jon Weston. Naturally, I was a bit worried as Blofeld had supported all my requests to improve our Youth facilities and Academy, but Weston has done well so far in the short time he has been at the club. We ended the season having improved our Youth Recruitment and Junior Coaching, and Weston suggested we raise our Youth Level for a C4 to C3, which I whole-heartedly accepted. Our Finances remain solid – we ended the season with almost £600k in our account while continuously turning profits every month. The reason for that is our low wage bill – it currently stands at just less than £4k a week despite having a budget for almost £11k per week. No complaints in this department as our progress in terms of improving our Youth facilities and the Sophara Academy as well as building our balance has gone perfectly thus far.

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PLAYER OF THE YEAR

JONATHAN ABOAGYE (2022)

Goalkeeper - 18 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

In both his rookie and sophomore seasons, our English/Ghanaian GK has been named our Player of the Year. This is telling as it is extremely difficult for a GK to win it, at least in my teams throughout the previous saves. There can be doubt, however, of Aboagye’s talents and his importance to the team. His 7.44 AR was the highest on the team by a long shot and was actually the second highest in the entire league. He set new team records with 11 Clean Sheets and 9 PoMs (8 in the league) while being named in the league’s Team of the Week 11 times. He was shortlisted for the league’s Player of the Season while bringing down the 2.04 Con/90 he registered last year to 1.83 Con/90 this season. His value is now just under £16k (4th highest on the team), but his value to us currently is priceless. The only issue is that he is now refusing to sign a new contract because he believes himself too talented for this level of football – thankfully, I still have 2 years left to change his mind as his contract expires in the summer of 2026.  

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

I am very happy with his development so far. His Aerial Reach has improved 4 Points since he entered the first team – 3 of those came this season alone. His Communication also jumped 2 Points this season while the rest of his Goalkeeping attributes mostly all appear on the rise. His Physical attributes saw only a small increase (1 Point in Jumping Reach), something I am a little worried about because these are his prime years for physical development. However, his Mental attributes have shown immense development – for example, his Composure has now increased 5 Points in the past two seasons. Anticipation, Concentration, Positioning, and Leadership all increased by 2 Points this season, with Positioning now having increased 3 Points since his career began. He even saw a small jump in his Decisions attribute (1 Point). Overall, his progress has been great this season – he has taken a huge step up in training and his hard work is paying off in a big way. My staff have now suggested his is operating at a Vanarama National level with lots of room to improve further.

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CAREER

He has had a sensational start to his career. He is 18 years old and is one of the biggest stars in the Vanarama National league as well as its best GK, bar none. At this point, he would be considered one of the team’s biggest names, second only to Danny Marriott. Given how notably he improved this season in his abilities, bigger teams both in our league and above would surely be taking notice, and he is probably being watched by Ghanaian FA officials for a call-up soon. Experts and analysts would have him pegged as one of the lower league’s rising stars and one to watch. What is especially intriguing would be his age – the fact he is so accomplished and just only turned 18 would be a big talking point as experts try to predict where his ceiling might be. In the two seasons he has played, he has registered 7.27 and 7.44 AR, truly fantastic numbers for any GK in any league. I don’t think he is at a level where they would be talking about him as a potential national team player (whether U20 of U19) seriously, but I am sure the subject has been raised. Overall, he has had a dream start to his career and is one of the most popular and well-known players in the league.

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ROSS MCDONALD (2022)

Striker – 17 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Any player that scores 20 Goals in his rookie season is going to be considered a success, and that is exactly what McDonald did. Although the Scottish striker started his career very slowly (he failed to score in his first 10 Games, I believe), once I switched him from being a Target Man to an Advanced Forward, he took off. He played in 42 Games, registering 20 Goals, 8 Assists, 3 PoMs, and 6.86 AR with 82% Pass Completed and 50% Shot Target – all solid numbers for a first year player. In fact, he was impressive enough to become our highest valued player after just one season. I am very happy with how his rookie season played out as he was an important member of the team for us.

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

His progress during his first year was a bit iffy and weird – lots of red arrows points down and no real progress outside of a few Mental attributes. His 1 Point increases in Composure and Off the Ball will help his as a striker, as well as the 2 Point increase in his Decisions. His Determination looked like it was bound to jump, but it only increased a Point throughout the season, bringing up to a lowly 3. He had some Physical improvements, too, with 1 Point increases in Agility and Balance. I’d like to see improvement in his Shooting abilities next season as that is what his individual focus remains on.

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CAREER

A blazing start to his career already has him valued at nearly £20k, the highest on the team. He is considered one of the most important players on the team already and with the imminent departure of Marriott, pressure has already been piled on his shoulders so he has a lot to live up to next season. The fact that he will be replacing the most prolific scorer in the lower leagues in recent memories as the team’s No.1 option up front will definitely be one of the most talked about subjects by analysts this off-season. As such, a lot of eyes will be watching to see how he does in his sophomore year – will he buckle under the pressure or will he rise to the occasion?

 

 

DANNY MARRIOTT (2020)

Striker – 20 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

It wasn’t the 49 Goals he scored two seasons ago, but his 32 Goals were still good enough to lead the league for the second time in his career. He bounced back from an injury-riddled season last year to take his place at the top of the Vanarama National goalscoring charts, upping his 6.94 AR to 6.99 AR this season. His secondary stats were fantastic – 84% Pass Completed and 61% Shot Target – and he was named the league’s Player of the Month and Young Player of the Month in January. His 1.5/5 World Reputation is the highest on the team and his AR was the second highest after Aboagye. His goals, as always, were vital, and through him we were able to lead the league in Goals Scored. Overall, while it wasn’t of the record-breaking standard of 2021/22, he still had a fantastic season in what will likely be his last in a Sophara United jersey.

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

First, let’s get the negative out of the way – his Crossing, Flair, and Natural Fitness have all dropped over the course of his career so far, with the first dropping 2 Points and other two a Point each. He has not improved in his Technical abilities much, but he did improve 1 Point in his Dribbling and Technique abilities this season, with the latter now up a total of 2 Points in his career. His Mental attributes have shown good progress – Anticipation and Decisions continued to improve (4 and 3 Points, respectively), and he showed a Point improvement in his Composure and Off the Ball abilities this season, as well. His biggest improvements have come in his Physical attributes – Stamina and Balance have each been raised 4 Points each, with Agility going up 3 Points and his speed attributes (Pace and Acceleration) also improving 2 Points each. I am especially happy with the last two as he did have a weakness when it came to how quick he was. He still has a few more years of development so hopefully he will be able to work on his Technical abilities and improve those.  

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CAREER

For the past four years, he has been the club’s superstar. He captured the Vanarama National’s Top Goalscorer award for the 2nd time, making in the 3rd time in his 4 year career that he has eclipsed 30 Goals in a season. In 163 Games, he has scored a ridiculous 140 Goals to go with his 7.11 AR. Now that he has turned 20, expectations have been raised on him and one of the biggest stories of this upcoming season will be where Marriott ends up playing. His contract with us is up this summer and he has been adamant that he does not want to re-sign with us. I’m sure that will drop him a level or two in the eyes of our fans, but for the past four seasons he has been glorious for us so I doubt they would be too upset with him. I consider him the first legend the club has had even if he is not listed as such and he has become one of the lower league’s most well-known names. Analysts will probably be of the opinion he belongs in either League Two or even League One based on his accomplishments, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up. He has had an amazing career so far and I will be sad to see him go as I believe he can continue accomplishing what he needs with us. Yes, I believe it will be a mistake for him to leave.

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MANAGER THOUGHTS

The first few years have been a bit weird in terms of deciding whose career to follow and report on – I have decided to remove Elliott Stephen as I don’t think he is talented enough to stay in our starting eleven for too long and I only want to focus on players that I believe are going to have a long and eventful career. Obviously, there are players in our lineup that I have not yet reported on (like Ben Sharp and Otis Spence) that might go on to have good careers – once I believe they are not going to flame out like a lot of players do at this level, I will add them to the reports.

As for the team itself, I like the progress that we are making. We had a good Intake last year that gave us a number of players that have made their way into the rotation, such as the forementioned Sharp and Spence in the back and Touray in the middle – all three players have become starters. Of course, the star of the ’23 Class has been Scottish striker Ross McDonald – his 20 Goals went a long way in helping us stay safe from the relegation zone. In addition to the starters, players such as CM Bernard Twumasi and RW Julian Edgar had decent rookie seasons with ample playing time.

I am super excited about the ’24 Class, however. There seems to be a lot of talent (relative to our squad), including FW Issah Diallo and CM Luke Bell – both players will likely be starters at the beginning of next season. The last two Intakes have given us a lot of depth in our rotation, so now it is on our starters to improve their game and get to a level where we can seriously compete for a Play-Off spot. I don’t believe we are too far off – in fact, for the first two months of the past season, we were in the Play-Off hunt before reverting to our inconsistent ways. Our offense is our weapon – we know how to score goals. If we can get our defense working right, I think we will surprise a lot of people.

Our biggest issue to address this off-season will be the departure of Danny Marriott. He was exceptional for us, but has been complaining about wanting to play at a higher level for a couple of seasons now. Issah Diallo will replace him in the starting lineup, but his goals are going to be very hard to replace. I am going to continue to track his career - hopefully he will have a good one even though it is very unlikely it will be with us.

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Edited by abulezz
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SOPHARA UNITED

PREVIEW 2024/2025

I am excited about the current lineup we have. The most important thing to note is that this is our first season without the expertise of our legendary striker, Danny Marriott. Speaking of Marriott, as of a few days before the start of the season, he has yet to find a club. He has major interest from Dover (who are in our league) and minor interest from clubs like Wimbledon, Cheltenham, Newport County, Port Vale, and Salford – the first two are the League Two and the last three are League One teams. Apparently, his preferred choice is Salford so he is aiming to play at the League One level of football.

Our reigning two-time Player of the Year, GK Jonathan Aboagye, is the number one name on our sheet, both figuratively and literally. Our defensive line, however, is going to see some changes. Elliott Stephen, as loyal as he has been to the club, will start on the bench as rookie Todd Burdett (’24) will start in his place at left-back. Otis Spence (’23) and Ben Sharp (’23) have both solidified their status as the starting duo in the middle, although there is a number of players like rookie Gregory Morris (’24) and “veteran” Stephen (’20) waiting right behind them should they fail to impress. Romanian rookie Darius Negrut will take over the mantle at right-back as there is no one more talented than him currently. This is a totally different line-up from the one that started last season, with Sharp the only returning starter.

In the middle, I have had some tough decisions to make. Perennial underachiever Aaron Bick (’20) – who should be our most talented CM but has not registered over 6.60 AR in any of the previous four seasons – has lost his starting place, although he maintains a position on the bench. In his place will be rookie Luke Bell (’24), whom my staff are very fond of. I will play him as Mezzala to start with and see how he does. He will be playing alongside BWM Lamin Touray (’23), who played 35 Games in his rookie year and will look to improve on his 6.52 AR of last season. Touray’s place is by no means guaranteed, so he will have to impress or I will look for alternatives. The winger positions were a bit of a headache, but I finally decided on giving rookie Ioakeim Kyriakou (’24) a try at RW instead of Lefteris Fligos (’21), with Daniel Musa (’23) maintaining his position as starter down the left flank.

Our biggest story is the departure of Marriott. Now, the burden of scoring an insane amount of goals will fall on Ross McDonald (’23), who scored 20 Goals in his rookie year last season, and rookie Issah Diallo (’24), who has impressive speed but now needs to prove he can bang them in. Behind them will be hyprid AM/SC Rohan Adams (’23), whose individual focus has now been shifted from Passing to Shooting in order for him to be more of a weapon in front of the goal.

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Edited by abulezz
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3 minutes ago, Marbah said:

in the tactic above who's the playmaker? you have the 'distribute to playmaker' but no one is playing that role. can other roles fill the gaps to be playmakers too?

Good spot - I had the tactic in place for Bick from last season, but I removed from the lineup and forgot to change that to play out to the wings. 

Lol, thanks!

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END OF DECEMBER UPDATE 2024/25

Our first two games are not showing in the screenshot below, but we started the season getting 4 Points from a possibly 6 in those first two. In fact, for the first two months of the season, we were actually had the best defense in the entire league - shocking stuff. We reverted back to our leaky ways (somewhat) afterwards, but we have maintained some semblance of an organized back-line despite that November we had. Our form up until October was great - we were in the Play-Off zone and while our offense was stuttering without Marriott, we were managing to contain teams and keep them from scoring. Then came the end of October and goals started working their way in, leading to us having a tough November and December. We finished the year in 14th Place, 8 Points away from the relegation zone and 8 Points away from the Play-Off zone.

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I love when this happens - I don't think I've had a big match in the lower leagues like this in the past couple of saves (FM20 and FM19), so this is great! £1M increase for losing 6-0 - I'll take it any day. 

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1 hour ago, abulezz said:

so this is great! £1M increase for losing 6-0 - I'll take it any day. 

 

 

Yep, should get a nice transfer kitty ;)

 

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2 minutes ago, Maw74 said:

Yep, should get a nice transfer kitty ;)

 

Gonna put it all in our wage budget since I don't buy players, lol. Hopefully we'll be able to do some improvements in Youth and maybe Training.

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23 minutes ago, abulezz said:

That's the thing about the lower leagues - one match can put you back in the black. 

I try to make sure my wage budget is under control from the first season - it helps a lot. 

Yeah, my board just cut ours to 13k something, I used transfer money to get it back up a bit but only other way would be to let players go, we are struggling with them lol

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YOUTH INTAKE 2025

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Another Intake that is going to do wonders for general skill level. We have a few prospects that are good enough to immediately join the rotation, with our new CM prospect Scullion ready to step into the starting lineup as of right now. He has 20 Determination, which is fantastic - I have to figure out someway to make him the leader of my Mentoring group. This is the 3rd straight impressive Intake we have had, although given how improved our Youth facilities have been it is not exactly a surprise. Here are the prospects that I am most excited about:

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2024/2025

 

 

TEAM REVIEW

VANAMARA NATIONAL: The surprise of the season was our defense, bar none. We spent the previous 3 seasons in the Vanarama National suffering because of our Goals Conceded, but this year the squad managed to drop it down to 66 Goals Conceded, good enough to be the 8th best defense in the league. The diamond in the back was GK Jonathan Aboagye (’22) – not only was his 7.48 AR the best in the entire league for all players, but he became the first player in Kafra’s history to win our Player of the Year award 3 seasons in a row. The back-line, while inconsistent, was led by our 2 CDs in Otis Spence (’23) and Ben Sharp (’23), both members of the ’23 Youth Class – they were two of our finest players this season. Our midfield remained full of talent but lacking in form, but I was very happy about the contribution of rookie Issah Diallo (’24) who seemingly made it a personal mission for us to feel as little of Marriott’s departure as possible. He netted 26 Goals in his first season, outshining his older counterpart Ross McDonald (’23) who saw his tally drop from 20 to 15 Goals this season. We finished in 15th Place, two places above our finish last season as we continued our slow and steady progress up through the National league. Our offense recorded its worst season since the inception of the club, scoring only 63 Goals, but it was not totally unexpected with the departure of Marriott and the adjustment to that we had to make.

FA CUP/FA TROPHY: We pulled off some big wins in the FA Cup, defeating Chippenham (we also faced them last year), Crawley, and finally Morecambe before falling to Liverpool at Anfield in the Third Round. This was the furthest we have gotten thus far, and the financial fall-out from out match at Anfield added almost £1M to our bank account. We lost 6-0 but considering the amount of money we made off of that one match, I don’t even care. The FA Trophy continued to be a point of disappointment for us – we lost our first match in the competition to Dover 3-1 away from home in the Third Round. At this point, I have to admit we are underachievers in the FA Trophy – we should be doing better.  

CLUB PROGRESS: As I said above, we got nearly £1M from our match with Liverpool in the FA Cup, which was immediately put to use to help improve our Youth Facilities. At the end of the season, we had Exceptional Junior Coaching, Excellent Youth Recruitment, and Adequate Youth Facilities. The board also wanted to push our Youth Level up one spot, so now we are a Category Three. I need to start focusing a little bit on our Training Facilities as my players are not developing the way I would want, but given how fast we’ve built up our Youth system over the course of the past five years, there is little to complain about.

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JONATHAN ABOAGYE (2022)

Goalkeeper - 19 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Jonathan Aboagye set career-highs with 7.48 AR (which led the Vanarama National), 13 Clean Sheet, and 1.41 Con/90 as he again played in 46 Games in his first season as our captain. The three-time Sophara Player of the Year has failed to miss a single game since becoming our starter in 2022 and has progressively gotten better with each season. We finished in a record-high 15th Place this season and Aboagye was a core reason for that happening. At this point, despite Marriott’s legendary first couple of seasons, I would have to proclaim Aboagye has our current best ever player. He also had 7 PoMs, which is unheard of for my teams that a GK would be able to do that. He turned 19 in April and still has a lot of growth in him – unfortunately, his contract expires next season and he has continued to refuse to sign a new deal because he has ambitions to play for a bigger club.

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

Save for his Physical attributes, Aboagye has done magnificent in training over the course of the last three years. While he didn’t show much growth overall over the past 12 months, his overall development since coming up from the Sophara Youth Acadedmy has been very impressive. His Composure has seen the most growth (6 Pts overall, 1 Pt this season), a vital attribute for GKs, and he has also continued to show strong growth in his Aerial Reach (5 Pts) and Positioning (4 Pts). I made his captain at the beginning of the season and the extra responsibility continued to improve his Leadership (3 Pts overall, 1 Pt this season) and it now stands at 9. There have been other noticeable increases in other important GK attributes like Communication (3 Pts) but I remain disappointed that he has not developed physically. His strongest attributes now can be considered his Communication abilities along with his Mental abilities.

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CAREER

Three years into his career and Jonathan Aboagye has become a star in the lower leagues. A dominant GK is always going to be a center of attention and the English/Ghanaian is no different. Analysts love to talk about how he belongs at a higher level of football, and come next summer, they might get their wish – for now, however, he remains one of the biggest names in the lower leagues. He is a player that has not missed a single game in his career, has registered a league-leading 7.48 AR and is widely considered the main reason for Sophara United’s improvement both on defense and overall in the league. He is the club captain and the obvious leader and rock star on the squad. Although he is yet to feature in either the English or Ghanaian national sides, I don’t think it will be long before he makes his debut, most likely for one of the Ghanaian national teams. The three-time Sophara United Player of the Year has easily become a club legend (the game considers him an Icon – I respectfully disagree) and is widely considered one of the best players in all the lower leagues.  

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ROSS MCDONALD (2022)

Striker – 18 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

The Scottish striker took a little step back his sophomore year as his numbers all declined. His 15 Goals dropped from 20, and his 6.77 AR was short of the 6.86 AR he registered during his rookie year. With the departure of Marriott, McDonald had a chance to take over the mantle as our most reliable threat in front of the goal, but Diallo managed to wrestle that away from him. He was inconsistent and I think that was the major problem – he had games where he simply did not seem to be on the pitch. He remained efficient with the ball (85% Pass Completed) but his 46% Shot Target remained slightly underwhelming. I switched him back to being a Target Man after he failed to impress during the first two months of the season as an Advanced Forward, and he actually played better as a TM. Incidentally, he is our 2nd highest valued player at just over £20K and he recently signed a new contract for a club record of £475 per week. I do want to see him edge closer to 7.00 AR and 20 Goals next season.

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

He did decent this season, improving his Long Shots (2 Pts this season, 3 Pts overall) significantly and working on a number of his Mental attributes. He has seen the most growth in Decisions (4 Pts), Off the Ball/Composure/Long Shots (3 Pts), and Agility/Stamina/Leadership (2 Pts) over the course of his career so far. He did a lot better this year progress wise as compared to his rookie season, and I am especially happy his Shooting abilities are getting noticeably better. Physically, his development has been OK – he has picked up a bit of speed and his fitness has improved. Other than his 2 Pts drop in Positioning, the other negative markers aren’t really important for his position. If he can continue to improve his Shooting skills, it should aid him significantly in getting better results on the pitch.

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CAREER

He got lost in the hype surrounding rookie Diallo this year and he went through the season relatively unnoticed, taking a backseat to his more impressive teammate. As such, his reputation shrank – he started the season as a potential main man and ended it as a running mate to a more prolific striker. That isn’t to say that is how his career will always be but that is his current reputation. He is Scottish so he has a uniqueness to him that will intrigue the fans and he did score 15 Goals so its not like he didn’t do anything, but at this point I would say he is considered a good No.2 option instead of a No.1 that he is inspired to be. His career has just started and he has talent in the right places so I am sure there are some analysts that are expecting him to do a lot better next year.

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ISSAH DIALLO (2024)

Striker – 16 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

The Ghanaian striker surprised the league as he stepped up and generally did a good job of filling Danny Marriott’s monstrous shoes in his rookie year. To start things off, he broke both Sophara United and the Vanarama National’s record for youngest goalscorer of all-time, scoring his first goal more than 80 days before he turned 16. He went on to score 26 Goals in 44 Appearances, also registering 6 Assists and 6.90 AR. Impressively, he registered 89% Pass Completed and also 51% Shot Target, rounding off what was a dream rookie season for the youngster. He ended the season being named to Ghana’s U20 World Cup squad, which I will be following very closely.  

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

His first year development was the most impressive we have had of any graduate from the Sophara Youth Academy so far. He developed his Mental attributes quite significantly – his Composure jumped 3 Pts, while his Decisions and Off the Ball grew 2 Pts. Impressively, his Determination also went up 2 Pts, showing a dedication to improving himself I haven’t seen in other players yet. His Technical attributes, while slower, still developed well, earning 1 Pt in several key categories. Physically, he gained a bit of speed and general fitness but it was his Balance that stood out, having jumped 3 Pts in a single season. The fact that he still hasn’t turned 17 years makes all of this even more impressive – if he keeps up this pace of development, he could easily turn out to be the most talented player to come out of the Sophara Academy as of yet. His Personality is still Fickle, something which I would like to get sorted so hopefully he will pick up a few positive traits from the team before long.

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CAREER

What a start to a career! By the end of the season, Diallo was the talk of the league – a 16 year old that was amongst the top scorers in the league as well as a trip to the U20 World Cup is sure to be very heavily spoken about. His season was so impressive and he showed enough growth that I am sure he has made some noise in the leagues above us – in fact, Championship teams such as Charlton, Hull, and Millwall have all expressed interest in the young striker. How does he follow up his rookie year? Does he stagnant, does he show more growth, or does he completely take over the Vanarama National next season?

 

 

 

DANNY MARRIOTT - WEYMOUTH (2020)

Striker – 21 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Why, Danny, why? You went from being the leader and main man on a team that is coming up to playing in the Vanarama South and struggling. He left us in the summer on Free and it took months before he signed with Weymouth, a team in a league lower than us! So much for his ambition of wanting to play for a bigger club – the reason he didn’t sign with us. He had a bad season to boot – 22 Games, 6 Goals, 6.73 AR. This after scoring 140 Goals in just 4 seasons for us. Other than that, there was not much to report from the former Sophara United legend.

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PROGRESS/CAREER

I can no longer track his progress but his speed is noticeably down. His Attacking skills seem to have gotten better but he does not look like he is in better shape than when he left us. He has probably hit his peak in terms of development and it looks like he will remain a lower league level striker for the rest of his career.

After he left the club in the summer, there was a lot of initial interest even from teams that were a level or two higher than us. I am sure it came as a shock to everyone when he continuously declined re-signing with us (even after he had left) before deciding to sign with Weymouth. It went against what he was saying the whole time – that he needed to be challenged by a higher level of football. His reputation took a hard knock and experts started questioning who Marriott was getting his advice from. He went from being the darling of lower league football to an afterthought by the end of the season. His career, which had started so brightly, now seems on the cusp of becoming forgotten, a mere fond memory from the formative years of Sophara United. Instead of elevating his game, he demoted it – possibly to the point of ruining it. The record-breaking striker looked nothing but ordinary and that could have done permanent damage to how he is viewed. Let’s see if he picks it up next season.

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MANAGER THOUGHTS

I was dreading starting the season without Marriott but honestly it went better than expected. Issah Diallo made me forget about Danny pretty quickly despite not featuring the same level of consistency – after all, he is only just a rookie. I was disappointed that number was able to register more than 6 Assists this season (Diallo, incidentally) – given the low number of goals relative to our previous years, it is understandable, however. I am optimistic about next season – going into 2024/25 I felt we were going to do better and we do, although our defense exceeded my expectations by far. We have a solid starting lineup now and a pretty deep rotation that should be at a good talent for this level of football, with the plus being that they are so young. I want to build up on our defensive efforts – if we can at least maintain it, then it will be a big win in my books. I do think our offense is going to pick it up, with my aim going back to 80+ Goals in the league. We can easily do it, especially if McDonald can give us 20+ Goals. We need our midfield to contribute more – we have talent at the CM and wing positions, but they need to deliver better on the actual results.

This will be our 5th season in the Vanarama National and although I don’t think we will be in the Promotion hunt next season, I would not rule it out. At this level of football, all it takes is 2 or 3 players to get going and you could find yourself on top of the league. We have all the right investments in place and our Youth Academy is giving us good talent for this level so at some point, logic says the squad will figure it out and begin winning games more frequently than not. I will be aiming for a finish of 12th or higher, with my eye on those last couple Play-Off spots.

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FRANCE 2025 - U20 WORLD CUP

Our only representative at France 2025 U20 World Cup was Ghanaian Issah Diallo. He didn't get the chance to play in Ghana's 1-0 loss to China in the first match of Group A, but he did come on as a substitute in their second match. It ended up being a 2-1 loss to Croatia which effectively knocked the Ghanaian U20 side out of the tournament. Diallo then took it upon himself to save Ghana some face with a 2-1 victory over Papua New Guinea in which he scored both goals for his country and took home the PoM award. His 7.35 AR for the tournament was the second highest on the team despite registering only 6.5 in his substitute appearances. The brace he scored made quite a lot of noise and only added to the expectation for the coming season on the 16 year old striker's shoulders. Below are the Ghanaian U20 Players Stats after 3 Games:

 

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Edited by abulezz
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Ioakeim Kyriakou ('24) is in our rotation, starting most of our games at left-wing. He has become one of the few players on the squad called up to a national team, and has now represented Cyprus 10 times at the U21 level. 

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Gregory Morris is part of our rotation in the back and the current starter at right-back. Despite his young age, he has now earned 5 Caps for Barbados as he has started gaining a reputation back home. He becomes the first player in Sophara United's history to earn a national team Cap.

 

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Alex McNulty and Anthony Rogers are both rookies, although only McNulty has featured for the first team so far. He has made 7 Appearances (1 Start), playing in the middle of the pitch and registering 6.60 AR. Although only U18 call-ups, they become one of the few players on the squad who has made international appearances. 

 

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Haim Mesika is a rookie who has not yet featured for our first team but the 16 year old winger has somehow caught the attention of the Israeli coaches! He featured for the first time for the Israeli U19 team. 

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Alex McNulty and Anthony Rogers again featured for the Irish U18 side in their 3-0 victory over Albania, with McNulty especially impressing. He scored a Goal and registered 7.3 PR while Rogers (both featured for half a match) getting 7.0 PR. Ioakeim Kyriakou's U21 Cyprus side was obliterated 7-0 by their Portuguese counterparts, although Kyriakou did have a decent game registering 6.9 PR. 

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DECEMBER 2025/26 UPDATE

We've been rocking it this season. I had a feeling the squad was starting to come together towards the end of last season after the Youth Intake, and I thought we might be able to push for a Play-Off spot but this has been great. We had one tough stretch in October but other than that, we have been getting results and the team has been making it happen. Led by GK Jonathan Aboagye and SC Issah Diallo (both Ghanaian!), with the former's 7.46 AR ranking amongst the top in the league and the latter's 21 Goals in 20 Appearances reminiscent of Sophara legend Danny Marriott, in addition to a defense that is currently 4th best in the league and has maintained good form throughout the season thus far, Sophara United are on the way to fighting for a spot in the League Two at the end of the season. Plus, we got our first ever Capped player in defender Gregory Morris, who was called up to the Barbados national team and is currently in their rotation. The only major negative part was losing in the FA Cup Qualifying Round to Bromley, who are in the Vanarama South league and not doing so well - that was a disappointing and underwhelming loss. 

 

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12 hours ago, deez0r said:

This could be the year!

This is definitely looking like a good year so far - I think we have a Play-Off spot locked but 1st Place is already too far as York has been destroying everyone. 

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Our current and three-time Player of the Year - and possibly the best player in Sophara's history so far - has signed a deal that will officially take him away from us in the summer. This is the second club legend we have lost, sadly, with Marriott being the first. Hopefully, his career in the Scottish Premier League will not play out the way Marriott's has in the Vanarama South. 

 

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Edited by abulezz
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YOUTH INTAKE 2026

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In all honestly, this looks like one of those fake "golden generation." To start with, I don't see Joel Davies - the supposed gem of this crop - amounting to anything substantial. I'm not saying the Class of '26 is trash - its not - but it is a step back from the past couple of Intakes, I feel. That being said, this Intake's chances of becoming something of note rests in the hands of Simon Burley and Kayne Fosuhene, I believe. The former is a CM and the latter is a CD and both look like they have the fundamental skills that I look for in both positions. Duncan Cooper could also amount to something if he develops well, but he is most definitely not a striker and I will probably re-train him to be a CM. 

 

 

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We got a little international party going on in our squad! I had no idea I had so many players that were playing for their national teams, with Morris hoping to build on his 5 Caps for Barbados and Ugandan Fahad Kasirye hoping to make his debut. 

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Burley is the one I like the most out of that intake. Has solid stats and would make a good holding midfield player (if you utilise that role). Some of the others such as Davies and Cooper for me dont really fit their positions. Hopefully the current ability of them is a good indication that your squad as a whole is starting to become much more solid!

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1 minute ago, deez0r said:

Burley is the one I like the most out of that intake. Has solid stats and would make a good holding midfield player (if you utilise that role). Some of the others such as Davies and Cooper for me dont really fit their positions. Hopefully the current ability of them is a good indication that your squad as a whole is starting to become much more solid!

I agree - Burley looks like someone who could step in and contribute as early as next season. I'm not a fan of Davies' talents and Cooper is definitely not a striker, although he could turn out to be a decent CM. 

I think the squad's talents in general is a lot higher than before, but this Intake is a still a notch below the past two classes. 

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Not quite such a good intake as the previous couple but not the worst either, safely away from the drop zone, hopefully the players will improve and you can start pulling further up, doing a great job imo.

I am working on setting up another save, will have a youth only club but with a bit of a twist and it will be on an older version and will be on a full fat game.

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I have no idea why it says Antony Rogers was on the Main team (he's Irish) - there is no trace of him on it, lol. Otherwise, we got a little group going in the Irish U18 team - McNulty has made 14 Appearances for us this year, and rookie Scullion (our vice-captain) made his U21 debut for N. Ireland. Scullion and Diallo are our most in-demand players currently. Sadly, no one impressed.

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For the Main national teams, Fahad Kasirye made his Uganda debut against Sudan and then Cape Verde, drawing the first and losing the second in their African Nations Cup Qualifying stages. Gregory Morris is in danger of becoming and international veteran, earning his 7th Cap for Barbados despite only being 18 years old. 

 

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