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


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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2025/2026

 

 

TEAM REVIEW

VANAMARA NATIONAL: From the start, the season felt different. Actually, I started feeling the team come together towards the end of the last season and the momentum continued through the summer and into 2025/26. We only lost once in the first two months before a short rough stretch in October – we quickly righted the ship, though, and it was smooth sailing (pretty much) until the end. York solidified themselves early in the season as the team to beat – or rather, the team that beats everyone, so it was no surprise they ended up taking the league. The battle of 2nd Place raged all season between us and Yeovil, a battle we would end up winning, which meant we would go straight to the Semi-Finals. Unfortunately for us, we were drawn with Boston United, a team we had beaten once in 11 Games prior to the match, and once in 12 Games after we lost to them 1-0 at Sophara Park. It was a painful defeat, I have to admit, especially as I really felt this was the year we would push past the Vanarama National and move into the League Two.

The biggest news from the season was our star player, GK Jonathan Aboagye, signing his intent to play in the Scottish Premier League with Dunfermline. Once he had decided, I immediately benched him the rest of the way and gave the No.1 jersey to rookie Junior Fernandez. Although Aboagye is by far the more talented player, Fernandez did well and performed admirably throughout the season. The thinking is that I would give him much-needed first team experience this season so that whether we were going to compete for a promotion spot or in the League Two next season, he would have at least went through some growing pains and gotten over them. Of course, we ended up losing in the Play-Off Semi-Finals to Boston United, so Fernandez – who has already proven that he can play well at this level – should be even better next season. Our defense was pretty much the same as last season – we dropped from 8th to 10th best defense in the league and we had 68 Goals Conceded (up from 66) to go with our 89 Goals (2nd best in the league). Led by 19 year old ‘veteran’ Otis Spence and rookie Gareth Scullion – both CDs – we managed to maintain a strong presence at the back. Progress has definitely been made from a few years ago when we were atrocious at the back. The middle of the pitch remained a problem area, however, despite the talent available. Luke Bell and Chinonso Essien were our starters but both were underwhelming despite being amongst the best players we have attribute-wise. Our wingers were slightly better, although it was more of rotation system as opposed to solid starters. Up front, we were rock stars behind Issah Diallo (he scored over 40 Goals!) and Ross McDonald, with both delivering career seasons. All in all, this was a magnificent season for us in the Vanarama National and I can’t imagine us going into next season anything but favorites for at least a Play-Off spot.

FA CUP/FA TROPHY: As much as we were impressive last year in the FA Cup, this season we were disappointing. In our first match against Vanarama South outfit Bromley, we lost 2-0 in the Fourth Qualifying Round and that was that. Our FA Trophy struggles continued as we also lost in our first game – it was a 4-2 home loss to Barnet in the FA Trophy Third Round. Nothing to write home about in the cups this season.

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JONATHAN ABOAGYE (2022)

Goalkeeper – 20 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

He was named our Player of the Year for the 4th season running despite missing almost half of it. He is abandoning us, unfortunately – our best player and one of the biggest stars in the league will be playing for Dunfermline next season as he will be leaving us on Free. Up until his decision, he was having another brilliant season – overall, he featured in 31 Games, registering 9 Clean Sheets, 1.45 Con/90, and 7.48 AR. Despite that, I decided to bench him in favor of Junior Fernandez, but his last Player of the Year was a fitting end to a brilliant player who will be missed.

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

He leaves the club having made substantial progress in his abilities. He had Major Overall Improvement in the Goalkeeping and Mental categories but only had Slight Overall Improvement in his Physical attributes. Other than Kicking and Reflexes, he showed improvement in all other important attributes for a GK, topping out at a 6 Point improvement in his Aerial Reach and 7 Points in his Composure attributes. I managed to bump his Leadership up 4 Points thanks to naming him Captain, and both his Anticipation and Positioning improved 4 Points each. Overall, I think my coaching staff did a good job with him – obviously, his Physical attributes are just as much genetic as they are trained, so there was only so much they could do with that, but the focus on his Mental growth really paid off. His strongest abilities became his Communication and Mental parts of his game, although he remained weak in Shot Stopping, Distribution, and Aerial abilities comparatively.

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CAREER

A career that starts out having won 4 x Sophara United Player of the Year awards in a row becomes even more impressive considering he has only been with us 4 years. In every year he has played with us since his rookie season, he has been named our best player. That is how influential he has become on the squad, so his benching was a tough decision to make. I would imagine it was a controversial decision which created a lot of noise and doubt within the ranks of the league and probably a few questions of whether I was doing the right thing or not. At the end, Fernandez (his replacement) played well and the questions died down but Aboagye’s presence still loomed large in every game. This was one of the league’s finest players and by far its finest GK, relegated to the bench behind a rookie. The next step in his career with be in the Scottish Premier League with Dunfermline, although I am unclear if he will go in as a starter or not. I am sure Vanarama National enthusiasts will be talking about the four years he spent in the league in the early 2020s and will set it as a benchmark for all GKs in the league, at least in the short term. He leaves a legacy of accomplishment and excellence within the team – he was our most influential presence in the locker-room and he backed it up with an even bigger presence on the pitch. He played in a total of 173 League Games for us, registering an incredible 7.41 AR and 24 PoMs over the course of the past four years, never missing a game because of injury. His 7.47 AR in all games during the 2024/25 season remains the club record and his 9 PoMs (set in 2023/24) was only equaled by Issah Diallo this season.  

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ISSAH DIALLO (2024)

Striker – 17 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

He was a star in every sense of the word for us in his sophomore season. The Ghanaian U20 international set the league on fire, scoring 41 Goals in 46 Appearances and nearly carrying the team to a promotion. Although – for whatever reason – the game decided to name Aboagye as my Sophara United Player of the Year, that award deserved to go to Diallo. Not only did he score the second most ever goals in league history (Sophara United former striker and legend Danny Marriott scored 49 Goals in 21/22), but he also delivered 6 Assists and equaled the club record with 9 PoMs. His 60% Shot Target was tied for best in the league and his 90% Pass Completed was amongst the best, as well. All of this before he turns 18 years old. To top it all off, he won the Vanarama National Player of the Season as well as the league’s Top Goalscorer awards. Legendary season.  

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DEVELOPMENT/PROGRESS

His second year jump was incredible – he showed noticeable progress in nearly every attribute. His Technical attributes also saw at least a 1 Point improvement (with the exception of Crossing and Tackling), which it in itself is a remarkable progression. I was also very impressed with his Mental growth – he has improved at least 3 Points in 4 vital attributes for a striker (Anticipation, Composure, Decisions, Off the Ball) and has shown progress in the majority of the Mental attributes. Physically, he has developed well, picking up a good amount of Points in his speed attributes as well as 4 Points in Balance and 3 Points in Stamina. Overall, he has done great in his first two years at the club, showing the kind of dedication to improving needed. His 4.5/5 CA is the highest at the club currently – my staff believe him to already be of a League Two level with the potential to improve a lot more. Good stuff all around. For comparison, I also took a screenshot of how he compares with the standard-bearer for strikers at the club (Danny Marriott) – he is his superior or equal in every category and is five years younger. I also took a shot of how he compares with the rest of the strikers in the league, as well as his strengths and weaknesses.

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CAREER

Diallo went from strength to strength – after taking the league by storm during his rookie year, he ended up being its best player during his sophomore effort. There is always something about a striker (maybe its all the goals they score) that is magical, and Diallo certainly worked that magic this season. Sophara United are well known around nation as the team that only features players from its own youth academy, and Diallo has become the obvious shining talent on the team. The debate on who was better during the first two seasons of their career – Diallo or Marriott – has become a favorite subject of debate amongst the growing number of Sophara United fans. Given also how well the team performed this season, this only added to Diallo’s growing reputation. At 17 years old, he was crowned the Vanarama National’s Player of the Year, beating out several talented veterans – that alone is a huge talking point. Interest has been coming from teams such as Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday, and Cardiff – all Championship teams. He also started featuring for the Ghanaian U20 team, earning 4 Caps and scoring 3 Goals, so his reputation back home in Ghana has also risen. He is definitely on everyone’s books as the young player to watch in the lower leagues over the next couple of seasons.

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DANNY MARRIOTT - WEYMOUTH (2020)

Striker – 22 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

At least he had a better year this season than last. He stayed with Weymouth in the Vanarama South and upped his Goals from 6 to 9 although his 6.74 AR was pretty much the same as the previous season. He definitely is no longer the player that dominated the Sophara United landscape as our star player and captain. It’s almost sad considering him and Diallo could have been lighting it up together and competing to see who would score the most goals. Instead, he is languishing in a league lower than ours (although he wanted to move to a bigger club, apparently) being as mediocre as they come.

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PROGRESS/CAREER

The memory of Marriott lives on, but these days he is just an ordinary striker in the lower leagues. Murmurs about the “player he used to be” are plentiful whenever he takes the pitch and questions about what brought on this downfall is subject to debate in the pubs. In a couple of years, only Sophara fans will remember the accomplishments of Danny Marriott – his rise, his accolades, his departure, and his subsequent fall from grace.

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MANAGER THOUGHTS

Even though we suffered heartbreak at the end, this season went better than I expected. I figured we would be good enough to compete for a Play-Off spot, but I didn’t see us coming in 2nd Place. Our offense was efficient and ruthless, but it was our defense that allowed the climb from 15th Place to 2nd happen. I am obviously disappointed we won’t have our four time PotY Aboagye with us next season, but my fears were alloyed somewhat by the strong performances of rookie GK Fernandez. I imagine our defense will continue getting better and stronger especially as we are now featuring more depth in our rotation than before. What I want to see is better form out of our CMs – if we can get our CMs to perform well, I think we could take the league next season. I am excited to see how Diallo continues to progress – although I will be changing a number of backroom staff this season in hopes of getting better ones, I have kept on Diallo’s favorite personnel so that his progress doesn’t get affected.

Six years into our Vanarama National campaign, and we are starting to see the light at the end of the Semi-Pro tunnel. Our board has been great – Weston, our Chairman, won his re-election campaign this season and is serving his second term – as they have never refused a reasonable request. Our Youth facilities are great for this level, our Finances are healthy, and our Attendance hit record numbers – the slow and steady progress has been the name of the game and it continues to serve us well.  

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We have another newcomer to the international football scene in Chinonso Essien. The young Nigerian midfielder came on for the last 31 minutes in the U20 African Nations Qualifying match in which Nigeria won Equatorial Guinea 2-1.

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I have never had this happen to me before - we are still in the Vanarama National but the board decided to turn us Professional. Does anyone know what the implications (positive or negative) are turning Pro in the the lower leagues? What does this mean for me as a club - will I be drowned with extra expense?

 

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WORLD CUP 2026 - USA, CANADA, MEXICO

Qatar 2022 was won by Brazil with the individual hero being Cristiano Ronaldo, but at World Cup 2026 the former fell early and the latter had retired. The tournament was highlighted not by any one individual who was brilliant but rather by the teamplay that was on showcase, none more so than the eventual champions, Italy. Led by the tournament's Best Player recipient, Man City striker Sebastiano Esposito (6 Goals, 7.77 AR), and the only two-time winner of the tournament's Best GK award, Man City's Gianluigi Donnarumma (7.01 AR), the Italians ran through some of the biggest giants of the tournament on the way to the title. They defeated France in the Quarter-Finals, Spain in the Semi-Finals, and then finally Germany in the Finals. This was their first title in 20 years and brought their total number of World Cup titles to 5, only one behind the fallen former champions Brazil. 

The losing Finalists, Germany, was unique in that it was comprised of a lot of young, emerging talent. The fact that they almost won the entire thing shocked the world, although they had a relatively easy time on the road to the Metlife Stadium near New York City with only England being a team of a high reputation that they went up against. Their defense was strong, and prior to the Finals, they had only conceded one goal, which happened against Colombia in their 6-1 rout of the South Americans. Kai Havertz (5 Goals, 7.49 AR), Barcelona's midfielder, came 2nd in the Best Player voting, while Leipzig's 20 year old attacker, Rico Jorsh (3 Goals, 7.57 AR), took the Best Young Player award. England defeated Spain in the 3rd Place matchup, their highest finish since they won the entire thing in 1966. 

 

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1 minute ago, Marbah said:

that sucks :( usually when an offer comes at this time, I have to accept it I try to insert the loan back (until the end of next season) that way I get the player for another 2 full seasons :D

It really does suck. There is the "grey area" cheat of putting a crazy amount as a sell clause which I've used in the last couple of FMs but I didnt want to do it here. Now I am regretting it, lol. 

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NOVEMBER 26/27 UPDATE

After the sale of Issah Diallo in the beginning of September (he had played 7 Games, registering 8 Goals and 7.53 AR), I had no idea how the team would be affected so naturally I was nervous. August was a full month for us as we played 7 Games, winning 5 of them and losing twice and the big question was just how much of our wins were down to Diallo's phenomenal record in front of the goal. Turns out, the team is solid throughout. In fact, after our loss to Boston United (of course) on August 8th, we did not lose again until the last day of October when we dropped against Solihull Moors away from home. In between, we were fantastic, riding on solid defense as well as a balanced attack. I switched up my formation to a more modern 4-5-1 after Diallo left as McDonald is the only striker of standard left on the team, shifting Essien to the AM position and starting young Buckley in his place at CM. We also had an easy draw in the FA Cup against Chelmsford, which we easily won to push us into the First Round against Wimbledon. The battle at the top is intense - currently, 4 teams are fighting for 1st Place: Us, Yeovil, Barnet, and Cheltenham. Yeovil has 41 Points and the rest of us are at 39 Points - 5th Place is Dulwich Hamlet who are a full 10 Points behind Yeovil. It will be interesting to see who can keep it up as we go into the second half of the season.

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2026/2027

 

 

TEAM REVIEW

VANARAMA NATIONAL: Building on a widely impressive first three months in which we won 12 of our 18 Games (drawing 3 and losing 2), the team seemed to take the forced sale of Issah Diallo personal (he was sold by the board to Brentford in the Championship for an initial £1.3M with it potentially going up to £1.9M) and picked up the slack. They delivered our finest season to date and we ended up as the Vanarama National’s champions after finishing in 2nd Place last season and being knocked out in the Play-Offs. I honestly thought the effects of Diallo leaving (the 2025/26 Vanarama National Player of the Year had 7 Goals in 8 Appearances to start the season for us before being sold) would have a negative effect on the performance of my team but they proved me otherwise. We went first sometime early in the season and never let up – even though we had a few shining stars, it truly was a team effort as almost everyone in the starting eleven raised the level of the football this year.

Let us start in the back. Our four-time Sophara United Player of the Year GK Jonathan Aboagye left on Free Transfer to Scottish Premier League outfit Dunfermline after being one of the top players (and the top GK) in the league for the past three years. Replacing him in our starting lineup was Junior Fernandez (’25) – here is his screenshot below:

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Fernandez set a new record at the club with his 13 Clean Sheets in the league 16 Clean Sheets overall, and although his 7.05 AR was significantly lower than Aboagye’s 7.48 AR, his 1.17 Con/90 told a telling story, as well. After all, he was the No.1 for the Vanarama National league champions, which has to count for something. The backline in front of him also performed well, led by our two CDs in Otis Spence (’23) and new club captain Gareth Scullion (’25). Our two full-backs, while not consistent and definitely not as impressive as the fore-mentioned two, still were part of a strong back-line and showed good improvement in training. Right-back Darius Negrut (’24) appeared in a few youth matches for the Romanian national team while left-back Fahad Kasirye (’24) has now earned 6 Caps for Uguanda.

My formation this season was 4-5-1, so I had 2 CMs, an AM, and 2 wingers behind the newly crowned Vanarama National Player of the Season, Scottish striker Ross McDonald (’23). Luke Bell (’24) has developed into one of the foundations and best players on the team while rookie Steve Burley (’26) began his career as a starter for us at CM. On the wings, Jordan Dixon {’25) was tied for the best in the league with 15 Assists down the right-wing, while Charlie Bricknell (’24) was our second leading scorer with 16 Goals and 6.88 AR in his second season. In front of them, I slotted in Chinonso Essien (’25), who improved from 6.52 AR during his rookie season to 6.80 AR while also ranking second on the team with 10 Assists. The star of the squad, however, was up front and his name was Ross McDonald. He was named the league’s Player of the Season thanks to his incredible 42 Goals. 10 PoMs, and 7.24 AR, leading us to the league’s title and an automatic promotion to the League Two. Our offense (91 Goals) was the best in the league while our defense wan acceptable 8th Best (53 Goals Conceded). At the end, we managed to accomplish the job and next season we’ll be battling in the League Two.

FA CUP/FA TROPHY: Not only did we do good in the league this season, we also overachieved in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy. Granted, in the former, our first three opponents (Chelmsford, Wimbledon, and Oxford City) were all very beatable competition – we finally fell in the Third Round to Sunderland away from home, but we gave them a hell of a fight, losing only 2-1. In the FA Trophy, we managed to make it to the Quarter-Finals (the furthest we have advanced in our history in this tournament) before falling away from home 3-1 to Eastleigh. Overall, I was happy with our performances in the cups despite the nagging feeling that we should’ve done better in the FA Trophy.

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ROSS MCDONALD (2023)

Striker – 20 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

McDonald showed some real glimpses into his potential last season when he netted 26 Goals and registered 11 Assists, but he was overshone by the now departed Issah Diallo. There was no one to take his shine this year, however, especially as I switched up my formation and made him the sole striker in our starting eleven. He responded by becoming the 3rd striker in our history to score over 40 Goals in the Vanarama National league after Marriott (49 Goals and still the record) and Diallo (41 Goals) – that’s right, he actually scored more than Diallo did last season. His 7.24 AR was the lowest out of the three during their record-breaking seasons, but his 10 PoMs were higher than either one. In fact, it was a new record for the club, pointing to the fact that he might have been more influential on the pitch this season than either Marriott or Diallo. The 20 year old Scottish striker is now our most valued player at £57K and I am ready to give him a record-breaking new contract as soon as he decides he is happy to stay at the club again. He was named Sophara United’s Player of the Season after breaking the Overall Goals record with 53, he was named the Vanarama National’s Top Goalscorer and Player of the Season  and was the most important player on a title-winning side.

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

McDonald has done well over the past few years to improve himself – while his attributes do have red arrows scattered here and there (the most surprising being -2 Points in Concentration), he has shown good progress in attributes that matter to his position. His Finishing has improved +3 Points, his Long Shots a great +5, Decisions is up +6, and even his Physical attributes such as Stamina are up +4. Right now, my staff believe him to be operating at a League Two level with his potential capping out at a League One level – they have reported him as having 4.5/5 CA and potential to have 5/5 PA. They don’t like his lack of intelligence and some of his Technical attributes are considered weak, but my staff rate him very highly and especially admire his ability in the air.

His career has blossomed now that he has become the focal point of our attack, and he has proven to be just as clinical in front of the goal as Diallo and Marriott. Even I did not think he would be this good, but he surprised us all. The fans are especially proud of him, especially as he has not once complained about wanting to go to a bigger club. As we get ready to make our League Two debut next season, a lot of eyes will be on the current Player of the Season and see how his game translates over to a tougher level of football. His young age (20 years old) will also be a talking point and a lot of big clubs will have their eyes on him to see how he does after an impressive run in the lower leagues.

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OTIS SPENCE (2023)

Central Defender – 20 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Our rock in the back, it is high-time Spence got his due. He was very impressive this season for us – in 45 Games, he registered 2 Goals, 3 Assists, 5 PoMs, 1.21 TpG, and 7.14 AR. This was easily the best season of his career so far, one that has now spread across four seasons. There is no denying that he was one of the finest defenders in the league this season and a huge reason for our strong play in the back. Strong in the air, what he lacks in Technical abilities he makes up for in his Defensive talents. He currently has the richest contract in the club’s history at £750 per week, becoming one of the first players to sign a full-time contract with us after the club went professional. 

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

First the bad – other than the exception +7 Points gain in Marking, he has decreased ability in nearly every other Technical attribute there is. Obviously, that is not a good thing. His Mental attributes have seen decent improvement, with his improvement in Decisions (+5), Anticipation (+4), Concentration (+4), and Positioning (+4) being the ones that have grown the most. His Tackling is already relatively high at 14, but the fact that he has not improved not even a single point through his career in it yet suggests his peak might not be far off. My staff believe him to be playing at Vanarama National level with potential to become a League Two level CD in the future. His Unambitious personality is a core reason why he has not elevated his game as far as he could have.

He has become a regular name for us in the starting eleven and has also become known as our strongest defender. He is 1.95m so naturally he has a bigger-than-life presence even though he has a calm demeanor. As he moves into his 20s, he remains a fans’ favorite but I think everyone understands that his potential is limited and thus could be replaced when a stronger prospect comes along. As for now, he is well-known as one of our most consistent and reliable players, the kind that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and you always know what to expect from him.  

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LUKE BELL (2024)

Central Midfielder – 19 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Our CM’s third season was his finest by far – his 6.66 AR during his rookie season improved to 6.82 AR his sophomore year and was up to 6.89 AR this year. He also registered career-highs with 8 Assists and 4 Goals while also registering 1.49 TpG, 84% Pass Completed, and 4 Chances Created. Behind right-winger Jordan Dixon, he was our most in-form midfielder this season, forming a good combination with AM Essien in the Sophara’s attack build-up. Now that we are in the League Two, the hope is he will drop his demands for playing for a bigger club and finally sign that full-time contract so he can continue creating his long-term legacy at the club.

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

He’s done a great job in training over the past couple of years – he is definitely one of our most progressed and improved players. All three categories have seen Major improvement, highlighted by a +5 improvement in Vision and +4 in Passing – the latter is especially important because he came in with only an 8 Rating in Passing and now it is up to 12. He has seen some sort of improvement in almost all other attributes and is now generally considered a League Two level player with potential to be a good League One player. His 4.5/5 CA is one of the top on the team, and my staff consider him one of the players that have the most potential at the club.

He definitely turned some heads this season – there has been a large amount of fans and analysts waiting for his breakout season because his talent is evident, and it came this season. He definitely was one of the main contributors to our successful season and has now made a mark for himself as one of the club’s best players. He might not collect many accolades but he is a durable workhorse in the middle and has started carving up a reputation for as much.

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GARETH SCULLION (2024)

Central Defender – 18 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

He had a good rookie year but he had an even better sophomore season – in 43 Appearances, he registered 1.38 TpG, 83% Pass Completed, 266 Interceptions (amongst the leaders in the league), 2 PoMs, and 6.98 AR, up from 6.87 AR in his first season. Most importantly, I named him captain of the squad despite relatively low Leadership because I want him to be an Influential member and lead a Mentoring group due to his awesome personality. He came out of the Academy as a CM, but he has been successfully retrained to be a CD and he seems to be thriving. He also made his debut for the Northern Ireland U21 side, earning himself 6 Caps this season. I think he had a very impressive season and he can hopefully build on it and make it past 7.00 AR next year.

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

A lot of work has gone into Scullion over the past two years. The first thing I did was re-train him to be a CD, something which he took to and mastered quickly. I think named him captain at the beginning of this season as an experiment – I wanted to see if giving him such a huge responsibility would force is Leadership up. As stated above, I wanted to expedite his journey to becoming an Influential player so that I can start a Driven personality-led Mentoring group. His Leadership did go up +1 this season, so maybe it is working! As for his other attributes, he has seen very good progress in his defensive skills - +3 in both Positioning and Marking, +3 and +2 in Concentration and Anticipation, respectively, and +4 in Strength. This is actually very good progress considering he is still on a Part-Time contract. He is one of 3 players on the squad (Bell and McDonald are the others) with 4.5/5 CA, and like the other two, he is at 5/5 in terms of PA. The coach report now states he is a Leader on the squad (great news), that he is currently operating at a League Two level with potential to be a Championship level player in the future.

His career is still young but has already had its share of attention. Being named captain out of the blue shocked fans and analysts alike but he was more than up to the task. When you also include the fact that he was one of our best performers, after a year’s work, he has now earned the title in the eyes of the fans. Of course, there will be people that would say Bell or McDonald are more suited to be captains of the squad, but I don’t think there is much argument anymore about whether he is up to the job or not. As with our other young stars, he will definitely be on bigger teams radar now that we have advanced to the League Two.

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JONATHAN ABOAGYE - Dunfermline (2022)

Goalkeeper – 21 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

He left on Free Transfer after four wildly successful seasons with us, only to languish on the bench for Dunfermline for the first part of the season. When he finally got his chance to play (10 Appearances) he registered 6.54 AR – a huge drop from the 7.48 AR he registered last season for us. I’m not sure when he will take that step as Dunfermline’s starter at GK, but it is unlikely to be next season I think. 

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

He looks about the same player he left the club as, with very little showing in the way of attribute improvement. I am sure our fans have followed his season closely and were disappointed – after all, he is considered a club Icon. He arrived at Dunfermline amongst a little bit of fanfare, having been the best GK in England’s lower leagues and with a reputation preceding him. He struggled in his first season in Scotland and was not up to expectation, but the club and its fans have not given up on him yet. He will need to do better next season, however.  

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ISSAH DIALLO (2024)

Striker – 18 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

He was making a lot of noise about wanting to join a bigger club since last season and the 18 year old striker ended up making his big move to Championship side Brentford for an initial £1.3M with the potential of improving to £1.9M once specific benchmarks happen. Unfortunately for him, the 8 Goals he had scored this season before making his move were the only ones he would score – he only played in one match for Brentford the entire season.

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

Diallo actually continued to show noticeable improvement after his move – his speed seems to have gotten better as does his attacking attributes. He only turns 19 this summer so he is still very much a project for a team like Brentford, but his skills are hard to ignore. Don’t forget, this is the youngster who set the lower leagues on fire, so there had to be a lot of intrigue when he was first introduced as the team’s new signing. Fans will be looking forward to see what he can do this coming season – as for Sophara United, while the results speak otherwise, he was severely missed as the fans had a certain affinity towards him.  

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DANNY MARRIOTT - WEYMOUTH (2020)

Striker – 23 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Our first ever legend remained on a game by game contract basis with Vanarama South club Weymouth as they finished in 14th Place. Despite his relatively young age, his speed and strength have taken big steps back and for the third straight season, he failed to score 10 League Goals – in 40 Appearances (34 Starts), he registered 9 Goals and 6.72 AR – far cry from the nearly 1:1 Goal ratio he had going on at Sophara United. This was his 3rd season with Weymouth after spending 4 seasons with us.

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PROGRESS/CAREER

On the club’s 24 hour station (streaming and satellite!), the story of Danny Marriott: Fallen Legend was released this year, highlighting his formative years at Sophara United, his ascension to record-breaking legendary status as a teenager before his fall from grace after leaving the club. Forever known as Sophara’s first real star, he will always hold a special place in our hearts, but his career looks like it will develop into nothing more but of one mediocre striker.  

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MANAGER THOUGHTS

Amazing season! I knew we had it in us but you never now with young squads. They could hit bouts of inconsistency and it takes a real effort to get them back on form. Thankfully, we didn’t really have much of those this season and we were able to comfortably lead the league most of the season. Barnet were our main rivals on top of the table, but like us last year, 2nd Place was not good enough to get you the League Two as Bradford City ended up winning the Play-Off rounds and advancing with us. After a few years in the Vanarama leagues and heavy investment in our Youth paying off, we got to a point where even though the team was young, it still had more talent than most of the other teams in the league. I am excited to finally get to the next stage after faltering a bit here – the board made us a Professional club halfway through the season so I am sure the extra training days helped the progress of a lot of the players.

I don’t have any important players leaving this season so we will approach our first year in the League Two with a full squad. Our finances remain around £2M and are healthy and the board is putting in some money to expand Sophara Park to around 5,300 attendance – not a huge jump but at least something we should be able to get to near capacity quick. I really want to start focusing on our Training facilities now that we are a Pro club, but the board have been resistant to it thus far. Other than that, I will continue to monitor the progress of my stars and try to get them to sign Full-Time contracts so that we at least have a foundation to grow with over the course of the next few years.

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1 hour ago, abulezz said:

So do the players that get poached by other teams end up being real players? Will I be able to track their careers?

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Yeah if you go into transfers there is a tab with 'clauses' and it will show poached players when they come through the youth system. 

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1 minute ago, welshgrad said:

Yeah if you go into transfers there is a tab with 'clauses' and it will show poached players when they come through the youth system. 

Awesome - I am super curious now to see how he'll develop. 

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NOVEMBER 2026/27 UPDATE

A great start to the season was countered by a terrible November but I am happy to be at a mid-table level as we enter December, especially as my board decided to sell our captain and one of our most talented players in Gareth Scullion. Our defense has definitely suffered since he departed to Premier League club Sheffield United for an initial £3.3M (potentially rising to £4.7M), highlighted by our large defeats to Notts County and Salford. To make matters worse, our consistent No.1 Junior Fernandez injured himself in training at the end of the November and has been ruled out until the end of December or even early January. The being said, we have had a few players step up and really contribute which has led to some impressive wins scattered around the up and down form we have been experiencing. Ross McDonald leads the League Two with 20 Goals currently, with our starting AM Chinonso Essien leading the league with 8 Assists. Given those two stats, it is no surprise that our 40 Goals are the best in the League Two, but it is also no surprise that our 34 Goals conceded is the worst. The fact that we are just one point off the Play-Off bracket is a pretty exceptional feat, although I don't think we can keep up that pace until the end of the season. My goal this season was to survive and build - that goal looks like it is has already been accomplished and it is still before Christmas.

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3 hours ago, Marbah said:

do you find the poaching part more aggressive than the last fm?

So far I have only had that one player poached - I think in the last one I had a few poached throughout the save, so I havent seen a difference so far. 

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2027/2028

 

 

TEAM REVIEW

LEAGUE TWO: Predictably, it was a very up and down, inconsistent season for us. After spending 7 seasons in the Vanarama leagues (6 of them in the National), we finally got promoted as champions so we entered our 8th season of our existence finally in a technically Professional league. I didn’t know what to expect other than inconsistent form, but we had enough positivity throughout the season to stay away from the relegation zone (our main goal) and actually spend most of it challenging for a Play-Off spot. We faltered in the last 2-3 months and dropped out, but we still finished in a very respectable 13th Place. Yes, as expected, we had the worst defense in the league (77 Goals Conceded) but we also – as expected – did well offensively, scoring 70 Goals and ranking as the 5th best offense.

Our backline was definitely overwhelmed at times and it showed, but there was also some decisions that I took that might have affected their overall form. Firstly, at the GK position, I decided to bench our starter Junior Fernandez (’25) and give Ghanaian rookie Mark Connor (’27) the job for the rest of the season. Connor simply has much higher potential in my opinion, is already Fernandez’s equal on talent, and is a much better Shot-Stopper. I was not disappointed – his development was quickly expedited and ended the season as a 5/5 PA prospect in the eyes of my staff. In front of him, after the board had sold our captain Gareth Scullion (’25) for £3.3M to Premier League club Sheffield United, I switched our starting left-back and Ugandan international Fahad Kasirye (’24) to CD and started a rotation at left-back with no real starter. As the season progressed, I finally decided to switch Kasirye back and start New Caledonian rookie Alexander Foucher (’27) next to Otis Spence (’23) in the middle – like Connor, once he started getting playing time, his development took off and now he is also considered a 5/5 PA prospect. Darius Negrut (’24) maintained his position as our starter at right-back, but despite being our best player at the position his performances were bad (6.45 AR for the season). Those changes, I’m sure, did not promote any stability in an area of the pitch that thrives on it, so I put some of the blame of the bad performances of the back-line on me.

I continued with the 4-5-1 formation this season and it seems to have given me reasonable success. I switched Chinonso Essien (’25) back to the CM position and he responded horribly – he dropped to 6.44 AR from 6.80 AR despite having equaled last season’s tally of 10 Assists. The reason I did that was to slot rookie Danny Browne (’27) at AM in order to aid his development and give him first-team football. Luke Bell (’24) also showed regression in form at the CM position but remains one of our most vital and indispensable players. Both wings did not have a set starter with a rotation on-going throughout the season. Up front, Ross McDonald (’23) continued being the star of our team, leading the League Two with 32 Goals and being named our Player of the Year for the second season in a row. We didn’t have an alternative for him up front so we are lucky he ended up playing all 46 Games.

FA CUP/FA TROPHY: We entered the FA Cup in the First Round and duly lost to Gillingham – who are in the same league as us – 2-0 at home in a very underwhelming performance. We did a little better in the Carabao Cup as we defeated Gillingham at home on penalties before falling to League One club Oxford United 1-0 at home. In the Papa John’s Trophy, we did bad and did not even get out of the Group Stages. Overall, we did not do a good job in the Cups and our Finances suffered because of it.

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CURRENT PLAYERS

ROSS MCDONALD (2023)

Striker – 21 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Now our two-time Sophara United Player of the Year, McDonald was our offensive light this season, as he was last year. In our first year in the League Two, he led the league with 32 Goals while playing in all 46 Games, also registering 6 PoMs and 7.06 AR. As well as being named the League Two Top Goalscorer, he was also named in the League Two Players’ Select, the only Sophara player to get that distinction. He was consistent throughout the year for us and remains our most valued player at £87K. His 2/5 World Reputation is also the highest on the team – simply put, he is the star and the most recognizable face on the squad and was without a doubt our best player this year.

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

There was not much improvement over the past 12 months, although his Finishing is up +1 and now stands at 12 while his Long Shots also improved +1 to bring up to 11 Points. His Anticipation was the only other attribute to mark an improvement this past year (also improving +1), so it looks like he might finally be evening out as he crosses into his early 20s. I expect his Mental attributes (which have seen some tremendous improvement since he came up from the Sophara Youth Academy) to continue to improve but I am not holding out for anything more than that. There are hints he might add another Point or two in his Pace and Stamina attributes under his Physical abilities but nothing else seems to be moving. Overall, his progress has been decent but not spectacular – I was disappointed he had certain attributes like Positioning (-3) and Concentration (-2), both traits I would assume are important for a striker, take those drops over the course of his career so far, but the positive outweigh the negative by far.

This was McDonald’s 5th season with the squad and he has now solidified himself as the star of our team. We were easily the most overachieving this season and McDonald – being our Player of the Year – takes a fair share of the plaudits. Considered one of the best strikers in the League Two already having led the league in scoring in his first year at the level, he has deservedly taken in a lot of praise. His success hasn’t come over night as he has slowly built himself to the threat he has become over the past 5 years – he was initially Marriott’s understudy, then second to Issah Diallo before taking over the mantle and proving himself just as clinical as our two previous stars. There was a lot of questions as to whether the higher level of football would challenge him after leading the Vanarama National with 42 Goals last season and there was a lot of excitement surrounding him and I am glad to say he has definitely lived up to the hype. He has now scored 136 Goals in 227 Appearances and there is talk about him being talented enough to play at a level higher.

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OTIS SPENCE (2023)

Central Defender – 21 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

His first season in the League Two went well – he showed he is capable of performing up to this standard of football and he also continued is improvement off the pitch. If only he wasn’t Unambitious, I am sure he could’ve been a really special player for us. He proved to be one of the more consistent and reliable CDs in the League Two, too – he was amongst the best when it came to Blocked Shots and Clearances. His 1.31 TpG was low, but he has never been a strong tackler. His 6.93 AR was a significant drop from the 7.14 AR of last season, but we have to account for it being his first season at a higher level of football. Overall, however, I think he had a good year and I believe he will do even better next season.

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

Over the last 12 months, he has shown Slight improvement in all 3 categories, but only his Decisions has shown any significant increase (+1 to a total of 14 Points.) In essence, nothing much has changed in his attributes since last season – Positioning (+8 to 16) and Marking (+5 to 12), with Determination (16 – no improvement) and Jumping Reach (19, +3) joining Positioning as his 3 best abilities. I don’t think he will show much more progress going forward – with the exception of a few Mental attributes, I’m sure – but he is already considered a League Two level CD who still has the potential to develop into a League One level player. My staff have him at 4/5 CA and still have him listed as 5/5 PA which is encouraging.

He’s had a good career with us thus far – in 5 seasons, he has played in 206 Games and registered 6.96 AR, with his best season coming last year when he recorded 7.14 AR. He is valued at £80K, which points to the fact that the appreciation for his game and ability goes beyond just the team. He is recognized as one of the stronger CDs in the League Two and is always respected by opposing strikers and coaches. There is no equal to him as a defender on the squad and there hasn’t been since the creation of the club – in other words, Otis Spence has so far been the greatest ever defender Sophara United have had in its history.

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LUKE BELL (2024)

Central Midfielder – 20 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Championship teams like Blackburn and Huddersfield have been circling around us trying to buy Bell all season and with one more year left on his contract, we might very well be looking at his last season with us in 2028/29. As for this season, his form dropped but it was likely due to the higher level of football. He didn’t do bad – 38 Apps, 1 Goal, 7 Assists, 1.70 TpG, 81% Pass Completed, and 6.74 AR (down from 6.89 AR) – but consistency was an issue for our starting CM. I am slightly disappointed in his dip in form but he is definitely the most talented CM we have on the squad and the hope is he will be able to deliver us a better season next year.

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

The last 12 months saw an unexpected jump in his already quite high Vision ability - +2 to a total of 19 Points. Given this fact, I am definitely going to have to utilize that better next season. His Passing and Technique are also showing signs that they will be improving as well, although Vision was the only attribute to show an actual point increase this season. That brings his total increase in Vision to +7 – the second highest jump so far has been in Passing (+5 to 13.) He has done well in training overall in his career – almost every attribute has seen an increase with his only decrease being -1 in Long Shots. He probably has a couple more years of some strong development left – I would like to see him get better in some Attacking attributes during this stretch. His 4.5/5 CA is the highest on the team so my squad view him very highly, and he still carries the 5/5 PA rating – my staff believe he has the potential to be a good League One level player soon. They do point out that consistency is one of his negative traits as has been shown by his up and down form, so that is another important aspect that he can hopefully fix.

After a successful year in 2027/28, he took a step back but I don’t believe anyone is judging him. Given that it was Sophara’s first year in the League One, most people would expect players to take some time to get used to the higher level of football, especially after spending six years in the Vanarama National. He is obviously one of the team’s primary stars although there has been murmurs about his loyalty since he still refuses to sign a new contract despite our advancement to a higher league. Still, Luke Bell is one of the most well-known players at the club and is considered one its leading men by its fans as he continues to build up his reputation in the are and the nation in general.

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DANNY BROWNE (2027)

Attacking Midfielder – 16 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

The rookie ended the season still not having turned 17 so he is still very, very young. Despite that, he was our full-time starter at the AM position behind Ross McDonald this season as I shifted Essien back to CM to accommodate him. As expected, his form was inconsistent and reliability was an issue, but there were enough glimpses and games were he was fantastic that he leaves little room for worry. In 41 Apps, he registered 7 Goals, 7 Assists, 3 Chances Created, 82% Pass Completed, 1.53 TpG, 60% Shot Target, and 6.69 AR. Those are find all-around numbers and along the way he broke the Carabao Cup’s record for youngest goalscorer of all-time when he netted one against Gillingham. Very excited to see what he will do next season.  

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

Out of everyone who has come out of the Sophara Youth Academy so far, Browne might have shown the most growth and progress in his rookie year. He registered +2 increases in several important attributes (Dribbling, First Touch, Decisions, Balance, Pace) and +1 in numerous more, showing Major improvement in all 3 categories despite being with us only a year so far. The manager is already one of his favorite personnel so hopefully we convince him to sign a new contract when he turns 17. He is already well-developed for his age Physically, the staff already have him at 4/5 CA, and he looks like he is set to be a central figure in our first team as early as next season.

His career has started off strong and he made a lot of noise in the League Two this year as a rookie starter. The club has not had any interest in him yet but it is already preparing for an onslaught of offers. There is a real sense of excitement around him as his talent is very obvious – there might not be a more talented player to come out of the Youth Academy so far. He has a lot to prove still but he is well on his way and everyone is looking forward to seeing him in action in his sophomore year.

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OTHER PLAYERS

GARETH SCULLION – Sheffield United (2024)

Central Defender – 19 Years Old – Northern Ireland: 2 Caps/0 Goals

SEASON OVERVIEW

Two seasons into his career with us (and one year after being named captain of the squad), my board cashed in on him, selling him for £3.3M to Premier League club Sheffield United. The sale was obviously a club record and has the potential to increase to £4.7M if he meets all the clauses, but it was a very disappointing decision for me. I had plans for Scullion and he looked capable of becoming a player that we could rely on no matter how much progress we make through the leagues. He ended up playing in 14 Games for Luton in the Championship as he was loaned out by his club, and he did relatively decent (2.51 TpG and 6.74 AR). It was a far cry from the kind of form he gave us, but he seems to be happy so far as he is “pleased to be at a successful club.” That brat.

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

He looks to have shown a bit of improvement overall since leaving the club at the beginning of the season in terms of his attributes, but he won’t really see if the move to Sheffield United will stagnate or improve his career until at least one more year. His value is now almost £2.5M and he has earned 2 Caps for the Northern Irish national team, which is an impressive feat considering that is the highest profile national team the Sophara United Youth Academy has been seen one of its graduates represent. Definitely the most profile player that we have turned out so far in this save.  

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JONATHAN ABOAGYE - Dunfermline (2022)

Goalkeeper – 22 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Yikes – our four-time Sophara Player of the Year (still a record) is having a terrible time in Scotland. He only played in 8 Games this season compared to the 10 in his first season in Scotland last year, and his AR dropped from 6.54 to an astonishingly bad 6.22. This is definitely not the same player that was our best player throughout his team with us, or maybe the level of football ended up being too high for him. The end result, however, has been detrimental for his career so far. 

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

He hasn’t shown any noticeable changes in attributes since leaving the club, so there is nothing to report there. As for his career, he arrived at Dunfermline amidst much fanfare, but has been a huge disappointment for the club that he joined on Free Transfer two summers ago. For some reason, despite spending the last two seasons with us unhappy, I still rank as one of his favorite personnel and now his personality has changed to Jovial. Other than his disastrous form, he seems to be pretty content still in Scotland, so maybe there is a plan for him there yet.

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ISSAH DIALLO – Brentford (2024)

Striker – 19 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

In the 2 years he has spent with Championship club Brentford, he has played a total of 3 Games, 2 of which came this season. He didn’t do bad the rare times he was called upon (7.10 AR), but he is definitely not yet in the first team plans. He was actually listed for loan although there were no takers yet, there is currently interest from clubs like Aston Villa and Fulham. Absolutely nothing eventful has happened in his career since making his move from Sophara to Brentford.

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

He seems to continue to make progress in his abilities, especially is Speed and Attacking attributes. Obviously, I can’t see the details anymore but it looks like he has a high level of talent in both of those abilities. His career has come to standstill since his £1.3M move to Brentford, but maybe a loan move will get it back on track as he shifts out of his teenage years.

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DANNY MARRIOTT - WEYMOUTH (2020)

Striker – 24 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Still with Weymouth in the Vanarama South after 4 years. As with the past 3 seasons, he scored 9 Goals, registering 3 Assists and 6.69 AR in the process. The latter number was his lowest since joining the club after leaving us on Free Transfer, a decision he must hate himself for daily. There was nothing memorable about his season – he is still on a month-to-month contract and Weymouth is still a mid-table team in their league. On the bright side, he was their leading scorer.

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PROGRESS/CAREER

At this point, some of the club’s original fans from the Vanarama National/South days might remember him and his exploits (and what made him a legend), but to the newer fans he is just a name who is etched in our history books for a couple of amazing seasons before he disappeared and left the club. He has earned no accolades since leaving us save for a few Team of the Week selections, but he has mostly become a forgotten man by our club’s faithful, especially the newer crowd. A legend that apparently ended up never being one.

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END OF SEASON BREAKDOWN

 Sophara United came into the season as heavy underdogs to survive the drop, but as has been the case over and over again in the club’s short history, they managed to prove everyone wrong. Not only did they survive the drop, but they did so in convincing fashion – in fact, for most of the season, they were not too far from competing for a Play-Off spot. They inevitably ran out of steam towards the end of the season and ended in 13th Place in the League Two, but not before impressing the entire league with their tenacity and competitiveness. The young age of the club remains one of the most talked about subjects but given the historical pattern, there are few betting against them doing just as well or even better this season.

With the new extension to Sophara Park completed, the stadium can now fit close to 5,200 people, a number that is expected to come close to capacity in some big games next season. With a top-notch Youth Academy developing players and graduating them every year, the club is looking forward to having another successful season where they can hopefully build on their success. With star players such as Ross McDonald and young sensation Danny Browne as well as new GK starter Mark Connor in the mix, it is very possible to achieve that goal.

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Solid season. I decided to start to feel your pain and started a youth only lower league save with a created team called FMCU Wanderers. All facilities set to 1! Wish me luck :D

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18 hours ago, deez0r said:

Solid season. I decided to start to feel your pain and started a youth only lower league save with a created team called FMCU Wanderers. All facilities set to 1! Wish me luck :D

That is awesome! I will definitely be following - gonna go find it now. 

It is soooo frustrating at times but since I started playing this way a few years back it really has revitalized the game for me. 

 

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12 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

A really solid first season! Well done.

Out of interest - do you have an u18 and u23 team?

Hey! Yes, I do. I tend to utilize the U23 to give young players on the Main team playing time, and the U18 to develop players that I can't justify putting in my Main team yet and youth players that are there to fill numbers because - just in case - one of them turns out to be a gem (it happens!)

In my saves, I have noticed as I become a more talented squad and the Academy starts giving us more talented players, the U23 and the U18 teams become more important - especially the coaching available to them. I always make sure they use my same Match Tactics, although I leave it to my staff to run and start who they choose. A good U18 program will ease the need to give young players playing time before they are due for fear of stagnating their development - something important when you get deep in the save with star players that are in their prime fighting for a Premier League or Champions League title. 

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YOUTH INTAKE 2029

After a few seasons of really good Intakes, this one finally went in the other direction. Despite being called an excellent group of players, none of them jump out as standout prospects. Of course, it is all about how they develop but as of right now, no one is really looking that impressive. 

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2028/2029

 

 

TEAM REVIEW

LEAGUE TWO: Sophara United were a team on a mission this season. In their first year in the League Two, the started off strong before running out of steam during the final couple of months, ending in 13th Place after competing for a Play-Off spot for most of the year. This season, there was no repeat of that – the team stayed strong throughout the season and even turned it up during the last stretch to ensure their automatic promotion. The team came together – both defense and offense – and the continuity and natural progression going up and down the pitch by all the players showed an increased understanding and maturity between the Sophara United players. Rotherham United were the best team in the League Two this year and rightfully won the title, but Sophara United pressed them until the end and earned their 2nd Place finish and automatic promotion, scoring 80 Goals and conceded 44 Goals – both good enough for 3rd best in the league. The difference between Sophara and 3rd Place Chesterfield, who earned the last automatic promotion spot, was an impressive 11 Points.

It started in the back with Mark Connor (’27), the team’s new starting GK who replaced Junior Fernandez in the middle of the 2027/28 season after four-time Sophara Player of the Year GK Jonathan Aboagye (incidentally, also a Ghanaian) left the club for Scotland. One of the top prospects of the ’27 Youth Class when he first graduated from the Academy, he did not disappoint. His talent was obvious and by the end of last season, Connor had made himself the team’s starting GK and never looked back. This season, his progression and development – in addition to his performance on the pitch – has been phenomenal and has such has already started making noise to the club’s administration about needed to play for a bigger club. The backline infront of Connor also performed well, although individually they were not quite where they were supposed to be. Starting right-back 21 year old Romanian Darius Negrut (’24), despite improving from his abysmal season last year (6.48 AR to 6.54 AR) still continued to underwhelm and underperform despite being one of club’s oldest and most respect players. At the other end, the starting left-back, Ugandan international Fahad Kasirye (’24, 22 Caps) had an absolutely terrible season – his 6.72 AR from last season dropped to a career-low 6.45 AR and his claim for starter at the position is now in jeopardy. As has been the case in the last few seasons, however, it was the team’s central defenders who lifted the team’s defense to new heights. Otis Spence (’23) remained the team’s leader in the back while the other starting spot at CD saw a rotation between 19 year old Greek Thanasis Zlatkos (’25) and New Caledonian international 18 year old Alexander Foucher (’27, 8 Caps). The former has waited a while before making his impression on the first team, first making his debut in 2025/26 during his rookie year but not playing again until this season. He did decent, registering 6.71 AR, as the Sophara coaching staff upgraded him to a 2.5/5 CA and 5/5 PA rating. Foucher only played in 23 Games during his sophomore season, improving to 6.68 AR and also impressing the team’s staff which his commitment in training. Overall, outside of Connor and Spence, the team’s defenders did not do well individually but collectively, they ranked as one of the best in the league.

With Luke Bell (’24) announcing his decision to join Ligue 1 outfit Lille on Free Transfer, it threw the club and its coach towards a confused state during the middle of the season as Kafra Jnoubi tried to figure out what to do with his star-but-soon-to-be-gone CM. The decision ended up being to bring up a few youngsters from the U18 team and keep a rotation going at the CM position, with Bell playing important matches but resting a lot, too. Rookie Grant Smith (’28) and Welsh CM Ellis Graham (’27) were the main beneficiaries of Bell’s reduced playing time, although neither was terribly impressive. Danny Browne (’27), however, made the AM position in front of them his own and even signed a new contract that will keep him at the club at least until 2031 to boot. The revelation of the season, however, lay to the right of Browne – Joel Davies (’26) finally came into his own once given the chance and delivered an incredible 12 Goals and 24 Assists (a new record) with 7.15 AR down the right wing. In his two previous seasons, he had not played more than 6 Games and had faced a lot of criticism about the apparent weaknesses in his game. He responded by giving the club the best season any winger in the history of Sophara had played. The left wing was not as productive or consistent, however – Charley Bricknell (’24), who had scored 16 Goals in each of the last two seasons, only scored 8 Goals and at times was overshone by rookie Finley Barron, who had 4 Goals in only 13 Appearances. Ross McDonald, our star striker, was once again named the Sophara United Player of the Year, bringing his total to three in a row while scoring 33 Goals, good enough for 2nd in the League Two.

FA CUP/CARABAO CUP/PAPA JOHN’S TROPHY: It was a decent showing for the club in the FA Cup this season as they Dorking then Oxford in the first two rounds before falling to Portsmouth 2-0 away from home in the Third Round. The Carabao Cup did not go well – they lost in their first game in the First Round against Charlton at home 3-1 in an underwhelming performance. The Papa John’s Trophy saw the team finish 3rd in its group with Cambridge and Watford U23s comfortably finishing ahead of the squad.  

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CURRENT PLAYERS

ROSS MCDONALD (2023)

Striker – 22 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

After scoring 30+ Goals for the third consecutive season (this time coming in 2nd in the League’s Top Goalscorer award with 33 Goals), Ross McDonald also won the Sophara United Player of the Year for the 3rd consecutive season, making him second only to Jonathan Aboagye’s four awards in a row. He also equaled his record of 10 PoMs in a season while raising his AR from 7.06 last season to 7.20 this season, which was his second highest mark of his career. He played in 44 Games, missing only 2 this season, and although he missed out on being named to the League Two Select he was still considered one of the top players in the League Two.

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

There was little progress over the last 12 months – he only showed some improvement in a few attributes such as Leadership and Off the Ball, but nothing of note. At this point, it is safe to say he has developed close to his full potential and the improvements he made in training over the course of the last few years have been almost maxed out. He has done well – while he might not have had legendary improvement, he still showed enough commitment to get some of his most important attributes up to decent levels, such as Finishing (+4) and Long Shots (+7.) According to my staff, his potential is that of a good League One player, which is good news because that is where we will be playing next season.

With the Scottish striker now turning 22 years old and winning his third straight Sophara Player of the Year, he added himself to the conversation and debate as to who is the club’s greatest player of all-time. You will have those that believe Marriott’s first two seasons – including his legendary 49 Goal season – are still enough to keep him on top of the best of all-time charts although those numbers are dwindling. A lot of fans still consider the former GK Jonathan Aboagye’s stretch from 2022 to 2026 as the best of any Sophara player considering he had 3 straight years of 7.45+ AR, a feat that has not been equaled by anyone yet. Still, McDonald loyalists have been growing in numbers as he recorded his third straight season of over 32 Goals, earning two promotions during that three-year span while being the club’s best player. McDonald has always been known as the more subdued, less flamboyant of the three but he has earned his respect and has become a feared commodity for any team that steps in front of Sophara United. His 271 League Appearances are a record for the club, as are his 169 League Goals. He signed a new contract worth £975 per week and is now the club’s highest valued player at £165K.

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OTIS SPENCE (2023)

Central Defender – 22 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

An undisputed leader of the team, Spence had another strong season albeit with a drop him his AR from 6.93 last season to 6.85 this year. He did equal his career-high with 2 Goals and 3 Assists to go along with his 2 PoMs, enough to get him named to the first League Two Select call-up of his career. He is such a comforting, reliable name in our staring eleven and he truly seems to bring added composure and poise to the backline. He might not be too strong or fast, but mistakes are not his forte and he plays with such control and poise I almost don’t believe he only registered 6.85 AR this season. Definitely one of the top CDs in the league.

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

He has seen on significant changes in his attributes over the last year with the exception of Concentration, which saw a +1 and is the only attribute to show any improvement this season. What has been surprising is total lack of improvement in his Technical attributes over the course of his career – other than Marking (an incredible +8), he has actually dropped in a number of Technical attributes and/or showed no improvement in the others. He’s had strong improvement in some Mental attributes (+6 in Concentration, Decisions and +5 in Anticipation, Positioning), but there has not been anything else of real note throughout his career. I don’t know if that is a reflection of his general limitations in potential or because of his Unambitious personality and how prominent it has been in his development. My staff think he might have some slight improvement left in him but is generally playing at his full potential now.

That being said, his career has been incredibly solid thus far. The fans love him, he was named in the League Two Select while being recognized as one of the league’s finest CDs, and he is a team leader in every sense of the word despite his lack of Leadership. His 1.95m height is an intimidation factor all of its own and adds a uniqueness to his character that always helps in differentiating himself as a player. His ability to thrive in big matches has made him a big hit with the fans and pundits alike, while his durability and consistency has made him a favorite of the staff. Thus far in Sophara United’s history, he can easily be classified as our best defender of all time.

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JOEL DAVIS (2026)

Right Winger – 19 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

Where did this guy come from?! After spending the first couple of seasons of his career languishing on the bench and on the U23 squad (my bad), he finally got his opportunity this season thanks to injuries and the manager could not find it in him to drop him after that. He finished the season with an incredible (and new team record) of 24 Assists to go along with 12 Goals, 5 PoMs, 1.32 TpG, 1.00 DpG, and 7.15 AR, playing an absolutely vital role in Sophara United’s advancement to the League One. He played in a total of 11 Games in his first two seasons before playing in 38 Games this year and to the surprise of no one, he joined Otis Spence in the League Two Select, making it the first year that two members of the squad get called up to the League Two team of the year. His 7.15 AR was easily a career-high and one of the best for his position in the league.

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

There is no denying that the additional playing time helped Davies immensely – he has seen improvement in 7 different attributes this season, with Anticipation, Decisions, and Off the Ball all gaining +2 Points. Overall, he has done a fine job so far in training, showing improvement in nearly every single attribute over the 3 main categories. He has been especially impressive in Dribbling (+4 to 11), Passing (+3 to 9), Technique (+3 to 17), and Pace/Acceleration (+3 to 15 in both, respectively.) He has a speedster who has developed his game with the ball at his feet, and shown impressive Mental improvement, as well.

The fact that he came out right off the bat and started delivering exceptional form took everyone by surprise, including myself. He was fun to watch and he was exciting to play with – time and time again, I would see him run to the corner then find a pass cut across to whoever was waiting in the box, and more often than not, he would get the assist

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DANNY BROWNE (2027)

Attacking Midfielder – 16 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW

The general feeling around the Sophara United camp is that Browne is potentially the best player the Academy has turned out so far in its history. He has that kind of potential, and this season there were more frequent hints of that. Unfortunately, injuries robbed him of a chance to shine further – he was out for 2 months with Shin Splints from late June to late August, and then again for a month after getting a Hamstring Strain in mid-October. It limited him to only 35 Games, in which he registered 6 Goals, 5 Assists, 3 PoMs, 1.19 TpG, 83% Pass Ratio, and 6.87 AR – up from 6.69 AR during his rookie season. He scored some beautiful goals, too, and always seemed to be involved in the key moments during the match. He signed a new contract that will keep him on until 2031 that will earn him £1K per week going forward.  

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DEVELOPMENT/CAREER

If there one negative thing to say about Browne is that his commitment during training tapered off this season. Considering he was one the hardest working and most improved rookie to come out of the Academy, his lack of growth is worrying. He showed “No Significant Improvement” in any of the 3 categories this year after jumping as much as +3 in Decisions, Jumping Reach and +2 in numerous others such Dribbling, First Touch. The staff’s hope is that the promotion to the League One will relight the fire inside of him to push himself further in his 3rd year with us.  

Browne has become a star on this team, no doubt about it. He’s probably one of those heart-throb teenagers and he definitely has a certain confidence to himself. He is starting to back it up on the pitch, too, showing great improvement over his rookie year. He signed a new contract showing commitment to the team and the genuine desire to improve it and make it a success in League One. As for the experts, he is definitely one of the newcomers and youngsters they will be watching closely come next season.

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OTHER PLAYERS

GARETH SCULLION – Sheffield United (2024)

Central Defender – 20 Years Old – Northern Ireland: 12 Caps/0 Goals

SEASON OVERVIEW & CAREER

Scullion spent his second year with Sheffield United on loan with Swansea in the Championship, who finished in a lowly 20th Place – barely surviving the drop by 3 Points. Scullion was definitely part of the problem – in 38 Appearances, he registered 6.56 AR. All in all, not a good loan move, although he did do better for Luton last season (14 Apps, 6.74 AR) in a more limited capacity. It was a better year for him internationally as he continued to be part of the Northern Irish team, now earning a total of 12 Caps.

There is obviously something impressive about him because his current value is now £6M. He had a bad year so there are questions around his worth, but Sheffield United have not sold him yet so he might have a chance at the Premier League still. His attributes don’t look to have improved much. He is a player with a “growing reputation amongst football fans in England,” according to the plaudits.

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ISSAH DIALLO – Watford (2024)

Striker – 20 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW & CAREER

The only significant thing that has happened since Brentford bought him from us for £1.3M is that Watford bought him this season for £3.9M with potential of going up to £5.25M. Playing time has not come easy for the half Ghanaian striker but he continues to show noticeable improvement in his speed and attacking attributes. He’s got obvious talent, enough that he could probably score a few goals in the Premier League. He just needs the chance at this point.

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DANNY MARRIOTT - WEYMOUTH (2020)

Striker – 24 Years Old

SEASON OVERVIEW & CAREER

I guess Weymouth is where his heart was all along. He completed his 5th season with the club he left us for in 2024, scoring 8 Goals in 42 Appearances as they finished 7th in the Vanarama South. This is the same Danny Marriott that hit 49 Goals in the Vanarama Nation in 21/22. To put it in perspective, all the goals he has scored since joining Weymouth in 2024 (41) don’t equal to what he did that season. He will always be a legend to Sophara United.

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END OF SEASON

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On 28/12/2020 at 05:32, Maw74 said:

Wow, after finding it tough early in save you have now made that look easy :lol::applause:

League Two was a breeze compared to the Vanarama National. Let's see how big a jump it is from League Two to One. 

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18 hours ago, deez0r said:

Well done. I think the jump from National to League 2 isn't too big a jump but back to back is always great! 

Two years in the League Two is not bad at all, although I'm bunkering down for a few years in League One from what I see just looking around the other teams. 

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