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


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YOUTH INTAKE 2041

I thought this was going to be a big one, so my heart sank a bit when I first saw it. Amoako looks like he's going to be OK, but it doesn't seem that there are any potential World-Class players. So much for the quick defensive upgrade!

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I think Amoako could definitely be a starter in a year or 2. Really good mentals and the technicals I look for right away for a centre half are tackling, marking and heading all of which are pretty solid for him already. 

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5 minutes ago, deez0r said:

I think Amoako could definitely be a starter in a year or 2. Really good mentals and the technicals I look for right away for a centre half are tackling, marking and heading all of which are pretty solid for him already. 

Yes, he is looking solid, but I am a bit wary of the 3.5/5 PA. I've had success driving that up a notch or so, but it might be his peak isnt high enough to be a member of CL competing squad. We'll see though, I hope I'm wrong!

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2040/2041

 

TEAM REVIEW

A relatively inconsistent start to the season saw Sophara United battle in the mid-table for the first couple of months but their form started improving around December and by April, they were in the thick of things for a European spot. During the last month of action, they were neck to neck with Southampton and Liverpool over the last Europa League spot, but it was not meant to be – Sophara ended up in 8th Place for the second consecutive season, one spot below the EL place. Frustratingly, the team dropping vital points in the last four games also dropped them from 6th to 8th Place – if they had maintained their form and picked up points, they would be looking at European competition next season. The track record was true to history – the squad was the best team in the Premier League offensively with 85 Goals but were also the 4th worst team defensively having registered 75 Goals Conceded. The 62 Points were a record-high, 2 Points more than the squad recorded last season, showing slight improvement over last season. Ben Gibson took home every major individual award in the league, cementing his status as one of the world’s premier players. In the FA Cup, the underwhelming performances continued as the team exited in the Third Round to Tottenham, while in the Carabao Cup it was also a Third Round exit at the hands of Man United.

An end of era was officially announced this season with the departure of Sophara United’s GOAT – GK Mark Connor was sold to Wolves in the Championship for £3.5M and went on to have a solid season. The club also sold former starter at CD Ellis Champion for £60K – a miniscule sum considering his talent and proven record. The surprise sale of the season, however, was 20 year old winger Jordan Locke to Leicester in the PL for £3.9M – this was a player who had never played for Sophara United and was most likely going to be let go for free. With the departure of Champion and Connor went the last vestige of the 2020s team that was led by players such as Connor and Ross McDonald.

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PREMIER LEAGUE REVIEW

Of the past 8 titles, 7 have now gone to Arsenal (1st) as they successfully defended their championship and won the Premier League for the second consecutive year. It was close, though – Man United (2nd) were only 1 Point behind the champions and nearly took their 2nd title in 3 years had it not been for a few dropped points towards the end of the season. Chelsea (3rd) made a big leap and are now back in the Champions League, while Tottenham (4th) stayed in the same place as last season, beating out Man City (5th) for the last CL spot during the upcoming season. While Chelsea got better, Man City dipped two places out of the CL, joining Liverpool (6th) and Southampton (7th) in the Europa League. Sophara United (8th) just missed out on their first ever European place, but they did feature Ben Gibson, who captured the PL Footballer of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, PL Top Goalscorer (33 Goals), and the PL Young Player of the Year. Burnley (9th) and Brighton (10th) rounded out the Top Ten – Brighton slipped significantly from 5th and European football last year while Burnley made massive improvements to jump from 16th Place last season into the Top Ten this year. On the opposite end, Newcastle (18th) and Bournemouth (19th), both newly promoted, headed back down to the Championship along with Leicester (20th), who only last 3 years in the PL this time around but finished in 13th and 11th Place the previous two seasons.

Highlight on NIKO KOVAC – Arsenal Manager: Despite winning 7 consecutive titles, Arsenal manager Niko Kovac (2027-Present, 9x PL titles, 2x CL titles, 4x FA Cups) has only PL Manager of the Year 4 times, although he has now won it 2 years in a row. Since taking over as manager of Arsenal, he has been the most successful manager in the world and is now carrying both the PL and CL titles in 2041. Although he has made his name with Arsenal and it is his legacy with the English club that has put him in legendary status, he had been successful prior to his current job. In the year and half he was in charge of Bayern Munich (2018 to the end of 2019), he captured the Bundesliga title before accepting the managerial position at Monaco for two years before finally moving to Lyon in 2022. He stayed at the French club until 2027, winning the Ligue 1 title twice (2025, ’27) before finally moving to Arsenal. Now one of the world’s greatest ever managers, the 69 year old Croatian will certainly go down as one of the great legends of the game when he finally retires.

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REVIEW

Making their 6th Finals in a row, Arsenal won the CL title for the 2nd time in 3 years with one of the most resounding Finals victories in recent memory. Facing a PSG side that was making its 2nd appearance in the Finals (they were defeated by Bayern Munich in 2020), they felt the ruthlessness of the Arsenal offense at the Metropolitano de Madrid Stadium in the Spanish capital as the English champions won 4-0 in a dominant display of football. PSG, who were Semi-Finalists last year before losing to eventual champions Bayern Munich, were touting their own high-flying offense prior to falling victim to Arsenal – they took out Shalke 04 in the Second 3-1, defeated Borussia Dortmund in a highly entertaining Quarter-Finals matchup 7-6, and finally knocked out Atletico Madrid 5-2 in the Semi-Finals. Arsenal knocked out Barcelona and Juventus for the second straight year in the Second Round and Quarter-Finals, respectively, before defeating rivals Man United in the Semi-Finals. The two Finalists were the only two repeat Semi-Finalists from last year – former defending champions Bayern Munich fell to Atletico Madrid in a close affair in the Quarter-Finals, while Barcelona saw their exit early to the eventual newly crowned champions in the Second Round, as stated above.

Highlight on NIKOLA CVIJOVIC (Arsenal): Starting his career off in 2029 with FC Koln before making his big £91M move to Arsenal in 2035, Cvijovic is one of the finest players of his era. One would be hard-pressed to find a more accomplished player in the 2030s – 6x PL titles, 2x CL titles, European Championship title (Germany 2036), and most impressively, a World Cup title won at South Africa 2038. The only major individual awards he has yet to win are the World Best Player awards, something he has been shortlisted for three time in his career. The 29 year old Arsenal legend was also the catalyst for both CL title runs – in 2039 he was named the tournament’s Midfielder of the Season (13 Apps, 9 Goals, 7.71 AR), while this year he was named its Forward of the Season (12 Apps, 7 Goals, 7.72 AR) while getting named to his 2nd CL Dream Team of the Season. Now in the prime of his career, the immensely talented and versatile attacker is the world’s highest valued player at £93M, although it is doubtful Arsenal sell him even for double that amount.

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GOALKEEPERS

It felt strange starting the season without Mark Connor as the starter – he was sold during the summer of 2040 for £3.5M to Championship (and now the newest entry back into the PL) team Wolves, where he immediately became a starter and one of the squad’s most important players. In his place is Carl Jones (’34), whose first season as the club’s full-time starter at the No.1 position went very well. Playing in all 38 Games, Jones’ 7.32 AR was 2nd on the team and amongst the highest in the entire league. Although he has yet to make his England debut – something that should be incoming soon – the 22 year old is widely considered the best English GK in the PL today, with his value reaching £30M. He has been part of the rotation for the previous 3 years, but the manager took the step of selling the greatest Sophara United player of all-time in order to promote Jones. In all fairness, most experts and pundits believe Jones to be a far superior player when it comes to talent, including Sophara’s own backroom staff. He was named to the PL Team of the Week 5 times this season, although he lost out to Man United’s Spanish GK Ximo (34 Apps, 0.55 Con/90, 22 Clean Sheets, 7.09 AR) in being named to the PL Team of the Season. He had been given 5/5 PA ratings since breaking into the first team, but that was reduced to 4/5 PA to match his CA this season. He is being nurtured and viewed as Sophara United’s potential starter for the next 10 years at least and the manager has specifically said that Jones will have the full support of himself and his team.

Although he has yet to make his debut, Welsh rookie Chris Davis has already won over a number of the backroom staff while his official ratings stands at 5/5 PA. He developed physically over the past year and already has good Shot-Stopping ability – he does need to work on his Communication and Distribution, however. That being said, he does not turn 17 until the end of July and he has already earned 3 U21 Caps for Wales. It is unlikely that he will see much playing time over the next few years but the manager has so far resisted loaning him out as he wants to monitor his development closely.

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FULLBACKS

Sophara United is going through a new experience – stability, solid form, and potential Premier League level players are now commonplace down both flanks. The conversation begins with the development of Spanish LB Pablo Cobo (’38), who continued to fantastic progress both on and off the pitch during his 3rd year with the club. His work off the pitch has drawn rave reviews from the club’s staff and his on-pitch form continued to improve dramatically. Since his rookie year, he has improved from 6.42 to 6.59 last season to 6.74 AR this season. He has shown the ability to deal with the pressure of the PL despite his young age and has found a way to thrive. He played in 34 Games this season, registering 3 Assists, 3.18 TpG, 84% Pass Completed, and a league-leading 38 Key Tackles to go along with the 6.74 AR. He has improved +6 Points in Positioning to 15 and +5 in Marking for a total of 14 Points – he has gotten stronger, fitter, and faster as well. The manager has publicly stated that Cobo – if he continues improving and progressing at this pace – will hold down the LB position for years to come and could turn out to be a real gem for the club. He has already seen 102 League Games for the club and was named once to the PL Team of the Week. Although he has yet to get a call-up at any level from the Spanish national teams, his reputation continues to grow and looks to be ready to deliver a good season next year, which will see him turn 20 years old.

The situation down the right flank is also encouraging. The team not only has a solid starter in Max Newton (’30), but also now have a really good prospect in Chris Parry (’39), who is equally comfortable playing in either full-back position. The 27 year old Newton unfortunately broke his leg in November and was ruled out for close to 5 months, limiting him to only 16 Appearances this season after proving to be one of the club’s most durable players over the last few years. He registered 6.75 AR (down from 6.80 AR) and was slotted back into the starting lineup for the last few games of the season after he became available again.

The future of the right-back position, however, is clearly in the hands of Chris Parry. After spending his rookie year on loan at Preston in the League One (13 Apps, 6.65 AR), he was brought up to the first team and immediately put into the starting lineup after Newton’s injury. He played in 26 Games (23 Starts), registering 3.34 TpG, 83% Pass Completed, and 6.78 AR – very impressive numbers for someone who was said to be unprepared for the Premier League challenge. He was more than capable and now the talk is when – and not if – Parry will replace Newton in the starting lineup. The manager has put a hold on those talks as he suggested he would rather have Parry come off the bench next season as the first choice backup for both full-back positions, so it doesn’t look likely to happen too soon. There can be no doubt about his potential, however, and with Parry in the fold, the full-back positions for the club are starting to take shape.

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Like the full-back positions, there is finally some excitement about the potential coming up from the CD position. Lesser hyped prospects from the last couple of Youth Classes have started showing some of their potential and earning playing time, and even the starting two are both younger than 24. It all starts with Wayne Breen (’33 – Ireland: 45 Caps/2 Goals), the vice-captain and one of the real leaders of the team. He actually had a poor season by his standards – 37 Appearances, 0.73 TpG, 6.73 AR, down from 6.86 AR – but there are few people who believe he won’t bounce back next season. The 23 year old was an integral part of the Ireland’s surprise Quarter-Finals run last summer at the Euro 2040 in Italy, where they defeated former World Champions Switzerland and rivals England before bowing out to Spain. A starter throughout the team’s 5 years in the PL so far, he seems to have recovered 100% from the broken leg he experienced two years ago. The experts consider him a decent PL player who still has a little room for improvement, especially if he works on his Technique abilities. He is also one of the Mentoring leaders in one of the club’s trademark strategies, known as the Driven Mentoring Order.

One of the players under Breen’s tutelage in the Driven Mentoring Order is his fellow starter at CD, 18 year old English/Sierra Leonean Mohamed Koroma (’39). Like Cobo before him, Koroma was thrown into the starting lineup at the age of 16 after the manager decided to give him experience from a young age in order to aid his development into becoming a long-time starter for the club. In both seasons so far, he has played in 33 Games each, although he did improve his form slightly this season from 6.58 to 6.62 AR. Koroma was unheralded as a prospect coming out of the Academy during the ’39 Youth Class having been giving a 3/5 PA rating, but he is thus far the only player to have made it into the starting lineup in what is starting to look like an increasingly impressive Youth Class. He now carries 4/5 PA with the potential to be a PL level defender in the future, according to those close to the team. He needs to work on his fitness and his defensive instincts still need improving but he makes great decisions and already has the speed to hold his ground against most PL attackers. The jury is still out after 2 seasons on whether he can become the player the manager envisions but given the fact he is comfortable playing anywhere on the defensive line – including both full-back positions – he carries high value for the team. It is probably the primary reason the manager did not loan him out and kept him under his watch in order to aid his development as best as he can.

Of the two prospects behind the starters, Eoin Hastings (’38) has been called the more exciting one as still carries the 5/5 PA rating he had when he came out of the Sophara Youth Academy. Although naturally a defensive-minded CM, the manager has been training and playing him at the CD position in hopes of being able to take advantage of his strong aerial ability. So far, his defensive instincts and talents have yet to show the improvement necessary, but he is only 18 and has already shown signs of beginning to grasp the more difficult nuisances of playing at CD. He spent his sophomore season on loan at Dulwich Hamlet in the League One, playing in 29 Games and registering 6.83 AR. This past season, his 3rd with the club, he made his debut for Sophara United and ended up with 14 Appearances, registering 1 Goal, 1 Assist, an impressive 3.44 TpG, 85% Pass Completed, and 6.73 AR. His development into what kind of player he will become and how good he can be all depends on his ability to grasp the defensive concepts a bit foreign to him and his adaptability to his new position, something he has shown he has high levels of since he took so quick to it.

The other prospect is Northern Ireland U21 international Martin McDaid (’39) – the 17 year old CD was in the same Youth Class as Koroma, who is currently starting ahead of him. His path, however, has been a bit more difficult, as he identified as a DM but has been learning to play CD – like Hastings – for the past two years. Like Koroma, he received a 3/5 PA rating graduating from the Youth Academy and he was definitely not one of the more hyped prospects coming out. Also like Koroma, he has shown improvement and now has upped his rating to 3.5/5 PA while also making his debut this season. In 9 Appearances (5 Starts), he registered 1.28 TpG and 6.69 AR while impressing the staff with his high work rate and dedication. His current level might be far off from being Premier League standards, and there has been rumors he might be sent out on loan to guarantee playing time and aid his development next year, although not has been confirmed. The manager is a fan and has said he likes the foundational skillset that McDaid carries. Already strong in the air, he has shown marked improvement in the primary Defensive talents (+4 to Positioning and Decisions, +3 to Marking, +2 to Tackling) – an encouraging sign from a player with a strong will to learn and get better.

McDaid and Hastings have effectively jumped ahead of Jamaican international and veteran Omar Everett (’29 – Jamaica: 99 Caps/8 Goals), who played in 11 Games (1 Start) and registered 6.70 AR. This was the first time in his career he has played under 25 Games in a season, but the 28 year old still has a role to play going forward as he remains effective at both the RB and CD positions. The proof of that is the manager offering him a new contract that will keep him at the club until 2045 and pays him £32K per week. He has become a Legend in his home country, however, and is now just one Cap away from the magical 100. Appointed as Jamaica’s vice-captain two years ago, he has been part of the national setup since 2032 and was part of the North American Nations League Runners-Up squad of 2032 and the World Cup squads at South Korea 2034 and South Africa 2038.

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

The questions at the CM position have become more than the answers after this season, and the general consensus is that a decision needs to be made on Jishua Tyrell (’33 – England: 14 Caps/1 Goal), whose form hit an unacceptable levels of low for a 24 year old England international. Granted, he had to deal with two major injuries this season – a hip injury that ruled him out of the first 2 months and sprained knee ligaments that knocked off another 2 months in February and March. That being said, his head was not in the right place as he spent all season complaining about needing to play for a bigger club while registering a depressing 6.59 AR in his 28 Appearances. He is considered talented enough to potentially be a leading Premier League CM, but despite his 8 Assists, his form has not warranted his starting place. With several offers coming in for the talented CM, there has been talk that the manager might be open to finally letting him go as he has not fit well in the system and has not shown the dedication to do so. It could also be a good time because there are some highly touted prospects at the CM position that have come from the Sophara Youth Academy that could benefit from playing time, so although Tyrell is one of the most talented players on the squad, it could theoretically make sense to let him go. It will be interesting to see how this summer plays out for the England international, how has now played in 282 League Games for Sophara United.

Despite losing his vice-captain status to Wayne Breen, 29 year old Arinze Mbah (’28 – Nigeria: 62 Caps/2 Goals) remained the stabilizing force in the midfield and the team in general. The Nigerian strongman had perhaps his finest season thus far in his 5 years in the Premier League, registering 6.89 AR (2nd highest mark in his career and highest since joining the PL), 5 Assists, 2 PoMs (career-high), and 90% Pass Completed in 30 Appearances. Incredibly, adding a completely new wrinkle to his game, Mbah delivered a league-leading 41% Cross Completion while also leading the league with 147 Tackles Won and 5.18 TpG, doing so for the 2nd season in a row for both. There has been a lot of talk throughout his career – especially after the team won its promotion to the Championsip and then PL – that he simply isn’t talented enough for this level of football, but then he has made a career of proving the experts wrong. He earned his manager’s full trust early in his career and Jnoubi made it known that removing the vice-captain band from Mbah was nothing personal and everything to do with encouraging the leadership of the younger generation. Mbah, as always, was a professional about it, and despite his slightly public struggles with the squad’s star in Ben Gibson, Mbah has now played in 409 Career Games for the club with no end in sight yet.

The first choice off the bench at the CM position became more messy this season but by default it remains 20 year old English/Guinean Boubacar Diallo (’37), who has now played 2 U21 games for England. His development, while decent, has not progressed quite the way the club had hoped – he graduated from the Youth Academy with 3.5/5 PA but there was high hopes that he had the right skills to become something special. He currently still carries the 3.5/5 PA rating despite completing his 4th season with the club and being exposed to ample playing time – this season, he played in 18 Games, registering a career-high 5 Assists and 6.76 AR, up from 6.72 AR last season. The Sophara staff have publicly stated that they believe him to be capable of becoming a good Premier League player and he already is considered a strong Technical player, but there has been some questions about his focus and bravery on the pitch. He has become fairly entrenched in the rotation at the CM position and would be a prime candidate to start if Tyrell ends up leaving this summer.

Behind Diallo sit two 18 year old prospects with 5/5 PA ratings, with perhaps Sam Martin (’39) – who is valued at almost £8M – looking like the more exciting player currently. In his sophomore season, he appeared in 20 Games (2 Starts), registering 1 Goal, 2.71 TpG, 85% Pass Completed, and 6.75 AR, slightly up from 6.73 AR last season. He signed a new 5 year contract at the end of the season that will pay him £21.5K per week as a reward for his dedication on and off the pitch – he has shown heavy progress in several attributes, including +5 to Off the Ball and +4 to Decisions and Anticipation. His speed gives him a unique ability in the center of the pitch, a good dimension to a technically gifted player who is also relatively strong defensively. The manager has also put a block on sending Martin out on loan in order to personally be in charge of his development.

The other 5/5 PA prospect is Xavier Maddison (’38), with the 18 year old U21 Scottish international finally making his debut for the club this season. He spent his sophomore season on at Forest Green in the League Two, playing in 32 Games and registering 2 Goals, 3 Assists, and 6.55 AR. There were questions about his inability to be consistent in the League Two, but there were no questions in the Sophara United system – in 10 Games (6 Starts), he registered 4 Assists, 1 PoM, 1.81 TpG, 83% Pass Completed, and 6.91 AR, impressing both the club staff and experts which doubted he was ready. He has very good Vision and his Technical abilities are strong and improving – he is definitely one of the dramatic with the ball at his feet and is considered an exciting player to watch. He continues to hold the title of “The next Jim Baxter” by the media and looks primed for more playing time going forward.

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WINGERS

Over the past year, a new star has been born in the Sophara United ranks as Tyler Craig (’36 – England: 9 Caps/2 Goals) has taken his place as one of England’s most exciting and talented players under the age of 21. His season started out last summer as he traveled the English national team to the Italy 2040, ultimately finishing with 2 Goals and a 6.88 AR while impressing for most of the tournament. This was coming off the back of his 2039/40 season in which he registered 8 Goals, 12 Assists, and 7.03 AR in 34 Appearances. This season, he upped his game and his hype further – in 36 Games, he registered career-highs of 13 Goals, 15 Assists, and 7.12 AR. He was named the PL Young Player of the Month for March as he crossed 150 League Games for the club (160) despite only being 20. His value has skyrocketed to £40M and despite his noise about needing to play for a bigger club, he is still under contract for 3 more years on a deal that pays him £105K per week. The manager has refocused his individual training on helping him gain more speed as he believes that will be the difference maker into turning Craig into an elite, world-class right winger. He continues to carry the Media Description of “Wonderkid” and has garnered interest from some of the biggest clubs in football, including the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea. Jnoubi, of course, will not sell him and has announced as such as Craig readies himself for his 5th straight year as the squad’s starter at RW – an important season that has a chance to elevate Craig into another tier of football if his development and form keep up.

Talented but injury-prone 22 year old Welsh LW Kurtis Thompson (’35 – Wales: 10 Caps/4 Goals) has carried a similar narrative as his teammate Craig. He is known as one of the most exciting left-wingers in the league today and is also wanted by Chelsea and Real Madrid as he continues to complain about wanting to switch to a bigger club. Also like his teammate, he is considered to have the potential to become a world-class winger with his strength being his speed. In 33 Games this season, he registered a career-high 10 Goals, 8 Assists (down from 12), and 6.99 AR – the same number as last season. While Craig has overtaken Thompson in terms of attention this season, Thompson remains capable of delivering the magnificent – his box to box runs remind many of another Welsh left winger legend in Ryan Giggs. He has already played in 170 Games for the club and despite the transfer enquiries and offers, the manager remains adamant that Thompson will not be leaving the club, publicly stating he would love to see Thompson see out the rest of his career with Sophara United.

The only other player of note in what has become shallow positions down the left and right wings is English/Nigerian RW Tosin Okoye (’36), whose limits are already well recognized but remains a good choice for a rotational role. The 21 year old played in 16 Games (0 Starts), registering 2 Goals and 6.89 AR, up from 6.80 AR last season. After spending his 2nd and 3rd years on loan, he has since established himself as the first choice winger off the bench despite his inability to play down the left wing. The official report on him is that he is more suited for the Championship but still retains the potential to become a Premier League level winger – the problem is he hasn’t shown the dedication needed to develop himself further. The media have also removed the tag of being “The next Michael Owen” from him. In any case, given the lack of talent at his position, Okoye should continue seeing relevant playing time next season, as well.

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FORWARDS

This is Ben Gibson’s (’34 – England: 35 Caps/17 Goals) and we’re all just living in it. He became the second player in Sophara United history after Mark Connor to capture the PL Footballer of the Year and the PL Players’ Player of the Year while also taking in his 2nd PL Young Player of the Year award and PL Team of the Season call-up. He won the PL Top Goalscorer for the second consecutive season, topping the 31 he scored last season with 33 Goals this year – one would have to go back to the 1993/94 and 1994/95 seasons to find another player having scored more goals in a season with Andrew Cole and Alan Shearer scoring 34 Goals, respectively. In 37 Games, he registered 33 Goals, 5 Assists, 5 PoMs, 56% Shot Target, and 7.37 AR, delivering the 3rd straight season where he has scored at least 30 Goals. The biggest news regarding the 22 year old striker, however, was the fact he put pen on paper and signed the largest and most expensive contract in club history – it keeps him at the club until 2045 and pays him £215K per week. His £75M valuation makes him the most expensive English player in the world currently, although many pundits believe it might take an offer of close to £200M to able to pry him away from the club. The manager is not interesting in such discussions, of course, as he considers Gibson the most important piece to his puzzle – in fact, with former captain Mark Connor departing the club last summer, the armband was given to Gibson as he was named the new club captain. He was England’s best player at Italy 2040, leading the team with 4 Goals in 5 Appearances before getting knocked out by eventual champions Greece in the Quarter-Finals. An Icon for the club and a Star Player for his country, he also captured his 3rd consecutive Sophara United Player of the Year award which followed him being named England’s vice-captain. There is no doubt that he is the greatest player the Sophara Youth Academy has ever produced and will probably replace Mark Connor as the club’s GOAT in a couple of seasons if this keeps up. A player who showcased tremendous goalscoring ability from the get-go during his rookie season, he has now scored 154 League Goals in just 252 League Appearances while registering 63 Assists and 7.16 AR over the course of his career thus far. Considered one of the world’s global superstars, he quest of Champions League football might bear fruition soon if he continues playing the way he has been over the past 3 years.

The 25 year old Kieran Christie (’32), who has not been the same player since tearing his hamstring and breaking his foot during the 2039/40 season, has mostly settled into his role as the club’s secondary striker. This is a player who set the Championship on fire in 2035/36, has won the World U21 Footballer of the Year and European Golden Boy awards (both in 2036), score 20+ Goals in 2 of his first 3 seasons in the PL, and netted 13 Goals this season from 33 Appearances while registering 9 Assists and 6.95 AR. His career scoring record is no joke, either – in 328 Appearances, he has registered 168 League Goals to go with his 6.99 AR career average. Whether he can get back to scoring 20+ Goals per season remains to be seen, especially with Bayliss fighting for playing time, but he remains an important member of the team even with his heroics from the mid-2030s starting to fade from memory.

The reputation of 20 year old Niall Bayliss (’37) continues to grow, especially after he delivered his finest season yet – in 27 Appearances, he registered career-highs of 9 Goals and 7.04 AR to go along with 4 Assists, 3 PoMs, and 60% Shot Target. The speedy striker – who is equally adept at playing down the right wing – has been dubbed as potentially the next Gary Lineker, high praise considering the legendary status for the latter. He is very soft in the air but he has all the right tools to become a 20+ Goals per season striker. His valuation has shot up to £30M despite not even featuring for England’s U21 side yet as the hype around him grows. High on flair and quick with the ball at his feet, he has also become one of the most exciting young players to watch around the league. He is definitely in line for more playing time next season.

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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This is just terrible viewing, your save is broken, bottle job by both :eek: gooners got lucky :(

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13 hours ago, Maw74 said:

This is just terrible viewing, your save is broken, bottle job by both :eek: gooners got lucky :(

They've been dominating England and Europe for the better part of the 2030s and now it seems it is extending to the 2040s!

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LOOKING BACK - YOUTH CLASS 2027

The ’27 Youth Class was a really good. It turned out some of the greatest players in club history, including Mark Connor – the undispuuted Sophara United GOAT as of the time of this writing. But it wasn’t just Connor that became a star for the team – for example, Max Atkinson was a long-term starter for the club while Danny Browne was, at the time of the Intake, the most hyped prospect to come out of the Sophara Youth Academy in its history. For the club, the ’27 Youth Class was the most impactful one up to that point in Sophara United’s history, followed by the ’23 Youth Class (Ross McDonald, Otis Spence) and the ’24 Youth Class (Issah Diallo, Luke Bell, Darius Negrut). Quite a few additional players remain in the game (albeit in lower level leagues), making this a well-rounded Intake that produced the club’s current GOAT along with a number of players that went on to have good careers.

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MARK CONNOR – WOLVERHAMPTON WOLVES

ALSO PLAYED FOR: Sophara United

CAREER OVERVIEW

If we are to talk about Intakes from 2027 and before, then there is a general consensus – Gareth Scullion is the most talented player and Mark Connor is the greatest. His rookie year was the club’s first season in the League Two and its first complete season as a professional team. Initially starting the 2027/28 season on the bench, the talent difference between him and 2027 Vanarama National title winning GK Junior Fernandez was clear to everyone. By the mid-season point, Connor had replaced Fernandez as the team’s starter, playing in a total of 26 Games and registering 7.03 AR. The team spent only 2 seasons in the League Two before winning promotion to the League One, and the 2nd season was Connor’s first one as a full-time starter for the club. Still a teenager at the time, he played a critical role in helping the club get promoted, breaking the club’s Clean Sheet record with 20 and getting name to the 2029 League Two Select.

With such impressive performances and given that the squad was in itself a very young one, the manager took the decision to anoint the teenager as Club Captain, a decision that was considered controversial but ended up paying big dividends. He was named the 2030 Sophara United Player of the Year during the club’s first season in the League Two, an award he would go on to win a record 9 times in a row (2030-2039) – one that still stands today and will stand for probably quite a bit of time. The 2029/30 season also saw him win the League One Player of the Year award after registering 7.30 AR as well as the League One Select, setting a new standard for GKs in the lower leagues. The 2030/31 season was no different – he won each award for the 2nd consecutive time, registering a career-high 7.35 AR at the time. In the summer of 2031, he won his first U21 Cap for England and was part of the team that won the European U21 Championship at the age of 20.

Going from mid-table to play-off spot battles in 2031/32 (the club finished 9th after 18th and 5th Place finishes prior), Connor registered 7.21 AR which was the lowest mark of his career with Sophara United. Despite the improvement of the club, Connor began publicly venting about wanting to play for a bigger club and refused to sign a new contract with the club despite only one year remaining. As a response, the manager stripped him of his Club Captain title for the following season, which ended up being Sophara United’s 2033 League One title winning campaign. Football in the Championship was seemingly enough for Connor to finally sign a new contract, doing so in a year in which his 7.38 AR was a career-high at that point. As a reward, the manager re-named him Club Captain, a position he would keep until 2040 when he was sold to Wolves.

Connor’s first season in the Championship was solid – his 7.28 AR was the 2nd lowest mark of his Sophara United career but he was, once again, the club’s finest player. The 2034/35 season, however, saw Connor take another step in his game – he registered a career-high 7.47 AR, setting a new record for the club. More impressively, he was named the 2035 Championship Player of the Year and was named to his first Championship Select. It took only 3 seasons for Connor and Sophara United to move on from the Championship, winning the league title in 2036 and getting promoted to the Premier League with Connor being named to his 2nd Championship Select.

There was a lot of hype of about little team that could going into the 2036/37 season as Sophara United were set to play in the Premier League for the first time. For Connor, it could not have gone any better – the GK’s legend was made and solidified for the rest of PL history as he registered 7.50 AR (breaking the club record) and won the PL Footballer of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, and was named to the Premier League Select. In fact, he did that two years in a row – in 3037/38, he also won the same awards and registered 7.50 AR. Despite the accolades, however, it was a poorly kept secret that exciting young prospect Carl Jones was going to be taking over the No.1 mantle sooner or later, and that time came in the following two years. During the 2039/40 season, Connor played in only 13 Games, and it was that summer that the manager respected his legend’s wishes and allowed him to leave the club to continue playing as a starter. He was sold to Wolves for £3.5M (despite being valued at around £8M at the time), and he just completed his first season with his new club. Proving that he is a champion everywhere he goes, he broke his new club’s record for most Clean Sheets in a season with 18 while winning the Championship title for the 2nd time in his career.

Still only 30 years old, Connor is in the prime of his career and his return to PL football speaks volumes about his ability and leadership. Although his former manager at Sophara United might be questioned for the approach he took with Connor, they remain on very friendly terms and both understand why it had to happen. As for the GK, he has permanently etched is name in the history books of the Premier League, becoming the first GK in the PL era to win its top individual awards, joining another rare group in winning 2 times in a row. His reputation – because of his many accomplishments – precedes him, and there might never be another player that has done so much across so many different tiers of football over the course of his career. The 2030s, Sophara United, and Mark Connor – those 3 will always be associated and intertwined together.

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MAX ATKINSON – SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY

ALSO PLAYED FOR: Sophara United, Wycombe (loan)

CAREER OVERVIEW

Throughout his career, the one thing that Max Atkinson has been known for has been his professionalism. He has always been one to put the team ahead of the individual and even after being sold to Sheffield Wednesday in 2039, the backroom room staff at Sophara United – including the manager – remain his favorite personnel. Coming out of the Youth Academy, he was known as a light-hearted prospect who had a chance at succeeding, although he was definitely not one of the more hyped ones. He would make his debut during his sophomore year, playing in 2 Games, but would not play for the club again until the 2030/31 season – his 4th year with the club. That season, he would break into the rotation and play in 27 Games. The following year, he would become the club’s full-time starter at the RW position.

His finest season would come in 2032/33, when Atkinson (45 Apps, 13 Goals, 18 Assists, 7 PoMs, 7.08 AR) played an integral part in getting the team promoted to the Championship, getting named to the 2033 League One Select in the process. He would continue to play well for the club during their 3 years in the Championship, never registering below 6.88 AR, and was still the primary starter in 2035/36 when the club won the title and a promotion to the Premier League. It was there that Atkinson started experiencing difficulty keeping up as the level of football became too high for his talents. In the 3 years he spent with the team in the Premier League, Atkinson managed to play in 21 Games with 16 of them coming during the 2036/37 season – the club’s first in the PL. Understanding the reality of the situation but never complaining, the manager – in coordination with Atkinson – decided to sell him during the summer of 2039, letting him go for £250K to Sheffield Wednesday in the League One. Unfortunately, he could not find his way into the first team – his first season with his new club saw him play in only 1 Game and he spent his 2nd second with the club on loan at League Two side Wycombe, where he actually managed to have himself a decent season.

As the 2040s advance past their early years, Atkinson currently finds himself without a club as he was let go by Sheffield Wednesday. Still, regardless of the career the 29 year old is still set to have, his time with Sophara United in the early and mid-2030s during their League One and Championship seasons will remain ingrained in the club’s faithful memories. He was a key contributor during those formative years and his dedication to the club will not be forgotten.

NOTE: After writing this up, he signed with Crewe in the League Two. I am happy he found a club so quick.

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DANNY BROWNE - MIDDLESBROUGH

ALSO PLAYED FOR: Sophara United, Burnley, Derby, Oxford (loan), Portsmouth (loan), QPR (loan)

CAREER OVERVIEW

The ’27 Youth Class, when first introduced, was highlighted by Danny Browne. In fact, up to that point in the club’s history, there was no player as hyped up as Browne, who joined the club amidst much fanfare and the promise of potentially being the most talented player that Youth Academy had developed. While it did not play out like that, Browne has gone on to have a solid career. It started with a bang as he broke the Carabao Cup’s record for Youngest Goalscorer of All-Time when he netted against Gillingham in 2027 at just over 16 years of age. He would go on to spend 3 years at Sophara United before the board decided to cash in halfway through the 2029/30 season, selling him to Premier League club Burnley for £2.5M. It was devastating news for the manager, who disapproved the sale and tried to get the board to cancel it. Unfortunately, they had made up their mind and by the end of the 2030 January transfer window, Browne had joined his new club.

He would only play for Burnley once during the 2029/30 season and then was sent to Oxford on loan the following year. In the summer of 2031, he was sold to Derby – also in the Premier League – for £8.25M, with Burnley turning a tidy profit in a year and a half. As was the case with Burnley, however, Browne would only feature once for Derby, despite spending a total of 5 years with them. During those 5 years, he would be loaned out 3 times – during the 2032/33 season to Portsmouth and, during 2034/35 to QPR, and during 2035/36 to Middlesbrough. He was finally released on Free during the summer of 2036 and then subsequently signed with Middlebrough, who had seen enough during his loan spell to try to make Browne a permanent member of the time. His career has finally taken off since then – since joining the club in 2036, he has played 5 seasons with them as a starter, 3 times registering over 7.00 AR while also registering a career-high last season having scored 14 League Goals. The 30 year old, who has been capped by England’s U19 squad, has a current value of just over £10M and continues to thrive for his club in the Championship, where they have been since he joined the club. He has now recorded 208 League Games and 42 League Goals for his club – he might have come into the game as a Sophara United player, but it is with Middlesbrough that he truly made his name and legacy. 

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OTHER NOTABLE PLAYERS

Quite a few players have etched out nice careers from the ’27 Youth Class, albeit at the lower league level. One of the more exciting prospects from the Intake at the time was CD Dan Hewitt, who was one of 4 players to carry at least 4/5 PA but who ended up being the least talented out of those players. He played 2 Games for Sophara United during his rookie campaign but despite being at the club for a total of 6 seasons, those were the only games he featured in for the club. He has since spent a couple of seasons at Hereford in the Vanarama North and 5 seasons with Weston-super-Mare in the Vanarama South before joining his most recent club of Brora in the Scottish League Two in 2040. He has played in total of 200 League Games, registering a career average of 6.78 AR.

Ellis Graham was actually part of the rotation at Sophara United at the CM position during the early 2030s, making his debut for the club in 2028 and was part of both the League Two team that got promoted in 2029 and the League One championship team that won it in 2033. He was released on Free after the title win, playing for Ebbsfleet and then Torquay before signing for his current club of Bangor City in 2038. He has currently made 95 Appearances for Bangor City and was part of the team that made the JD Welsh Cup Finals in 2039 and 2040.

Another player who spent time in the Sophara United rotation was Alexandre Foucher (New Caledonia: 52 Caps/2 Goals), who played a total of 138 League Games for the club in the early 2030s. After winning his first Cap for New Caledonia at the age of 17 in 2029, he was appointed the club’s Vice-Captain due to his maturity and leadership. In 2032, he was promoted to Club Captain during the Mark Connor captaincy episode before being stripped of it again in 2033 as it was given back to the GK. The summer the club won the League One title in 2033, he was also named his nation’s Captain, a year before he was released from Sophara United in 2034. He spent 3 years at Chester in the Vanarama National after that, winning the Oceania Nations Cup in Fiji in 2037 – the first time his nation had taken that title. During the summer of 2037, he left Chester and joined Wimbledon for a year and then he was subsequently sold to Mansfield in the League One for £40.5K in 2038. After two unimpressive years with Mansfield, he was sold to League Two outfit Walsall for £10.75K where he spent two unspectacular years before leaving for Free this summer.

Alexander Taylor and Gentian Gashi both never debuted for Sophara United but have gone on to have decent careers. Taylor left the club in 2030, spent a year with Grantham and then joined his current club Matlock in 2031. Unfortunately, the club got relegated from the Vanarama North the following season and has since languished in the lower leagues. Taylor has found a home there, however, winning the club’s 2039 Player of the Year (33 Apps, 5 Goals, 5 Assists, 7.22 AR) and making a total of 323 League Appearances for them. Gashi is currently starting his 5th season with Wealdstone in the Vanarama South, but he has not been able to crack the rotation over the past few years. After leaving Sophara United in 2030, he joined Dartford in the Vanarama South, where he spent 7 years before joining Wealdstone. The only other notable player was Mark Dicks, who made 39 Appearances for the club in the late 2020s and early 2030s before joining Woking for 2 seasons in 2033 and retiring at the age of 24 in 2035.

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He's back home where he belongs! I have no use for scouts (other than deepening my knowledge of my save and its players) so this is a harmless hire. It just feels good to have our club LEGEND (not Icon) back with us.

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9 minutes ago, Cardiovascular said:

Great to see McDonald back! I love the fact he upped and left for Peru, seems such a random place for an aging Scottish footballer to go. How did he get on?

Hey, thanks for commenting! Judging by his stats of his time in Peru, I assume he probably went for the extra-curricular activities available there as opposed to focusing on football! Here is a shot of his entire career.

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12 hours ago, TelcontarTargaryen said:

Think I need to create my own team in the lowest league and do youth only save, this is quite inspiring. 

Thanks for commenting! Since FM16 (I think - might be 17) I have played as a Create-A-Club youth only save - for me, its the only way I can enjoy the game throughout the year. I get attached to the players and all that, lol. 

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2041/2042

 

TEAM REVIEW

From the beginning of the season, the Sophara United offense was on fire. Led by a resurgent Kieran Christie and the overall greatness of Ben Gibson, the strike force was netting them in at full force all season long. The addition to the equation this season, however, were the wingers – Kurtis Thompson spent much of the season as Sophara’s best player and Taylor Craig took his game up another notch for what it seemed like the 5th time over the course of his career. Despite the defense still being ranked amongst the worst in the Premier League, the offense ensured – for the first time in the club’s history – European football (Champions League, no less) with a 4th Place finish that few would have predicted at the start of the season. The 108 Goals Scored was the highest in the PL this season, and even though the squad conceded 3 more goals (78 this season as compared to 75 last season), the 73 Points represented a new record. Sophara United had the 2 highest Goalscorers in the PL this season (Christie and Gibson), 2 of the Top 3 in terms of AR (Thompson and Jones), and the two players with the most Assists (Thompson and Craig), while Christie was tied for most PoMs with 7 this year. In all respects – except defensively – Sophara United’s young team were one of the strongest this season in the most competitive domestic league on the planet. The 4th Place finish was a significant leap from 8th Place last season, and the squad now has Champions League football to look forward to next season. In the FA Cup, it was another disappointing run as the club exited out in the 4th Round against Liverpool, while in the Carabao Cup it was an underwhelming 2nd Round to Ipswich.

With the club scheduled to move into the upgraded Sophara United Stadium – increasing its capacity from the current 25,005 to 37,132 – in a year’s time, and with the club now looking at European football next season, it was only logical to invest in the Youth and Training Facilities, with the plan being to pour approximately £5M into each this summer. The investment is due to make Sophara’s facilities some of the best in the entire world, with the Sophara Youth Academy and Youth Training seeing most of the direct benefit from this investment almost immediately. On the Transfer Market front, the club sold 26 year old former troublemaker Stuart Coker to Sunderland during the summer of 2041 for £6.5M after becoming deemed surplus to requirements. The balance of the bank is currently above £150M and the finances are doing great.

 

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PREMIER LEAGUE REVIEW

In a season where two teams took the PL by storm and challenged tradition, Man United (1st) ended Arsenal’s (2nd) two-year winning streak in dominant fashion – the new champions, who have now won 2 of the last 4 titles, ended the season 15 Points ahead of Arsenal. Liverpool (3rd) moved back into a Champions League spot but the other story of the season was the rise of Sophara United (4th) and its group young upstarts. The former were led by newly crowned 2042 PL Footballer of the Year Suad Tomic, the 32 year old Serbian right winger who had his career year, while the latter’s striker Kieran Christie set a new PL record with 35 Goals. Grabbing the first Europa League spot was surprising Nottingham Forest (5th), who jumped 10 Places to finish ahead of Chelsea (6th), who lost their CL spot after just one year. Missing out on European football all together were Man City (7th) – one of, if not THE, the most dominant teams in football during the early and mid-2030s. Brighton (8th) grabbed the last spot in the Europa League, improving a couple of places from last season. Newly promoted Fulham (9th) had a highly successful return to the PL while Tottenham (10th) were perhaps the most disappointing team of the season, dropping from 4th to the mid-table. Southampton (18th) fell apart, getting relegated one year after qualifying for Europe, joined by similarly disappointing Sheffield United (19th) and the newly promoted Blackburn (20th), who couldn’t survive the year in the PL. Wolves (15th) was the other newly promoted team to join Fulham for a second season the league.

Highlight on SUAD TOMIC (Liverpool): The Reds’ best player this season, the 32 year old Serbian right winger has ben with the club for 13 years. In fact, he has now the team’s Player of the Year award for 6 consecutive seasons, highlighting the Liverpool legend’s influence and importance. Making his name as a teenager part of the Red Star Belgrade team that won the Serbian league title in 2028 and 2029, he made his move to Liverpool for £8M in 2030 after capturing the 2029 World U21 Footballer of the Year and 2029 European Golden Boy awards. He scored 3 Goals in Serbia’s Euro 2032 run in Scotland and Wales before getting knocked out to Belgium in heart-breaking fashion on penalties in the Second Round – was also a member of the Germany 2036 (Second Round) team and will finally get to experience the World Cup this summer at Russia 2042. As for this season, Tomic was the most crucial element in Liverpool’s push back into Champions League football, leading the league with 7.53 AR to go along with his 5 Goals, 15 Assists, 7 PoMs, and 90% Pass Completed in 31 Games. He has now played 377 League Games for Liverpool, registering 77 Goals along the way. Domestic and continental titles – outside of the ones he won in Serbia – continue to allude him, but he has shown tremendous loyalty to his team by sticking it out even when teams that could guarantee titles came knocking.

 

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REVIEW

Making an incredible 7th straight appearance in the Finals – this time in Istanbul, Turkey – Arsenal also made it their 2nd consecutive title and 3rd in the past 4 years. The champions were the only repeat Semi-Finalists as they were joined by fellow heavyweights Real Madrid and surprising Tottenham and Ajax. It was the Dutch team that made it to the Finals at the expense of Real Madrid before bowing out to Arsenal in the Finals on penalties. In fact, every single one of Ajax’s knockout rounds went to penalties or was won on away goals – they defeated 2037 champions Atletico Madrid in the Second Round before defeating Schalke 04 and Real Madrid on away goals in the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals, respectively. None of the Semi-Finalists, including the champions, ended up winning their domestic leagues – Man United (EPL) and Barcelona (La Liga), both their domestic league champions, joined Bayern Munich, Bundesliga champions, as Quarter-Finals casualties. The Serie A disappointingly had 0 representatives past the Second Round. The main story remains Arsenal, however – having won a record 7 straight trips to the Finals, of which they have won it 3 times (2039, ’41, ’42), they have now positioned themselves as the team of this generation as well as one of the greatest teams of all-time.

Highlight on ANDREA DE CAROLIS (Arsenal): He might only be 24 but the Swiss right winger is already an Arsenal legend, part of the club’s greatest team in its history. Coming up through the Parma Youth Academy, it was obvious from the onset that he was special. In his 5 years with Parma from 2034 to 2039, he won the Serie A Best Young Player of the Season twice (2038, ’39), the Parma Player of the Year twice (2038, ’39), and was also named Parma captain in 2038 despite still being a teenager. His last season with Parma (2038/39) was especially impressive – 35 Apps, 11 Goals, 8 Assists, 11 PoMs, and 7.71 AR. It was the summer of 2039 that he made his move to Arsenal for £51M, becoming the expensive Swiss footballer of all-time and reinforcing the attack of one of the greatest teams in the history of the game. Continuing his dominant form with his new club, 2039 became the year that De Carolis became a global superstar, ending it by being named Runner-Up for the World Golden Ball award and coming in 3rd for the World Footballer of the Year before being named to the 2039 World Team of the Year. He broke the Premier League record with 20 Assists during his first year with the club, getting crowned PL champion enroute to winning the 2040 PL Footballer of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, and PL Young Player of the Year awards. Since joining Arsenal 3 years ago, he has won the CL title twice (2041, ’42), the PL title twice (2040, ’41), and was named Switzerland’s new captain. In the CL this year, he registered 5 Goals, 5 Assists, and a tournament-leading 7.72 AR in 12 Games while winning the CL Midfielder of the Season award.  

 

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GOALKEEPERS

Since the creation of the club in 2020, one of the hallmarks of Sophara United has been always having exceptional and talented GKs. Now in 2042, this still applies – after selling two-time PL Footballer of the Year Mark Connor 2 summers ago to make way for the talents of a young GK, there is now yet another upstart prospect who is making noise. The jewel here is the man that replaced Connor as No.1 – 23 year old Englishman Carl Jones (’34), who delivered a career-best season this year. In 36 Appearances, he registered 2.00 Con/90, 5 Clean Sheets, and career-highs of 6 PoMs and 7.49 AR (in 2038/39, he registered 7.66 AR but only played in 11 Games), up from 7.32 AR last season. It is a bit surprising he has not yet won a Cap for England, as Chelsea’s 34 year old GK David Metcalfe (105 Caps) continues to keep Jones and 25 year old Derby GK Geraint Burrows at bay. Jones is generally considered to be the best option after Metcalfe, with many experts calling for Jones to be given his chance already, saying he “Has to be part of the squad despite his lack of experience.” He became Sophara United’s latest Player of the Year, winning the award and ending Gibson’s 4-year run. Next season will be his 10th with the club and his 3rd as the squad’s full-time starter yet will have just turned 24 years old. His value is now £35M and is widely considered one of the best young GKs on the planet.

Behind him and pushing his way into the first choice back-up at the GK position is 17 year old Chris Davies (’40 – Wales: 2 Caps), who incidentally has beaten Jones on the international level – Wales gave the youngster his first international cap this year against Paraguay. He also made his debut for the club, playing in 2 Games and registering 6.85 AR. The hype around him is real – his value has shot up to £10M and carries a rating of 5/5 PA. The Welsh media is already calling for him to find a different club so that he can get starter minutes but that is very unlikely as he was in the process of signing a new contract that will pay him £22K per week this summer. The manager has refused to send him out on loan and he has been justified in that decision as the GK has shown substantial improvement in numerous key attributes. He has actually has a similar playing style to Jones – both are talented Shot-Stoppers, although Jones has that talent at an almost elite level. Jnoubi has gone on the record and said he will look to give Davies more playing time next season as he seeks to start pushing the youngster’s limits slowly.

 

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FULLBACKS

After breaking his leg last season, Max Newton (’30) played in all 38 Games and actually equaled his PL high of 6.81 AR, first registered during the 2038/39 season. He put to rest any doubts that he would come back a step slower as a player, also registering 2 Goals, 2 Assists, 2.08 TpG, 82% Pass Completion, while his 6.81 AR was the highest amongst the 3 full-backs in the rotation. The 28 year old, who first made his debut during his 2nd year with the club in 2031, has now appeared in 386 League Games for the club, having been a big part of the team that won promotion to the Premier League in 2036. A purely defensive player with little attacking talent, his hard work and consistency have been the hallmarks of his career thus far. A level-headed, professional individual, his approach to the game has made him one of the leaders of the team, becoming highly influential as he transitions to being of the squad’s elders. He was rewarded with a new 5 year contract that will pay £37K per week this summer, one that will keep him with the club until well into his early 30s.

Pablo Cobo (’38) how somewhat of a disappointing season – instead of building up on his 6.74 AR from last year, he form took a step backwards. In 37 Games, he registered 3.37 TpG and 6.69 AR, never really getting going in Sophara United’s epic season that ended with a CL spot. That means Cobo will have to compete against Europe’s finest next season, and at the age of 20 he no longer can carry the excuse of being too young, especially as he now has 4 full years of experience under his belt. The disappointment wasn’t just on the pitch – his progress and development stagnated this year, leading to talk that Cobo might have hit his peak already. His PA has been knocked down slightly to 4/5 but he is still considered a “Promising full-back” by most media analysts. He retains the starting spot for the beginning of next year, but the manager has been clear in that he would like to see improvements in all aspects of the Spanish LB’s game during the club’s first year in Europe.

Covering both full-back positions and vying for a starting spot in one of them is 19 year old Welsh international Chris Parry (’39 – Wales: 7 Caps), who is starting to make a conversation about who should be in the club’s best starting eleven at the full-back positions. Equally adept playing down both flanks, his versatility has him competing for minutes at both positions. He played 20 Games, registering 2.57 TpG, 82% Pass Completion, and 6.71 AR in his 3rd season with the club – he spent his rookie year on loan at Preston and played in 26 Games last season. His speed is one of his greatest strengths currently, but his defensive attributes have shown good improvement, too. He has a 5/5 PA rating and the backroom staff are very high on his potential, with the only criticism coming about the youngster is poor technique and inconsistency. That said, there is a general consensus that he has the potential to develop into a strong PL full-back.

 

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

The vice-captain and Irish international Wayne Breen (’33 – Ireland: 55 Caps/2 Goals) continued to be the team’s leader at the back and actually had a much better season than last year. The 24 year old CD played in 36 Games, registering 6.85 AR (up from 6.73 AR) and also 2nd in the PL with 584 Clearances and 3rd with 161 Key Headers, highlighting his strength in the air. This was his 6th season as a starter for the club and his 3rd full season after his horrific leg injury in August 2038. A strong leader, he has become one of the foundational pieces of the team both for club and country and how now played in 233 League Games for Sophara United. The knock on him is his lack of creativity and mediocre strength, but his instincts and overall defensive skills coupled with his football IQ makes his quite a capable CD at this level. He remains one his manager’s favorite players.

There was a bit of a shuffle next to Breen this season, with 19 year old English/Sierra Leonean CD Mohamed Koroma (’39) – the squad’s full-time starter last season – becoming part of a rotation as opposed to the officially announced starter. With his development looking like it stagnated, his PA was dropped to 3.5/5 and he played in 25 Games (21 Starts) after playing in 33 Games last season. Although his 6.75 AR was a stark improvement over the 6.62 AR he registered last year, there are not many who believe he is the kind of CD that is needed at this level. His versatility, however, remains a key attribute that the squad is in need of – he is comfortable playing in any position across the defensive line, including at both full-back positions. He is still young, so he has a chance to further his development, but given that he didn’t show much progress during his last year as a teenager, the doubts have gotten more vocal.

Behind him and looking for additional minutes is Eoin Hastings (’39), who has found playing time tough to come by despite still carrying a 5/5 PA rating. The 19 year old, who considered himself a CM before making the step up to the first team, played in 9 Games (6 Starts) this season, registering 3.86 TpG and 6.64 AR with a few of those games coming as a defensive midfielder. He doesn’t have the technique to succeed as a midfielder and the manager has attempted to utilize his strength in the air by teaching him how to play CD. After a couple of years, the word from the Sophara United office is that he might get an extended run at the position next season. Hastings spent his sophomore year during 2039/40 at Dulwich Hamlet in the League One before making his debut for the club last year – sadly, his debut season for the club was more impressive than the one that just passed.

The other two prospects vying for playing time are 18 year old Northern Ireland international Martin McDaid (’39 – Norther Ireland: 2 Caps) and 17 year old English/Ghanaian rookie Aminu Amoako (’41), who made his debut this season but failed to impress. This was McDaid’s 3rd season with the club, although he only paid in 1 Game this year after playing in 9 Games during his debut season (his 2nd with the club) last year. McDaid carries a 3.5/5 PA while Amoako is at 4/5 PA, but neither has sold the Sophara United staff that they have what it takes to become true PL-level CDs. Going out on loan next season is not out of the question at least for one them.

 

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Going into the season, it was well understood that Jishua Tyrell (’33 – England: 23 Caps/2 Goals) was running out of chances to impress and was looking like a prime candidate to be sold and make room for the talent coming out of the Youth Academy. He turned it around (somewhat) however, and showed marked improvement in form throughout the season – he played in 37 Games, registering 3 Goals, 10 Assists, and 6.76 AR, up from 6.59 AR last season. His play wasn’t perfect and the inconsistency and mistakes were still there, but he was no longer a liability when he stepped on the pitch. He also finally decided to agree to sign a new contract, one that will pay him £51K per week for the next 5 years. The 6.76 AR actually represented his 2nd highest mark since joining the PL (he registered 6.80 AR and 11 Assists during the 2038/39 season) and it was enough for the media to generally agree with his call-up to the England squad for the World Cup at Russia 2042. It has been a long and frustrating journey with Tyrell for the club so far, filled with underwhelming performances and off-pitch drama, but his talent is too tantalizing to give up on. Wanted this summer by teams such as Juventus, the manager has shelved any plans to sell him and will look to see more from him in the upcoming season.

The former vice-captain and all-around squad strongman Arinze Mbah (’28 – Nigeria: 68 Caps/2 Goals) had another consistent and strong season – in the past 3 years, he has registered 6.88 AR (2039/40, ’42) and 6.89 AR (2040/41) while playing in 31, 30, and then 31 Games. For the 3rd season in a row, he led the league with 6.07 TpG and 178 Tackles Won, although his 16 Yellow Cards were also league-leading. The 30 year old defensive-minded CM, who has now played 440 League Games across 14 seasons for the club, is a club legend and is inching his way to becoming one for his nation, as well. He has never been considered to have PL-level talent, but his will and dedication to improvement has had him overachieve his entire career and has led him to becoming an indispensable member of the Sophara United first team. While the hope that he would be able to develop a more technical part of his game is long gone, he is almost exceptional at what he does – there is no more feared player to face in the PL with the ball going towards the Sophara United goal than Mbah.

Behind Tyrell and Mbah are 3 players fighting for playing time, with the oldest being 21 year old English/Guinean Boubacar Diallo (’37) who just completed his 5th season with the club. A player with good technical and passing abilities, the knack on him is that his football IQ is not where it should be for a player who identifies as a playmaker. He is the first name of the bench for the CM position on account that he is the most experienced, but he has yet to feature in at least 20 League Games in a season. This year, he played in 16 Games, registering 1 Goal, 3 Assists, and a career-high 6.89 AR, impressing when he stepped on to the pitch and showed that he can be counted on. He also proved to be decent in covering for Mbah at the more defensive-minded CM position, although his talents are definitely best utilized in the playmaker role. Considered a professional, he also has the ability to play as a striker, something which the manager did a few times this season. While he does not look likely to ever become a full-time starter for the club, he has played his rotational role very well thus far.

Behind him are Scottish CM Xavier Maddison (’38) and English playmaker Sam Martin (’39), both of whom are 19 years old with both of them carrying 2/5 CA and 5/5 PA ratings. Maddison saw his value jump to almost £8M this season while still carrying the distinction of being known as “The Next Jim Baxter” – this coming after a season in which his form took a significant step back as he found it difficult this season. In 16 Appearances (1 Start), he registered 1 Goal, 86% Pass Completion, and 6.73 AR, down from 6.91 AR last season. He found it difficult playing right behind the strikers and at times looked lost on the pitch. Martin had a similar story – his 6.59 AR was a far cry from the 6.75 AR he registered last season, playing in 11 Games (3 Starts) as compared to 20 last year. The manager refused to call his season a disappointment but did say the CM must do better next season.

 

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WINGERS

The winger positions have become just as important as the strikers at Sophara United and this season served as the best evidence for that yet. Leading the team and 2nd in league with 7.50 AR, the oft-injured 23 year old Welsh international Kurtis Thompson (’35 – Wales: 20 Caps/7 Goals) spent the early parts of the season as the PL’s best player. He was limited to 29 Games, but his 20 Assists equaled the record set by Arsenal’s Andrea De Carolis a couple of seasons back. He also added 14 Goals, 5 PoMs, 1.22 DpG, and 64% Shot Target in a season where he elevated his game dramatically – previously, his best season average was 6.99 AR, a number which he registered the two previous years. He has become a star player for his country, reminding many of both Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale, while he has become an engine of the PL’s best attacking force at the club level. Other than the fact he is injury-prone, there is no weakness in his game – he is considered a leading Premier League player with a chance of being World-Class. Wanted by some of the biggest clubs in football, the manager has stated that Thompson is not for sale at any price despite objections from the player and demands to be allowed to move. By the time he turns 24 next season in October, he would have surprised 200 League Games for the club and would be finally playing Champions League football, hopefully.

Down the other flank sits English international Tyler Craig (’36 – England: 10 Caps/2 Goals), who was devastated to have missed out on being selected to Russia 2042. This came after he delivered the finest season of his young career to date – in 37 Appearances, he equaled his career-high of 13 Goals and registered new career-highs of 16 Assists and 7.16 AR. The media has been up in arms over England manager Simone Inzaghi (2040-present, 0 Major Titles) omission as he was one of the team’s best players during the Italy 2040 European Championship two years ago and has only gotten better since. In any case, his value now exceeds £50M and although that has not discouraged several clubs from making offers for the right-winger, the manager has refused to entertain the notion of selling his prized winger. He might not be the fastest winger around (although his speed is certainly respectable) but he is excellent with the ball at his feet and has been a terror for defenders playing down his flank. He was named PL Young Player of the Month twice this season (October and March), with both pundits and the club’s backroom staff raving about his technical abilities. His versatility gives him the ability to play down either flank or in the center of the pitch, and he looks set to be one of the club’s most important players going forward. 

Tosin Okoye (’36), who belongs to the same ’36 Youth Class as Craig, remains the only viable back-up option down the wing, although he plays strictly right-wing. He was relatively impressive when he played this season, appearing in 13 Games (3 Starts) and registering 1 Goal, 3 Assists, and 6.94 AR, which was the highest mark he has recorded with the club. The 22 year old English/Nigerian does the job and does it with minimal fuss, and given the current shortage of quality wingers on the club’s roster, any long-term injury to either Thompson or Craig could see Okoye earn some decent playing time.

 

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FORWARDS

Many have suggested that it was daylight robbery that Kieran Christie (’32) did not win the PL Footballer of the Year award after the season he had. The 26 year old delivered a season equivalent to the won that won him the 2036 World U21 Footballer of the Year, one that catapulted the club into Champions League football the same way his 2035/36 won the club promotion to the Premier League. To start with, he broke the Premier League era record of Most Goals Scored in a Season with 35 Goals, scoring one more than the 34 Andy Cole scored in 1993/94 and Alan Shearer scored in 1994/95. He also registered 14 Assists, 7 PoMs, and 7.40 AR, his highest mark since joining the PL 6 seasons ago. While the striker has taken a back seat to his more famous striker teammate in recent years, this was definitely a season in which Christie was the star of the frontline. He has now scored over 200 Goals (203) in just 364 League Games and winning the 2042 PL Top Goalscorer award also had him named to his first ever Premier League Select. It was a great way to celebrate his 10th season with the club and many believed he should have been the one to win the Sophara United Player of the Year instead of GK Carl Jones. In any case, he silenced any doubt about his ability, especially after 2 seasons where he struggled to find the net the way he did in previous years. Bouncing back from the leg injury two seasons ago, it now looks like Christie is ready to enter the prime of his career with full force, and for the first time, he will be playing in Europe.

Despite Christie’s amazing season, this team is still led by Ben Gibson (’34 – England: 48 Caps/29 Goals), who had a great season in his own right but was simply outshone by Christie. In 37 appearances, he registered his 4th straight season of scoring atleast 30 Goals (31), which set a new PL record for most consecutive 30+ Goals seasons in a row. He also registered 9 Assists, 6 PoMs, and 7.41 AR, which was a slight step up from the 7.37 AR he registered last season. Simply put, there has been no superior striker to Gibson over the last few seasons in the PL. He is considered an Elite Striker who is one of his nation’s Star Players – his £75M valuation is only matched by Arsenal’s 22 year old striker Mark Jarvis, who is often called a Gibson clone. He is his club’s and his nation’s most famous player, especially after winning the PL Top Goalscorer award the 2 previous season before coming in 2nd to Christie this season. In 289 League Games, he has now scored an incredible 185 League Goals and now also has 72 Assists – in the next 2-3 seasons, he will become a member of the rare 200+ Goals and 100+ Assists club, all by his mid-20s. He will go to Russia 2042 having just turned 23 and will look to elevate his legacy even further by showing off his talent at the biggest stage football has to offer.

Backing up both striker positions remains Niall Bayliss (’37), who had a bit of a down season but remains the manager’s first name called upon off the bench up front. He played in 27 Games but only registered 4 Goals, 4 Assists, and 6.92 AR (down from 9 Goals and 7.04 AR) – despite that, the 21 year old attacker saw his valuation push past £30M this season. He is one of the faster players in the league but has also shown noticeable improvement technically over the past couple of years. If one of the starting strikers goes down with an injury, Bayliss has the full trust of his backroom staff to get the job done as he has proven before in the past. He continues to be compared to Liverpool legend Michael Owen and the belief is if he can start consistently hitting 12-15 Goals a season, he might be in line for an England call-up.

 

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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21 minutes ago, Mr Highbury said:

Wow, Champions League football. Now you just need the Academy to give you a couple of good defender intakes and you should be good to challenge for titles at home and in Europe!

Amen - the offense has gotten us this far but my GK should not be making 23352343535 saves a game. We really need this defensive line to get up to standard. 

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I know money isn't a factor but the CL spot could mean some of your bigger players (i.e Gibson) will be much more willing to sign contract renewals!

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2 hours ago, deez0r said:

I know money isn't a factor but the CL spot could mean some of your bigger players (i.e Gibson) will be much more willing to sign contract renewals!

Definitely - I already got Gibson to sign a new one, thank heavens. Tyrell also put pen on paper, now just need to convince Craig and Thompson!

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RUSSIA 2042 – WORLD CUP

The most popular sporting tournament in the world descended on Russia for the 2nd time in its history, with the first coming in 2018 with France defeating surprising Croatia in the Finals. For this version, Sophara United send 5 players to the World Cup – 3 of them were with England (Ben Gibson, Carl Jones, Jishua Tyrell), 1 with Ireland (Wayne Breen), and finally Omar Everett with Jamaica. Kieran Christie (who led the PL in Goals) and 21 year right-winger Taylor Craig were unlikely to have missed out on the tournament with the English national team, with the latter being considered an especially controversial snub. In any case, the Group Stages saw both England and Ireland qualify while Jamaica were sent home, with Everett playing in both games although not especially well. Ireland struggled as well as they managed to gain only 1 Point from their 2 Matches, with Breen one of their top players over both matches, registering 6.90 AR. England made short work of their competition, winning both their matches against Syria and Senegal with Ben Gibson their best player in the Group Stages, scoring 3 Goals in 2 Appearances and registering 8.20 AR. GK Carl Jones did not make an appearances, while Tyrell only came on once as a substitute. Elsewhere in the Group Stages, Mexico could not get out of Group D as they got knocked out by Ivory Coast and Norway, but the biggest shocker came as 2010 Champions, 2034 Finalists, and 2038 Semi-Finalists Spain were sent home by Qatar and Chile as they failed to make it out of Group O. The biggest result of the Group Stages came when Germany defeated Curacao 13-0 in Group K despite registering an unimpressive draw with Colombia in their first match.

The Second Round saw the exit of Ireland at the hands of Portugal, losing 2-0 with Breen having a lackluster game and registering 6.5 AR. This was Breen’s 3rd international tournament and first World Cup – he had previously played with Ireland at the European Championship during Germany 2036 (Group Stages exit) and Italy 2040 (Quarter-Finals exit to Spain.) England defeated World Cup 2030 winners Switzerland (who incidentally won the tournament while it was hosted in England) 1-0 in a tough match to ensure qualification to the Third Round, with Ben Gibson being the only Sophara United player to feature in the match. Ivory Coast made it to the Quarter-Finals for the first time in their history after defeating the hosts Russia – who were having an impressive tournament – 1-0 in extra-time, led by 2040 World Golden Ball and World Player of the Year Patrick Dago, the 30 year old Inter Milan and Serie A legendary midfielder who was Ivory Coast’s best player as they advanced through the tournament. One of the tournament’s favorites to win it all and defending champions Germany saw a shock exit in the Third Round as they meekly got knocked out by Ukraine 2-0, while another heavyweight in Argentina also saw a surprising Third Round exit at the hands of Turkey. The match of the Third Round was between England and France but it ended up being anti-climactic as the French destroyed their rivals 4-0, leaving Sophara United with no representatives at the Quarter-Finals stage. Both Gibson and Tyrell played in the game against France.

A last second extra-time goal in the 120th minute sent Italy to the Semi-Finals at the expense of Turkey, defeating them 2-1 in a tense match, while Portugal advanced their 2nd straight Semi-Finals appearance after defeating Ivory Coast 1-0. South Korea 2034 winners and South 2038 Finals (lost to Germany) Brazil would not see the Semi-Finals for a 3rd straight time, losing to Uruguay 2-0, which set up a showdown with Italy, while France took care of business against Ukraine to line up a Semi-Finals matchup against Portugal. This meant that Portuguese were the only Semi-Finalists from South Africa 2038 to make a repeat appearance at that particular knock-out stage. France, who were last in the Finals at Russia 2018 where they defeated Croatia, would end up having to wait longer, as the Portuguese defeated them 3-2 to book their first ever trip to the World Cup Finals – previously, the best they had accomplished were 3rd Place finishes in 1966 in England and at South Africa 2038. They would face Uruguay, who defeated heavily favored Italy 3-2 thanks to an 89th minute goal, advancing to the Finals for the first time in 92 years – the last time they were in a World Cup Finals, it was 1950 in Brazil.

Going to the Finals in Moscow, the best player in the tournament – by a wide margin – was Portugal’s 20 year old striker Jorge Simao. After a breakout season with Lille in which he scored 20 Goals, Simao’s performances at Russia 2042 lit up the world stage, scoring 8 Goals and registering an incredible 4 PoMs and 8.10 in his 5 Appearances leading up to the final match. He would not add to his tally in the Finals but Portugal would finally lift the World Cup trophy for the first time in its history, defeating Uruguay 2-0 in Moscow. Simao was the hero, capturing the World Cup Best Young Player and Golden Boot awards while leading his nation to the ultimate prize in football. The Best Player award – controversially – did not go to Simao even though his 8.10 AR was the highest in the tournament by a wide margin. Instead, it went to France and Juventus 31 year old winger Claudy Gendrey (6 Apps, 3 Goals, 5 Assists, 7.88 AR), who had the best individual tournament outside of the Portuguese striker and was one of the key components in France reaching the Semi-Finals.

 

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LOOKING BACK - YOUTH CLASS 2028

Aside from producing Sophara United legend and current starter at CM in Nigerian international Arinze Mbah, the ’28 Youth Class also produced 3 other players that became starters for the club. Both Stanley Abdullahi – also a Nigerian international – and Rio Amankwaah rotated at the LB position throughout the 2030s before Pablo Cobo replaced them both, while Grant Smith was an important member of the team for the first 2 years of his career before being sold by the board to Bournemouth in January 2030. There also were players like Finley Barron and Anthony Williams who were part of the rotation in the early and mid-2030s. This class was also Rory Harvey, who never really got going for Sophara United but ended up having a decent career in the Vanarama leagues before deciding to stay in the game seeking an Assistant Manager job. There were no real underachievers in this class, and the top prospects all turned out very nice careers thus far. The only real surprise would be perhaps that Mbah has ended up having the best career – he definitely wasn’t touted as the most talented coming out of the Youth Academy but has since become an absolutely essential member of the Sophara United team until this day.

 

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ARINZE MBAH (Nigeria: 67 Caps/2 Goals) – SOPHARA UNITED

ALSO PLAYED FOR: N/A

CAREER OVERVIEW

Underappreciated and doubted for most of his career, the Nigerian and Sophara United legend can be questioned no more. He has spent his entire career at the club and has dedicated himself to becoming the best player for both club and country over the past decade. He had his struggles, and at times it looked like his doubters were to be proven right, but he pushed forward and has now witnessed a career that would be the envy of most. His rookie year saw the team get promoted to the League One, and it was during Sophara’s first season in the League One – and Mbah’s 2nd season with the club – that he would become a starter, playing in 36 Games but registering an unimpressive 6.54 AR.

At the end of his 3rd year in 2031, the manager named Mbah the club’s new vice-captain, signifying the trust he had in the youngster despite critics stating that Mbah had not shown the kind of talent or form to justify it. He would reward the team with 2 solids seasons after that before the club won the League One title and promotion to the Championship in 2033. It would also be the year he would earn his first Cap for Nigeria, and he has been playing for his national team since then. In the 3 years he would spend in the Championship with the club, he would set career-highs with 6.97 AR (2034/35) and 8 Assists (2035/36) before the club won the Championship title in 2036 and earned a promotion into the Premier League.

The doubters got even more vocal as the team transitioned into the most competitive league in the world, with numerous experts and analysts claiming that Mbah would just not cut it in the PL. In the 6 years the club has been in the league, he has absolutely proven the doubters wrong – he has been widely considered the best tackler in the league over the past few years, leading the PL in TpG and Tackles Won in 3 of the past 4 years. He has also led the league in Yellow Cards, as well, but the past 4 years, he has not recorded below 6.83 AR. Although the Vice-Captain badge was given to Wayne Breen in 2039, he remains of the true leaders in the locker-room and has now played 440 League Games for the club. He might be listed as such, but if anyone were to ask his manager to describe Mbah, he would have one word: legend.

 

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STANLEY ABDULLAHI (15 Caps) – SWANSEA

ALSO PLAYED FOR: Sophara United

CAREER OVERVIEW

Arinze Mbah was not the only Nigerian international that is a part of the ’28 Youth Class – although not quite the player his former club and international teammate is, Stanley Abdullahi has had a good career in his own right. He would make his debut at left-back for Sophara United during his 3rd year in 2030/31, becoming starter in 2032/33 as the club captured the League One title and won promotion to the Championship. It was that mid-2030s stretch that was probably the best of his career – during the club’s Championship winning season of 2035/36, he would register 6.81 AR, the highest mark during his 12 years with the club. At that point, he had already won his first Cap for Nigeria and was considered the best LB on the squad.

He would spend another 4 years with Sophara before finally being sold to Swansea in the Championship for £130K during the summer of 2040, failing to register higher than 6.69 AR in any of those 4 seasons. His final season with the club saw him play in only 8 Games as the manager had decided to start young Pablo Cobo instead, bringing Abdullahi’s time with the club to a close. Since joining Swansea, he has registered a career-high 6.84 AR this past season (his 2nd with his new club) and will be back playing in the PL as the club won a promotion this past season. Abdullahi has never been the most talented or complete player on the pitch, but he has now made a total of 340 League Appearances with both clubs, turning out a nice career for himself that looks like it still has a few years left in it.

 

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GRANT SMITH (Australia: 72 Caps/15 Goals) – AL-AIN (UAE)

ALSO PLAYED FOR: Sophara United, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Crewe (loan)

CAREER OVERVIEW

When the ’28 Youth Class was introduced, the obvious candidate for most talented player in the class was Australian Grant Smith. He immediately was named starter and played 40 Games during his rookie year as the club won promotion from the League Two before the board decided to cash in mid-way through his 2nd season by selling him to Bournemouth (then in the Premier League) for £2.9M. Despite heavy objections from the manager, Smith ended up spending only a year and half with Sophara United before being let go.

His time with Bournemouth, which lasted 5 years and including a loan spell at Crewe, was miserable. Before being sold to Portsmouth for £4.4M during the summer of 2035, he played only 2 Games total for the club, which remained in the PL for the duration of Smith’s time there. It wasn’t all bad, however, as he won his first Cap for Australia at the age of 18 shortly after joining the club and helped Crewe win promotion from the League One during his one year on loan there. He was also involved in Australia’s World Cup squad at South Korea 2034, where they would advance to the Second Round before falling to Portugal – he would unfortunately miss out on being part of the Australian team that captured the Asian Nations Cup at India 2035. The 2 years he spent at Portsmouth would revitalize his career, however – his 2nd and last season with the club in the Championship saw him register 7.23 AR in 30 Appearances. It was enough to convince UAE outfit Al-Ain to part with £5.5M for the midfielder and in January 2037, he would make his move to the Middle East.

In the 5 full years since joining the Emirati club, Smith has never registered below 7.17 AR and won the club’s Player of the Season last year after recording a career-high 7.62 AR. He has also been to the World Cup twice with his national team since (South Africa 2038, Russia 2042) and has been known to play just as well for his country as he does for his club. Although there was a lot of hype around him during his teenage years that did not pan out, he has found happiness playing football in the Middle East and remains a key component in the Australian national team set up.

 

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RIO AMANKWAAH – MILLWALL

ALSO PLAYED FOR: Sophara United

CAREER OVERVIEW

Part of the left-back rotation with Abdullahi at Sophara during the early and mid-2030s, Amankwaah never really got going as a player during his time with the club. His final season with Sophara would come during their 2036 Championship title season, after which he was sold to Millwall for £165K. Since joining his new club in the summer of 2036, they have been relegated from the Championship 3 times and won promotion from the League One twice, but Amankwaah has definitely found Millwall more fitting for his talents than Sophara United. With his old club, the highest he ever recorded was 6.70 AR, done in 2032/33 when they won the League One title.

Appointed Millwall’s vice-captain in 2041, Amankwaah has now made 221 League Appearances for the club, serving as their starting left-back for the past 6 years. He has done much better – for example, in 2038/39 he registered 6.94 AR while in 2040/41 (when they won promotion back to the Championship) he registered 6.89 AR. In a career that has spanned 449 League Games with no sign of letting up just yet, Amankwaah has proven to be one of the success stories of the Sophara Youth Academy and the ’28 Youth Class in particular.

 

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OTHER NOTABLE PLAYERS

Aside from the above, only 2 players continue to play football – Finley Barron currently plays for Vanarama North side Blyth Spartans, and Deon Bloomfield turns out for Grays Athletic in the lower leagues. Barron was part of the rotation for a few years in the early 2030s playing alongside the likes of Ross McDonald up front before leaving on Free to Barry in Wales during the summer of 2036. He has since joined Blyth in 2038 and has just completed his 4th year with the club, having scored played in at least 40 Games and scored at least 11 Goals in each of his last 3 seasons. Bloomfield never played for Sophara United – he left the club in 2032 after 4 years on Free and joined Grays Athletic shortly afterwards. The CM has since been a stable for the lower league club, with his best season coming last year when he registered a career-high 7.01 AR in 33 Appearances.

Anthony Williams (Trinidad & Tobago: 80 Caps/10 Goals), who retired in 2040, spent his first 5 years with Sophara United and was actually a big part of the rotation, never playing in under 21 Games after making his debut. He would join Kidderminster on Free in 2033 and would go on to play 222 League Games for them, winning the Vanarama North title during his last season with the club in 2039. He was also a huge part of his national team’s set-up throughout the 2030s, winning 80 Caps and scoring 10 Goals for Trinidad and Tobago before retiring at the age of 38. The last player to still be involved in football is actually a coach nowadays, although he has yet to find a job in that field. He is Rory Harvey, who appeared in a few games for Sophara United in the early 2030s (8 total over 5 years) before joining Morecambe on Free in 2033. He would spend 3 years there and another 3 years with Maidenhead in the Vanarama National before hanging up his boots in 2040. During his time with Morecambe from 2033 to 2036 – the best stretch of his career – he actually won the team’s 2036 Player of the Year award and was named captain in 2035.

 

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Could have been worse for my first Champions League group. Atletico Madrid are the biggest team and Porto has been a resilient, plucky side to face the last few years, but there is a good chance of us making it out of the Group Stages.

 

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The most notable absence between the 2043 Champions League and last season is Finalists Ajax Amsterdam. The two-time defending champions will have a tough matchup against Juventus, while 2042 Semi-Finalists Real Madrid will line up against Lyon. Tottenham, the other Semi-Finalists form last season, join Ajax in their absence from the knockout stages. Man United vs. Barcelona is obviously a big matchup, but Inter Milan vs. Bayern Munich is also just as large in terms of the reputation of the two teams. Both Roma and Leipzig, who will be facing each other, will be hoping to do better than last season where both of them exited out during the Second Round. PSV and Valencia will both try to make it out into the Quarter-Finals, while Sophara United have made it to the Second Round in their first ever CL appearance. For comparison, below are two shots - the first is this year's lineup compared to last year's knockout stages. The favorites have to be Arsenal - who are looking to join that rare group of teams that have won the CL title 3 times in a row (Real Madrid and Man City) - but Real Madrid, Man United, Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Bayern Munich have all deemed capable of lifting the trophy by the international media. 

 

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Arinze Mbah finally got to taste some level of achievement at the international stage. Throughout the 2030s, his national team of Nigeria have underwhelmed at the African Nations Cup, but with Mbah amongst the leaders at Angola 2043, they made it all the way to the Finals in Luanda, losing to defending champions Ghana while registering 7.03 AR. No shame there as Ghana have some of the brightest stars in football today, including the £93M valued Man United winger Ibrahim Sarfo.  The Ghanaian was bought by his current club last summer for a sum of £146M from Atletico Madrid, and he was the recipient of the Angola 2043 Golden Boot having led all goalscorers with 7 Goals enroute to the title. 

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Champions League 2042/43

Second Round vs. DORTMUND (1st Leg)

These are the moments we play for - our first ever European knockout round night, away to Dortmund in Germany in freezing weather and coming up with a late winner after coming from behind. 

 

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6 minutes ago, Maw74 said:

A great win in Dortmund, didn't really need reminding of that Arsenal success though.

Lol - it's crazy. They are relentless - they are going to retake the PL title from Man United this season as they have already built a 12 point lead and its the beginning of March. Plus they're trying to make it 8 straight CL Finals! 

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Champions League 2042/43

Second Round vs. DORTMUND (2nd Leg): 9-3 aggregate

One of the craziest games I have been involved in - 9 freakin' goals in the first half, none in the second half. Ben Gibson was legendary over both legs (6 Goals in the Second Round) but the 4 Goals he hit infront of our home fans in their first European Knockout Round night will live forever. What a performance, what a result.

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YOUTH INTAKE 2043

I believe Anthony Wise is my first "potentially the finest player of his generation" prospect, so I am excited about him. I wish he played a different position (CD or winger perhaps) but I will make it work. This Intake is looking good - the first time in a couple of years I get some actual prospects that look like sure-fire things. 

 

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2043 UPDATE

It seems the German teams did not take lightly to our 7-2 home demolishing of Borussia Dortmund - now Bayern Munich (who overtook Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga and are the current defending champions) will get their shot at Sophara United. Elsewhere, Liverpool vs. Man United is sure to tantalize Premier League fans across the globe, while the current CL two-time defending champions Arsenal will line up against current Serie A champion Roma. The 2026 CL title winners (and 2039 defeated Finalists) Valencia will be looking to make it back to the Semi-Finals for the first time since they lost to Arsenal in London while their competition, Lyon, have not made the Semi-Finals in recent times - the closest they got was in 2032/33 where they lost to Barcelona in the Quarter-Finals. 

 

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2043 UPDATE - QUARTER-FINALS (1st Leg)

Sophara United pulled off a magnificent result in Munich, holding their hosts (and current Bundesliga champions and leaders) Bayern Munich to a 2-2 draw at their home ground.....Elsewhere, Liverpool fans had their hearts broken as rival Man United took 1-0 victory away from home at Anfield.....Defending two-time champions Arsenal continued on the right path towards their 8th straight Finals after defeating Roma 2-0 at home in London.....A 3rd minute goal for Lyon away to Valencia was enough to give them a 1-0 victory in Spain, putting them in good position to advance to the Semi-Finals. 

 

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2043 - QUARTER-FINALS (2nd Leg)

Well, Germany got its revenge as Bayern Munich skewered Sophara United 6-2 (8-4 aggregate) in London. The German team might be the most impressive team outside of England - possibly the most complete and dangerous team overall this season anywhere.....The defending champions Arsenal made it back to the Semi-Finals after taking a 1-0 (3-0 aggregate) away victory in the Italian capital against Roma, winning both matches in the tie.....Man United got one over its most hated rivals Liverpool - after taking an away victory at Anfield, a 2-2 draw (3-2 aggregate) was enough to seal the deal at Old Trafford.....It is Lyon who will make it to the Semi-Finals after a 1-1 draw at home (2-1 aggregate) against Valencia, making it their first trip to the Semi-Finals in recent history.....The French squad will face off against Arsenal in hopes of stopping them from making their 8th consecutive Finals, while Man United and Bayern Munich battle it out in a heavyweight duel in the other Semi-Finals matchup.

 

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2043 UPDATE

For a record 8th consecutive time, Arsenal have now made the Champions League Finals - they also recently re-captured the English Premier League title from their Nou Camp opponent, Manchester United. The latter has not been in the Champions League Finals since winning the competition back-to-back (defeating Rangers and Atletico Madrid) in 2034 and 2035, while the defending two-time champions are trying to make it 3 in a row. They made short work of their opponents in the Semi-Finals - the way Man United manhandled Bayern Munich was especially surprising considering the German team was the team most considered to be equal in terms of talent with the Premier League heavyweights. Arsenal destroyed their French Ligue 1 opponents Lyon 6-1, which puts them within a chance to accomplish something they have done only once before - win the Premier League and Champions League titles in the same year, which they previously did in 2041. 

 

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We go into the final Matchday of one of our most intense seasons yet. We managed to find our way into the Top Four with one more match to go, fighting for that last spot with Man City and Liverpool. Both are away next weekend, while we also travel to Brighton. On paper, Liverpool have the easiest match - West Ham are in 13th while Brighton is 7th but with no chance of grabbing a Europa League spot, they might not feature their strongest lineup. Man City are away to bitter rivals and 2nd Placed Manchester United, who were recently dethroned by Arsenal as new PL Champions but have a chance for revenge at the Nou Camp in the 2043 Champions League Finals.

 

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We did it! Even though we did not win against Brighton (and had to come back from 2-0 down), Liverpool lost to West Ham 2-1 which made our result moot as well as Man City's draw with Man United at Old Trafford. Second straight trip to the Champions League in the making!

 

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