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Don't be a Swine Don, you were Beta that that, although you need to rebuild from a flaky defence to a so solid Crewe

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In an attempt to get up to speed with FM21, I have decided to take a trip down memory lane

The year was 1993, and Panini had released their new Premier League stickers.  As a young schoolboy, this was my first brush with the addictive nature.  Our Primary school playground was filled with the Panini chorus

Got, got, got, need, got, got, need.

I never bought the album, not did I get very far with collecting the stickers, but there was one sticker that came out of an early pack that drew my attention.  The first 'shiny' that I ever owned.  Showing the logo of a club I had never heard of.

Swindon Town F.C. Crest & Club History

Swindon Town

That badge was never seen again on a Panini sticker, as their stay in the top flight was short.  And it will never be seen again, as the club changed badge in 2007.

Edited by scousevasey
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Swindon Town

Youth Only

With the aim to understand the new features, develop my ability to improve players via mentoring and training.

And hopefully have some success on the pitch too.  If it goes well the save might last, but there is no long term plan for the save


Don Swine will take over the club, with the aim of implementing Swine-ball, once he works out what that is.  Starting with the recommended badges and experience to allow him to last a little while before being fired, and he is opening up with a preset formation, although I will copy across the 5-2-1-2 formation that was slowing bringing success in Switzerland on FM20 to see if it still works.


Having started off to see how things go, and made it through the pre-season, 2 cup games and one league game this is the state of play.

Having been promoted from League 2, the board want a mid table finish, with the media predicting 16th.  The cups are not really a concern, and an early loss in the Carabao cup has disappointed the board, although a win against West Brom U23s seems to have helped their mood.

In the league a dull 0-0 draw with Rochdale started things off

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Having no knowledge of the squad, the aim early on has been to mix in youth and experience where required, and to build up fitness.

Usually I like to move the older players on early, especially as there are some players on the wrong side of 30, but knowing they can't be replaced until April at the earliest with the intake, and that the intake may take a couple of years to come good, means they will all rotate in to keep people happy, and hopefully at the club until they are no longer needed.

All those on loan were there on arrival, and the aim will be to take advantage of their quality until they leave


Not the greatest facilities for a youth save, but there is room to grow.  With £500k in the bank I have already asked to boost the youth recruitment and facilities but have been rebuffed, but hopefully the fact the board want to develop youth will see them relent later in the year

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It may have taken to the end of October, and trying a third formation, but it is safe to say the early results were positive against Accrington

Was straight from the kickoff, played back to a DC, then MC, then foward to the STC who got in behind and slotted home.  Clearly the defence were not expecting to have to switch on straight away

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Hit and miss in the friendlies, and a mixed start to the season meant the 4-3-3 became a 4-2-3-1 to try and boost the attacking prowess, especially after the run of low scoring games to end September.
But the struggles against Exeter and Oxford let me to add in a 4-4-2 to see if we could be more solid, resulting a good result against Accrington, then a loss to top of the table Hull (at the time of the fixture)

The Hull game was the one above, where for I think the first time, the score was lower than the xG.  But we were nowhere near getting a goal


Hovering around the relegation zone, but it is still tight down at the bottom of the table, with a single win giving the possibility of reaching the mid-table expectation of the board, and only one point off 16th, which was the media prediction


The analyst review is interesting, in terms of developing tactically.

On the left, it shows that we are getting lots of shots against us, but the defence, and especially the GK are performing well

The right hand side shows that we are not creating chances, and then when we do, are struggling to finish them, hence the tactical tweaking to try and get better


If things don't improve soon, Swine-ball will never appear...

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The poor run in November, led to the ultimatum in December.

3 points in the first match was a good sign, and scraping a point in the third game meant things were finely poised.

Unfortunately the cup game against Burton didn't matter to the board  as there were no points available, and the loss to Portsmouth meant it was impossible to reach their target


Tempted to put a cheeky application in for Leicester, but the Grimsby and Sunderland jobs are most tempting as they are not fighting relegation

So comes the end, at least of stage one of this save.


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31 minutes ago, abulezz said:

That's a tough stretch!

A bit too tough.

Had a few injuries which didn't help, and an odd balance to the squad which meant I couldn't get a formation to work.  On to the next job then

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6 minutes ago, abulezz said:

Oh man, fired?

Yeah. Fair decision as the target of 8 points from 5 wasn't reached, but still a shame.

Applied for a few cheeky Prem jobs, Newcastle, Everton and Leicester but not got any of them.  Missed out on Sunderland, and the Grimsby job, so waiting to see what else appears

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Sacked in December 2020

It took until April 2021, but Don Swine is back


The board want to build through youth, so it matches the original aim of the save.  Hopefully I haven't missed the intake, but it does give a chance to review the squad fully

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5 minutes ago, scousevasey said:

Hopefully I haven't missed the intake, but it does give a chance to review the squad fully


Breathing a sigh of relief.  This gives a good chance to see what the setup can provide

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7 games left in the season, and the aim is mid table


Already guaranteed to finish above Swindon, so that is a little bonus.
Four points clear of relegation, but only five points off 13th, so it is still quite tight

Three tactics set up, a 5-2-1-2, based on what worked on FM20 at Lugano, a 4-3-3 gegenpress formation, and a 4-4-2 wingplay setup as the rotational options.  The seven games will be spent trying to work out who the best players are, and then building a formation that gets the best out of them

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14 hours ago, scousevasey said:


Breathing a sigh of relief.  This gives a good chance to see what the setup can provide

Got to the end of April and no youth intake appeared. But the U18s contains a couple of 15 year olds, so now I am assuming I missed the intake, and they were signed or released by the AI, but slightly nervous that it will make the next season harder with fewer options available

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Managed to avoid a 2nd sacking in the same season, but only just


A couple of decent results to start had me looking upwards, as things were very congested in the middle of the table, but one point from the final four games meant things were a little nervy.
But the board didn't fire me, which is nice

And having missed the youth intake, the main squad is now slightly bloated, having moved every player who is interesting in terms of PPA, or in a shortage position to the first team squad, but with some thinning out to do during preseason.


Those who are on loan won't be returning, which will mean a couple of key players depart.  Those with expiring contracts that can play a role going forward have been offered new deals, with most of them signing, but there will be a few more who leave.

Lots of the U18s players in the squad have been moved up for the preseason to try and get them training in positions for the first team tactics, and will either drop down a level or stay but be made available to the younger teams during the season

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As Crewe prepare to take on the 2021-2022 season, expectation is building


The board expect an improvement, as it was midtable when taking over.  The cup will be a challenge depending on the draws, with Shrewsbury first up in the Carabao Cup.

There is room in the wage budget, as we are spending £32k p/w meaning and decent players can be tied down on a higher wage to ensure they don't leave.


The media expect Crewe to be pushing for the playoffs, although a few days after this, when contracts updated the odds had lengthened to 20-1, but still 8th.  All it needs is a good start to the season, and a boost in confidence that will come from it

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Pre-season has now drawn to a close


Mixed results, but considering that five of the games were against Larger Reputation teams, they weren't all bad

Preston scored both goals from the spot.  The Brighton game had roughly equal xG until their 2nd goal which was a penalty also.  And in all six games the whole team was rotated at around the 60 minute mark, so lots of players managed to get on the pitch.

The reason for this brilliance - W-X, our new formation


I started with the 5-3-2 that served me well in Lugano on FM20, but made a couple of tweaks.

The DC-Lib moved to a DM-HB, mainly as it is a more defensive role despite being more advanced on the pitch, and matches the player quality a bit more. The two MC roles changed to try and provide some more solidarity at both ends, and the two striker roles are starting off as a pair of AF's but are liable to change.

Two other formations have been trained (ignore the selections - this is the starting W-X team just flicked through the tactic pages


Fairly standard 4-3-3 Gegenpress, and then a bog standard 4-4-2 with one striker dropped back due to the fact there is a shortage of STs at the club currently, so if injuries hit there needs to be formations that can be utilised

There is interest in a couple of players too

LB Pickering has been getting interest from a range of teams with him getting upset that offers weren't accepted.  In a chat I bargained him up to a £1.8m agreement to sell, and Portsmouth have offered that, split over a few years, with 50% of sell on, so we may well be losing him.

Rangers have come in for AMC Kirk, who was really not happy that I tried to get them up to £1m, so he has submitted a transfer request, and I will be looking for a minimum of £750k +50% for him.  Not sure it will come, but I am holding out hope that either the bid comes in, or that in October/November he changes his mind, withdraws the request and signs a new contract.

Pickering is valued at £350k and Kirk at £170k, so it is a good chance to try and make a good profit on players as I don't want/need to sell them, so they need to be prised away

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After the first game of the season, a 2-1 loss to projected 2nd place team Peterborough, where the team fought back well from going 2-0 down in the first 20 minutes, we end up selling our starting WBL


Clearly I got his value wrong above, and while I first wanted to try and squeeze out £2.5m for him, his grumpiness about the rejection, as well as the original offer being less than £500k up front and only about £200k in instalments means the deal is hugely beneficial.  £750k is upfront, so will help the finances in the short term, with a reasonable boost over the next couple of years.  The key element will be trying to get the best value out of the 50% next sale clause, so hopefully one of two things happens; he plays well at Portsmouth who get relegated and need to sell, so get a good winfall; or he helps secure Portsmouth in the Championship and continues to grow, attracting the attention of teams fighting for promotion from the Championship

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Transfer worries

We have just made it to the end of August 2021, and there could be issues ahead


First up, the sale that didn't happen.  Kirk still wants to leave, and despite reasonable bids edging close to £500k, nobody was willing to match my valuation of £1m, or even the £800k I had agreed with Kirk that I would let him go for.  There was a bid from Milwall which he kicked up a stink about, even though it was worth a grand total of £200k.  Rangers came closest to getting him but didn't want to get involved in any negotiations, so the next stage is to hope that Kirk relaxes his demand, then signs a new contract so I can get more from him.

Pickering was covered above and is a loss, but the backup Adebisi has started the season well

Lowery and Wintle were my starting MC pairing, so to lose both is a shame.

Celtic came in for the £150k rated Lowery with a bid worth around £250k, so I boosted it to $750k, with £500k extra spread out, and left in the other clauses they had added, which was agreed to by Celtic without any further negotiation.  Which is a sign I undervalued him at that point.

Then Milwall started to sniff around Wintle, and I tried to negotiate them up to £1m up front, with £2.5m in installments, solely on the basis that Wintle had a £3.4m release clause.  Milwall came back with the offer he sold for, and the chairman snapped their hand off, and didn't even offer the chance to argue against it.  I then offered him out to try and get a better deal, with better future clauses but he went to Milwall.

Which means I am now promoting some youth MCs into the first team by necessity, and that there is a lack of depth in the squad

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The friendly against Celtic will bring in a decent chunk of change for the struggling club, and the £250k for appearances is one that will be interesting to track and see if it is likely.  That will be the same for Wintle at Milwall, and it will be worth watching to see who plays more regularly at their given levels.

The finances were poor to start the season, so the benefit of these sales is there is both a decent chunk of money straight away, but also a regular stream of income over the next couple of seasons with another £1.5m guaranteed to come into the club.

Then there are two players with 50% sell on clauses, and an annoyance that the chairman wouldn't allow the addition of one for Wintle, that will hopefully pay dividends in the future


I would be quite happy to gain an extra £600k from this deal, and hopefully any sale will be closer to £2m as a starting point


This provides a key note to add a loan back clause in too, because Lowery is already out on loan.  I am not sure how this affects the league appearance clause, but I assume it means there is no chance of cashing this in for quite a while now


The least valuable of the three was probably the most valuable to Crewe, but such is life



The bank balance looks much healthier now than it did when taking over in April, but the projection is still poor.  At the start of the season it was expected to drop to £2m in the red, so the sales are just seeing off the debt of the season really.


But with only 60% of the wage budget being spent, there isn't much more than can be done, apart from a cheeky cup run to solve the issue.

Promotion is one way, but the squad isn't strong enough to survive in the Championship currently, so will probably need a couple more intakes to be even close to challenging

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At the end of August it looks like the formation is working.

Outperforming the league average in every category, although is is close in the defensive categories.  Not perfect in terms of efficiency, but in the best quadrant for both ends of the pitch which is good



A nice couple of early award winners.  Particularly pleased with the performance of Adebisi who was due to back up Pickering and was thrust into the starting line up, with some good performances at WBL

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Just had the board review of the month, and transfers stood out, so I went to have a look.

The board are upset there wasn't a future sale clause, but seem to forget that they accepted a bid without one included...

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  • scousevasey changed the title to Don't be a Swine Don, you were Beta that that, although you need to rebuild from a flaky defence to a so solid Crewe

Don Swine has managed to crawl along to the end of September 2021, and it is fair to stay that his time in Crewe is going better than his time at Swindon


One of the two starting strikers is winning awards and performing well.  He is one that will need to be tied down to a long term contract in the near future


And the board are happy.  Unsurprisingly they are very happy with wins, and less happy with a loss.


In preparing for the long term, money is going to be a challenge, especially while in League 1.  A loss of £150k in a month means there is only 10 months more in the bank.  While that will get boosted with the installments due from transfers in January/February, it is still a concern.

Promotion to the Championship won't solve things, although it should give a boost to attendance, and in terms of prize money, but the key for the next couple of seasons will be to get to face bigger teams in the cups, while selling a few players.


Performance wise, it is mainly good, but defensively the team are much closer to average.  It might be a result of the formation, playing 2DCs, a DM, and 2WBs, but the results seem to point that it is working well.  Maybe better players will make a difference, so the HoYD has a bit of pressure in regards to this


The defensive stats are starting to verge on busy, but still slightly impenetrable, but in attack we seem to be in a world of our own.  A handful of clubs are more clinical, on much fewer shots, but that would hint at being unsustainable in the long term, whereas our shots/goals ratio seems to be roughly aligned with a 45 degree line of best fit.

Long term, while it would be nice to be better defensively, there is nothing wrong with winning every game 3-1


A tough loss first up to a promotion favourite, before a strong run in the league, with 4-1 being the flavour of the month in August.
The Leicester game was tough, and half the team had rotated, yet Leicester could only equalise in the 4th minute of injury time, before clinically scoring every penalty, while Crewe only managed 1.

That had an effect on the game against Shrewsbury, but the players were able to force the win through, especially important in a local derby, before starting the Papa John's Trophy league stage with a good win against a fellow League 1 team.

A couple of injuries, a bit of rotation, and the small size of the squad has shown up in the later part of October, with a draw and a loss.  QPR are not performing to expectations so far, but are a bigger club, and I would have expected them to be at the top of the table.  Booty's goal in the 12 minute was the third goal of the game, and although we then led 3-2, a draw is still a decent result.

Bristol Rovers are up at the top of the table, and the front three failed to fire, dooming the team to lose,


Not the worst start to a league campaign, and while there has not even been a quarter of the season yet, for a team aiming to finish in the top half there are some good points in the bag, and a platform to build from.

Having already played the teams in 2nd, 3rd and 6th, it has not been an easy start either, so there is hope that the results are sustainable as long as the players are able to keep performing

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2 minutes ago, scousevasey said:

He is one that will need to be tied down to a long term contract in the near future

Contracts are something that I need to spend some time on before December, so it seems right to introduce the current situation

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The board are looking for us to tie our best players down long term, which matches the philosophy of going youth only.  The challenge this raises is getting deals done for some of the older players in the first team squad who are the wrong side of 30 but may still be key for the next few years.

While there is nearly £20k in the wage budget, the finances aren't great, with money being lost each month, so there is a need to extend the key players early and as cheaply as possible


This is all of the players in the first team squad at the moment, sorted solely by position.  Those with the grey shading are not picked currently, so that will also play a role in the decision making, but not solely, as players such as Perry Ng have been out injured so are not being excluded.

On this screen there are 17 players needing new contracts.  While Sanchez at GK is a loanee so won't get a deal, that is still a huge chunk of players that need new deal. 10 of them are 21 or younger, so they will hopefully see the positive progress and want to sign.  Luke Murphy and Omar Beckles are around the 30 mark, and high earners relative to the rest of the squad, so might not get a new offer, especially if there is a younger replacement who won't result in a big drop off from them.

Then there is a need to look at the U23s and U18s to sign everyone to a new contract (unless they are an older player who has been dropped down for a disciplinary reason), so there is more time for them to develop, and to ensure there is cover while waiting for the intake players to develop enough to take over

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One game to go in November, and then an update, but the week looks like it will be a tough one



Hopefully the players can manage a bit of rotation to get through the Sheffield United game.  But we have reached the board expectation in getting to that game, so it can be overlooked to some degree

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October and November 2021

Swine has settled nicely into life at Crewe.  With a flat overlooking the fabled railway station he feels much more welcome that at Swindon.  Shame really.


The wobble at the end of September ran into October, with a poor result against Grimsby, and then two tough league losses against Sunderland and Bolton.  Both 'big' teams who have dropped down the leagues, but both games were winnable.

A decent result at Burton, helped by a late penalty then possibly the best performance of the season against Wimbledon meant things were looking up, before a bit of a defensive wobble against Wycombe had Swine wondering if this was going to be the poor run of form that he couldn't stop, getting flashbacks to Swindon


But November was a sea of grren, with good wins across the board, whether that was squeaking out late winners against MK Dons and Walsall, or dominating Salford and Accrington, with some good performances in the cups too, with the win against Villa meaning top spot in the group was confirmed, and the Solihull game leading to a fun rematch against Swindon. 

The same Swindon who fired Swine. 

The same Swindon who were relegated.

The same Swindon who hired Sol Campbell as Swine's replacement, only to fire him after less than a year at the club

The same Swindon who are currently midtable in League 2.

Not that Swine is bitter in any way.  Not at all.

The best result might well be the final result, having played a semi rotated side due to fixture congestion, and gone 1-0 down, there was a good comeback, claiming all the points against another of those 'big' clubs in the league.


Expectations wise Swine is doing well.  Entered into three cups, and in all three the expectations have been met already.

Premier League Fulham will visit in the FA Cup - a draw would be a good result there

Premier League Leicester knocked them out of the League Cup

Premier League (U23s) Sheffield United next up in the Papa John's, but only 48 hours after facing Charlton and only 48 hours before a trip to Doncaster in the league.  Tough


All of this good run means Crewe are currently sat in 2nd in the league.  No idea why teams have games in hand, but that would only close Peterborough up to one point behind.

Bristol Rovers look like they are going to run away with the league, and with the board only wanting top half, and the early media prediction of 8th dropping to 13th after selling the starting MC pairing, things look good.  It may even be a year too early for promotion, although the end of November did see every expiring contract in the first team offered a new deal.  Apart from Kirk who wouldn't sit down and negotiate, which is a shame because he is performing well, and could develop into a solid Championship player.

An 11 point gap over the final playoff position is not that large when there are 26-28 games to go, but it is a good start.


Due to the cup performances, the balance has gone up in November, which is nice.  It is expected to drop a bit in December, but then January sees the FA Cup tie against Fulham, and February sees the next transfer instalment of £100k, which will probably result in two consecutive months of profit even without further sales.


Performance wise things still look good, with the defensive side being roughly average, and the attacking side looking much better.


Nearly alone in the Aggressive-Clinical group, although the league leaders Bristol Rovers have the best position on the graph


And then Bristol have the best defensive record too, so it is no surprise they are clear at the top of the league.  Much closer to the middle defensively, but with the formation putting lots of pressure on the two DCs and the DM-HB the fact that it is still in the green quadrant is a positive.


The board are pleased.  So pleased in fact, that Swine was offered a new two year deal, boosting his wages from £1400p/w to a huge £1700p/w for the next two years.

Onto December now, and a push to end the year on a high, as well as a hopefully positive intake preview

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The intake preview has arrived


Fullbacks are good.  We are currently running with two in each position, and could do with a boost in terms of the quality of the backup, although the third and fourth negatives mean that it is unlikely they will make an early impact

A GK is a good thing, although we have Jääskeläinen lined up to replace loanee Sanchez, and he has performed well in the cups this season so it is not urgent.  Hopefully we don't end up with a run of good keepers and nothing else.

A top prospect at MC is a good sign after we lost two starters at the beginning of the season.  While those who have stepped in have performed, it is nice to see a positive in an area that can be easily improved.

Outside of that things look bad, but the aim is to make small improvements to the squad at every stage


The facilities improvements will help, but are probably too late for this intake

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9 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Luke Murphy needs to go!

That is all...

I have just finished December and all of the expiring players have signed extensions apart from Kirk who is being a tool and won’t even discuss a contract because I was mean to the team when they lost a game they should have won. It was 3 months ago, but he is holding onto it, after only just letting the fact that I wouldn’t sell him on the cheap in August.

As January starts there is interest in a bunch of the Crewe players, so I can’t afford to get rid of anyone randomly at the minute. If a good bid comes In, I will sell. Otherwise they stay until I know I have a bit of a pipeline of youth available to cover for them.


If all the interest turns into big money deals (for L1) , I will be struggling a bit.

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Just had a scan through, my first time on your thread :) Such a shame it had to end so early with Swindon, but everything happens for a reason and things are sure looking up with Crewe! Nice victory over Swindon too.

Hopefully you can hold onto your players and you should just keep Kirk until the end of his contract out of spite :D

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On 09/12/2020 at 09:06, mikenevo said:

Just had a scan through, my first time on your thread :) Such a shame it had to end so early with Swindon, but everything happens for a reason and things are sure looking up with Crewe! Nice victory over Swindon too.

Hopefully you can hold onto your players and you should just keep Kirk until the end of his contract out of spite :D

Welcome to the journey. Originally it was meant to be Beta only, but I am enjoying things so will keep ploughing on until I work out what I want to do from another save.


With Kirk, I can see three options

1) sell him in January

2) keep him with the aim of getting him to sign again

3) demoting him to the U23s to rot away until June.

He isn’t my first choice at AMC, but I am about to lose a starting ST for 7 games through January (African Cup of Nations), so he may be needed.

If a decent bid comes in for him I will sell, and try to ensure there is a clause added. If not I will be torn by a low bid with sell on, and will have to decide based on the details.

I would like to keep him, but don’t want him ruining the atmosphere

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1 hour ago, scousevasey said:

Welcome to the journey. Originally it was meant to be Beta only, but I am enjoying things so will keep ploughing on until I work out what I want to do from another save.


With Kirk, I can see three options

1) sell him in January

2) keep him with the aim of getting him to sign again

3) demoting him to the U23s to rot away until June.

He isn’t my first choice at AMC, but I am about to lose a starting ST for 7 games through January (African Cup of Nations), so he may be needed.

If a decent bid comes in for him I will sell, and try to ensure there is a clause added. If not I will be torn by a low bid with sell on, and will have to decide based on the details.

I would like to keep him, but don’t want him ruining the atmosphere

Fair one, yeah if a decent offer comes in, then I guess it's a no brainer and you don't want to keep him around to ruin the atmosphere for sure.

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December 2021 to February 2022

I thought I had posted about December, but had clearly only done the intake preview... so this is a bumper three month update


Fell out of the Papa John's to Premier League (ish) opposition on penalties.  The Sheffield kids managed to reach the semi final stage so it is no real shock to lose, and managing to get them to penalties is a real boost.

Some good league results running into the end of the year


A draw in the FA Cup was both a blessing and a curse.  The extra money from a trip to a Premier League team is not to be sniffed at, but it was a long month, so an extra game wasn't welcome.

Zanzala was away for most of the month, so there was rotation, and a very weak team went out for the replay, which seems to have shaken the rest of the squad who were unable to recover and stumbled to a poor three points from four games to end the month.


The Chairman also decided he wanted to step aside, and has set a deadline of May for the handover, so there will be new owners.  The two questions that are most important are, will they take over a League 1 or a Championship side, and will they keep Swine on board?


The poor run continued until a team meeting gave a boost.  But it was only a 1-0 so nothing inspiring really.  Then a poor draw with Bolton.


Bristol Rovers are 24 points clear with only 27 to play for.  So they can claim the title if they win, and we don't in the next game.  And it is against AFC Wimbledon so a key game in the battle to secure automatic promotion or fight through the playoffs.

Wimbledon and Wycombe are the two remaining games against top of the table opposition, so hopefully the team can work out their issues, find their form and pick up points against some of the teams further down the table

The January transfer window passed by without incident.  A couple of bids for Sass-Davies that didn't match his value or valuation.  Rumoured interest in Kirk but no bids.  He is still unhappy so is likely to find suitors who will offer him the world at the end of the season to sign on a free.

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And before a ball is kicked in March the takeover is completed.  Possibly the shortest time possible with a transfer embago, and with it being in February it made no difference



The new chairman has mentioned a change in vision, and scrapped an affiliate straight away, so times may be changing

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Youth Intake 2022

The most important day of the year for a youth only save


Crewe have historically had a good youth system, but the facilities seem skewed towards the training facilities currently.  So hopefully there is something to work with in the players who are coming up.


The impact on mentality is useful to see, not for the player, but in terms of how the current HoYD is working, and whether he needs to be replaced.


Two of the three mentioned in the news item are the top tow players by PPA.  The third, and the one whose mentality has been influenced is 2nd lowest, with a Balanced and Outspoken personality.  If Crewe get promoted, hopefully that will mean more people will be interested in the post.

The personalities are not the best.  But there is little room for improvement at the minute.  A nice mix of nationalities.  It will be interesting to find out more about the link to the Netherlands


Our starting GK is on loan and will leave at the end of the season.  The best GK at the club will be able to step up and has performed well in the cups this year.  It is entirely possible that Noreiga gets promoted to the first team squad as the backup, given time in the cups and blooded early, but there will be a review at the end of the season


Bailey looks like he can cope with the demands of the game, but with his tackling, stamina and work rate I want to move him to WBR where we need extra cover


The HoYD only decided to sign three, but I went back and signed the rest as we can't afford to lose players on day one when little is known about them.  It is nice to see there is agreement about Bailey moving to WBR

Foxall is an AMR/AML who played up front in the trial game, and scored both goals in a 2-1 win, but I am going to look at WBL for him, with the aim of it being more offensive.

All position changes are subject to tactical tweaks depending on the result of the season (promotion will require a review so relegation isn't nailed on)


All in all, not the best intake, as there is nobody ready to step up straight away, but there is some potential there.  It now just needs to be reached

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Squeaky bum time for Crewe fans


Four games to go.

Sat in 2nd, only just, but with a decent recent run after the wobble earlier in 2022.

The team in 7th currently are 12 points back.  Which means either a point, or them dropping points guarantees the playoffs.  That was the aim for Crewe in two more seasons.


With seven points over Wycombe, and six over Peterborough it is most likely we are in a battle for 2nd-4th with Rochdale and Wimbledon

Looking at the remaining fixtures, both Crewe and Wimbledon face the easier run in, with an average opposition position of 15.5 (currently).  Rochdale's foes have an average of 10.75, including the only battle with another team in the playoff race.

Personally I don't think Crewe are good enough to survive in the Championship yet.  And am wary that a promotion will lead to expectations being too high next season then a firing.  But there are no plans to throw things.  Mainly because this was originally a beta save, so if it leads to a second firing in two seasons then it might be time to retire Don Swine

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The run in....part 1


Not the best result, especially from being 1-0 up.  But it does mean that the top six is secure for Crewe


Elsewhere in the title hunt

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But it turns out most of the candidates for automatic promotion didn't want to seize their opportunity.


Still in the driving seat. But the gap to Wycombe has closed meaning a home tie in the playoffs looks slightly less likely.


Three to go...

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The run in...part 2


Nearly thrown away, a lazy penalty put Crewe down, the equaliser was cancelled out quickly, and then a late goal put the whole result in doubt, but it was just good enough.

Three points more is good

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The playoff-playoff battle ends in a draw, with Peterborough going up early, then trying to throw it away before a dramatic equaliser.

Poor results elsewhere for those chasing the spots makes things easier for Crewe


Oxford appear in this image as they have closed up on Peterborough and Wycombe.  Sunderland in 8th are 6 points behind Peterborough, as are Plymouth in 9th, but both have much worse GDs, so while they mathematically have a chance, are basically out of contention.

With only six points to play for, Wycombe and Peterborough are also out of the running for the automatic promotion spot.

With a three point gap, it means that Crewe can seal promotion in the next game, depending on the Rochdale result.  But with a 9 goal GD lead, a win in either of the last two games will make it very hard to dislodge Crewe

Unfortunately next up is relegation threatened Accrington, who will be desperate for points.

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The run in...part 3


A poor start, but within 4 minutes, Accrington had 1 shot, and Crewe had responded with 3.  But the end Accrington had only managed 4 shots in total and were shut down.  The challenge was breaking their defence down, and the winner took time but was a relief

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Elsewhere, Wimbledon won the franchise match, Coventry, Crewe's final opponents, sprung a shock against Rochdale, Peterborough played well, but it was a mixed bag for those chasing the playoff spots


The win would probably have been enough, but with Coventry winning too it meant that Crewe have officially secured promotion.

Peterborough have secured a playoff spot, and it is between Wycombe and Oxford for the final spot.

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2021-2022 Season in review

The aim was top half.  The media dropped their expectations from 9th to 14th due to the sales.

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Achievement in the league was hugely impressive, and probably too far for the team at the minute.  The FA Cup run matched expectations, but taking a Premier League team to a replay is a real positive

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The Carabao Cup saw a loss on penalties to a Premier League team, as did the Papa John's (although it was their U23s).  That means in 4 games against Premier League opposition this season, Crewe managed three draws and a loss in regular time.  Not bad for a lowly League 1 team.


Two good results make the season review, with all three games being against playoff teams, meaning we played well against the good sides, and not just the lower quality opposition.


A slight increase in the reputation of Crewe should make it easier to get better staff, with many contracts due to expire.

The only player currently unsigned is Kirk, still upset that Swine was mean to him after a 1-0 loss to Bolton in October.  At least if he goes there will be at least one new name in the top selling shirt list next season.


Looking at this best 11 there is a solid core ready for next season.

Sanchez is a loanee and will return.  But his backup averaged over 7.00 in his limited playing time, so there is not a huge drop off (hopefully)

Beckles is 30, and the oldest player on this list.  Perry Ng rotated in with him regularly, and there are some decent looking young DCs who could step up.

With Kirk looking likely to leave, Griffith or Ainley will take the starting AMC role, but apart from that there shouldn't be any major changes to the first team.

And that consistency might benefit the team in the fight against relegation



Both efficiency charts saw Crewe move back to the norm from their early season start.  Worryingly the attacking move looks worse as the move is to being wasteful, which will cause problems against the better opposition in the Championship.

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Based on xG, Bristol Rovers overperformed massively at both ends of the pitch.  Being +21 offensively should mean they are in for a rough ride next season as they revert to the average.

Not entirely sure how useful this is on the whole, but it does highlight the importance of a good run of form early, leading to positive morale.


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Squad overview (end of 2021-2022 season)

This is being done in May (game-time) to allow players to be moved up and down the squads, settle in to their new place, and to give time to send players out on loan if they need to for either development, or because they aren't needed


There is no real need to clear players off the wage list quickly, but with promotion will come a few pre arranged increases, plus higher demands when redoing contracts in the coming months.  Having this much room in the wage budget does mean there shouldn't be a reason to lose a player due to wage demands, but there is a need to be careful and not overextend with the high probability of relegation from the Championship



The different shadings represent the different squads currently, just as a way to differentiate them.  And all selections have been sorted by PPA


Sanchez will be going back to Brighton at the end of June, with Jaaskelainen taking his place.  Having just typed this, it made me think, and he is the son of Jussi, former Bolton legend.  Hopefully he can be as good as his dad.

Richards and Sam Booth were the U23 options last season, but as Richards is 28 and on a relatively large wage, he will be offered out.  Any money made is a benefit there.

22a Noreiga is the best young option, who will move to the U23s with the older Booth, and will be set to play.  He will also be given the starting shirt in cup games to boost his experience

Tom Booth and Legrand-Akpo are decent U18s options, but unlikely to be starters at the club.  As a GK is guaranteed in every intake, they have a very slim chance of making it to the first team, and will be moved out once there are other options, but I don't want to leave the team short of players in case of injuries




This is only the Main and U23 squads due to size, and shows there is a need to drop some players down to the U23s to give them some options, and the players chance to play

There is lots of potential in Williams and Green who both sat around the fringes of the main squad during the season, but didn't make it on the pitch too often.  There is a need to look at both of them properly, work out their best position and add it to their names as a reminder to avoid them wasting time and training

Offord has started to cement himself as the best DM option over Booth, but can equally drop in at DC.  Sass-Davies and Ng are the best combination in the centre, and with O'Riordan, Woltman and the aforementioned Williams and Green there is a need to develop at least one to be a capable backup as Beckles is now 30.  Jordan Spence and Oliver Lancashire are two veteran options who are not going to play a role going forward, as it would be preferable to give the younger players their limited minutes.


There is not a lot of quality in the U18s now, and there is hope that they can develop to be at the level of Sass-Davies and Beckles are currently, but there is a need for more choice to come through if the aim is to reach the Premier League


Defensive Midfield


Offord and Booty will fight it out to be the starting DM, with  Booty having the quality to play at WBL, DC, and MC for Crewe.

Ben Wood looks like a good future option at only 17 currently and will be made available to the first team to give him some experience

Rickards is more of a DC, and Higgins and Ikechukwu are possible options at WB with a bit of work.

Currently most of the quality is in the main squad as is most of the potential




Another one that has to be split.  This time it is the main squad only.

Cronin has been training at WBR to try and make the position more threatening.

Kennington was on the fringe of the team last season as shown by his appearances, and more opportunities need to be found.  Same for McDonald, as Lundstram stepped up to be a mainstay alongside Finney, with Robbins finding form late in the season.  There may be some loan opportunities to aid the development as there are five reasonable options for the middle of the park and they all need to be playing

Murphy will be offered out, so good news for @Hootieleece, as at 32 and the lowest rated player shown there is not much point in keeping him around


Some familiar names at the top end of this list, with the quality as the list goes down runs out soon.  There is no way to get all of these players enough minutes to help them reach their potentials, so there will be an effort to loan a few out.

Towards the bottom end of the list there are some MLs who are candidates to retrain at WBL, although with the emergence of Offord, there is more scope to have Booty play at WBL and spell Adebisi


Attacking Midfield


Most of the top options are able to move between AMC and ST which gives nice flexibility in terms of selection

Cronin has bags of potential, but despite being listed as an AMR or ST he is not skilled in key attributes so is aiming to develop at WBR.

One of Buchanan, Higgins or Marsden will be given cup opportunities to develop especially if Kirk is lost.  Ainley and Griffiths are able deputies in the short term, but the loss of Kirk will leave a hole if it happens

Not a huge amount of potential in the other squads either




Zanzala started the season in red hot form, but Ainley nearly caught him up in terms of goals.  Salisbury was performing well then went out on loan and will be given more opportunities at ST, especially as Ainley and Mandron will be playing more AMC.  Mandron fits slightly better there due to a lack of pace, but also performed well at ST through the season

Interestingly Onyeka who was on the fringe of the first team, and stepped up when Salisbury left, Zanzala was on international duty and played reasonably well is quite far down the PPA rank, although those who match him at the same level are on a much lower level currently, so he is likely to go out on loan, or to try and score lots in the U23s

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It is now the days before the Championship campaign kicks off, and the summer has been fairly uneventful.

A handful of players complained they wanted a new contract, with their wages jumping from around £1000pw to between five or six times that amount.  Some signed.  Others rejected offers then got upset that they didn't sign.

There was interest in some players, mainly planned starting GK Jaaskelainen, but there is a decent option if he does go.  I am trying to hold firm at £1.6m +50% of next sale, but the interested parties are not increasing their bids hugely.



Lowery left last summer for £1.3m, and we have made an extra £200k on him, with another possible £50k coming at some point.  Not the profit I was hoping for from the clause, but it is extra cash which is nice


Having looked at the other clauses, we are still owed £400k of the original amount, so Celtic have basically sent him to Hull to cover part of the cost of the original transfer and to clear his wages.  Not a good deal from them

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Dale was sold before Swine arrived at Crewe, so any money from that is a bonus.  He is currently valued at £185k at Shamrock Rovers, so is worth a potential £55k if sold for the stated value

Pickering is currently valued at £3.9m at Portsmouth, so there is possibly £2m waiting from him, with another £1m coming in clauses

Wintle is not going to get us any huge sums as there is no sell on clause, but he is also at Hull and worth £1.9m, so the board agreed deal could have been better


With £2.2m in the bank, and another £400k coming in August from installments there is a reasonable footing to build from, and with no money leaving in transfer fees the club should be well set

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The media and bookmakers don't expect much from us this season, with the change of relegation being high.

Time for some fun then...


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