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[FM21] - Rejuvenating the Most Depressing Team to Follow in Recent History


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Apologies to those of you who were following this with intrigue, I have been unable to play any Football Manager this week due to work commitments. That changes today though. Updates incoming.

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When you are operating in the fourth tier of English football, you have to ask yourself the question; is youth development worth the time and effort? Investing in youth facilities, recruitment and coaching all comes with a cost. Geographically, Oldham are also in a difficult location with much more attractive clubs sharing a catchment area.

The club's controversial owner, Abdallah Lemsagam, has clearly decided it's not worth the hassle. The youth facilities are poor and when I arrived at the club there were no U23 players, only 10 U18 players and only a Head of Youth Development and an U18s manager, in terms of staff dedicated to youth.

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Shortly after arriving I requested the youth facilities were improved. Rejected. I requested to improve youth recruitment. Rejected. Enhance our youth level? Rejected. Even pleas to send staff on training courses to improve them were, inevitably, rejected. It seems that for as long as I have Lemsagam as owner, making improvements to our youth setup will not be on the cards. A long-term hope for this save was already that we are taken over and this was just an extra reason added.

So you might be thinking give up on youth and just focus on the first team... But Oldham is a club that in recent years has found away to produce talent, despite the difficult circumstances of the last 10 years. The Latics have produced the likes of James Tarkowski (Burnley), George Edmundson (Rangers), Carl Winchester (Forest Green Rovers), Neal Eardley (Burton) and Tom Eaves (Hull). So I feel strongly that it is worth doing what I can to try and develop youth, despite the restricted environment I am operating in.

Youth Team Staff

To give the players currently in the youth team the best possible chance of developing, I have put effort into recruiting the best quality staff available to me. Paul Murray and Selim Benachour were relieved of their duties and the following staff have arrived:

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Ben Van Dael has top flight managerial experience in both Holland and Poland. His attributes for judging players ability and potential were what attracted me to him and his mental attributes appealed too. Good mental attributes is a theme for all the staff I have recruited, as this is just important as coaching attributes when it comes to developing young players.

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As Kilmarnock U18 manager from 1989 until 2016, Alan Robertson has quite the pedigree as a youth manager. I managed to coax him out of semi-retirement as he had been managing Kilmarnock semi-professional side Bonnyton Thistle until I approached him. His key attributes are terrific, let alone for League 2.

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I was quite surprised to find that former Wolves 'keeper Carl Ikeme's coaching expertise was not in goalkeeping! Ikeme can be described as an all-rounder, something that is extremely valuable in a small coaching team.

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I had hoped to find an U18s goalkeeping coach with goalkeeping attributes in the double figures. As this was not possible, Gert Davidts stood out due to the consistency of his ability in the three goalkeeping specialisms and for his mental attributes.

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Finally, Phil Greenwood feels like somewhat of a coup as his ability to coach fitness (13 for the attribute) matches that of my first team fitness coach, Stuart Vance.

Youth Recruitment

In addition to enhancing my youth coaching team, we also added to my youth set up by signing players. I gave Director of Football John Ward autonomy to approach players to sign for the U18 team. I retained the ability to veto signings and did so in a couple of instances where the proposed signings appeared to have limited potential. None of John's signings so far have been particularly spectacular, however I think there is definitely benefit in having a fuller squad. Players can play in their preferred positions, which in turn benefits their development.

In addition to the signing made by Ward, I personally recruited some youngsters on free transfers that I thought had the potential to make it into our first team. All four of them are too old to play in the U18s but my Assistant Manager has been arranging weekly U23 friendlies so they have had the opportunity to play in these alongside my squad players.

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I purposefully targeted CBs as both Wheater and Jombati are 33, therefore I was pleased to be able to sign both Sams and Williams. Versatile Asomugha, who can play on either wing or up front, is a player who excites me and CM remains a thin area of the squad when my loanees depart at the end of the season, so I was pleased to secure former Cardiff man Wooten.

Youth Intake

Will all this make a difference? It's hard to say if it will overcome the fact we have poor youth infrastructure at the club. At least I can say I am doing everything in my power to increase our chance of developing quality young players.

The youth intake preview provides some promise that my actions may have had a positive impact, with it stating there will be "an excellent group of players coming through".

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I have learnt not to get too excited until the youth intake actually arrives. Ones definition of a quality prospect can often differ! Here's hoping there are some new talents arriving.

Edited by Dong21
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November had been our worst month of the season with three defeats out of six games and to top things off, talismanic leader Wheater had just been ruled out for three months with injury.

I decided a tactical switch was needed and so we pivoted to a 4-2-3-1 (2 DM) formation that we had been preparing as our third tactical approach. Below is an example of how we lined up against Cambridge on 05 December. With an abundance of talented wingers, but lacking AMs, I elected to move Bahamboula to behind the striker and bring Soumaré in on the right wing.

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This tactical switch appears to have worked wonders for us as we have put together quite the run of results that has seen us move up the table.

December 2020

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We began the month with an all action draw against Tranmere which highlighted our goalscoring prowess but also our defensive frailty. We followed this up by beating then-League leaders Cambridge, with Richards bagging a hat-trick for the second time in just four days. You may recall we had a game in hand? Well I'm disappointed to report that this turned out to be a draw with strugglers Morecambe, despite our domination. The draw against Bradford was more palatable, as they are strong side. We then went on a run that saw us win all four of our remaining league games of 2020. There was lots to enjoy in this period; a Richards hat-trick against Newport, late winners against Walsall and Grimsby and squad players delivering in a win versus Harrogate.

Bahamboula suffered pulled knee ligaments half way through the month which saw him miss 3 weeks. Luckily McAleney and Carruthers stepped up to fill the void at AM and results did not suffer. December was Rodel Richards' month as the youthful forward won both the League Two Player and Young Player of the Month. I renewed Harry Clarke's loan deal until the end of the season, as the young Gooner defender has done well for me.

We saw in the New Year sitting top of the League 2 table.

January 2021

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A draw with then-3rd placed Forest Green Rovers saw us fall to 2nd in the table on goal difference. Always looking for ways to enhance my squad, I took six players on trial who had recently been released by their clubs at year end. I arranged a friendly for them to play in alongside my squad players. None of them impressed and their trials were terminated. Not long after returning from injury, Bahamboula was then ruled out for three weeks with a virus (after the year 2020 has been, I was hoping for no references to viruses in the game!). Our game that was scheduled for 23 January was postponed as our opponents were playing in the FA Cup 4th Round, most other teams played which meant we fell down the table slightly. We won our next two games though, whilst other teams slipped up, so end January 2nd place in the table on goal difference, with a game in hand.

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If you don't count the EFL Trophy defeat to Carlisle (the game was a draw that we then lost on penalties) we have now gone 15 games undefeated in all competitions. I am sure that will come to a halt soon, our side isn't strong enough to maintain this. But when it does, I'll still be proud of the run that we've been on. Richards has been the star of the last two months, but a special mention should go to Carruthers who has come into the side, having been a squad option until now, and has really performed well.

With three and a half months to go anything could still happen. That said, our target of a top half finish is looking achievable with even, what seemed a very unlikely before the season started, a possibility of promotion.

Edited by Dong21
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If my last update left you feeling like everything was going smoothly at Oldham, this one is the reality check.

Anyone who is familiar with me will likely know that I love to wheel and deal. I get a lot of enjoyment out of improving a team in the transfer market and I like to think it is where my strengths lie - I'm certainly more of a transfer specialist than master tactician! It therefore saddens me to report that there were basically no signings made in the January transfer window.

We were over our wage budget, with the December deal for Robert Costa (enforced by Wheater's injury) being the deal that tipped us into the red. I have included an image of the club finances to show that it wasn't just the owner choosing not to provide me transfer funds - our finances really aren't looking good. You will see my summer player sales in September took us into the black, but those funds are long forgotten. Back in November the owner injected £210k into the club to help with running costs.

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I have a large squad and so thought I would ship out some players to balance the books and allow us to consider some new options. The nature of a League 2 side though is that the vast majority of players are on one year contracts and therefore in January, with 6 months left on their deals, have no resale value whatsoever.

Failed Deals

I agreed a deal to sell midfielder Brice Ntambwe, who had not started a game for me, to Bradford City. The deal was for no transfer fee, but would have cleared £1k p/w off my wage bill. On the day the deal was to be completed, he broke his leg and would be out for 5 to 7 months. Deal over, no money saved. I tried to sell or loan out Danny Rowe as he hadn't performed and he is on £2k p/w but nobody would take on his wage, even if I subsidised some of it. Trying to sell Rowe has made us fall out, so it has had a lasting negative impact. I tried to loan out the likes of Blackwood, Jameson and Keillor-Dunn to get their wages off the books, but also to develop them. Again, no interest.

One of the reasons why I was so keen to get the wage bill down was because Will Keane was available and was interested in joining the club. This was also why I tried to move on strikers in particular. He had just been released by Wigan after scoring 11 goals in 20 games in the first half of the League One season. He would have been a great signing.  He spent the whole January transfer window with us, but I could never cobble the money together to sign him. In the end I pissed him off by offering him £1k p/w, when he wanted a reasonable £2k p/w.

Bizarre Botch

A strange scenario happened on deadline day, when I was alerted by the press that Motherwell, Kilmarnock and Livingston were interested in my Scottish 'keeper Woods. He had returned from loan at the start of January and I had terminated other 'keeper Lawlors loan to make Woods my new number 2. When I realised I could get his £45k transfer value though, I immediately looked into selling him. I accepted bids from Motherwell and Kilmarnock. The deal was going down to the final hours of the market. I was salivating thinking as soon as this deal is done I can secure Keane and have plenty of money left to add to the club coffers. With two hours to go I took Marcelo Pitaluga on loan from Liverpool, covering £600 p/w of his wages, as the new backup goalkeeper once Woods had departed. At midnight I got a notification that Woods had been sold. Rejoice! Then, this is where it gets strange, I realised he was still at the club. It looks like the deal went through immediately after the deadline passed. So Woods remained at the club, and the agreed deal will go through in the summer. This was no use to me and in fact I'd now wasted wages on a third keeper. I registered Pitaluga and excluded Woods, so at least it felt like something had come of these dealings.

Brexit Blues

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A further challenge to report on is the impact of Brexit finally taking place. The new stricter rules will be a hindrance to lower league management with restrictions on how many foreign players you can have in your squad.

Contract Renewal

I'll end on a singular positive, I did manage to renew Borthwick-Jackson's contract so he now has 2.5 years left to run on his deal. As well as things are going, many of the clubs players will depart when their deals conclude in the summer. I am pretty sure I will be on a mission to rebuild the squad under my own vision. CBJ is one of a minority of players who I see being part of a longer-term plan.

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Good luck - I’ll follow your progress!

My save this year is with a team that has a maybe more cheerful recent history, but a considerably more depressing overall history - and only round the corner from Oldham. I’m managing Rochdale! The only club in League Football to have never won a trophy (Play-Off trophies don’t count haha) - no leagues, league cup, fa cup...not even a Papa John’s Trophy. Absolutely nothing...ever! 

Managed to survive in League One in my first season (pre season expectations of relegation), and currently 2nd in the table in February of my second season - but with Peterborough miles ahead at the top, I can’t see myself ending the trophy drought this season, though promotion is definitely on the cards! 

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38 minutes ago, marcMCFC1986 said:

Good luck - I’ll follow your progress!

Thanks @marcMCFC1986

Good stat that Rochdale is the only team in the EFL not to win a trophy! Good luck with them. If you get to the Championship, that will certainly be a challenge. 

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Nice updates as usual! Some tales of woe for sure, but on the pitch it's going really well and to be where you are is very impressive. Whatever happens in the last few months, it will be an interesting off-season it seems.

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Thanks everyone! 

2 hours ago, DazRTaylor said:

Nice thread though I question your title.  I am a Yeovil fan, we have gone from bottom of the Championship to the relegation zone in the Vanarama National in eight years.

It is certainly a subjective topic! When I considered the title it was with the view that Oldham have had absolutely nothing to celebrate over the last 10 years. Yeovil have at least had a promotion during that time. That said, you’ve definitely had a bad time of late!

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On 11/12/2020 at 14:19, Dong21 said:

Youth Intake

Will all this make a difference? It's hard to say if it will overcome the fact we have poor youth infrastructure at the club. At least I can say I am doing everything in my power to increase our chance of developing quality young players.

The youth intake preview provides some promise that my actions may have had a positive impact, with it stating there will be "an excellent group of players coming through".

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I have learnt not to get too excited until the youth intake actually arrives. Ones definition of a quality prospect can often differ! Here's hoping there are some new talents arriving.

Good news to report, the youth intake has arrived and they look like a promising group.

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The three attackers Webber, Townley and Dlamini all look very promising. I am also excited to have a young goalkeeper with potential as my current first choice Alnwick is 34 years old and will inevitably begin to decline, so it is great to have a 'keeper in the pipeline.

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February 2020

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After writing in my last results update about our 15 game undefeated run, it was almost inevitable that we would lose our next game. We followed that up with a goalless draw with Scunthorpe, but were then back in winning ways with three wins in a row. A theme for this season has often been victories without turning over our opposition. The 3-1 victory over Tranmere, therefore, stood out as one of our better results. We fell to a disappointing loss up in Carlisle at the end of the month. We were fairly inconsistent but so were our rivals, so saw ourselves in the top spot as it turned to March.

March 2020

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Our fixture against Port Vale moved from 09 March to 18 March due to a waterlogged pitch. This led to an unusual situation whereby our first three games were at home and then our next three were away. I thought this might impact results, but clearly it didn't make much of a difference. The loss to Cambridge was tough to take, their winner came in the 94th minute. This saw us fall below Bradford and Colchester into 3rd in the table. McAleney was ruled out for three weeks with a calf injury just before the game against Port Vale but we overcame this to win and rise up to 2nd. The game against Bradford had huge league title permutations. We were put in a difficult situation as both McCalmont and Gailbraith missed the game as they were on Northern Ireland U21s duty. I played CB Clarke in CM in their place and brought Wheater back into the team at CB, finally returning after months on the injury table. Wheater gave away a penalty and we lost 1-0... We were then missing Bahamboula and Moore against Leyton Orient, as they were then on international duty. If they all went at the same time, we'd have had the option to postpone both games.

April & May 2020

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Defeat against Crawley meant we hadn't won in four games and had fallen behind Colchester into third in the table. We happened to then be facing Colchester, knowing a win would see us second and a loss would likely mean we fall out of the automatic promotion places. We took the lead from Richards and then doubled it after a cracking direct free kick from CB Costa. He had taken a few during the season that has tested 'keepers, so this was a great time to finally hit the net. Dearnley went off injured after we'd already made five subs, leading to a nervy final 10 minutes in which we conceded one goal. This took us back 2nd, but six points behind leaders Bradford. We needed to hit some form after months of inconsistency and for Bradford to go off the boil. Sadly only half of that happened.

After three wins in a row it was a bore draw in front of our biggest crowd of the season which saw us clinch promotion back to League One. My aim at the beginning of the season was simple; get the club to finish in the top half of the table for the first time in over ten years. We achieved that and so much more when we sealed promotion. This was something I had seen as a longer-term objective. It really was mission accomplished. The work does not stop though, this is the start of my adventure with Oldham Athletic. There is much still to be achieved.

Our best win of the season came against Mansfield, which secured our 2nd place finish in the table. Keillor-Dunn (DKD) was the surprise scorer of a brace. I kept faith with DKD in the final game of the season and he repaid me again with another brace. One of his goals was even declared our goal of the season! Although we came 2nd in the table, massively overachieving our objectives, I never felt we set the world on fire - the final two games, I guess because the pressure was off, we finally started playing with flair and confidence. Here's hoping we can take that into next season.

Whatever the result in the Forest Green game, we would be finishing 2nd, so I used it as an opportunity to look to the future. I moved players who were on loan and won't be returning (with the exception of Richards) and those who were on contracts I wouldn't be renewing out of the matchday squad. In their place came some of my best youth prospects. Tom Sams started at CB and Wootton, Williams and Asomugha all made their debuts from the bench.

League Table

Here are the final league standing for 2020/21. I am unable to capture a screenshot that shows Harrogate finished 24th.

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We had the leanest defence in the division, conceding fewer than any other team. Our goalscoring prowess was also pretty good, with only three teams bagging more than us. Our over-achievement was demonstrated by our xG stats; we scored 66 goals when our expected goals were 50, we got 86 points when our expected points were 70 and we finished 2nd when our expected position was 5th (that is based on xG, our media prediction was 14th). I was awarded the accolade of Manager of the Season in League Two.

We only finished a point behind league winners Bradford, but I am not feeling any angst that we didn't lift the trophy. Getting promoted at the first time of asking and putting smiles back on the faces of downtrodden Latics fans was certainly reward enough.

Edited by Dong21
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With promotion in the bag, my attention turns to assembling a squad capable of surviving and perhaps even thriving in League One. Before I begin to review the transfer options available to me, it is important to first reflect back on the performances of my squad over the season concluded. Most players are on one year deals, so there is a lot of flexibility for me as to who I choose to keep or retain. Certainly a lot more than there was at the start of the first season.

So let's take a look at how my players got on in the 2020/21 season:

Goalkeepers

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Ben Alnwick turned out to be an astute signing. Costing me only £800 p/w, he provided us with 19 league clean sheets and even got one assist! Although he did so well, at 34 his attributes are declining and my coaches believe he has fallen from a 3.5 star player to a 2.5 star player. I will be letting him go in the summer when his contract expires and looking for alternatives. I gave Pitaluga a run out on the final day of the season when there was nothing left to play for - he did well but has no future at the club. Likewise, Bilboe will be departing soon, never having had enough ability. So it will be a fresh start in this area of the pitch next season. Young academy 'keepers Chapman and Ryan have potential, but I will probably try and sign two new goalies for the next campaign.

Centre Backs

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Wheater was our best player in the first half of the season, but his huge injury saw him come back half the player he was and he will now leave in the summer as he can no longer justify his large wage. With promising youngsters Sams and Williams come through, I had no hesitation setting Wheater, Jombati and Jameson for release. Clarke played more than any other CB, partnering combinations of Wheater, Piergianni and Costa. He did well, but I won't be asking Arsenal for another season of him. Costa was very solid after joining in December and I imagine will remain first choice next season. Piergianni has another year on his contract and I don't mind keeping him as a squad option.

Full Backs

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CBJ was the top assistor at the club and can be proud of his input for the season. Diarra was a square peg in a round hole - a defensive player being asked to play wing back. He did okay but contributed nothing going forward. I have just renewed his contract as I've been able to reduce his wage from £1.3k p/w to £1k p/w. I am hoping he becomes second choice to a new signing. Understudies Moore and Badan are a big drop off in quality from my first choice full backs and could see themselves leaving the club during the summer.

Central Midfielders

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My first choice CMs, Gailbraith, McCalmont and Dabo, all did well without being spectacular. For example I don't currently have plans to try and renew the loans of the two Northern Irishman, but a lot can happen in a summer and that could change. I was somewhat surprised to find that McCalmont was named in the League Two Team of the Season. Carruthers was a decent back up and Whelan probably didn't get as many opportunities as his potential suggests. Next season I want to give more chances to young Wootton.

Wingers

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Bahamboula was rightly named the fans Player of the Season after he delivered 11 goals and 11 assists. Either operating on the right wing or in centre attacking midfield, he offered a spark of creativity that couldn't be found elsewhere. I have renewed his contract for a further two years. On the other wing, I feel McAleney under-performed as an inside forward. His bright moments were few and far between. With his contract soon to expire I was considering letting him go, but when I realised I could renew him on reduced terms (£800 p/w) I have decided to keep him around as a squad option. Soumaré did well, filling in on the right wing when Bahamboula was moved central. DKD's contract expires in the summer, and if it wasn't for his 4 goals in the final 2 games I would probably be letting him go. Now I have a decision on my hands. Dearnley didn't offer much and often picked up knocks.

Strikers

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Rodel Richards had a great season. His 25 goals made him the third highest goalscorer in the division. An average rating of 7 across the season was the best of all my players. His £350 p/w contract at Spurs finishes in the summer and I would love to swoop in and make him a permanent member of the squad. The problem is a good number of Championship and Premier League clubs are circulating, so it looks like I will be looking for a new leading man. Rowe underwhelmed as Richards understudy and I'll be glad to get his hefty wages off the books. Blackwood chipped in here and there with his limited chances.

Edited by Dong21
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Great updates, just caught up now! Really good work to seal promotion in your first year - as predicted you did better than me in my spell with Oldham!

It sounds like a large number of these guys won't be there next season - and I'd be inclined to agree that most of them aren't likely to be good enough. Best of luck assembling a squad that can be competitive next year. Presumably survival is the sole intention?

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Thanks @Jogo Bonito, @Rikulec and @DavidBeckham!

11 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Presumably survival is the sole intention?

Very hard to say at this stage. Once I have assembled my squad for the upcoming campaign I'll have a better view on what we can achieve. Haven't had confirmation of next season's budgets but I'm assuming a similar wage budget as we currently have and no transfer funds, as we continue to struggle financially.

15th in League One is the best final standing the club has achieved in the last 10 years so, having ticked off the top half finish goal, exceeding this is my new objective. Whether it is this season or later down the line, time will tell.

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Despite coming second in League Two in our first campaign, there was not an abundance of quality in our squad and many of our key men were loanees.

However, one player shone above all the others for me last season; Dylan Bahamboula. He provided assists and goals, and so often the spark of creativity that made the difference between drawing and losing. If we were to be successful, I thought, then he would likely play a big part in that. On 01 July, when I had barely got to work on reshaping my squad, disaster struck as I was faced with this news item:

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I sent Bahamboula to a specialist, but with him being out for so long I basically have to plan for the season ahead without him. He is still young in relative terms, so I am hoping he doesn't come back half the play he once was, as was the case with Wheater last season.

I already had indicated in my end-of-season squad performance review that a lot of work was likely to be done in the transfer window, and this news made that even more critical.

Staffing Upgrade

There was to be no staffing overhaul this summer. I was happy with the staff I appointed last season and decided that at the end of next season would be a better time to reassess my coaching staff. The one person I didn't replace last season was assistant manager Alan Maybury. He seemed competent and therefore spending money on a new man did not seem essential. Now we had been promoted it was time to upgrade.

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Former Burton assistant manager Gary Crosby was the man I chose to succeed Maybury. Good judgement of both players ability and potential attracted him to me, and his attacking coaching expertise sealed the deal.

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Following the promotion, the board also granted me permission to appoint one more coach to my staff. I decide to bring in a defensive specialist to help me deal with the challenges of League One and selected Paul Robinson as the man for the job. Not only does he have defensive expertise, his mental attributes are also top class.

Squad Overhaul

It has been a little while since I posted an update and that is in part due to life getting in the way of playing FM but also because I have put a good amount of time and effort into considering options and signing players.

I have ambitions to finish higher than 15th in League One, the club's highest finish in over a decade, and wish to avoid a relegation slugfest if possible. Therefore I have tried to transform my squad into one you would expect to see in League One. I am pleased with the outcome, but do let me know what you think. The comings and goings have been somewhat numerous so I have decided I will break this down over a few posts as to not make this update too lengthy. I will share with you details of the players signed and provid a snapshot of what the squad now looks like after the transfer business.

I write this on the eve of the new season. I have tried to get a full and complete squad in place for the opening game and don't intend to do more business. The transfer window, however, is inexplicably open for a further month so there is a chance additional dealings could take place. If that happens I will follow up with a later post.

Goalkeepers

Where better to start with than with the goalkeeping position. The season ended with only one first team 'keeper, Ben Alnwick, who had performed admirably but was on the start of a decline due to his age. With one year left on his contract I was happy to make him my second choice keeper, but then Cambridge showed an interest and I saw this as a prime opportunity to cash in.  I sold him to our fellow League One promoted side for £25k.

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My first signing was former Portland Timbers stopper Jeadine White. White is very much an exception to the rule when it comes to a theme you will see in this transfer window. Due to the strict Brexit rules, many of the players I initially targeted could not get work permits, so I had to primarily focus on British players this window. White was one of a small handful of exceptions as he is a current Jamaica international. This was a positive, as it meant he got a work permit, but a negative as days after signing him he surprised me by departing for the Gold Cup, leaving me once again with no 'keepers. My first few pre-season games I had to field trialists in the net to paper over the fact I had no goalkeepers.

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When I signed White it was with the intention that he would be my first choice goalkeeper. The Gold Cup incidence suddenly had me worried that he would be jetting off in the middle of the season leaving me without a 'keeper at key points. I therefore decided to once again go hunting for a first choice player between the sticks. I settled upon former Brentford man Luke Daniels. Signed at the same age that Alnwick was when I signed him last season, I am aware he may decline after a year. But, if I can get a good season out of him then I will be happy.

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Again, with White's international commitments on my mind, I thought it was best I looked for a young keeper who could deputise on the bench when he was away with Jamaica. I was delighted to sign James Hillson who has much potential, pedigree having just left Arsenal's academy and a very small pay packet.

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I prepare to begin the new season with a roster of goalkeepers a much higher quality than when I ended last season. White's international duties and desire to be number one may see him need to be moved on later down the line, but at a great age for resale and personal development, I have no concerns about this.

Details on the rest of my signings to follow.

Edited by Dong21
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Going up a division and facing a better array of attackers, upgrading my defence was going to important.

Right Backs

Raph Diarra became my unlikely club captain after an exodus of experienced players in the summer. Diarra is a good solid defender and does have leadership capabilities but lacks in the ability to go forward, something I expect of my full backs. I sold Diarra's deputy, Tamari Moore, to Burton for £40k.

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Former Almeria and Real Madrid academy graduate Fran is my most extravagant signing. The other player to acquire a work permit, the Spaniard is my highest earner at the club. I am hoping he is worth the outlay though, as he significantly improves the right back position. He offers the forward thinking capability that Diarra doesn't.

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I also signed right back Daniel Oyegoke on a free from Arsenal. With two good pros in front of him, the young man won't feature often this season but is certainly one for the future.

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I think it is always a good sign of a good window when your first choice player becomes a back up to a new and improved option.

Left Backs

I was very happy with Borthwick-Jackson's contributions and had no intention of selling him, despite interest. His understudy, Andrea Badan, was available to be moved on and I was happy to cash in by selling him to Potenza for £30k.

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Despite arriving with an injury that will see him miss the first 6 weeks of the season, I was pleased to bring in Man United's Reece Devine in on loan. I was searching around for affordable options, with my wage budget basically non-existent at this point, so pounced when I realised I could get him by covering just £400 p/w of his wages. Prior to bringing in Devine, I had a deal in place to sign Fabio Coentrao on a free transfer. He was happy not to be first choice and his wage demands weren't excessive. Unfortunately, despite having 52 caps for his country, he was unable to acquire a work permit and therefore the deal fell through.

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Both of my left backs could be first choice. I will keep the faith with CBJ as a contracted player who did well last year, but it is great to know I have a quality option available if needed.

Centre Backs

This area of the pitch practically saw a reset. At the end of the season I released Wheater, Jombati and Jameson, and then followed this up by selling Piergianni to Blackpool for £35k. Robert Costa must have been looking round the dressing room trying to find a familiar face.

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Signed on a free from Northampton, Cian Bolger is most likely to partner Costa in the upcoming campaign. Impressed by his mental attributes, I have already made him club vice-captain. I don't anticipate Diarra will be first choice, so Bolger will likely be matchday captain more often than not.

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Next to join was a man Liverpool fans will be familiar with, Rhys Williams. Signed on loan from the Reds, he puts me in a great position whereby I have three good quality options to choose between. Williams has though unfortunately picked up a 4 week injury (twisted ankle) on the eve of the new season. I also had a loan deal agreed for Bristol City's Robbie Cundy, but at the confirmation stage I decided to cancel. It would have been nice to have a fourth good option, but I decided I could use the loan spot and wages elsewhere and wanted to give some of my young promising CBs a chance instead.

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Sams, Baker and Jay Williams all possess a good amount of potential and therefore I will look to give them opportunities rather than signing another further first team defender.

Details of my signings further up the field to follow tomorrow.

Edited by Dong21
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Alfie McCalmont and Ethan Gailbraith were my centre midfield pairing of choice in our promotion winning season.

The pair returned to their respective clubs (Leeds and Man United) and I didn't make efforts to retain them. I decided in the first instance I would look to make some permanent signings to ease our reliance on loanees in the centre of the park.

Central Midfielders

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This player was my number one transfer target as soon as I was aware he was available on a free from Forest Green Rovers. Carl Winchester had played for Oldham from 2010 - 2017, when they were last operating in League One. Although he did technically start out at Linfied, Winchester is the closest thing to an Oldham academy graduate, so to bring him back had added meaning. Having managed him before on previous saves, I have always loved his work rate and versatility (adept as a CM, DM or RB).

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Going into a higher division, I wanted to bring in a ball winning midfielder for when we face tough opposition. Ryan Tunnicliffe fitted the bill and only wanted a mere £800 p/w for his services.

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I did end up returning to the loan market, and to Man United yet again, to bring in Charlie McCann for the season. Labelled by the media as 'the next David Platt', I think he will be a good fit as the playmaker in my team. He has the added benefit of being able to play as a CAM as well, if required.

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The final central midfield recruit, Romaine Mundle, is very much 'one for the future'. The Tottenham academy graduate makes his way up from the north of London to the north of England.

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In one transfer window I went from having a dearth of central midfielders to having a surplus. I had released Brice Ntambwe at the end of the season, but realised I still need to sell to trim the numbers. I decided to sell Callum Whelan. He had potential but hadn't been good enough to get in my team in League Two, so was unlikely to feature in League One. He had a number of suitors but chose Sunderland in a £54k deal. There was interest in Dabo and I did also consider selling him, but none of the offers were reasonable so his stay at Boundary Park continues. Wootton and Mundle will feature for the U23s, so effectively I have 4 CMs competing for two positions.

Centre Attacking Midfielders

I intend to continue using the 4-2-3-1 that gave us success in the first season, although we have commenced learning a 4-4-2 as a backup plan. Bahamboula had predominantly played in the CAM position last term, so a signing here was key.

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Developed in the respected Southampton academy, Jake Hesketh has spent the last two seasons on loan at Lincoln and then Crawley. I decided he was ready to step up and give League One a crack, signing him on a free transfer from The Saints.

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Samir Carruthers remains the deputy for this position, although many players such as McCann and Bahamboula can play here if required.

Edited by Dong21
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Wingers

This is probably the area of the pitch that has seen the least change. I am mainly going into the new campaign with the same wing options as in the past season, except I have strikers who can also operate on the wing too (more details below). With Bahamboula being ruled out for so long though, I knew I needed at least one quality recruit though...

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Fabio Carvalho provides pace, flair and crossing ability all for zero cost. Thanks Fulham!

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This is potentially the area of our squad that lacks the most depth, but I think we do have enough quality to get by. Zak Dearnley was surplus to requirements, so I sold him to Accrington for £52k.

Strikers

On 13/12/2020 at 22:55, Dong21 said:

Rodel Richards had a great season. His 25 goals made him the third highest goalscorer in the division. An average rating of 7 across the season was the best of all my players. His £350 p/w contract at Spurs finishes in the summer and I would love to swoop in and make him a permanent member of the squad. The problem is a good number of Championship and Premier League clubs are circulating, so it looks like I will be looking for a new leading man.

Things move fast in the world of Football Manager. Not long after writing the above, Spurs triggered an automatic contract extension meaning that Richards would stay with them for another season, at least. This turned out to be a huge positive for me; if he had left on a free transfer it was very unlikely he would have chosen to return to Oldham over a move to the Championship. Additionally we would likely had to have to pay a huge wage fee to attract him. Instead, what happened was he was once again available for loan so I secured him for another season, once again just on £350 p/w.

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I am fully expecting Rodel Richards to pick up where he left off last season. I recently received a news item that stated the bookies made him third favourite to be top scorer in the division.

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Competition for places is important. When Richards needed a rest last season, or I need to mix things up tactically, I looked to my bench and had very limited goalscoring options. That changes this season, as I have stepped things up in the striking department. Bringing him back from Australia, where he has been operating for the last few years, David Ball adds some experience that was lacking in the team. If I persist with one up top he will likely be understudy to Richards, but there is a good chance we could move to a front two at points in the season.

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Jahmal Hector-Ingram is one of the player I am most excited about signing. His ability to be able to play up front, but also any position behind the striker is invaluable. Released by relegated Derby, I am hoping he can come back to bite them when we play them. I see him operating on the left wing as an inside forward.

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I am really pleased with my three striking options - this feels like a team that has goals in it. I managed to balance the books a little by selling George Blackwood back to Australia (Brisbane Roar) for £60k and releasing Danny Rowe and his big wage.

This concludes my updates on my summer signings. I'm pleased with my dealings and feel I have managed to amass a diverse squad who I hope will be ready for the rigors of League One. I'll report back on how I get on.

Edited by Dong21
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Do you ever try and sign players on Free Transfers in January for next season?  With some planning and decent Scouts you can get good players for your team and if they don't work out you can stuff them in the reserves and sell for a small profit in January.

I started doing it in my Clermont save over the summer.

I ended up with Neco Williams from Liverpool and another couple of starters for my that way.

In fact I am hoovering up any Hungarian Player that might possibly make my team just to screw over my rivals in my current save! Lol. 

and if they don't make the team I loan them out to foreign teams or teams in a lower divisions. Never to a team in the same league .

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18 minutes ago, Hootieleece said:

Do you ever try and sign players on Free Transfers in January for next season? 

I generally don't and there are a couple of reasons why; If I target a player in January they know they are in demand and their wage request is often high. If I gamble and wait till they become a free agent their requirements drop and I find they fall even further when I take them in on trial. When you are managing a smaller team on a budget, every little helps. You also sometimes have to pay compensation if they are still at their club, which can be avoided if they are released. Additionally I often don't know what my situation will be six months in advance - for instance in this save I had no idea in January whether I'd be in League Two or League One. So I could sign a player who is no longer relevant six months in the future. I have of course pre-agreed deals before over the years, but it isn't my preferred way of doing things. I may miss out on a few players, but the database is so vast there is always another good alternative waiting to be discovered.

26 minutes ago, Hootieleece said:

In fact I am hoovering up any Hungarian Player that might possibly make my team just to screw over my rivals in my current save! Lol. 

Sounds like you are the Bayern Munich of Hungary :lol:

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1 hour ago, Dong21 said:

I generally don't and there are a couple of reasons why; If I target a player in January they know they are in demand and their wage request is often high. If I gamble and wait till they become a free agent their requirements drop and I find they fall even further when I take them in on trial. When you are managing a smaller team on a budget, every little helps. You also sometimes have to pay compensation if they are still at their club, which can be avoided if they are released. Additionally I often don't know what my situation will be six months in advance - for instance in this save I had no idea in January whether I'd be in League Two or League One. So I could sign a player who is no longer relevant six months in the future. I have of course pre-agreed deals before over the years, but it isn't my preferred way of doing things. I may miss out on a few players, but the database is so vast there is always another good alternative waiting to be discovered.

Sounds like you are the Bayern Munich of Hungary :lol:

I'm Roleplaying a Manager who idolizes Pep and played in the Bayern U-23's before a catastrophic accident coming home from a nightclub....

 

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Great updates @Dong21 I always enjoy reading about your signings and the thoughts and processes behind them.

It's a blow to lose Dylan and a shame about the Jamaican 'keeper availability concerns, but you seem to have put together a decent squad for League 1. In my completed Oxford (BETA) save, Richards was very close to being top scorer at Exeter in 2021/22, and he always scored goals for me at Grimsby a couple of FM versions back, so he should have another good season with you I reckon.  I  managed Winchester at FGR in their first FL season, that's a very smart move to take him back to Oldham. It does look like Ball will be a good squad asset, and your defence seems to be much improved. Best of luck.

Edited by Jogo Bonito
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On 22/12/2020 at 11:35, Dong21 said:

The final central midfield recruit, Romaine Mundle, is very much 'one for the future'. The Tottenham academy graduate makes his way up from the north of London to the north of England.

Second thread I've done this in, now!

I had Romaine Mundle in my Redditch team for six or seven years. Top player and very consistent. He'll do well for you!

---

Really enjoying your posting style. Keep it up!

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After the hard work of putting together a new squad it is time to look ahead to our upcoming campaign in the Sky Bet League One.

Pre-Season

We commenced our run of friendly matches with a victory over Bristol Rovers, who had not long before been promoted to the Championship via the Playoffs. This was the start of a pre-season that can be classed as an unmitigated success. Six convincing victories, although none against top level opposition. I didn't see the value in risking a demoralising loss; it was important to keep the momentum going from our promotion. We stuck with the 4-2-3-1 that had seen us promoted, but also trialed a 4-4-2 in a handful of friendlies as we now have more than one capable striker at the club. A sufficient and consistent level of match fitness was developed throughout the squad.

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Finances

Bringing 17 players into the club, you may suspect that I am overstretching our finances in the hope of overachieving. I am pleased to report that the squad building has been achieved whilst still balancing the books. We are within our wage budget and have a small amount of transfer budget remaining. This was mainly achieved by player sales - this summer I sold eight players for a total value of £340k. When managing on a budget, I see nearly all players as expendable for the right price. It is all about the greater good of the club. The transfer fees that I received (of which I only retain 35% of) were only utilised for wages and signing on fees of free agents and, in some instances, loanees. There is generally always such a wide range of talented free agents available that will improve your team, when you are operating in the lower divisions, that there is really no excuse not to sign free agents rather than spending unnecessary money on contracted players. The only challenge this year has been the strict Brexit rules that I have not had to contend with in previous saves.

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In addition to our own player sales, the club benefited from Rangers selling Latics academy graduate George Edmundson to Leicester for £5m on transfer deadline day. We were entitled to 3% of the fee, which on paper doesn't sound significant, but £150k unplanned income coming into the club's coffers was certainly a welcomed surprise.

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I am really pleased with how I have turned the club's finances around in such a short space of time. I know that the club's overall balance will fall throughout the season with no more transfer fees coming in during the closed season, but we should hopefully remain in the black throughout. The only downside is that the owner is less incentivised to sell now I have balanced the books!

Contenders

It is worth briefly noting the quality of opposition we will face this year in League One. Some say that there isn't a great deal of difference between League Two and League One sides, and that is probably fair to say for the bottom half of League One, but I think there are some fairly big opponents in this division that will present interesting challenges for us to overcome. The standout side has to be Derby who were somewhat surprisingly relegated from the Championship. Currently managed by Quiche Sanchez Flores, they have retained much of their squad and even made a net spend of £7.5m this summer. The only shame is that Wayne Rooney has departed (now Crystal Palace U18s coach) so I won't get to face the former Man Utd and England great.

Fellow relegated sides Wycombe and Coventry perhaps aren't as equipped as Derby to automatically return to the Championship, but will still pose a threat. Where I see more of a challenge are teams such as Hull, Sunderland, Ipswich and Peterborough who narrowly missed out on promotion the season prior (it was Charlton and Portsmouth who successfully went up, alongside the previously referenced Bristol Rovers). There is a higher standard of manager in League One for me to test my whits against, with the likes of Alan Pardew (MK Dons), Gordon Strachan (Sunderland) and Tony Mowbray (Hull) to contend with.

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July & August 2021

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The new season could not have started much better as we made a statement by beating the team that finished above us in League Two last season. It was a fairly open game in which it was a case of outscoring our opponents. We followed this up a comprehensive 3-0 win against Oxford. Operating as an inside forward on the right wing, new boy Hector-Ingram was the star in a 6-1 mauling of Sunderland in the Carabao Cup - he bagged a hat-trick, having also scored a few days earlier. The other scorer, which couldn't fit in the screenshot was striker Ball.

I had assumed the league meeting with Sunderland would be a win as we so thoroughly had their number in the Cup. I was therefore disappointed when, despite 20 shots and an xG of 2.79, we could only draw with the Black Cats. We then played Peterborough and despite having more shots, more possession and better xG we lost 3-2; this was a lesson that in a tougher division you need to take your chances and tighten up at the back.

The next result was one I am immensely proud of. We traveled to Premier League powerhouses Leicester in the 2nd Round of the Carabao Cup and managed to knock them out! We took the lead from the spot, went 2-1 down, came back to draw and then beat them on penalties. This was no smash and grab, we were actually the better side on the night. It was a 5-4 penalty shoot out victory after six penalties each.

We suffered a disappointing goalless draw against Gillingham but at least ended the month with a win, again, against Sunderland. As it was the EFL Trophy we played a much changed side and still got the job done, much down to the brilliance of Soumaré who had a hand in all three goals on the night.

September 2021

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September began as the month of hat-tricks. First was a big performance from striker Richards against a very good Ipswich side. The second, was more unexpected, the three goals scored by attacking midfielder Hesketh are his only three he has scored this season - I hope he can build upon this.

With so much to deal with in the league on our return to the third tier, the last thing I anticipated was a cup run. Some would consider this a distraction but you won't catch me complaining about pulling off Cupsets! Having already dispatched of Leicester, we then knocked out fellow Premier League side Newcastle. We went in with a defensive approach, secured a 0-0 draw and then eliminated them on penalties - which is quickly becoming our specialty. The attendance of just over 10,000 was our largest under my managerial tenure and wasn't far off a sell out. Selling out Boundary Park is one of my long-term aims.

I was extremely annoyed that we lost to Blackpool. With 14 shots, an xG of 1.38 and possession of 58% it is clear we dominated the game, but Blackpool hit us on the counter twice and stole a win.

October 2021

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On paper I should be pleased with how we performed in October; eight games undefeated shouldn't be sniffed at. But, I can't help feeling frustrated. The source of my annoyance is the four score draws. We dominated every one of these games but couldn't win. To make matters worse, the Coventry, Wycombe and MK Dons draws were all due to late equalisers, all scored after 85 minutes. I need to find a way to seal the deal in games like these as the season progresses. I'm thinking a tactical change may be on the cards.

In more positive news our performances in the Cups continued to be a highlight. We thrashed Newcastle U23s in the EFL Trophy to ensure qualification for the knockout rounds with a game remaining. Again, we played a fully changed side, including debuts for 'keeper White and midfielder Mundle. In the League Cup it was Championship opposition this time. We didn't need penalties to dispatch QPR but it did need a stroke of luck. We had ten shots but none of them were on target. Luckily one of those shots bounced off a QPR player and into the net. We face local rivals Man City in the Quarter Finals which I anticipate will be a step too far. Either way, I'll be very proud of our cup scalps.

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With 15 games played we sit just outside the Playoffs, well outperforming my expectations. We have a game in hand that if won will see us move into the Playoffs but I am not taking anything for granted. I think our form could improve, I just need to unlock this tactically. In the last few weeks we have suffered injuries to players such as Devine (7 weeks), Tunnicliffe (6 weeks), Carvalho (7 weeks) and Soumaré (6 weeks) which is making our squad pretty thin.

The key performers to date have been Richards (12 goals), McCann, Costa, Hesketh, Winchester and CBJ.

Edited by Dong21
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A great start in League 1, although possibly eclipsed by your Cup form. If you can close one or two of those games out you'll be in a really strong position, but nothing at all to complain about so far.

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@Jogo Bonito I’ve switched to a 4-4-2 in November and having two strikers has already seen us be more clinical in games. Probably too soon to say if this is the solution but fingers crossed! Would be delighted if we could sneak into the Playoffs unexpectedly.

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Nice one. I'm also playing 442 at the moment with Walsall, seems quite a while since I have as most wide midfielders/wingers in the game only seem to be capable of playing AML/AMR and 424 is way too ambitious for me. I do like having a strike-pairing though and generally try to get that in to other formations instead of 433.

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Posted (edited)

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After a busy three months in Greater Manchester, with 23 games played, it is time to update you all on how my Latics side are performing.

November 2021

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In my last update I noted that a tactical change was on the cards, as we were failing to score and win games despite dominating them. At the start of November I switched to a 4-4-2 and you can see the immediate impact, with six goals in two games against Lincoln. Moving Hector-Ingram from the left wing to up front (generally alongside Richards) had the positive impact of revitalising his goalscoring form - delivering four in four, in the games he featured in. Obviously the result that stands out is the shock FA Cup loss to National League side Wrexham. I take the blame for that as I rotated the team too much - playing a back four of inexperienced young players. With the possibility of promotion this season, perhaps one less Cup to contend with isn't a bad thing. I went full strength in the EFL Trophy the game afterwards to build morale back up and that worked well. The highlight of the 4-0 Lincoln game was a surprise hat-trick from CB Bolger, although we did give him the penalty to seal the deal!

Mid-way through November Bahamboula returned from his long injury. Although his physical attributes have been impacted (for example my staff now rate him a 3 star player rather than a 3.5 one) he should still be a handy addition to my squad. This became more important as at the end of the month Soumaré was ruled out for four weeks with a twisted knee. I was pleased to end the month with a draw at Derby. The Rams were in strong form and were the better team against us, so we showed resolve to leave with a point against the best squad in the division.

December 2021

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Losing to Fleetwood was disappointing and took the shine off Bahamboula getting on the scoresheet for the first time at this level. But I was almost more gutted to only draw with Rochdale in front of our biggest crowd of the season. A packed Boundary Park got to see 21 shots from us (our xG was 3.04!) but no winner against our local rivals. 

Our Cup run came to an end at the Quarter Finals stage. We beat QPR, Newcastle and Leicester along the way, but Manchester City were a step too far. Our neighbours went full strength for the game, so I was pleased we didn't embarrass ourselves. A good performance meant our morale was not damaged.

My pleas for goals were heard when we hit five against Sunderland. We also conceded three, but I really didn't mind.

We beat Bradford but then ended the year by reverting to our form of October by drawing with both Oxford and Gillingham despite having a vast amount of chances created.

January 2022

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I'm pleased to report that the new year has seen our team hit a new level of performance. The goals finally arrived as we scored 20 goals in seven league games! Hector-Ingram was the star of the show with nine goals in seven games and he was rewarded by being named League One Player of the Month. He needed to deliver as my other strikers Richards and Ball haven't scored for 15 and 22 games respectively. Due to having a fairly thin squad, with injuries and players suffering from fatigue, several youngsters have been presented opportunities recently. Most notably, 21 year old forward Stanley Asomugha has shined, bagging two league goals from his appearances from the bench.

Our run of penalty shoot-out successes came to an end in the EFL Trophy. Unable to score in 90 minutes despite numerous chances, the United youth team that featured Garner, Gailbraith, Mejbri and co. were victorious, knocking us out of the competition.

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Our relentless form in January saw me crowned League One Manager of the Month for the first time and has lead to us flying high in third place in the table. Hull have quite an unassailable lead at the top but it is quite tight in the places below. Derby are a good side and I see them as strong favourites for automatic promotion. If we can hang on to a place in the Playoffs come the end of the season then I will be ecstatic.

Edited by Dong21
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Great progress being made, really serious contenders now and the form suggests you have every chance of grabbing 2nd at least. Nice to see the goals now flowing freely.

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Posted (edited)

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New Contract

At the start of December I was offered a two year contract extension by the chairman, which I gladly accepted. I am really enjoying my time with Oldham and see this as a long term project with more to be achieved. The board expressed that they were delighted that I had achieved club vision objectives which were to (1) repair the club's financial damage - completed two years ahead of schedule and (2) become an established League One side - achieved three years ahead of plan. When renewing my contract I wanted to take the opportunity to address the club vision as rather conflictingly the owner is expecting me to play entertaining football, play attacking football, play counter-attacking football and play direct football, which as you can imagine is quite hard to do all at the same time! I was not given the chance to propose changes to this, but hopefully I will be able to do so at the end of the season. To further reinforce my commitment to Oldham Athletic I publicly dismissed the media interest from managerless Championship side Rotherham which pleased the owner.

African Cup of Nations

With Bahamboula not long back from his long-term injury I was quite surprised when Congo then called him up for the AFCON. This meant I lost him for all of January and was part of the reason why I turned to the transfer window to add wingers to the squad.

Player Sales

Somewhat unexpectedly, I ended up selling four players in the January transfer window for the total value of £470k.

In early December I noticed there was interest in my back up attacking midfielder Carruthers - so offered him out for his value of £31k and quickly struck a deal with Wigan. He barely featured and was likely to play even more infrequently following my switch to 4-4-2. Next, I received bids out the blue for two young players, both of whom I liked and had intentions to develop at the club but I just couldn't turn down the chance to cash in. The club needs a strong balance sheet if this is going to be a successful long-term save. Bristol City came in for young right back Oyegoke and I negotiated them up to a £150k deal. In similar circumstances, Sheff Weds came in for central midfielder Mundle and I got them up from a £0 bid to a £140k one that should rise to £195k and has a 50% sell on clause. @_Ben_ - unfortunately I'll never know what Mundle could have achieved at Oldham! Finally, goalkeeper White handed in a transfer request on deadline day, as he was unhappy at his lack of game time. Due to his age and potential I was determined to only let him go for a fair price. I offered him out for £150k, San Jose bid, and the deal was done within a few hours.

Loan Recalled

An issue that I have had all season is the managers of players I have on loan have been incessantly approaching me to complain their players are not being played in their agreed positions, despite the fact that I have been doing so. Klopp and Solskjaer in particular have been taking time out of their busy schedules to talk to me about centre back Williams and central midfielder McCann. I think this may be a bug - perhaps I should check out that section of this Forum. I often don't have the option to say to them "They are playing exactly where we agreed" so I generally have to choose "At least they are playing regularly". This issue caused a significant issue in mid-January when Klopp unexpectedly cancelled the loan of Williams, leaving me with only two first team centre backs at the club. Cheers Jurgen!

When playing 4-4-2 the only issue I have had is that I don't have a natural left midfielder. McAleney has been predominantly operating there but in an inverted winger role. My primary focus for the January window therefore was to try and upgrade this position.

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With Williams being unexpectedly recalled by Liverpool, this freed up the fifth loan spot at the club and created some space in the wage budget. Therefore I decided to add some quality by taking left midfielder Scott Banks on loan from Burnley for the rest of the season.

Reinforcements

With funds arriving into the club from player sales and worries about squad depth due to fatigue circulating in my mind, I decided to take the luxury of recruiting a few extra players to bulk out the squad. The thinking is, with promotion a real possibility, I don't want to look back at the end of the season and reflect that we missed out on the Playoffs due to injuries or a lack of options.

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With Williams gone, if either of first choice centre back pairing Costa and Bolger got injured then I would have to resort to playing some of my U23s who had let me down so badly against Wrexham. I therefore decided to offer an 18 month contract to Josue Albert purely to act as emergency cover. Formally with Clermont in French Ligue 2, at least he would be an experienced head to step in if needed.

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We spent most of January with two strikers (Hector-Ingram and Richards) as misfiring Ball sustained an injury. Two strikers, when we play two up front, struck me as a risk and therefore I decided to bring in Louis Moult on another free transfer. He wanted 18 months, but I only offered him a 5 month contract. I know he is not part of my long-term plans and in fact if he never plays I won't mind, he was signed purely as a just in case.

Disaster struck only a week later as he sustained a training ground hip injury that will see him miss three to six months, effectively the rest of the season. Frustrating. I did not bother sending him to the specialist as it won't make a difference. I tried to terminate his contract, but the board wouldn't sanction it. Lets hope my other forwards stay fit!

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My third and final deadline day signing was ex-Newcastle man Rolando Aarons. When I noticed he was available and interested in joining it was an opportunity I needed to take. Operating on the left of midfield, I probably don't need both Aarons and Banks but having options isn't a bad thing and Banks is only on loan, whereas I have signed Aarons to an 18 month deal. I am excited about Aarons pace and creativity.

With a much lighter schedule upcoming in February through to May, these new recruits are perhaps slightly overkill, but I am now very happy with the depth of my squad going into the final stretch of the season.

Edited by Dong21
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Glad to see you doing well with Oldham.

Chairman Club Philosophy for style of Football, they want played can be irritating and I haven't found a way to change their mind.

For Example: In my Debrecen save. I am playing possession soccer and scoring lots of goals. We have become the Bayern of Hungary. (4 League Titles, 4 Magyar Cup Finals and 1 win in 7 years) Yet the board STILL want me to play "defensively responsible football" and "Counterattacking Football" even though We are dominating Hungary and a side effect of dominating possession is usually most shutouts and least conceded.

I can't get them to change their Club philosophy.

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Ah that's a shame to hear @Hootieleece! If I manage to find a way I will let you know. My board are currently pleased that I am playing attacking, entertaining and counter attacking football, but are disappointed we are not playing direct...

I would much prefer a clean slate where they style of football is unimportant. Hoping for a change of owner due to all of his past indiscretions that I mentioned in my opening posts. If that happens then fingers crossed the new owner won't have any stylistic demands!

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