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

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Good luck using that transfer kitty and hopefully you will outlast your lamentable owners. I did one of those breaking news creations in my Reading game (but forgot about them since), they add a nice touch I think :cool:

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Posted (edited)
On 09/03/2021 at 09:21, Ronaldo Beckham said:

Good to hear you signed Ricky Jade-Jones @Dong21 He will be amazing for you.

Thanks @Ronaldo Beckham - I really hope that RJJ does the business for me.

On 09/03/2021 at 11:37, Chevie said:

That must be some feeling having cash to burn for the first time in 4 seasons! Seeing your history with free transfers it definitely makes sense to give yourself such a large wage budget to work with. Good luck!

Cheers @Chevie! Although we have a decent budget finally, the news item that ranks clubs by reputation still had us below nearly every single Championship club and even four League One sides, so even though we can now afford more we still may not appeal to all my targets. That said, I definitely have much more flexibility in the market this season - so reasons to be positive indeed.

On 09/03/2021 at 12:10, warlock said:

Good stuff, and an exemplary rebuild of a club from the depths, despite the best efforts of the owners. Hope you get that takeover soon 

Appreciated @warlock, it's been an enjoyable journey so far. Fingers and toes crossed for that sale!

On 09/03/2021 at 13:10, Jogo Bonito said:

Good luck using that transfer kitty and hopefully you will outlast your lamentable owners. I did one of those breaking news creations in my Reading game (but forgot about them since), they add a nice touch I think 

I almost don't know where to start with the transfer kitty @Jogo Bonito, I'm in uncharted waters in this career now I've got funds. I wanted the sale of Doyle to stand out in my update and I knew I'd already wrote quite a lot about my early window signings, so I thought the breaking news graphic might draw attention to it. Seemed to do the job!

Edited by Dong21
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Indeed, that breaking news banner really made it stand out - good idea! You're a bit like me, very cautious with money. But you don't have to abandon all your philosophies, I quite often have a sizeable budget left untouched, no harm in that. Echo what has been said about RJJ, I only ever signed him once (for Reading) and he only played a few games - but he really should be a major asset for you there.

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Posted (edited)


When I last wrote an update it was brimming with optimism. We had just sold Callum Doyle to Premier League Norwich for £10m and I was excited to spend some of the cash on improving my squad. What followed was a long, long summer. Although we now had riches we'd never experienced before, our reputation was still smaller than some League One clubs. This meant that there were many players we were interested in but they simply were not interested in us. Perhaps crueler were the players who expressed interest only to go elsewhere. There were nine players who we had on trial (the pick of the bunch being striker Rafa Mir), offered them contracts, they seemed willing and then at the last moment they went elsewhere. It felt like we were being used as a fitness building centre, over and over again. All in all, a demoralising process.

Poor Facilities Impact Reputation


With some of the Doyle sale proceeds going into my transfer budget and some going directly into the club's coffers, our financial standing had never been better. In fact the overall balance was £16m. I approached the owner to see if we could improve the training facilities and, disappointingly but in no way surprisingly, the request was rejected.

Whilst we continue to have poor training and youth facilities, we will continue to struggle to recruit players. And, as long as I have owners who refuse to support the growth of the club, I will always have an uphill battle on my hands. 

It's The Hope That Kills You


You can imagine my delight when I saw reference to a potential takeover on 11 August, 2023. The news article wasn't the most positive about the probability of this happening, but I have seen many takeovers start this way over the years. When I went to the general info page it said that we were in the process of a board takeover. Perhaps the one thing that was keeping Latics fans depressed, even after the success I have brought, would finally be eradicated. 


17 September, 2023, was a sombre day in Oldham when the news broke that the takeover had been shut down by the owner. There has been no speculation since. I continue to live on with hope that we can one day escape the Lemsagem brothers.

Shark Infested Waters

Competing in the Championship as a small side is already a challenge, but it is worth mentioning that things were to get a lot more competitive this season thanks to the quality of the team's relegated from the Premier League. In quite a surprise, both Aston Villa and Wolves came down. Completing a Midlands treble, they were also joined by Birmingham.

Aston Villa sold five players for a total of £125m on transfer deadline day. Despite that, they remain a daunting threat as they are managed by Luciano Spalletti and kept hold of the likes of Jack Grealish, Nick Pope, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Xherdan Shaqiri and Billy Gilmour. Meanwhile Wolves still have quality players such as Raul Jimenez, Adama Traore, Conor Coady and Nelson Semedo, despite being in the second tier.

Incremental Improvements

Despite the challenges outlined in this update, I have managed to put together a squad that I am excited about. I believe I have improved most areas of the pitch and am particularly excited about my selection of wingers and pacy forwards. After so many deals, where I was going to up the wage bill to bring in quality, fell through - I have treated myself to a few short term deals. By that I mean, I have signed a handful of experienced players who will add quality but likely will only be of use for a season and will have no resale value. We didn't spend a penny on transfer fees and when the window closed we still ranked 21st in the League for wage bill, so I can sleep easy knowing I haven't troubled the clubs accountants!


The transfer window closed with over £3.5m still in the bank. Given our struggle with reputation, this was more of a necessity than a cautious decision. This gives me something to fall back on in January if needed or, if my prayers are answered, we get a better owner in the future.

My next two posts will preview the squad going into our fourth season.

Edited by Dong21
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Posted (edited)


In advance of the 2023/24 season commencing, I will now run through what my squad looks like after another busy transfer window. I have already profiled the signings made before 30 June when Doyle was sold, so all signings highlighted are in the AD era (after Doyle).

After ending last season in form, with five wins and two draws in our last seven games, following a tactical switch to 4-4-2. This will once again be the approach that we primarily take. Signings have been made with this system in mind.



Joe Lumley remains my number one, but I wanted to upgrade the quality of his competition if possible. Alex Smithies has a great deal of experience and a lot of quality attributes. Rated 3 stars, the same as Lumley, I was pleased to bring this stopper in on a free from Cardiff.


I tried to loan out 23 year old Canadian 'keeper Thomas McGill but there were no takers. I need him to play to develop, so he has been dropped to the U23s. I have a big squad for the season ahead, so unfortunately he was unable to be registered. I believe though, that I have two goalkeepers capable of being my number one.

Right Backs


An experienced player with good all round mental attributes, Sam Byram provides competition for Fran. My Spanish right back hasn't put a foot wrong over the last two seasons, but I hope Byram will put the pressure on him to keep it up. Byram's ability to play left back also appealed to me, as you can never have too much versatility.


In September, well after the transfer window had closed, I spotted a player with good potential to add to the full back ranks. Developed in Middlesbrough, the young Uruguayan Cayetano Fernandez is certainly one for the future.


With the addition of Byram to the first team squad, Josh Hare was surplus to requirements and therefore sold to St Johnstone for £180k.

Left Backs


I had a £245k deal agreed for Arsenal left back Joel Lopez, however he failed to gain a work permit and ended up signing for Girona instead.

After some reflection, and despite my reservations about the performances of CBJ last season, I decide to stick with him and Butler for the upcoming campaign. The flexibility of Byram means I do have another option for this side if needed. Young left back Jamie Davidson, who I gave a debut to on the last day of the prior season, was loaned to Hereford for experience.

Centre Backs


At the point of signing Willy Kambwala we had already taken five players on loan, but I just could not neglect the opportunity to sign a player of his quality once I'd discovered him. Quick and strong, great anticipation and positioning, and strong in all the key defensive attributes. The Man United loanee could turn out to be my most important signing.


Kambwala will partner Angel, who I signed much earlier in the transfer window from the MLS. I have high hopes for them as a defensive pairing.

With no need for six centre backs on the books, I decided to sell Robert Costa to Grimsby for £115k. He had done nothing wrong, the club had just outgrown him. Had it not been for an eight week injury, sustained in August, then Costa's former partner Bolger may well have joined him through the exit too.

In the update to follow I shall introduce you to my midfield and attack.


Edited by Dong21
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Posted (edited)


Central Midfielders


One of the key contributions to last seasons over-achievement was the relationship we brokered with Chelsea - we were able to take on a number of talented youngsters with no cost to ourselves. I returned to Cobham again, this time persuading them to lend me Argentinian playmaker Fausto Vera. A product of the Argentinos Jrs academy, he spent last season (yes you guessed it) on loan at Vitesse. I thought they would reject my offer and send him somewhere more prestigious, but was pleasantly surprised. 


After being rejected by a number of free transfer targets, I realised I would need to once again dip into the loan market to bulk up my central midfield options. Xavier Simons had been on loan at Boundary Park last season, but when I asked to keep him for another year he rejected me. I decided to try again a few months later, and was pleased to find he'd changed his mind. I'd made him club captain for a few months last season, so he was a player who already has my trust.


Conscious that we'd exceeded the amount of players on loan you can play in one match, I knew I needed to bulk my squad out with players who we actually owned. Luke Dreher is not a flashy signing, but the former Crystal Palace prospect does give us depth.


Three loanees is more than I would like in one position, but I am at least pleased with the quality. It is worth noting this is less on loan CMs than last time around!

Carl Winchester is a player I like but who couldn't hold down a starting berth last season. When Montreal Impact started showing an interest I decided to cash in and sell the Northern Irishman for £1.4m.


I intend to be flexible with which wings my wide players play on, switching from wingers to inverted wingers to suit their needs - I am therefore grouping them together for this squad round up.


Gudmundsson really suits my tactical intentions as he is best suited as a right or left midfielder in a 4-4-2, rather than a winger in a 4-2-3-1, which is predominantly what was available. A Premier League player up until this point, the Icelandic international brings a touch of class and experience to what was a very young squad last season.


With the flexibility to play anywhere across the midfield, Dimitris Plekas will really prove his worth if he we need to mix up our tactics mid season. In the meantime, the creative Greek with serve as a capable option for either of the wings.


Obviously capable of playing up front, local lad Danny Welbeck was recruited because of the work rate I think he will bring to the wings. A slight luxury as I fully intend the former-England international to be a utility / squad option. I think it is a sign of how far we have come that this is the case.


I like to think the youngsters I signed early in the transfer window blend nicely with the more experienced players I signed when there was a little more cash to spare, to form a diverse and capable squad.

Thomas Hill tore his calf muscle in pre-season, ruling him out for four months, which is part of the reason I stocked up so much on wingers.


I toyed with the idea of loaning out young prospect Ronnie Webber but in the end decided to keep him around. I hope I can give him enough minutes to progress his development.

Jake Hesketh was an unfortunate victim of our change of circumstanes. Signed when we were poor, he has since become surplus to requirements and didn't make the cut for our 25 man squad. I intend to sell him in the winter break, just as I did last year!



Earlier in the summer I have already signed one rapid forward, when I brought in Ricky-Jade Jones on loan from Newcastle. I added another pacey loan man, recruiting Miguel Falé from Leicester. My original intentions were that he would play as a right midfielder, but after testing him out up front I found his electric pace was very valuable there too.


A completely different type of forward to all my other options; I must admit I fell in love with the idea of signing a leader like Troy Deeney as soon as I saw his mental attributes. Admittedly his wage is steep, but it is a one year deal and we are well within our budgets. I don't expect him to start all games, but I hope he will be a great option. Upon his arrival, I made Deeney captain and this has gone down well with the squad.


We are simply stacked when it comes to forwards. I will be shocked if goals are hard to come by.

The victim in all of this will likely be JHI who has contributed phenomenally in recent seasons but whom I can see slipping down the pecking order behind RJJ, Falé and Deeney.

I sold striker Sam Smith to Hull for £575k as we are clearly overloaded up top. I will likely sell another forward in January but for now we start the campaign with options.

Wish us luck for the season ahead!

Edited by Dong21
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You sign some great and experienced players.I would like to see  Pelkas progress in your team.

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14 hours ago, Dong21 said:

there were many players we were interested in but they simply were not interested in us

Sounds like my every transfer window ever :lol:. But it looks like you managed to do some very good business. Good luck :thup:

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4 hours ago, Sheriff7 said:

You sign some great and experienced players.I would like to see  Pelkas progress in your team.

Thanks @Sheriff7!

4 hours ago, warlock said:

Sounds like my every transfer window ever :lol:. But it looks like you managed to do some very good business. Good luck :thup:

Cheers @warlock - at least my struggles are relatable :lol:

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Posted (edited)


I wanted to take a moment to provide a brief update on the new hires appointed to my non-playing staff this summer. My restrictive owners mean that we can't upgrade our facilities, but one thing I can control, within reason, is the quality of my staff. When moving up the divisions, or even moving up your level of ambition within a division, managers can often forget this is an opportunity to upgrade personnel. As budgets and reputation grow, plus staff become available when contracts expire just like players, there are plenty of opportunities.

After a quick check to confirm that there would be candidates of suitable quality to replace them, I let the contracts of many of my key staff expire at the end of the last season. Thanks to Brexit I had to do the first few weeks of pre-season without an Assistant Manager and several other key team member as we were waiting for work permits to be granted. This took a frustratingly long time, although eventually I got the majority of my targets.

Assistant Manager


Forget Ricky-Jade Jones and Miguel Falé, Rubén Uría may well be my signing of the summer. I think his key attributes are phenomenal for a small Championship side. With Assistant Manager roles at Valencia, Villareal and Sevilla on his CV, among other clubs, this feels like a real coup for Oldham Athletic. I just need to hope Marcelino doesn't come calling for his usual right hand man.

Director of Football


As someone who does all their own transfers and contract negotiations, a Director of Football is perhaps not essential. I do though value the option to request transfer targets to see if there are options I'm yet to consider. There is value, therefore, in ensuring this advice is as good as it can be by hiring the DoF with the best stats available. This will be Jamie Bentley's first role in football.



Another appointment I am very excited about is that of coach David Lowe. Very capable in nearly all coaching disciplines, Lowe has a great deal of experience having fulfilled the role of Coach, Assistant Manager and Head of Youth Development at Blackburn during his career.

Chief Scout


Anybody who has been employed by Man United for five years has pedigree. Although Kei Tamura's knowledge of Japan might not be that relevant, he has great awareness of England and has a talent for spotting talent.

I also hired a newgen scout, Pablo Soler, to support Tamara's player acquisition department after my Colombian scout Juan Mauricio Echeverria was poached by Brighton

Goalkeeping Coach


I ventured out to Sweden to poach goalkeeping coach Jonas Bohlin from first division side Orebro SK. He is a big upgrade on my former 'keeper trainer.

I also brought in Frederic Petereyns as my new U18s GK coach. Petereyns had spent the prior 20 years as a first team GK coach in Ligue Un and the French National League so I was pleased to persuade him to coach my goalkeepers of tomorrow.

Finally, I also hired a talented young Dutchman named Tom De Wit to be my new Sports Scientist, after previous incumbent Tom Bromley was bought out of his contract by Brighton.

Edited by Dong21
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