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Port Vale - Part 2: Season 1, September & October

Pre-season was done and dusted and in part 2, I will take you through the first two months of the season. Here you can see all the results (including pre-season) and I will talk you through in a little more detail.

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Before the league season could get underway we had the small matter of two cup games. My first competitive game as Vale manager ended in defeat on penalties v Grimsby in the Carabao Cup, before Alex Hurst scored the only goal against Liverpool u23s in the oddly named Papa John's Trophy.

In real life, Vale have not lost on the opening day of the season for years and years, but here we were behind in only five minutes against Crawley on the opening day. The second half was better and quickfire goals by Cullen & Amoo put us ahead, before Tom Nicholls bagged his second to mean the points were shared.

The next two games were very mixed, against Exeter we were frankly dreadful and a 3-0 loss was kind, then we replied by putting four past a hapless Harrogate, helped by the fact they had a player sent off in the first 20 minutes. Conlon scored twice and there was also an Oyeleke wonder goal. 

October started with a boring 0-0 draw against Morecambe, not helped by injuries to Amoo and Cullen. The latter was more long-term, his second injury of the season and a major blow. Pope was about to return from suspension but lacking fitness, Rodney a very raw option up front, and Robinson so far proving hopeless.

Following the Morecambe game it was time for our first signings and two recruitments came in in the form of loanees Daniel Williams and Bobby Thomas. Swansea's Williams plays in centre midfield or as a defensive midfielder, preferring the deep lying playmaker role and adding depth to the squad. Centre back Thomas arrived from Burnley, young and inexperienced but with a very good rating as my best central defender already. Neither had ever played senior football before, but both seemed good acquisitions and fitted my policy of signing younger players, which the board also advocated. Prior to this David Fitzpatrick and Danny Whitehead were sent out on loan. I didn't feel either were good enough to feature regularly and had no future at the club, so National League clubs came calling and I happily let them go for the season.

Williams made his debut in the Pizza trophy against Wigan, providing two assists from two corners, both headed in by Pope who returned from his suspension with a bang. Truth is we were outplayed though and Wigan deservedly won 3-2. This was then followed by a series of four excellent wins, which lifted us up into the playoffs. Worrall scored twice to inspire us to victory against Carlisle and there were three 1-0 wins as Thomas was introduced to the side. Goals were not always regularly flowing, but Amoo and Pope were both on the scoresheet, whilst Oldham helped by scoring an own goal in 20 seconds. We did only manage 1 shot on the target and as you can see it was not particularly pretty.

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October then finished on a sour note with two disappointing defeats, firstly 2-1 at home to Cheltenham and then 1-0 to Southend, yes we lost to Southend. 17 points from our first 10 games was not a bad return and left us just outside the playoffs at this stage. 

I'll be back over the next day or so with the next update.

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In "good problems to have", I feel pretty good about my squad when my entire inbox is full of offers for them from EFL teams(L2, L1, and Championship all). Fortunately, none of them are kicking up a fuss when I'm rejecting them:

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4 hours ago, hasdgfas said:

This is a good idea. I will feel better about the result regardless then

I downloaded an instant result skin for this exact reason - if I win, lose or draw a match and then it crashes for whatever reason, I just use that feature until I get the same result again.

I'm with you - I certainly couldn't have lived with winning promotion if I'd lost the final the first time around.... great season though.

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7 minutes ago, CityAndColour said:

I downloaded an instant result skin for this exact reason - if I win, lose or draw a match and then it crashes for whatever reason, I just use that feature until I get the same result again.

I'm with you - I certainly couldn't have lived with winning promotion if I'd lost the final the first time around.... great season though.

I'm actually playing on FMT, which has IR natively, but I agree. I save before basically every match for that reason. I've had too many crashes that ruin a whole month for me to not save early and often. Yeah, it would make it easier to save scum, but ease of recovering from a crash is more important to me than people accusing me of that.

 

I have an IR skin on full FM as well, which I use regularly. For my top team saves, such as Arsenal, I find the development of players way more interesting than the minutiae of tactics tweaking for every match, so I speed through seasons with IR. It's not perfect for that, but it works.

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600694487_RFCheader.jpg.9d3473dc3f41e5de75f92004f8b81d0d.jpg

Part 11

Veljko has endured/survived two months in the top flight with Reading - but it's been a very tough period indeed :idiot:

Newly promoted Bournemouth gave an ideal opportunity to get off to a good start, but it took a late equaliser to earn a point in one of those few games we 'might' win

Chelsea away was as one-sided as the 4-0 would suggest, but the major disappointment so far was allowing Harry Kane to equalise after 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Spurs

Man City, Liverpool and Wolves all claimed three points without conceding - but the second of two good Cup wins set up another 'winnable' league game against Leeds

Two early goals put Veljko's side well in control and it was 3-0 after 31 minutes - but a couple of late goals for the visitors made it a nervous ending

However, points are all that matter - and this 3-2 win could (possibly) help the boys confidence grow as they attempt to make the big step up in class

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The win over Leeds has lifted the team from the foot of the table, but of course it's just one win and it could be some time before another comes along

In the last three games it became clear the side had to abandon the 4231 for an asymmetrical 433 with one DM and a playmaker at AML shifted one step narrower 

In other news, two former Reading managers have returned to the club - Steve Coppell as DOF and Mark Bowen as a Coach for the first team

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1 hour ago, Jogo Bonito said:

t's been a very tough period indeed

But to be expected, I think. No shame in losing to Chelsea and Liverpool, and the other results are heartening. I've seen worse - heck, I've managed worse :lol:

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2 minutes ago, warlock said:

But to be expected, I think. No shame in losing to Chelsea and Liverpool, and the other results are heartening. I've seen worse - heck, I've managed worse :lol:

Yeah, fair point. Chelsea, Tottenham, Man City, Liverpool was a rather cruel set of consecutive fixtures. 

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3 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

a rather cruel set of consecutive fixtures

Usually seems to go one of two ways - either you get an easy introduction that lulls you into a false sense of security, or you get the tough start that makes you question your team, your tactics, yourself. It all shakes out after a while and by Christmas you'll know where you really stand :thup:

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1 minute ago, warlock said:

Usually seems to go one of two ways - either you get an easy introduction that lulls you into a false sense of security, or you get the tough start that makes you question your team, your tactics, yourself. It all shakes out after a while and by Christmas you'll know where you really stand :thup:

Christmas real time? :lol:

Congrats on your easy promotion by the way. Is the next level just one down from National North?

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2 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Is the next level just one down from National North?

No, there are few more steps on the journey - Northern League Div 1, then Northern Premier, then Vanorama North, so two more promotions after this one.

Durham City, April 2021

Despite my natural pessimism, in light of our fantastic season even I had quiety begun to wonder how early we might get the title tied up. Last game of March, turned out to be the answer. A 26pt lead, with our rivals having 8 games to play while we had a game in hand. I seriously doubt I'll ever see a season like this again. Results for February and March:

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We didn't quite sweep our enemies before us - the likes of Chester-le-Street and Birtley gave us a run for our money - but the lads never flinched. We're still scoring at a rate just under 4 goals a game, while we're conceding just under 1 per game. Charlie Ball continues to enjoy a season for the ages, but everyone is doing their bit. We have three Bermudan internationals in the squad - GK Hunt, CM Bascombe and ST Tyrell - and all were missing for the last two games of March but their backups came in and we never missed a beat.

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The only real cloud on the horizon is the finances - we've dipped into the red for the first time this season (although we'd have been far worse off without good runs in the various FA trophies, and we're now in the semi-finals of the FA Vase - a trip to Wembley would surely put some cash in the bank). Beyond that (here comes that pessimism again) I have to wonder how much longer we can keep this up, especially now that the title is in the bag. A vague FM ambition has always an 'invincible' season; I've never even dreamed of a perfect season. To be so close now means every game has me on the edge of my seat, but I certainly expect the squad to lose some focus and determination for the remainder of our games.

For now, let's just enjoy our success :cool:

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27 minutes ago, warlock said:

Durham City, April 2021

Despite my natural pessimism, in light of our fantastic season even I had quiety begun to wonder how early we might get the title tied up. Last game of March, turned out to be the answer. A 26pt lead, with our rivals having 8 games to play while we had a game in hand. I seriously doubt I'll ever see a season like this again. Results for February and March:

We didn't quite sweep our enemies before us - the likes of Chester-le-Street and Birtley gave us a run for our money - but the lads never flinched. We're still scoring at a rate just under 4 goals a game, while we're conceding just under 1 per game. Charlie Ball continues to enjoy a season for the ages, but everyone is doing their bit. We have three Bermudan internationals in the squad - GK Hunt, CM Bascombe and ST Tyrell - and all were missing for the last two games of March but their backups came in and we never missed a beat.

The only real cloud on the horizon is the finances - we've dipped into the red for the first time this season (although we'd have been far worse off without good runs in the various FA trophies, and we're now in the semi-finals of the FA Vase - a trip to Wembley would surely put some cash in the bank). Beyond that (here comes that pessimism again) I have to wonder how much longer we can keep this up, especially now that the title is in the bag. A vague FM ambition has always an 'invincible' season; I've never even dreamed of a perfect season. To be so close now means every game has me on the edge of my seat, but I certainly expect the squad to lose some focus and determination for the remainder of our games.

For now, let's just enjoy our success :cool:

That is, quite literally, perfect. You'll be in the same league as York soon (by the time I pick that up again probably). Great work sir and good luck on the 100% target.

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@Dave92Welcome, a former Valiant I sense? I like your appraisal of the squad, I think we're pretty realistic in FM, crap :lol: Unfortunately though, some of our actual best players, Worrall and Rodney are pretty near unusable for how poor they seem to be and McKirdy is represented much better despite not really being near the first team. Also, not a bad start, being on the edge of the playoffs, I got far too frustrated when I ever started as Vale.

@hasdgfasUnlucky on the playoff final, that truly sucks. I'm sure you'll come back better next time around.

@Jogo BonitoThat is some rough fixtures dude, half expecting those results really. I know you can take that Leeds result and turn it into a run to get you out of that bottom three!

@warlockAre you not getting bored yet :lol:

Sheffield Wednesday pre-season update coming tomorrow, been a lot busier than intended as always :hammer:

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30 minutes ago, oakesypvfc said:

Are you not getting bored yet :lol:

Nope... it's endlessly engrossing, wondering if we'll succumb to a devastating draw :lol:

10 minutes ago, CityAndColour said:

what sort of team talks are you using?

Before the game, usually one of "impress me" or "we're favourites - show them why". If we're in good form (:D) and firm favourites, "I expect a win". Only in cup games if we're at home, "give the fans a performance". Often, I don't do a pre-match talk if we're playing well and the squad isn't looking complacent. At bigger clubs, I often go with "show the media they're right to back you" but down at this level the media doesn't give a monkey's.

Generally, I don't pay much attention to team talks - if we're playing well I'll say so; if we're playing badly I'll ask for better performances unless morale is tanked in which case I try to be encouraging and positive. I don't use the gestures much except at half time when a poor performance might get a finger pointing, or a good one merits the outstretched arms. For me, team talks are about managing mentality - boosting confidence, maintaining morale, heading off complacency.

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14 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

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Part 11

Veljko has endured/survived two months in the top flight with Reading - but it's been a very tough period indeed :idiot:

Newly promoted Bournemouth gave an ideal opportunity to get off to a good start, but it took a late equaliser to earn a point in one of those few games we 'might' win

Chelsea away was as one-sided as the 4-0 would suggest, but the major disappointment so far was allowing Harry Kane to equalise after 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Spurs

Man City, Liverpool and Wolves all claimed three points without conceding - but the second of two good Cup wins set up another 'winnable' league game against Leeds

Two early goals put Veljko's side well in control and it was 3-0 after 31 minutes - but a couple of late goals for the visitors made it a nervous ending

However, points are all that matter - and this 3-2 win could (possibly) help the boys confidence grow as they attempt to make the big step up in class

1134966197_ReadingFixtures2.1.png.75ebe83f5ffd61240c6c9e57468abab2.png

The win over Leeds has lifted the team from the foot of the table, but of course it's just one win and it could be some time before another comes along

In the last three games it became clear the side had to abandon the 4231 for an asymmetrical 433 with one DM and a playmaker at AML shifted one step narrower 

In other news, two former Reading managers have returned to the club - Steve Coppell as DOF and Mark Bowen as a Coach for the first team

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Tough isn’t it! 
 

I brought in a few ex reading players.

liam kelly

jake cooper

tarique fosu

im 15th in November, I’ve got some decent draws against city, Everton and the only team I’ve been battered by is Liverpool 6-0!

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Halfway through this season, how are we looking?

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We should be leading by more, honestly, with our goals for, against, and GD. But we've split it weird. Several big wins, but also 3 0-0 and 3 1-1 draws. I am disappointed with those. If we can turn some of those into wins in the second half of the season, we should win the League. Hopefully we don't have another late-season fade.

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1st place vs 24th place, I'm just pleased we didn't somehow manage to lose the game.

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Anyway, I'm not too upset with this result, since we are just running away with the league one title.

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8 minutes ago, dastrokes88 said:

1st place vs 24th place, I'm just pleased we didn't somehow manage to lose the game

Can't believe you didn't win that! Looks like their keeper had the game of his life :eek:. On the other hand, you should have the title wrapped up in a week or two :lol:

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6 hours ago, John Joe O'toole said:

Tough isn’t it! 
 

I brought in a few ex reading players.

liam kelly

jake cooper

tarique fosu

im 15th in November, I’ve got some decent draws against city, Everton and the only team I’ve been battered by is Liverpool 6-0!

Indeed it is tough!

I've chosen not to try and re-sign former Reading players but do like Cooper. 15th is plenty good enough, you can celebrate if that position is maintained.

As you saw, I have already had a few hammerings - but was very unlucky not to beat Tottenham with their 90th minute breakaway point-snatcher.

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Image result for blyth spartans

SEASON REVIEW 2027/28

Well, we had another rough late season, even if it did come after a run of 7 straight League wins.

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Would that good run give us enough breathing room to take the title instead of having to struggle through the playoffs?

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Barely, but yes! Up again, quicker than expected. Next season will be tough, but with only two relegation spots, we hopefully just have to be not complete garbage. Not sure how many of our players have the quality to step up a level

A couple things of note:

1) I am now a club icon at Blyth, which seems fair.

2) We had the second and third top goalscorers in the League, which really helped. Best defense in the League surely helped as well.image.thumb.png.4000be8a8e7c2ec9463afede28715313.png

---------

Now, I want to talk about a few of my favorite players in the squad who helped us become an EFL side, before I likely make broad changes in L2.

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Nathan Watson joined us the season we started in the VNL, coming on a free from Rotherham, and was a goalscoring machine for us. League tallies of 20, 19, and 25. He was an absolute bully for VNL level. I'm not sure he can make the jump, but he's an icon to me, even if the game doesn't agree.

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Grant Gardner is an academy player from a few seasons back. I started to give him chances last season after noticing his impressive physical attributes and some solid technicals for this level. I don't expect to keep him around much longer, as teams as high up as Premier League's Fulham are sniffing around(Fulham are going down to the Championship this season, but still). Maybe not a super high average rating, but a solid performer. And I love a good academy player.

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The Captain. He has been with us since 2022/23 when we plucked him off fellow VNN side Guiseley. I love him, even if the coaches don't

 

Edited by hasdgfas
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Also I guess this is happening.

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I'm concerned about the effect on our finances, especially with the need to step up our player quality in L2. I didn't push for this earlier because we weren't selling out, but I guess that doesn't matter in the EFL.

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@hasdgfas exciting times indeed! Always gotta love anything stadium improving!You’ve really worked your magic at Blyth. Always seemed to have a save myself with them on previous editions. With the legendary Robbie Dale in their squad!! Keep going though, loving the updates!

Edited by goonergez
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Port Vale - Part 3: Season 1, November & December

Third update for you here and it is pretty safe to say that large parts November and December were months to forget. Fortunes in the cup were better than the league and after the Walsall game we had slumped to 16th, nearer the relegation zone than promotion chances. Thankfully a slight upturn at the end of the month, prompted by a change in tactic. As before, find full report below.

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October had ended on a miserable note with defeats against Cheltenham and Southend in the league, and November didn't start any better with a 1-0 defeat at home to Scunthorpe. In fairness, they were the runaway league leaders at this stage, but it was another blank for us in front of goal.

The cup gaves us a break from our recent league struggles, and we navigated through the first round with a 1-0 win over National League South team Weymouth. Far from convincing but Rodney's goal was enough. Injuries were not helping, we had missed Mark Cullen for 5 weeks with a groin strain, and low and behold he returned to training and his groin went again, another month on the sideline for the striker I hoped would lead his line. Robinson, Brown and Oyeleke also all picked up short term injuries around this time to add to the problems, although I do have a decent sized squad thankfully.

Next we had a double header v Tranmere, first in the final game in the group stages of the Papa John's Trophy. We needed a win and we turned it around late on, Rodney scoring again, whilst Robinson (who had been frankly hopeless) finally scored his first goal for the club, but did get injured in the process. We snuck through and would play Lincoln in the second round. In the league we repeated the same 2-1 scoreline to round off a good week, Pope at the double this time.

The mini revival was short lived though and 3 straight league defeats followed. Rather than scoring, Pope got sent off v Newport for a horrible two footed lunge, although we were already 2-0 down at the time, adding to my striker shortage with Cullen still sidelined. Generally the defence was not bad, with Smith & Thomas typically at the heart of it, but we kept conceding the odd goal and losing. The FA Cup did give us some good news though as Rodney & Oyeleke scored as we beat Grimsby (who had earlier knocked us out of the League Cup), and drew Leicester away in the third round.

Worryingly, we were on TV next in the league v Bolton. They dominated, took the lead and looked comfortable before a calamitous own goal saw their keeper kick it straight at their centre back and for it to hilariously trickle in from 20 yards. Luck was on our side and Montano then grabbed a late winner to give us a valuable 3 points and hopefully spark a revival of form.

Sadly that was optimistic and we lurched back into old habits with a draw and 3 losses in the next 4 games. For the second time this season we lost a penalty shootout, this time in the second round of the Papa John's Trophy, whilst the only bright sparks were an Oyeleke wondergoal in the first minute v Forest Green and the return of Cullen from the bench against Walsall. 

After the Walsall game we sat a lowly and disappointing 16th and were clearly on a downwards trajectory, it was time for a rethink. We had one new signing to work with as English left back Vashon Neufville was brought in from previously playing in the Canadian leagues. He has pace and is left footed, a rarity in our squad and should be a very good option both now and in the future in that position. Prior to this youngsters Robins and Campbell-Gordon had both been sent out on loan.

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As mentioned in my first post, I had followed my assistant's advice tactics wise, but that was not working. So after the Walsall game we had a complete overhaul, I would do it my way. No more cautious counter-attacking, I wanted to play high intensity attacking football. We switched to an incredibly high intensity gegenpress, based around retaining possession, short passing and winning the ball high up the pitch, all based on the same 4-3-3 formation but now with a positive mentality. I wanted pace, fitness, work rate and determination in my players, and those who couldn't hack that in my squad would be sidelined.

Barrow at home seemed an ideal time to try it, it couldn't get any worse than before, and the difference was remarkable. We were dominant 3-0 winners with 63% and Cullen, Rodney and Smith on the scoresheet. Bradford Away promised to be tougher, but I stuck with the same positive tactics and we won 3-1. 2020 finished on a positive note, lifting us up to mid table with 30 points from the first 21 games. In the next few posts, we'll see how 2021 went.

One of the first priorities would be signing a striker, and I had exactly the person I wanted in mind.

 

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17 minutes ago, dastrokes88 said:

First trophy of my career - the pizza cup! Wish we can play the last year final vs Salford like irl tho.

 

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it's a trophy!

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1 hour ago, Jogo Bonito said:

How many did your Durham striker get?

Don't think I can access the early form for his first 11 competitive games for a straight comparison, but here's Charlie Ball's season so far (with 7 games to play):

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Is that Mr Scott from Hebburn in your screengrab? I did take a look when you mentioned him and he got off to a flying start this season but I just checked and he's been awful since - just 11 goals in 34 appearances. He must have a great manager at York :D

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1 minute ago, warlock said:

Don't think I can access the early form for his first 11 competitive games for a straight comparison, but here's Charlie Ball's season so far (with 7 games to play):

image.thumb.png.a5c89fe74f37e619c9c24efb3cbbd227.png

Is that Mr Scott from Hebburn in your screengrab? I did take a look when you mentioned him and he got off to a flying start this season but I just checked and he's been awful since - just 11 goals in 34 appearances. He must have a great manager at York :D

Ah, my guy is never going to match that. Not a bad start for a few leagues higher though. Not Cedwyn Scott in the image - he has only had 27 minutes so far as I still cannot shift Jack Redshaw.

You may be right about the great manager at York. I think that was years ago though? I've lost a few early on, but have recently climbed to a season-high 2nd. My ace striker has missed the last three games injured...

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1 hour ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Ah, my guy is never going to match that

I've never had a striker, at any level, who could match that. I can't get over how well we've played this season - said it before, but I doubt I'll ever have another like it. 

I've got a couple of games left for the season and I might fire up a York save for a bit of variety... keep you company for a while :).

I'm curious about Redshaw. Is it just a personality clash or something else? I managed him somewhere last year - maybe Darlington? - and he seemed like a decent player at the VNN level.

Edit to add: We've got our trip to Wembley - just beat Greenwich Borough in the FA Vase semi-final :cool:. No idea what might come of it, but I'm hoping for a decent bit of gate money.

Edited by warlock
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44 minutes ago, warlock said:

I've never had a striker, at any level, who could match that. I can't get over how well we've played this season - said it before, but I doubt I'll ever have another like it. 

I've got a couple of games left for the season and I might fire up a York save for a bit of variety... keep you company for a while :).

I'm curious about Redshaw. Is it just a personality clash or something else? I managed him somewhere last year - maybe Darlington? - and he seemed like a decent player at the VNN level.

Edit to add: We've got our trip to Wembley - just beat Greenwich Borough in the FA Vase semi-final :cool:. No idea what might come of it, but I'm hoping for a decent bit of gate money.

Well you have had a once in a lifetime season. Sure, see you in York when you're ready. Good luck lifting the Vase :lol:

Redshaw has a decent record over the years but I don't want a 5'4" striker at my club. He earns good wages and had a sale value so it made sense to sell him. I believe he is also injury prone (IRL too), not that I have let him on the pitch yet.

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Port Vale - Part 4: Season 1, January 2021

At this stage we were firmly established as a mid-table League Two side, our form had been patchy at best but a change of tactic had brought an upturn to finish 2020. The arrival of the January transfer window, saw me seek a couple of targets. Like before, I wanted to keep this as realistic as possible, so this was far from the stage from a major overhaul. There was just one departure, Shaun Brisley moving to Scunthorpe on a free transfer. He was my fifth choice centre back and not going to improve, so freed up some extra wages. 

Incoming there were two additions, a versatile midfielder who had formerly played for Vale and the much coveted forward who my scouts had identified and who I had decided was my number one target. We moved quickly in January for our striker and I was delighted to get my number one target, bringing in the largely unknown Jaden Thompson-Brissett from Dagenham & Redbridge. Only 19 at the time, the pacy striker who had previously been on the books of Norwich and Brentford, had scored 8 times in 14 appearances in the National League. I liked his attributes and saw genuine potential of someone to develop. He would compete with Cullen for the role of main striker. At £11.75k he was a very low risk option and I was happy, interested to hear if anyone else has tried him at all.

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Later in the window we brought in our second acquisition in the former of former Vale man Luke Hannant. Hannant was always a player I had liked and thought was wrongly released. He wasn't willing to sign a new contract at Cambridge, so was angling for a move, and he returned to the Potteries for a meagre sum of £5k, seemed a bargain really. Technically he is not the greatest, but I really like his physical and mental attributes and feel he is someone I can trust. With a small budget, I feel it is important to sign players who fit the way I want to play, and his stamina, fitness and work rate fit the high intensity gegenpress I intended to play perfectly.

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Onto the pitch, January was a very positive month with 13 points out of 15 lifting us up into playoff contention. We lost in the FA Cup but there was no shame on that. Results below, along with more detailed report as ever.

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Our newfound high intensity positive gegenpress continued to be used through January, and we started the season with a third straight win v Mansfield, Worrall & Cullen the scorers. A 0-0 draw followed at home to high flying Grimsby, before we were dumped out of the FA Cup by Leicester at the third round. We continued to try to play our positive attacking football and created a few openings, but they played a very strong side and had too much quality. Fofana and Vardy both scored just before half time, Worrall was sent off with 15 minutes left and Vardy added a third late on. No shame in the defeat though and a good money earner.

The FA Cup did not dent our league form as we finished the month with three straight wins. Brissett-Thompson made his debut from the bench against Forest Green, whilst Cullen continued his super form with both goals. The unsung hero though was keeper Scott Brown who made a string of super saves as the hosts were actually the better team on the day. Hannant made his debut against Walsall and it was a day to remember as he produced a man of the match performance scoring twice, with Cullen, Amoo and loanee Williams also on the scoresheet as we thrashed a struggling Walsall side. 

The month finished with another resounding win. I had been somewhat embarrassed to lose to Southend earlier in the season, but we got revenge here with a thumping 4-0 win. Cullen scored again, Thompson-Brissett came off the bench and scored twice in two minutes to bag his first goals for his new club and first goals in the football league and Rodney rounded off the scoring.

Overall an excellent month, the new tactic was working excellently and everything seemed much more positive. Unwanted players had been sidelined to play for the u23s including Robinson, the underperforming and grumbling Mckirdy and club legened Pope. As I vowed to back in December, I would do it my way, and so far my way was working!

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So.

At my last update, we were plodding along nicely in the top 6.

Thats how we finished, and, had a disappointing 3-2 defeat in the playoffs to Watford, despite battering the Hornets for most of the 2nd leg.

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We didn't score enough goals in the end, with Robin Hack finishing as top scorer from left wing, with 10 goals, a fantastic return from the young German. January arrival Franco Troyansky was the next highest scorer, with 7 in 18, despite having a 10 game period without scoring, although Niko Spalek and Alex Mighten also contributed the same number of goals, with the Slovak midfielder also providing 9 assists.

In the run in, things weren't helped by first choice keeper Brice Samba going down with an elbow injury, which ended his season at the beginning of April. Jordan Smith, a decent back up, was in for the remainder of the season, but, the difference told.

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German Full back, Tim Handwerker won both Fans Player, and Young Player of the season. The only blot on his copybook this year, being a sending off in the Playoff Semi first leg.

The board meeting at the end of the season provided a welcome surprise, as it appears that the board are happy with my efforts this season, and want us to build on it, even if it means we don't reach the playoffs.

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In terms of recruitment, a new goalkeeper to back up Samba is needed, although, if the interest in him from Germany becomes real, I may need to go after 2 keepers.

We also lack some depth at right back, and up front, so thats going to get looked at, and with Lukas Mai coming in, that is a big bonus for the centre of defence, and allows us to look at a potential change in formation to 3 at the back.

 

 

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Clitheroe 2022/23

Quick update from me. Just made it to the half way point of my third season. We are absolutely flying again. We have played a few games less than those around us because I really focussed on the cups. The money generated is essential. I've just snagged Dane Scarlett on loan from Spurs under 23s and he has 7 goals in 3 games. Injuries are taking their toll with a lot of gaps in my strongest XI being constantly filled by some of my youth players, who are abysmal. I'm expecting us to slide away. The quality of players being offered up, Scarlett aside, has been poor lately. I am trying to add a new scout to help with this. 

 

 

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First bit of transfer business for me.. Byrne threw his dolly out of the pram at being stuck behind Spalek in midfield.

Good job Werder came in :D

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Also attracting interest was Nikolas Spalek, from relegated Southampton.

A nice profit on offer here, even with the fee to pay to Brescia.

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So.

A couple of outgoings, Lukas Mai coming in, and potentially a couple more. 

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First signing of the window confirmed, and 19 year old Dutch goalkeeper Tein Troost agrees a 3 year deal to join from Feyenoord for £3m.

The Dutch U21 goalkeeper appeared in several Europa League and Eredivisie matches, which has seen him displace Justin Biljow in the side at De Kuip. He'll provide solid backup for Brice Samba, with the intention of replacing him in the first team in the next 18 months.

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Next to sign is Argentinian 21 year old winger/striker, Benjamín Rollheiser, for a fee that will reach £3.35m. He has been on the fringes of the first team at River, and appeared in the COPA Libertadores this last season. He'll play on the right hand side of the attacking trio, replacing Oliver Burke who was out of reach financially for us.

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After Rollheiser, the right back role was strengthened, with German youth international Luca Campanile making the move from Schalke 04, who had finished at the bottom end of the Bundesliga, and just survived relegation via the playoff.

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Its my intention to replace the departing Spalek, with Brennan Johnson, who has been having a great season at Lincoln, and is ready to step up.

The 5th signing of the window, is 16 year old striker Tommy Rich from Luton. He was picked up by one of my scouts during a post youth intake trip, and signed immediately for us.

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Great progress with the Valiants @Dave92, hopefully you can get us back up where we belong, maybe bring some more former players back, Joe Davis and Jennison maybe :P

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Sheffield Wednesday - Championship - Pre-season Update 2025/26

After our somewhat successful top half finish last season, I knew not much was needed for us to improve enough to challenge for a playoff spot this time around. The first deals on the table were the extensions of last seasons loans of Whitaker, Swann and Laird, a good base for the squad. 

First through the door for us was former loanee Leighton Clarkson, who signed on a free from Liverpool, on a 3k a year deal, signing the 24 year old was a no brainer. Next up, we wrapped up a deal for Francisco Jesus Contell, whom I think could be a star in the making, after his release from Villarreal. Yann Eteki was the first player we spent money on this window, coming from Genoa for £800k, he brings us a younger and significant upgrade on the aging Mendy. Kion Etete was next through the door, providing competition for Lebrun Swann for the lone striker position and former loanee and Man United academy player Ethan Galbraith joined us on a free as our main playmaker in the midfield.

The next two transfers in were mainly focussed towards the future as Pascal-Fraisse came in after his release from Villarreal and Ivan Galesic comes in for £300k from Unterhaching. Galesic doesn't have a work permit currently but hopefully after some first team football out on loan, we will be able to get him one. Our final transfer of the window was probably the best as Gaetano Oristanio comes in after his release from Inter Milan. He rejected Charlton in favour of us and signs on a four year deal, I have high hopes for him.

The outgoings door was far busier than the incomings this season, as we managed to raise a massive £12.5 million from sales. After a disappointing one year stay with us, George McEachran departed for Brentford for £3 million. Elijah Adebayo signed for Peterborough for £500k, giving us a 100% profit on him and former no.3 keeper Sinisalo left for £300k, to mention a few. The main sale though was of 20 year old Irishman Brian Coughlan. After signing from The New Saints for £5k in 2023, he played just two first team games for us, but Norwich must see some potential in him to sign him from us for a huge £8 million, potentially rising to £11.5 million, with a 50% sell on fee. I really did not see this one coming.

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Overall, I am delighted with our dealings and to make such a huge profit is a massive bonus. I think we are ready to make our attack on a potential playoff place this season with our newly added firepower.

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A few tweaks on our tactic and we are firing on all cylinders in pre-season, going unbeaten through a mix of different level tests, giving us confidence going into our opening run of games.

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Not too bad a start for us. We begin with a trip to Birmingham before hosting recently relegated Newcastle, which will be a good challenge for us. We drew Morecambe in the EFL Cup, which I expect a win from. I hope we can hit the ground running.

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Sheffield Wednesday Honours

League Two Champions 2022/23
League One Champions 2023/24

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Finally finished reading through all of this thread, which inspired me to post in the first place. Some great posts and stories of brilliant successes with a whole range of clubs. Hoping I can add to that with my Port Vale stories and that you have enjoyed my updates so far, will aim to post next one tomorrow and keep them coming over the next week or so until I am up to date with where I am now.

@oakesypvfc - I'm trying to keep it as realistic as possible as you say Vale wise. Worrall and Rodney have both done alright in the story so far and been regular players. They have stats that tend to fit the way I now want to play, even if their ratings are not great on FM. McKirdy on other hand has really good stats and potential, but every time he played he was hopeless. His lack of determination and work rate really annoyed me and we quickly ended up falling out over lack of playing time, despite him contributing very little and him being one of the worst in training. Similar story with Robinson in truth as well, who FM rate as my best forward but delivered nothing when he played. 

@Jogo Bonito - Thanks for the kind comments, glad you are enjoying the first updates. Been great to read about all of your various successes.

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52 minutes ago, Dave92 said:

Finally finished reading through all of this thread, which inspired me to post in the first place. Some great posts and stories of brilliant successes with a whole range of clubs. Hoping I can add to that with my Port Vale stories and that you have enjoyed my updates so far, will aim to post next one tomorrow and keep them coming over the next week or so until I am up to date with where I am now.

@oakesypvfc - I'm trying to keep it as realistic as possible as you say Vale wise. Worrall and Rodney have both done alright in the story so far and been regular players. They have stats that tend to fit the way I now want to play, even if their ratings are not great on FM. McKirdy on other hand has really good stats and potential, but every time he played he was hopeless. His lack of determination and work rate really annoyed me and we quickly ended up falling out over lack of playing time, despite him contributing very little and him being one of the worst in training. Similar story with Robinson in truth as well, who FM rate as my best forward but delivered nothing when he played. 

@Jogo Bonito - Thanks for the kind comments, glad you are enjoying the first updates. Been great to read about all of your various successes.

Thanks, and yes your posts are good to read (as with so many others). The good thing about the thread is the variety of teams and challenges. Keep up the good work and maybe once things are rolling in Burslem you can improve your squad by snatching some players from the bigger local clubs like Crewe ;)

I've got a career with Reading plus an unpublished story with York. And I like to have 'something different' to break the English monopoly so I will also be launching a first-time attempt managing in Italy soon too.

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Mid-season Report

 

Unfortunately before the season had even begun there was some devastating injury news. Midfield linchpin Matty James had torn his ankle ligaments and would be out for at least 3 months!

It was certainly a tetchy September; 2 red cards in 4 games, neither of which were for Barnsley players. An Adam Idah masterclass resulted in a disappointing opening day loss to Luton.

We quickly hit form away from home with a fantastic victories over Reading and Boro, either side of a snooze-fest at home to Coventry.

I was content with our work going into the first international break.

A stunning first half display at Oakwell against Bristol City secured our first home win of the season, Conor Chaplin has been a surprise package with regards to his goal contribution, notching 3 goals in 5 games!

 

However this would be our last win for over a month! 3 goals in 6 games left us relying on some sturdy defensive performances in order to rack up any points at all.

As much as I have attempted to play in a way that I believe gives us the best chance of tallying enough points to survive, it has proven to be a hard watch, there have been some turgid displays, to put it politely!

The counter attacking style of play is also not suited to our attacking players, both Chaplin and Woodrow have the "Likes ball played into feet" and "Comes deep to get the ball" PPM.

This in my opinion makes them unideal candidates for the Advanced forward role, considering I want them to stretch the opposition defence and their innate propensity to do the exact opposite. Something which was deeply unpopular among Barnsley fans was seeing Woodrow utilised as a number 10 behind two number 9s. I was quite a fan of this move, he's a goalscorer, the kind of player who does nothing in a game yet still scores. So naturally you'd want him upfront but in my opinion he's the kind of player who needs a lot of protection and mainly a target man next to him. In League 1 Kieffer Moore was exactly that, unfortunately we don't have that kind of player. But watch this space!

Emiliano Marcondes sent the home fans into a frenzy of limbs as he casually stroked a 25 yard free kick 5 minutes into added time. And also found a late equaliser against Brentford to cancel out the opener from ex-reds loanee Ivan Toney.

The summer signing is proving his worth!

Chaplin continued his hot-streak against Blackburn and Brum. Bagging a brace in both games, this moved him to 3rd in the top scorer list!

Premier League bound Bournemouth proved a step too far for the young Reds side.

 

I spoke earlier about tactics and I'm pleased to report that the 4-1-3-2 has proved to be a dependable tactic, without Matty James available the half-back role has been filled in by centre back Aapo Halme, he's even chipped in with a few goals from corners!

 Clarke Odour and the afore Conor Chaplin have without doubt been our star players, Odour chipping in with 5 assists and Chaplin with 9 goals.

Overall a great start to the season 11 points above the drop zone! A nice gap already, considering pre-season ambitions!

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Finally finished our record shattering season in league one, unbeaten in league after the 2 losses earlier in the season. The next season's budget is out and we've been given 2.8m as transfer budget and 117,000k/w as wage budget, very excited to get into the transfer business since it will be my first proper transfer window (first season transfer disabled and didn't have new signing in winter window). Some of our key player like John Marquis, Tom Naylor are already showing signs of decline so the main aim to to sign some hopefully younger Championship caliber player.

 

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Here is our first signing that get me very excited, get in for free from SPFL side Motherwell, but have to pay 8k/w and 150+k fees to secure his service. He's definetely a Championship level ball winning MF, and wth age of 22 and my scout report, I expect him to potentially be part of our PL squad in the near future (hopefully!)

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Heading into the final two matches...

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Since our blistering start (10-1-0) we have struggled to put together anygreat runs of form - always picking up consistent points but no run of wins that would get us back into title contention. Consecutive wins over the top two however has sealed third spot, and we play Hendon (a) and Walton (h) to close out the season, so we should get a good look at whoever our first round playoff opponent ends up being (unless Truro sneaks in).

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2021/22 - Yate Town - Southern Premier South

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League Summary (3rd, lost in playoff semi)

After finishing a comfortable third, we hosted Hendon in the playoff semi, who we had just beaten a fortnight earlier. An even game started with them scoring after three minutes, us equalising in the 89th and then losing a penalty shoot-out 9-8. Thankfully, I will see the back of WSM, who managed to triumph in the final after extra time.

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Key Performers

It was the same three attackers who drove us this season. Aaron Ward-Baptiste netted 29 times, although fell off the boil in the last month, while Ricardo Rees (19 goals and 9 assists) continued to make the right wing his own - unfortunately, he tore his thigh between the final game and the playoff semi, which really cost us. Ollie Mehew (17 goals and 7 assists) completed the trio and captain Cam Healey provided 17 assists as a deep-lying playmaker.

Player of the season however was Matt Bower, with the centre half's average rating of 7.35 good for second in the division, while I also picked up the manager of the season gong.

Next season

Gotta be promotion. The summer will be about quality over quantity. I tend to play a small squad and a settled XI which can be to my detriment when form slumps occur, so a couple of additional top line players would be great.

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