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FM21: The English Football League thread


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Welcomed my players back for preseason, and I got a surprise from one of my U18s..

Turns out he has shot up 2 'stars' since April, and is now really highly rated by my coaches. Think his improvement from what I've seen here, is pretty good.

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Need to get him a face sorted though.

 

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Go forth and prosper, young man (I'm going to cheekily try to get him on loan for the rest of the season):

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Pretty good deal for someone from our Youth Academy who came through while we were still VNN

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1 minute ago, hasdgfas said:

Go forth and prosper, young man (I'm going to cheekily try to get him on loan for the rest of the season):

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Pretty good deal for someone from our Youth Academy who came through while we were still VNN

End of the day, at the level you're at, that sort of money keeps you ticking over for a couple of years anyway.

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1 minute ago, robterrace said:

End of the day, at the level you're at, that sort of money keeps you ticking over for a couple of years anyway.

Yep, that's why the board accepted it. It's just always hard to see an Academy player who came up two divisions with you leave.

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Good to see so many reports here - congratulations and commiserations where appropriate. I've been a bit busy for the last couple of days - let's just say my student daughter has had a long and repeated lecture on the importance of regular backups while her father has done tedious battle with a badgered Windows file system :seagull:

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11 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

@CityAndColourSo unlucky, it's really tough to escape these leagues. Best of luck for the next season, it's your time!

Yeah I'm starting to get flashbacks to my Tonbridge struggles last year! I do love a good non-league slog though, nothing turns me off a save more than getting a bunch of promotions in quick succession.

I did manage to sign a couple of very good players in Marcus Dinanga (FC, former Stevenage) and James Ball (MC, former Solihull and Stockport), as well as the pacy Justin Amaluzor (former Maidstone), so the squad is looking fairly strong.

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Durham City, season 1 complete

With four league games remaining I was nervously looking to our perfect 100% record. Our final two games were against our toughest rivals, the teams sitting in 2nd and 3rd place but... we didn't make it that far. Redcar turned up at our place for what should have been one of the easiest games of the runout and we found ourselves 3-0 down before we finally woke up and made a contest of it. We found the equaliser with 15 minutes to go but couldn't make further in-roads and it ended in a draw - our first (and only) dropped points of the season :(.

But while one dream died, another survived:

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We did get our trip to Wembley where we faced Chatham in the FA Vase final. Unfortunately, we couldn't add another trophy to the cabinet. Despite battling to a late 3-3 equaliser, we were denied when the ref somehow conjured up 5 added minutes and then added another to allow Chatham to score a 96th minute winner with the last kick of the game. At least we made a decent payday from prize and gate money. In total, we made around £50k in prize money across the season, which has been huge for the club.

More good news followed:

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We're back in the city :thup:

There were few surprises in terms of player performances. Charlie Ball finished with 41 league goals, and 52 in all competitions. Strike partner Tevahn Tyrell finished with 28 goals and 21 assists. Others of note include 19-year-old CB Kwame Osigwe who was a rock in central defence, new signing Ellis Hudson who provided a combined 21 goals and assists from left wing, and Chris Allen who had a hand in 27 goals from central midfield.

Looking ahead, the board are looking for a mid-table finish and have dug down the back of the sofa to find £8k in transfer budget and an extra £600 a week above what we're currently paying for wages. Almost the entire squad has 'Wanted' status but so far there's little interest from clubs at the Vanorama level. The notable exception is first-choice RW Maurice Kone who has already signed an end-of-contract deal with TOP Oss in his native Holland but otherwise I'm cautiously optimistic about holding on to our best players.

I will be looking to upgrade a few positions, leftback is a particular weakness where my first choice had a poor season and we relied on his 18-year-old backup too often. Kone will need replacing at RW, and there's a question about Pascal Chimbonda at RB - my coaches think he "may be past his best" at the age of 42 :lol:. I'm also looking for someone who is a natural in the DLP role in central midfield - we've done okay with what we have but we don't have anyone with the attributes to be a real creative force.

I don't think there'll be a huge step up in class to Tier 9 - we saw off a number of teams from that level in our various cup matches - but I strongly doubt whether another invincible season is on the cards. Equally, if I can find a couple of quality players to bolster the squad I fancy another run at promotion.

 

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4 minutes ago, oakesypvfc said:

Season is not going great

Sorry to hear that, and you're right - it is a long old season down there, especially when you add in the various cup competitions. Gets even tougher when you can't see progress on and off the pitch. No-one here is going to criticise if the time has come for a new challenge :)

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@warlockThat was an amazing season and like you said, another promotion next year is extremely possible! Sad dropping points to Redcar and losing in the FA Vase Final, but it pales in to insignificance really.

@oakesypvfcOh dear, is it going that bad? Keep the faith - but as a wise old fella said to me recently 'if the fun stops, stop'.

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About a third of the way through our first season as a League team, how's it going?

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It's going very very well, as it turns out. We started out very strongly, but have faded a little bit, as our defense just doesn't seem to have made the step up as well as I would like. They aren't performing well, and my keeper has a lot to do. He's doing it really well, at least.

I also had this exciting moment from the Carabao Cup second round:

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Overall, a hugely successful start to the season. I hope we can keep it up.

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10 minutes ago, hasdgfas said:

a hugely successful start to the season

Yup... can't complain about that. Hopefully you got a bit of money from those cup ties against Leeds and Brighton!

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Port Vale - Part 5: Season 1, February 2021

For the first time in the season, we headed into a new month with a real positive feeling around the club, results and performances going well and a distinctive playing style starting to develop. The question is could we keep it up? The answer, largely so. February was overall another good month, 10 points out of a possible 15 kept us strongly in contention for the playoffs and set up an exciting final two and a bit months of the season. Find results below along with a full story of the month.

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Following three straight victories at the end of January, confidence was high, and the month started with a trip to top of the table Scunthorpe. A daunting propsect but we earned a well deserved point and arguably deserved all three. Cullen's terrific scoring run continued as he opened the scoring after 14 minutes, before Jordan Clarke equalised for the hosts just before half time. A game of few chances, pleased to restrict them to only two shots in the whole game, and spoils shared.

Legge, Rodney and a Thompson-Brissett penalty gave us a comfortable 3-0 victory at home to Newport, all three goals coming in the first half. We then had 20 shots against Tranmere, and Mark Cullen again bagged the crucial winning goal in the 77th minute to make it six unbeaten and 16 points out of a possible 18.

The unbeaten run though was then ended the following weekend away at Leyton Orient, another side chasing a playoff position. Wilkinson opened the scoring for Orient on 45 minutes, before Hannant equalised a minute later in injury time. A tight second half followed but Orient grabbed a winner and probably on the balance a vindicated three points.

The month finished with a return for Luke Hannant to his old club Cambridge. Once again Cullen opened the scoring with his tenth league goal of the season, but our other new signing Jaden Thompson-Brissett stole the show with two goals as a substitute, taking him to five for the club, and leading Vale to a 3-0 win.

We sat poised in and around the playoffs with 16 games to go, could we keep it up? Find out in the coming updates.

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4 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

 

@oakesypvfcOh dear, is it going that bad? Keep the faith - but as a wise old fella said to me recently 'if the fun stops, stop'.

Yeah, it's not great, can't see where next win is coming from. Pretty safe but expected way more. Seriously got to dig up the tactics again. 

Giving it a break for a few days though, got me hella angry last night :lol:

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Hi guys,

Does anyone has idea which club from League two has the best youth academy, with a lot homegrown players? 

Crewe was my favorite , but theye are in higher league at the moment.

Thanks in advance

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@oakesypvfc - Hopefully it will get better. I often find that overcoming the bad spells is the most rewarding part and also more realistic than just constantly winning promotion on promotion.

@hasdgfas - Looks like a great start to life in League 2 for you there with Blyth, really enjoyed your stpry and good on you for reaching October 2028, must be an awful lot of newgen players in the game now, taking away the value of real life knowledge.

@Urke17 - Not certain without researching, but my tip would be Colchester for League Two, they are quite renowned for youth development and have been successful on that in real life. Exeter too, as know a number of people here have played as Exeter, not see a Colchester save on this.

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45 minutes ago, Urke17 said:

Hi guys,

Does anyone has idea which club from League two has the best youth academy, with a lot homegrown players? 

Crewe was my favorite , but theye are in higher league at the moment.

Thanks in advance

Bolton, Colchester and Tranmere would be your best bets.

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12 minutes ago, Dave92 said:

@hasdgfas - Looks like a great start to life in League 2 for you there with Blyth, really enjoyed your stpry and good on you for reaching October 2028, must be an awful lot of newgen players in the game now, taking away the value of real life knowledge.

Yep, lots of newgens, and I prefer a young squad to begin with. I currently have 3 non-newgen players remaining in the squad, and a single player above age 24.

I didn't really have that much real life knowledge at this level to begin with, it's hard to keep up with lower leagues/non-league over here in the US(although ESPN+ is helping a bit, we absolutely wouldn't have gotten to watch matches like Gillingham-Lincoln 5 years ago)

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1 hour ago, Urke17 said:

Hi guys,

Does anyone has idea which club from League two has the best youth academy, with a lot homegrown players? 

Crewe was my favorite , but theye are in higher league at the moment.

Thanks in advance

Exeter and Walsall would be good choices for League 2 teams.

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3 hours ago, Urke17 said:

Hi guys,

Does anyone has idea which club from League two has the best youth academy, with a lot homegrown players? 

Crewe was my favorite , but theye are in higher league at the moment.

Thanks in advance

Exeter and Colchester would be my suggestions.

Definitely not Crawley although their squad is good. They have no HGC players.

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15 minutes ago, oakesypvfc said:

it draws you back in...

Never say die :lol:

17 minutes ago, robterrace said:

Development signing... 

He'd be a star player for almost every side I've managed so far this year :D

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3 hours ago, oakesypvfc said:

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When you think you're down and out, and it draws you back in...

I had a moment with Blyth like this while I was still stuck in VNN. Every save seems to have that "I just won't be able to get over this hump" moment. Get there!

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Finally done with the first transfer window after the expected promotion to Championship, here's our signing, all of them are contract expiration signing besides Viktor Gyökeres and Leif Davis which are on loan.

GK: Cheasea legend Jamal Blackman was released from the club after 15 years of service and without single appearance, although he has no pl appearance, he's a veteran at Championship level, which is what we need as replacement for Craig MacGillivray who was let go.

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DC:

Although I think our defence is the strongest point in our squad with our captain Jack Whatmough and League One POTY Rasmus Nicolaisen on loan from Midtjylland, but I couldn't say no this guy for free from Kilmarnock, really amazing key attributes, I think he can challenge the starting spot with Rasmus Nicolaisen.

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DL: Leif Davis on loan from Leeds to replace previous loanee Cameron Pring.

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DR: Timothy Fosu-Mensah was released from Man Utd, since we already have Ethan Laird and he's not good at crossing, I plan to play him more as defensive midfielder which is also his natural position.

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MC: Allan Campbell was our first signing I showed early on, ball winning machine. Just found out he likes to argue with officials, wish to talk him out of it :lol:

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MC: Ryan Wintle for free from Crewe, but have to pay 100k compensation since he's homegrown, would compete with Harvey White for starting spot.

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AMC: Scott Fraser from MK Dons, we were lacking AMC last season and have to play Marcus Harness sometimes, so a good addition to rotate with Matt O'Riley (who is his teammate in MK Dons now irl)

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ST: Viktor Gyokeres on loan from Brighton, fits our system as PF very well and have a manageable wage only 5k/w.

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Overall very content with all the business, I feel I'm streching the wage expanse but still within the limit. Players will be requsting for new contracts so I have to leave some room for that.

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Edited by dastrokes88
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Port Vale - Part 6: Season 1, March 2021

January and February had seen us move into playoff contention with a run of good form, could we keep that up in March? You bet we could, as in a Magic March we recorded 19 points out of 21. Forget the playoffs, automatic promotion was now the aim and amazingly after being in a lowly 16th on Christmas Day, three months later we were in a great position to achieve this. Find the list of results below along with a full report.

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March started with a trip to Salford and a point in a 0-0 draw. Our tactical change set us about playing more attacking and positive football, and my fear was what that would mean for us defensively. The game against Salford though was the second clean sheet in a row, and second of a five match spell where we didn't concede a goal. In fact in the first 3 months of 2021, we only conceded 8 times in the league. December signing Vashon Neufville was a key part of this, giving us balance at left back, whilst offering both solidity in defence and creativity going forward. Against Salford he was man of the match. 

A trip to Cheltenham followed and January signing Jaden Thompson-Brissett was at it again, scoring another two to help us to cruise to victory. Hannant, Worrall and Amoo then saw us ease past Oldham and a Tom Conlon strike saw us do the double over Bolton.

We finally conceded at home to Stevenage, but showed resilience to come from behind, with quickfire goals from Rodney and Thompson-Brissett in first half stoppage time giving us the points. The month finished with two more victories, making it six on the bounce as we first beat playoff contenders Colchester and then Crawley, both away from home. Cullen scored twice against Colchester, his first goals of the month, and Zak Mills scored a rare goal late on before they pulled back a consolation in injury time. Against Crawley we were two up inside 20 minutes as Rodney and Amoo set us on course to another commanding victory.

In the space of three months we had transformed from lower-mid table mediocrity to genuine candidates for automatic promotion. Scunthorpe had faltered at the top and Grimsby had replaced them on top spot. We lurked close behind in third with a number of others snapping at the heels of the top three. 

Since the change in tactics on Boxing Day, our league form read played 19, won 15, drew 3, lost 1. 48 points from a possible 57. We looked on course for a highly unlikely promotion, could we finish the job? Tune in to find out in the April and May episodes.

Edited by Dave92
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Image result for blyth spartans

I have reached January 2029. How's the season going?

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It's still going really well! I'm actually quite happy to have gone out of the FA Cup in the Second Round since apparently even my weakened team in the Papa John's Trophy keeps winning, and fixtures are piling up. We're on a 10-match unbeaten run in the League(although only 4 wins, with 6 draws). We've only lost 5 matches in the League, so if we can clean up some of the draws into wins, we have a very promising season? This is honestly incredibly impressive. I wasn't expecting this from our first season as a pro team.

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Goodbye, sweet prince. I again cannot be mad about the fee, especially for another academy player. Just wish I could have added in a sell-on clause.

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SEASON REVIEW 2028/29

A season that started strong and continued strongly, what did that end up as?

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It ended better than I ever could have expected. And you can't say we didn't deserve it either, only 9 losses all season in our first time in a new League.

However, you can see how tight it was at the top. We needed a win to confirm promotion or we could have had many different teams jump over us. And we were down at halftime, 3-2. However, a halftime substitution turned it around:

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And, continuing the theme of the save, that halftime substitute was a young player:

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Yet another high-potential academy player popping up when we needed him. He's another one who I'm expecting to get poached soon(although I guess there's only so high he can go at this point, since we're a League One side now).

-----

Next season I'm worried for again though. Another jump in quality and I think the players are overperforming their level at this point. Plus our top scorer is on loan and I'm not sure he'll be interested in a third season with us. Back to the scouting grind, I guess. Maybe I'll see if I can get a parent club...

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Player departure.. Carvalho had come back from Spain, and was making noises about wanting first team action. He didn't fit with my plan, so went off back to his native Portugal. Braga may have overpaid, but, I don't really care.

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Brilliant work @hasdgfas at Blyth, getting promoted to League 1 at the first time of asking is a terrific achievement. Seems like you have a whole host of talented youngsters coming through, really impressive job you are doing there. Sure you'll be absolutely fine in League 1.

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Port Vale - Part 7: Season 1 - April 2021

A fantastic three months had elevated right into the hunt for the automatic promotion places with eight games to go, and April would be a pivotal month in deciding whether we could gain promotion in my first season at the club. We headed into April on the back of six straight wins, so could we keep it up? How did we get on? Here are the results.

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6 games, 6 wins, 12 straight wins on the bounce and we are promoted! Next season we will be playing in League 1. The only question now is can we win the league. With two games left of the season we sit top of the table, but next up we face a trip to second placed Grimsby who are only two points behind us. Let's review the month in more detail.

March was brilliant, and April was equally good if not even better. April was also the month for January signing Jaden Thompson-Brissett, who has been an absolute revelation since he joined us from Dagenham & Redbridge for only 11k.

Cullen opened the scoring against promotion hunting Exeter, before Thompson-Brissett sealed the win in the second half. The latter then scored twice against Harrogate, whilst there was also a first senior goal for academy graduate Nelson Agho. The 18-year-old Spaniard, who had represented his country at u19s level had been in stunning form for the u18s and u23s, scoring 36 goals over the course of the season and fully justified his opportunity from the bench. I was delighted to see him score and hope that he will be able to become a part of the senior squad in the future.

The normal duo both scored against Morecambe to secure a comfortable victory, before Thompson-Brissett bagged another double against Carlisle, after the hosts had taken a very early lead. Swansea loanee Daniel Williams added a third in injury time to take us to 10 wins on the bounce and the brink of promotion.

A 2-1 victory followed over Barrow, although we had to work hard for it. With the score at 0-0, Williams was sent off after 55 minutes, but six minutes later JTB put us ahead from the spot. A minute later though Barrow were level and looked the likely winners. We showed great determination though and the formerly criticised Harry McKirdy popped up to score the winner. We were almost there, only a crazy set of results and huge goal difference swing could deny us now with three games to go.

The month finished with a 2-0 win at home v Bradford to spark jubilation at Vale Park as we secured promotion back to League One. Both goals came late on from Devante Rodney, but that did not matter, after a tremendous run of results we had done it, we were promoted. To make it even sweeter, Grimsby lost away to Oldham, and if we beat Grimsby in the first of our two remaining fixtures, then we were guaranteed to be Champions. Amazing! Tune in next time to see how the season finished.

Let the promotion party begin!

 

Edited by Dave92
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Here my little update to my Championship campaign, amazing start for the first month, I won the manager of the month in my first month in Championship, we were top of the table at some points, everything goes so well that makes me thinking about consecutive promotion, and next month we are back to reality. TBH its still a very good start, to build on the top half table finish that my board requires.

Viktor Gyokeres is carrying us as I expected, as for other new signing, its hit and miss, the standout among them is Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who has been putting out great performance on any position he plays.

 

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Sheffield Wednesday - Championship - Season 2025/26

Last time I updated you, I told you about our pre-season signings so there has been a lot happen since then. This season has been the absolute definition of a rollercoaster. From the lows of just one league win from late December to mid February to the highs of just two losses from February on to the end of the season, it has not been an easy one.

We saw another tactics change come in mid February and it made the world of difference for our form, but was it enough to get us to where we wanted to be at the start of the season?

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Well, the answer to that is sadly not. Despite only losing twice from February until May, with nine wins in the last thirteen games, the damage was already done. However, it is still an improvement from last season. Despite finishing in the same position, 12th, we are a whole ten points better off than this time last year and eight points behind those playoff spots, rather than a massive seventeen points. The division as a whole was stronger this year. 

With another season under wraps, who were our top performers?

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Once again, John Madley was an everprescent for us, him and Ryan Whitaker started a huge 47 games for us this season, seeing them improve greatly. Whitaker will join us on loan yet again next season. Our star performer though has to be Lebrun Swann, with his 22 goals in 42 appearances. This led him to finish second in the league scoring charts behind Brentford's Idah. One of our own :applause:. Luke Woolfenden was yet again solid at the back for us and Nico Williams had a good season although not as good as last year. Pascal-Fraisse ended the season well and the youngster will be a key player in the first team next season.

Before the season was sewn up, we renewed the loans of Laird, Swann and Whitaker to help boost our shot at the playoffs for next year. I believe if we can carry our end of season form into next year, we will have a great shot if we invest smart this summer.

Until next time :Bowen:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sheffield Wednesday Honours

League Two Champions 2022/23
League One Champions 2023/24
Championship: 12th place finish 2024/25
Championship: 12th place finish 2025/26

 

 

Edited by oakesypvfc
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Some great recent results in this thread, well done.

I've completed the first third of my campaign...

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Despite our position in the table, it's definitely been a bit of a slog and we're often relying on individual moments of class and a bit of luck to pick up results, rather than complete performances.

We started very well, winning four out of five and looking very accomplished. An unlucky home loss to H&Y, in which we went down to ten men, kicked off a little bit of a wobble which saw us drop points to Bognor and Dorchester, before getting comprehensively beaten at Swindon. We managed to arrest things with wins in three of our last four, but it's been a battle:

Frome (h) - we needed a set piece header to turn our dominance into three points against a pretty weak opponent;

Potters Bar (a) - conceded after 21 seconds to a 30-yarder, scored twice in the second half and then withstood a late onslaught;

FC Romania (h) - conceded a penalty on the stroke of half time, then scored four in the second half after I went nuts in the dressing room!

Our talisman Ricardo Rees has again produced the goods with 12 goals, although Torquay and Dulwich are interested in him so he has got himself an agent and won't sign a new contract. Skipper Cam Healey has also provided 11 assists and is one of a handful of key players I've managed to tie down for another season. 

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8 hours ago, CityAndColour said:

Some great recent results in this thread, well done.

I've completed the first third of my campaign...

Despite our position in the table, it's definitely been a bit of a slog and we're often relying on individual moments of class and a bit of luck to pick up results, rather than complete performances.

I agree with that, great success at Blyth & Port Vale, good form with Portsmouth and a great improvement for Sheffield Wednesday.

You're well positioned with Yate. There's no better man in the dugout for a long hard slog trying to get out of these leagues, I'm sure you can do it soon!

Any news from Durham? 

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3 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Any news from Durham? 

Not yet, but here's a taster... fan and manager favourite Tavahn Tyrell has gone, lured away to Estonia (:idiot:). Star GK Hunt has gone, both of my first-choice CBs have been poached, as has my LB prospect while Chimbonda announced his immediate retirement. Two of my best wingers were lured away, as was my best CM. All of these transfers came in late, by which time most of the young prospects had already been signed up so it's been a major struggle to find replacements. And we're not done - with the first league games about to kick off I have another 3 or 4 players considering moves away.

I should emphasise, we get not a single penny for any of these transfers - that's the sharp edge of the double-edged sword that is non-contract 'contracts'. I was prepared for some departures but didn't expect to lose virtually the entire first eleven. The only bits of good news are that - so far!! - star striker Charlie Ball has not agreed to a move, although he's had several offers; and I managed to find a replacement for Tyrell who is arguably even better.

The problem has been the lack of money here. Although I moved quite a few players from amateur status to non-contract pay-per-game deals, I couldn't offer more than about £80-£100 per appearance. But the players we've lost have been signed up to £200-£400 per week contracts and we simply can't compete with that.

All part of the challenge down here in the dungeons of non-league football :lol:

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Just made it into the VNL with Clitheroe. I've been offered the Oxford job in League One. I'm really tempted to split my save and do a bit of a journeyman, whilst keeping the one club save going. 

Anyone done that before? 

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5 hours ago, Ronaldo Beckham said:

I am tempted at some point to do a FC Romania save and only sign Romanian players etc. 

Has anyone in here attempted it before and how far did you go ?

I think the obvious answer to that question would be Romania :brock:

@warlockTough indeed. Definitely set to continue?

@StePrattI use saves to lead on to other things. For example after a year with Tottenham I saw Oxford (appropriately given what job you were offered) relegated to League 2. I parked Spurs up, saved it as a new game, retired the manager and got Oxford promoted. No reason at all why you shouldn't do that but continue your first one too as you have invested a lot of time in to it:thup:

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