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18 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

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:

Damm you picking faults with my words lol.

Ok smart arse. How far up the leagues did people get with FC Romania by signing Romanian players.

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1 hour ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Definitely set to continue?

Well, "definitely" is a very strong word :lol:. But I'm trying to develop some intenstinal fortitude about these things, not run away when things get tough. The plan at the moment is to put together the best squad possible from the cast-offs, has-beens and Bright Young Things and see where that goes. I certainly don't require another unbeaten season - the board only wants a mid-table finish - but I don't want to hang around tier9/8 for too long. On the other hand, I've no idea where I'd go as an alternative, Having poked about at York it looks rather like another Darlington save (with more than a couple of ex-Darlington players!) I'd certainly like to have a crack at a top-level save competing against the best in Europe - not done that for 2 or 3 years now - but I need to come up with the right club (and Manchester United isn't doing it for me at the moment).

So, it's Durham for now, until something else takes my fancy.

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Just starting a save with Watford, as fancied building a team from scratch by selling off all the high earners, and going with the youngsters like Joao Pedro, Quina, Wilmott etc ...

 

But noticed they have this lad coming in in January? How bloody good does he look?!

 

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1 hour ago, Welshace said:

Just starting a save with Watford, as fancied building a team from scratch by selling off all the high earners, and going with the youngsters like Joao Pedro, Quina, Wilmott etc ...

But noticed they have this lad coming in in January? How bloody good does he look?!

They have a really impressive scouting structure at Watford, you should enjoy it. Hopefully they don't sack here like they do in real life though as you'll be looking for a new club by tomorrow :lol:

Toure is a nice young talent (took him to Lorient in FM20). Check out his brother Momo too...

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Thanks everyone. In the end it was an excellent first season at Vale, I will let you know how it ended in the May update tomorrow.

@oakesypvfc - Lots of key players really. From the initial Vale contingent, Cullen, Conlon and Smith were particularly impressive, but a number of others played a role. The new signings helped massively too, Thomas and Neufville gave us one of the best defences in the league and Thompson-Brissett was a complete revelation. I'll post a later update reviewing the first season and the role played by everyone in the squad.

@warlock - Sounds like a great challenge there at Durham. After my Vale save, I would like to have a go at a non-league save, probably starting with someone in National League North or South. Hopefully got a while to go on Vale save though yet and at the rate I play that will take ages.

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2 hours ago, Dave92 said:

Sounds like a great challenge there at Durham

Yeah, it's definitely different down here - currently two tiers below the Vanorama North. Good luck with Vale going forward!

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9 hours ago, StePratt said:

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? 

I don't reckon I've ever made a move like that and not regretted it down the track. If I were you I'd definitely want to spend my whole career with Clitheroe and get them as high as possible, create club legend etc, but that's just my style. The split save is a good idea but I think you'll end up going back to Clitheroe.

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13 hours ago, CityAndColour said:

I don't reckon I've ever made a move like that and not regretted it down the track. If I were you I'd definitely want to spend my whole career with Clitheroe and get them as high as possible, create club legend etc, but that's just my style. The split save is a good idea but I think you'll end up going back to Clitheroe.

I think this is the way. It would be great to have my own stadium in my home town.

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After a mediocre October, we bounced back with a near perfect November, only missing 2 points in our last 6 games, and it wins me my second MOTM in Championship :lol:. Tough fixture is coming in December, will be crucial if we want to stay in the playoff spots and even challenge frontrunners Watford and Blackburn.

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Edited by dastrokes88
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Durham City, November 2021

As outlined earlier, it was a pretty shocking summer for newly-promoted Durham City as our first team squad was gutted by a series of departures:

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By way of a little context, Kone was my best RW; Osigwe my best CB; Hunt my star GK; Barrett the 2nd best CB; Banks a good prospect at LB; Allan my best CM; Tyrell my star targetman; Pereira an outstanding LW; Bange the 3rd-choice striker; and Renner the 3rd-choice CB. I had to set about rebuilding the team more or less completely:

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Leftback Aplin was transfer listed at VNN Gateshead and looks a good prospect a couple of tiers below that. Pruti is a CB out of the Burnley academy, while Malone and Smith are CMs out of league academies at Stoke and Wigan, respectively. All look very good for our level but haven't yet produced on the pitch. Kasongo is an RW out of Accrington and at just 18 he's immediately established himself as a good backup with 4 goals and 2 assists in 6 competitive starts. Ceesay is a 26-year-old Spaniard who had spent some time at Blackpool and Altrincham and is doing a fine job at leftwing, while Laing (CB) and Reid (CM) are both ex-Darlington veterans who took some persuading to drop down the pyramid but eventually the lack of interest elsewhere changed their minds.

The missing piece in that screenshot is replacement targetman De'Marlio Brown-Sterling:

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He was released by Bolton and signed before the end of the season to provide competition for Tyrell as targetman, and has quickly established himself as first name on the teamsheet. He has 10 goals from his first 5 league appearances, and another 5 goals in 6 cup games.

So with one or two exceptions - notably at goalkeeper - the squad looked almost as strong as in season 1 and early results seemed to confirm that as we made it through 6 preliminary rounds of the FA Cup before a narrow 3-4 defeat against Vanorama National outfit Bromley. Our opening league game resulted in my first defeat as Durham manager and I feared the worst, but we have bounced back from that disappointment with 6 consecutive victories to take us to the top of the division:

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As impressive as Brown-Sterling has been, he still can't match the prowess of Charlie Ball. The poacher has 10 goals from 6 league starts and no less than 15 in 6 cup games! Some of the new signings are taking a while to settle but the only position I'd really like to upgrade is GK, where Mewitt has conceded 22 in 13 appearances. Clean sheets are very hard to come by at this level, but that's far too many goals for comfort.

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32 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Your strikers are very prolific again.

Yeah, but they have to be... we certainly can't rely on the defence :lol:

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Port Vale - Part 8: Season 1, May 2021

In April, we secured promotion. Now, the question was in May could we seal the title. With two games left we were top and our penultimate game saw us travel to second placed Grimsby, knowing a win would seal the title. 

Confidence was sky high due to our brilliant form, and Grimsby had stuttered, even if they had secured promotion themselves. We sensed victory, we sensed the title, but Owen Windsor had different ideas. The young striker on loan from West Brom had just turned 19 and had scored five times for Grimsby during his season long loan spell. Against us he scored twice, Grimsby led 2-0 and our title dreams seemed in tatters. Jaden Thompson-Brissett continued his brilliant scoring run to grab one back in the 89th minute, but it was no more than a consolation. Our long winning run had ended, and it was advantage Grimsby in the title race.

The final game of the season saw us host midtable Mansfield, whilst Grimsby made the trip to Cambridge who had endured a disappointing season. A Grimsby win would seal them the title regardless of our result, whilst we knew we had to win to stand any chance of claiming the title.

A tense encounter kicked off at Vale Park, but the game quickly turned into a one-sided procession. Thompson-Brissett opened the scoring in the 11th minute and doubled our lead in the 26th. A dominant first half display saw us lead 2-0, whilst Grimsby were being held 0-0 at Cambridge.

The second half saw most focus on the score at The Abbey Stadium than at Vale Park and as the minutes ticked by it remained goalless. Devante Rodney added a third for Vale on the hour mark to ensure we would hold up our part of the bargain, whilst Grimsby still toiled and were unable to score the goal that would seal them the title.

In the 89th minute there was a goal, but this took place at Vale Park as Thompson-Brissett completed his first hattrick for the club and his 19th since he joined in January, incredible considering he had only started 11 games and appeared as a substitute 11 more.

Still it remained 0-0 at Grimsby and the final whistle blew at Vale Park to signal a 4-0 victory. Fans googled scores, intently listening to the radio for any news from The Abbey, and finally the score came through. 0-0, the final whistle had gone, Cambridge had been our heroes and we were Champions of League Two by virtue of goal difference. An incredible ending to a phenomenal run throughout the second half of the season. Next stop, League One.

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Edited by Dave92
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Thanks Jogo, onto League One now. I'm up to December 2021, so nearing the midpoint of my first season in League One. I have a series more updates for you to bring you up to speed with where I am now, and see how the summer and the first half of my League One campaign has gone.

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4 hours ago, Dave92 said:

Champions of League Two by virtue of goal difference

Ooof... that was close!! But there's little better than a final-day title win. Well played :thup:

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I wish they'd just shut up... they just did this for one of my CMs and he immediately signed a January transfer deal with a lower-league Dutch outfit. I'm going to be really narked if Hudson gets poached. And to compound my misery, star striker Charlie Ball just suffered a broken arm and will miss around 2 months. Rains, pours :rolleyes:

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Durham City, December 2021

Another tough month with no less than 10 games played, but we came through it with flying colours:

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The move up a division has definitely been tougher - we've now dropped 7pts so far this season, but still only the one defeat on the opening day. We'll undoubtedly feel the loss of Charlie Ball but so far the lads have filled the gap. New boy Taylor Ragan was signed on a free midway through the month and has chipped in with 3 goals in his first 4 games; De'marlio continues to shine with 26 goals and 7 assists in 20 appearances; while the midfield - particularly the wingers - have chipped in with 17 goals and 24 assists. Most of the summer's new signings have settled in to the tactical system and we're conceding fewer goals compared with September and October. Not surprisingly, we sit top of the table:

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Nostalgia Notes

When I started the save I threatened it would be a nostalgia trip for me, but didn't offer much in the first season. But there's more of note in this division:

* Newton Aycliffe - a small new town near Darlington where my younger sister was born and I first attended school. After my family moved around the county for the next 10 years, we moved back there when I was 17, and my parents lived there until they died around the turn of the millennium. My sister still lives a couple of miles away in Aycliffe village.

* Bishop Auckland - an historic market town and the seat of the powerful Bishops of Durham... if you drive into the county today you'll probably see a sign proclaiming it "Land of the Prince Bishops". We lived there when I was 10 years old and in the summer of 1966, on our family's tiny black-and-white TV, I watched Nobby Stiles and Bobby Charlton lead England to a famous World Cup victory :cool:. Hence my FM manager ID, Nobby Charlton.

* Hebburn & Dunston - in 1972 the family moved to a small former mining village just outside Newcastle, and I spent my GCSE year at school in Hebburn. A year significant not for academic achievement but for the fact that I had easy access to the musical paradise that was Newcastle City Hall where I saw many of my formative musical influences - Deep Purple, Rory Gallagher, the annual Lindisfarne Christmas concerts, Yes, Wishbone Ash, and many more. As for Dunston? It was the home of my first significant crush, who I got to snog - once!! - after a school Christmas party.

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1 minute ago, Jogo Bonito said:

I looked at Reid (Darlington) for York but passed on it in the end.

Wise :lol:. He's not bad at Durham's level but would be poor at York, I think.

And you're right about the availability of replacements, but a) I'm fond of Hudson having had him in Darlington saves for at least three or four years now; and b) there aren't many who'll sign for £60 per appearance. Good is good, but cheap is better :rolleyes:

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4 hours ago, Dave92 said:

Thanks Jogo, onto League One now. I'm up to December 2021, so nearing the midpoint of my first season in League One. I have a series more updates for you to bring you up to speed with where I am now, and see how the summer and the first half of my League One campaign has gone.

Amazed to see Walsall relegated - only just noticed that!

@warlockGreat nostalgia, I like it! Excellent league form still, despite the loss of Ball. Fair points on Hudson (and Reid) too :D

Trivial fact. When Reading were in financial trouble in the 1980's and Robert Maxwell wanted to merge them with his Oxford side and become the 'Thames Valley Royals' where they would play in Didcot - fortunately it never happened - one of the Deep Purple band members Ian Gillan was strongly linked and very close to buying Reading. IIRC he came from the area or lived there. The concrete car park at Elm Park (my neighbour used to park us there on matchdays) was used by the first team to train on in those days - shocking facilities at that old place,

 

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16 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

one of the Deep Purple band members Ian Gillan was strongly linked

I think at least a couple of the band members lived around the area. I remember quite a few years ago now driving out of Reading up towards Henley/Marlow and spotting a very substantial country house with a swimming pool in the shape of a guitar. When I looked it up later I found it was once the home of Ian Gillan. But from Reading's point of view, a narrow escape from the clutches of the Bouncing Czech! :herman: :lol:

Edit: Just seen the video - when were Reading training in a local car park??? But love the Received Pronunciation in the clip :D

Edited by warlock
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2 minutes ago, warlock said:

I think at least a couple of the band members lived around the area. I remember quite a few years ago now driving out of Reading up towards Henley/Marlow and spotting a very substantial country house with a swimming pool in the shape of a guitar. When I looked it up later I found it was once the home of Ian Gillan. But from Reading's point of view, a narrow escape from the clutches of the Bouncing Czech! :herman: :lol:

 

Yeah, deeply worrying times they were and no way I would have ever remained as a supporter if that Maxwell thing had happened. Having started my support back in old Division 4, at least I won't ever forget where we came from. Cool story about Gillan's old house. Was the colour scheme deep purple too?

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3 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Was the colour scheme deep purple too?

Couldn't say, but I can confirm that my teenage bedrooms all had at least one wall that was painted a deep purple :cool:

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@Jogo Bonito - Walsall were very poor, particularly second half of the season when they just lost game after game. Adebayo usually scores against Vale in real life, but didn't have a great season here, and they just didn't score many goals. Harrogate were dreadful and were always destined to go down. Barrow struggled at the start but dragged themselves out of it. Cheltenham could not defend, but scored enough goals to stay up. Tranmere were also surprisingly bad given the size of the club.

@warlock - Thanks, agree that the tension until the very end of the season made it even better. Looks like you are still cruising at the moment with Durham even despite the step up a division.

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Well, we're not predicted bottom:

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But with 4 relegation spots we're also predicted to be nowhere close to survival. Guess we'll have to overperform again.

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December was again amazing for us, 4 wins and 2 draws, we established ourselves as a strong promotion contender.

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We advanced to FA Cup and guess who we will face next? Its Southampton again! Two years in a row with South Coast Derby (it was EFL Cup last year), definitely not rigged by FA :lol:, hope we can have a better showing this year, they are in relegation battle and we are fighting for promotion, so it should be close, hopefully.

 

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Early days in the season, how is the step up to League One?

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This is about what I was expecting in League Two last season. Inconsistency. We're good enough to stay up, for sure. But we're nowhere near good enough to challenge for promotion. I'm predicting we end up in about 15th at the end of the season based on performances so far.

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2 hours ago, dastrokes88 said:

we established ourselves as a strong promotion contender

Looking good there. Keep it up!

1 hour ago, hasdgfas said:

how is the step up to League One?

Not bad at all, and just 3pts outside the playoff spots is encouraging. Long way to go, of course, but with just 9 goals conceded the defence looks in good shape. If you could find a way to score a few more... ;)

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4 minutes ago, warlock said:

Not bad at all, and just 3pts outside the playoff spots is encouraging. Long way to go, of course, but with just 9 goals conceded the defence looks in good shape. If you could find a way to score a few more...

You're looking at MK Dons there with the goals conceded, mate. ;)

We're one below that.

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Two thirds of the way through...

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So we're basically established as a perennial playoff team but can't quite find the 5th gear required to go on and win the title. Too often we lack the cutting edge to turn a draw into a win, or we concede a stupid goal to drop points, but we're at least firmly in the top five.

I signed one of my all time favourite lower league players, Fabio Saraiva, on a free and he has started well with four goals in six games. I also managed to get Ricardo Rees tied down on a new two-year deal.

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We continued our unbeaten run in league but lost the FA Cup rematch convincingly against our rival Southampton after failing to capitalize the chance at home. I guess the gap between PL an Championship sides is still huge, oh well, maybe next time.

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Edited by dastrokes88
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Port Vale - Part 9: End of Season 1, Player Review

So my first season in charge of Port Vale ended in promotion as champions, as a fantastic run from Boxing Day onwards saw us rise from 16th place to win the league by virtue of goal difference on the final day of the season. Let's have a look at the squad from last year, see how they did and what the future is likely to hold for them.

Goalkeepers

Scott Brown: The Vale number 1 for a number of years now, Brown had an excellent second half of the season, keeping 20 clean sheets in the league in total and only conceding 35 times in 45 games with an average rating of 6.96. I would like him to stay next year, but at the age of 35 as our number 2 on a one-year deal. He doesn't want to though, so it looks like he may be leaving.

Dino Visser: The 31-yeat-old South African was backup to Brown and only made 1 appearance in the league and 5 more in the cup. Did nothing wrong throughout and an able deputy. Work permit issues saw him hand in a transfer request and will leave when out of contract at the end of the season.

Defenders

Nathan Smith: The Vale academy graduate was a crucial player throughout the season, making 35 league appearances and 40 in total. An average rating of 7.03 proved his value, whilst when he didn't play it tended to be because he was being rested. Set to become captain next year when we move up to League One.

James Gibbons: Another academy graduate, Gibbons was a consistent performer at right back and another I hope will feature heavily next season in League One. Made 45 appearances in all competitions across the season, and has the ability and potential to do well in League One.

Mitch Clark: The full back, on loan from Leicester, was rated as our best player and tipped to be one of the stars of League Two during his third loan spell at Vale. Made 38 appearances at a combination of left back and right back, producing 5 assists without massively excelling. Improved as the season progressed and we quickly acted to extend his loan for another season.

Bobby Thomas: Signed in October on loan from Burnley, Thomas was a crucial figure in our success at centre back. A consistent performer, played 38 games for the club and barely missed a fixture after he joined. I am delighted to say I have extended his loan for next year and see his partnership with Smith as being crucial to our success in League One.

Vashon Neufville: The left back joined on a free transfer in December after a spell playing in Canada. His arrival coincided with a transformation in our fortunes and he was a brilliant attacking presence down the left flank with his pace and athleticism. 7 assists and an average rating of 7.14 in 26 league games says it all. Has the potential to become a good League One player.

Leon Legge: The aging Vale captain started the season as first choice at centre back, but appeared as one of the weak links in our defence with too many goals coming down his channel. Good in the air, but lacked pace at 35. Made 24 appearances but will depart at end of the season, and subsequently retired to become under 23s manager at Weymouth.

Adam Crookes: A player with potential, but I was never certain whether he was a left back or centre back. 23 year old featured sporadically, making 21 appearances in total, although 12 of those were from the bench. Hard decision as to whether to offer a new contract, but eventually decided to release him and subsequently signed by League One Fleetwood, so we will face him next year.

Zak Mills: The right back featured 21 times in total, mainly from the bench and scored once. Didn't let anyone down, but deemed to be not good enough for League One so released at the end of the season.

David Fitzpatrick: Aging left back played in pre-season and once as a substitute in the cup before being sent on a season-long loan to Torquay. Easy decision to release at the end of the season.

Shaun Brisley: Centre back didn't really feature in my plans and only made three appearances in the cup before he departed for Scunthorpe in January on a free transfer. 

Ryan Campbell-Gordon: Young left back didn't kick on as I hoped. Athletic and has potential to break into first team squad, but only featured very rarely in the cup. Offered a new deal based on potential, but looking less likely that he will make it at Vale.

Midfielders

Tom Conlon: A crucial player throughout the season, Conlon was one of our standout performers in midfield, playing the Mezzala role primarily. A set piece specialist, he made 40 league appearances, scoring 3 times and providing 10 assists. Likely to be important in League One and set to become Vice-Captain.

Manny Oyeleke: Effective as both a box to box midfielder or more regularly as a defensive midfielder in the second half of the season. Played 43 times in all competitions and scored a couple of screamers. Keeping him fit was a bonus and contract was renewed for another 12 months.

Scott Burgess: Improved as the season progressed and played 46 times in total, although only 26 of those were as a substitute. A solid performer in midfield and grew in influence in second half of campaign. Under contract for next season.

Luke Joyce: Veteran midfielder was a calming influence in defensive midfield position. Made 30 appearances to reach 500 across his career and a steady performer, if one who was booked a lot. Released at the end of the season as feel step up to League One will be too much for the 34 year old.

Daniel Williams: On loan from Swansea, Williams featured throughout the season, often as a substitute. Had some disputes with Swansea manager about his exact role, but he stayed and scored twice in 38 appearances, the majority of which were from the bench.

Danny Whitehead: Deemed to not be at the required standard, appeared once in the cup and scored once in pre-season, but then sent on loan to Boreham Wood for the season. Under contract into next season, so swiftly transfer listed on his return.

David Worrall: The versatile winger was a popular member of the squad, scoring 6 times and providing 5 assists in 47 appearances across the campaign. Under contract for next year and will remain, although less likely to be a regular starter.

Luke Hannant: Joined for only 5k from Cambridge in late January and proved a very shrewd signing, adding energy and scoring 4 goals in 16 appearances before he missed a month through injury. Likely to be a squad player next year.

David Amoo: The winger featured throughout the campaign, scoring 7 times and providing 9 assists in 46 appearances. Offered pace and creativity. Under contract for next season, so will be interesting to see if he can step up to League One.

Harry McKirdy: Rated as one of the best players at the club, McKirdy was desperately disappointing and one that I quarrelled with. Effective at u23 level, but 1 goal and no assists in 19 senior appearances said it all. Despite his ability, released at the end of the season.

Cristian Montano: Had a number of injuries which let to a stop start season. Made 22 appearances in total, mainly from the bench, playing all down the left hand side. Scored the winner against Bolton, but rarely featured in second half of the season. Popular Colombian was released at the end of the year.

Alex Hurst: Youngster was a raw talent, but made 16 appearances in total, mostly from the bench, scoring once in the cup. Offered a new deal for next year, will either be backup or a loan move might follow.

Daniel Trickett-Smith: Had a positive loan spell at Leek, but didn't feature for the senior Vale team at all following his return in the New Year and released at the end of the season.

Forwards

Mark Cullen: Injury problems blighted his first half of the season, but he was excellent when fit and a crucial part of our side. Scored 15 times in 33 appearances, although 5 were from the penalty spot and also contributed 5 assists. Mainly played as sole striker, although sometimes from the left later on in the season. Offered a new contract for next year.

Jaden Thompson-Brissett: My number one target in January, signed from Dagenham & Redbridge for only 11.5k. An absolute bargain, scored 19 times in only 22 appearances (11 of which were from the bench) with a goal less than every 70 minutes. A revelation, how will he fare in League One?

Tom Pope: The Vale legend was suspended at the start of the season and then got injured. Scored 6 times in 12 appearances, but didn't feature during second half of the season as did not suit the new style of football. Released and retired at the end of the season.

Devante Rodney: 14 goals in 43 appearances was an excellent return for the young man who had joined from Salford in the summer. Played mainly wide left and was an important member of our promotion push, who will continue to feature next year.

Theo Robinson: Rated as our best striker by our coaches, Robinson completely flattered to deceive. Scored once in the cup in 18 disappointing appearances and was banished to u23s in second half of the season. Prolific there as you would hope, but not in my plans. Under contract for next year so need to find him a transfer as a high wage earner.

Nelson Agho: The teenage Spaniard was called up to represent Spain u19s and was in superb form for our u18s and u23s, scoring 36 goals in 39 games. Only turned 18 in February and made four substitute appearances in the league in second half of the season, scoring once in the process. Hopefully will continue to feature next year.

Edited by Dave92
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Our unbeaten streak was broken by Wycombe who is battling for relegation, we also lost to our prominent competitor Watford, other than that, things are going well, we are still first and with 6 games to go, the fate is in our own hands.

 

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Edited by dastrokes88
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We have a new Club Icon at Blyth:

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A very important part of our rise through the divisions since his move from Rotherham. He's been a bully up front for us ever since, even if he's finally starting to fade as we move up.

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We guaranteed the promotion with 2 games left since West Brom will face Watford next, no last round thriller, no exciting late winners, we won the game against Middlesbrough with a penalty, a bit anticlimatic but the promotion to PL is the most important thing.

 

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And here is our initial budget, time to spend that sweet PL money.

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7 hours ago, Dave92 said:

Port Vale - Part 9: End of Season 1, Player Review

So my first season in charge of Port Vale ended in promotion as champions, as a fantastic run from Boxing Day onwards saw us rise from 16th place to win the league by virtue of goal difference on the final day of the season. Let's have a look at the squad from last year, see how they did and what the future is likely to hold for them.

Goalkeepers

Scott Brown: The Vale number 1 for a number of years now, Brown had an excellent second half of the season, keeping 20 clean sheets in the league in total and only conceding 35 times in 45 games with an average rating of 6.96. I would like him to stay next year, but at the age of 35 as our number 2 on a one-year deal. He doesn't want to though, so it looks like he may be leaving.

Dino Visser: The 31-yeat-old South African was backup to Brown and only made 1 appearance in the league and 5 more in the cup. Did nothing wrong throughout and an able deputy. Work permit issues saw him hand in a transfer request and will leave when out of contract at the end of the season.

Defenders

Nathan Smith: The Vale academy graduate was a crucial player throughout the season, making 35 league appearances and 40 in total. An average rating of 7.03 proved his value, whilst when he didn't play it tended to be because he was being rested. Set to become captain next year when we move up to League One.

James Gibbons: Another academy graduate, Gibbons was a consistent performer at right back and another I hope will feature heavily next season in League One. Made 45 appearances in all competitions across the season, and has the ability and potential to do well in League One.

Mitch Clark: The full back, on loan from Leicester, was rated as our best player and tipped to be one of the stars of League Two during his third loan spell at Vale. Made 38 appearances at a combination of left back and right back, producing 5 assists without massively excelling. Improved as the season progressed and we quickly acted to extend his loan for another season.

Bobby Thomas: Signed in October on loan from Burnley, Thomas was a crucial figure in our success at centre back. A consistent performer, played 38 games for the club and barely missed a fixture after he joined. I am delighted to say I have extended his loan for next year and see his partnership with Smith as being crucial to our success in League One.

Vashon Neufville: The left back joined on a free transfer in December after a spell playing in Canada. His arrival coincided with a transformation in our fortunes and he was a brilliant attacking presence down the left flank with his pace and athleticism. 7 assists and an average rating of 7.14 in 26 league games says it all. Has the potential to become a good League One player.

Leon Legge: The aging Vale captain started the season as first choice at centre back, but appeared as one of the weak links in our defence with too many goals coming down his channel. Good in the air, but lacked pace at 35. Made 24 appearances but will depart at end of the season, and subsequently retired to become under 23s manager at Weymouth.

Adam Crookes: A player with potential, but I was never certain whether he was a left back or centre back. 23 year old featured sporadically, making 21 appearances in total, although 12 of those were from the bench. Hard decision as to whether to offer a new contract, but eventually decided to release him and subsequently signed by League One Fleetwood, so we will face him next year.

Zak Mills: The right back featured 21 times in total, mainly from the bench and scored once. Didn't let anyone down, but deemed to be not good enough for League One so released at the end of the season.

David Fitzpatrick: Aging left back played in pre-season and once as a substitute in the cup before being sent on a season-long loan to Torquay. Easy decision to release at the end of the season.

Shaun Brisley: Centre back didn't really feature in my plans and only made three appearances in the cup before he departed for Scunthorpe in January on a free transfer. 

Ryan Campbell-Gordon: Young left back didn't kick on as I hoped. Athletic and has potential to break into first team squad, but only featured very rarely in the cup. Offered a new deal based on potential, but looking less likely that he will make it at Vale.

Midfielders

Tom Conlon: A crucial player throughout the season, Conlon was one of our standout performers in midfield, playing the Mezzala role primarily. A set piece specialist, he made 40 league appearances, scoring 3 times and providing 10 assists. Likely to be important in League One and set to become Vice-Captain.

Manny Oyeleke: Effective as both a box to box midfielder or more regularly as a defensive midfielder in the second half of the season. Played 43 times in all competitions and scored a couple of screamers. Keeping him fit was a bonus and contract was renewed for another 12 months.

Scott Burgess: Improved as the season progressed and played 46 times in total, although only 26 of those were as a substitute. A solid performer in midfield and grew in influence in second half of campaign. Under contract for next season.

Luke Joyce: Veteran midfielder was a calming influence in defensive midfield position. Made 30 appearances to reach 500 across his career and a steady performer, if one who was booked a lot. Released at the end of the season as feel step up to League One will be too much for the 34 year old.

Daniel Williams: On loan from Swansea, Williams featured throughout the season, often as a substitute. Had some disputes with Swansea manager about his exact role, but he stayed and scored twice in 38 appearances, the majority of which were from the bench.

Danny Whitehead: Deemed to not be at the required standard, appeared once in the cup and scored once in pre-season, but then sent on loan to Boreham Wood for the season. Under contract into next season, so swiftly transfer listed on his return.

David Worrall: The versatile winger was a popular member of the squad, scoring 6 times and providing 5 assists in 47 appearances across the campaign. Under contract for next year and will remain, although less likely to be a regular starter.

Luke Hannant: Joined for only 5k from Cambridge in late January and proved a very shrewd signing, adding energy and scoring 4 goals in 16 appearances before he missed a month through injury. Likely to be a squad player next year.

David Amoo: The winger featured throughout the campaign, scoring 7 times and providing 9 assists in 46 appearances. Offered pace and creativity. Under contract for next season, so will be interesting to see if he can step up to League One.

Harry McKirdy: Rated as one of the best players at the club, McKirdy was desperately disappointing and one that I quarrelled with. Effective at u23 level, but 1 goal and no assists in 19 senior appearances said it all. Despite his ability, released at the end of the season.

Cristian Montano: Had a number of injuries which let to a stop start season. Made 22 appearances in total, mainly from the bench, playing all down the left hand side. Scored the winner against Bolton, but rarely featured in second half of the season. Popular Colombian was released at the end of the year.

Alex Hurst: Youngster was a raw talent, but made 16 appearances in total, mostly from the bench, scoring once in the cup. Offered a new deal for next year, will either be backup or a loan move might follow.

Daniel Trickett-Smith: Had a positive loan spell at Leek, but didn't feature for the senior Vale team at all following his return in the New Year and released at the end of the season.

Forwards

Mark Cullen: Injury problems blighted his first half of the season, but he was excellent when fit and a crucial part of our side. Scored 15 times in 33 appearances, although 5 were from the penalty spot and also contributed 5 assists. Mainly played as sole striker, although sometimes from the left later on in the season. Offered a new contract for next year.

Jaden Thompson-Brissett: My number one target in January, signed from Dagenham & Redbridge for only 11.5k. An absolute bargain, scored 19 times in only 22 appearances (11 of which were from the bench) with a goal less than every 70 minutes. A revelation, how will he fare in League One?

Tom Pope: The Vale legend was suspended at the start of the season and then got injured. Scored 6 times in 12 appearances, but didn't feature during second half of the season as did not suit the new style of football. Released and retired at the end of the season.

Devante Rodney: 14 goals in 43 appearances was an excellent return for the young man who had joined from Salford in the summer. Played mainly wide left and was an important member of our promotion push, who will continue to feature next year.

Theo Robinson: Rated as our best striker by our coaches, Robinson completely flattered to deceive. Scored once in the cup in 18 disappointing appearances and was banished to u23s in second half of the season. Prolific there as you would hope, but not in my plans. Under contract for next year so need to find him a transfer as a high wage earner.

Nelson Agho: The teenage Spaniard was called up to represent Spain u19s and was in superb form for our u18s and u23s, scoring 36 goals in 39 games. Only turned 18 in February and made four substitute appearances in the league in second half of the season, scoring once in the process. Hopefully will continue to feature next year.

What an exodus! Pardon the pun ;) Sad to see Pope go but he is pretty ancient by now. Congrats on the league title. I look forward to seeing how you go on in League One.

I shall live vicariously through you as I never have and perhaps never will be able to get a successful Vale save going :lol:

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Great season @dastrokes88, best of luck in the Prem! Looking forward to seeing who you bring in with that dolla.

 

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Sheffield Wednesday - Season 2025/26 - Championship - Season Preview

After another 12th place finish in the Championship last season and an amazing end to the season, I didn't see it being as busy a summer as it has been the last few years. Maybe a few outgoings and improvements in key areas were needed to continue that run of form going. We moved early in the summer to secure the loan deals of Ethan Laird, Ryan Whitaker and Lebrun Swann for another season and Francisco Gonzalez was made the fourth loan signing as he joined for the season from recently promoted Brentford. We completed the signings of four youth players released from Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea respectively before moving on to a key signing which was Luis Fernando. He signed for £2.7 million, after Idris El Mizouni left us after two years at the club, for a fee of £2.5 million. Eduard Bello joined him at Hibernian for £500k the same day.

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We then entered the 2026/27 proper and were met with a dilemma, as Watford activated the release clause of one of our top prospects, Ezequial Pascal-Fraisse. Long term squad member Gutman also left us after being knocked down the pecking order, the same with Josh Harrop.

Coming into the club firstly was Joe Hugill. After his recent release from Old Trafford, he will provide decent backup to Swann up top. Next through the door was somewhat of a marquee signing. After being released from his contract at Real Madrid, Raphael Varane agreed to join us, on a two year deal for a surprisingly reasonable £8.5k a week. He is not the fastest nowadays but will be a good option to have as a squad player. Our next signing was that of a traditional right winger as Maurizio Pochettino joins the club, I think he is a great addition. The highest fee of the summer was spent on Danish centre half Nick Bundgaard Valentin, and on Valentines Day in real life nonetheless. I think he will be at the centre of our defence for years to come and will prove a bargain for just under £4 million.

The final two signings were both made on deadline day. After the sales of Bueno and Gutman, we only had one natural left back in the first team squad, so in came Calum McDonald and Paolino Martire. McDonald was a bit of a panic buy but I believe Martire has a bright future, and can be sold on for a profit, even if he doesn't star for us.

That rounds up our business, our not far off 30 man roster is ready for yet another assault on the Championship.

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An impressive pre-season for us as we looked to build confidence, morale and fitness. Seven wins and a draw should achieve just that.

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We begin with recently promoted Hull at home, before travelling to Charlton. Then we take on underachievers Newcastle before a cup game v Barnsley, rounding off the month, travelling to Derby, who have been in the Premier League in recent times. A tough start all in all, but one that we are ready to tackle.

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Sheffield Wednesday Honours

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

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1 hour ago, dastrokes88 said:

We guaranteed the promotion with 2 games left since West Brom will face Watford next, no last round thriller, no exciting late winners, we won the game against Middlesbrough with a penalty, a bit anticlimatic but the promotion to PL is the most important thing.

And here is our initial budget, time to spend that sweet PL money.

Nice one. I bet Eisner said 'that's all folks' upon clinching promotion :lol:

@oakesypvfcGood luck for a successful season with The Owls.

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Durham City, February 2021

With the January transfer window just closed (although at this level it doesn't really close until March) there have been a few comings and goings at Durham. Isaac Ward, a prospect who had been getting regular starts at CB, was lured away to Marske who play a division above us, while young striker Joseph Jackson opted to join Lancaster, who are two tiers above us, but will probably be consigned to their u23 squad. The only one that really hurt was the loss of star LW Ellis Hudson. Despite picking up an injury midway through January that I hoped would cool the interest in him, Tier 7 Southport signed him on a contract paying £250 a week, the kind of money we just don't have.

All have been replaced but with the usual step down in quality that seems inevitable at the moment. Former Bradford City and Harrogate youngster Edson Prata comes in at left wing; and we did some poaching of our own in signing CB Adam Beardsmore from North Ferriby. We had a replacement for Jackson in ex-Leeds youngster Taylor Ragan who joined us in November.

Personnel changes aside, it was pretty much business as usual:

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December was an easier month with just 5 games, and January was looking similarly light until we required a replay to see off Binfield in the FA Vase. Although the money in that competition doesn't compare with the FA Cup or Trophy, the few thousand pounds we've earned so far have kept the club just about above water. We kept our unbeaten run in the league going, which now stretches to 23 games, but perhaps the highlight of this spell was the return of poacher Charlie Ball from a broken arm. He now has 39 goals from 22 starts, while striker partner De'marlio Brown-Sterling has 38 from 27.

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It's not surprising that we sit top of the table and are looking good for back-to-back titles, but we are worryingly porous in defence so we need our strikers to continue to bang them in. I haven't been able to upgrade the GK position - a couple of better players were brought in on trial but wanted more than we could pay. But we continue to play the right way, not just leading the division in attack but also with the best pass completion and possession records.

Here's hoping for more of the same :cool:

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