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Posted (edited)

Just a Quick Update 2 seasons on...

At such low levels, youth intakes are a god send , however poor your HoYD is
 

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On the other hand, we've been cruising along in the league in the first season where weren't predicted to finish dead last (18th of 22!). All thanks to the goalscoring antics of Jamie Clements, whose attributes barely stand out in any form.

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Cool thing i've noticed is that we have some absolute giants all over the pitch (notwithstanding the current intake). Realistically, despite having a go at promotion, I really doubt that this squad has the ability to stay up next season in Vanarama South... :/ 

Edited by shadow1812
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 08/04/2021 at 19:28, joe5p said:

I won't spam the thread guys, but @Jogo Bonito sent a request in to add local media for Reading (Get Reading) as shown below. Keep them coming via PM if you want any local to the team you are managing or support. Real journalists not all in yet but sources looking good. Cheers. 

Get Reading.jpg

Hey, what skin is this TIA

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1 hour ago, hasdgfas said:

The Neutrals must have loved the CL

Hard to bear. A cruel game sometimes! :(

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We went and did it again:

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Winning the league with 80 points feels undeserved but I'll take it.

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6 players in team of the year is great! Very happy with that.

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17 million well spent on this young man, our best player two seasons in a row leading us to two championships on the back of our defense.

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One of my favorite ever players in FM, Tom Simpson. He's an academy product from back when we were in League 1! And look at him now.

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I already posted the heartbreak of the CL, but we're getting closer to it.

 

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I have been offered the England job, and as a way to try to spark some life back into this save I'm taking it. Also, I couldn't turn down an opportunity to manage the best player ever to come out of an FM Academy of mine. 

Blyth -> Man City -> Real Madrid

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8 hours ago, hasdgfas said:

I couldn't turn down an opportunity to manage the best player ever to come out of an FM Academy of mine.

Yeah, he looks great. Don't think I've ever seen "legendary" applied to a player before :eek:

Somewhat inspired by the Euros, I'm running a little save with... yes, again... Brentford. Just putting in an hour here and there and it's going pretty well. February 2021 and we're topping the Championship with a 12 point lead over Norwich, with Bournemouth and Watford behind them. We also did this in the 5th round of the FA Cup:

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The lads defended like Trojans, and Jansson got on the end of a corner to give us the win. I wouldn't say we FM'd them - actually we held our own, winning the possession battle and enjoying a better xG. But it was unexpected :cool:

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Playing as Charlton, just coming upto the end of the 1st season, we've won the league and just had the first youth intake....got probably one of the best prospects playing in the lower leagues I've ever had:-

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  • 3 weeks later...

It's been very quiet on the forums lately, and this thread is no exception. So, just to prove there's life in the old dog yet, here's another EFL adventure...

In looking for a new save I wanted a bit of a challenge (but not too much ;)), a team I'd never managed, and offering something more than just a climb through the divisions. After trawling through the 72 EFL clubs my eye fell upon Hull City. Since dragging themselves up to the Premiership in 2008, the Tigers had been very much a yoyo club - relegated 2 years after promotion, up again 3 years later, and in the 3 seasons between 2015 and 2017 their record reads: relegated, promoted, relegated. After that, it was downhill all the way and in 2020 the club was dumped into L1 for the first time in 16 years.

The challenge, obviously, is to return Hull to the PL but what about that "something more"? On the positive end, the squad is pretty good and features a number of decent Championship-level players. On the other hand, they sold their best players, which is how they achieved that latest relegation. To add a little twist, the board expects an immediate return to the Championship, but the media reckons we're only good enough for 8th and not even a playoff prospect. A small complication: there's no money. At all. No transfer budget, no surplus wage budget, nothing, nicht, nada. Finally, the board is actively looking to sell, which is kinda sorta good because they are serially, demonstrably incompetent, but also kinda sorta bad because every takeover of a club I've managed in FM20/21 has been pretty much a disaster.

Sound like fun? Let's go!

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Season 1: August 2020

On taking on a new club my MO is always the same...

1. A good look at the squad. At the very least, are there two players for each position? There's usually holes - only 1 RB or LB, one player short for central defence, for example. Beyond that, what sort of tactical setup is possible? Do we have enough strikers to play 2 up top? Do we have enough CBs to play a back 3? Are there so many wide attackers that a narrow formation is out of the question? This screen answers those questions:

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At first glance, this looks pretty good. No obvious holes, good first-choice players and decent backup everywhere. So what does that mean for possible formations? We have 4 good options at striker, so a 2-striker system is possible. We have a lot of wide attackers, so a narrow system would be problematical. We have only 4 good CBs so a back 3 is probably out of the question. I'm not wedded to any particular tactical approach, so this looks OK. But...

When we look a little deeper, there are some problems:

It turns out that all of our best strikers are also our best AMR/AML options, Which is also true of our best AMCs. And that great DM is one of our 'good' CBs. On one hand, this gives us a lot of flexibility, but it also means that a couple of injuries could leave us seriously short-handed in certain positions. So after considering the options it turns out that a 2-striker system is out of the question, we don't have enough depth to play with a DM, and playing with widemen in the midfield line is a problem on the left, where our wide players want to be in the AM line. After shuffling the pack, repeatedly, creating and filling gaps, I eventually decided that we could play either a 433 with a flat-3 in midfield, or a 4231. In previous FMs I've struggled with a 4231 and tended to ignore it, but this year - for some reason - it has worked very well. So, a 4231 it is.

2. Check out the backroom. In the case of Hull, this looks pretty good - there are lots of staff that have stayed on since relegation, so it's largely a Championship-quality staff and puts us at the top of the league:

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On taking over, there were a couple of gaps in the coaching team, so filling those only improved our position. Sports science was a weak area, so terminating one contract and bringing in an upgrade pushed up our standing there. But while this looks good, there are a number of coaches and scouts who I'd normally get rid of and look for improvements. But, since we have no money, and most of them are on 2- or 3-year contracts, there's little or nothing to be gained by making those changes now. I also haven't filled every vacancy - HoyD and Technical Director are very expensive positions to fill; in the circumstances I'm happy to leave those empty.

3. Set up scouting. I'm usually happy to leave the high-level decisions about scouting either to my Chief Scout or DoF and that usually works out fine. In the case of Hull, as the above screenshot shows, we have the best scouting setup in L1. In reality, neither the Chief Scout or DoF is particularly good but, since we have no money for transfers it's irrelevant in this first year. A year from now they'll be cheaper to get rid of and we can upgrade. In the meantime, I have all I need - one scout with good JCA and JPA. When the rest of the staff bring up likely prospects, the Good Scout will give me a report I can rely on.

What I always change is the basics of scouting. I always set preferences for recommendations to '1 day' during a transfer window (so I don't miss an opportunity), and '1week" outside of transfer windows to keep scouting meetings manageable. I also set the minimum recommendation level to 80 so I'm not wasting time on players who aren't good enough. The things that change, in filters, depend on what level I'm managing at. In L1 and above, I turn off all offers from agents and free agents since they are rarely/never good enough. In non-league saves I leave them on since you never have enough scouts to bring you enough recommendations and some of my best signings have come through that route.

4. Any other business. Always take a look at your u23 and u18 squads - there are often good rotation options (and occasionally a star) lurking there. At the very least, you should know who your best prospects are and make sure they're listed for loan if that will help their development. Check your schedule to see if enough pre-season friendlies have been arranged to ensure tactical familiarity and fitness. If you want to take a hands-on approach to training you should sort it now. Like scouting, training is something I'm happy to delegate and I've never had a problem.

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Season 1: September 2020

Having determined that 4231 was going to be my preferred system, there wasn't much else to do except start pre-season. With no transfer budget and no wage surplus, bringing in extra players was out of the question... the squad was the squad. Happily, it looked as though the squad, and the system, was going to be OK:

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Nothing too difficult, although the game against Belgium outfit Standard of Liege saw them field a number of senior internationals and we looked OK against that level of opposition. It's always nice to rack up the wins in pre-season but, in reality, it doesn't mean much. Losing all friendlies should set alarm bells ringing, but the fact is that neither your players nor the opposition are taking it too seriously. It's all about fitness, team cohesion and tactical familiarity. Concrete example: Keane Lewis-Potter is one of my brightest prospects and, already, one of the better players in the squad. Here's what he did in pre-season:

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Three starts, one sub appearance, 3 goals and 1 assist for an average rating of 7.3. Happy with that! But here's what he did in our first competitive games:

 

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No goals, no assists, some very poor performances and an average rating of 6.6. All I can conclude from this is what I already knew: he's a good prospect, a talented youngster, he can turn it on against lesser opponents when it doesn't matter but struggles against better quality when theres more at stake.

Happily, none of that matters much when it comes to our early competitive matches:

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A 100% record in the league, and a good run in the Carabao Cup. The board required us to reach the 3rd round, which we did, and we very nearly pulled off an upset against Fulham who were mid-table in the Premiership when we played them. Also worth noting is that, with the exception of Fulham, no-one has scored against us so far. Not surprisingly, that record puts us top of the division:

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One genuine surprise is the emergence of Jacob Greaves as a star in the making. He's a 20-year-old CB (just two weeks past his 20th birthday) and has been absolutely dependable in defence while proving a threat from set-pieces at the other end of the pitch. With only 4 natural CBs in the squad I had him tagged as the obvious rotation/cover option, but he's immediately made himself first name on the teamsheet.

Early days, but we couldn't have asked for a better start.

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11 hours ago, warlock said:

thumb-hull-city-fc-silk-flag-emblem-logo-4k.jpg

Season 1: September 2020

Having determined that 4231 was going to be my preferred system, there wasn't much else to do except start pre-season. With no transfer budget and no wage surplus, bringing in extra players was out of the question... the squad was the squad. Happily, it looked as though the squad, and the system, was going to be OK:

image.png.d60269de5a0cd7bceca7f1f454b7fb54.png

Nothing too difficult, although the game against Belgium outfit Standard of Liege saw them field a number of senior internationals and we looked OK against that level of opposition. It's always nice to rack up the wins in pre-season but, in reality, it doesn't mean much. Losing all friendlies should set alarm bells ringing, but the fact is that neither your players nor the opposition are taking it too seriously. It's all about fitness, team cohesion and tactical familiarity. Concrete example: Keane Lewis-Potter is one of my brightest prospects and, already, one of the better players in the squad. Here's what he did in pre-season:

image.thumb.png.7f4796012c8a01f6f6af4953af7aeb9b.png

Three starts, one sub appearance, 3 goals and 1 assist for an average rating of 7.3. Happy with that! But here's what he did in our first competitive games:

 

image.thumb.png.27cb6a5214b31e72667ada7d173ad251.png

No goals, no assists, some very poor performances and an average rating of 6.6. All I can conclude from this is what I already knew: he's a good prospect, a talented youngster, he can turn it on against lesser opponents when it doesn't matter but struggles against better quality when theres more at stake.

Happily, none of that matters much when it comes to our early competitive matches:

image.png.035de112e63ca29a70f9e778de84e768.png

A 100% record in the league, and a good run in the Carabao Cup. The board required us to reach the 3rd round, which we did, and we very nearly pulled off an upset against Fulham who were mid-table in the Premiership when we played them. Also worth noting is that, with the exception of Fulham, no-one has scored against us so far. Not surprisingly, that record puts us top of the division:

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One genuine surprise is the emergence of Jacob Greaves as a star in the making. He's a 20-year-old CB (just two weeks past his 20th birthday) and has been absolutely dependable in defence while proving a threat from set-pieces at the other end of the pitch. With only 4 natural CBs in the squad I had him tagged as the obvious rotation/cover option, but he's immediately made himself first name on the teamsheet.

Early days, but we couldn't have asked for a better start.

A great start to the season Warlock. I am glad you are posting in here again as it has gone quiet in here. I miss Jogo's posts as well.

I did a save recently with Fleetwood/Northern Ireland joint manager as Fleetwood had a few Northern Irish players but got bored quite quickly.

I just seem to get bored managing English teams lately.

I am thinking of doing a Wrexham save soon. 

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50 minutes ago, Ronaldo Beckham said:

I am glad you are posting in here again as it has gone quiet in here

Yeah, my feeling is that overall activity on the forums is well down this year, perhaps Covid-related. It's been a long spell since Jogo was around - hope he's okay.

I've done a few different saves in the last couple of months but, like you, had trouble sticking with them. Posting here seems to up my commitment so I'm hoping this one will run for a while. Also think I might do this one with more frequent updates, just for my own entertainment.

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52 minutes ago, warlock said:

Yeah, my feeling is that overall activity on the forums is well down this year, perhaps Covid-related. It's been a long spell since Jogo was around - hope he's okay.

I've done a few different saves in the last couple of months but, like you, had trouble sticking with them. Posting here seems to up my commitment so I'm hoping this one will run for a while. Also think I might do this one with more frequent updates, just for my own entertainment.

Yeah I do inbox @Jogo Bonito every so often to see how he is. I think he is just busy with real life stuff.

I felt like this place was way more popular when Co-Vid hit as people had more time to themselves and now they are probably back to work etc.

 

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My FM availability is definitely winding down. This Blyth save has got maybe a season and a half left to try to win the Champions League, but my interest is fading a bit with my availability.

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1 hour ago, hasdgfas said:

maybe a season and a half left to try to win the Champions League

Hope you make it :thup:

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Finally managed to finish season 4 at Oxford. Cast your mind's back and we won the Championship at the first time of asking, securing Premier League football. The season didn't start well, but we managed to turn the corner and clawed our way to a 10th place finish! Conceding far too many goals, but scoring a few too, I've had a really enjoyable season.

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54 Premier League points, FA Cup semi finalists and runners up in the League Cup. All with league one players and kids.

 

It'll probably take me another 2 months to finish this next season. Hopefully see a few more posts in here in the meantime.

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@warlock Glad to see you keeping the thread alive. Good luck with Hull, I had a nice time with them in the last moments of Bowen's spell. Definitely a squad too good for League 1 with Greaves, Docherty, Wilks and KLP amongst others. Greaves was out on loan at Cheltenham when I was in charge and he had a good spell there which seemed to be the making of him (also the son of ex-Hull and York player Mark Greaves). Interestingly, I hear they are one of the eight EFL clubs under a transfer embargo (with some leniency in certain scenarios) for the coming season along with Derby (obviously), Reading (expected) and Swindon (shambles). A surprising one there was Gillingham.

@Ronaldo BeckhamCheers for the name drop. You're right I haven't been on for a month or two, was managing Ipswich but haven't played FM in that time. Hoping I might be able to complete the 2022-23 season with them before FM22 is released.

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3 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

@warlock Glad to see you keeping the thread alive. Good luck with Hull, I had a nice time with them in the last moments of Bowen's spell. Definitely a squad too good for League 1 with Greaves, Docherty, Wilks and KLP amongst others. Greaves was out on loan at Cheltenham when I was in charge and he had a good spell there which seemed to be the making of him (also the son of ex-Hull and York player Mark Greaves). Interestingly, I hear they are one of the eight EFL clubs under a transfer embargo (with some leniency in certain scenarios) for the coming season along with Derby (obviously), Reading (expected) and Swindon (shambles). A surprising one there was Gillingham.

@Ronaldo BeckhamCheers for the name drop. You're right I haven't been on for a month or two, was managing Ipswich but haven't played FM in that time. Hoping I might be able to complete the 2022-23 season with them before FM22 is released.

I have missed your updates Jogo. I always enjoy how you do with certain teams.

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@Jogo Bonito

He lives!! Good to hear from you, was beginning to worry you were hooked up to a breathing machine somewhere :eek:.

Also glad to hear I've got Hull while the getting's good... haven't been following the ins and outs of the lower leagues IRL, what with the Euros and the mighty Brentford securing promotion, but it sounds like there'll be some good challenges come FM22.

Hope you find some time to finish that Ipswich save :)

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Just popping into this thread - good to see some familiar faces and some saves still going! 

Personally I'm a bit tapped out of English football - going up the leagues is so fun but once you get to the premier league it all becomes a bit ruthless and lacking soul. 

Will definitely be back next edition though :)

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I will always probably start in England, because where else would an American be able to pull a Ted Lasso.

My Journeyman saves (as myself) almost always start in England (Vanarama North or South usually)

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thumb-hull-city-fc-silk-flag-emblem-logo-4k.jpg

Hull City, October 2020

 

The transfer window came and went and, with no money available, I wasn't expecting to do any business. But it had become clear that striker Tom Eaves was poor in training and poor on the pitch, so I decided to offer him out and see if there was any interest. And an offer duly arrived from Bristol Rovers - only a loan deal but they agreed to pay the bulk of his wages, and a loan fee of £1.7k a month, plus a guaranteed transfer fee of £60k in summer 2021. That provided enough wage budget to bring in Southampton's Dan N'Lundulu on a season-long loan. The Saints striker is taking a while to settle, but he's a definite upgrade on Eaves.

The only other activity of interest was a "no news is bad news" deal. AM Dan Crowley, on loan from Birmingham, displayed a similar attitude to Eaves - rubbish on the pitch, always complacent, and while the rest of the squad was putting up ratings of around 7 or 8 in training, he was consistently around 6. When I criticised him for it, he announced that his training was fine and I was out of order. Unfortunately, his loan can't be terminated so he'll see it out in the u23s. If he or Birmingham aren't happy, he can leave with my blessing and save us another £3.2k a week.

Small irritations aside, the lads turned in another stunning month of football:

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In a busy month we produced 7 consecutive victories to take our winning streak to a perfect 10. As results suggest, almost the entire squad is performing at a high level. The away game at Bristol Rovers was a nervy affair and turned into an end-to-end goalfest that eventually we managed to win. If there's a cloud on the horizon it's the lack of contribution from the strikers. First-choice Josh Magennis has just 3 goals from 8 starts, while backup N'Lundulu has just a single assist from 5 starts.

The problem appears to be that both are natural targetmen (the role is a condition of N'Lundulu's loan) and are not a perfect fit for the tactic - I normally prefer AF or PF-att. But since everything else is working so well, I'm reluctant to make changes to accomodate a TM. I'm prepared to live with it for now but if our form drops off I'll have some difficult decisions to make. Happily, the midfield has taken on the goal-scoring duties with aplomb - AM Thomas Mayer leads the scoring chart with 4, while our other AMs - James Scott and KLP - and CM George Honeyman have 3 goals each, as does young CB Jacob Greaves.

It would be unfair to suggest that Honeyman is carrying us, but he has established himself as our best and most consistent player:

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It remains to be seen how long we can keep up this form, but our start to the season could not have gone better.

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43 minutes ago, hasdgfas said:

Got a shot

Well played on a big night in Blyth :applause: Do you know who you'll face yet? 

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1 minute ago, warlock said:

Well played on a big night in Blyth :applause: Do you know who you'll face yet? 

The other Madrid club, Atletico. Not champions of Spain since 2030. 3-time Champions League Winners(2027, 2029, 2031), Champions League Runners up just last season in 2042.

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Glad it's not Barcelona, at least. They've had a bit of a stranglehold in Spain for a while now:
image.thumb.png.1879d254b6981fa99dfc442e0c34e491.png

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1 minute ago, hasdgfas said:

The other Madrid club

I'm guessing Real have been the more successful and you just beat them so... reasons to be optimistic. Good luck in the final :thup:

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thumb-hull-city-fc-silk-flag-emblem-logo-4k.jpg

Hull City, November 2020

Another hectic month but the team continues to perform at the highest level in all competitions (even the competitions I'd rather we put behind us).

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November was notable for the performances of loan striker Dan N'Lundulu. He'd failed to find the net in the preceding 3 months and I was beginning to wonder if he'd ever come good. Then against Accrington he suddenly found a touch of form and bagged both goals en route to a 2-1 win. Even better, against Exeter in the FA Cup he continued his new-found form, and then bagged his fourth of the month against Burton. Sadly, he has lapsed somewhat since then, failing to score in his last 3 starts. The law of averages strikes again!

The month ended with back-to-back games away at second-placed Ipswich, first in the league and then in the FA Cup. The first match was a close encounter - after young CB Jacob Greaves put away a corner, the Tractor Boys quickly hit back for the equalizer before KLP secured the points. We were expecting another tough contest in the cup but Ipswich made a number of changes that seemed to weaken them, allowing us to run out comfortable 3-0 winners. Our reward for that victory is a home tie against Championship outfit Huddersfield.

In "the other competition" we advanced to the knockout stages of the Pizza Pot with a 100% record, although money is so tight even the few thousand pounds for each victory is a welcome boost.

One bit of transfer news involves the departure of CB Reece Burke to Brentford. He has been a star at the heart of our defence, but with his contract expiring in June 2021 and his refusal to discuss a new contract, I had no option but to offer him out rather than lose him on a free transfer. Brentford were interested and we eventually negotiated the fee up to £1.8m. Such is the state of our finances that only £180k will make it's way into my transfer budget, which will make it difficult to find a replacement.

Less than halfway through the season we have already set new club and league records for consecutive victories, and we're currently perfect in the league with 14 wins from 14 games played. As a result, we're beginning to open up a decent lead at the top of the table:

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Our strikers continue to struggle for goals, but we are managing to spread the burden throughout the team. 17 of our 24-man squad have at least one goal, and 10 of them have 3 goals or better. We lead the league for goals scored, but equally important is our defensive record with just 8 conceded, another league best.

Long may it continue!

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image.thumb.png.b43c577f6d3f72f6fc8804e5cc47e7b3.png

And that's a wrap. Clinical finishing and a brilliant performance. I'm curious about how the AI would handle this team, so I might do a few seasons on Holiday to see what happens with Blyth without me, after 23 seasons, 5 promotions, 3 Premier League Titles, a Champions League Title, an FA Cup, a Europa League, and one heck of a save. Not sure what to do from here, but probably not all the way down in Vanarama North again.

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24 minutes ago, hasdgfas said:

one heck of a save

Indeed, and a brilliant finale too :thup:

And good luck in your next endeavour!

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Hull City, December 2020

Well, things can change in a hurry!

After our stunning start to the season, with a 100% record in the first 3 months of the season, December brought a distinct change of fortune. Before our first defeat of the season, the writing was on the wall. We were struggling for goals, we often scored first but then sat back and saw out nervy wins (a sign of complacency, perhaps), and the relentless schedule eventually took its toll on player fitness with a few injuries creeping in. In hindsight, it was obvious what was coming. The 3-0 win at home to Shrewsbury was the last hurrah...

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The two weeks around Christmas were absolutly horrible. The defeat away at Blackpool was disappointing but it was away. The home defeat against Pompey was bad, but they were pushing hard in the playoff places. The away draw against Sunderland felt as though we might have just stopped the rot, but to follow that with a home defeat against Lincoln was a major blow. The real problem is our inability to find the net - our strikers have struggled all season, but the attacking midfielders had been scoring freely. After the Shrewsbury game they didn't.

As we head into the January transfer window, we don't really have the ability to switch things up. There's little extra in the wage budget and the transfer budget is all but empty. I might have the opportunity to terminate a couple of loans in order to bring in an upgrade at striker but I'm not confident. Of course, it didn't take long for the vultures to start circling...

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Which feels a little harsh - we still have a decent lead at the top of the table, but we certainly need to stop the rot before it gets much worse.

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And there's the problem: our top scorers after 21 games have just 6 goals apiece. We still have the best defensive record in the division, so the problems definitely lie at the top of the pitch. The result is that I'm torn on the right tactical approach - the 4231 has worked so well for so long that a change seems ridiculous, but I'm seriously considering a tactical switch to a 442 or 424 in search of a cure. It's going to be an interesting January window.

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Hull City, January 2021

After a lot of consideration about signings and whether our tactical system was still fit for purpose, in the end all it took was two minor changes and a team meeting. On the first day of the New Year I called a team meeting and suggested that recent form was nothing more than a blip. We certainly had the ability to get back to winning ways. To help us on the way, I made two small tactical tweaks: first, I pushed our line of engagement up a notch with a view to imposing our style on our opponents and putting us on the front foot; second, I switched Dan N'Lundulu from targetman to advanced forward. Although the TM role was a condition of his loan, I figured if Southampton complained I could bluff and lie my way to avoiding his being recalled, although in the end it wasn't an issue. The result was an instant up-turn in our performance:

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Charlton and Wigan are well down in the bottom half of the table, but we turned in the kind of dominant play that was missing in the Christmas period. Event better was the convincing win against Blackpool who had started our run of bad form in the previous month. The defeat away at lowly Accrington was, I hope, just another blip, and we returned to our best with a stunning 8-0 win against Swindon.

Perhaps even more impressive was our performance in the FA Cup, seeing off Championship side Huddersfield, before a gutsy win against Everton. And throughout the month, the transformation of N'Lundulu via the role switch was evident as he bagged 9 goals en route to a League One Player of the Month performance.

The January window saw a couple of changes. On-loan AMR Gavin Whyte was sent back to his club after minimal contributions at an unjustified wage. In return, I loaned in Leeds AMR Ian Carlo Poveda, who justified the move by scoring more goals in 3 games than Whyte managed in 5 months. With the tactical switch to an AF role, striker Josh Magennis was looking increasingly redundant, so I set about finding a suitable backup for N'Lundulu and eventually secured the loan of young Cardiff striker Max Watters, who was a star of my recent York City save. I'm not expecting great things from him this season, but he's a definite upgrade on Magennis. The biggest business in January was our ability to resist offers from Newcastle and Nottingham Forest for two of our brightest prospects - CB Jacob Greaves and AM Keane Lewis-Potter. The bids were nowhere near my valuation of either and, fortunately, both were happy to remain at the club.

In other news, the long-expected takeover turned out to be much ado about nothing. The Allam family have gone, with an existing director taking control. Fortunately, nothing much has changed; unfortunately, nothing much has changed and there is no more money than previously.

But after our minor slump in December, which allowed Ipswich to close the gap to just 2pts, and our defeat to Accrington, which saw Ipswich claim our top spot in the division, the victory over Swindon saw us topple the Tractor Boys and take back the lead, at least for the time being...

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Honeyman and Greaves continue their impressive seasons, but it's a joy to have an undisputed top scorer, and a striker into the bargain.

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On 09/07/2021 at 00:02, warlock said:

@Jogo Bonito

He lives!! Good to hear from you, was beginning to worry you were hooked up to a breathing machine somewhere :eek:.

Also glad to hear I've got Hull while the getting's good... haven't been following the ins and outs of the lower leagues IRL, what with the Euros and the mighty Brentford securing promotion, but it sounds like there'll be some good challenges come FM22.

Hope you find some time to finish that Ipswich save :)

Cheers and thanks for your concern.

You're doing very well with Hull, and promotion looks yours to lose. Hopefully Ipswich will be following you up.

Speaking of Ipswich, I have just finished the 2022/23 season with them and will do some updates too.

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Season 2022/23

After promotion from League 1, the Ipswich board just hoped the club would avoid relegation for the next four or five seasons. There was no pressure off the pitch either, with a healthy bank balance and large unspent transfer budget. The wage roll of £150k per week was 21st lowest in the second tier as at 31st August 2022 (Norwich were spending £750k per week in contrast).

Here is a summary of the first part of the season, which saw the club comfortably in 15th after 23 league games at the end of December 2022. There were inconsistencies, not enough wins, some heavy defeats, and most obviously far too many drawn matches. But the board targets were being met comfortably.

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The winter transfer window saw two excellent acquisitions with central midfielder Josh Laurent arriving from Birmingham for a fee of £425k and Brighton central defender Matt Clarke returning to his first club for a bargain £350k. The arrival of Ipswich-born defender Clarke saw a change to the formation with three central defenders deployed.

Midfielder Glen Rea signed a pre-contract deal with Shamrock Rovers but would see out the season at Portman Road, whilst young midfielder Liam Gibbs went on loan to Doncaster. Central midfielder Brett McGavin was sold to Rotherham for an initial £150k (rising to £210k) despite never making it out of the Under 23 squad. On-loan winger Diallang Jaiyesimi was allowed to return to his parent club Charlton in January as he had not sparked as much as in his previous loan spell last season.

The second part of the season went pretty much the same as the first. The majority of that period saw the club in 15th, with a slight rise in the last few weeks lifting the side to a final finish of 13th. Ellis Simms once again finished as top scorer with 21 (20 in the league) despite a few injuries slowing down his progress at the end of the campaign.

April saw the departure of central defender Jimmy Dunne after 44 league appearances (19 in this season) since signing on a free transfer from Burnley in 2021. He was unhappy at being fourth choice centre-back and was keen to move on so the £1m fee from MLS club Charlotte FC was too good to refuse. Trinidadian international left-back Noah Powder was taken on trial for four weeks around the same time, but despite impressing in my title-winning U23 side he was unable to secure a work permit for the next season and the deal was cancelled at my request.

A number of first team players will be allowed to leave at the end of their contracts in the summer, but none of them are irreplaceable and the key assets are all tied down. The only decision still to make is whether to offer first-choice goalkeeper (and fans Player of the Season) Jamal Blackman a new deal, as I feel the two deputies are good enough to take over his role.

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Beyond the first team, both the U23 and U18 sides won their respective leagues. The U23 group had been carefully assembled and a few of them should be promoted to the first team after their positive development.

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Edited by Jogo Bonito
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3 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Speaking of Ipswich

Not bad at all for a promoted season, especially on that wage budget :thup:. Blackman looks like he might be worth hanging on to, if you can afford to keep him, but I dare say you might have had the occasional message about Marriott not justifying his wage.

Is another season in Suffolk on the cards?

Ipswich are pressing us hard in my save, but Lincoln are the form team of the moment and could overtake both Ipswich and us if we're not careful.

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The dream continues...

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I was resigned to a replay when Spurs scored twice in the last 5 minutes. Then with the last few seconds of 4 added minutes ticking away we won a free kick on the right that saw N'Lundulu receive a push in the back in the penalty area. Honeyman smashed the spot kick past Lloris for a last gasp winner. Heart rate: Elevated :eek:

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23 hours ago, warlock said:

Not bad at all for a promoted season, especially on that wage budget :thup:. Blackman looks like he might be worth hanging on to, if you can afford to keep him, but I dare say you might have had the occasional message about Marriott not justifying his wage.

Is another season in Suffolk on the cards?

Ipswich are pressing us hard in my save, but Lincoln are the form team of the moment and could overtake both Ipswich and us if we're not careful.

Thanks, yes I was very happy with that mid-table finish. I'll see what the summer brings before deciding whether to have another year in Suffolk.

It sounds like you will have an exciting run-in, the FA Cup game against Spurs certainly was! Great result that.

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3 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Great result that

For reasons I don't understand, I often seem to do well against higher-league opposition in the cups when I manage a lower-league team. In my occasional saves managing Premiership clubs, I usually endure a run of penalty shootouts against lower-league opposition, until I succumb to one of the Top 6 sides in a 90-minute defeat. Football is a mystery, I guess :D.

Did you decide on Blackman's future? I must admit, I think I'd keep him!

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On 17/07/2021 at 02:53, warlock said:

Did you decide on Blackman's future? I must admit, I think I'd keep him!

I did, read on!

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Season 2023/24

After a mid-table finish last term, it was decided that I would aim to complete a further season at Portman Road. With the board wanting nothing other than to avoid relegation again, an initial transfer budget of £7.5 million and wage allowance of £185k per week were generous and well above what I thought would be needed.

In fact, after deciding that a large number of players could be moved out, that transfer budget had risen to £15.8 million by the time the last friendly had been played at the end of July (and the wage bill was at £170k per week). I'd made it a bit of a mission to try and improve the squad without spending any money this summer, and so far that has been achieved. I say so far, because a four month chase for exciting German youngster Ansgar Knauff has just ended in failure and I might be one option short at right-back because of it (I was going to re-train him). The player had been a major target with a contract expiring in the summer, but he wouldn't talk either before or after his release and RB Leipzig have just picked him up on a free transfer. I'd also lost out on young Italian striker Marco Da Graca back in April, when a pre-contract offer had been agreed but Juventus then went and triggered his contract extension clause. 

The transfer business is recorded in three sections below, with the sales of Harris, McCarthy and Blackman coming just before the release of Williams, Taylor, Kenlock and Vincent-Young (plus a couple of youngsters). The decision to let Blackman go was a 50/50 call as he wanted a wage more than double his expiring contract and a length that I didn't want to give either. Therefore, to pick up a £500k fee for him just two weeks before he became a free agent was an absolute no-brainer. The fee for bit-part player Harris was also too good to refuse as his role would have been even further reduced in his final year. 

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With around £1 million already made in sales, the rest of the window until the end of July has also gone surprisingly well. Wolves started it all off by paying a substantial sum for youngster Humphreys who had not even made it to my U23 squad and was five days away from being released. Simons and Wiggett had both arrived on free transfers from Chelsea last summer and would have eventually graduated from the U23 squad, but £3.8 million (rising to £5.4 million) for the pair of them was money that was far too good to ignore. Rea and Rafferty were fringe members of the squad who could be replaced by better, younger and cheaper options.

The major sale was want-away midfielder Downes, who had been moaning for two years about leaving. I rejected numerous bids for him in that time, but eventually accepted a bid from Premier League new boys Blackburn after talking them up to £8 million + 30% of any future profit. I also insisted on a loan-back for a year with no contribution, so it's a financially good deal for an unhappy player. The same side have also made six bids for captain Woolfenden this summer, but at least he doesn't seem to be holding that against me yet.

So, apart from Downes (who I consider one of my own anyway) and Sharman-Lowe and Robertson who are both U23 signings, there were six new arrivals in the first team squad. Sterling is currently my only right-back (playing 532) but is a bit raw, hence one more arrival may happen in the remaining month of the transfer window. Central midfielder Benson and centre-back Phillips are solid squad members, whilst Wilson-Esbrand is a promising young left-back who I expect to compete with Garbutt.

Foreign recruits are quite rare for me at English clubs but both of mine come with good reputations. Argentinian winger Orellano is left-footed but plays mainly on the right, and although that isn't a tactical match for me, it's good to have one option at least should I ever decide to switch up my formation. The other arrival is Dutch striker Zirkzee who should be dangerous at this level after impressing in his time with Bayern Munich. The striker is the new highest earner at £14.5k per week, trumping by some distance Clarke who is next on £10k per week.   

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So with one month left of the transfer window, I am currently working with a 21-man squad as shown below. I'm not in the market for any other players other than an extra right-back if the perfect solution comes along. I'm also not likely to sell anyone else, although Allen and Marriott would be allowed to go if good offers came in. The U23 group still has some good quality within, and I'm confident enough in many of them being able to step up a level if needs must during the course of the season.

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And here is a quick summary of pre-season results, which has gone reasonably well other than a late loss to PL club Fulham. My three main strikers (Simms, Adebayo and Zirkzee) have all netted a few goals, so should begin the new campaign with a certain amount of confidence. Walton is currently just ahead of the younger Lammens for the goalkeeping position, and other than Sterling the other new recruits will need to show some patience forcing their way in.

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Edited by Jogo Bonito
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Hull City, February 2021

After a hectic January schedule that saw us play 8 games in the month, February proved to be even more brutal with 9 games in just 28 days. This was entirely a consequence of our continued success in three competitions - the league, the FA Cup, and the Pizza Pot.

We opened the month against divisional rivals Ipswich in the latter trophy and, again, came away the victors in a 3-0 win through goals from KLP, Crowley and N'Lundulu. Incidentally, Crowley - who I had relegated to the u23s following poor performances, poor training and poor attitude - had to be recalled because of schedule-induced fatigue and injuries and, happily, turned in some much improved displays. To the extent that he's been in regular rotation since before Christmas.

We followed that result with an unbeaten month, including the now-famous triumph over Spurs in the FA Cup, and a memorable win against Portsmouth that saw us secure the points thanks to 2 injury time goals from N'Lundulu, finishing with a confidence-boosting 4-0 victory away to Wimbledon.

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But if we were hoping for a respite in March, we were disappointed - the schedule will see us play another 8 games this month, including the final of the Pizza Pot against Pompey, and an FA Cup quarter-final against more PL opposition in West Brom. It promises to be another exercise in carefully planned player rotation as injuries and fatigue continue to mount. Crowley is midway through a month-long spell with sprained knee ligaments; Honeyman is just back from his 3rd injury of the year; and CB Greaves is on a week-long rest.

In better news, our finances are now looking much better and, thanks to the FA Cup run, currently stand at a balance of £4m, up from a loss of around £1m at the start of the season. And that unbeaten month in the league saw us re-establish our lead at the top of the table:

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19 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

The decision to let Blackman go was a 50/50 call as he wanted a wage more than double his expiring contract and a length that I didn't want to give either

In the light of new evidence, I endorse your decision :lol:. Zirkzee on a free looks like really good business (although he might take a while to settle), and Nathan Phillips did very well for me somewhere this year (so many saves!!)

Glad to hear you're in for another season. As you'll see above, the Tractor Boys are still in the promotion hunt in my save and - very happily for them - they don't have to play Hull again this season ;)

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19 hours ago, warlock said:

In better news, our finances are now looking much better and, thanks to the FA Cup run, currently stand at a balance of £4m, up from a loss of around £1m at the start of the season. And that unbeaten month in the league saw us re-establish our lead at the top of the table

Very impressive form, I will expect you to have sealed promotion by the time I finish typing! N'Lundulu is having a fine season. 

Hopefully Ipswich will follow you up.

19 hours ago, warlock said:

In the light of new evidence, I endorse your decision :lol:. Zirkzee on a free looks like really good business (although he might take a while to settle), and Nathan Phillips did very well for me somewhere this year (so many saves!!). Glad to hear you're in for another season. As you'll see above, the Tractor Boys are still in the promotion hunt in my save and - very happily for them - they don't have to play Hull again this season ;)

Thanks, I'm quite happy with the signings and it shows you don't have to spend money to assemble a decent squad.

I'm not expecting to be a playoff contender myself, but you never know. Some good early momentum might carry the team beyond their natural level.

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1 hour ago, Jogo Bonito said:

I will expect you to have sealed promotion by the time I finish typing!

Ah, not quite - I'll be firing up FM after a quick browse through the forums. Might take another couple of sessions; it's too hot to sit in front of a glowing laptop during the day :)

1 hour ago, Jogo Bonito said:

I'm not expecting to be a playoff contender myself, but you never know

Looks like it wouldn't take much improvement to make the playoffs... an extra 10pts maybe? But it's fun to play without board pressure - hope you enjoy it :thup:

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Hull City, March 2021

Thanks to international games, and an improving squad, March turned out to be less frantic than expected as we were able to postpone a couple of matches as 3 of our first-team squad were called up to represent their countries. Unfortunately (and obviously) that will make for a brutal April with 9 games to be played next month.

Two highlights for March. First, we played 4 league games with a 100% record. Second, we enjoyed a stunning visit to the Hawthorns in the FA Cup quarter-final, heading for home with an unlikely 3-0 victory over Premiership West Brom. And it should have been better, as AMC James Scott bagged the opening goal and then proceeded to miss 2 penalties:

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As the stats show, we weren't lucky - we were comfortably the better team. WBA manager Sam Allardyce dissed us before the game, claiming we were easy opponents, and post-match claimed that the Baggies had been robbed. Okay, Sam, whatever.

I guess there should be a third highlight of the month as we enjoyed a trip to Wembley for the Pizza Pot final and saw off Portsmouth in a routine 4-0 victory but I'm more pleased by the financial contribution that the two cup performances made to our bank balance:

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Here's how things stand going into April:

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Ipswich continue to stumble, but we've managed to open up an 11pt lead over Lincoln with two games in hand. N'Lundulu heads our scoring chart, while Honeyman remains our leading source of assists, but KLP is putting in a series of good performances and his goal tally is now at 19 scored and 10 assists, putting him firmly in second spot for both categories. Happily, we've just signed him to a new 4-year contract. I don't want to count chickens but, inevitably, thoughts are already turning to next season and where we need to strengthen to compete in the Championship.

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18 hours ago, warlock said:

Two highlights for March. First, we played 4 league games with a 100% record. Second, we enjoyed a stunning visit to the Hawthorns in the FA Cup quarter-final, heading for home with an unlikely 3-0 victory over Premiership West Brom. And it should have been better, as AMC James Scott bagged the opening goal and then proceeded to miss 2 penalties:

Ipswich continue to stumble, but we've managed to open up an 11pt lead over Lincoln with two games in hand. N'Lundulu heads our scoring chart, while Honeyman remains our leading source of assists, but KLP is putting in a series of good performances and his goal tally is now at 19 scored and 10 assists, putting him firmly in second spot for both categories. Happily, we've just signed him to a new 4-year contract. I don't want to count chickens but, inevitably, thoughts are already turning to next season and where we need to strengthen to compete in the Championship.

Great form in both Cups and the league is almost done and dusted now. Onwards and upwards!

I've got Big Sam as one of my Ipswich scouts in 2023. Truthfully, I'm not sure it's a good match for me at all but he had good attributes in game and I thought his reputation might help.

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2 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

he had good attributes in game and I thought his reputation might help

Just checked and he looks a decent scout in my version of the FM multiverse. I was also surprised to see he had a spell as Everton manager, which had completely passed me by :kriss:

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Champions!

We managed to seal the title a couple of games earlier than I thought:

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Next up: L1 Hull in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley against Championship outfit Swansea. I'm not counting any chickens, but we've already seen off two Premiership sides... and it's Swansea :eek:. If we make it to the final we'll face either Manchester City or Arsenal so there's no question of winning it. But an FA Cup final? Not sure I've ever experienced anything like that with a team outside the Premiership.

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Anyone else having issues with the annoying work permits?

Ive got Hereford up to the Championship and just finished my second season there by losing in the play off semi finals but I’m getting screwed by the work permits.

Any good young players that I find (have to look young as I still have a very small transfer and wage budget and the max wage I can give is still small), are either not interested in joining me unless I get promoted (which I probably can’t do without getting better players) or they’ll agree to join but they won’t get a work permit…….I’m enjoying the save immensely but I’m seriously considering waging until someone makes a fox for the work permits before getting FM22 just so I don’t have to mess about with them

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51 minutes ago, Zeonflux said:

Anyone else having issues with the annoying work permits?

I just view it as one of the real-life limitations. I rarely try to sign foreign players. I have had success with loans, which seem to be exempt from WP issues. There can be problems with the lesser European leagues (especially Scandinavia), but it's relatively easy to sign players from France/German/Spain/Italy, and rather too easy to snap up South American wonderkids.

In terms of a fix, you can install a no-Brexit mod that would solve the issue.

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