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[FM 21] Gun For Borah


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For the dafuge challenge this year I decided to go with the most local team available that were easily obtainable. Identifying each of the the available clubs, I narrowed the list down to Beaconsfield, Hartley Wintney, or Farnborough. Looking at each of their respective reputations (1600, 1500, and 2100) it was clear which was the most likely winner. I spent an entire evening reloading in a vain attempt  to secure one of the more obscure options, but as the night drew to a close, my thinning patience and weary body finally gave in and accepted the job of Farnborough manager. Time to get to started... 

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Career Overview

Season      League                       Position     Achievements
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2021/22     National League South        7th          Promoted via playoffs
2022/23     National League              1st          Promoted as champions
2023/24     League Two                   1st          Promoted as champions
2024/25     League One                   1st          Promoted as champions
2025/26     Championship                 1st          Promoted as champions

  ^^ Links to season review posts

Edited by Abaddon879
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First Impressions

When I walked in to the club, the task ahead of me was soon made clear.

The board invited me into a meeting where they would set out their club vision and expectations for the club. I knew it wasn't going to be an easy challenge from the outset when the club indicated that they fully expected to be in a relegation battle, and hardly filled me with confidence when they only expected us to fight bravely against relegation.

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Speaking with the two media contacts who bothered to attend my inaugural press conference (Dion Mariott of BBC Sussex and Michael Fernandez of The Non-League Paper), they reaffirmed this belief by informing me that early season predictions had us expected to finish 24th, with odds of 400-1. Our chances of attaining at least 20th position required for safety in the division were looking bleak at this point.

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A quick look at the squad however revealed that we only had a squad of 11 players currently on our book.  Four of these were on paid contracts, while the rest were on appearance only deals. To make matters worse, there was no recognised goalkeeper at all. Clearly we had a big rebuilding task ahead of us before the start of the season just 35 days later...

 

Backroom Staff

I was new to this management gig, so before I could set about looking for players, I knew I would need all the help I could get if we were to make a success of this club. Speaking with the current coaching and backroom staff however, it soon became clear that they weren't going to be able to offer much assistance and that changes would likely be needed. What was even more amazing was that someone within the club had decided some of them actually warranted paid contracts of up to £160/week! Luckily, two staff members were still yet to agree to their newly offered terms, so I tore up those contracts and advised that they may remain with the club on a voluntary basis if they so wish.

Ben Murray - Coach
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This guy was actually a reasonable fitness coach at this level. I didn't feel comfortable with the offer of £160/week for his services however, especially considering he seemed more than happy to continue on a voluntary basis. I will review the situation again next summer when I have a better idea of what level the club is at. He might be someone I decide to keep around - maybe with a view to moving him into the U18 setup at some point.

Neil Woodyear - Coach
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Jack of all trades, master of none sums this guy up well. Not at a level I found acceptable, however unfortunately for me he had already signed a 1 year contract on £150/week that ran until June 2022. He was unwilling to terminate his contract without compensation, so for the sake of the club finances, I decided I might as well put him to work if we had to pay his wages either way. Definitely someone who will be leaving at the end of his contract.

Nathaniel White  - U18 Manager
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I'm not quite sure what this guy manages, but hes lucky that there were no U18 players at the club. Another where the powers that be had decided he warranted a £150/week contract that ran until 2022. Will be leaving the club at the expiration of his contract.

Emily Cooper - Head Physio
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The fact she called herself a physio at all was surprising! She was another who had been offered terms of £150/week, but I was able to cancel this contract. As I knew football can be physical at this level, and injuries were inevitable, I informed her that her services were no longer required and she left that afternoon.

 

The club was clearly lacking in several areas. We therefore looked to identify and strengthen in those departments:

  • Assistant
  • Recruitment
  • Medical

 

Curtis Alleyne - Assistant
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This is much more like the standard I was looking for. While they may not be the greatest at coaching, not many are at this level. What was important to me however was that he was able to get the best out of the players at our disposal. This is the guy whose opinion I trust most when it comes to evaluating our players, so iut was important to get someone I could trust. He knows how to fire up the players, and can also manage them while I attend to more urgent matters on and off the field. This is the standard that I expect when I'm paying £150/week.

Anton Smith - Chief Scout
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He has experience working as a scout at Dagenham & Redbridge and Reading, so while he isn't excellent, he was the best we could attract at the time and we desperately needed to establish a recruitment team. He later became a youth coach at Crawley and Southend before we picked him up on a free, so I'm hopeful he at least has some good contacts within football.

Elliot Sutcliffe - Scout
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Again, not a great scout, but we needed bodies in to file as many scout reports as possible. He adds knowledge of Scottish football, having worked with the likes of Hibernian and Hamilton,  He also adds top flight experience, working with Man City as a youth coach earlier in his career, and most recently with Wolves.

Sam Darlow - Scout / Coach
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He was brought in to spot one or two younger players, and he also helps out part time with coaching duties to give us additional coverage.

Matt Boyce - Head Physio
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Again, this is more the level I expect from my staff if we are to make anything of this club, and more importantly, have a good season. He's a very good physio who can come up the leagues with us.

 

Squad Analysis

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We knew there wasn't a lot to work with, As you can see there was no depth in any positions, and I feared that the initial ratings given to me by the existing staff were below the required standard to keep us in the division. That was until I spotted something in the media dream team...

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That's right, newly promoted Farnborough had a player in the dream eleven. Surely this must be some kind of mistake I thought, so I took a closer look and was amazed with what I found! This lad could really play! In fact, he was 22 years old and recently on the book on League 2 Colchester. My current coaching staff even rated him as good enough to play in League 2 at his current ability. Our chances of survival had just been given a huge lift. It was at this point that my attention was drawn to his contract status... £750/week. This lad was earning almost 20% of the salary budget, and was on equal contract terms to myself as manager.

Whatever the contract situation, I knew that I had two options, sell him and try to reinvest the money, or keep him and mould my entire team around him as the midfield maestro. With only 1 year on his contract, his current value was at £20k. The club finances meant that I knew I would not be in a position to discuss extending his contract, but he seemed happy at the club and was not immediately asking to leave. If I could keep things that way and he remained happy, perhaps we could do something special together. To get the best out of him however, I would need to make sure that we try to focus our play through him.

 

Tactics

With the early identification of our star player, Louis Dunne, I set about putting together a tactical formation that would allow us to get the best out of him. Originally I had intended to play with my favoured 4-4-1-1 and 4-1-4-1 combinations, however due to our lack of wingers and the desire to focus play through the middle, I dropped these systems in favour of a more counter-attacking 5-2-1-2 WB. The idea behind this was to have a playmaker sitting in between the strikers and the more industrious midfield, and to focus as much of the ball through this player as possible to utilise his passing, vision, and flair.

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Another added benefit of this formation was that it provided greater numbers in defence. With teams expected to attack us in great numbers due to our pre-season expectations, having this extra man in defence should help to combat this and allow us to soak up the pressure better before striking with a deadly counter attack.

When I suggested this formation to our coaching staff however, it was clear that we would need to bring in a lot of players to fill the roles, as there was simply not enough depth within the existing squad to even field a starting eleven. Some roles were being filled by players out of position, while some had multiple players capable of playing there, but none of them to a good standard. It clear clear that I would be relying heavily on my recruitment team to identify suitable acquisitions, and lots of them.

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Recruitment

So with our formation decided, the recruitment phase began. As we were starting from the ground up and had very little player knowledge within the club, we offered trials to any player who was even remotely interested in joining us. We could be assessing anywhere between 30-90 players a day on trial at the club during the pre-season, but by the end of this we had a much broader knowledge of the players who were currently available on frees, their level of ability, and also what their demands would likely be were we to offer terms to them.

Ultimately, this lead to us offering terms to 18 players, strengthening in the following areas.

Goalkeepers (2)
Nykah Liburd-Hines
Jack Livesey

Central Defenders (4)
Mazeed Ogungbo
Jay Williams
Mich'el Parker
Calvin Chadwick

Wingbacks (4)
Jason Sraha
Jeremy Kyezu
James Clark
Brooklyn Genesini

Central Midfielders (4)
Nathaniel Orafu
Michael Craig
Tawanda Maswanhise

Attacking Midfielders (1)
Max Robson

Strikers (3)
Adam McGurk
Jean-Pierre Tiehl
Eric Bugarin

Edited by Abaddon879
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Vanarama National League South - 2021/22 Season Review

Our first season back in the National League South since 2010/11 when the team finished 2nd but failed to get promoted through the playoffs. Expectations were low, and it was only ever expected for us to fight bravely before my arrival. After my arrival however, there was a feeling of positivity around the club.

Preseason - The focus was never about winning games, but instead a platform for players to impress and improve match sharpness. All the while, we were also improving the clubs finances by playing higher division clubs. 

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After the completion of our preseason, and with the new arrives bedding in, our media prediction had increased greatly, ranking us 5th at 4-1 for promotion. Clearly we had made some good transfers. It was now down to the players to show what they could do.

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League Table -  A good start that saw us climb as high as 2nd in the early part of the season, but a wobble during December and January saw us drop points and fall away from the leading pack.  After spending the first part of the season solidly within the playoff positions, this slump in form saw us drop to 11th. Despite a recovery in form, it seemed the gap back to the playoff and promotion places was too great. We were constantly just outside the playoffs and spent just a single week inside the playoff placed after this. That was up until the final day of the season when, thanks to a 2-1 victory over 2nd place Braintree and results elsewhere going in our favour, we clinched 7th position, and with it the last playoff spot. 

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Playoffs - Despite having the odds stacked against us with every leg being an away fixture, we managed to overcome each of the higher placed teams and book our place in the Vanarama Nation League with an excellent 4-0 victory in the final.

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FA Trophy - Completely outplayed, and coincided with the beginning of our drop in form around December and January.

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FA Cup - The less said, the better. Loosing to a team from the league below was not ideal, and the lack of any cup run hampered our efforts to keep the finances in check.

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Squad - This was the final squad we put together. Overall they performed well, but there was not enough depth outside of the first eleven. Definitely something to consider next season.

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Transfers - A lot of ins this season, but that was to be expected with a playing squad of just 11 to begin with. Next season should hopefully see a bit more stability in terms of transfers, hopefully building on the good foundations put in place.

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Finances - The finances are a real concern, especially considering we were never profitable or close to breaking even throughout the entire season. The preseason fixtures against bigger clubs are the only thing that saved us from even further financial issues.

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Key Player Profiles

Louis Dunne - Predicted to be our best player for a distance, and didn't disappoint. Challenge now is to see whether we can stop him leaving on a free at the end of the season.

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Mazeed Ugungbo - Our star defender. Despite being one of the lowest earners, he bossed the defensive with his physicality.

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Erik Bugarin - Despite joining on non-contract terms as a breakthrough prospect, he soon broke into the first team and finished as our joint top scorer with 16 goals in 30 (5) appearances.

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Edited by Abaddon879
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Apparently the board are concerned about the financial situation of the club, and they have added an extra objective for me to repair the financial damage over the next two seasons

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Well that was quick... Just a few weeks later, with the club out of the red, they declared I had met the objective ahead of schedule

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  • 2 weeks later...

Vanarama National League - 2022/23 Season Review

Once again, the media predicted us to finish 24th. Reinforcements were needed to add quality to a squad low on quality.

Preseason -  The focus here was again on generating income and increasing fitness. With our unexpected promotion in the first season, there were a lot of personnel changes, and quite a few players were in on trial during the preseason. The financial benefits are helping to keep the club running, with an estimated £100k being brought into the club from these friendlies alone.

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League Table -  It was a slow start to the season once again, while the new signings settled, but once we hit our stride, we were far and away the best team in the division. We even set a new league record for the most goals scored in a season - 20 more than our nearest competitor, and 18 more than anyone else in the division!

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FA Trophy - Another poor showing in the FA Trophy, and with our latest promotion, hopefully our last appearance in the competition.

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FA Cup - A great run in the FA Cup that helped our finances immensely. A key 2-1 victory over Charlton set up a massive away tie at Chelsea. This one match generated us roughly £600k due to the split of FA Cup gate receipts.

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Squad - A better squad in terms of overall quality and depth, although we lost several players in December/January as several out of contract players decided they weren't getting enough playing time and left on frees. We also lost our star signing in January, but we couldn't turn down the money on offer for someone that had only been at the club six months.

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Transfers - We brought in some much needed strength in key positions, but also lost several players due to not keeping an eye on their contract status. We signed Coffey on non-contract terms, and as a result lost him on a free. We were lucky to get a player of Gilchrist's calibre for just £300/week, so when Championship team Preston came and negotiated up to £125k, we couldn't turn it down. Luckily his departure didn't destabilise the team too much, as we marched on to the title regardless.

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Finances - As you can see, the Chelsea tie was massive for the club.

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Key Player Profiles

Jonathon Mitchell - Picked up on a free and proved to be solid between the sticks. Ended the season with the fourth best average rating, and played a key role in the win over Charlton.

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Eric Bugarin - Carried on his goal scoring form from last season, and ended joint fourth top scorer in the league with 23.

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Sam Bellis - Picked up from Southampton, formerly of Man City, and showed his pedigree. The league's second top scorer, forming a deadly partnership with Bugarin up front and contributing 26 goals.

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Edited by Abaddon879
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A quick look at the salary per annum shows just how much we were punching above our weight. We had no right to challenge, let alone win the title!

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A look at our overall and average wage compared to Notts County (2nd) shows just how well we performed.

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It was a close fought battle this year, but I once again beat Mark Stimson to the Manager of the Year award. Champions from last season finished a respectable sixth. Under any other circumstances, he would have fully deserved the award. Part of me feels a little sorry for him missing out after two great seasons from them.

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Sky Bet League Two - 2023/24 Season Review

Another preseason prediction for us to finish last, but our signings soon changed that and by the time our transfer business was done, we were predicted to finish fifth.

Preseason - You know the drill here. Financial boost to the club, test out new players, a and build fitness. We also played fewer matches, as we looked for a more structured preseason schedule with our new professional status meaning full-time training. Despite playing much larger reputation teams, we weren't once humiliated, and actually managed to win a fair few of them. I can only put this down to them not playing full strength teams or lacking fitness. As a final hurrah of preseason, we played fierce rivals Aldershot and beat them 4-2. This was the match to kick start our season and give the fans something to cheer for.

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League Table -  We were never really threatened from the start. We were unbeaten in the league until November, and ended the season with the most goals and fewest conceded to hammer home our dominance.

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EFL Trophy - A fairly weak group, but was never a competition that we focused on. Mostly playing the reserves to build match sharpness for fringe players.

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EFL Cup - A strong start with a 5-0 thumping of Northampton gave us some hope early in the season, but we were put in our place by Cambridge. As the finances on offer here are less than the FA Cup, there was less emphasis.

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FA Cup - Another fantastic run saw us defeating Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham to set up another money spinning away fixture at Leeds. A massive goal fest saw us on the end of a 6-3 beating. Not a great score line, but at least we went down fighting. You will see once again from the finances, that it helped the club massively and boosted our balance by around £600k again. As this was the fifth round, we also saw an increase in prize money as a result.

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Squad - It took a few seasons, but I'm finally happy with the squad depth assembled this season. It had quality in every position and we finally have a good nucleus to build from.

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Transfers  - Originally we had not planned many signings, but there were a number of excellent players being released, so we put offers in early before a number of contracts expired to beat the rush. With our newly acquired scouting reach of Wales, we also raided a few of their lower tier teams for two young defenders who had great technical and mental abilities, but need a bit of work in the physical department.
Once July 1st hit, we snapped up several more players, notably strengthening in every position. Key signings were made for the wingback roles, and a new striker partnership. Our squad had been complete going into the first game of the season, but then a player became available that we had to break the bank for.

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Finances - The new stadium expansion is now costing us £7k/month, which saw a gradual decline in our balance, but luckily another cup run helped to provide another much needed boost. I'm a little worried how our finances will fare if we fail to mount another cup run next season.

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Key Player Profiles:

Oscar Thorn - I had been a little worried when I first signed him. His stats were good, but our coaches informed me he wasn't a very consistent performer... He's now the new club record holder for most goals in a season, with 27 in the league and 34 overall. Needless to say, the coaches will be leaving the club this summer.

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James Hillson - Although being in last season's hall of fame, I didn't feel Jonathon Mitchell was able to make the step up, so we we signed this guy. A former player from my hometown Reading, snapped up by Arsenal a few seasons ago, but didn't do enough to seal a new contract there. Their loss was our gain, and he had a remarkable season, conceding just 40 goals in 46 league games, and keeping 16 clean sheets. His aerial ability isn't the best, but at this level you wont find many better at shot stopping!

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Rhys Williams - And this was the guy that we broke the bank for. I had forgotten about him in all honesty, as he wasn't interested when first released by Liverpool. As we started preparing for the first game of the season however, Bolton put in a bid, and I thought I would make a cheeky enquiry to his agent. The wages he was demanding were eyewatering, but it wasn't an immediate refusal and his ability was plain to see. A fast, physical ball-playing defender that has no rights playing in League Two. Due to this high wage demands, we were also able to negotiate no minimum release fee, so this guy will either be a monster player for a number of seasons for us, or command a club record transfer fee when he leaves. 
Helping us to promotion in his first season, he has already begun to repay the £125k yearly salary he is costing us.

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Edited by Abaddon879
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After our recent expansion of Cherrywood Road at the start of this season, I was positive about the future. So it was a surprise to see a new item appear in the 5 year plan...

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You will also notice that the owner is looking to sell. There have been several news items about consortiums and fans trusts attempting to purchase the club, but so far the current owner has rebuked all speculation. It now appears that he has decided he cannot take the club any further, and is willing to listen to offers. These are slightly worrying times.

The very next day, the plans were confirmed, and the search has begun for a new home for Boro. It was a bit surprising to hear that the owner was keen to take the club forward to the next level considering he is also looking to sell. Slightly contradicting himself there I think.

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It was quickly followed by some bittersweet announcements. We had already agreed plans to improve the youth facilities, but it seems that improvements to the training facilities will cost so much that we can no longer complete the youth facilities upgrade. I wont complain at better training facilities (we are currently basic), but I would have liked to have both pushed through.

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Edited by Abaddon879
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After the loss of our youth facilities, but in the face of their willingness to increase the training at a cost of £750k, I asked the board to improve the youth coaching and recruitment. I had tried a sneaky request to improve the youth level as well, but this was promptly rejected once more due to financial constraints put on us by the training facilities.

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BREAKING NEWS!

In an unexpected, but massive development for the club. Dan Braithwaite has just signed for Premier League Watford for a record £10.5M.

After a bidding war broke out between a number of Premier League teams, Watford emerged victorious with a bid of £10.5M upfront, plus a 50% of next sale clause.

The former Cardiff Met Uni player, who can play either in defence or midfield, was signed on a free just 12 months earlier. He played 31 times for Farnborough, scoring 2 goals, before being picked up by the Premier League club.

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Edited by Abaddon879
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We're being picked apart by the teams in higher divisions, with another of our promising defenders being picked up by Championship team Brighton,

Again, another bidding war erupted between a handful of teams, and Brighton emerged victorious, completing the signing for a £4.8M upfront fee, with an agreed 50% sell on clause.

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On the upside, the additional funds have allowed me to convince the board that they should resume plans to improve the youth facilities.

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The long term aim is to be self-sufficient and not rely on the scraps thrown out by Premier League clubs each season to remain competitive. Until our facilities are improved however, that is unlikely to be possible, as the standard of the club needs to drastically improve. Hopefully these new training and youth facilities will help us move towards that end goal.

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Posted (edited)

Finally, after months worth of speculation, our previous chairman Simon Gardener put himself on garedening leave and relinquished control, of the club .

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Previously in charge of Hyde United didn't exactly fill me with enthusiasm, and while there were no talks of replacing me, they soon confirmed no additi0onal funding would be injected into the club. They do appear to have cleared the previous loan that remained since our initial stadium expansion however. This was likely just part of the takeover deal however, as there is no sign of investment in the club finances. Saying that, we still have a £16M balance, so it's not a bad position to be in for a League One club.

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Edited by Abaddon879
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Sky Bet League One - 2024/25 Season Review

Mostly due to the strong signings we made last summer, for the first time since taking over we were not predicted to finish bottom. Instead the media had graced us with a predicted 21st place finish. This meant that survival was very much a possibility, and I would go as far as to say expected.

Preseason - A very strong preseason from us saw us beat some much more illustrious teams such as the Glasgow pairing of Rangers and Celtic, as well as Blackburn and Aston Villa. This suggested to me that the squad was strong enough to comfortably remain in the division, and maybe even push for top half.

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League Table -  Not quite as easy as last season, as we had two significant stumbles during the season which could have easily cost us, but we recovered strongly, and finished the season 6 points clear at the top.

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October struggles that coincided with our loss of top spot

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Uncertainty around the ownership of the club seemed to destabalise us, and where we would usually score one more than the opposition, we went on an extended run without scoring and our strikers forgot how to find the net. Some training focus on chance creation and finishing aligned nicely with the announcement of the takeover being complete just before the Sunderland game saw us rediscover our touch with a 5-0 demolition of Plymouth. Luckily for us, our early season form had allowed us the luxury of this poor patch, and we did not lose top spot as a result of this.

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EFL Trophy -Unexpected progression to the quarter finals, but the match against Man Utd U23s came during our second wobble (se above), and so we were easily dumped out.

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EFL Cup - A battling display against Bristol City was quickly forgotten as we were beaten on penalties by Gillingham.

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FA Cup - We were no longer reliant on a cup run to keep the club running, but nonetheless I was disappointed to lose. Again, this coincided with our second poor run of form, so was to be expected somewhat.

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Squad - You'll notice a large number of loan players make up our defence this season. This is a clear weak point for the squad, and something I am hopeful to correct in the off season. Archie Stride has been with us for two seasons now, and it looks like Leyton Orient may not want to renew his contract so I will hopefully be picking him up on a permanent contract in the summer. He has been a key player on the left wing for us, and will be hard to replace should they not let him go. Both Alex Kirk and Rhys Williams had bids for them in the January, but I was not in a position to even consider selling either of them at the time. Time will tell how many of these players remain at the club at the start of next season, as the step up from League One to Championship will be significant.

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Transfers - The summer was dominated by the departures of youth prospects Dan Braithwaite and James Ballard for huge transfer fees. In addition to these, as a result of the on-going ownership situation at the time, several transfer embargos were imposed, severely disrupting our activity in the transfer window. 
It was clear early into the season that we were suffering from a thread bare squad in certain places, so the focus in January was to improve our options at centre back. Paudie O'Connor came in on a 6-month contract for big wages, but registered just 1(5) appearances and did nothing to show he deserved a longer contract (or quite frankly, the wages he had demanded) so will be leaving just as quickly as he came in.

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Finances - It's obvious what a difference the money from the Braithwaite and Ballard transfers made, They have ensured the clubs financial future for the next 

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Key Player Profiles

James Hillson - For the second season in succession he has been fantastic, and single-handedly won us yet more matches with his shot stopping. An incredible 23 clean sheets in 46 league games, with only 32 goals conceded. If he continues in this form, he will soon be playing in the Premier League )either with us or after a big money transfer).

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Sean Adarkwa - Was originally a squad player, and mostly used as backup, but after injuries and poor form saw other players drop out, he came in and made it difficult to drop him. 19 goals overall, and top scorer in the league with 14 goals in 19(4) shows just how good his return was. His goals arrested our second slump of the season, with 4 against Plymouth alone, so he fully deserves his potion here. Whether he will be starting as much next season is entirely up to him.

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Oscar Thorn - Despite loosing his place halfway through the season, he still ended the season as top overall goalscorer with 20, and won player of the season for a second time. I fear that his playing time will be limited next season however with the emergence of Sean Adarkwa and Guillem making strong claims. Time will tell how he responds next season, but his pace and overall athleticism are key assets not to be overlooked at any level.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Still going about our business with minimal recognition. Despite our meteoric rise up the leagues, and me recieving manager of the year each year, I've yet to see any interested from other teams.

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  • 4 months later...
Posted (edited)

Sky Bet Championship - 2025/26 Season Review

Another season of struggle predicted, with the media expecting us to finish rock bottom and come strait back down. I was more confident of our survival chances however, especially if I could land some key signings in areas we needed.

Preseason - The finances were looking much stronger, but I still wanted to give our guys a real challenge during pre-season to show what level we were at. Recently relegated Premier League sides Derby, Crystal Palace, and Bournemouth were there to show whether or not we could compete in this league, while parent club Chelsea, along with Everton, were the exhibition matches. For perhaps the first time since taking over however, we ended our preseason with some easier matches. Friendlies against our fierce local rivals Aldershot and Woking were arranged to add a competitive edge to these matches, and Notts County were thrown in for good measure.

Seeing the results that we were able to achieve during this gruelling preseason, my confidence in the team was only further enhanced.

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League Table - A flawless assault on the Championship saw us break numerous records and go on to win the title. This was a bittersweet moment for me however, as we beat the league points record of 106 from my own beloved Reading FC.

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EFL Cup - Strong performances against fellow Championship teams Reading and Swansea allowed us progression through to the fourth round, where a spectacular match saw us lose 5-3 to Nottingham Forest.

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FA Cup - We made it all the way through to the quarter final, however the draw was not kind to us as we faced last seasons Premier League champions Manchester City away from home. A respectable 1-0 defeat ended our chances of progression, but I was very pleased with how well we did overall.

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Squad - Despite our success, it cannot go unnoticed that we were heavily reliant on loans. We ended the season with just two of the five recognised central defenders actually employed by us, The rest had been brought in on loan, and this is something I would seriously have to address in the following season.

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Transfers - I was keen to ensure we did not completely overhaul the squad so that they could continue to build bonds and so we had a stable platform to build on. With this in mind, I extended the loans of Jamie Box, Garry Osman, and Leon Pambou, while also ensuring that there were no major players leaving during the summer. In addition to this, I was able to land my two top targets - Jez Davies, a 20y/o midfielder from Tottenham, and Layton Stewart, a 23y/o striker from Liverpool. They commanded huge wages of £8.75k/week and £12k/week respectively, however we were well under our wage budget and I saw these as key acquisitions.

January saw a headline transfer leave in the form of Archie Martin. The 19 y/o midfielder originally signed on loan during our League Two campaign, and then joined us permanently a year later from Braintree for a mere £7.5k. Despite only playing 10 league games this season, Norwich and a few other teams started showing serious interest and when the bids came in, I was able to squeeze £11M out of them for his services. He clearly had potential, but much like the ytransfers for Braithwaite and Bullard, this kind of money would help sustain the club and also fund the on-going improvements to the club facilities. Alex Kirk, who had been a key member of our title winner League Two and League One campaigns, unfortunately had found himself on the edges of the first team due to the arrival of Jack Hardy on load, and with his contract due to expire at the end of the season, an offer of £525k from Preston was accepted. In a strange twist of fate, Dan Braithwaite was brought back to the club on loan from Watford as a result of this move. Also, the revelation of last season, Sean Adarkwa, left the club for Plymouth. His contract was running down, and he hadn't shown anywhere near the levels of performance as last season. In fact, since joining Plymouth, he managed just 4 substitute appearances for them in League One without a single goal.

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Finances - I won't pretend that the massive transfer fees we've been able to generate haven't helped us here. We are maintaining a bank balance that would be the envy of almost every other club outside of the Premier League. This has allowed us to consistently pursue improvements to our training and youth facilities that have now made them amongst the best in the country.

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Key Player Profiles

Layton Stewart - There was a reason I was so keen to land this striker, and he proved exactly why that was. 20 goals in the league, and a further three in cup competitions, made him our top scorer. A really exciting prospect going into our first season in the Premier League.

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Garry Osman - One of the players from last season that impressed enough for me to extend their loan a further season, and boy did that decision pay off. While 14 assists from the wingback position was second best to Leighton Clarkson's 17, combine that with his tackle success rate, key passes, and chance creation, and it's clear to see why this guy made the wing back role his to keep and kept my other key signing (Jez Davies) out of the team for large parts of the season.

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Guillem - While technically there were players who had higher average ratings (Leon Pambou, Oscar Thorn, James Hillson), the impact that this player had in our promotion cannot go unmentioned.  He ran Layton Stewart very close for top scorer with an equally impressive 18 league goals, and had Premier League teams making multi-million pound bids in January for him. I tied him down to a new contract, but very much hope this guy will stay around for a while longer, as he could turn out very good indeed.

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Edited by Abaddon879
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Meanwhile, there is news on the stadium. We are continuing to search for a suitable location for our new 5,000 seat stadium,, but in the meantime...

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Part of me loves the fact that we have moved to the Madejski Stadium, as it is the home of my beloved Reading FC.

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