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Eagles in glass palaces shouldn't throw stones...


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... or there's a saying something like that! Well, I thought I would bring to you my FM21 career as it takes an interesting (I hope!) turn. The year is 2023 and I have packed up my troubles in my old kit bag and moved back to Blighty! Here is a quick summary of where I've been so far:

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I remember the good old days of FM where couldn't start off as an international superstar and so would find yourself as a random 'Joe' off the street trying to manage the biggest clubs and players in the world. So I always start in this tradition! My career has been varied and rapid so far and it will be fun to share with you what turns it takes next! Here is the postion I find myself in at the start:

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In my next post, I'll have a look at my starting squad for game one and what the first few games have in store for me.

 

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Ondrej Masnty The Man U youngster joined Palace in 21-22 and is now number 1 choice for The Eagles.

Kluiverth Aguilar The Peruvian youngster is on loan from Man City. He’s only played one league game for The Eagles  so far but he starts for me.

Nathan Ferguson The CB joined from West Brom in 2020 and has become a Palace stalwart ever since.

Alfie Mawson The resolute CB joined in 2021 and has played 15 games in both seasons since. Can he now step up and grab a starting spot.

Jeffery Schlupp A name that is now synonymous with Palace. The utility-man starts at LB for me.

Jacob Sorensen The midfield man is in his second season here from Norwich and I’m looking to him to take control of the midfield.

Lewis O’Brien Another CM in his second season at the club. I’m looking for him to provide the progressive passes from DLP.

Paolo Ghiglione The Italian is in his fourth season in English football and has been on scintillating at Selhurst Park this year.

Connor Ronan This is a player who’s been here, there and everywhere throughout his career. I’m not sure he’s the strongest in the role but it’s his to start off with…

Ebere Eze  The £17 million man has been goals and assists a-plenty since his move from QPR. I hope that he continues as he takes up the role as IF for me.

Sebastian Haller I wanted physical presence upfront and the Ivorian gives it in abundance. Let’s hope that I can improve on his one goal in ten and rating of 6.50 so far this season…

 

There’s only one game left this month which sees us play 21st place Ipswich at Portman Road. Let’s hope we start with a bang!

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Thanks for the reply @Ewan0404! He's alright - according to the assistant, he's a good player for most Championship teams. That gives him a 3-star rating for my side but certianly a position I'm probably looking to improve!

December 2023

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There was only one game this month and it certianly wasn't a bad way to start! It looked my first game in charge was going to be a frustrating 1-1 draw despite us dominating the game but Toney had other ideas! He led the last-mintue goal-scoring charge and we finish with a scoreline that reflects our domination of the game! We're now two points off the play-offs!

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A game against David Moyes’ Preston is followed by a derby game against Brighton in the cup. Then we play top, middle and bottom in the other three games – it will certainly give us a good sense of where we’re at as a team.

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January 2024

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Well - what a month it's been! The results have been pretty spectacular and it's hopefully a good start to the story. The first game of the month saw us come against Preston and, inspired by the in form Toney, we smashed them 4-0. The next game was a real shock - we took on Prem League Brighton in a derby match and were 4-0 up by half time, certinaly not a result that I expected! Round the point of this game, Wolves came in with a bid for Ghiglione and he was soon on his way. Shoretire took the role against Sunderland and the 24th place team gave us our toughest match so far - Eze firing in the game's only goal. Our defenders came up with the goods against Watford with Osborn and Mawson bagging the goals but the biggest news was a pretty serious injury to Eze. Shoretire came in to replace Eze and showed some fine form with his hat-trick against Barnsley and Fran Perez, the replacement for Ghiglione, popped up with an assist with 5 mins of his debut. Finally, we played my first club - Spurs where we proved to be totally out of our depth as they ran away with the game.

 

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So the results leave us just in the play-off places and seven points off the automatics - maybe it's just possible? I certainly want to push that way as hard as I can now that we know there's no more cup action to occupy us either.

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We've been pretty busy on the in's and out's. Most of the outs are squad players that weren't going to get game time and so were moved on. Kranevitter failed to keep his work permit so I loaned him out to avoid him being around the place doing nothing. O'Leary and Palmer were brought in to uplevel what I saw as weaker areas of the squad. Palmer, in particular, could be a real diamond. I shall let you know!

 

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Shoretire clearly impressed this month bagging both player and young player awards!

 

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The next month sees us play Boro and Stoke who are both top half and then a motley collectin of lower-half teams. I really hope that this could be a serious points-earning month and that it could help us secure our play-off place and move us up closer to those automatics...

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February 2024

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Well, if January was almost perfect, then February was quite the opposite! The month began with a shock defeat to Stoke. Despite outdoing them on xG, they took three of their chances and we abjectly failed to take any of ours! The game against Swansea saw us go behind within ten minutes but Perez took his chance to help us earn a point. The Wycombe match was a disaster - we went down early and, when we pegged them back, I thought we'd get at least a point but a 25 yard screamer from Wisdom gave the minnows all three points! Against Cardiff, we simply failed to turn up. They bossed the game and carved us apart with comfort. At this point, I was beginning to wonder what had happened to players I'd had in January. Up next were Boro and a topsy-turvy game looked like it was going to finish all-square until Perez broke in the last minute of injury time; his shot was saved but Mir then tapped the ball into the back of an empty net. Finally, we took on Portsmouth and performed in the way we had last month.

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A less-than-perfect month sees us drop out of the play-off places. We're only a point short of Brentford but everything is very tight and we can't afford too many more months like this or we will fail to miss our targets altogether. There are ten games to go and we really need to perform in order to attain what the board expect of us!

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No month is easy but March sees us play table-topping Newcastle, play-off positioned Fulham and top-half Bristol and Hull. Only Luton are in the bottom-half in this month's game. It's not going to be easy but we simply have to better than we have been this month.

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March 2024

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I think my verdict on this month is not bad but not brilliant either! The month began with a 0-0 draw against Hull. This really was  a wasted opportunity as Hull didn't get a single shot in the whole game but we couldn't make good at our end. With Eze missing through injury, no-one stepped up and so two points dropped. The game against Bristol City saw Eze's return but we still couldn't come up with the goods and drawing a second blank in a row was not doing our chances any favours. We took on table-topping Newcastle (Eze) in game three and, amazingly, we had them on toast! We absolutely dominated the game - we did only the score the one but Toney's put-home off a Eze rebound was enough to give us three points. Next up came 22nd place Luton (Jensen 67, Shoretire 69, Ferguson 81, Ronan 90+3). It looked like this was going to be a frustrating points drop again until Jensen fired in a thunderbolt in the 67th minute. We scored again two minutes later and then carried on until the final whistle went! The month's last game saw us play Fulham (Eze 54) who were one place above us. Again we bossed the game; we conceded first through a wonder goal and, once Eze had scored, I thought we'd go on to win it but it wasn't to be!

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The month ends and it sees us clinging on to the last of the play-off places. Now this is the minium expectation of the board so the next month (and one game) will either see me hit the target or fall short - and then who knows what happens?! Now, let's take a lot at who stands in our way...

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Our final run-in sees us playing a real mix all over the table. Sheffield W are 17th, Forest are now table topping. Then we have mid-table Brentford, Play-off place Derby and close contenders Reading. Anything could happen in the next half-hour!

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April/ May 2024

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Well this was a month that we knew we had to deliver in. There was a lot to do and very little room for error. Game one saw us play Wednesday (Schlupp 23, Perez 32, 71 Lawrence 81). We came out the blocks with thunderbolt strike by Schlupp and that set us on our way. The Forest (O'Brien 6) game was infuriating. We started off really well with O'Brien smashing us into the lead and an early xG looking all good. However, Sorensen had other ideas: he got himself sent off in the sixteenth minute. It was all one way traffic but we kept it to 2-1 before missing two stunning chances to draw late on! Brentford (Toney 11) saw us get a hard-fought win with Jensen (standing in for the suspended Sorensen) sending in a beauty of a cross for Toney to head home. Derby (Toney 12, 56) saw us get a two-goal lead and I thought that a place in the play-offs was ours but we dropped out of them all together by the time that Derby struck the late leveller. Finally, with one eye on the Boro game throughout, we took on Reading (Eze 12). Barnsley seemed to have the match of Boro throughout and Eze's neatly struck penalty was enough to take us into the play-offs!

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But there was bad news however:

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And here is the draw! Two season defining games to go!

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Play-offs 2024

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Game 1 sees us take face the home tie. We go behind twice and it looks like we're going to set ourselves an uphill battle but substitute Rafa Mir appears in the last few moments to get us level. Let's see what we can do on a wet Wednesday night in Stoke. I have heard that that's the place to be ... right?

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And our journey ends one stop early. We fight throughout the game and, all the time that it's 0-0 I'm hoping for the best but, alas the best doesn't come. Stoke take over in the second half and secure themselves a place at Wembley. We go back to the drawing board. Next up will be a review of the season so far.

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Season Review

So, after a tough way to finish the season, what's the overall verdict? It was disapointing not to get further in the play-off's but, considering the club was 11th when I arrived, it feels like I must have got something right to get them up to 6th and into the play-off's at all!

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Here's the team of the season - I'm surprised that Ghiglione got in with an average rating of 6.3 but he wasn't around with me long so I can't really comment. I'm glad to see that my signings - O'Leary, Palmer and Fran Perez got into the team of the season alongside Mawson who I re-instated into the team.

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The Fan's player of the season is given to O'Brien and Aguilar (on loan from Man City) gets young player of the year. Both players played well. I think my award might go to Fran Perez but then, as I signed him, I might be a biased!

 

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It was good to see O'Brien make the Championship team of the season. I just hope that, this time next season, we've played so well that we'll dominate the team on our way up and out. Fingers crossed eh?!

 

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This is what I've been given to work with for the season. We're not spending much on wages at the moment so it does really give us the chance to pep up the squad if I can find the right players to do that. I think that, with the good form we've shown in this half-season, we should look to build on that and really aim high...Vision.JPG.137fa5c7909ffae1a710cdecec0cb32b.JPG

Having no club vision when I arrived, the heirachy suddenly decided that the club needed one! I don't mind the idea of working with the youth system and bringing young players through. Although I have found it frustrating in the past that it doesn't take account of young players once they've signed their professional contract - don't know on that one.

The other step is a bit of a blow though. We weren't playing counter-attacking football last season and I want to make my name with a more possession-based style. I argued with the board to get it taken out the vision but they wouldn't budge. I'm digging my heels in though. I want my reputation to be control possession. Perhaps one day in the future, move towards tikki-takka even. Has anyone else had this and decided to stick to their principles? Would be interested to hear from people who faced the same battle!

Next up will be transfers and pre-season...

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Pre-Season

So here we are, getting ready for the season to come! I'll have a look at transfers first and then look through the expectations for the season ahead.

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In terms of the 'Ins', I've looked to make postions where we relied on loanees last season into more permament slots this season. This has seen Lundqvist come in to take on the AMC role and Omeruo (once of Chelsea - who knew?!) coming in to take RB. I've also signed a young prospect for both postions in Livramento and Intxaurraga. The next siging was that of Harvey White from Spurs. I was looking for that signing that would really make my team sparkle and he's the closest I've found - I'm still not sure it's enough to make magic but we'll see how it goes! When we look and the 'Outs', it's very largely loans and general clearing out. There's a few decent prospects out to get game time and I'm interested to see how Aderamola and Devine in particular get on.

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I feel like that this season is going to be a high-stakes one. Even though the club expectation is to get into the play-offs, you can see that my promises mean several players are expecting much, much more (not all this season, granted). It's been tough to keep my best players here and these promises, combined with my determination to take on the board and stick with my control possession principles makes me think this season is going to be win or bust! Finally, let's have a look at what month 1 brings up for us...

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As ever with the Championship, it's a packed month. We play eight games in total and there are some serious biggies in there too. Our opening game sees us play recently-relegated Blackburn and they're expected to be in the play-off conversation along with Fulham, and Watford. Charlton should be three points as they're expected to prop up the pile and then there is the small matter of title-favourites Villa to round off the month!

 

 

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August 2024

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Well it's been a busy month and probably not the perfect one either! The opening game saw us take on recently-relegated Blackburn. We dominated the game in general but couldn't put our chances away. They hit us on the break and beauty of a cross was smashed home by Silva. Next up was Reading (O'Brien 3, Fran Perez 11,16, 23) where we were 1-0 down, 2-1 up, 2-2 and then went on to win. Fran Perez wowed the crowds with his hattrick and walked away as MOTM. The Charlton (Eze 2, Mawson 45+1) manager had been talking us down as relegation candidates but a comfortable win showed them who's who. In the league cup, a slightly-rotated side beat Portsmouth (Toney 20, Pierrick 34) and Pierrick's goal in particular was a fine strike from deep on the right-hand side. We then lost a frustrating game to Fulham (Smith og 41) which we bossed but failed to take our chances in. This was followed up by an equally frustrating game against Cardiff (Toney 1, Eze 25) who nicked a late draw despite us again dominating the game. Watford (Mawson 6, Eze 44, Fran Perez 46) have been surprise strugglers - losing every game so far - and our comfortable win pile on the misery. We then took on Bournemouth in the League Cup and the Prem League side handed us a drubbing on a plate - certainly got to look at style-of-play against the big boys. Finally, we played Aston Villa (Mawson 45, Fran Perez 61). We were second-best for much of the game but led 2-1 for a good deal of the second-half. Harvey White played a beauty of a ball over the top that Fran Perez finished with a stunning volley. Villa kept pushing us though and nicked a point in the 85th minute.

 

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The month has been a real mixture so far and we end up 9th. On the plus side, we are only one point outside the play-off places and only four points off the automatic places. Boro are comfortably top-of-the-table though being a good seven points ahead of us.

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September is a much quieter month than August has been! Huddersfield are just above us in the table and the newly-promoted side will certianly provide us with a stern test I think. Sheffield Wednesday are in the relegation places with four points from their seven games so I'd hope for a win there and, as mentioned above, Boro are comfortably top of the table so it's going to be a case of putting the up the barricades there. I'll let you know how we get on!

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September 2024

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Well, I think the best that I can say about that month is that it was short - other than that, it didn't have much going for it! In game one, we took on Huddersfield (Toney 25, Eze 54) and put on a cracker of a show. The first goal was the result of a beautiful cross from Fran Perez and then Eze tucked home a penalty to seal a win. Our performance was commanding and all looked good until ... we took on Wednesday (Mawson 44). They opened the scoring and then we took part in a real end-to-end scrap with the bottom-half side. When Mawson scored from a corner, I thought we'd go on to sort things out in the second half but they had other ideas - scoring a 30-yard daisy-cutter to give them the three points. We took on table-topping Boro in our final game of the month and were played off the park. I tried to counter-attacking in the first half but we created nothing and were carved apart. In the second half, we went back to our control possession but still didn't create a thing. Not good news! I should say that for these last two games we were missing Fran Perez and this seems to have had a huge impact on our creativity. Also, our AMC - Roman-Pascal Lundqvist seems to be absolutely hopeless! He has no assists and no goals so far. I think the bench is calling him espeically with a hot youngster called Toure coming through the ranks...

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The table looks even worse than it did last month but we're still only one point off the play-offs. I'm really not sure this squad is up to it though. You just don't know what version of the team will turn up from game to game and I simply think that form like that won't get us into serious play-off contention.

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October sees us come up against Stoke who did us in the play-off's last season so it would be really nice to give a far better account of ourselves in that game. Hull are mid-table while Pompey are 18th and Luton 19th. We really need to make this month pay! See you on the other side ...

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October 2024

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Hmmmm - things are less than ideal here. I might be reaching out to anyone who fancies chipping back with a bit of advice please! Stoke (Fran Perez 68) were our first game and we seemed to go toe-to-toe with them through most of the game but they took their chances and we didn't giving them a 2-1 win. Against Hull (Mir 90+1), the xG was pretty equal for the first half but Hull got 2-0 up. From then on, we opened up a lead in the xG and did manage to nab a goal towards to the end but we still lost. Against Portsmouth (Toney 84), we had a huge lead in xG but were failing to score throughout the match. Towards the end though, our keeper O'Leary sent a huge ball over the top which Toney took down and smashed home to give us the points. In our final game of the month, we took on Luton (Fran Perez 26). The injuries seemed to be mounting up and the xG was pretty equal but I thought we were going to get away with the three points until a soft concession late in the second half. Grrrrrrrr.

 

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This month, I thought it was worth posting our analysis wheel. According to our analysis team, we're out performing the Championship in general and I can certainly see that in a few areas such as passing. However, the huge dent in xG per game is becoming a worry as is the fact that we concede worse than average despite our xG being better than average! Anyone got any ideas?! I'm open as they say!

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Each month so far, I've been able to say that we're one point outside the play-off's. Well that's no longer true - the gap has opened up to three points. Whilst that's by no means fatal at this point of the season, I'm worried by the club's poor form and that some things just aren't working - Lundqvist for example, simply isn't the amc we need.

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So, game one sees us play play-off placed West Brom. Swansea are struggling as are Rotherham and 24th-place Barnsley. Birmingham, on the on the other hand, are second. Wish me luck!

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Thanks for the reply @mjw004. I keep ploughing on - especially with not so much to do in lockdown!

November 2024

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Well I'm pleased to say that November has been a much better month - probably my best of the season so far! Coming up against third-place West Brom (Eze 13, Mir 86, Lundqvist 89, 90+4) was certainly not the easiest way for the month to open. When we were 2-0 down inside 5 mins, I thought we were in real trouble and fully expected to lose the game. The team had other ideas though and the previously-ineffective Lundqvist popped up with two stunners at the end to give us all three points!. Game two saw us play Swansea (Mir 13, Fran Perez 27, 86, Toney 35). We took them apart to secure a fantastic win but it did come at a pretty serious cost...

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Eze has been a mainstay of the team so far and, now that he won't be playing for some time, I hope that Mir will be able to take on that role and score some goals cutting in off the left. Next up, we took on 22nd-place Rotherham (Mir 22, Fran Perez 90+3). I thought this was going to be really frustrating draw but Fran Perez had other ideas. I've begun to notice that we're at risk of becoming a one-man team. When Fran Perez plays well, the team plays well but if he has a quiet game, we struggle. Next up were Birmingham who controlled the game and took us apart. I've tried some different tactics when I'm coming up against clearly superior teams but I haven't found an approach that works yet; it's definitely something to work on. Finally, we finished the month playing Barnsley (Fran Perez 6). Lundqvist sent a beauty of a ball over top for Fran Perez to smash home which he duly did. Barnsley gave us a real game though and we were lucky to escape with all three points.

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As far as the table goes, I don't need to say that we're one point off the play-offs for a change as we're one point inside them instead! It's really tight below us though as there's only three points between us and twelth so there's little room for error there. The end of the month also brought us some good news ...

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And some bad...

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I did have several million (ten maybe) left in the pot so a drop to 150K is pretty serious along with almost halving the wage bill. I think this, combined with the army of players expecting to go up this season, makes this season feel like it really is win or bust! I'm certianly keeping an eye on the Prem League to see if a job comes up but at the moment a job isn't even insecure so nothing doing ... yet.

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December is carved neatly into two parts. The first three games are all bottom-half teams so we need to get points in those. Then the next three games sees us play three top half sides. How we get on with injuries and fatigue over the Christmas period is always a pretty important factor to wage in so it will be interesting to see how it all goes!

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December 2024

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December - could be better, could be worse. It's all getting closer and closer and closer and I don't think our results this month have done much to separate that out. I'll run you through what happened and give you an idea of what January's going to look like too! So we kicked things off with QPR (Mir 12, Fran Perez 43). The first goal was a superb counter-attacking move and the second a well-worked throw-in and they gave us the three points. Next up were bottom of the table Bristol. Despite them being pretty close to bottom of the table, we absolutely failed to turn up and losing to a corner always, always hurts! We took out our frustration on David Moyes' Preston (Mir 22, Mawson 70, Intxaurraga 74). The first goal was a fine strike from a beauty of a cross over from Fran Perez and the last was a fine free-kick from the youngster brought in from Osasuna. Against Brentford (White 3, Fran Perez 87), Harvey White scored his first goal for the club with a superb 20-yard strike and it looked like we were going to lose until Fran Perez popped up with a saving grace right towards the end! In the Boxing Day game, we absolutely bossed Blackburn (White 15) but we just couldn't make enough chances pay despite White's second effort in as many games. Finally, we took on Charlton (Mir 41, Fran Perez 84) and it looked like it was going to be a draw until superstar Fran Perez popped with the goods again late in the game!

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The month wasn't quite good enough to keep us in the play-off places. I'm worried that dropped points like the Bristol and Blackburn games could really come to haunt us at the end of the season (if I'm still here by then - I did try a quick switch to Villareal but they turned me down). We are however, level with Brentford and, with a few astute signings in January, I hope that we can drop the right side of the line come May.

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In January, all four league opponents are in the bottom half so that looks postive in terms of a good month to make pay and get firmly into play-off contention. That then leaves us with the FA Cup game against Chelsea as the top-billing game for the month. We've got a few injures and are going to have some tired players coming out of the Christmas schedule but I'd hope to do my best. Any advice for underdog games?!

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January 2025

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The year started with us playing fourteenth-placed Reading and sincerely hope that it's not a sign for how the rest of 2025 is going to pan out in game. We were truly shocking - well I say that but the xG was almost equal across the game. You wouldn't know that from looking at the scoreline though! In the cup, we faced Chelsea and were, unsurprisingly, beaten. I have to say though, that only conceeding two didn't seem too bad. I took a direct counter-attacking approach and, while it did keep them at bay mostly, it also meant we created almost nothing ourselves - still got this big-team nut to crack. We recovered by facing Fulham (Hugill 1, 90+5). This was definitely the Joe Hugill show. With Haller having left the club, I brought Hugill in bolster the front line a bit. He scored with 20 seconds of his debut to get us going and then fired in a late dramatic winner to give us the three points. Against Watford (Mir 29, 45+2, Hugill 86), we had a proper ding-dong: 1-0 down, 2-1 up, 2-2 and Hugill finished it all with a 25-yard thunderbolt to give us the three points - Houston we've found a player? Finally, we faced Cardiff (Fran Perez 3, Gibbs-White 22, Mir 28, Osborn 69) and blew them apart - being 3-0 up inside half an hour and Osborn finishing the scoring with a real beauty. The downside was that, before the game, we lost Hugill for 3 - 6 weeks. Not good news!

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So, we're in the play-offs and with points to spare! It's only three and Brentford have better goal difference but it's nice to look below us and see a little daylight there for a change. I really hope that, we're beginning to click and some of those players I've brought in can really begin to give us the spark we need to kick on for the rest of the season. As it stands, Birmingham in second are eight points away so it's unlikely but not impossible. So let's talk transfers ...

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I'm going to start with the outs. Haller and Sorensen weren't getting game time and both asked to leave. Clubs came in and met the asking prices so they both left on their merry way. Mastny was a pretty similar story as I simply didn't see him playing much and I'd be surprised if he did Huddersfield much good - I'll let you know! The others are all loan-outs for youngsters who wanted minutes as part of new contracts. This led to the two ins this month. Gibbs-White was brought in to be that magic that might just get us up into the play-off's. Lundqvist has improved on his shaky start here but I still felt we needed more and I hope Gibbs-White is the man to do it. Then, with Haller leaving, we were feeling a bit thin up front and so I brought in Hugill from Man U. I've found in the past that my style, even though it's a passing one, only works with a big guy up front and I hope that Hugill gives us a bit more depth in that if he's not injured all the time!

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No month in the Championship is ever easy so the saying goes and the next one seems to be out to prove that very point! We face third-place Villa, fifth-place Huddersfield and top-of-the-tree Boro. I can't imagine that Stoke or Hull are going to be push-overs either. Come on lads! Show me you have the desire to win this month!

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February 2025

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Injuries were beginning to take their toll this month and by the time we played Villa, only one member of my starting back-line was fit. It did mean I had the chance to had a debut to a promising young CB called Leighton Marsh who was in the U18s so we'll observe his career with interest alongside Toure - the other youngster I'm bringing through. The kindergarten backline continue to do well against Wednesday (Mir 8) and Mir makes the most of a superb cross from the ever-dependable Fran Perez. Against Huddersfield, we boss the game throughout but we fail to make anything stick and come away with just the one point. Playing Stoke (Fran Perez 9, 89), I really wanted to show what we were made of against the side that dumped us out the play-offs last time around. We had a few heart-in-mouth moments towards the end with them having a shot cleared off the line and a goal disallowed for pushing in the box but Fran Perez saw us through! Against Boro (Mir 46), we really showed what we were about in the first half but they hit us on the counter from a corner towards the end to share the points. Finally, we faced Hull. We absolutely battered them - especially when they went down to ten men in the 71st mintue but we couldn't find the net.

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So, the table still sees us in the play-offs but only two points off 7th at the moment. It feels a bit frustrating as, before the Boro game, we'd built up a five-point gap but then almost instantly used it all so it still finishes tight and leaving us feeling like it's squeaky-bum time through the rest of the season!

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So, it's another pick-and-mix here! Portsmouth and West Brom are in the play-off places so they will be tough games. The other three sides are all bottom-half but we know that that means very little in Championship. Anyone can beat anyone here and I feel like I know it more than most!

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March 2025

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In this game, we took on Portsmouth (Ferguson 73). We went 1-0 down through a superb hit from their LB which O'Leary seemed to let go right through his hands. This was followed up by them getting a scrappy goal from a poorly defended corner. We did mount something of a fightback led by Ferguson smashing home a beautifully-delievered free-kick but it just wasn't enough.

This game was followed up by confidence meeting with the board. Three games without a win, two being defeats and dropping out the play-offs had clearly got them a bit unhappy.

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The game leaves Palace one play outside the play-offs and still very much in the chase with ten games to go. Now, you might be wondering why I'm posting after only one game of this month and that's because there's news to come ...

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March 2025 - Part 2

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And here is the news: I've given up South London in favour of North Portugal! My aims for this save are twofold; firstly, I want to do as well as I can and win stuff at the biggest clubs I can manage. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, I want to get back to Spurs. My aim is to work my round wherever i have to go to build my reputation up to get me a second shot at the Spurs job when I can. Braga are 3.5 stars compared to Palace's 3 and the league ranks higher than the Championship. It's also seen my rep go up 60% and I'm now a 3-star manager (sort of like an average hotel then).

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I'm not being judged this season in terms of competitions but there is a expectancy that the football will be attacking. I'll see what I can do to encourage that then! There are also some pretty high aims for the youth side of things - to bring players through and to get the best youth system in Portugal. No small aim there then! That brings me on to my next point - with those as my aims, it's pretty nice when this is the first message you get!

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I'm being given Braga's golden generation to look after - no great responsibility there then eh?! In my next post, I'll have a look at my first starting line-up and the fixutres for the rest of March.

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Pettersson: This is the Swede's first season in Portugal since his summer move from Bologna and he appears to be doing well.

Souza: has been at the club since 2018 and the RB slot is certainly his to begin with!

Lascelles: The first familiar name for me - this is his third season for the club after having an unproductive spell with Norwich. I think he's the first player I've seen with 'gets crowd going' as a trait!

Ferreira: Braga born and bred - appearing in the game's first season. Ferrerira looks to be a fine talent at just 19 years old.

Kone: Kone has had a mixed spell at Braga so far. He's not played regularly here - last season he was on loan at Sporting - but he seems to be having a much more solid season this time around.

Tapia: The 29 year-old Peruvian is coming off the back of three pretty indifferent season with New England Revolution and looks to be making CM his own in his second season with Braga.

Fulgini: Another player in his third season at the club. The Ivorian has chipped in with four goals and six assists so far this season.

Lochereau-Pho: On-loan from Lyon, the youngster takes the AMR role in place of the missing Pires.

Gauld: Having come through at Sporting, the Scot is now in his fourth season here and I look forward to him providing some magic!

Boufal: has been at Angers, Wolves, Celta Vigo and Braga in as many seasons. Here appears in fine form here though and I look forward to him keeping it up!

Tetteh: This is the Ghanain's second season in Portugal. His career history doesn't really suggest he's a goal machine but he has the rest of this season to prove that he's a vital cog in the machine!

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Well I certianly don't get an easy drop in! Boavista in game one are 9th, then there's the small matter of Sociedad who smashed us in the home leg. Following on, we have surprise package Nacional who were due to be 15th but are 4th and some small club called Benfica? Still, nothing's dull eh?

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March 2025

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It seems that my move to sunny Braga could not have gone much better! Two days after my arrival, we took on Boavista (Lascelles 14, Boufal 29,61). Going behind twice in the game had me worried but Boufal took control. Either side of half time, he went on some great runs, showed neat footwork and finished superbly to give me a win in my first game in the job. Next up, in Europe was Real Sociedad (Pires 47, Boufal 90). This was my first game in Europe since managing Spurs so I was really looking forward to it but also worried as they had taken us apart 3-0 in the last game before I arrived. I needed to have no worries though as we bossed them in their own ground and came away with the win. Pires is one of several superb youngsters the club has and I look forward to seeing him develop. Next up was my first home game against Nacional (Ferreira 35, OG 62, Tetteh 84). Nacional have been the league's surprise package this season but I need not worry as we swept them apart. The only problem came with Tetteh - his 20-yard haf-volley made him decide that he was worth a contract more than double what the highest-paid player is being paid. Needless to say, he didn't get it and so I'm not sure he's going to hang around long in the summer. Finally, we took on Benfica. I thought this would be my first defeat in the job but we travelled to the capital, looked them in eye and were probably better than them for most of the match! I'm quietly excited about what this team could do you know.

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So a superb starting month sees the club rise to being 'the best of the rest' when it comes to the Portuguese Leage - it feels like a while since we talked about a team competing in that way! My hope is that we can carry on this good form and take spot come the season's end. Fourth or fifth would give us Conference football again and I don't see us making up the twelve-point gap to Sporting.

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I just had to share this with you. Whilst this save is not youth-only, I think that this crew could come to be pretty important pretty quickly. The budget for Braga is hardly massive and I don't see me prizing away many players from around the world so we'll see what I can do with this lot in my time here!

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April sees us face two tricky fixtures. We take on derby rivals Vitoria first followed Famalicao who are just outside the European places. The other two games are against teams towards the foot of the table so those are must-wins to help us bank 'best of the rest' come the end of the season.

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April 2025

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Well it's not been a bad month really! Before we started, I was worried that there were some tricky fixtures in there but we seem to have come out ok! Game one was the derby match against Vitoria (Fulgini 25). I can't say that we did well in this game. They scored in the 2nd mintue and bossed the game leaving me to fear the worst but Fulgini popped up with a superb header and left us with a point. Next up was relegation-threatened Portimonense (Pires 14). I thought this would be an easy three points but it was anything but. They bossed the entire game but, early on, Pires picked up the ball in his own half, took it on to the edge of their box and smashed it home for a serious goal-of-the-season contender. Famalicao (Ferreira 39, Tapia pen 83) were just below us in the table and I was worried that, if we showed the same form we did against Portimonense, we'd get beat. The team had other ideas though - taking full control of the game and leading us to a two-goal win. Finally, we took on Leixoes (Spadera 86). It looked like the game was going to end in a frustrating draw but substitue Spadera had other ideas - smashing home a late winner.

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So the month comes to an end and we keep our place as 'best of the rest'. The game between us and Sporting can't be closed now but just one point from our remaining two games would leave us in the European places. Nacional are right on our tails for 4th so it comes down to our last two games ...

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Our last two games see us take on mid-table Feirense first. I really hope we get a point or more here as our last game sees us play title-winning Porto. Having seen them win their last game 7-0, be nine points clear in the league and 22 points ahead of us, it's going to be a real challenge for me to finish the season unbeaten as Braga boss but nothing ventured, nothing gained!

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May 2025

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Well it wasn't a bad way to round off the season was it? We knew that we needed one win to secure European football next season and got that against Feirense (Pires 36, 45). We dominated the game comfortably and a pair of fine finishes from young superstar Gabriel Pires gave use the win. Next up was table-topping Porto (Pires 47, Boufal 90+2). Pires opened the scoring with a fine finish and Porto equalised with a clever free kick. I was happy to get a point against the champions but Pires and Boufal had other ideas with Pires sending over the cross and Boufal smashing home the volley at the death to give us a famous win in the champion's back yard!

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Five wins on the bounce and my unbeaten start as Braga boss leaves us comfortably the best team outside the big three. I'm really pleased with the finish as it's the best that we could have realistically expected from my time. I do wonder what this club could go on to achieve all of next season. The challenge is going to be holding on to our stars, working out what deadwood to clear and how to bring the golden generation through.

 

Next up will be the season review when we get there!

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Season Review

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Well the line-up for the team-of-the season is exactly my first-choice XI. The player choice is no surprise but the formation is that of my predecesor rather than myself so it's interesting that that's whay they've gone for.

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Well the awards panel gives a bit of a clue as to what the story of the season has been as far as I can tell. The worry on top of this is that other clubs are beginning to hover round him...

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Finally, here are the budgests that I have available to me. There is some money to spend but I'm not looking to blow much. As ever, if the player with the right sparkle came along, I'd be interested. Other than that, I'd be after some experienced players with good mentalities for mentoring if I can get them on board. Let's see what I can do. Next up will be transfers and pre-season...

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