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[FM21] From Wimbledon to the Top


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*Multiple Disclaimers*

*This is my first thread ever so bear with me.*
*I am American, so forgive my lack of familiarity with tactics, teams, history, etc.*

Hi! My name is Emerion, and this is my first documented venture into an FM save. I've never attempted to document like this before for FM, though I have done it for other sports on different websites. As you may have guessed from the title, I will be managing AFC Wimbledon in this save. I have followed many threads on this forum, and I hope I can do them justice here.

Why?

Being American, I find it...romantic? That seems right. I find it romantic that a team can just rise through leagues to the very top like you can in a promotion/relegation system common in other countries. Furthermore, like many, (excluding MK Dons fans, presumably) I find the story of Wimbledon unjust, as well as inspiring. To be forcibly relocated, to form a whole new supporters' owned team, to bring that team from deep non-league to League One? All of that is an amazing story. I want to continue that story here, by taking Wimbledon from League One (where currently they sit one place above the relegation zone on goal difference irl), to champions of Europe. Now, I have never even qualified for the Champions League in an FM save (only qualified for Europa League once), so this will be a save of a few firsts for me.

Housekeeping Items

I will be attempting to keep the save at least semi-realistic. I will not be downloading tactics, corner routines, save-scumming, etc. (I feel like that's a given, but I just want to get that out there.) I will be using my scouts to find players. That means no "Player Search->All Players". I will still use the "Player Search" tab, but exclusively the "Scouted" sub-section. I find that to be more realistic and challenging. I will try my best to not build an all Brazilian-wonderkid team, but I will not avoid them entirely. I will also likely use instant result for most games, at least until we are regulars in the Premier League and Europe.

 

The Beginning

In terms of leagues loaded, I will be using the setup below. I included most nations near England, as well as the top European leagues + USA/Brazil.

 

1049563685_donssetup.thumb.jpg.106bec1719e29eeb05f13ce577e87747.jpg

 

Now that that's all out of the way, time to introduce the manager who will be leading Wimbledon to glory.

That man is Thomas Cooper, a young American manager who has made his way up the ladder with multiple stops as Assistant Manager down in lower leagues until, eventually, he comes into the Wimbledon job. His tactical influences have led him to playing aggressive, attacking football and he hopes to continue that with Wimbledon.

 

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The current expectations for the year, and goals beyond:

 

227380223_donsplan.jpg.93f14b362f34cac136fc020d1fdb218c.jpg

 

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The squad preview will be up next!

 

 

 

Premier League Winners By Year

 

Champions League Winners By Year

 

Europa League Winners By Year

 

FA Cup Winners By Year

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Season/Squad Preview
 

As of July 27, 2020, we are predicted to finish in 20th place, the exact same place as the past two years and one place above relegation. My goals are a bit loftier. Will we be promoted? Unlikely, but the plan right now is to improve the team this season and aim for midtable. Next season, we'll aim for playoffs, and I'd like automatic promotion to the Championship within the first 3 seasons, if not by the end of next season. Promotion this year would probably result in us coming back down, so I'd like to actually avoid that.

 

462346135_donsseasonpreview.thumb.jpg.a77ecc8771c7f621e09448b79164236e.jpg

 

As shown in the previous post, the board are also expecting us to hit Round 3 of the FA Cup and Round 2 of the Carabao Cup. That would require us to get through 2 rounds of the FA Cup and 1 of the Carabao, and I'd like to hit those targets and potentially go further in the FA Cup for a chance at some big money. We also have the Papa John's Trophy to contend with, which hasn't shown up with the board expectations on it yet. I assume they won't be prioritizing it though, and I won't be either. I'll likely use the games to get minutes into some of our younger prospects.

Financially, we're in an okay state. About £1,000,000 in the bank at the moment. However, we have a few loans to pay back, about £1.6 million. That makes it a goal pretty high on the priority list to get some money, either by achieving promotion next season or, more immediately, to get a decent run in the FA Cup. We also have about £3,000 free in the wage budget, so I'll likely be looking for maybe one permanent signing or a loan or two where we aren't paying all the wages. I'm not looking at paid transfers until the Championship at least, so we won't have to worry about transfer budget for at least this season.

 

1863528415_donsfinances.thumb.jpg.922da5a0cb95b3cc1502131e4b4cca55.jpg

 

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Now, the moment you've all been waiting for: the squad.

 

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As you can see from the overview, we have something decent going. I'll likely be looking at playing a 4-3-3 with a defensive midfielder, as I'm familiar with that formation and we seem to fit it pretty well. The priorities in the transfer market are to get either a left- or right-sided attacking winger, as our only decent option currently is Ryan Long, a 19 year old on loan from Brighton who is only rated as a "Decent Player for League Two", according to the assistant report. At least one player there would be a good pickup. We do have to look ahead to next summer a bit, as we have three other loanees who are likely to play major roles in the squad: Steve Seddon, a left back on loan from Birmingham, Jaakko Oksanen, a midfielder on loan from Brentford, and Connal Trueman, a goalie who joins Seddon as part of the Birmingham contingent.

 

1410887671_donslongman.thumb.jpg.2c97a87f5f7d0a643005bb15eb04037c.jpg

 

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Generally speaking, I'm happy with the squad for the moment outside of the issues highlighted. If we can just solidify as a mid-table team this season, that should set us up for a good year next year. The following are some of the players who will be key to our success this year;

Joe Pigott, our starting striker. His finishing is very good for this level, along with his anticipation, off the ball movement, and work rate. Some more bonuses, he's both consistent and enjoys big matches, two good traits to have. He's not the fastest, but his other physicals are serviceable.

 

407909159_donspigott.thumb.jpg.050696c010e283ca4190f62dc7dc5968.jpg


Callum Reilly, our top midfielder. He doesn't have any amazing attributes (>15), but he does possess good passing, technique, and first touch, along with good mentals basically across the board. He also is consistent, a bonus.

 

272549601_donsreilly.thumb.jpg.03ed9f8c21e30e156c499b7f2074e4bb.jpg


Finally, Ben Heneghan, our best defender. His heading, marking, and tackling are all solid, which is good as they're the first three attributes I look for in defenders. His mentals are okay, but his jumping reach combined with his height will serve us well.

 

513019445_donsheneghan.thumb.jpg.ad07db9edb38cf3455137c5c317f8565.jpg


That's the squad preview finished up!

 

Next up: the conclusion of preseason, as well as final tactics.

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8 hours ago, Ronaldo Beckham said:

 Good luck with Wimbeldon. If you ever need a decent striker then have a look at Cameron Archer who looks pretty good for a lower league striker.

I'll take a look, thanks!

1 hour ago, TheRobert said:

Good luck!

Thank you! Hopefully we'll have a good run with them.

1 minute ago, Domoboy23 said:

How do yo uet hired as a head coach rather than a manager?

I have it set to American English rather than British English, so some of the terminology is a bit different (Head Coach v. Manager, General Manager v. Director of Football)

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Preseason Recap

Preseason has concluded, and I feel reasonably confident about our team this year. We didn't have a super difficult run of friendlies, but we did beat Watford in the FM Cup, which is big. I'm not sure how strong of a team they were playing, but beating a team certain to be challenging for promotion in the Championship as a lower-end League 1 team can't be anything but positive. We had several other lower-profile friendlies, the most notable of which was probably a match vs Manchester United's U-23s, which we drew 1-1. Again, not a bad result.

 

69551583_donspreseasonfixtures.jpg.7426ce8d58eb15a5f1a36d8de8b62718.jpg

 

We also made one signing, in the area I talked about in the Squad Preview post. Josh Clarke, a 26-year old winger, joined us on a free after his contract with Brentford expired. He can play basically anywhere down the right side, and his speed is fantastic, coupled with decent technicals in key areas and some solid mentals. He should be a starter from Day 1 for us, barring injury.

 

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We also had the draw for the Papa John's Trophy, as well as for the Carabao Cup.

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The board are expecting us to reach the 2nd Round of the Papa John's, which we should be able to do. Our group is relatively easy, with Charlton the strongest team having been relegated last season from the Championship, so I think we can meet expectations in that competition. Even if we don't, not a huge deal as it's only "Preferred" by the board, not "Required" like the other 3 competitions are.


We drew Walsall in the Carabao Cup, which should also be a game we expect to win. Winning that would reach the board expectation, so that should be a relatively easy goal to achieve.


The final tactic I've settled on after preseason is below. As I said, I am familiar with a 4-3-3, so that's what we'll be running with. I also did not use a preset tactic, as I've found with this set of instructions it keeps it simple for players while still achieving my goal of having an aggressive pressing game. We're not going super attacking while in possession, but we will be aggressive defensively, which I hope will pay dividends (and seems to be doing so far).

 

1422344761_donstactic.jpg.e9be6974e00e63b27669146f7fc31b8f.jpg

 

As you can see, our preseason prediction hasn't shifted from 20th. However, our odds have changed from 150-1 to 50-1, showing that we've improved a bit in the eyes of the media at least. I don't the the preseason predictions as gospel, but it still can provide a useful tool for seeing how the game views your team relative to the league you're in.

 

1540526487_donsseasonpreviewupdate.jpg.93b5f07130433ac0b1245b7fa10450f9.jpg


As seen in the preseason fixtures image from a bit earlier, we open with 2 cup games, before Northampton away, Plymouth home, and Fleetwood away to round out the month. These teams are predicted 23rd, 22nd, and 18th, respectively. We couldn't have asked for a much easier start, so if we want to truly establish ourselves in midtable or higher, we need 6-9 points from these games. That will be our target, hopefully we can do well in the cup games as well.

 

Next up: September update.

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September 2020 Update

So. This month went better than I expected it, to be completely honest. 

 

763211409_donssept2020results.jpg.29e9e577a2c223cec10f4b770726f811.jpg

 

Starting with our Carabao Cup match away versus Walsall, we deserved the win according to the xG and the way we dominated the game. Some states for you:

1.03 xG for Wimbledon, 0.31 for Walsall
57% Possession for Wimbledon, 43% for Walsall
14 Shots, 7 On Target for Wimbledon, 6 Shots, 3 on Target for Walsall

Get the picture? Alas, we fell late on to an 87th minute goal by midfielder Rory Holden, and we were knocked out of the Carabao Cup. New signing Josh Clarke scored our lone goal, which is a good start for him. Sidenote: Walsall went on to lose in the next round to Blackburn, 3-2.

Next up, we had Charlton in the Papa John's Trophy. Now, I expected this to be our toughest match, even if they were likely to not play their strongest team. We did play our 1st choice team, mostly to continue building match sharpness after over a week between our last friendly vs Guiseley and our match vs Walsall. We went on to win decisively, 3-1, striker Joe Pigott grabbing a brace and Josh Clarke showing up again on the scoresheet with a goal.

Finally, onto the beginning of the league season.

Our results are as follows:

2-1 vs Northampton, goals for Ethan Chislett and Joe Piggot.
3-1 vs Plymouth, goals for Ryan Longman (2) and Joe Piggot.
1-0 vs Fleetwood, goal for Terell Thomas.

Fantastic results, albeit against lower-end teams in League One. Still, I'll take it. We needed 6-9 points to establish ourselves as being above a relegation fight, and we reached that goal comfortably. We are currently 1st in the league. It has only been 3 matches, but still an exciting start

Now, looking ahead, we have a busy couple of months ahead of us. 8 matches in October, 6 in November, another 7 in December. I'll be returning with an update following these matches, at the beginning of January and the transfer window. I don't expect us to make any major moves then, given our lack of transfer money, but maybe a free transfer will be brought in if we identify a weakness and a target to fill that void.

 

1485106339_donsoctnovdecfixtures.jpg.b538ca41c0664fcbd979088ac451db66.jpg

 

Next up: October, November, and December update.


(Fun fact: We broke our record attendance in our match against Plymouth, with 8,735 attendees. We are currently groundsharing with QPR, but are supposed to move into Plough Lane on October 30. Hopefully that goes off without a hitch and we can celebrate our return to the Lane with a win vs MK Dons away on the same day.)

 

2055789207_donsrecordattendance.jpg.14e01864e0a3bfa816cd75900d66a08b.jpg

Edited by Emerion
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