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FM21: Back to the Roots


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FM21: Back to the Roots

Hello again! As many of you will know, my Unia Janikowo save has come to an unexpected halt due to a game-breaking bug some 15 seasons in. A proper heartbreak, but life goes on and so should my FM adventures. This time I'm back with a save that has been lurking around my mind for a few years now.

The Backstory

The reason for me going with Southend - and for the title of this thread - dates back all the way to 2006 and getting my first Championship Manager game. It was CM4 and it came with the February or March issue of CD-Action, a Polish gaming magazine. With me having turned nine years old a few months earlier and the game being in English, I obviously had a rather faint idea of what was going on. Thankfully, there was a manual attached. It was in Polish and I have no idea why, but in the section describing how to set up a new game it said to pick Southend. Yeah, a random Third Division team, in a Polish manual. To this day I have no idea where that came from. Nevertheless, being a kid, I just assumed that was what I was supposed to do and just played with them. :D As you may have guessed, my early days consisted of failing and then failing even more, and that was even after I learned I could actually start with any other team as well. :lol: The seed had been planted though, and fifteen years later here I am, ready to embark on a mission I've never really completed, but it sure feels like something that deserves proper closure.

The Aim

That being said, I'm not setting any specific long term aims for this save other than just to have fun. I'll be looking to stick around at Southend for quite long, preferably establishing them as a solid Premier League side at a minimum, but it's not a strict one-club save and if something interesting enough pops up at some point, I might move elsewhere. I'm not imposing any restrictions on myself either, other than playing the game as realistically as possible.

The Manager

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I've gone with my usual English alter ego. The game suggested the UEFA B licence and professional past experience, so that's what I picked.

The Save

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I want as good a simulation as possible without giving my faithful old PC a heart attack, so that's the setup I'm going with. In addition, I'm also using a few of the wonderful files made by @majesticeternity, namely:
- an enhanced newgen experience,
- realistic transfer preferences,
- media overhaul,
- finance fixes and added taxes,
- a bit better manager tactics,
- realistic competition colours,
- realistic weather,
- derbies overhaul.

All of the above can be found here.

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - New Club - Southend United

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Here we go then.

Club Name: Southend United
Nickname: The Shrimpers
Year Founded: 1906
Status: Professional
Stadium: Roots Hall (12,163 all-seater)

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To be fair, I expected to inherit a worse squad given how this season has gone for Southend in real life. The players look capable of putting up a good fight at the League Two level and there don't seem to be gaping holes in any position. The downside is that we have a transfer embargo until the end of the year, so the only place where I can look for possible reinforcements is the youth team.

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I like the fact that youth development is a part of the club's philosophy, that's something I always try to do on any FM save. The five year plan also looks reasonable enough, but the new stadium thing worries me a bit - are we really in the position to do this in terms of our financial situation?

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - Pre-Season - 2020/21 - Southend United

Friendlies

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We started off terribly by losing to our second XI, but then we turned the tide and picked up a few good wins.

In other news, we promoted Shaun Hobson to the first team and brought back club icon Spencer Prior as the U-23 assistant manager.

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - September 2020 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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A good start given our pre-season expectations, though I can't be happy with losing to Morecambe at our place.

EFL Cup

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The QPR game was actually my first one in charge and I was absolutely shocked with how it went. They really exposed themselves with their approach and we took full advantage, utilising our pacey forward players to produce a stunning result against a full strength Championship side. We couldn't quite make the same trick work against Millwall unfortunately, but we put up a much better fight than the scoreline might suggest.

EFL Trophy

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We kick things off with a win over our arch rivals.

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - October 2020 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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A fantastic month fires us all the way up into the top spot! Early days of course, but I'm going to go as far as saying we're rather unlikely to be threatened by relegation this season.

EFL Trophy

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No shame in losing narrowly to a League One outfit.

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A brilliant month for the two young loanees. I'm worried though because they are both here on short-term deals that run out in January. We might struggle quite badly up front without them.

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - November 2020 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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To be honest, I was expecting the first season to be more difficult. Much to my surprise, we're flying so far and we find ourselves ten points clear of the play-off spots.

FA Cup

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We fought very well at Crewe and deservedly made it through thanks to a dramatic last minute winner. We didn't quite turn up for the Carlisle game though, and what's worse, we also lost Kyle Taylor to an ankle injury, which is bad enough to possibly rule him out of play for the remainder of the loan. :(

EFL Trophy

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A brilliant performance from our second choice striker sends us through to the next round, where we'll face Plymouth at home.

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - December 2020 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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This looks like a bit of a hiccup, but we faced some tough opposition this month and mostly came out on top, including a vital win in the Essex derby. Ten points off 4th as we approach the halfway point.

EFL Trophy

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Let's just say there were more important games this month.

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In other news, all youth football in Poland has been suspended until 9th April at least as part of the new coronavirus restrictions. :( Terrible news of course, but the upside is that I'm probably going to have plenty of time for FM.

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - January 2021 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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We're unable to avoid slip ups here and there, but we keep extending our advantage over the play-off spots. Let's just pray to the FM gods that this doesn't go tits up!

Transfers

The day has come and we lost Olayinka, Taylor, and Sterling as they were only here on short-term loan deals. Luckily our transfer embargo is over though, so I brought in some replacements.

Vilius Piliukaitis - to be honest, I thought he'd be better. :p He's rather unlikely to ever play for us.

Mikael Ndjoli - much better. As you could see above, Sterling replacement is settling in well.

Jamie Bowden - the young lad from Tottenham adds some much needed quality to our midfield.

Ben Cottrell - another midfielder from north London, although he'll be playing in the AMC slot.

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - February 2021 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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Yeah, here comes the wobble. We seem to be slowly recovering, but we need to be much more clinical in front of goal and some clean sheets would be welcome as well.

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - March 2021 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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Absolutely terrible. In the first half of the season we had the ability to consistently tip close games our way, now it's the exact opposite. Believe it or not, but we actually had a better xG than Scunthorpe. The Harrogate game was one where I was sure we'd finally pick up a win as we recovered from conceding an early goal with a late quickfire double to race into a well deserved lead, but an injury time corner destroyed our hopes. We need a turnaround immediately.

Youth Intake

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Meh. At least Kane West was a name that brought a smile to my face.

Korey Bennett

Luis Pedro

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - April 2021 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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We're not even going to make the playoffs, are we? :seagull:

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On 27/03/2021 at 06:36, Rikulec said:

In other news, all youth football in Poland has been suspended until 9th April at least as part of the new coronavirus restrictions. :( Terrible news of course, but the upside is that I'm probably going to have plenty of time for FM.

Sorry to hear this! Hope it's not off for too long.

Good luck with this new save. 

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16 minutes ago, karanhsingh said:

Sorry to hear this! Hope it's not off for too long.

Good luck with this new save. 

Cheers mate. As for COVID, as a country we're absolutely terrible at handling it, so I fully expect this situation to last longer than 9th April. Even after the restrictions are lifted, the scheduling is going to be a nightmare, so I'm ****ed either way. :(

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1 hour ago, Rikulec said:

Cheers mate. As for COVID, as a country we're absolutely terrible at handling it, so I fully expect this situation to last longer than 9th April. Even after the restrictions are lifted, the scheduling is going to be a nightmare, so I'm ****ed either way. :(

Well we are in the middle of a massive second wave here in India too. Not much one can do but hope for some light at the end of the tunnel! 

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11 minutes ago, karanhsingh said:

Well we are in the middle of a massive second wave here in India too. Not much one can do but hope for some light at the end of the tunnel! 

Stay safe there, it surely has to end at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later. :thup:

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - May 2021 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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Have we just turned it around? Well, I bloody hope so! Would be perfect timing as well. The bad news is that we lost Ndjoli to a fractured wrist in training after the Barrow game, meaning he won't be available for us in the playoffs. In other news, Oldham retain their status of the most depressing team in recent history - @Dong21 probably won't like the fact that they got relegated!

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I remember a strange quirk going back a few years (not quite sure how many) when Argyle played Southend at the start of the season, and Southend's players had played more games for Argyle than Argyle's had. Think it was around the time of our battle with administration and the fallout from that (so 2011-2014). 

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7 hours ago, Northernpilgrim said:

I remember a strange quirk going back a few years (not quite sure how many) when Argyle played Southend at the start of the season, and Southend's players had played more games for Argyle than Argyle's had. Think it was around the time of our battle with administration and the fallout from that (so 2011-2014). 

That's a good one. :D Would make a good question for a pub quiz!

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A hugely frustrating first leg as we gave away the lead to an individual error by our centre back Harry Lennon and also had a shot that hit the crossbar in the 91st minute. I think the away goals rule doesn't apply in those playoffs, so it's not that bad, but we have it all to do in the away leg.

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We got in front with our first shot of the game and what followed was a very tense affair. Our goalkeeper won PotM, which says a lot, but we also did have our chances playing on the counter. What matters in the end is that we made it past the finish line with a win under our belt. We're going to Wembley!

Newport won both games against Grimsby and are going to be our opponent. We beat them twice in the regular season, can we complete the hat-trick?

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We couldn't. :( It was a very even game, but this time the scales tipped Newport's way as they turned out to be more clinical in front of goal. The lack of a proper finisher up front really killed us.

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2 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Unlucky in the play-off final! Hopefully you can get automatic next season.

To be fair we brought it upon ourselves when we absolutely fell apart in the second half of the season. I did believe the late turnaround would push us over the line in the end, but it just wasn't to be. Our squad would be nowhere near good enough for League One anyway.

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - Season Review - 2020/21 - Southend United

EFL League Two

Results (Sep-Dec) - Results (Jan-May) - Results (playoff)

Competition Performance: 6th (lost in playoff final)

It's difficult to assess this season really. If you look at the expectations, we exceeded them by a mile. If you look at how it unravelled, we had one foot in League One and ended up tripping and falling flat on our face. March and April were beyond miserable and the sudden awakening in May wasn't enough. Oh well, I guess there's always next season.

FA Cup

Competition Performance: Second Round

We did very well against a League One side only to allow for a disappointing exit at Carlisle.

EFL Cup

Competition Performance: Second Round

Stunning against QPR, back to normal against Millwall.

EFL Trophy

Competition Performance: Southern Section Second Round

Could have done better against the Pilgrims, even with a rotated squad.

Squad

Let's be honest, this squad is nowhere near good enough. Our best players were almost all loanees and we have virtually no depth. This has to be rebuilt from the ground up. Hobson, Lennon, Taylor, Kyprianou, McCormack, Goodship, and Acquah are all getting released.

Transfers - Finances

I haven't had the chance to dip into the market properly yet.

Wembley helped us a lot, but we're still in the red.

Player of the Season

1st - Nathan Ralph - probably our best player for two thirds of the season, unfortunately the injury cut it short. Hopefully he comes back strong next season.

2nd - Timothée Dieng - our defence was rather leaky, especially in the second half of the season, but he was probably the only dependable player across the whole block.

3rd - Mikael Ndjoli - a very good player on his day, we can only wonder what could have been if he had featured in the playoffs.

Next Season

The transfer window is going to be crucial, but I think we can be aiming for the playoffs again.

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Much to my surprise, we received plenty of money in stadium sponsorship after the season ended, putting us over £1M in black, so I did the sensible thing.

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - Season Preview - 2021/22 - Southend United

Board Expectations:

EFL League Two: Avoid relegation
FA Cup: Second Round
EFL Cup: Be competitive

My Expectations:

EFL League Two: I'm way more ambitious than the board, I think we can put together a promotion challenge again.
FA Cup: I'd love a good run and some money to come with it.
EFL Cup: As above.

Budgets:

Transfer: £281,529
Wage: £30,858 (currently spending £27,008)
Balance: £811,376

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3 hours ago, Northernpilgrim said:

Tough end to last season. God luck for this one Rikulec :)

 

Thanks mate. At least this time we actually have a decent squad and plenty of depth!

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - Pre-Season - 2021/22 - Southend United

Friendlies

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Meh.

Transfers

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Something seems to be messed up because the screen only shows the transfers made after the season reset date and not all transfers since 9th June. We actually brought in five more players.

Miguel Azeez - a creative midfielder joins us on loan from Arsenal to fill in the AMC slot.

Max Robson - a free transfer from Tottenham to provide cover for Azeez.

Ryan East - another free transfer, this time from Reading.

Matthew Platt - we had to pay Barrow £45K to bring him in, but he looks absolutely fantastic for our level.

Callum Gribbin - for some reason Barrow made him available on loan. The mentals are a bit of a worry, but I love his technical ability.

Josh Gordon - the finisher we lacked so badly.

Dan Scarr - another classy defender to form a partnership with Platt.

Francis Vincent - he should provide decent cover in midfield.

Barry Cotter - a versatile defender to step in when necessary.

Louie Barry - I think that's a well known name. He has also just led England to a win in the U-19 Euros, grabbing the top scorer award for himself. I'm excited!

Aristote Nsiala - unlikely to become first choice, but a handy player to have nevertheless.

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - July 2021 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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A dire opening game, but we win thanks to two ex-Walsall players - Scarr hoofed it long and Gordon took full advantage of his pace and the opposition's poor defensive positioning that kept him onside.

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Just came across this gem, I'd recommend that to everyone following the thread. :thup:

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - August 2021 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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Not the strongest of starts, mostly due to our strange inability to defend. Barry has been on fire though.

EFL Cup

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We defy expectations again, knocking out opponents from League One and the Championship with a rotated squad. Maybe I should be playing a whole different team in the league?

EFL Trophy

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Always good to start with a win, but this was probably the easiest game in the group.

Transfers

Fin Stevens - a young right back comes in from Brentford to replace Elvis Bwomono, who wanted to leave and was sold to Newport for £85K.

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On 31/03/2021 at 00:13, Rikulec said:

Oldham retain their status of the most depressing team in recent history - @Dong21 probably won't like the fact that they got relegated!

Just seen this as I haven’t been on the Forum or played any FM for the last couple of weeks. I’m back in the office after a year working from home which has cut into my FM playing time! (Pleased to be back though as it feels like a step towards normality).

Sad to see Oldham go down! Not entirely shocked though as there really are a tonne of issues at that club. I guess the positive is that it makes my success so far look good :brock:

I’ll follow your Southend save with interest @Rikulec. Seems like you’ve started strongly! Losing in the Play-Offs is always disappointing but you exceeded all expectations to get there. Louis Barry seems like a coup of a signing for your second season!

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1 hour ago, Dong21 said:

Just seen this as I haven’t been on the Forum or played any FM for the last couple of weeks. I’m back in the office after a year working from home which has cut into my FM playing time! (Pleased to be back though as it feels like a step towards normality).

Sad to see Oldham go down! Not entirely shocked though as there really are a tonne of issues at that club. I guess the positive is that it makes my success so far look good :brock:

I’ll follow your Southend save with interest @Rikulec. Seems like you’ve started strongly! Losing in the Play-Offs is always disappointing but you exceeded all expectations to get there. Louis Barry seems like a coup of a signing for your second season!

You've certainly done well on your save compared to the AI on mine! Glad to hear things are going well for you, it definitely looks like a step in the right direction. Nice to have you following. :thup:

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - September 2021 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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We can't seem to find the tiniest bit of consistency.

EFL Cup

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It wasn't to be this time.

 

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - October 2021 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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Finally! A proper good month leaves us in the dizzy heights of the top spot, but it's extremely tight up there and we're likely to be overtaken when Salford and Cambridge play their games in hand anyway. Some really impressive results as we smashed Stevenage, who were unbeaten in the league until then, and didn't allow a single shot from Leyton Orient.

EFL Trophy

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With our final game being Ipswich away, I can't see us getting through.

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5 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Good going, you seem to be on course for automatic promotion this time around.

That's what I thought last year. :lol:

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Ryan Clark's Management Career - November 2021 - Southend United

EFL League Two

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This is fantastic. We're playing some beautiful football at the moment with goals coming in all shapes and flavours. We're building up a nice advantage over the playoff spots, but of course there's still a lot to play for.

FA Cup

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While the first round was a routine win against lower league opposition, the second result is huge for us. We defended brilliantly at the Stadium of Light and punished Sunderland's mistakes with a counter attack goal and a set piece header. Harry Seaden also saved a penalty in the dying minutes to make it taste even sweeter.

EFL Trophy

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When everything goes well, it really does! An early red card for an Ipswich player helped us massively there, but who cares?

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