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[FM13] Alice in FM-land


deltablue
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9 hours ago, Constantine said:

Hey, you might be drawing a lot but you're not losing either. In these situations, i found that often team just click bit further down the line and go on a monster spree. Hopefully that'll happen with your side and promotion race becomes a bit more interesting.

 

1 hour ago, Sheriff7 said:

Draws aren't bad if you play good,because good results will arrive soon or later.;)

Thank you both. In my experience when you take over an underperforming team mid-season they often struggle to perform until the end of the season when they get the chance to 'reset' their fortunes and be a lot better the following season. So far things have gone better but it's only with the 3 wins in our last 5 league games that our position has really improved at all. I still think the bar is too high to end up as serious challengers this season given how far off we were when I arrived but it's not impossible and it should set us up nicely for next year.

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Jan 2017

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Well that was a rubbish couple of months, and a very frustrating one. You may have noticed that we made up for that undefeated run by losing a lot of games. What you may not know is aside from the last match, all the goals we scored in those defeats saw us take the lead. We bounced back from the first defeat to beat the team top of tke league, but the second win (taking us to 5 in 8 at the time) came at the cost of one of our defenders and both our right wing options all being out injured until about this point. However I'm not sure that entirely explains why the defence became so woeful, though in hindsight the Nailsea defeat set the tone for what was to come, including a 3.6 rating for our otherwise excellent keeper. Depending on how things go I might not even get that single full season, but we'll have to see.

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Tough run! Defeats from winning positions are the hardest to take. Hopefully the injured players come back and help out soon.

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On 14/06/2021 at 15:51, 13th Man said:

Tough run! Defeats from winning positions are the hardest to take. Hopefully the injured players come back and help out soon.

Yep, it's frustrating seeing the defence look so woeful. I've made a few changes that helped in the long-term at Exeter but it might take a while before they make a difference. There was one positive though. That guy  Spencer who keeps scoring actually broke the club record for most goals in a season a few games back. He only needed to get 11 goals to do it (and that's in all competitions) so it was quite a low bar :D

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6 hours ago, deltablue said:

That guy  Spencer who keeps scoring actually broke the club record for most goals in a season a few games back. He only needed to get 11 goals to do it (and that's in all competitions) so it was quite a low bar :D

Ha! Club record!!!

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7 minutes ago, 13th Man said:

Ha! Club record!!!

Yes well we've only had 4 seasons of the save but that's still enough time for you to expect someone to have got more, especially as they've already had a season in this division and it's a 42-game league season. :D

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  • 3 weeks later...

Apr 2017

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It's nice to be able to get back to this over the past couple of days and finish the season. We left off on a bad run of form where the defence were absolutely useless and the same guy was scoring all our goals to usually give us the lead only to see it all slip away. It looked like the same thing was happening again when we went 2-0 down to Cribbs Friends Life only to sensationally come back to win. After that I was delighted to have a dull 0-0 away to old rivals Appledore, our first clean sheet in 2 months. After that we were just fine. There were a couple of moments where were looked like we were creeping into the top half but we weren't quite consistent enough to make it happen (much to the board's annoyance), it still presented a decent improvement over the situation I inherited and we finished the season in style with that 4-1 win over Almondsbury UWE.

The close season saw some positive news, of a kind. I had fully expected budgets to keep shrinking to the point that it wouldn't take long for the situation to become too difficult to manage and I'd have to move on. It was therefore a surprise to see the budget actually remain the same for next season (with a small increase in fact), along with the fact that I was already taking a decent chunk out of the wage bill with players being released. That gives me a lot more room to operate in getting new signings (not that there are any clear areas to potentially and realistically improve on) and as long as things didn't go too badly I might manage a decent stint at this club after all.

Star Player: It could only be Spencer given his goals, which we were worryingly reliant on. The veteran forward has been in the semi-pro leagues for a while but actually enjoyed a decent League One/Two career with Cheltenham for most of the 00's. We should get one more good season out of him.

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Squad Stats

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On 04/07/2021 at 21:02, Carambau said:

A pity Spencer is so old already... 

I agree, but we should have him for another year and he will hopefully still be good.

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Summer 2017

This summer was a pretty straightforward one, aside from the long time at this level that tends spent fiddling about with player search fields and trawling through and comparing large numbers of players to find the one you might actually want to get. In this instance I knew what positions to prioritise. First would be a left back as we had just the one guy who was more of a central defender. Second on the list was a central midfielder as while we got a few decent ones (and central defenders as well) in the last youth intake, they made a rather wobbly start. After that was a forward, not so necessary but trying to upgrade your front line is always a good idea and I found a potentially good partner for Spencer.

That seemed to mostly fill up my remaining wage budget well enough... except I had forgotten that the players set to be released (making up almost a third of the wage bill) were still at the club at the time I was player searching (just after the reset date). That meant I didn't need to restrict myself as much as I needed to (including on player wages) and could search for more players, with the focus being on defenders and one central defender being brought in. That being said, practicing strict wage discipline is a very good idea at this level, especially with the potential for a bad financial situation to lead to big budget squeezes (even if that didn't happen this time around). I set a rough limit for myself of around £30-35pw (maybe up to about 50 if I need to), and while that excludes large numbers of players who might easily want at least a few times more than that, very few are actually any better and therefore worth paying much more than that. I've also learned that I can bring players wage demands down a lot more that I thought I could on this version (thanks to other clauses admittedly), which will be an invaluable thing to take forward and keep the wage situation managable.

I wouldn't say I've really upgraded the team that much, but I identified and filled the necessary positions the best I could. Maybe we don't need that much of an improvement to be promotion contenders anyway, especially since often (though not always) when you take over an under-performing team during a season, they can still struggle until considerably improving with a fresh start the following year. I hope the same thing applies here, especially without having made too many signings (though more may yet come). The board expect a top half finish, which would be the bare mininum for me. At this level I'll always be hoping to get at least one promotion with a team before too long and I feel like I at least have a bit of time to try and get it here.

Signings

Gibbons

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Mickelborough

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Molyneux

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Salt

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Sept 2017

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One thing I've noticed at these levels is how much busier the first half of the season tends to be. As you can see it wasn't quite the start I was hoping for. A draw against relegated Welton Rovers and a narrow defeat away to Appledore (who narrowly missed out on promotion last season) seemed like tough matches to start off with, even if the league table currently says otherwise. The poor start continued through more winnable games, and we seemed to be back to 'all our goals see us take the lead but still not winning' territory again. I decided to fiddle with the tactics after the defeat to Bristol Manor Farm to make things more conservative and we seemed solid enough in the following match against Devizes. That was followed by two wins, though one of those was in the FA Vase and we still found ourselves in the bottom 3 after defeat to Nailsea, with visions of not being in a job for much longer.

At that point I noticed that I hadn't changed the creative freedom (which was still on 'more expressive') along with my earlier tweaks and that helped do the trick as three wins took us up from 20th to 6th! Quite a few players struggled early on (especially the new signings) but already seem to be doing a lot better now. I still think that's likely to be a high water mark for the time being, especially as the winds of fortune can (and usually do) shift regularly, and playing on a little seems to have confirmed that suspicion. Still, it's nice to have bought quite a bit more time at least and hopefully have a more settled mid-table season from this point. One can dream!

There were also two new signings, helped by the fact that there are no transfer windows below the Conference National, just a deadline sometime in March. Easter's scout report popped in my inbox right after the opening match and he was a potential minor upgrade in defence (being able to play across the backline as well), while Brice was on my radar in the summer but had an injury that means the board blocked the transfer at the time. However I didn't have long to wait until he was close enough to recovery to make the deal, potentially improving the right-back position. I doubt I'll be open to get any more players. Six new signings easily seems like enough and finding players good enough to make more moves will be tricky anyway.

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Nov 2017

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During my last update I mentioned that having played a little into October it seemed like a run of a few wins to jump up to 6th would be the high point. Those of you blessed with the gift of sight can see that thankfullu I was wrong. I had played up to the FA vase defeat to Colliers Wood. They were in the level above but it was still frustrating to lose to a late goal, especially so soon after we had one of our own disallowed and have previously been denied a penalty. The other two results had seen us drop quite a bit down the table so I didn't expect us to suddenly go on a run of wins (making it 10 from the last 13 league games) to the point that we were briefly in 2nd during the match with Chard. I'm starting to think we might be in a promotion race after all, something I didn't expect was realistic early in the season.

The one blip (and I hope it was a blip) came in the Western League Cup. We had a bye in the 1st round, easily beat Almondsbury UWE (facing them for 2 games in a row) in the second before losing to Gillingham town. They were in the league above and we actually had the edge on chances, but it was a real off day (especially at the back) as they beat us comfortably. I like to think that was just a case of getting a poor performance out of the way, especially as I needed to swap a few regulars out due to their condition (something I hope doesn't ptove to be too disruptive, especially with swapping them back in again).

It's nice to see things finally start to go well, beyond the unbeaten run after I arrived. One thing I didn't mention last season (because in the end I didn't need to) was that the University of Exeter were actually challenging for promotion, though they missed out with fewer points than I got with them the previous season. It would have been hard to avoid the conclusion that I had made something of a mistake under the circumstances if they had succeeded. It's sad that they're struggling against relegation now it also adds to a growing sense that I made the right call, especially as our average attendance is over 3 times as high as the max of 50 that Exeter (and pretty much all teams who started in the amateur leagues) are stuck on. That as a limitation I needed to free myself from.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Feb 2018

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FM giveth and FM taketh away. Our incredible autumn run took ended with a victory over table-topping Hanham, which saw is move into the promotion places. By this point I imagined we could potentially go up comfortably but it wasn't to be. Defeats in the next 3 games saw us drop to 8 points adrift and by that point I felt like only a quick turnaround gave us a good chance of chasing the top 2 again. I was wrong about that, which was both good and bad. Since then our form has stabilised a little, leading to just one defeat in the past 9 matches but only 3 wins, and they weren't particularly convincing ones either. I noted with interest that out gap to the top 2 remained mostly steady during this run, so it wouldn't have taken as much as I thought it could to get close again. Meanwhile we had a big enough margin to most of the teams beneath us that we still didn't drop down the table that much even if a lot of teams have gotten close enough that we would well drop quite a bit more with a poor end to the season.

I'm not expecting a serious promotion chase over the remaining 9 matches, even if the teams above us haven't been that consistent themselves recently. There's also the terrible start to the season we had which we did well to overcome in order to be where we were about half-way through the season. Hopefully if we can be more consistent next season (having fixed the tactical issues we had early on) that would give us a much better chance, even without being spectacular. The win over Brislington actually set a new attendance record for the division, demonstrating the potential of this club with a bit of patience. Actually you can't mathematically rule out this season either. I remember one season in the Championship years ago when I went up through the playoffs having been 4 points adrift with just 2 games to go. Failing that, I think this season would still present a decent step forward, much like this career has been so far (even with very little success).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Apr 2018

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The end of the season went well for the most part. Losing away to Hanham (who were already promoted) after coming back from 2-0 down was less of a disappointment than the final day defeat at home to Chard, potentially due to a bit of complacency on my part due to it not mattering. It may not be clear from the previous league table screenshot or this one but during our run of 4 wins in a row we actually closed pretty close to the top 2 and for while after our comeback against Hanham it looked like we'd actually go into the final day with a chance of going up, though only a distant one. That left a final finish of 6th feeling a little underwhelming. It didn't help that we benefited a lot from the 3-month loan of Butler (who turned 17 during his spell), who got 6 goals and 5 assists in 13 matches, and he was gone by the final couple of games. No we can't get him back, I already tried, and he'll even play against us next year!

There's still a lot to feel optimistic about. We only won one match out of our first 8, then had another poor run after getting ourselves up to 2nd in December. That poor start to the season was before I made some tactical tweaks as well and aside from that shorter blip we've been much better and more consistent since. That adds to my personal goal of aiming for promotion next time, especially if I limit myself to just a few signings in the right areas (and I already know what I want) so we have a more settled side that would also benefit from the extra year's experience and the fact that I now know which players to favour. Mind you, it's not uncommon for me to think 'I'll go easy on the signings' then do a lot more than intended ;)

Our strengths and weaknesses are pretty clear. Until the final couple of matches we had the best defensive record in the division (Chippenham 'beating' us by one in the end), but only Warminster scored fewer goals outside of the bottom 8. Unlike last season when we relied on Spencer (who is now retiring), we at least had a lot more attacking depth. Our top scorer Molyneux is falling out of favour because he's too lightweight, constantly being muscled off the ball before he can get a shot off (though I don't know how much more often it's happening to him specifically than anyone else in a similar role). He lost his place to Kinder (a young forward whose opportunities had been very limited) for the final games of the season and you can see what an impact the latter has had. If he can be as good next season (and avoid the problems Molyneux had, which I haven't seen so far) then we might be a far stronger team for it.

The other news was that we had a takeover, and a surprisingly quick one given that at Exeter I was used to takeovers constantly being rumoured and falling through. The new chairman didn't really do anything other than take out a loan to get us almost 30k back in the black though. It won't last (and the 1.5kpw month payments sound painful at this level) but it has stabilised the financial situation (including keeping the budget intact) and if we can get promotion that will limit the damage somewhat.

Key Player: I really wanted to go for Kinder with the way he finished the season but he still didn't really feature enough to qualify. I couldn't really deny Molyneux as top scorer as well as being second-top for assists.

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Squad Stats

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Summer 2018

This summer was a rare thing, a pre-season transfer window that went roughly as intended. I waited until after the contract expiry date so I had cleared as much wage budget as possible and immediately pounced on my first target. Warburton and Gibbons were (mostly) fine first-choice midfielders but we had little quality beyond them so another central midfielder was my first priority. Given I'm also looking at a player's performance history Nodwell seemed to fit the bill, especially as I was able to sign him from a direct rival. After that things were a little tricker, no thanks to my delaying. I was hoping to sign an experience central defender but the player I had my eye on no longer wanted to come for anything reasonable. That bumped that position a little further down the priority list, though I finished off my intended transfers by getting one anyway, even if it wasn't the experience I was going for.

I had a similar issue with my first-choice left-back target. On the face of it we didn't need one as Salt was a decent specialist left-back and Hawkins continued to do well filling in there, however the former ended the season poorly, underperforming compared to his two counterparts on the right and in light of the centre back issue above I wanted to still improve that area by making Hawkins specifically a central defender. Having lost my first choice, Bryce seemed a good young option, though was otherwise a gamble. I also wanted a new forward since the attack was the issue last year. Our options seemed fine on paper but underwhelming performance-wise and I wanted to try a better partner for the up-and-coming Kinder. Abiodoun seemed like a good all-rounder, helped by being able to play wide if needed. He's also the first foreign signing of the career, with a couple of early Welsh signings being my only non-English signings otherwise.

Four signings was perhaps one more than I intended but otherwise I feel it struck a good balance between improving the squad where I felt I needed to and not changing too much. In fact after the 4th signing I had essentially ran out of transfers I wanted to make. The target is promotion, simple as that. I already felt we had potentially improved enough after our poor start last season and hopefully we can show that we've improved more going into this season. Plus it's been 6 seasons of this career so far with a single promotion and no trophies, so I'm eager to add a bit more success by this point ;)

Abiodoun

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Bradford

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Bryce

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Nodwell

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10 hours ago, Northernpilgrim said:

Isn't the Western League fun! 😉

It'll be more fun to get out of this division at least ;)

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On 03/08/2021 at 09:43, Carambau said:

´bout time! :) 

Well it's been a nervy start to the season so far :)

12 hours ago, ChaosClive said:

Hope this thread continues, a very good read so far!

 

Oh it is. I just haven't been playing too much in recent weeks due to health issues and wanting to improve my (very part-time) Work From Home productivity. I have at least gotten started on the season.

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Sep 2018

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Last year we had just one win and 7 points from the first 8 games and sat just above the relegation zone. This year were were top with 7 wins and 21 points. We started off brilliantly, with a 3-0 win over relegated Roman Glass St George, the team we had this excellent youngster on loan from last spring who had no interest in coming again. The comfortable scoreline was actually a bit misleading as we took the lead slightly against the run of play and only got the other two goals late on. A very narrow win over Ilfracombe seemed more reflective of how we were performing. The fact that it was followed by an FA Cup exit (probably the first FA Cup match of the career in fact) then a defeat to Shrewton (in a match where our usually-good defence was woeful) made me seriously worry that we weren't all that. As it turned out we won the next 6 to sit comfortably at the top of the league. A disappointing draw against Elmore ended the run, followed by a midweek where almost everyone else played to make the top of the table look a heck of a lot closer all of a sudden!

It's still been good overcoming a hectic start where we've only just enjoyed our first midweek off in the season. These seasons do tend to be front-loaded so we'll soon be past that. It helps that having played in 3 cups as well we're out of all of them with just a single tie won. I didn't try and 'throw' any of them, not even by going super-defensive and low tempo, though when we faced Lincoln Moorlands Railway enough players needed to be rested that it felt like I was keeping some of my players fresh for the league anyway. It does at least give a lot of players the chance to come in, even if they may often need to be switched out just as quickly when they themselves get too tired for the next game.

It's been a strong start, as you can see, and I shouldn't be too worried about not being as far ahead at this early stage as it looked like it would be. Teams are relatively evenly matched at this level with lots of taking points off each other and even the teams at the top potentially having poor runs. Being solid and consistent gets us a lot further than spectactular but frustrating and I feel that we should be fine as long as we don't hit any bad runs, even if we don't have any big winning runs either. The team has come together nicely, with players who previously struggled (especially some of last year's signings) improving considerably and the two signings from this year who have played regularly are also doing fine. The other two had poor debuts and haven't had much of a chance since. I think a start like this just reinforces my desire that this year is the season we should be looking to go up, and it will feel like a big failure if we don't.

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On 07/08/2021 at 10:12, Northernpilgrim said:

Fantastic start to the season. Fingers crossed for you that it continues!

Thank you, though my fortunes so far in this save (as moderately positive as they have been throughout) have left me with the impression that things could change at any time. However we're already almost a quarter of the way through the season and we're almost done with most hectic period of the season. Hopefully once we settle down to almost entirely weekly games that will help with keeping up our good form.

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Nov 2018

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As you can see, things still continue to go well despite a few more points dropped. We started off with a draw at Frome with was actually the first time we had gone 2 matches without a win in the league this season. After a good win against Cosham we then faced promotion rivals Chippenham Park and disappointedly lost (thought it was our first league defeat in 10 matches), however we actually remained top thanks to having been 4 points ahead of the and Devizes losing. Devizes were having a poor month and Chippenham were inconsistent enough that after 3 more wins we were 5 points ahead of them and a full 8th ahead of Devizes in 3rd at the end of October.

November was set to be a tough month fixture-wise. We bean Bristol Manor Farm before going into away matches against Devizes and Willland Rovers, drawing against both. At least along with the Chippenham Park game we were already chalking off most of the toughest away games. The 8-point margin to Devizes in 3rd remained intact and the lead over Chippenham Park had only narrowed by a single point. Shepton Mallet should have been easier but a terrible start saw us 2-0 down. We managed to come back to take the win though, surviving a challenging month with 6 and 8 point leads over 2nd and 3rd respectively, and we only have 21st place Warminster Town to go before we hit the half-way mark.

I'm allowing myself to feel a little optimistic. As I said in the previous post, being solid was always more likely to deliver consistent results than being exciting. There are still a bunch of teams with more goals scored but only Devizes have conceded fewer than double the amount of goals, despite shipping 3 in our last two matches. As nice as it is to be comfortably top (especially as it would be a first trophy of the career if it stays that way), for me it's the gap to 3rd that remains the focus. At this point, I don't think we have to keep being good as much as making sure we avoid being bad for more than a few games. If we can manage that then it'll be tough for anyone to catch us.

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Oh there, are a couple of things I forgot to mention. The first is that I reached the 100-match milestone at the club, and it would be great if I reached that mark with every club. The second thing is that I had my first job offer in a while (I got a bunch later on at Exeter), and it was from Lincoln City, battling against relegation from the Conference North! That's still only one league lower than they start but it'll be fun to see how things develop in the long-term with teams rising or falling through the leagues.

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Jan 2019

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On the face of it, it's been a positive couple of months with 6 wins and 3 draws extending our unbeaten run to 16 matches and the gap over our two rivals getting slightly bigger. In reality, things have been a little more stressful than that. The first disappointment came with letting a 2-0 lead at home to Ilfracombe slip, though the gap over Devizes had already been extended to 10 points and our 2 rivals were drawing with each other at the same time. That was followed by what was very nearly the extension of the safety margin to 12 points while we were beating Shrewton United before Devizes got a stoppage time winner in their game. The following match with Westbury was when Kinder went off injured after we had a goal disallowed (which I admittedly always knew it would be).

After that things got more tense, especially after another draw with Nailsea saw the gap to 3rd cut to just 6 points, when it could easily have still been a bit bigger. We won all three matches afer that but only just. I knew we had a decent amount of goals in the side even without Kinder (as long as we had enough players step up each time to make the difference) but at the same we were definitely living dangerously and only barely getting the win each time. However, win we have, so aside from keeping up the unbeaten run we now have a 7-point gap to 2nd and 10-point gap to 3rd. We're now entering the point in the season where every week we keep it up will start to take us visibly closer to making promotion a reality. It may help that Chippenham Park are on a big run in the FA Vase.

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19 hours ago, Northernpilgrim said:

Western Premier League here we come! Only hope you handle the step up better than I did

I've got to finish the job first ;)

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Good stuff, just caught up!  The side's looking good this year after flirting with the top spots in 17/18 before falling short.

Brutal injury though to Kinder!  Those can be problematic long term too.  It's the injury that ended my illustrious 'career' - I was 30 at the time and haven't been able to recover - while a broken leg at 21 had no knock on effect.  Hopefully he can come back strong - he's young still.  (I'm also not sure exactly how the game deals with all that, especially not old versions).

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9 minutes ago, 13th Man said:

Good stuff, just caught up!  The side's looking good this year after flirting with the top spots in 17/18 before falling short.

Brutal injury though to Kinder!  Those can be problematic long term too.  It's the injury that ended my illustrious 'career' - I was 30 at the time and haven't been able to recover - while a broken leg at 21 had no knock on effect.  Hopefully he can come back strong - he's young still.  (I'm also not sure exactly how the game deals with all that, especially not old versions).

Well we're not looking so good any more :(

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Mar 2019

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@Northernpilgrim! *shakes fist*

It's not going well. I knew at the point of the last update that even the slightest dip in form would lead to a lot of dropped points and so it's proved. The defense isn't as solid as it was earlier in the season, and the forwards are showing why we're screwed without Kinder. We've been really good when we've won but that's clearly not often enough. Kinder's replacement Jordan is particularly guilty of blowing hot and cold. The incompetence being shown up front is staggering at times, with the clearest chances being wasted a few times. Our rivals have been more consistent then I expected they'd be as well, meaning that the way things are going we could easily have the most points of any team missing out on promotion from this division so far in the save.

The pressure has gotten a bit much, especially with Devizes at home next. The winner will probably secure 2nd but I'm not sure if a draw will be enough. The final games beyond that are Shepton Mallet away, then Willand Rovers and Warminster at home (though maybe Shepton Mallet and Willand are the other way around). Who says that a football game where you don't have direct control over the players is boring?

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Apr 2019

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I already knew it wasn't going to happen. The Devizes game was tight but they edged it. The following two matches saw us take the lead and concede late equalisers in disappointing ways (having missed good opportunities to finish them off), with the Willand match ending in conceding a free-kick in stoppage time against 10 men. That meant that after being in such a good position for ages, it was all over before the final match. Our points tally would have been enough to go up every other season, and in fact would have allowed us to top the league on all but 2 occasions (though it's an admittedly small sample size). At the end of the day, the consistency of our rivals was one obstable too many to overcome. I was wrong earlier, just being solid and consistent wasn't enough, not this season.

I'm still going to stick around, as I doubt I'd have a better side anywhere else at this level. There's still room for this current side to improve, not so much with new acquisitions but with a bit more time to grow and establish itself. It will obviously help to have Kinder back but given how front-loaded the season is he's bound to still miss a decent chunk of it. We'll just have to live without him for now, and that means everyone else needs to be a lot less embarassing in front of goal. They weren't poor so much as inconsistent. If there's one silver lining it's that failure makes eventual success all the sweeter.

Star Player: It's hard to tell whether Kinder demonstrated his importance to the team more before or after his injury. He's been fantastic since I put him into the team late last season and I'd be a lot more optimistic if he was available from pretty much the start of next season. Aside from the period he'll actually be out injured, it'll probably also take a while for him to regain fitness as well. If he continues how he left off and depending on how long I'm here, he could end up being an early legend of the save.

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Squad Stats

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Brutal end of the season. Because my positivity must have jinxed it last time, I’m just going to keep my mouth (keyboard?) shut about next year…

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On 11/08/2021 at 18:49, Northernpilgrim said:

Sorry if I jinxed it :(

Fingers crossed you can go up next season. Rooting for ya :)

 

13 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Brutal end of the season. Because my positivity must have jinxed it last time, I’m just going to keep my mouth (keyboard?) shut about next year…

Thank you both. It was even tougher to take because even going into the season it felt like this would be our time to go up, and any other season would have seen us do so even with the poor final few months. I'm sure our time will come before too long though. Even when we were struggling at times late last season our performances reminded me a little of my good sides from the past when they were still a bit young and needed more time to come together. Not that this team is on the same level but it helps me feel like a bit more patience and development time may yet be useful and I should stick with it. With my previous tactical changes being all defensive, I've decided to try being a bit more attacking again in some ways as we still lagged behind the better teams in this division in terms of goals scored.

I wasn't sure how much to change for next season in terms of transfers. I'm just entering pre-season and the big hunt for signings but I feel I already know what I'm going to get. I'm probably going to get three players, I know which positions they'll be and I even have a specific target for one of those. I'll go into more detail in the pre-season transfer update. I thought I might need a bit of time to recover from the blow of yesterday but I feel determined to push on already and have another go. We have a promotion to win so let's not hang about :D

Speaking of time to recover, Kinder is progressing better than expected. The predicted recovery time is still vague but the more optimistic estimates will at least have him back in training by the start of the new season. He won't be ready yet but it looks like he'll probably be back in the team by the start of October. That will still mean missing the busiest part of the season but he'll probably not miss anywhere near as much as I originally feared. He's gotten 26 goals and 11 assists in 35 league matches over the past two seasons (aside from his injury last season, he only got his opportunity late in the previous season) and if he's able to perform on a similar level on his return (and everyone else is more consistent) then it'll be hard to stop us this time.

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Summer 2019

So my summer transfers were a little different from planned, but not by much. The first two transfers were as expected. While we already had 4 senior forwards I decided to add another when I saw Collins, especially since no one aside from the injured Kinder was clicking at all consistently so I thought it was worth trying another option.. It's hard to find players to properly improve the team right now so as young as he was he really stood out and had a promising pre-season. I also had my eye on a central midfielder as that was probably our weakest area both quality and depth-wise. Tweddle was more of an 'ok' option but he was at least a similar quality to the others and had already enjoyed a couple of decent seasons at this level with Nailsea.

A defender was also on the list but I ended up going much younger than intended for the second year in a row. Experienced players pop up when doing my initial scouting but they no longer seem available once I'm ready to make my moves at the start of July (once departing players have cleared a chunk of wage budget). I must admit that there was an element of 'Do we need him?' about Hardy but I decided the answer was just about 'yes'. That was set to be that, but on a whim I decided to check out a new winger. Our starting winger Richards had a good season last year (aside from the end, like a few other players) and set a new club record for assists in a season but he wasn't entirely reliable. His young backup Winter did fine for the most part but wasn't a realistic long-term option. Bowman already seemed on Richards' level as well as being a player I'd actually be confident about putting in instead when the latter was off form. Like Hardy there was also an element of snatching those standout young players to keep them away from our rivals ;)

Hopefully I was able to strike a good balance between improving the squad a little and avoiding making too many changes. The goal is pretty clear by now, see if we can push for promotion more successfully than last time.

Signings

Bowman

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Collins

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Hardy

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Tweddle

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sept 2019

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This season has mostly been positive, even if it's tailed off recently. We seem to start off our seasons against relegated sides, which tend to be tough even if the teams in question end up struggling. In this case Bridgwater was a case were a lot of things just went against us, including 2 injuries to add to all the changes we needed to make for the second game. We needed to get up to speed almost immediately after that and managed it with three good wins. Even the two draws after that were positive, given how well Appledore started the season (and have continued to be since) and Nailsea scored 17(!) goals in their 5 league games by that point. Despite having the lead for a while in both matches they definitely felt like points gained rather than lost.

It was the very late defeat at Ilfracombe (a game we should have easily won by that point) that was the first disappointing result since the opening day, and we struggled to pick things up after that. We managed to beat Marlborough (though it would have been embarassing if we hadn't) before getting a credible draw away to Rockleaze before Shaftesbury hit us with a late sucker punch that was just as frustrating as Ilfracombe. I'm sure that would have been a rage-quit moment for a lot of other players. We at least comfortably beat Nailsea in the Les Phillips, with Kinder finally showing his old form. He returned as a sub as early as South Shields but as you can tell from the lack of his name on the scoresheet, he hasn't been great, just being 'decent' in a lot of matches (and a couple of shockers). Even though we coped without him, we're going to struggle if he doesn't get firing again.

I must admit that it is a little frustrating being as far behind the top 2 as we are. However part of that has been how strong they have been. I hope the don't keep this up all season long as it'll be frustrating if this was the second year in a row that the AI suddenly raised the promotion bar considerably. We still need to improve a bit ourselves to close the gap but as long as we do I expect we should be able to make progress in chasing the promotion front-runners. We actually have Radstock at home next which might help. Otherwise the season has been fine. The new signings (the three I remembered about anyway, I couldn't remember which of the defenders was new as opposed to being from the youth intake) have made important contributions, as well as the young left-back I signed last year who is making more of his chances this year. I wouldn't say anyone has been bad, as even Kinder has more been underwhelming than anything worse. 'Fine' just hasn't quite been good enough.

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Random Update

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I don't normally take a break during a session to post but I thought I might make an exception here. After last season set the bar unusually high to go up and a few teams had very strong starts to this season, the madness of these lower leagues and the lack of consistency among everyone has returned in glorious style. We're just a few matches from the half-way point and the entire top-half are within 5 points of 2nd! We've been a litte frustrating ourselves but if we can get a good run going we'll shoot up the table as things stand! Oh and Kinder is back scoring a few goals which is nice. The other news is that the DoF signed this guy, because when only the bottom two have scored fewer goals you might as well get another forward to see if he helps get us firing...

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Dec 2019

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This autumn was a very frustrating one. It may seem obvious to point to the lack of goals scored, and for good reason, but even as relatively tight as we've been at the back we've still conceded a few silly and costly goals as well. A common theme was the 'good' draw, hard fought draws against teams doing well at the time which individually were good results but added up to a lot of dropped points and we were ahead in a lot of them. The low point was clearly the stoppage time penalty conceded against Westbury. It's still the defeats that were the most disappointing, relatively few though they were. That's not just because of the obvious but also because they tended to come in matches we really weren't expected to lose, making them seem even more like points thrown away. Despite that we still closed a little on the top 2, since everyone was a mess at a time. Appledore (comfortably top at the last update) have only just won their first match since, which is quite a long winless streak.

Things changed for the better after the halfway point. Since my tactical changes so far have beem aimed at tightening the defence (which has at least worked) I've been on 'standard' as the default mentality for a while. I was going to go back to 'Control' for home matches but I quickly ditched that after trying it in the Longwell Green Sports match. However I decided to go back to that (this time as the default) when we began the second half of the season against Bridgwater, as obvious as 'If you're not scoring enough goals, try harder' is, though the number of chances we were having wasn't in and of itself the issue. That resulted in a 100% record for December, our first consecutive wins in the league since August. It was tight for the most part but it was enough to go from 4 points off the top two to being 2 points inside it. Hopefully that at least establishes us as one of the main group of promotion hopefuls, even though we have a long way to go.

I've not had much opportunity to talk about the cups as we've tended to do poorly in them but this time is an exception. We were out of the bigger two early on but have managed to go a lot further in the Les Philips, our league cup. It was very satisfying to beat Devizes (who beat us to promotion last season and are looking like relegation no-hopers this year)', and while I would rather have traded our win over Shepton Mallet in the following round with a win in the following league game, that at least takes us to the quarter-finals. That sees us play... East Thurrock. You know, from that famously Western county of Essex. It's not surprising that things have gotten geographically messed up a little already, having seen multiple instances of Kent and Devon/Cornwall teams swapping over. Plus after relegation, the University of Exeter (and former Southwest opponents Cullompton) found themselves in the South Midland league, mainly made up of teams from Buckinghamshire and that area. Anyway the match seems like it'll be a very tough one but at least the pressure will be off.

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Feb 2020

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My studies resume next week and while I can still play a little (in fact I resumed playing FM regularly as part of establishing a regular of 'study first, FM later' routine) I thought I'd make sure I get the season finished before then. I haven't quite done as much as I hoped during the hiatus but it's still been fun.

Anyway, our good form continued for most of January, with our winning run extended to 5 games against Appledore. We crashed against Nailsea but that still left us just a point behind both them and Radstock (who were having a wobble). We managed to clinch wins in our next 2 games to send us top with a 4-point margin to 3rd, though not easily. A horrific start against Shaftesbury saw us go 2-0 down before we came back to level it by the break then win 4-2. Against Ilfracombe they pegged us back twice before we made it 3rd time lucky. Since we went more attacking things certainly weren't boring.

 I saw our cup match against Thurrock as a bit of a free hit, but while I was pleased to only lose to a late goal, our league form dipped considerably. First came defeat after a poor display against Roman Glass St.George before Kinder briefly in between injuries) gave us a win against Marlborough. The defeat against Rockleaze ws disappointing as we conceded twice from direct free kicks, and while we pulled it back to 2-2 they still god a late winner. The defence was definitely crumbling as we conceded against Bitton and only scraped a draw.

Radstock was a key game and I dialed things down a little for that one. We actually took the lead from a penalty (they pretty much all seem to be scored from what I've seen) but they equalised late on, right after a bunch of tactical changes to try and hold on to the lead took effect! Oh and it was another direct free kick. I've now changed the training focus to help defend against set pieces better. That leaves us level at the top with a 3-point margin, but I feel like lightning is striking twice and a poor late run is going to cost us again. I actually played on a little and defeat in the next game saw us leading a 3-way tie with another team just a point behind and a couple more close by! The end of the season is no doubt going to be exciting for the neutrals, but less so for me, especially given how poor we are right now. 3rd time lucky next year perhaps?

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PROMOTION + The Title!!!  Congrats!  Especially exciting to only get there on the last day! (Course, would have been brutal if it had gone the wrong way...)

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1 hour ago, 13th Man said:

PROMOTION + The Title!!!  Congrats!  Especially exciting to only get there on the last day! (Course, would have been brutal if it had gone the wrong way...)

Erm, the season's not finished yet! 8 games to go :D

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2 hours ago, Jolanthustrel said:

Damn, the top of the table is tighter than a ducks rear end. No room for error up there. Good luck!

Yep, and on our form it's not looking good :(

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9 hours ago, deltablue said:

Erm, the season's not finished yet! 8 games to go :D

Oops! Misread your post (mushy brain!). Saw “wanted to end the season” and decided that this was a end of season post and (I guess) disregarded the rest. Maybe got too excited? 
Speaking of studies, maybe I need to go back to work on my reading comprehension now…

Wow, yup, reread your post and I realized I’m just a total idiot.

Edited by 13th Man
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