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[FM13] Alice in FM-land


deltablue
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3 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Three straight promotions is no small thing even if, yes, momentum is as big a thing as any in the lower leagues!

Yep, after each promotion I'm wondering if we can go up again :D

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39 minutes ago, 13th Man said:

You going to keep going with this save? Or is FM22 calling to you after years of keeping it old school?

Good question. I don't think this save will be truly complete until I've won the Premier League, or something like that. I will take a hiatus to do an FM22 career, and as I discussed in an earlier post, maybe once I leave Cadbury Heath it'll be a good opportunity to park this career to the side. I've also set up an 'acclimatisation' save with Levski Sofia which I might turn to at this point, we'll see.

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Summer 2022

I've decided that this will likely be the last season in South Gloucestershire, unless we get promoted again or at least reach the playoffs or something. Mind you we're second favourites for the league so that might happen. We're entering a different world now, one more familiar with the lower levels of the vanilla game. We're now fully professional (perhaps a couple of levels early), can now realistically scout players from the trialists matches, the board agreed to look for a parent club (though couldn't find one), and it also became clear that signing contracted players for nothing was no longer a realistic option (though maybe still possible in some cases). There's also the fact that the wage bill is finally catching up to the budget (considerably increased by each promotion) and having raised the bar I was willing to pay to just over £200pw last season, it's now tough to find anyone worthwhile who will come for much less than that. If the Cadbury Heath train starts to run out of steam we won't have anything left in the tank to keep going.

There were certainly still signings made, though not to improve the team that much. The majority were to fill in gaps I deliberately left in the squad by releasing players who I felt were no longer good enough, at least improving the overall quality of the squad. I started with the players who could be directly approached to sign for free (or at least the usual 5k compensation fee) with a full-back on each side (Cooper being the more likely to feature regularly) and a good new central defender, along with a forward to replace the outgoing Wallace (who was still good but insisted on leaving due to insufficient game time.

I had to delve into free agents to fill the remaining gap, starting with an Argentine keeper (adding to Whelan being our first Irish player) adding a bit of exoticness to the squad, even if he was half-English. Top Gear fans might recognise the name of his birth town of Bariloche. I was struggling to find a backup for Edwards on a low enough wage so I thought I might as well sign an equal. Our two keepers have different strengths and weaknesses but are on a similar level overall so we'll see how things develop depending on how they perform. Finding a right winger to ease the pressure of Giles was tricky so I ended up going for a leftie (who is also more of an attacking midfielder playmaker) in Fenwick for the sake of finding someone good enough (and he can technically play in central midfield) even if I will have to switch things up when I swap between them. Finally Gill was the one 'bonus' signing I was able to make on top of those to fill the gaps, fittingly being a defender and a midfielder when I was looking for one or the other.

We should still have a good season and the playoffs are perfectly possible heading into the new season. It'll be interesting to see how things go even if we'll otherwise be relying on the same first choice team for the most part. It will still help to have better options for what should still be a busy year but I wonder if this is as strong as we can get and as far as I can take this team.

Signings

Cooper

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Fenwick
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Gill

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Gowens

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Moss

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Whelan

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Weller

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sept 2022

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This update was technically from over 2 weeks ago, but FM has taken a back seat recently. So far it looks like after 3 promotions in a row we're finally starting to slow down a bit, though we do tend to hit our stride later on. Our only league defeat of the season up until this point was at Aylesbury, who have made an incredible start, though winning is proving a lot tougher than avoiding defeat. I've pretty much decided that I'll leave at the end of the season, and if we do end up in mid-table that'll help make it a much easier decision. It's still too early to tell how the season will play out and we might still end up nervously looking down for a bit.

If I haven't gotten back into the FM swing by then I might stick with this save for a bit. I don't want to start a new save and barely get anywhere with it for a while. At least this career has some seasons behind it. We'll see what happens when I get to that point.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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I'm hoping to get back into FM bit by bit even though my sessions don't match up with in-game months. There isn't really much to report anyway as we find ourselves in the unusual situation of a mid-table muddle. I must admit that I'm very much just seeing it through until the end of the season unless something interesting happens at either end. We were disappointing for a lot of October with a League Cup win being the only one in our first 4 matches. We seemed to pick up with good wins against Locks Heath and Ash United which seemed to put the playoff places in our sights but I can tell you that November has been disappointing so far and we're not looking down and seeing if we might end up in a relegation scrap.

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  • 1 month later...

Dec 2022

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I finally picked this up again after a month where I knew I wouldn't either have the time or energy, finishing November and even getting through a hectic December. I picked up with the heavy defeat at Barnstaple which was the low point of a winless November in the league. Things picked up in December with three more wins to keep our heads above water even if back-to-back defeats stunted our potential recovery. We're finally onto just a single match a week (pretty much) which is when things get better so I hope it'll be the same here. We are also still in the Southern League Cup though I doubt we'll get much further.

I considered leaving at this point, especially since I was planning to leave at the end of the season anyway and this seemed like a good opportunity for a fresh start. However I'm not usually one for leaving mid-season and I thought I might as well finish off here by (hopefully) delivering survival to cap off the whole three promotions in a row things. It helps that form has slightly improved and the fixture list will be less of a nightmare which helps provide enough motivation to see the season through.

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Dec 2023

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January was a pretty good month. It was disappointing to miss out on a place in the Quarter-finals of the Southern League cup after going ahead against Ash but our only league defeat came at the end after 3 wins and a draw in the other games, a run that puts us in a safer position.

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Phew, got some space between you and the drop with a pretty good January.  I guess you won't be able to do yet another promotion this season.  Not even with my powers.  Midtable though...

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On 11/01/2022 at 17:27, 13th Man said:

Phew, got some space between you and the drop with a pretty good January.  I guess you won't be able to do yet another promotion this season.  Not even with my powers.  Midtable though...

Nope we couldn't have, however we were closer than you'd expect. When we won our first league match in 7 in December I saw we were 8 points from the playoffs with a game in hand! The leagues really have tight midtables.

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May 2023

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It was a nice smooth ride to the finish, and I must admit that it made a nice change not to have to deal with the stress of a promotion battle. We only lost 3 league matches since the start of January but it wasn't quite enough to put ourselves in a serious playoff hunt. We weren't quite consistent enough though and the damage had already been done in the autumn. If we had even a few more points than the match with Hinckley would have been a lot more important, especially as only a stoppage time goal denied what might have been a key win that would have kept it tight heading into the final day. It was otherwise a quiet and unspectacular season and for once I'm not awarding 'Key Player'.

I leave Cadbury Heath in a good position. It was strangely easy to leave despite all the good times as I knew going into this season that my time was coming. If we weren't 1.5m in the red and maxed out on the wage budget then maybe it would have been worth chasing promotion another year (we could well have made the playoffs at least with a better autumn) but I feel like our momentum has run out. It's time to move out of the South-West into either the Northern or Isthmian leagues.

Almost from the start, Fylde (who had just failed ot get promotion) was available but rejected me. I sneakily applied for Droylsden (as they were getting relegated from the Conference North so technically I'd be staying at the same level) and they actually offered me the job but I rejected it (partly but not only because I decided I wouldn't use that loophole in the rules). Finally Torquay in League 2 offered me the job just like that but aside from the fact that it was too big a step up it didn't appeal that much to me anyway. That at least suggests that despite Fylde I should still be able to get a decent Level 7 club though we'll see as I progress further.

Squad Stats

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10 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Solid season, and now, onto a new challenge!

Yep, though not yet. I got to early July in-game yesterday and by this point it'll probably be October when a bunch of jobs open up again so it might be a few days.

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Well, well... what have we here?

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I certainly wouldn't have anticipated Grimsby (or a similar club) potentially being the third of this career. If it was any other club it would be a 'no' as it's over wage budget (having spare wage budget was one of the key things in my mind). However maybe it's worth it this time as I'll be able to release a lot of players at the end of the season and hopefully maintain a higher wage budget than I did in Gloucestershire given the average attendance is holding up. They started in the Conference National though have spend a lot more time in the Conference North before being relegated last year, and the're how just a few points and places above the drop zone. The wage budget situation will be an issue for this season and means there's no room for any signings but it's potentially worth a go for a few seasons or so to see if I can restore their fortunes a bit.

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First Impressions

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This was the situation I inherited. I haven't played much yet but so far the signs are not good. The squad isn't too bad, even if we're inevitably a bit light in certain areas and there are a few players out loan who I wish I had available. We're particularly short on quality up front, especially as our standout forward (pictured below) will be out for the first few weeks (includng allowing a bit of time to get fit again). The big issue is of course the wage bill. The highest earner is on a whopping £950pw, almost double of what might end up as an informal upper limit of £500pw, and he's really not very good either.  I reckon I could have a good clearout and rebuild in the summer, though as things stand it looks like we have a big survival fight on our hands.

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Here is that forward I mentioned. He hasn't exactly set the world alight so far this season and he's still really young but he's still much better than the rest of our forward options. I imagine a lot will depend on how successfully I can get him firing once he returns.

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On 16/01/2022 at 18:26, 13th Man said:

Ooo, sounds fun! A historically Football League side that’s fallen on hard times…Will give a nice challenge but bring a good reputation and potential.

I agree, though I doubt things will be easy in the short-term. This is a team that was really in a rut once I took over with just 2 points from their previous 6 games and things didn't improve at first. There weren't even any coaches which wouldn't have helped! I can't do anything transfer-wise until the summer due to the wage bill being way over budget and then the squad will need a major overhaul. However at least I can slash the wage bill to a fraction if what it is with the amount of unwanted and overpaid players we have and that should give me all the budgetary room I need to bring in replacements. However if I can survive the short term then we should be in a much better position to move up a division or two after that.

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Dec 2023

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It was nice to get a handful of games under my belt. As you can see things did not start well. Having left a team that were defensively tight but didn't score much, the first match in the cup against Nantwich (which happens to be my mother's birthplace) when we lost after the letting the lead slip twice with awful defending. We didn't look much better against Ashton or Lincoln despite the fact that I had started to make tactical changes (well, team instructions and player roles at least) that seemed to make a difference. Bedlington Terriers were in an even worse position than we were but all we could do was go behind then score an equaliser that saved us from dropping into the relegation zone.

Little did I know how things would turn. Leek Town were high flying but we at least the potential star forward I mentioned above fit for the first time since I took over. As it happened it was his TM partner was the hat-trick hero with Hawkes at least getting one just before he was being subbed off to rest him. It was the club's first league win in 10 and we didn't have to wait long to get more. Bury are clearly so dominant this season that that game was a 'free hit' where we gave a decent account of ourselves in a narrow 1-0 defeat. We then won 3 of our remaining 4 games of the month (and could be considered disappointed not to have won the other) to end December in a much better position than we started. Despite missing one more game to flu, Hawkes managed 3 goals after only getting 2 in 14 matches beforehand this season.

It's fair to say that my opinion of this team has changed considerably. A lot of players will still be released at the end of the season but I no longer think they're a bunch of useless and overpaid morons. It might even be a shame to have to let a couple of them go due to their high wages. The gap to the drop zone isn't that massive but there is definitely a sense of having turned a corner. This is despite facing all but one of the top 6 (the exception were the last opponents before I took over) recently and with the squad depth issues being compounded by usually having at least a few injuries at a time. Despite this I think we're definitely managing fine for now.

As it happens after the win against Crown a message popped up saying it was a record low attendance. This was despite the fact that it was over 1,000, greater than the overall capacity at Cadbury Heath (where we the ground wasn't even quite getting half-full). Attendances seem to have picked up already with our form. That really illustrates how despite the fact that I knew I was taking a short-term gamble, this really is quite a step up in club size and I hope I can make the most of it once I have a squad with the required standard and depth to get at least one promotion.

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On 20/01/2022 at 17:21, 13th Man said:

Well done starting to turn the ship around.  Headed in the right direction even if the challenge has only begun.

Oh we're storming in the right direction as you're about to see.

 

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Feb 2024

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We started the new year on a reletively disappointing note as we threw away an early 1-0 lead at home to Otley Town to go behind 2-1 before rescuing a draw. It may not seem like much but I was wondering if we could get a good enough run to make a playoff push in the way I couldn't quite manage with Cadbury Heath last year. As it happened we managed to get on a good run winning the next 6. The 5-0 win over second-placed Norton Bridge was the obvious highlight. However it did at least highlight how we had a lot of game still to come against other teams competing for the playoff places so it won't be the smoothest ride to the finish. However despite Bury running away with it at the top we're getting close enough to all the teams in the playoffs that they can't all finish the season strongly and if we keep it up we should be able to finish above a couple of them perhaps. The way we're going I think we'd stand a good chance even if conceeding an equaliser at home to Stockport Sports of all teams was another two disappointing point dropped.

Still given the situation when I took over and the poor start, being even close to the playoffs later in the season was one the better potential outcomes. As things stand a narrow defeat at Bury is the only defeat we've suffered since the start of December, since when we've won 10 out of 14 matches. As mentioned above, the run-in has some tricky games but if we can get into the playoff places who knows? The other major news is that having played on a little the youth intake came in and we did have a defender who could turn out to be good.

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