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[FM13] Alice in FM-land


deltablue
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2 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Ouch!  That's just brutal.  A promising start dropping off horribly.  You still have the chance to get back in the playoff spots, but challenging at the top is looking less likely.

Yep, it's just so frustrating. Both goalkeeper injuries happened just as it looked like we might be building some momentum and it was unfortunate that we had both keepers out on each occasion. There was some extra frustration about the York defeat since aside from the fact that we would otherwise have hoped to win that one comfortably, results elsewhere meant the gap to the playoffs and the top 3 remained 3 and 5 points respectively so we could really have closed in. I only played through to the end of the month to do the update because of how frustrating I was finding it. The playoffs aren't too far off but the gap to the top 3 looks big. The next three games are Peterborough, Accrington and Fleetwood all away which probably won't be fun either.

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2 hours ago, MWFC_3 said:

@deltablue Could we see how the 2014-2030 World Cups went?

Here you are (with the Euro winners as well)

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2014

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2018

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2022

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2026

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2030

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Jan 2031

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It's fair to say that this is a much more optimistic update than last time with no defeats at all in all competitions despite having two cup ties (both against higher division teams) go to replays.

I wasn't looking forward to our initial run of December fixtures but we got a respectable draw at Peterborough and beat Accrington Stanley and Fleetwood Town, slashing the gap to Mansfield in 3rd from 10 points to 5. Suddenly a top 3 challenge seemed possible after all. Unfortunately we've not managed to win 3 league games in a row all season so it kind of seemed inevitable that we would drop points after conceding an equaliser to MK Dons but we rounded out the year with a comfortable win against Bromyard Town (whose wage expenditure would narrowly miss out on being in the top 6 in the Championship). We started 2031 with a draw at Halifax (which still allowed us to close to 3 points of Mansfield) after one of those games where both sides had a few 'how did they not score that!' chances before alternating home wins against Crewe and Gateshead with draws at Dagenham & Redbridge and Newport, the latter result being by far the most disappointing of the two. That's the one real negative, that at least a couple of draws in this run should have been wins and it's costing us badly. Barnsley and Mansfield (away) are next so we can't afford to slip up.

So to the cup. Altrincham made it three out of three this season for drawing League 1 teams, though while we comfortably beat the other two, we barely held on in the first game thanks to a late-ish equaliser. I was glad to just be in the tie so I was delighted when a late Hawkes goal sent us through. Championship side Chesterfield were next but we took a shock lead in the first game. They equalised immediately but despite remaining deep and defensive we actually hada lot of chances and forced a lot of corners in the second half so had we got a winner it would have been deserved. The replay turned in the second half when they went down to 10 men I decided to push a little more and we almost immediately scored and went full defensive to send us through to the last 16! We face Norwich of all teams and will almost certainly lose but you have to wonder. This is part of why it would be harsh to get sacked if we don't go up. It's not just the promotions but the cup runs and what is now a long list of higher division scalps. I think I have earned the right to stay for one more promotion push after this (if need be) and leave on my own terms.

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I wanted to get the rest of the season done today and it started promisingly with a win against Barnsley and a draw against Mansfield that both sides had reason to be happy with. We then beat Doncaster and Rochdale with the FA Cup match at Norwich in between. We lost that to an early free-kick and a late penalty but otherwise put in a solid performance given the circumstances. However there were clear signs that we were starting to slow down as we had to rescue a point at home to Blackpool, followed by another draw against AFC Wimbledon and our unbeaten run finally falling (and deservedly so) at Kettering, though the latter two matches were at least tough ones against other playoff contenders though we then drew at York as well, Unfortunately it didn't help that we were suddenly getting a bunch of injuries to defenders in particular and the injured players seemed a shadow of their former selves when they returned. The most frustrating thing was that the gap to the top three didn't open up that much. Our rivals were stumbling and we were completely failing to take advantage of that.

I thought we might have turned a corner after beating Sheffield Utd but it wasn't to be, as we then crashed to a humiliating defeat to Wrexham. Mathematically we still had a decent chance of making the top 3 but I knew it was fading away fast. It wasn't until the penultimate game at Port Vale that our chance of automatic promotion died when they equalised, leading to a chaotic final game against Accrington Stanley where we went behind, then 2-1 and 3-2 ahead before being denied the win by a soft penalty. In some ways I am glad that we had a gap of 6 points to 3rd in the end as at one point when we were leading it was only two and that would have left me thinking that we had really blown it. It still left us one place and 5 points worse off than last season, not good for a team that could have done so much better. Into the playoffs we go but in my experience your form going into them is everything so it probably won't go any better than last year.

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Playoffs 2031

Semi-finals

The first leg against Birmingham was my 900th match of the career but I wasn't sure I would have much to celebrate. Having to take off a couple of defenders early due to worrying body language ('complacent' and 'very nervous' respectively) didn't help. However when Brownhill slotted home, followed by a free-kick from Lobo (who came on for one of the defenders earlier) I suddenly felt we were in control. We could have gotten a 3rd before they pushed late on but 2 goals seemed a decent margin to take to the second leg.

The plan to keep it tight in the away leg quickly fell apart as they scored an early goal and the defence once again looked a right mess. A second Birmingham goal seemed inevitable and it seemed like we really were about to throw it all away. That was why I was relieved when Hawkes broke away and lobbed the ball into the goal at mid-range to equalise on the night. That left us with a bit more breathing room which it turned out we didn't need as despite some close calls we managed to keep them out for the rest of the match.

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Playoff Final 2031

The playoff final was against Peterborough. The first half was very quiet, at least until they unfortunately took the lead. I started to worry until Sandjak headed in a cross to equalise. We kept pushing on and it wasn't long before the Algerian took the ball to the line and pulled it back for Hawkes to hammer home for 2-1! The celebrations were wild indeed, which gave way first to caution to see if we could hold on, and relief when the end came.

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We really don't do things the easy way at this club. That makes it 4 promotions, three of which were through the playoffs and one of those came after blowing a good lead at the top of the table. This season was a proper roller-coaster of hope and despair and I really thought we had blown it late on. As it was it took until the final day to even confirm our place in the playoffs. As it turned out we didn't win more than two league games in a row and probably never occupied the top 3 places so this was very much an unconvincing mess of a promotion season, yet we got there in the end. I will definitely leave after next season now with a promising array of future destinations (and Ipswich) and will leave quite a legacy behind. As a reminder, this was the situation I inherited...

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Star player: This was a toughie. In recent years it's gone to an attacking player based on goals and assists but this time I decided to go back to the player with the highest rating as it was won fairly comfortably by the Croatian defender Stojan. I really didn't expect him to be this good, and I only signed him over another player who had a long-term injury. He soon established himself despite an early straight red card and I am glad he found his old form in time for the playoff final.

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Squad Stats

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Wow! Well done, despite some rocky patches you managed to push on through to League One! Love how far your manager has gone up through the leagues. 

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19 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Wow! Well done, despite some rocky patches you managed to push on through to League One! Love how far your manager has gone up through the leagues. 

Thank you. Oh it was definitely one of my less convincing promotion seasons and during the final matches of the regular league season I was already looking ahead to our chances of doing it the following year but thankfully the team managed to find some form again (to a point) in the playoffs, As for rising through the leagues, the whole point of this save (aside from experiencing the different leagues and teams below the Conference North/South) was to have that long-term goal of rising through the leagues and counting the promotions. Now it's 8 down and just 2 to go and I wonder if I can do them both at my next club.

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4 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Impressive work and dedication!

Thank you. It's actually gone much quicker than expected after the early seasons, helped by the triple promotion with Cadbury Heath and being able to get Grimsby after that. I'm glad I had the rule about not being allowed to skip promotions (and in fact I was offered the Man City job this summer) as it feels more rewarding. This year in League 1 we have Everton (who have been down for couple of years), Wolves. Blackburn and Watford among the teams so the next move could be a really good one.

3 hours ago, DavidBeckham said:

 Congrats on the playoff final win mate! And Zoran has been an absolute towering presence for you!

Thank you. We really did it the hard way once again. As for Stojan he actually set a new record for the highest average rating in a season. He's not even the first rock solid Croatian defender I have had on this version (though a previous save)...

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Summer 2031

This was a surprisingly quiet summer, especially after promotion. Now we're firmly in the realms of multi-year contracts (which still takes some getting used to) we only had three players with expiring contracts last season. There was Mirfin, who I was 100% going to keep, Rob Jennings, who was good for us in the Conference but was now one of a handful of players now surplus to requirements and wanting to leave so they could actually play, and Lozano who I would have wanted to keep but couldn't get a work permit this time. There was also the fact that we couldn't offer players any more than last season and even with a bit of rebalancing to get a potential transfer budget of around 300k, it was hard to afford anyone who would actually improve this side. However after the chaos of last season, having a more settled squad this time probably wouldn't be a bad thing and the theoretical ability of the team isn't in doubt.

As for who I did sign, there was only one hole in the squad to fill, for a playmaker, and I went for the Scottish attacking midfielder Goodwillie from fellow promotees Port Vale. The fact that he could fill in on the wing as well was bonus and the compensation fee was no longer a deal-breaker. The other initial signing was Beasant from Peterborough, another somewhat familiar face from our promotion battle last season. I still wanted another central defender and while there were few good options out there, I was glad to beat a couple of other League 1 sides to signing the Argentine Scarsi. A good central midfielder was on the 'would be nice' list but the only plausable target was a Chinese defender/midfielder who couldn't get a work permit. It's not the end of the world though.

I did raise the expectations slightly to mid-table from 'learn from the experience' for a little extra budget. That's something I virtually never do (and has usually backfired when I have) but in this case I doubt I have too much to worry about and I am leaving at the end of the season anyway.

Beasant

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Goodwillie

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Scarsi

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Transfer Activity

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Sept 2031

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This has been a pretty good start to the season, especially with a game or two in hand over pretty much everyone else. A Sandjak double gaves us a win to start with over Watford, with another to beat Championship Rotherham in the League Cup, we then snatched a draw at Portman Road and hammered Cambridge to briefly enjoy a spot in the top two. Defeat to Sheffield Wednesday only seemed a blip as we returned to winnling ways in the league against Notts County, sandwiched between cup wins over Bristol City and Gateshead. We then hit a trickier patch with a draw against Oldham and defeat at Brimscombe & Thrupp (one of those games where had multiple 'how did they not get the ball over the line' moments before they scored). Kings Lynn Town had a pretty good team given their position so it was nice to beat them, then we made it 3 out of 3 for beating Championship sides in the League cup when a wonderful Hawkes goal gave us a last minute winner. The month did end on a slightly disappointing note as we laboured to a 0-0 draw against Salisbury but if that can be considered a low point then we're hardly doing badly.

I must admit that with the start we've had I've been wondering if we could make a play-off push but at the moment our form has only really been good enough to hang on to a top 6 place at best and there really isn't any pressure to push again. I'm just so used to gunning for promotion that it's nice to have a more relaxed season and take in things going well for a promoted time and what would be my swansong in North-East Lincolnshire. Aside from our position in the league, we have a 100% cup record this year, including a hat-trick of Championship scalps in the League Cup, therefore keeping up our long-established tradition of beating teams in the league above us. Premier League Nottingham Forest (who have made a good start to the season) await in what I think is the last 16 of the League Cup, and while I look forward to beating a Premier League team for the first time I'm not sure it's going to happen quite yet.

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