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[FM21] BackTheBulls - Jersey Bulls: a charge into the football league


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That’s an early league title! Congrats :cool:

It’s great that Geddes is going to with you for a few seasons, and should give a decent fee if needing to be sold.

Looks like it’s now planning for next season all that’s left to do with this season, apart from the giving experience to the youngsters/other players as you said.

Edited by Sonic Youth
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On 01/08/2021 at 06:47, Sonic Youth said:

That’s an early league title! Congrats :cool:

It’s great that Geddes is going to with you for a few seasons, and should give a decent fee if needing to be sold.

Looks like it’s now planning for next season all that’s left to do with this season, apart from the giving experience to the youngsters/other players as you said.

Yes it's really reassuring that we're heading in the right direction!

Unfortunately he's only tied down until the end of next season, although I'm trying to renew!

I have been renewing others in preparation for next year though!

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Youth Intake

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Hmmm, I'm not particularly impressed with this intake. I think that Geddes and Dawkins having improved so rapidly this year has meant that the intake is rightly rated less highly, but it's likely none of these are instant game changers unlike the last two intakes. One the plus side we know a 5 star player is at least predicted to be of Vanarama National standard, 3 divisions above our current standard.

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This was my initial attribute analysis. On attributes there's definitely a few who will likely contribute next year, but nobody stands out as an immediate starter. Toomer may have a chance at AMR perhaps. His personality is also really good, suggesting he will develop well.

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Tierney is another with a decent personality and I like his mentals. 

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Cable is the other who may feature more quickly. Let's see how he develops with that particularly poor personality. 

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March and April 2026

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We suffered a particularly large hangover from winning the league :lol:

Fortunately that was the only time we dropped points.

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We finish with a record point total and record wins.

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End of season 2025/26 review

A superb season as we take a huge step and get out of the Southern League Division One South at the 4th time of asking!

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In terms of player performances, you can see that we've had our best season yet just from the "best of" stats.

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The impact of FittonGeddes and Dolan is clear to see here. We also had 10 Jersey-born players in the team of the year as our youth intake pays off.

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Individually, the whole team has performed extremely well. There's very little point analysing by groups of JB, JR at the moment as most players now fall into those categories!

Goalkeepers

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Yay, a goalkeeper with over 7 average rating! He holds his saves well too. It'll be interesting how Dolan performs next season.

Defenders

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At centre back, Hudson and Hitchman performed superbly. Howell became my third choice, but I'm not convinced by him at all really. 

Fitton had an incredible first year at RB, with over 4 key passes per 90 minutes. Salter is an able back-up and played a few games at AMR too which is where most of his goals came from I think. Colbran played almost every game at LB, although Fitton being able to play on that side offered him a few games off once we'd won the league. He racked up 9 assists and 2 key passes per 90 which isn't too shabby! 

I did give some game time to Matondo towards the end of the season and he did OK. He might need a loan next season, but I think he's out of contract so we'll see about his contract demands.

Midfield

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In central midfield, the two key players who emerged were Knill and Robbins. I used the former in DLP and the latter as a BWM. Robbins did better in the role and was better than Mikkonen in my opinion. Knill has some way to go to match the key passes and assist contribution of Gill-McCoy, but he has a much better personality and I'm not sure how much more Gill-McCoy will develop. I will keep rotating them both and see who develops next season. They are only 17 years old, I must remember that!

On the wing, I wrote about Bailey half way through the season, but I gave a lot more game time to Camara towards the end of the season and he contributed 8 assists and 4 goals which I'm really pleased with. Although his report doesn't say he is injury prone, he definitely is (or just seriously unlucky), so there's a place for Bailey in the squad if he can keep churning out performances the way he does. 

On the left, Stow-Tricker has started to contribute more, which is great as Dawkins looks like he's going to be off as he still refuses to sign a contract. Dawkins has been superb; 25 goal involvements from 27 starts! I'll be sad to see him leave, but he deserves to play football at a higher level.

I may keep Mudimu on to be backup AML, or I'll promote a younger player when I do my attribute analysis updates before the start of next season.

Forwards

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Geddes is the star of the show, with 40 goals in 40 games. At 7.55, it's the highest average rating in the save so far, although he was 5 short of Parsons 45 goals in our second season, albeit a division lower. Burgess had another good season at DLF, contributing significant numbers of assists and key passes. Griffiths was a worthy backup to either, but for £9k a year in wages I expected more. He will likely depart and Parsons may join him if he signs a contract elsewhere, otherwise I'll keep him on as an amateur. We have a worrying drop off in quality behind Geddes and Burgess. Eren only played 2 games and got 1 goal and 6 key passes from DLF, but he's a drop down from Burgess. My biggest concern is replacing Geddes after next season if he doesn't sign a contract, but we have to live 1-2 years at a time at this level. We may get another decent striker in the intake, or we can look to sign someone.

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End of season 2025/26 squad analysis

Using attribute analysis, I wanted to fully assess my squad going forward, at least for the next season. I'm unsure if my star players will sign deals.

Goalkeepers

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It's slim pickings here, with just two goalkeepers on our books. Dolan is our clear number one, and has made a steady 3 points of progress this season despite his unambitious personality coupled with poor determination (8). I would like a decent goalkeeper one of these days!

Centre backs

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Hudson has made superb progress each and every year he has played. He's now a decent defender across the board at this, and possibly one or two levels higher. Beyond him we are struggling. Yes, Hitchman has been excellent since his switch to CB, but he is clearly hitting a ceiling with regards to his development. Lyon I have overlooked as his high ratings comes from his bravery and aggression. Nastoulis perhaps deserves a chance next year, with 3 points of growth in his first year of reserve football. I also need to take a look at Charles, who has made 3 points of growth in just 3 months with us! Howell played a few games at CB this season, but he hasn't kicked on at all in terms of growth.

Full backs

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Fitton has made pleasing progress, but our other two highest capped full backs, Colbran and Salter have both declined this year. With Salter, I believe this may be due to adjusted attributes as he became natural at RB, but with Colbran it indicates he has probably hit his ceiling. Stevenson looks the most likely contender, although he is more suited, attribute wise, to BWM. 

I'm happy with my options here, but there's not an awful lot of depth, something that can be said about all our defensive positions.

Ball winning midfielders

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After praising Robbins for his performances, it's nice to see that he's now our highest scoring player attribute wise for this role. His growth has been excellent. Mikkonen has a resilient personality otherwise he wouldn't be in with a chance of new contract what with Cable also up for reserve BWM. We have depth here and it will be interesting to see how some of these develop.

Deep lying playmaker

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Robbins and Burgess top score here, but the former can't pass (7 for passing, 6 for vision) and the latter is our best DLF. Knill isn't a pass master, but creeps ahead of Gill-McCoy on attributes alone. There's a number of options behind these two so again it's not a position of concern at all.

Wingers

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Stow-Tricker makes the second best progress of any player this season, just behind Geddes. He obviously plays up front, but the strength in depth on the wings is really obvious. Our current rotation option at AMR, Bailey, ranks 11th on the list! Dawkins is likely to leave this year, so Mudimu may stay despite clearly having hit a ceiling. Williams perhaps also deserves some time at AML with his growth in the reserves. At AMR, I am tempted to keep going with Camara and Bailey, although there's room for another young player to make a push for first team action.

Deep lying forward

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Limited realistic options here. Burgess has made good progress despite a balanced personality. Eren played well in the two games he had, so perhaps I need to give him more opportunities.

Poacher

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Geddes made 10 points attribute growth on this scoring system, which is phenomenal. Can we keep him for more than just next year?! Stow-Tricker can't finish to save his life, otherwise he'd be a good option. Considering Dawkins and Griffiths will both likely leave, we're a little short here...

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Pre-season 2026/27

These are the expectations for the season, which are slightly lower than the forecast at the end of last season.

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The media predict we will finish 5th, although this was before a key squad loss (below).

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Our first team for the season is likely to be this:

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From this you can see Dawkins has moved on. Just before he left, he was rated as a League Two player with potential for more, so to not secure a sell-on fee is a bit gutting. I did offer him out quite a bit last season as well as repeatedly trying to secure him to a new contract. However, without the loan back option I was reluctant to lose him. £5k is better than a kick in the teeth I suppose!

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I shall be keeping track of any player sales from now on and will update on how these players get on.

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In good news, our other left wing prodigy has signed a new long term deal:

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He's not quite as good as Dawkins, but he isn't far off. Another season of progress and he may be just as good and the long deal means we're likely to get a sell-on clause included for him eventually.

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Unfortunately that's not the end of the changes to the squad.

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While Geddes is now happy to remain, he won't sign a new contract and I may look to sell with a loan back and sell-on fee if possible, knowing that otherwise he will leave at the end of the season for just £5k compensation.

An offer has also come in from Coventry for Burgess.

He is likely to be go with the following offer, but at least the 50% may offer us some money in the future, the free friendly will give us some money more immediately and we get him for this season. We have to be realistic, our better players are going to be leaving us at the moment due to the level we play at. If we can get good deals that may benefit the club in the future then that's fantastic.

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Finally, we've improved our season ticket sales and this makes me hopeful of increased attendances this year, which may negate our higher wage bill.

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9 hours ago, Pompeyboyz said:

Going up against my hometown club of Gosport Borough now :D

My only defeat of the season so far!! You jinxed me clearly :lol:

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August 2026

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A superb start to the season. We've carried on where we left off without missing Dawkins at all. Even more impressive is the fact that Burgess was injured early on against Taunton and it doesn't seem to have stopped us. Add that to a red card and three match ban for Stow-Tricker and we're showing a much greater strength in depth despite not really having it in my opinion!

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One player making a real impact this year is Hudson, who can't seem to stop scoring from corners.

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His physicals are now pretty solid for this level, but he hasn't hit these sorts of figures in his career before at lower levels. I've played a bit into September and he's up to 5 league goals now!

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So we're top for now, but as you'll be aware from my comment above, we've lost to Gosport at the beginning of September, so this will be a short lived top place! Still a superb start and it shows we'll be right up their competing with the big boys. 

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What's also pleasing about this month is that we're making some money again.

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This sort of profit is really welcome as if it continues I can justify paying some players a little more. I'm having to start to pay some of my young players slightly more as I try and get the best ones onto longer contracts. Knill is one example below.

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This is a genuinely fascinating thread, keep up the great work.

I've always played FM for the lower league management and interesting narratives and you've nailed it here, with a really strong method of analysis that I've not seen at this level of the game before. 

Looking forward to more updates!

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On 06/08/2021 at 09:55, Whalix said:

This is a genuinely fascinating thread, keep up the great work.

I've always played FM for the lower league management and interesting narratives and you've nailed it here, with a really strong method of analysis that I've not seen at this level of the game before. 

Looking forward to more updates!

Thank you for this feedback, it's much appreciated! I'm really enjoying the story of this save and it makes it much more interesting to play when I'm more invested in the story!

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Real-life Bulls progress

There's been a couple of updates regarding the real-life progress of the Bulls, so I thought I'd post them here for those who are interested.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/58061786 - this one details the (brief) history of the club and their motivations to make an impact in the English football league structure, which was one of the main motivations for me in choosing them to play with.

And this details their first FA Cup win in their first performance https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/58130776

#backthebulls

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September and October 2026

Back to the FM-world of Jersey Bulls.

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I didn't screenshot the fixtures or table for September so felt better doing an update for both months at once. It's been a very successful period for the club I feel. We immediately lost to Gosport as alluded to in previous posts in a game we probably should have won when you consider the penalty xG for them.

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In the next game, Stow-Tricker played up front as Geddes wasn't completely fit and smashed the league record for most goals in a game. Considering he's terrible at finishing (6) he does pretty well when playing up front and perhaps is a candidate to take over from Geddes next year.

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We lost to Hayes and Yeading, who went top ahead of us after they smashed our rotated side as we tried to balance the demands of cup football on our small squad. In that game Stow-Tricker also picked up an injury, meaning we used some of the youth players from the 2026 intake who I said weren't ready for first team football!

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In fact, I lied, they're definitely ready:

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Tierney scored on his debut earlier in the month but would go on to have a prominent role over the next 3-4 weeks, playing both AMR and AML despite his right footedness. 

He's one of a number of my younger players who've now secured better deals as a result of their performances this season so far.

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Let's take a look at those performances.

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I've used 23 players so far, which is much more than I usually use, and 3 of the 2026 intake have minutes which after my previous negativity over their quality is very encouraging.

As said above, Tierney has made the most impact with an average rating of 7.36, 4 goals involvements and 31 key passes in 8 appearances. That key passes/ game ratio is only beaten by Fitton, who is a creative force at RB. Camara I secured to the longer contract due to his stellar performances so far. 18 goal involvements in 18 games! Williams has been less impressive, but he's a decent option at AML for now and was on contract that had expired. With Geddes likely to leave still and Stow-Tricker the most likely candidate to push forward, I want more players with minutes at AML. All these players have performed well, but the one I'm most pleased with is Hudson, who is improving every year and has contributed 7 goals to the cause. Superb!

The cup games in September and October have really boosted our finances again. We were definitely promoted at the right time as we seem to make a profit most months if we have a few home games. It's such a same we didn't make the first round of the FA Cup proper as that could have been a further boost, we were really close and pushed Concord all the way!

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So, 15 games in to the season and still in two cups, we're looking strong in a potential 3 horse race for the title. That loss at home to Slough knocked us off top, but it's a long old season and historically we improve in the second half of the season.

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I forgot to add that I did let a couple of players go during the last couple of months. 

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Lee Mudimu was at one point a key player for us, but his influence has waned and we released him when we offered Williams a new deal to keep overall wage costs down. 

I've also let Lyon go. Attribute wise he should have been trusted, but the fact he is very slow has meant I've always promoted others over him. Now we have more options in front of him it doesn't make sense having him occupy a space in the U23s and this also frees up another £1k a year on the wage budget. Every little helps!

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November 2026

November got off to a good start as we renewed the contract of RB Fitton. We will probably stick to the strategy of regularly extending our best young players contracts where possible, as with Burgess this has meant that when an offer did come in, we were in a position of real strength over the sale, rather than with Geddes, who still refuses to sign a deal and may follow former player Dawkins in leaving for just £5k compensation. Yes, this will increase our wages and affect our financial situation, but as this season has shown so far, getting promoted is often enough to negate this impact through the growth in match day ticket sales and revenue.

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Meanwhile, we now have some regular international performers.

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Eren and Nastoulis have been called up for a year or so and this is probably due to my league setup currently only focusing on England due to the sheer number of leagues that had to be loaded at the start. However, the call ups for Fitton and Stow-Tricker are much bigger news as the pool of potential players, especially for England, is much greater. Our youth academy is really doing it's bit!

On the back of this, I thought I'd chance my arm at another youth recruitment upgrade request. After a bit of haggling, they've agreed.

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This should keep the team moving forward with excellent prospects which can hopefully continue to fuel our progress.

One final development off the football pitch, I signed a new contract!

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On the football front, we've had a superb month.

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The final game of the month against Egham was a classic. We were 3-2 down until the 87th minute but ended up 5-3 winners.

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These 6 games have seen a real swing in the league situation as other teams drop away from us. A 7 point lead is superb and hopefully we can build on this in December. If we do manage to keep this up and win promotion to the Vanarama South that would feel like a real milestone as it's the lowest playable league in the normal database. 

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Out of curiosity, are you prioritising the upgrading of youth coaching and youth recruitment instead of also youth facilities for any reason in particular? From my understanding, increased youth facilities would help to increase the CA of youth intake players, which might be, arguably, more important that PA as you're aiming to continue up the league pyramid - which would make the PA of a lot of current young players irrelevant should you do so!

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4 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Ooh, looking good. A bit on the side of promotion I’m going to lean for the rest of the season with fingers crossed for you :thup:

I'm hopeful we can do it! There's also some excellent news to come in my next post regarding a key player...

 

3 hours ago, Whalix said:

Out of curiosity, are you prioritising the upgrading of youth coaching and youth recruitment instead of also youth facilities for any reason in particular? From my understanding, increased youth facilities would help to increase the CA of youth intake players, which might be, arguably, more important that PA as you're aiming to continue up the league pyramid - which would make the PA of a lot of current young players irrelevant should you do so!

Youth facilities, while affecting CA as you say,  are quite expensive and I don't have the money for those improvements, whereas junior coaching is very cheap and boosts CA while youth recruitment is also cheap and should boost PA as you secure better talent from further afield. This way I can get the best youth I can without having to shell out £200k for youth facilities to just boost them to 'basic'. Its not perfect and if we get any good cup runs I'll certainly use the funds to boost youth facilities and also training facilities. Currently we have exceptional youth coaching working in terrible facilities!

Youth level as a understand it affects only the compensation you receive when players refuse to sign a new contract. It also has minimum requirements in terms of coaches so is more a reflection on how good your setup is and this the compensation is a reflection of how much money a club puts in to the player they are losing.  I haven't got any specific coaches for U18s yet as I try and keep costs down, so boosting this is a non starter I think. The board also refuse my requests on this. 

 

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15 hours ago, Jtomsett11 said:

These 6 games have seen a real swing in the league situation as other teams drop away from us. A 7 point lead is superb and hopefully we can build on this in December. If we do manage to keep this up and win promotion to the Vanarama South that would feel like a real milestone as it's the lowest playable league in the normal database. 

Looking great in the league, well done!

You fully deserve the success as your methodical and more data driven approach than most at this level is reaping the rewards. 

Keep it up. 

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Posted (edited)

December 2026

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A really solid December as we make progress in both cups and win 3/4 of our league games. I think that the number of games we've played caught up with us against Salisbury. Even then, our xG suggests we probably should be winning it.

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The Marlow cup game was fun as we won 9-8 on penalties!

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We've had a little bit of an overhaul in the coaching department this month, as two of our best staff leave within two days of each other. 

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Both of these were giving us 3 star training in the category they were in charge of and both were on really low wages. I feel that Embleton in particular is a real loss. We'll do well to be able to find a replacement for them, and we're going to have to commit much higher wages to secure staff of this ability.

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The youth intake preview has arrived and I must say I'm pretty pleased. A promising centre back would be a huge plus as we've not had a decent one come through since Hudson, while another central midfielder is always a positive thing as it is an area I feel we can still improve on in terms of output.

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I tried once again to secure Geddes to a new contract. All I'll say is at this stage, he was not interested in renewing... more to follow on this!

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Another month down, our points advantage at the top remains at least at 7 points, but if teams below don't win their games in hand it could be 9 points. I'm starting to feel more confident about promotion, but we obviously need to maintain the form into the new year. I suspect that the teams who have started to drop away will continue to drop points, giving us some breathing room.

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Edited by Jtomsett11
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Mid-season analysis

I thought I'd have a go at this Tableau malarkey that @MattyLewis11 has been using in his thread, so here goes! This isn't necessarily as sophisticated as it should be, as while doing this I thought of 2 or 3 new ways of using it that would be useful for me.

Defensive performances

Normally I'd post the below screenshot and discuss performances.

image.png.8066c38bb613c3a78ffa304e01cabb64.png

However, I've done two plots this time to show defensive work. The first looks at tackle success ratio vs interceptions/ 90. I'm sure I'll think this over as I go forward with this analysis and determine exactly what I want to see from my defenders.

image.png.c314cb7cfa6c8307a0b76ead2c90c8ab.png

The top right hand corner is obviously the best place to be here, and both Hudson and Hitchman are in this quadrant. However, the two new CBs Charles and Nastoulis are well down in performances which concerns me and makes me think I should still be playing Hitchman more often.

Interestingly, my LB's Colbran and Stevenson put in much higher numbers of interceptions than my starting RB Fitton. Is that down to the fact that Bailey and Camara do more intercepting than Stow-Tricker on the left? Perhaps, but then Salter also shows good numbers at RB. I'm not too concerned, as Fitton contributes hugely in other ways.

I also looked at pure numbers of tackles and headers won.

image.png.b140c345b9f1fa28f5c4ae9c150c21a1.png

What stands out here is Hudson's dominance in the air and the huge influence Robbins is having in the BWM role. He is literally winning the ball back, way more than any of our other players. Knill splits his time between DLP and BWM so his performance here is pleasing. It's interesting to me that we win the ball back at BWM, LB and RB more than any other positions. Remember, I don't watch the games at all, and sometimes watch a few highlights if we concede multiple goals to check if I need to adjust tactics. My takeaway from this defensive analysis is that Hitchman perhaps deserved to retain his place at CB, although both Charles and Nastoulis have more potential so still need the odd games.

Offensive performances

Firstly, we'll have a look at key passes/90 and assists.

image.png.95abe29835d398020bdcbab402027819.png

It's pleasing to see Camara across to the right hand side as he's been excellent this season from AMR and occasionally AML. All the other players in 'above average' quadrant are wingers, strikers or full backs with the exception of Gill-McCoy who continues to outperform his average rating, poor Assman rating and poor personality by delivering a lot from the DLP role. Knill has played quite a bit here too, but you can't even see his name as he appears in the cluster in the bottom left quadrant. If the centre mid from the youth intake could be suited to DLP I'd be very pleased.

I think Fitton ends up taking a lot of corners, but 117 key passes at mid-point during the season is very impressive along with 10 assists. Finally, I'd like to point out prospect Tierney, who hasn't made loads of appearances but is contributing a decent number of key passes from both wings.

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No surprise here that the goals/90 is highest for Stow-Tricker and Geddes. 

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Both of them have more goals than starts this season. I then find it interesting to see how Bailey and Camara take a lot of shots, with the latter more successful. Essentially this shows how our AMR, AML and Poacher get all the chances and score all of our goals. Three other players who stand out for above average goals scored per 90. Burgess is our DLF so he should be up here, but Hudson has had a phenomenal season in front of goal, while Williams maybe shows why I gave him a contract as he is scoring above average goals (5 in 16). If he can keep developing he'll stand a good chance of featuring more.

As I said, this is early days in my use of Tableau so I'm sure I'll develop what I look at, but for now it's helped me to understand the most valuable players in my squad.

 

 

 

 

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January 2027

First, there were a number of extremely important events this month.

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Stow-Tricker got very upset about me rejecting a bid; in reality I asked for a loan back, 50% next sale and arrange friendly and they said no. I'm realistic about players leaving, as long as not tooo many do in one season.

However, after this, I was greeted with superb news.

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He was happy to upgrade his contract and add 2 years optional extension! I'll be happy rejecting some bids knowing he's agreed to this.

And then when you thought it couldn't get any better...

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Yes, you've read that right. Geddes signs a new deal for at least the next two and a half seasons plus a 2 year club extension option. This is such good news.

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He's going to keep improving and he's already too good for us. I've had to pay him a small fortune a year (for us) but he's worth it.

After that, who cares about the football?!

For those who do, here's our month:

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A superb month in the league. The Dorchester game was tight! Our dream duo fresh from their contracts scoring all 5 goals was enough!

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This leaves us at least 12 points clear at the top, although if Hayes and Yeading lose or draw their game in hand it'll be 14. 8 games to go and I'm pretty confident now.

In the cups, we were so close to going further, but go out on extra time and penalties. Annoying, but I can't complain too much as the league has to take precedence while we have a great chance of promotion. If we were mid-table I'd gamble league position for a stronger cup team to boost the finances for sure.

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9 hours ago, Jtomsett11 said:

Mid-season analysis

I thought I'd have a go at this Tableau malarkey that @MattyLewis11 has been using in his thread, so here goes! This isn't necessarily as sophisticated as it should be, as while doing this I thought of 2 or 3 new ways of using it that would be useful for me.

Defensive performances

Normally I'd post the below screenshot and discuss performances.

image.png.8066c38bb613c3a78ffa304e01cabb64.png

However, I've done two plots this time to show defensive work. The first looks at tackle success ratio vs interceptions/ 90. I'm sure I'll think this over as I go forward with this analysis and determine exactly what I want to see from my defenders.

image.png.c314cb7cfa6c8307a0b76ead2c90c8ab.png

The top right hand corner is obviously the best place to be here, and both Hudson and Hitchman are in this quadrant. However, the two new CBs Charles and Nastoulis are well down in performances which concerns me and makes me think I should still be playing Hitchman more often.

Interestingly, my LB's Colbran and Stevenson put in much higher numbers of interceptions than my starting RB Fitton. Is that down to the fact that Bailey and Camara do more intercepting than Stow-Tricker on the left? Perhaps, but then Salter also shows good numbers at RB. I'm not too concerned, as Fitton contributes hugely in other ways.

I also looked at pure numbers of tackles and headers won.

image.png.b140c345b9f1fa28f5c4ae9c150c21a1.png

What stands out here is Hudson's dominance in the air and the huge influence Robbins is having in the BWM role. He is literally winning the ball back, way more than any of our other players. Knill splits his time between DLP and BWM so his performance here is pleasing. It's interesting to me that we win the ball back at BWM, LB and RB more than any other positions. Remember, I don't watch the games at all, and sometimes watch a few highlights if we concede multiple goals to check if I need to adjust tactics. My takeaway from this defensive analysis is that Hitchman perhaps deserved to retain his place at CB, although both Charles and Nastoulis have more potential so still need the odd games.

Offensive performances

Firstly, we'll have a look at key passes/90 and assists.

image.png.95abe29835d398020bdcbab402027819.png

It's pleasing to see Camara across to the right hand side as he's been excellent this season from AMR and occasionally AML. All the other players in 'above average' quadrant are wingers, strikers or full backs with the exception of Gill-McCoy who continues to outperform his average rating, poor Assman rating and poor personality by delivering a lot from the DLP role. Knill has played quite a bit here too, but you can't even see his name as he appears in the cluster in the bottom left quadrant. If the centre mid from the youth intake could be suited to DLP I'd be very pleased.

I think Fitton ends up taking a lot of corners, but 117 key passes at mid-point during the season is very impressive along with 10 assists. Finally, I'd like to point out prospect Tierney, who hasn't made loads of appearances but is contributing a decent number of key passes from both wings.

image.png.91d54159c65fae4838ddf83e8d283bd5.png

No surprise here that the goals/90 is highest for Stow-Tricker and Geddes. 

image.png.9e307f0200fea358f7211f508dc68a40.png

Both of them have more goals than starts this season. I then find it interesting to see how Bailey and Camara take a lot of shots, with the latter more successful. Essentially this shows how our AMR, AML and Poacher get all the chances and score all of our goals. Three other players who stand out for above average goals scored per 90. Burgess is our DLF so he should be up here, but Hudson has had a phenomenal season in front of goal, while Williams maybe shows why I gave him a contract as he is scoring above average goals (5 in 16). If he can keep developing he'll stand a good chance of featuring more.

As I said, this is early days in my use of Tableau so I'm sure I'll develop what I look at, but for now it's helped me to understand the most valuable players in my squad.

 

 

 

 

I love it mate, big fan of those sexy dots....they really do help to make informed decisions and sometimes can even help to pull the rabbit from the hat. 

As you know I use data to help assess transfer targets, which really helped with deciding if I signed Donnum or Holse.

Will endeavour to catch up with your progress on the save and follow along 👍

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On 10/08/2021 at 23:31, Jtomsett11 said:

I tried once again to secure Geddes to a new contract. All I'll say is at this stage, he was not interested in renewing... more to follow on this!

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You weren’t kidding! Good news all round. Contract extensions for your two important forwards and a healthy gap at the top of the table. Winning the league is now just a matter of time.

All that and some nice stats :cool:

Edited by Sonic Youth
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February 2027

Not the best month for us as our unbeaten run ends abruptly.

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Woops. That followed a poor draw as well so it's made me worry slightly. 

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Fortunately, we're still 12 points ahead of the chasing pack which realistically is Gosport and Hayes and Yeading now. I completely forgot in my last update that we have 42 games in a season so we need 4 more wins for our goal difference to realistically leave us with an almost guarantee of promotion as champions. We have 4 home games left against mostly average teams, so even if our indifferent recent away performances continue we should be fine!

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I thought I'd just pull this analysis up. Offensively, we're pretty much unstoppable, but it appears that whilst we keep opposition chances down, those chances are usually of a good quality. This isn't unusual with a team that dominates most games so means the opposition often counter-attack, but I also feel it represents the fact that my defense and goalkeeper are still the weakest areas of the squad by far. If we do sign players, it'll be in these positions I feel (although I have said this before and then signed a striker). However, due to our success I'm minded to keep the youth only focus for the immediate future until we can pay people the 'living wage' to migrate to Jersey, and also until the players coming in are clearly good enough. Our best youth players are Vanarama National/ League Two standard according to the coaches, so it's unlikely any outside signings will compete with that and want to come to us.

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In club news, our finances are no longer going up much, although we did only have 2 home games this month.

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I'm not hugely concerned as most of our key players are signed to decent contracts and ticket income will go up if we are promoted, which still looks likely. We've still made a profit this season.

Colbran is now not far off becoming our record appearance holder, which is a testament to his longevity and also a poor reflection on our ability to produce defenders from the youth intake!

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And finally, some bad news this month. We're going to have to seal the title without Geddes for the large part I think! This may have contributed to the draw and defeat to end the month!

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March 2027

Well, we did pretty well without Geddes

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Stow-Tricker is the man who scored the goals for us for the main part this month, including this hat-trick.

We've had another two international call ups for these two boys.

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I'm minded to keep track of international appearances, but may only do this for full internationals or the spreadsheet will become ridiculous later in the game world (presuming I continue to get promoted).

Speaking of promotions, we're now really close. We've got the 4 wins we needed, and while the gap being at 12 points technically means we could miss out on winning the league, it would be a real shock now if we lost all 4 by a significant enough margin to finish second!

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Posted (edited)

Youth intake 2027

I'm not sure if it's because we have Geddes and Stow-Tricker who are league two talents now, but the ratings of our youth intake is definitely dropping.

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There's obviously still 4 serious potential talents here at least, and that's before I take a look at attributes.

Let's see the four.

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Tallack is a decent CB whose only real weaknesses are strength, pace and heading. In my experience, the pace and strength are easy to boost enough over the first year of development. His balanced personality isn't all bad really. It's great to have a prospect at CB.

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Larkin may answer our prayers at DLP. He looks completely suited to the role, although we will work on his passing initially, followed by decisions. He's unambitious, but has 13 determination, so he's not all bad and should still progress.

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Bondswell is a CB in my opinion, so that makes two serious prospects in one intake after 1 for the previous 7 seasons! He has a reasonable personality, and may even end up giving us a ball playing defender option with his passing and PPM. 

image.png.4a6bf9ccd7efa73995bc1ed1a6c32aed.png

Gordon is also a valuable addition, as he has a good personality and decent potential so is likely to be our best goalkeeper after a couple of years of development.

Let's take a look at the attributes of all of the players.

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I find this fascinating. TallackLarkin and Bondswell are pretty decent on attributes, all 3 within range of the first team or backup players in their positions. Gordon looks shocking, but maybe I need to measure my goalkeepers just against the standard goalkeeper key attributes and not the extensive sweeper keeper range. Despite scoring low he will be signed and this just goes to show that while attribute analysis is useful, positional scores do vary. For example, Tallack and Bondswell only need low 50s to be in with a shout at CB, but similar scores on the wing from Hakizimana and Adams probably would see them 6th best (at best!) in their position. I'll make some decisions on who to sign soon.

Just to compare, here's last year:

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Not too dissimilar, perhaps slightly worse than last year although Larkin is better. 

The only other thing I'll add is that initial attributes aren't the only deciding factor for me. If I can sign players to a £250 a year youth contract I'll usually do it unless they're 10th choice in their position as with a decent personality sometimes initial growth is phenomenal and soon that player is in contention. Farmer, from last years intake,  was signed at the last minute last year and has definitely improved in the U18s. He's now a potential for the poacher role in the future. 

 

 

Edited by Jtomsett11
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That’s a handy intake you’ve had. I think sweeper-keeper is under-rating your keepers. I agree with the thought of changing this to standard keeper attributes (wouldn’t hurt to see seeeper keeper on the side though for suitability).

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April 2027

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We've done it again! 

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4 wins from our final 4 games mean we end the season winning 8 on the bounce since that 5-0 loss to Boreham Wood. We also finish on 105 points, win 34 games and score 111 goals, all of which I think are league records. That makes it 4 promotions in 7 seasons.

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Immediately after this our staffing allowances changed, so this will be one of my first jobs in the summer.

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End of season analysis part 1 - player performances

Goalkeepers

Dolan started every game, and despite his poor personality he is improving. His stats are pretty solid. He got another 8 goals to make it 19 career goals which is a record for us (I have been tracking goalkeeper goals as you can see!)

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Defenders

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Hudson was our main CB this year, with Hitchman starting at our second player (right sided CB) and then Nastoulis and Charles getting plenty of game time as the season went on to see who will eventually replace Hitchman. Its hard to compare the data on these guys, so again I've used some Tableau analysis.

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In the first graph, the four CBs are making a huge amount of headers, but Nastoulis clearly struggles in the tackle. Charles has improved his tackle ratios significantly since the mid-season so I'm really pleased with him and feel he may be able to step up next year and play more games. The second graph shows Nastoulis and Charles are clearly less effective with interceptions and key tackles than the more senior duo, but again if I had to choose one, Charles gets the benefit of the doubt. 

In terms of full backs, the first graph shows that RB Salter is performing poorly in terms of tackle ratio, where most of our team is doing pretty well. Interestingly, Matondo who spent this season on loan at Marlow, is doing really well and can win the ball in the air too. I feel that we may let Salter go and promote Matondo, although I will also use attribute analysis to help weigh up this decision. The second graph would back up this instinct, as Matondo outperformed all of our full backs. Fitton and Colbran both still performed well, and perhaps Matondo can offer me a more defensive option than Fitton if needed as he clearly makes less interceptions than all our other full backs. Stevenson played quite a few games at the end of the season and although he didn't make many key tackles, his interceptions really please me and justify my faith in him.

Midfield

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KnillRobbins and Gill-McCoy essentially split the midfield game time between them with a few appearance from MikkonenGill-McCoy on the face of it is the much more effective DLP between Knill and himself, while Robbins has only played at BWM. Knill's stats are slightly skewed by playing quite a few games there too. 

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It's easier to see from this graphic. Knill is actually the worst in terms of key passes/ 90, despite being the 'best' in that position and despite passing the ball the most. He is young and developing rapidly, so I'm not giving up on him being more effective.

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What is interesting is that Knill creates as many chances as Gill-McCoy and Robbins, but they must just be slightly better quality from the other two, especially Gill-McCoy who wins in the assist battle. 

On the wings, Camara and Stow-Tricker are the clear first choices. Camara creates so many chances and is the assist king as well. Stow-Tricker played a few games up front, but at least 60% of his 30 league goals were from the wing. Behind them there's a gluttony of choice. Toomer appears to have created a lot of chances despite few assists while Tierney and Williams both contributed defensively and got a few goals and assists each. Bailey was left out more and more over the season; he's really effective but I have options who can improve significantly. I may let him go or may keep him around for his resolute personality. 

Forwards

Although I've not added Stow-Tricker here, he is a great option for the poacher role. It's unlikely Coventry will allow Burgess to stay with us another season, so we have an issue to resolve in our DLF. Geddes could be an option here as he is very creative. Eren produced a good number of key passes in his 12 games, but he scored 0 goals and got 1 assist. I don't think he's our answer at the next level up.

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Overall, I am obviously delighted with how we've performed. There's not really any glaring holes statistically and that tends to be the case when you get 105 points. I'm going to do some analysis of club progress and also attribute growth before moving on to decide who to release and also boosting our coaching team.

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End of season 2026/27 analysis part 2 - club performance

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We improved in every way this season. Our cup performances are our best yet, while we win another back to back title. The growth in average attendance is particularly important as wage costs are rising and will rise further with more coaches to employ and greater costs on youth recruitment. 

Our team of the year boasts 10 Jersey-born players and one youth product. I'm thrilled that 7 years into the save we've managed to use our youth academy so well. It won't continue forever I'm sure, but at the moment I see very little point in bringing in outside players, especially with the recent youth intake giving us two centre backs and another keeper, both priority areas.

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The fact we've secured Geddes and Stow-Tricker to new contracts is superb - look at the impact they've both had this season! That's 59 goal involvements in 43 games for Geddes...

We broke a few club records this season. I doubt Parsons goal scoring records will stand for much longer if Geddes continues his form.

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It feels like a real landmark to get into the Vanarama South. It's the starting point for most lower league saves, and we're going into it with a young and continually improving club and squad. Although our aim will be just to survive, I'm sure we will perform well and be looking at mid-table at worst. I would happily take another period of consolidation, but we should also make use of some of our best players being tied down for a few years as this may be an opportunity to rise again quickly into the football league where we may then be able to offer some reasonable wages. We will see what happens!!

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It looks like you’ve summed up your club’s position at the moment nicely. It’s tough to see what needs improvement (maybe central mids?), with little bits here (maybe fullbacks/wingers?), depth there (forward position) and wait and see in other areas (Gk and DC). Only I think your team is good for the position you mentioned (mid table). Time will tell.

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14 minutes ago, Sonic Youth said:

It looks like you’ve summed up your club’s position at the moment nicely. It’s tough to see what needs improvement (maybe central mids?), with little bits here (maybe fullbacks/wingers?), depth there (forward position) and wait and see in other areas (Gk and DC). Only I think your team is good for the position you mentioned (mid table). Time will tell.

I agree with your comments. The question will be, can we pick up some free transfers of good young players for low wages, or will our reputation still hold us back until we're established. We will find out soon enough!

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Attribute analysis end of season 2026/27

I wanted to take a look at progress in each position, but also take a look at how different personalities have been developing verses game time.

Goalkeepers

image.png.a3caed853b55efd51e198deea5e505d2.png

Dolan is clearly our number 1 and has seen good improvement. I feel that Gordon is more worthy of game time than Windsor, but he may stay on the books as it's useful to have 3 goalkeepers at the club.

Centrebacks

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Hudson seems to have plateaued, but he scores 61 which is pretty good so even if he doesn't improve he will likely be a starting CB for a while. Charles growth this season has been excellent so he will get further game time next season, backup up by pretty good performances according to the stats from the end of season analysis part 1. I may let Nastoulis go as he is at the end of his contract and I think that Tallack and Bondswell will offer better options going forward. Hitchman will remain as one of our more experienced players who consistently performs well.

Full backs

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Fitton continue his excellent growth while Colbran seems to have hit a wall. Of the backup options, nobody seems to have grown much apart from Matondo. He went out on loan and performed superbly, so will be promoted to backup RB next year. It's likely I'll let Salter go as he's on £4.2k a year and he's not justifying that anymore.

BWM

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Robbins is our main man here and continue to grow, albeit more slowly this year. Knill's growth is exceptional, but I still fancy him as a long term option for DLP. Stevenson has grown more in these attributes than the full back ones, so perhaps I've stunted him at full back by retraining to play CM. I'll focus him on full back from now on as we are shorter at LB than BWM. 

In the best of the rest, CableWilkinson, and Ball all saw reasonable growth. They're not all going to make it though, so there may be some loans e.g. for 18 year old Wilkinson to see if he grows further, or has hit his peak and therefore isn't good enough for us.

DLP

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You can see why I think Knill should be playing as a DLP... However, it's Gill-McCoy who I'm most pleased with. A terrible 1 star rating and personality, but good performances statistically and excellent growth in attributes. Can he keep growing and performing?

Larkin will be the one to watch next year I feel. Others may need loan moves if development stalls.

Winger

I've included all who can play here, so not all will.

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My first choice AMR and AML are Camara and Stow-Tricker, but it's interesting that Bedwell has continued his attribute growth despite no game time. I think I may loan him out and see if he continues to develop, as Toomer and Tierney have also played there this season and have more potential. Sykes is another one who is developing quite a lot despite no gain time; I believe his professional personality is behind this.

DLF

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With Burgess leaving us I've shown a few more options here than last season. My initial thoughts are that Geddes shifts across to the DLF role as Eren didn't impress me this year. Perhaps ToomerBaxter or Dublin will impress as they develop?

Poachers

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I don't need to talk much about the first two options here. Parsons is only here for his 'leader' team role along with his fairly determined personality which enables him to mentor, so it's Farmer I'm excited by in this position. I wasn't going to sign him last year, but did at the last minute and he's made good progress without game time. At just 16 he may be able to play in the cups this year and we will see if his development continues.

First team

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Without making any signings, this is my thoughts for the first team next year. The squad is definitely improving even if I end up moving Stow-Tricker to Poacher (where his attributes score less but he scores goals for fun anyway). 

 

 

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Personalities and development

I wanted to look at the development of the first team versus personality and game time.

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This table is organised by game time alone. What it shows me is that personality can allow for huge development, but a poor personality doesn't necessarily halt development completely. Eren has played 14 games ever yet his attributes grew by 6.64 even with low determination and probably not great professionalism. Perhaps it also shows me that attribute growth isn't even across positions due to the weightings of certain attributes? Charles and Tierney have identical records but the latter has grown significantly more. Or is that due to Charles having almost hit his potential already? Too many variables!

Either way, it's interesting to see who has grown the most.

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Williams shows me the case for playing people even with average personalities. He's clearly got potential and he'll meet some of it if I play him enough. I won't do this every year, but it'll be intriguing to analyse this again in many 3-4 years and see how different personalities get on, perhaps as my training facilities improve and hopefully we end up a professional club.

Anyway, onwards to next season!

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Pre-season 2027/28

One issue I've realised with this database is that the league doesn't start until October in the Vanarama South and Vanarama National. This is two months later than normal, which is a pain in the **** in terms of pre-season taking ages.

I've spent a bit of time boosting my coaching by employing 3 new coaches. I've also employed a better physio and one head of performance analysis.

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This set up is now really good for this level. This has cost me perhaps £40k a year in wages, but they're all on 1 year deals so if it doesn't work out I'll get rid of 1-2.

Speaking of finances, they've taken a real hit, so I've decided to have pre-season friendlies one month in (mid-July) until the end of September, even if it leaves us a bit jaded. We simply can't have no income for months on end.

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Fortunately we have a free friendly against Coventry which will cover youth setup costs this month, but in the long run if we spend too long in these two divisions before getting ourselves promoted we may have serious financial problems!

I also can't wait until the transfer window closes.

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All 3 of these players have clauses to extend their contracts, so I'm going to be a little gamey and extend them at the end of the window if they don't drop their unhappiness. They signed big deals recently so I feel no pressure to sell this this season. Next season, I may sell all 3 with loan deals, friendlies and 50% clauses, especially if we have financial problems.

In good news, season ticket sales are up which can only be a good thing for attendances.

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Hmm. Is he really sure the highest ambition is joining Luton, that the whole world should know his ambition? :rolleyes:

The coaches set-up is looking more like a pro set-up :thup:

Is this the first stage of games on TV? I guess finances are dictated by results and number of fans coming to games. Prize money also doesn’t account for much?

Edited by Sonic Youth
Finances
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On 17/08/2021 at 00:03, Sonic Youth said:

Hmm. Is he really sure the highest ambition is joining Luton, that the whole world should know his ambition? :rolleyes:

The coaches set-up is looking more like a pro set-up :thup:

Is this the first stage of games on TV? I guess finances are dictated by results and number of fans coming to games. Prize money also doesn’t account for much?

Haha, I know! He's devastated, but then again don't go signing 2 year + 2 year optional extensions with me if you're keen to leave! Obviously I won't hold on to him forever, but I feel GeddesKnill and Stow-Tricker are going to be pretty central to our efforts this year so let's keep them for this campaign.

We do get £7k a year for TV appearances. As you say it's going to be down to number of fans and any cup money we can win, say for example if we manage to get to the first or second round of the FA Cup and bag a game against a decent league side.

I'm very pleased with the coaching set-up, but I definitely feel it's already dragging the finances down. 

On 17/08/2021 at 10:47, deltablue said:

That's a nice milestone.

Thanks, and I agree. I almost feel as though the challenge starts again now, with phase 2 being getting into league football, then phase 3 being getting into the promised land of the Prem and phase 4 being my attempts to win the league, get into Europe etc.

We're a long way off that though of course!

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Pre-season 2027/2028 round 2

Ergh this pre-season is sooo long. 

I know overall that the number of games is the same, and next year we'll start in October having not finished until late May/ June, but this disjointed time between winning promotion in April and playing our first game on 2nd October is almost killing the joy of this save.

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It's also killing our finances. 7 years of being frugal may be thrown away if gate receipts don't earn us enough money to recover this situation this year. I have managed to get some of our bigger earners who aren't guaranteed start time (Hitchman, Bailey, Salter) on non-contracts, with some of my less promising youth also on non-contract terms, which means that if they don't play or sit on the bench we won't pay them and this will definitely save us some money.

We've also had a takeover!

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No investments at this stage, but hopefully an end to continuous messages about takeovers (I stopped updating on them due to the frequency of them).

Now for some other good news:

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This is bonkers, as the clubs are still interested. The messages don't even coincide with the end of transfer window. Geddes is also now completely happy to stay but I missed the message somewhere. Meanwhile, bids for Knill (he's not bothered about me rejecting them anymore) are getting bigger. I'm standing my ground for now, but if finances do keep dropping and we can afford to let him go (i.e. his performances aren't great, which they haven't really been so far in his short career) then he may be the one to go next season.

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Now, on to season predictions:

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I'd take 8th! From my experience it usually means we should be aiming higher, so let's see how we start.

Clearly these two are feared by other teams in the league.

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October 2027

It's been a really good start considering we are newly promoted.

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The defeat in the cup is slightly galling as we finished on the same xG, while the defeat in the league included a superb direct free kick and penalty, so I'm not too upset by it. The cup would have been nice to go further in as we do really need the money!

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We end the month in third position which, while it is early days, is excellent. Bizarrely we've played just one home game this month, and while we split the revenue for the FA cup ties and had some prize money, this has meant we've made another loss.

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I feel like this is manageable, as I think with 3 home games a month we should be making a profit and most months have 2 as a minimum, with 4 as a maximum. We made about £14k off tickets from our first home game, so 2 will probably see us break even (I hope!).

One final noteworthy event this month was a couple of job offers that came through.

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Oldham are currently 22nd in League Two and Fleetwood (no screenshot) are 24th. I'm not interested in moving for this save but it's nice to keep track off how other clubs think I'm doing!

 

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November 2027

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Our solid form has continued, albeit with a few blips, especially in our home form. Let's start with the 4-4 draw against Dartford.

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Yes, we were 4-0 up and drew 4-4. That's unacceptable. I'm not sure if it's the quality of my defenders (which are still quite poor relatively speaking, at least in terms of assistant manager current ability ratings) or my match plans whereby we would have moved to a balanced mentality but still an offensive formation at 4-1 up at half time. I'm going to have a play around with it, but I also appreciate that when you play with auto result these things do happen.

On the back of this, I secured our first transfer for 2 years by signing a goalkeeper!

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Boardman is definitely a big upgrade on Dolan even without doing a detailed attribute analysis. My scouts suggested him and I offered him a trial and signed him up. While this save has a strong youth focus, it's not the only focus and we can sign a player a year while wages are still lower than a living wage, it's just that the players available have wanted way too much money thus far. £8.75k a year is now about average for a player of his age and ability in our squad so he's a useful addition.

Back to our home form. The Bath home loss was deserved; they played better than us. However, the Weymouth game is another worrying one xG wise. We should be winning these games!

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Fortunately, we have the best away record in the league. The Gosport result was very impressive; they came up with us last season and are just behind us in the table. We beat them away despite playing for a large amount of time with 10 men.

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So at this point we're third. We're 6 points off the top and 7 points inside the play off places. I'm pleased, but do feel the two draws could have been victories. We need to work on our home form.

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In good news, our finances have picked up this month, as predicted with 4 home games.

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This suggests we can become somewhat sustainable at this level. I'd like us to have £100k or so in the bank by the end of the season so we aren't in the red at the start of next season.

I'd like to also make special mention of Toomer.

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He's been playing mainly as our DLF and has been producing a good number of assists from the role (5 in 5 games there). This has helped us to play Geddes more as a poacher, although Farmer has been an able deputy so far too. 

 

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December 2027

Having already missed 2 months through injury, Camara is in danger of serious regression and missing out on a place in the team. Considering his contributions last season, this is another blow for us.

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Our youth preview has come through.

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Although it says 'excellent group', there are very few positive comments here. A left winger would be handy as Stow-Tricker will leave at some point, but I'd been hoping for a bit more here. As usual, we will wait and see!

Overall, this has been a successful month, although our draw involved giving away another two goal lead.

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Toomer continues his superb performances, it's not often you score 3 and don't finish as MOTM.

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We gain slightly on top position and with a game in hand could go to 3 points behind.

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I seem to have also just about judged our finances correctly.

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This is hugely helped by the fact we have the second highest attendances, despite being only a 0.5 star reputation team (the next lowest is 1 star). I therefore think that we will be able to make progress in terms of wage expenditure if needed next year without it impacting our finances negatively. However, I want to see if we can continue this positive growth for a few more months.

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January 2028

Those who follow this will know I normally do some sort of mid-season analysis, but this year I delayed it until the end of January as we'd only played 14 games by the end of December! Even now we're not half way, but I feel as a result of a very successful month, now is the time to delve into some of my decisions and see if they're paying off and whether I need to adjust anything.

Firstly, here's January.

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Defensively, we're a much more solid outfit and this 5 wins in a row includes beating the then top side Chippenham away from home and Dulwich Hamlet (who were 4th) away from home. Very impressive. All the more impressive when you consider who we've been without during this run. Camara is still out, but add to that Tierney and Stow-Tricker injured against Telford and  very early on against Staines respectively.

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That's two right wingers and our star left winger out, so we're having to be a little more flexible than normal in selections.

Our sensational form leaves us deservedly top of the league. Could it be three promotions on the bounce?!

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Player performances

I had some key questions regarding performances as we hit half way (ish) through the season.

1. Has new goalkeeper Boardman made a difference since he signed?

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He's conceded just 7 goals in 10 league games compared to Dolan's 11 in 9 games. His average rating is higher, despite missing some penalties and scoring less than Dolan. The stats above also suggest he's saving more shots, including tipping more which suggests to me (I may be wrong) that these are the difficult-to-save shots that need a full stretch to tip around the post. I'm happy with my decision to bring him in so far, even though attribute wise he's very similar in overall score to Dolan. In fact, he scores slightly worse. 

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2. Has my recent decision to promote Bondswell above Charles to the right sided CB position paid off and are certain players letting us down more than others defensively? Additionally, I'm no longer playing Hitchman; is that a bad move?

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These are all my defenders sorted by minutes. If we go on average rating alone, you can pick the starting back four, with Fitton moving over to the LB position to allow Matondo to play at RB. Indeed, this is what I have been doing more recently when all are available for selecting. 

Let's take a look at tackle win ratio and interceptions/90.

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Now, Bondswell is actually hiding, but he's the dot directly above Tierney. He's my best centre back by interceptions, and excluding Stevenson who has played a lot fewer games, he's also better than my RB and LBs. He may not make many tackles (8) but he certainly wins more than Charles, so I do indeed feel justified in moving him ahead of the latter. Last season Hitchman had a tackle win ratio of 74% and an interceptions/90 of about 1.7. In that regard, I've made the right decision again with Bondswell, but perhaps Charles is getting by on potential, star rating and attribute growth alone rather than performances. I'm not going to ditch him immediately, but we do have other young CBs who deserve a chance next year if he doesn't improve by the end of the season.

One other defensive note to add is that I love Matondo. He's made 36 tackles and won 97% of his tackles. I'm really glad I loaned him out for a year, and I'm considering the same with Stevenson as I'm not giving him enough game time, probably because he's right footed, despite his very good performances on almost all measures. Funnily enough I am now playing a right footed left back anyway in Fitton so I can squeeze both him and Matondo in!

3. Is Knill working out as a DLP? How is this role working in our team?

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This is everyone who mainly plays either CM, AMR or AML. Realistically I need to be looking at KnillRobbins and Gill-McCoy here as they are the only three who've played central midfield all year. I'm really not rotating much at all this year. 

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None of my central midfielders have had particularly high average ratings. I think I often sacrifice their ratings to allow others in the team to thrive as they serve very functional roles. However, these three, along with Toomer, our DLF, are clearly passing the ball the most, and they're retaining it relatively well. It's pretty clear that Knill is the worst at creating chances, or key passes, behind both Gill-McCoy and Robbins. Despite attributes that work for his role, Gill-McCoy is struggling to create at this level compared to last year as he has just 2 assists, but he is also getting less game time as I try and push Knill to develop into the creative DLP his mental attributes suggest he should be able to become. Perhaps I need to add some PPMs such as dictate tempo, or just keep working on his passing as at just 9, it's 4 behind Gill-McCoy.

Central midfield is an area I've struggled to get good ratings in for the last few versions, especially since starting to favour two up front and therefore only two in midfield. My DLP seem to make a lot of passes to other players who are then more effective with the ball, while my other role has varied but usually required some sort of ball winner, and these guys tend to do the hard work with little reward average rating wise. Robbins has made by far the most tackles, for example, but also loses some lowering his success rate as he takes greater risk in closing down and tackling opponents. This is something for me to work on, and I'm considering changing the DLP to a CM (S) and adding some individual instructions to the role. However, the old saying of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' also comes to mind; I am top of the league after all!

4. Are we a crossing wing team, or as I suspect, a team that counters and makes the most of space in behind (remember I instant result so don't see the games)?

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This is an interesting one. At face value, we don't seem to cross it an awful lot, and there's not an awful lot of correlation between crosses and chances created. However, when you look at other teams in the league, we have the highest number of completed crosses and cross completion ratio. Fitton is a lot less effective this year; we've only scored 5 goals from set pieces versus a huge amount more at this point last year (Hudson had 8 goals on his own at this point I think) but we are still putting the ball in from out wide. 

I then found this nice juicy fact.

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Interesting. So clearly we are still doing a good job from out wide, but it's not our only avenue of goals. Good. 

I'm not too bothered about our strikers and have no real questions there. Toomer has settled in beautifully to the DLF role; with 18 goal contributions in 19 games he's above Burgess in effectiveness, and Geddes does his thing as a poacher. Our back up poacher, Farmer, has had to play at RW recently due to injuries, but he keeps popping up with the goals whenever he plays, as you can see from below. I'm very pleased with the 17 year old.

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All in all I'm very satisfied with the exception of Knill as a DLP. That's something to ponder on as we go forward with the rest of the season.

Finally, our finances are now looking much better :)

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I have also warded off about 400 transfer offers this month. No, you signed a big contract, go away!

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This money would be huge, but I want to sell these players on my terms, perhaps at the end of this year and next year. 

We end the month with some unhappy players, but hopefully it'll settle down now the transfer window is closed.

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February 2028

Hmmm, this is all our right wing options now out injured.

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This is going to make February quite difficult. Fortunately we have a few non-contract options in the U23s, but they're not as good as Tierney, Camara or Farmer. To make matters worse, Tierney was injured on his return to the first team for 2-3 more weeks. :rolleyes:

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Injuries and mounting fixtures has had an effect this month. 7 games in a month doesn't sound a lot, but with around 14-16 players I actually think are good enough to make an impact for us and with 4 of those injured for part of the month we've just tailed off. Losing to Yeovil at home in the cup and drawing to Wealdstone were two games where the players were just exhausted.

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We're now second, and to be honest I wonder if we'll recover the gap to Bath. There may be 16 games to go (21 teams in this league so 40 league games a season), but the fixture list looks tough and Bath have been extremely good this year, especially defensively. We are pretty much assured of a play-off spot already though, bar a complete collapse.

In better news (although 2nd place is still great for a promoted team, I thought we'd kick on after going top), we're financially sustainable on our current wage offering.

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That's the third or fourth month of consecutive gains. Our wages will go up, but we are likely to sell players soon and our reputation and thus ticket sales will also only continue to increase.

Other good news, two more players are happy to stay!

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This feels like a slight cheat to the system: wait for interest to decline after the transfer window closes and players are happy to stay. However, having thought about real life, this happens all the time. Players want a move, are unhappy, end up staying and playing well and are content until there are options again in the next window.

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March 2028

Oh man, this guy is never fit!

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Maybe I'm overplaying these young'uns; Camara had the same two years ago and then this year despite no injury-proneness of note in his report. It's super frustrating as I just don't have enough decent players to compensate for these losses. This will make me feel better.

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:seagull:

Incredibly, despite our misfortune (or me overplaying the kids), we've been very good this month.

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11 games to go, 3 points off top. 26 points into the play-off places.

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Another month of positive financial growth.

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We've also had our youth intake.

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11 out of the 16 are Jersey-born, which is the same as last year. 

Attribute wise, and current ability wise it's a slightly disappointing intake. Potential ability wise it looks very reasonable when you consider my best players is currently a 'league one' standard (supposedly). 

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I'm not going to say much more about these guys until I've given them a bit of time to settle in. The good news is quite a few have decent personalities. Recently with intakes I've had a habit of stating that they're unlikely to make the first team, but a number of the 26 intake are in the first team, while Bondswell is now a key member of the starting 11 from the 27 intake with Tallack and Larkin likely to be promoted to the squad next season. Therefore, I think it's wise to see how the squad looks at the end of the year before making judgements. 

 

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