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[FM20] Fulham FC - All Elite Football


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Introduction

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The 2010s were a rocky period for Fulham. The start of the decade saw the club reach the 2010 Europa League final under Roy Hodgson's stewardship, narrowly losing out to Atletico Madrid in extra-time. That was his last game in charge as he left to join Liverpool shortly afterwards (a period remembered fondly by all Scousers), but it looked like Fulham remained on the right track as they managed to finish in the top-half of the Premier League in each of the next two season (8th under Mark Hughes and 9th under Martin Jol).

2012-13 saw a drop to 12th place, but 2013-14 was when everything fell apart. Three different managers were in charge at various points of the season, but whether it was Jol (fired), Rene Meulensteen (fired), or Felix Magath (fired), results were rubbish throughout. Fulham eventually finished 19th, and the club's 13 year spell in the Premier League was over.

Kit Symons was hired for the 2014-15 season, but a quick bounceback to the Premier League was not on the cards. Ending the Championship season in 17th place was a big disappointment and when the 2015-16 season started badly too, Symons was given the boot. Slavisa Jokanovic was the next man in the hotseat and he did enough to keep the team in the Championship. Results were much improved next year as Fulham finished 6th, but then lost in the play-off semi-finals.

They managed to go one better in 2017-18. An inconsistent first half to the season was replaced by an excellent second half, and Fulham marched up the table towards 3rd place. They carried this momentum over to the play-offs and were promoted back into the Premier League.

It didn't last. Jokanovic made it until November before being fired, Claudio Ranieri couldn't repeat his Leicester heroics, and Scott Parker was the man holding the reigns at the end of the 2018-19 season when Fulham were again relegated from the Premier League. In real life, Parker kept his job. In this timeline, he's fired (for me to replace him, obviously).

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Edited by DaneBramage
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Why Fulham?

I'd played a few games recently, but none had lasted very long. At Manchester United I failed miserably, missing out on the Champions League. I wasn't fired, but all of the good players wanted to leave. I then tried Cottbus, which went a lot better. I won the double a double, picking up the German fourth tier title and the regional cup. After half a season in the third tier we were going along nicely in midtable, but I just wasn't invested in it. I had the game open just yesterday afternoon, yet I can't remember the names of any players. I was just on autopilot.

So I wanted to start recording my process on here again, as that makes me concentrate more on what I'm doing. But my last saves on here started in the lower tiers of Ukraine, Italy, and Israel. So this time I wanted to start with a better standard of football, and players I'd actually heard of.

I loaded up the game and picked Everton, but starting in the top flight felt wrong and I didn't get past the first friendly. There've been a few Championship saves on here I've read, so that seemed like a better place to begin. I actually support Reading, but I've tried them a couple of times before without success. And if you've spotted the (extremely shoehorned) clue in the title of the thread, you may have seen why I picked Fulham instead. As well as being the Director of Football for Fulham, Tony Khan is also the co-owner and CEO of All Elite Wrestling in America. I'm a wrestling fan, I watch that show each week, so it seemed like the natural choice. 

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July 2019

The summer 2019 transfer window has already taken place, and there was a lot going on at Fulham. A lot of players left, but the most significant was full-back Ryan Sessegnon joining Tottenham. £25 million was received for him, which was then re-invested in bringing ten new players into the club. Big money was spent on Ivan Cavaleiro, Michael Hector, and Josh Onomah, while big things would also be expected of loanees Harry Arter and Anthony Knockaert.

Spoiler

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This business leaves the squad looking fairly strong with options and depth all over the pitch, though could maybe do with another striker and left-winger.

19 year old full-back Steven Sessegnon has 5 star potential (there's clearly something about that surname), although he will miss the first few weeks of the season with a knock. Michael Hector is also out of action until 2020, as the terms of his transfer mean he can't play until January.

The bookies are clearly expecting excitement at the attacking end of the pitch, with Aleksandar Mitrovic favourite to be the Championship top scorer, and him and Ivan Cavaleiro both in the six candidates to be Championship player of the season.

Tom Cairney will keep the captain's armband, while Stefan Johansen is promoted to vice-captain.

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The facilities at the club are all impressive but with room to improve, and we have a healthy bank balance. One issue may be the ongoing works to increase the capacity at Craven Cottage. The current capacity of the ground is 25,700, but while this work is being done the numbers allowed will be reduced to 19,000.

We should also bring down our wage bill. The current budget is £667k per week, but we're just above this on £682k.

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All of this means that the bookies and the media both think we should be looking for immediate promotion back into the Premier League, and the board agree. The pressure will be on early to make sure this is achieved at the first attempt.

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The existing staff set-up was already very good, but we improved this further adding another coach, a loan manager, and a couple of scouts.

Spoiler

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Not that it ever really matters, but pre-season went okay. A win over La Liga side Real Sociedad was a treat for the fans, whereas anyone who travelled to Leixoes to watch us lose to a second tier Portuguese side should probably question their life choices.

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Incidentally, this is the game set-up. Large database with international players loaded from all continents. Top league or two added for the top European nations, plus Brazil.

Spoiler

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Posted (edited)

August 2019

This is the formation I'm going with, and what I think is my strongest XI. Obviously that will change as I see who annoys me, who plays better than expected, and who I just judge completely incorrrectly. Nothing fancy about it, it's literally just one of the pre-set systems at the moment with no adjustments to it yet.

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I can't have any complaints about this start to the season. I mean, I could, but it's gone so well that I probably shouldn't.

Ivan Cavaleiro starting repaying his large transfer fee with a goal just eight minutes into his debut, and although Barnsley never looked like getting back into the game, killing it off with a last minute header from Tim Ream was a relief. Aboubakar Kamara hadn't played well on the opening day, so netting on matchday two was the right way to get back on my good side. Harry Arter giving away a terrible goal with a stupid backpass did the opposite though, and when Aleksandar Mitrovic missed a penalty early on I was not too happy. He redeemed himself with a goal in the second-half though to clinch another win. 

Two more wins followed, centre-back Alfie Mawson doing great work at both ends of the pitch. With so many games in the Championship we had to rotate a bit against Nottingham Forest and after scoring early on we struggled and couldn't stay on top, eventually dropping our first points of the season. The games were coming thick and fast, so I treated the Southampton EFL Cup tie as a write-off. It was an opportunity for players who hadn't been involved much and a few youngsters to get some minutes, and although we lost it was a creditable performance as we conceded just once.

This left the first choice squad fresh for the Friday evening encounter against Cardiff. Aboubacar Kamara breaking and scoring immediately from kick-off certainly gave us the advantage straight away, and although it took a while in coming, a long-range screamer from Tom Cairney and a double from Aleksandar Mitrovic rounded off a very impressive victory.

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This leaves us in a very nice position going into the first international break. Top of the table with a good goal difference, and the joint best defensive record in the league. It's early days of course, I'm not even thinking about chickens, but I do like how this looks.

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Elsewhere in the Championship: Callum Robinson is top scoring at the moment with six goals for 3rd placed West Brom. Wayne Rooney hasn't yet scored for Derby, who sit bottom with just one point. Indeed, the biggest win of the season so far is West Brom beating Derby 5-0 at Pride Park.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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September 2019

After two weeks off we returned to action with a game against fellow highflyers West Brom. In a tight first-half they had the better of the chances, but just on the stroke of half-time Aleksandar Mitrovic put us into the lead. The expected second-half barrage from West Brom didn't come, and when Anthony Knockaert came off the bench to score with his first touch it was game over.

Sheffield Wednesday took the early lead against us, but with the amount of chances we were making (20+) we had plenty of opportunities to come from behind. Unfortunately the majority of these were falling to Ivan Cavaleiro, who had a terrible game and was given an official warning afterwards for his profligacy in front of goal. After his matchwinner last time out Anthony Knockaert started this match, and he repaid this decision with the equalising strike.

An early belter from Josh Onomah meant we ended the month with a win, but again we were so wasteful. We should have been out of sight by half-time, instead our hearts were in our mouths when a late Wigan chance just crept wide.

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We remain top at this early stage, but there are plenty of teams hot on our tail. West Brom's goals for column makes for scary reading, but also makes our clean sheet against them look very good.

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Elsewhere in the Championship: Derby remain bottom of the table, still on just the one point. Charlton's poor form is matching them though, five losses in a row. Callum Robinson continues to bang them in for West Brom, now up to 11 league goals already.

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Posted (edited)

October 2019

Corners were the difference between the two sides at the Madejski. We were abject in the first-half, offering next to nothing going forward. But when we had one corner, a towering header from Maxime Le Marchand gave us the lead against the run of play. At the other end of the pitch Reading had a series of corners of their own, but couldn't capitalise on their momentum. I gave the lads some pretty harsh words at half-time, and they emerged after the break fired up. Two goals followed in quick succession to make the result look much better than the performance deserved. Tom Cairney won the MOTM award for his two assists, both from set-pieces.

We had trouble breaking through in open play against Charlton, but exposed their defensive frailties at set-pieces. Tom Cairney picked up two more assists from free-kicks, both met by Alfie Mawson.

Against Stoke Aleksandar Mitrovic had another barren day in front of goal, he's really failing to show his ability. I'd say the formation needs changing to incorporate him more, but the unbeaten run suggests otherwise. We restricted Stoke to zero shots on target, and they were more of a danger to their own goalkeeper. At a goalmouth scramble the ball bounced off Stephen Ward and he inadvertently put the ball into his own net. With three games in a week we made a few changes for the visit of Luton, but we made easy work of them. A double from Anthony Knockaert did most of the damage, though Harry Arter let himself down with a late dismissal for two bookings.

An away point against a fellow promotion rival is never a bad thing, but we put in a very flat performance against Middlesbrough. There were a couple of tired players and our midfield may as well have not existed, but the defence and Marek Rodak in goal put in a sterling display to maintain a 10th clean sheet of the season.

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We dropped two points in the draw with Middlesbrough, but everyone else around us dropped as least three points. So our lead at the top has slightly grown, but Leeds remain right behind us. There is a small gap built up above 3rd place though, and we're the only team in the division yet to suffer defeat.

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Elsewhere in the Championship: Derby have finally won a game, but stay rooted to the bottom of the table with just six points. Wayne Rooney remains goalless after 14 games. Garry Monk's time at Sheffield Wednesday is surely coming to an end soon, his job security has been listed as insecure for the last three months, and just one win in ten games see the Owls struggling in 18th place.

Elsewhere in England: The national team have qualified for Euro 2020 with two games to spare, Fikayo Tomori scoring both goals against Bulgaria. There was a bit of a cupset in the Carabao Cup, as struggling Championship side Charlton knocked Wolves out in the fourth round.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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November 2019

After a bore draw with Hull things were looking bleak against Birmingham when we went in one-down at the break. I let the players know exactly what I thought of their performance in no uncertain terms, and switched to an attacking 4-4-2 for the second half. There was no immediate impact and I made three changes ten minutes later, and this turned the game around. All three substitutes scored and in the end we left St. Andrew's with three points and a big win.

I was beginning to wonder if Aleksandar Mitrovic was ever going to score again, but with a goal and an assist in a MOTM display against QPR he made me look silly. The dominating win was also a nice measure of revenge on Mark Warburton after he publicly doubted my management credentials before the game. Next up was bottom of the table Derby, and we were atrocious. We couldn't create anything and when we finally had a chance to win it, Aleksandar Mitrovic was back to his usual miserable standards. His tame penalty was easily stopped by the opposition keeper, and that was it. A pathetic nil-nil draw, and he was fined a week's wages. West Ham are interested in him, and I'm kind of hoping they make an offer in January.

Four days later we took an early lead against Swansea, then immediately put ourselves in trouble as Denis Odoi got sent off for a dangerous challenge (that'll be two weeks wages, thank you). A winger was sacrificed to bring on a replacement right-back, and the other winger was pulled back into midfield. The re-shuffle worked wonders as Anthony Knockart got two assists from the right, and Harry Arter got off the mark for the season with a brace.

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Marek Rodak has had another great month with four clean sheets, but it hasn't been enough for us to keep our spot at the top. The two goalless draws have hurt us and with their perfect month Leeds have climbed to the top of the table. All four of the teams in the play-off places have had an inconsistent November though, and our lead over third place has now grown to eight points.

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Elsewhere in the Championship: Jean-Kevin Augustin was a key part of Leeds' success this month with five goals to move up to second in the scoring charts. Derby's draw against us was their only point of the month (I'm still angry), Wayne Rooney still hasn't scored and has been pushed back into midfield, and Philip Cocu paid the price. Liam Rosenior has now taken temporary charge. There were a lot of chairmen with their patience running out this month as Pep Clotet was let go by Birmingham (18th), as was Grant McCann at Hull (19th), and Garry Monk at Sheffield Wednesday (22nd).

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Posted (edited)

December 2019

As seems to be the norm for Championship clubs our bank balance has plummeted over the last few months, as £33 million very quickly became £14 million. To help with that the board have injected a large sum.

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Golden generation! I've seen this plenty of times before, but mainly with less high-profile clubs, which of course has led to disappointment. Hopefully it means some real quality with a Championship side.

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Aboubakar Kamara staked his claim to be our targetman with an excellent brace against Bristol City, while Anthony Knockaert matched his contribution while a pair of goals of his own as we gave the Robins a sound thrashing. Then we went to Preston and put in the worst performance I've seen so far. They outnumbered us all over the pitch and we barely put up a fight as we succumbed to our first loss of the season.

We had countless chances to put Brentford away, we should have beaten them heavily. Instead we wasted them all, then conceded from a counter-attack. 20 league games in a row without defeat, then two in a row. Fuming. Punched a wall.

I called a team meeting afterwards and demanded an immediate improvement, and that we shouldn't be trying to throw away a strong chance of promotion. Leeds weren't the ideal next opposition, but we flew out of the blocks and scored early. Then again. And again. And another in the second half. We sprang a tactical surprise as we went 4-4-2, and it paid off as we smashed them. 

Spoiler

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We were poor in the first half against Luton but a much improved second half saw us get the goals we needed to pick up the win. Against Stoke our finishing was inept. This version of the game doesn't have xG, but I'm sure it would have been in double figures. At least we got the win, but just one goals from 32 efforts is nowhere near good enough.

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Apart from their loss to us Leeds' form has been imperious and they've gained a small advantage at the top. That makes beating them especially important, I know it's only halfway through the season but I don't think it would be an exaggeration to call it a six-pointer.

Just behind us Brentford are on a great run too, and our two game blip has allowed them to reduce the distance between us. Pressure from both sides at the moment. 

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Elsewhere in the Championship: With five wins on the bounce Barnsley are the in-form team and have risen from 20th to 16th in the table. Wayne Rooney still hasn't scored, but Tony Pulis has taken over at Derby where they've managed to jump Luton to reach the heights of 23rd. Tim Sherwood has taken charge at Birmingham, Gary Megson has returned to Sheffield Wednesday, and after Mark Bowen was fired at Reading (22nd) Martin O'Neill found himself back in club management. Callum Robinson is racing away at the top of the goalscoring charts with 18 strikes, our nearest challenger is in joint 4th (Aboubakar Kamara with 9).

Elsewhere in England: Premier League chairmen started getting in on the firing action, as Wolves (16th) replaced Nuno Espirito Santo with Luciano Spalletti, and Watford (17th) looked north after getting rid of Nigel Pearson, tempting Steven Gerrard back from Rangers. At the top of the table Tottenham are leading the way after 20 games, although Liverpool have a match in hand.

Elsewhere in Europe: PSG lead Ligue Un after 19 games with 55 points from a possible 57.

Elsewhere in the World: Flamengo won the Brasileiro for the seventh time in their history, and for the first time in ten years. Liverpool won the Club World Cup, Roberto Firmino scoring both goals in the final against Monterrey.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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Posted (edited)

January 2020

The registration for Michael Hector is now complete and he's available for selection. At the same time Terence Kongolo complained about lack of gametime (one Carabao Cup appearance) so his loan spell was cut short. 

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I mentioned in a post at the start of the season that I saw left-wing as an area of weakness. So when the window opened I brought in Curtis Jones from Liverpool on loan for the rest of the season to provide competition for the starting position.

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On the final day of the window two players left the club. I was fed up with Bobby Decordeva-Reid and his inability to score so I had a meeting where I told him he was crap. He disagreed and got stroppy, (two goals in 1,000 minutes, you're definitely crap) so I offered him around. No-one wanted to buy him, but at least I got him out of the way for the rest of the season. Kevin McDonald complained about not getting enough time (three sub appearances) and I was happy to let him leave. I didn't want to sell him to our local promotion rival, but nobody else was interested, and I don't think he'll get into their first team anyway.

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First time I've played a save where the Brexit ramifications are important. A limit of 17 foreign players sounds reasonable, but I guess the work permit system is where things could get tricky.

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While things were going well I put in a few requests, and all of them were accepted. Wycombe (League One) have been added as our first affiliated club, and upgrades have been agreed for junior coaching and youth recruitment.

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If Reading didn't have a New Year's Eve hangover when they turned up at Craven Cottage they certainly left with one. In an easy 2-0 win we restricted them to just one shot, and it nearly hit the corner flag. Three days later we entered the FA Cup against tough opposition in Premier League Newcastle. We made nine changes to our starting line-up, but any fears about weakening the team too much evaporated inside the opening five minutes. We just carved Newcastle apart and Aleksandar Mitrovic opened the scoring against his old club with his 10th of the season. Seconds later he was felled in the box, and then stood up to smash home the penalty. Just after the break the hat-trick was completed and a cupset looked on the cards. The Geordies fought back and when they got a second in stoppage-time it set up a tense final few minutes, but we held on to make it through to the next round.

The same team were rewarded with starting against Hull, but instead of carrying on in style they showed exactly why they were backups as they bored everyone to tears in a terrible goalless draw. And I'm getting fed up of saying this, but yet again we bossed a team, created countless chances, but couldn't take them. What should have been an easy victory against Middlesbrough instead saw them get a late equaliser. And again the forward players let us down against Charlton, no goals from 20 efforts. Luckily the defensive unit did their job to keep a clean sheet, and Alfie Mawson also did the business at the other end with a header at a corner for the only goal of the game.

In the FA Cup fourth round a defender again opened the scoring, again a header from a corner, but this time it was Tim Ream. And in the second half we finished the job, a breakaway after a West Brom free-kick giving us a four-on-two advantage, and Curtis Jones got his first goal for the club.

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Our dropped points have allowed Brentford to pull closer, while at the same time the loss by Leeds has let us gain ground on them. 

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Elsewhere in the Championship: Big Sam to the rescue! After a run of just three wins in 19 games, Danny Cowley has been given the boot by Huddersfield (15th) and Sam Allardyce is in. Something that could work in our favour though is Marcelo Bielsa being poached away by Real Betis. They've already seen one loss under caretaker manager Carlos Corberan, hopefully this uncertainty will destabilise them. In terms of players our sale of Kevin McDonald to Brentford was by far the biggest deal of the window, next was Hal Robson-Kanu for just under £1 million (West Brom to Auxerre).

Elsewhere in England: Five wins in a row have taken Liverpool top of the Premier League. At the other end of the table Southampton (20th) have ditched Ralph Hassenhuttl for Quique Sanchez Flores, and Brighton (19th) have got rid of Graham Potter to pin their hopes on Stale Solbakken.

Elsewhere in Europe: There were five transfers with fees of more than £40 million this month. In particular Manchester City and Bayern Munich added to their squads, while Celtic and Dinamo Zagreb both lost a couple of players.

Spoiler

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Edited by DaneBramage
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February 2020

Huddersfield turned up with no gameplan other than defend, defend, defend. We struggled to break through against their nine man defence, but eventually we succeeded from an unlikely source. 19 year old Nicolas Santos-Clase came off the bench to make his debut, and had a dream start to his career with the winner. Unbelievably, he then did it again the next game against Blackburn. Twice! Within his first 54 minutes of professional football, Nicolas Santos-Clase had three goals to his name. Good lad.

Three easier wins then followed, Aboubakar Kamara, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Josh Onomah all hitting the target more than once to avoid being shown up by their younger counterpart.

Our winning streak came to an end in real disappointing fashion against Swansea. We were 2-0 up and flying, then capitulated to let them get back into it and steal a point with practically the last kick of the game. It's the first time all season we've conceded twice in a league match.

So it was a good time to play managerless Preston. Aleksandar Mitrovic and Aboubakar Kamara both found the net to reach 16 and 15 goals for the season respectively.

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In a busy month we were almost perfect, but despite the dropped points against Swansea, 19 from a possible 21 is still a cracking tally. It was certainly enough for us to return to the top of the table.

A big help in this was Leeds rolling back the years to bring Gordon Strachan back to the club. At the moment though this is looking like a terrible decision. With just one win from six under his stewardship Leeds have hit a massive slump and have fallen out of the automatic promotion places. 

In their place though Brentford have stepped up. Their form has matched ours (their only dropped points this month came from a draw with Leeds) and they're now our closest challengers.

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Elsewhere in the Championship: Graeme Jones has been sacked by Luton (24th), Gary Rowett was given the boot by Millwall (21st), and Alex Neil might feel hard done by after being let go by Preston (15th). Wayne Rooney has finally got off the mark for Derby with a penalty in his 34th appearance. 

Elsewhere in England: With ten games to go Liverpool have a ten point lead at the top of the Premier League.

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March 2020

Taking on Manchester City in the FA Cup was always going to be a tough task, and with games in the league coming up thick and fast I decided to prioritise the Championship. A fully rotated side played against City and did well to restrict them to just the three goals. The move paid off as our fresh eleven beat Bristol City easily.

Next up was a crunch five days as we played Brentford and Leeds in back-to-back fixtures. The first-half against Brentford was end-to-end action, but neither side could force a breakthrough. There were more bookings than clear-cut chances. At the break I told the boys they needed to avenge the loss from earlier in the season, and they went out and did just that. A throughball from Harrison Reed was met by Aboubakar Kamara to continue his goalscoring form and secure a massive win. We survived a contentious moment late on though as Brentford had a goal ruled out for offside, which the media seemed to suggest was the wrong call afterwards.

The Leeds game was then a tight affair, and certainly not one for the neutral. We withstood a late barrage to hold on for a point, which suited us a lot better than it does them. Or so I thought. The next tie showed us that those dropped points weren't just a one-off, as we were absolutely diabolical against QPR. Everything we could do wrong, we did wrong. We got spanked by them. Both Cyrus Christie and Aleksandar Mitrovic were fined a week's wages.

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I'm livid with how this month turned out. Beating Brentford put us into an excellent position, eight points clear of both them and Leeds. But the complete failure to follow up on this has let Brentford reduce the gap straight back down to three points again, with Leeds not far off either.

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Elsewhere in the Championship: Kenny Jackett left League One Portsmouth to take charge at Hull. Steve McClaren left the Job Centre to take charge at Luton. He won his first game, before losing the next two and relegation was confirmed. Remember when you were England manager Steve?

Elsewhere in England: Chelsea won the Carabao Cup for a sixth time, smashing Southampton 4-1 in the final. Shane Long was the tournament's top scorer with six goals. Manchester City have won 11 Premier League games in a row but still sit seven points off Liverpool at the top. After going six games without a win Roy Hodgson was kicked out by Crystal Palace, though they still sit just above the relegation area (17th). Although they're nowhere near European qualification Leicester (11th) are only a point away from 7th place, where they were predicted. Nonetheless, Brendan Rodgers has been relieved of his duties. Mason Greenwood scored twice on his international debut as England beat Poland 2-1.

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March 2020

Time for the first youth intake of the career.

It doesn't look like there are any potential superstars in the group, but with two players at 4.0 star potential and another two at 3.5 star potential there could be players that make an impression in the senior squad in a few years.

Top of the list is Chris Jericho (20a), a player who was not mentioned in the preview. He scored in the Youth Candidates v Under 18s friendly.

Spoiler

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Next up is Sammy Guevara (20b). And the third most hyped player is also a right-back, which is slightly unfortunate. In fact there are a lot of defenders in the upper half of this group. The preview mentioned a forward that could be a fine prospect, so I'm not sure where he's disappeared to.

Spoiler

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We have ten different nations represented in this batch of players. Obviously most are English, with a few Northern Irish thrown in, but there's strong African representation too with players from Nigeria, Burundi, and Equatorial Guinea.

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April 2020

It's completely stupid how arbitrary this game is about fining players, only giving you the option to do so in certain circumstances. The performance against Forest was an absolute embarrassment, yet I couldn't fine anyone. Stupid. Marek Rodak had a 'mare and conceded three times at his near post and the defence just went missing, Tim Ream and Alfie Mawson both ending up with 6.4 ratings. None of them deserved to get paid, yet the most I can do is give them a warning for bad performances, which they then disagree with and get upset about anyway. Stupid.

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We'd beaten Birmingham 1-0 prior to the Forest disaster, but following the QPR capitulation in March that was now two losses in three games, and just one win in four. I held a team meeting telling them they were in danger of blowing promotion, which got a positive reaction as we headed into the final four games of the season. We were still top, but only because of our good goal difference. Momentum was with Brentford, and they also had the easier run-in.

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On the Monday night Brentford trounced Derby 3-0, while Leeds lost to Swansea. That took Brentford to the top of the table. But only for 24 hours. We played on the Tuesday, and a goal on the stroke of half-time from Tom Cairney put us into the lead. Cardiff never looked like getting an equaliser, but I was glad when Aleksandar Mitrovic scored late on to double our lead (his 12th effort of the match!).

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I'd be lying if I said I was happy with this result. Twice we went behind, twice we had to fight to get back on level terms. The only consolation is that Brentford also drew 2-2 after going down to ten men and giving up a two goal lead. Leeds lost and are out of the fight, meaning promotion is guaranteed. But I'm going to be massively annoyed if we don't finish the job and go up as champions.

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We played the day before Brentford so were able to set the pace. After a really flat first-half I made some adjustments at the break and we were much better afterwards. Tim Ream and Harry Arter both scored from around the edge of the area to pick up a satisfying victory. I was a Stoke fan the following afternoon, hoping they could do me a big favour. The game looked like it was heading towards a 1-1 draw, which would have been good, but it turned into a great day when Stoke got a 95th minute winner. Barring a 27 goal turnaround on the final day, we've got the title sewn up.

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Elsewhere in the Championship: With relegation confirmed Derby will be playing in League One next season. Mark Hughes has taken charge at Cardiff (12th).

Elsewhere in England: Alan Pardew left ADO Den Haag to take over at doomed Crystal Palace (20th). With four games to go Liverpool need just one point to clinch the Premier League title. Frank De Boer has been given the hotseat at Leicester and helped them rise to 8th.

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Posted (edited)

May 2020

We put on a crap showing on the final day, taking an early lead and then doing nothing more. Wigan got a deserved equaliser late on. Ivan Cavaleiro couldn't hit a barndoor, reacted badly to being told off afterwards, and swiftly found himself on the transfer list. On the plus side Chris Jericho (20a) and Sammy Guevara (20b) came on in the second-half for their debuts.

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We did it! We certainly made it a lot harder than we needed do, in March and April I was convinced we were going to throw it away, so I'm ecstatic that we finished the job. Getting promoted is grand, getting promoted as champions is even better.

Nottingham Forest beat Bristol City 3-2 in the play-off final.

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I think it's pretty easy to say who the key players were this season, and who was a letdown. We conceded just 24 goals in 46 league games, keeping 29 clean sheets in this time. So the defensive unit did a brilliant job, particularly Marek Rodak, Alfie Mawson and Joe Bryan. Ahead of them in midfield Tom Cairney won a bunch of plaudits in multiple categories, and bringing Harrison Reed to the club on a permanent basis is a priority for the summer.

Aleksandar Mitrovic ended the year as top scorer, but I think Aboubakar Kamara could have overtaken him if he hadn't picked up a few injuries that ruled him out for a while. His minutes per goal record was a lot better.

Anthony Knockaert and Ivan Cavaleiro were both a waste of space. Absolute toilet. Curtis Jones failed to make much of an impact in his loan spell.

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Elsewhere in the Championship: His goals dried up in the second-half of the season, but Callum Robinson (West Brom) finished the year as top scorer with 21 goals. Jean-Kevin Augustin (Leeds) was second with 18, before Aboubakar Kamara and Aleksandar Mitrovic came joint third with 17 apiece. Tom Cairney won the most MOTM awards with 9, as well as having the top average rating of 7.48. He also came second in assists with 14, a long way behind Matheus Pereira (West Brom) on 23. Marek Rodak won the golden glove award with 27 clean sheets.

Elsewhere in England: Liverpool completed the double, winning the Premier League from Tottenham by 10 points, then stuffing Arsenal 5-0 in the FA Cup final. Watford, Southampton, and Crystal Palace were relegated.

Elsewhere in Europe: Zinedine Zidane was fired by Real Madrid after they finished 3rd in La Liga, a whopping 30 points behind champions Barcelona. Raheem Sterling scored the only goal as Manchester City beat Napoli in the Champions League final. Bukayo Saka ensured English clubs won both European trophies, with the only goal in the Europa League final against Atalanta.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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1 hour ago, DaneBramage said:

May 2020

We put on a crap showing on the final day, taking an early lead and then doing nothing more. Wigan got a deserved equaliser late on. Ivan Cavaleiro couldn't hit a barndoor, reacted badly to being told off afterwards, and swiftly found himself on the transfer list. On the plus side Chris Jericho (20a) and Sammy Guevara (20b) came on in the second-half for their debuts.

I hope Chris didn't inflict the Walls of Jericho on any members of the Wigan squad! Congratulations mate, let's see how you get on in the Premier League.

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June 2020

After promotion to the Premier League was confirmed I was given a transfer budget of £40 million. I reduced the wage budget slightly which then gave me over £50 million to spend, and went about my business. We probably need reinforcements all over the pitch, but we'll have to wait until the game ticks over into the new season to do more deals, as I can then raid the loan market.

For now we've brought in six players, four of whom will likely be first choice players, one who will be a back-up/rotation option, and one youngster. 

First call of business was bringing back Harrison Reed on a permanent basis. After his displays on loan last year this was a no-brainer.

Spoiler

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Next in was Alex Kral, who will be the cover option for the defensive midfield position. He'd cost Spartak Moscow £7.75 million a year ago and played 15 times as they won the Russian Premier League, so this could be a real bargain.

Spoiler

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Then there was Lyanco. My centre-backs were good last year, but two of them are the wrong side of 30 so I wanted to bring in a younger option. And who doesn't want a Brazilian in their team?

Spoiler

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Next in was Sebastian Szymanski, who will hopefully make the right wing position his own. I believe he was listed as a wonderkid when first scouted, though that description has dropped off now he's turned 21. Is currently playing for Poland at Euro 2020 where he's set up two goals during the group stage.

Spoiler

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And last but not least, Oussama Idrissi will hopefully impress on the left flank, which has been a bit of a weak spot for us so far. His potential ability has dropped, I think this was 4.0 stars before, but he still looks better than our current options. Helped AZ Alkmaar to 2nd in the Eredivisie last year.

Spoiler

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Dominic Revan was signed for the under-23s by the HoYD.

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The contracts of Neeskens Kebano and Luca De La Torre weren't renewed and they were allowed to leave. The loan deals also finished for Curtis Jones, Anthony Knockaert, and Harry Arter. A few young players who'd never make it to the senior squad also left, either on a free or for a pittance.

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This has taken us quite heavily into the red, so we could do with the Premier League TV money coming along sharpish. We could also do with getting some players off of the books. Ivan Cavaleiro is someone I'm actively trying to sell, and Fabricio and Bobby Decordeva-Reid are both unneeded and coming back from loan soon. 

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Carlo Ancelotti left Everton to re-join Real Madrid. Sean Dyche then left Burnley to take over at Goodison.

Elsewhere in Europe: Belgium crashed out of Euro 2020 after picking up just one point in the group stage. Antonio Conte was fired by Inter after they only managed to finish 7th in Serie A. There have been 16 transfers for over £10 million already this summer, and we've made up a quarter of them. Our action has been dwarfed though by that of five of the Premier League's big six.

Spoiler

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Elsewhere in the World: The inaugural North American Nations League was won by Mexico, beating Canada 1-0 in the final. 

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1 hour ago, ShaunG95 said:

I hope Chris didn't inflict the Walls of Jericho on any members of the Wigan squad! Congratulations mate, let's see how you get on in the Premier League.

Thanks! Glad someone got the reference.

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July 2020

After promotion our club reputation has jumped up half a star, and we're now the 17th biggest club in England. For some reason the improvements we had back in January only boosted youth recruitment to the next level, and junior coaching stayed where it was. So now I'm waiting for that sweet TV money to come along and give our bank balance the boost it needs so I can request this again. 

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Speaking of finances, I may have made a mess of things here. I thought my signings would keep us below the wage budget. Unfortunately, I forgot about the players returning from loan and we're now £100k per week over budget. The real damage is being done by Jean Michael Seri and Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa, on a ridiculous £165,000 per week between the two of them.

Board expectations are what you'd expect, don't get relegated. The bookies have us 750-1 to win the league and 6-1 to go down. The media predict that we'll finish in 17th place.

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The knock-on effect is that I couldn't bring anyone else in, even on loan. I can't offer any wages and I couldn't find anyone where the club would continue paying them in full.

And we weren't able to clear out much of the dead wood either. Fabricio was on loan at Mallorca last season and we don't need three senior goalkeepers, so it was good to get his £44k wages off the books.

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This is the squad we're going into the Premier League with. I'd like another left-back and another striker, but I'll have to do without for now. I'm still trying to get rid of Bobby Decordova-Reid and Ivan Cavaleiro, but with no luck. A few clubs are showing an interest, but they want to take them on loan while we continue paying their wages, and I'm not going for that.

Tom Cairney is the only player getting any real transfer interest (from Sheffield United), but it would be madness to even entertain that idea.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: In the off-season Thomas Frank has left Brentford to take over at Everton. He's been replaced by Lee Johnson.

Elsewhere in Europe: Euro 2020 was won by Spain. Cristiano Ronaldo put in a sterling effort for Portugal with two goals in the final, including a 90th minute equaliser to make it 2-2, but extra-time saw no more goals and the Spanish players kept their heads to win the shootout 5-4. Cristiano Ronaldo ended the tournament as joint top scorer on five goals, equal with Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski. England went out in the quarter-finals. There were massive transfers all over Europe, with 14 deals over the £40 million mark.

Spoiler

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Elsewhere in the World: Richarlison scored twice in the Copa America final as Brazil beat Peru 2-1. Neymar, Sergio Aguero, and Edinson Cavani top scored with five goals apiece.

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August 2020

I was able to get rid of two of the worst players from last year, albeit one only temporarily. Nearly £10 million for Ivan Cavaleiro is good business, and £44k off the wage bill. The only offers for Bobby Decordova-Reid were loan deals. I've rather have got rid of him permanently, but Orenburg are paying half his wages, and the monthly loan fee more than makes up the rest.

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Between injuries and international call-ups we had nine players missing for the opening day of the season. This meant some players had to make their debuts earlier than I'd have liked, and we didn't have any experienced strikers available. It looked bad early on and Lyanco had a bit of a nightmare debut, giving away a penalty in the 42nd minute which let Bournemouth go in at the break 1-0 up. I adjusted the tactic to go vertical tiki-taka and two of the players who would normally have been on the bench combined to get an equaliser (an Alex Kral through ball for Niclas Santos-Clase). And deep into injury-time we snatched all three points, as substitute Maxime Le Marchand rose highest at a free-kick to head home.

In the post above I mentioned we didn't need three senior goalkeepers. That decision immediately came back to bite me as our two senior goalkeepers were both ruled out of the Brentford game. Although reserve goalie Toni Stahl did save a penalty, he had to pick the ball out of the net three times as we got destroyed. It was a really poor loss, especially as they were another promoted side so this should be the kind of game we get points from. Next up was another test against a promoted team, Nottingham Forest. I was fearing the worst when they pulled the game back to 1-1 on the stroke of half-time; we'd hit the woodwork four times already as well as having one ruled out for offside, so it seemed like luck was against us. But Oussama Idrissi completed a MOTM performance with his second goal of the day to wrap up the win.

Sod the Carabao Cup. The team we put out was plenty good enough to win, but we did nothing. The low point was Tim Ream coming on as a sub, then immediately giving the ball away and conceding a goal. Knocked out by Coventry, the team 21st in League One. Pathetic. And I can't fine anyone. Stupid. I wasn't expecting much from the Everton game, but we were keeping things tight and not conceding. I switched things up with half an hour to go, trying to settle back and hold on for a point. Accidental tactical genius that I am, this led to substitutes Aboubakar Kamara and Aleksandar Mitrovic combining for the only goal of the game and an unlikely win.

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I'm still angry about the loss to Brentford and the cup humiliation against Coventry, but that is more than made up by how chuffed I am with the wins over Bournemouth and Everton. I'm under no illusions that we'll stay this high in the table, but it's a very strong start to the season. And perhaps the cup elimination is for the best as we'll avoid any fixture congestion over the next few months.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Liverpool have set the early running with four straight wins. At the other end, neither Wolves nor Nottingham Forest have yet earned a point.

Elsewhere in Europe: 15 transfers at £20 million or above. Chelsea spent £200 million on three players, including the return of Romelu Lukaku.

Spoiler

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Elsewhere in the World: The Olympics were won by France, Odsonne Edouard scoring the only goal in the final against France. Serge Gnabry top scored with five.

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September 2020

On deadline day we had one player leave. I didn't want to let Matt O'Riley go but a couple of offers from Watford had unsettled him and with one year left on his contract he wouldn't re-sign. So it was case of seeing how much we could get for him, and £4.5 million+ wasn't bad for a 19 year old with only two appearances for us.

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The money we received gave our transfer budget a boost, which I then re-allocated to the wage budget. Right on cue a scout popped up to tell me Arsenal had made Eddie Nketiah available on loan so I pounced, and just about got it done before the window closed.

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Spoiler

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We dominated West Ham but couldn't put the ball in the net, and then they scored with their only proper chance of the game. I didn't expect anything from the Manchester City, which is lucky as we didn't get anything. But we weren't whooped either, so that was nice.

In the team-talk I told the players to bounce back with a win against Wolves, and a goal from Oussama Idrissi after 19 seconds was the perfect start. But ten minutes he'd got himself sent off for a horror challenge (fined one week's wages), and the score was equal after Marek Rodak flapped at a cross. We weren't out of it by any means though, and we were still the stronger team. At half-time I told the team we could get a result here, and straight from kick-off we won the ball, broke up the left, and the cross from Joe Bryan (for his second assist of the game) was met by Steven Sessegnon steaming in from the other flank to put us ahead. From that point on there was only going to be one winner, and we embarrassed Wolves with two more for a resounding 4-1 victory.

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Very happy with this. Despite two losses we've somehow gone up a place. 

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In the media story after the Wolves games I noticed that Steven Sessegnon is now classed as a wonderkid. His personality has also changed recently too, after some mentoring his determination has jumped from 8 to 10, and he's gone from spirited to fairly professional.

Spoiler

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Liverpool sit top with a perfect record after seven games, two points ahead of the Manchester clubs. The first whooping of the season took place as Tottenham thrashed Newcastle 6-0. The Geordies are currently 19th in the table, with Nottingham Forest and Wolves on either side. Speaking of, Wolves will be looking for a new manager after firing Luciano Spalletti.

Elsewhere in England: Newcastle and Tottenham both played heavily rotated sides in the third round of the Carabao Cup and suffered the ignominy of being knocked out by Bristol City and Lincoln. 

Elsewhere in Europe: There was still time for some last-minute big money deals on deadline day, as Manchester City splashed the cash and Newcastle also made a few additions.

Spoiler

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October 2020

After Aleksandar Mitrovic scored an early penalty I wondered if an upset was on against Manchester United, but they quickly showed their quality and turned things around. I hoped for a result against Sheffield United, but we were bad in every way possible. Strikers that couldn't score, wingers that couldn't cross, midfielders that couldn't pass, defenders that couldn't tackle. Lyanco lost half a week's wages, Sebastian Szymanski a whole week.

I told the team they needed to turn things around against Burnley, instead they played like a bunch of amateurs. Two down within the first five minutes, and that was game over. More fines! (Oussami Idrissi and Aboubakar Kamara - half a week each). The main attacking players continued to be useless against Tottenham, but our defence was much improved, playing well and frustrating them. Alfie Mawson then put us into the lead from a corner, and for a second game in a row Nicolas Santos-Clase came off the bench to score.

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I hoped for six points from these fixtures but would have been satisfied with four. After the Burnley game I was resigned to the fact that we weren't going to get anything from this month and that would have been a big disappointment, but the resolve to grind out a win against Spurs was a big relief.

We really could do with some of our big money signings and returning loanees showing some ability. At the moment they've all been largely awful so far and are being shown up by a bunch of Championship stalwarts and a 20 year old back-up.

Spoiler

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: When the top two faced each other Liverpool lost 2-1, meaning Manchester City overhauled them to take the lead. Manchester United prowl just behind in third, with Bruno Fernandes (8 assists) providing the ammunition for Marcus Rashford (10 goals). Wolves (18th) have brought in Paulo Sousa as their new manager.

Elsewhere in England: Southampton top the Championship, Luton top League One.

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November 2020

Stefan Johansen asked to go out on loan as he hadn't played a single minute this season, so he went to Astana for two months. He injured his hip in his first day of training and won't play a single minute of football for them either. 

Alfie Mawson replaced him as vice-captain.

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It felt like we could hardly get a hold of the ball against Newcastle, but the next thing I knew Oussama Idrissi was cutting in from the left flank to put one past the goalie. Newcastle shrank away after that, barely threatening our goal until late on. Calamitous defending gifted them an opportunity which they took, but luckily there had been an offside in the build up and after a VAR review it was ruled out.

Liverpool were just too good for us. We focused on defensive work in training in the week building up to the game but they just had too much strength in attack. The Brighton game was an absolute borefest, it looked like both sets on fans would be leaving unhappy, but a late cameo from Nicolas Santos-Clase instead gave us the bragging rights, as he was in the right place to poke home when a blocked shot was parried into his path.

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With just over a third of the season gone we're more than halfway towards the magic 40 point mark, so things are looking good. December will be a test though, six games coming up including two in three days just after Christmas.

Draws are for cowards.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Chelsea hammered Sheffield United 7-0 for the biggest win of the season so far. Tottenham then got in on the act with a 7-1 spanking of Villa. Neither are anywhere near the top though, that spot is taken by Manchester City (12 wins in a row), one point ahead of Liverpool (six wins in a row). Marcus Rashford is leading the goal charts with 14, one ahead of Harry Kane. David Moyes was sacked by West Ham (16th) after a run of one win in eight. The bottom three though is still made up of Newcastle, Forest, and Wolves.

Elsewhere in England: England won their Nations League A group with four wins and two draws. Southampton top the Championship by six points. Rotherham lead League One, but my affiliate club Wycombe (with three of my U23s on loan) are equal on points with them.

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On 24/06/2021 at 21:09, DaneBramage said:

March 2020

Time for the first youth intake of the career.

It doesn't look like there are any potential superstars in the group, but with two players at 4.0 star potential and another two at 3.5 star potential there could be players that make an impression in the senior squad in a few years.

Top of the list is Chris Jericho (20a), a player who was not mentioned in the preview. He scored in the Youth Candidates v Under 18s friendly.

  Reveal hidden contents

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Next up is Sammy Guevara (20b). And the third most hyped player is also a right-back, which is slightly unfortunate. In fact there are a lot of defenders in the upper half of this group. The preview mentioned a forward that could be a fine prospect, so I'm not sure where he's disappeared to.

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Decided to learn how to do some very, very basic skinning.

Chris Jericho (20a)

Spoiler

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Sammy Guevara (20b)

Spoiler

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December 2020

No golden generation this time, just a really optimistic group of players. Goalkeeper and forward are probably the two positions where we have the most potential already in the younger age groups, but I suppose you can never complain about having a good striker coming through.

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The month started with a disappointing result as we led for most of the game against Norwich, before switching off at a corner where they grabbed an equaliser. We were much better against Villa though and clinical with our chances, Oussama Idrissi having a great showing and getting a brace.

We were then brought back to Earth with a bump against Leicester. They spent pretty much the whole game in and around our area, and scored three times in the final 15 minutes to put the exclamation mark on an emphatic loss. We made five changes for the Chelsea game but when we conceded within the first few months I thought the floodgates were going to open. Instead, we levelled before the break. A long clearance from Marcus Bettinelli was latched onto by Aboubakar Kamara who raced away and coolly slotted past the keeper. It looked like we were going to hold on for a point, but we threw it away late on when we didn't bother defending a cross and let them get an unchallenged header for the winner.

With two games in three days after Christmas I made the decision to sacrifice the away game at Arsenal to focus on the home game with Burnley. The second string couldn't perform any miracle and got smashed, but the gamble paid off as the first choice XI hammered Burnley. Aboubakar Kamara opened the scoring with another fine solo goal, and when we forced an own goal soon after the break we knew the win was ours. Sammy Guevara (20b) came off the bench to provide an assist, and Tom Cairney scored a beauty from a free-kick.

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Despite losing just as many games as we won or drew this month, we remain 7th in the table.

At the halfway point of the season we're two-thirds of the way towards 40 points, and 11 points clear of the relegation area.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Manchester City won five games out of five, but were overtaken at the top on goal difference by Liverpool (five wins and a draw). City have a game in hand though. Roberto Martinez has taken over at West Ham (13th) and is unbeaten in his first three games. Although Newcastle had pulled themselves out of the relegation area (17th), Steve Bruce was fired and replaced by Graham Potter. They were replaced in the bottom three by Brighton (18th), which saw Stale Solbakken receive the sack.

Elsewhere in England: Southampton are stuttering and now only have a two point lead at the top of the Championship. Reading have risen to 1st place in League One.

Elsewhere in Europe: With a 13 point lead at the halfway point you could give PSG the Ligue Un trophy already.

Elsewhere in the World: Palmeiras won the Brasileiro for the 11th time. There was a big upset in the World Club Cup final as Cruz Azul beat Manchester City 2-1.

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Posted (edited)

January 2021

We got some wages off of our books as three players left this month. The contracts of all three players are up this summer so I was happy to let all of them move on, and getting a little bit of money for Marcus Bettinelli was an added bonus. None of them had really featured much under me.

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I've had my first invite to a job interview. Turned it down obviously. At the moment there's no intention for this to be a job-hopping save, and we're having a much better season than Everton anyway.

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We started the year with an FA Cup tie in Wales. Swansea never stood a chance, we blew them away. A couple of younger players made the most of being given a chance, as Steward Gardner (20c) marked his debut with an assist, and Ryan De Havilland scored his first goal for the club.

Following this we lost three players to the African Cup of Nations. Jean Michael Seri and Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa are only rotation options and occasional starters, but Oussama Idrissi is a key player on the left-wing.

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We picked up a surprise point in the league, as with five games coming up in 15 days a heavily rotated side was picked to play Manchester United. Nicolas Santos-Clase had a magnificent game, scoring twice to pick up the MOTM award and secure a draw. If anything, we looked like the team most likely to get a winner too.

The Wolves game was not one for the fainthearted, as despite dominating early on we fell behind to a counterattack. We hit back immediately, but then Lyanco got himself sent off for an off-the-ball incident at a corner. Somehow this didn't affect us though, and we kept winning setpieces around the Wolves box. Eventually a corner fell perfectly in the path of Josh Onomah to poke in and give us the lead. Not long afterwards a beautiful passing move opened up for Aboubakar Kamara to double our advantage, and it was enough for us to take the win, even with Wolves pulling one back in stoppage time.

We were absolutely turgid in the first-half against Sheffield United and conceded the first goal. We pulled the wingers back into midfield to stop being crowded out, and got back into the game with an undeserved equaliser, and then it looked like we were going to grab an even more undeserved win. But we bottled it in stoppage time, conceding from a 95th minute corner. The Arsenal performance was just as bad, the only consolation was we didn't get thrashed as badly as last time we played them.

We improved against Bristol City, but only marginally. But the one goal was enough to get through another round of the FA Cup. But against Brentford we massively regressed again. We could have ran up a cricket score inside the first-half, instead we did nothing and let them get a late winner.

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If you exclude the wins in the FA Cup, this was an utterly awful month. There were three very winnable league games in there, instead we put in some pathetic performances and only got one victory. There's just dreadful form all over the pitch. Marek Rodak has forgotten how to keep clean sheets, Lyanco is a Lyability, Sebastian Szymanski and Eddie Nketiah are two of the worst footballers I've ever seen, and Aleksandar Mitrovic can't hit a barndoor.

We've dropped down to 10th, and at this rate we'll be lucky to maintain this push for a top-half finish. The teams directly ahead of us are all in good form and could pull away if we don't improve quickly.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Everton (17th) sacked Sean Dyche and after I turned them down, they tempted Sabri Lamouchi away from Nottingham Forest (20th). He was replaced there by Gordon Strachan. After just one win in nine Aston Villa (14th) fired Dean Smith. Liverpool now have a five point lead at the top, but Manchester City have two games in hand.

Elsewhere in Europe: It wasn't a massively busy transfer window, and most of the big money deals were outside of England.

Spoiler

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Edited by DaneBramage
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February 2021

On deadline day there was time for one more player to leave the club, and one more to join.

Benjamin Akinyemi (20f) was an academy graduate from 2020, I think he still had 18 months on his contract so I don't know how Huddersfield were able to steal him away. Anyway, somehow they did, and we got £600k in compensation. I wasn't convinced by his attributes so I didn't offer a new contract to try and keep him.

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The contract of Sam McQueen was running out in the summer, so we managed to pick him up in a cut-price deal. He'll provide competition at left-back, and also cover for the left-wing.

Spoiler

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The Bournemouth game was a really close encounter, but a penalty in our favour was enough for the win.

Chelsea beat us handily, but the Leicester game was a real disappointment. We were bossing the game and should have been out of sight. Instead, even when Leicester were down to ten men, we seemed to be having a competition to see who could have the worst effort on goal. And that came back to bite us, as they then scored twice in the final five minutes to steal the points.

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Another crap month, more points thrown away. There was no way we should have lost that Leicester game, it was a cowardly showing from these players. 

The recent form column says it all.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Liverpool retain their five point lead, and Manchester City wasted one of their games in hand with a loss to West Ham. Marcus Rashford has reached 20 goals. Aston Villa have fallen into the bottom three. Dejan Stankovic took the vacant Brighton (15th) job. Wolves (20th) have ditched their second manager this season, replacing Paulo Sousa with Niko Kovac.

Elsewhere in England: Sheffield Wednesday provided the shock of the day in the FA Cup fourth round, knocking out Manchester City on penalties. 

Elsewhere in Europe: Manchester City splashed the cash on deadline day, while Liverpool also strengthened their squad.

Spoiler

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Elsewhere in the World: Nicolas Pepe top scored with seven goals as the Ivory Coast won the African Cup of Nations for a third time. Jean Michael Seri made six appearances (all as sub), including playing the last 20 minutes of the 4-0 victory over Ghana in the final.

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Posted (edited)

March 2021

Our bank balance is finally back in the black, so I asked for a few upgrades and another affiliate club. Most of these requests were refused, but youth recruitment improvement was granted and is now at the top level.

While looking at this I noticed our junior coaching had also improved. This was agreed in January 2020, but hadn't taken place by the end of season review in July 2020, so there's been a delay in this taking effect. Never noticed that before.

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It was good to score twice against Chelsea after a run of six games where we hadn't scored more than once. Unfortunately it was a wasted effort as we were already three-nil down at the time. Concentrate on the league!

That was the plan anyway. Instead we travelled to relegation threatened Aston Villa and put in one of the most inept performances you'll ever see. Maxime Le Marchand made a howler to give away the first goal, then Michael Hector gave away a penalty for the second. Hopeless. To try and beat the malaise we'd fallen into I changed to a 4-4-2 formation against Norwich. It took a while to get going, but when it clicked we were fantastic. Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a double, and Eddie Nketiah finally got off the mark.

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Just the short month due to an international break, and a game against Liverpool being pushed back to May as it clashed with their cup game. The loss to Villa was a big misstep, but hopefully the Norwich win will put us back on track. It has given us a little gap over 11th place and we still have a game in hand over the teams below us.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Manchester City's form has collapsed and with eight games to go Liverpool now hold an eight point lead. Daniel Farke was sacked by Norwich (19th) and Nuno Espirito Santo returned to England to take his job. Eddie Howe was sacked by Bournemouth (15th) and replaced with Brendan Rodgers. John Terry has taken job at Aston Villa (17th), and Roberto Martinez has taken the West Ham job (18th).

Elsewhere in England: Manchester City won the Carabao Cup for a fifth time in eight years, and a seventh time overall. Two goals from Leroy Sane and one from Nicolas Otamendi did the job as they beat Chelsea 3-2. Tammy Abraham scored six times in a week as England started their World Cup qualification campaign with wins over Romania (3-0) and Andorra (9-0).

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Edited by DaneBramage
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March 2021

Time for our second youth intake.

Good stuff at the top of the intake with a potential 5.0 star goalkeeper, 4.5 star striker, and 3.5 star centre-back. There's not much in depth further down the list though.

First up is Maxwell Jacob Friedman (21a). He kept a clean sheet in the Candidates v Under 18s friendly. Encouragingly, the Candidates won that tie 3-0, so hopefully that suggests the intakes are improving.

Spoiler

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Second is Wardlow (21b). He popped to 5.0 star potential once signed, but I guess that may be due to the AssMan (15 JPP) not judging players the same as the HoYD (19 JPP). Scored two of the goals in the tryout match. Since being signed has five goals and three assists in just three games for the Under 23s and Under 18s. Already being touted as the next Michael Owen.

Spoiler

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Last year we had a player from Equatorial Guinea. This year we have one each from Guinea-Bissau and Guinea. Now we just need one from Papua New Guinea next year to complete the set.

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April 2021

I don't want to talk about the Brighton game. Unacceptable in every way. I gave the players no time off at all over the next week, replacing every single rest session with defensive drills instead. It paid off as we held Tottenham to a goalless draw, though the flipside of that was that we didn't manage a single shot on goal ourselves.

I don't want to talk about the Newcastle game either. Or the Everton game.

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There are no words to describe how bad this month has been. Numbers describe it better. Four games, zero goals, one point. Pathetic. The players have just downed tools, nothing is working.

It'll be a miracle if we stay in 10th, the players are doing everything they can to **** this away.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: With four games to go Liverpool lead Manchester City by ten points.

Elsewhere in England: Watford now lead the Championship, and Reading have been crowned champions of League One.

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Posted (edited)

May 2021

Wahey! A new low!

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We ended the season with another goalless month, and not even a single point to show for our efforts (or lack thereof).

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Obviously I'd have taken a 15th place finish at the start of the season, as the only objective for this year was to avoid relegation. But the way we've ended up there has been nothing short of disgraceful.

In the last two months we've picked up just one point, not scored a single goal, and conceded 29 times. A mitigating factor is of course that our pairing in central defence, Alfie Mawson and Lyanco, both tore calf muscles putting them out for several months at the same time. But this has been a complete and utter collapse, we've ended up with the worst defence and worst goal difference in the division.

A couple of times during the season I mentioned how well we were doing and how far we were towards the magic 40 point mark. And somehow, that's all we managed. We got to 40 points, then stopped. One win fewer and we'd have been relegated!

The difference between our form in the first and second half of the season is staggering, and can be seen in the comparison below, and how far we fell down the table in the final few months. 

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It's very difficult to say I've been impressed by anyone this year. Only three players ended up with ratings over 7.00, and nobody got into double figures for either goals or assists. Everything fell apart when Alfie Mawson got injured, so I guess he was our most important player. Oussami Idrissi also had a fairly strong first half season, and Nicolas Santos-Clase had a habit of scoring goals early on. Then he started playing more and the goals dried up.

But most of these players were rubbish. Sebastian Szymanski was a big money flop, Eddie Nketiah's loan spell was a waste of time, Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa and Jean Michael Seri are a massive waste of wages and offer nothing useful, Steven Sessegnon is a stroppy little diva , Aleksandar Mitrovic still underwhelms constantly, and Sam McQueen found himself transfer listed just months after joining.

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Three academy graduates made their debuts this season, and two players got their first assists.

Credit to @theBlackPrince for this layout, which I have shamelessly stolen been influenced by. 

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Helped by his hat-trick against us, Sergio Aguero leapfrogged Marcus Rashford to end up as the top scorer with 23 goals. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Bruno Fernandes shared the title of most assists, with 13 apiece. Kevin De Bruyne had the highest average rating (7.80), and Alisson the most clean sheets (21). Frank De Boer was fired by Leicester after the season finished, particularly harsh as they placed 7th, where predicted, and qualified for Europe. 

Elsewhere in England: Liverpool completed a second successive double, winning a ninth FA Cup after beating Manchester United 3-1 in the final. Watford (champions), Southampton, and Swansea (play-offs) were promoted from the Championship. After four goals in 78 appearances at Derby, Wayne Rooney has retired and joined their coaching staff.

Elsewhere in Europe: Liverpool made it a treble, with Robert Firmino scoring the only goal in the Europa League final against Benfica. But the big prize went to Barcelona, Antoine Griezmann scoring twice in a 2-1 in over Bayern Munich.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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14 hours ago, Deisler26 said:

Great career so far! This is my team, so I’m excited to see what you do with them!

Thanks! Great first 18 months, very rocky for the next six, so hoping I can turn it around.

The one time I've been to Craven Cottage Fulham won. Which was unfortunate when I was there as a Reading fan.

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3 minutes ago, DaneBramage said:

Thanks! Great first 18 months, very rocky for the next six, so hoping I can turn it around.

The one time I've been to Craven Cottage Fulham won. Which was unfortunate when I was there as a Reading fan.

Wasn’t the 6-1 where you ended up with 10 men was it?

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Posted (edited)

June 2021

We had to spend around £10 million on bonuses for staying in the Premier League, but that was more than covered by the start of some big sponsorship deals and the prize money for our finishing position. Our bank balance is now at a pretty healthy figure, though who knows what it could be after this summer's transfer dealings.

The renovations at Craven Cottage have now been completed and we're back up to full capacity (29,700), so that should also help with increased matchday income.

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With finances in a good position it seemed like an opportune time to ask for upgrades again. It took a bit of arguing, but everything I requested was granted. We spent £1 million to improve our youth level (that's a new one for me, I'm not even sure what that effects), and our junior coaching is also improving and will be at the highest level once completed.

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A couple of players left the club at the end of their contracts. Maxime Le Marchand and Tim Ream were both important players during the promotion season, but neither could cut it in the Premier League.

The loan deal of Eddie Nketiah also expired and he returned to Arsenal.

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Thus we needed some defensive reinforcements to replace them. Igor Diveev came in from CSKA Moscow where he'd racked up 70 appearances in the last two years, so he's already got a fair amount of experience. And at 21 he still has room to grow. Maybe not literally though, he's already pretty tall.

Spoiler

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Marco Friedl was a backup at Werder Bremen and he'll probably be the same for us.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Neil Lennon has left Celtic to take the Leicester job.

Elsewhere in Europe: England won the UEFA Nations League, beating Portugal 2-1 in the final. The goals came from Harry Kane and Mason Mount. Cristiano Ronaldo has retired and become an AssMan, not looking anywhere near as special. He scored 38 goals in his final Juventus season and still looked incredible.

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After Liverpool put them to shame last season the Manchester clubs have both gone big early in the transfer window.

Spoiler

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Edited by DaneBramage
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Posted (edited)

July 2021

We've risen one spot to being the 16th most reputable side in England. 

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It hasn't helped with our pre-season expectations though. We're 1,000-1 to win the league, but evens to get relegated and the media predict that we'll finish in 18th. 

The board just want us to avoid relegation. I want the same of course, but I'd also like more consistency. We were really good in the first half of last season, then terrible after the turn of the year. I don't know if I can survive another collapse like that.

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We've added a second affiliate club. I don't currently have the Polish leagues loaded, so I've added the Ekstraklasa now to kick in for the 2022/23 season. We were also offered a choice of another Polish side and a Cypriot side but I went with Jagiellonia Bialystok due to their facilities (great training, great youth, excellent junior coaching).

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Our first affiliate club, Wycombe Wanderers, got promoted to the Championship last year after having four of our younger players with them for parts of the season. We've sent them another three players for this year.

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We got rid of a few more players this month who were no longer needed. Denis Odoi was good when we were in the Championship but couldn't cut it in the top flight, and his contract expired. Bobby Decordova-Reid was never any good and I was happy to get a decent chunk of cash for him. The others were all never more than backups so getting their wages off the books for a year was an easy choice, though I'd have preferred to sell them.

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Ther was one addition this month. We have Paolo Ghiglione on loan for the year, with an obligation to buy him for £4 million at the end of this time. He cost Wolfsburg £7.5 million last summer but only started 13 games so was surplus to requirements there. Will likely see a lot more time with us as he can play anywhere on the right side.

Spoiler

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This is the current squad ahead of the 2021/22 season. I think I could still use a couple of additions up front, namely a striker that can score on a regular basis and some competition on the left-wing. We have a transfer budget of about £40 million to spend, but I did that last year and we were operating in the red for most of the season. So I don't know how much of that I want to risk at the moment, but we are still working on a couple of loan deals.

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Elsewhere in Europe: Maurizio Sarri was sacked by Juventus. They've gone with quite the duo to replace him, Zinedine Zidane in charge with Cristiano Ronaldo as his number two. Sarri didn't stay unemployed for long though, quickly jumping in at Atletico Madrid after Diego Simeone was given the boot. For a change the largest transfer deals were leaving the Premier League as two players left England for more than £100 million each.

Spoiler

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Edited by DaneBramage
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August 2021

We were successful with both of the loan deals we were aiming for, and both have optional fees that we could activate if they impress.

First in was Pedro to provide some competition (and hopefully goals) up front. Fiorentina signed him for just over £9 million a couple of years ago, then sent him out on loan to Flamengo for two seasons. At first glance his goalscoring record there doesn't look great (13 goals in 54 games), but when you see that this only included 15 starts it's a lot more encouraging.

Spoiler

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The other new addition was Stepan Ogenesyan. He hasn't seen much gametime for Spartak Moscow, but has played well for their reserve side. This is a bit more of a punt, probably just a backup for now, but tonnes of potential there so we'll see how he does when called upon and how he develops.

Spoiler

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We were this close to setting a new Premier League record for going nine games without a goal. Luckily Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a late penalty to stop us achieving that unwanted record, and stole us a point on the opening day. This also snapped our run of six consecutive league losses. We made hard work of Sheffield United too, going 2-0 down before fighting back to snatch another point. The Tottenham tie was pretty tight, but they had the only real moment of magic in the game and that made the difference.

A few players came in for their debuts against Birmingham, and Pedro marked his first start with a goal. It was an easy win, but it should have been more comfortable with a few more goals. We carried on with that momentum against Swansea, another newbie scoring as Paolo Ghiglione got off the mark to put us 3-1 up. Our defensive efforts weren't massively convincing though, and after conceding in the 85th minute the end of the game was a tense affair that we just about managed to hang on to for our first league win of the season.

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I'd have liked to win at least one of the first two games, but we have a poor record against both Brentford and Sheffield United and that continued here. Our 11 game run without a league win was ended in style against Swansea, and hopefully we can use that to get back on track. 

This is the first time I've got past the second round of the EFL Cup, so that's a minor success too. And I'm pleased that two of the signings have also made good early impressions.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: The two Manchester clubs are at the top with 100% records so far. At the other end Brentford, Swansea, and Burnley have all made slow starts with just a point each.

Elsewhere in Europe: Nothing over the £100 million mark this month, but Chelsea have splashed the cash on Leon Bailey, and Sergio Aguero's time in England has come to an end as he moves to Juventus.

Spoiler

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Elsewhere in the World: The Gold Cup was won for the first time by Jamaica, as they upset the USA 3-2 in the final. Michael Hector played in all six games along the way, scoring once.

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September 2021

We returned to action after the international break with a cracking performance, tearing Newcastle apart to earn a second consecutive 3-0 win. We then played well against Arsenal too, and the goal we scored was excellent, but we were unlucky to go home without any points.

We then played Newcastle again, this time in the EFL Cup third round, albeit with a completely rotated starting XI. We should have won in normal time, instead it went to penalties. Reserve goalkeeper George Wickens was the hero of the day, saving the sixth penalty he faced, and Chris Jericho (20a) kept his nerve to score the decisive sudden death spotkick.  

Back in the league we put it another good display against Watford, with Aleksandar Mitrovic earning the MOTM award for a goal and an assist.

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Happy days. We've started this season much better than we ended the last, there's more green than red, and we even have a positive goal difference. 

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Last year Manchester City equalled a league record with a 9-0 win over us. They outdid themselves against Swansea, after going down 1-0 within the first five minutes they turned it around to produce a 12-1 win. Despite this they're not top of the table, as they sit one point below Tottenham. Watford, Swansea, and Brentford make up the bottom three. Marcus Rashford has continued his goalscoring exploits with seven strikes so far.

Elsewhere in Europe: Deadline day was quiet for most clubs, but Leicester, Bournemouth, and Brighton all made some last minute additions.

Spoiler

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As I reached my 100th game during the last month and we're on a decent run of form it's probably time to show the tactic currently being used. This is also most of my first-choice team, apart from Joe Bryan would normally be in at left-back.

Previously the attacking width was very narrow, I've recently put this back to the standard setting. I think this has helped with getting the wingers more involved, and the full-backs are also getting forwards more too. I wasn't getting much out of the striker before, but this change now sees the wide players linking up with him a lot more, giving all of them better chances at goal.

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October 2021

We were given a bit of a battering by Manchester United, but a great defensive effort (and some profligacy on their behalf) meant the game was still goalless as it came into its dying moments. Then Sebastian Szymanski launched a counter-attack in the 89th minute, sprinting nearly the length of the pitch, before putting in an inch-perfect cross for Pedro to get the only goal of the game. 

Unfortunately another international break disrupted our momentum, and we were crap against Bournemouth, falling to a deserved 2-0 loss. We were slightly better against Chelsea, but their class showed and they beat us by the same scoreline. The fourth round of the EFL Cup fell between two league games, so again a fully rotated side took to the pitch. We were the better team but couldn't put the ball in the net, and of course West Ham scored from their only real chance.

I told the team I wanted to see a better performance against Villa, and they improved accordingly. We were peppering their goal and although it took a while, when we broke through the floodgates opened and we scored three times in the final 25 minutes. Lyanco and Marco Friedl both scored their first goals for the club.

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I was hoping for six points this month so I'm happy with this. The first win didn't necessarily come from the game I expected it to, but as long as we get the points one way or another I don't care where they're from.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Manchester City are top, two points ahead of Chelsea. Watford, Swansea, and Brighton make up the bottom three. Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford are leading the goalscoring charts with nine each. Dejan Stankovic was sacked by Brighton (19th) after eight league games without a win.

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November 2021

Pleased to finally get rid of Jean Michael Seri. After returning from his loan in the first season he's never really got much of a look in, so his obscene £81k weekly wage was just money down the drain. We're still paying £24k a week for the remainder of his contract, but luckily there's only seven months of it remaining.

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We've been given a third affiliate club. I was hoping for a foreign club but instead it's another English side. We already have a Championship affiliate (though Wycombe are struggling in 22nd place), so League One Crewe give us another option for loaning out prospects.

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We went behind after just 30 seconds against Burnley. We were offering nothing and it looked like it wouldn't be our day, but a late rally won us a corner for Alex Kral to pop up and score his first goal for the club. Incredibly we repeated the trick against Manchester City. One-down within three minutes, then Alfie Mawson equalised from a corner. We should have gone on to get the win, but too many players were looking for the headlines, and shooting from poor positions instead of crossing for better placed team-mates.

We had 14 shots in the first-half alone against West Ham. Absolutely slaughtering them. Except none were going in. We even hit the woodwork five times. I told the team at half-time to keep going and the goal would come. And it's a like a completely different team went out for the second half. We were abysmal. No more shots until the 93rd minute, and it was offside anyway. And by then West Ham had scored twice. Fuming. Kicked the sofa. Every single player got the aggressive "you let us down today" team-talk option. There's only five days until the next game, but every rest session between now and then has been replaced with chance conversion training.

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Nowhere near good enough. We were pathetic against Burnley and lucky to get anything, then had enough chances to win a dozen games against Manchester City and West Ham, and squandered them all.

The top six have started to break away, and we're left as best of the rest I suppose. With just one win in five though that's a rather loose use of the word best. The teams in 7th down to 14th place are split by just four points.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Manchester City stay top, one point ahead of Manchester United and two ahead of Liverpool and Chelsea. Quinton Fortune has taken over at Brighton (19th).

Elsewhere in England: Wolves lead the Championship, while Huddersfield have already built up a 12 point buffer at the top of League One. The national team completed an easy World Cup qualifying campaign with six wins and two draws to finish top of the group.

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December 2021

Improvements to our facilities were completed this month, as youth facilities went up to the next level, and junior coaching went to the top level.

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And improvements can't come along soon enough, as this block of yellow text doesn't really sound like it will be a good group of players in the next youth intake.

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After last month's terrible form I dropped all of the outfield players for the visit of Leicester. It backfired, the replacements were even worse. We were lucky to escape with just a 2-1 loss. It could have been a cricket score. Perhaps the first-team got the message though, as they were fantastic against Brighton (a side who hadn't won in nine league games admittedly). After a hot start to the season Aleksandar Mitrovic had been in a desperate slump, but he was very impressive here with two goals. 

Aleksandar Mitrovic then kept it going with a double against Southampton, in a game where we were deadly going forwards but incompetent at the back. Michael Hector had caused a fuss about not playing much, then had an absolute stinker when given a chance. Welcome to the transfer list Michael.

Liverpool were just better then us, but the loss to Everton was abysmal. Bossed them off the park, apart from the same problem we constantly make for ourselves - we don't put the ball in the net when we have all of the opportunities, and then they do. We ended the year with the traditional loss to Chelsea.

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I'm fed up with talking about how bad we are. I can accept the Liverpool and Chelsea losses, but the performances against Leicester, Southampton, and Everton were just embarrassing. It's always one step forward, then two steps back.

We're dropping like a stone. Six points ahead of 18th at the moment, and unless there's a drastic improvement in January (and I would not put money on that) we're heading for a relegation battle.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Manchester City are top on 46 points, but Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester United are all just two points behind. Tottenham (7th) have had enough of Jose Mourinho and brought back Jurgen Klinsmann to replace him. Leicester (16th) continue to go through managers at an alarming pace and get rid of Neil Lennon after less than six months, replacing him with Robert Siboldi. And John Terry's first managerial job lasted less than a year, as Aston Villa (18th) gave him the boot and hired Erling Moe in his place.

Elsewhere in England: Crystal Palace have risen to top spot in the Championship, while Huddersfield have now drawn out a 15 point lead in League One.

Elsewhere in the World: Flamengo won the Brasileiro for a second year in a row, and ninth time overall. The Club World Cup was won by Bayern Munich (for a second time), beating Barcelona 1-0 in the final. Oh, and it apparently took place back in July with an entirely new format, and is only going to be every four years going forward. I had no idea this was changing.

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January 2022

Michael Hector didn't spend long on the transfer list as he was soon shipped out to China. As he was within six months of his contract expiring I thought we'd lose him for nothing, as there were lots of clubs offering him a pre-contract for the summer, but luckily he chose the immediate move that gave us a fee.

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We needed reinforcements and we made moves for a couple of players not getting any gametime at the top two.

Daniel James has barely played football in the last 18 months, just one sub appearance at Manchester United and an unsuccessful loan spell at Newcastle. We need more of an attacking impetus, and with his pace hopefully he can kickstart his career (and our season).

Spoiler

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My strikers are rubbish. The on loan Pedro has only two goals and has found himself banished to the reserves, while Aleksandar Mitrovic has one good game, then disappears for a month. So I needed another addition up front, and I've got Rhian Brewster on loan from Liverpool. His gametime has been sparse, but he's made the most of it when it's come around, with five goals in ten appearances (three starts and seven off the bench) over the last two seasons. We make plenty of chances each game, I just need someone to put them away on a regular basis.

Spoiler

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I wish we could play in the FA Cup every week. We handed out a pair of thrashings to Southampton and Ipswich, with Martell Taylor-Crossdale and Cody Drameh both getting their first goals for the club in the latter game.

Unfortunately in between those two matches we were rubbish in the league. Losing to league leaders Manchester United is one thing, but losing to a Watford side in the relegation area is a completely different matter. The Bournemouth loss then made it six losses in a row, and after conceding early against Sheffield United it looked like this was going to turn into seven. Luckily, an unlikely goal source came along, as Lyanco headed in twice at the near post from Tom Cairney corners to earn us all three points. He did blot his copybook in the second half though, taking the ball off of our normal penalty taker to try and complete his hat-trick, but instead saw his tame effort saved. 

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Not a great month by any means, but at least after that Sheffield United win I'm happier than I was 10 minutes ago. We've slipped down one place from last month, but we have put one more point between us and the relegation area, now seven points clear.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Manchester United have jumped to the top of the table, one point ahead of Liverpool and two ahead of Chelsea. Leicester, Swansea, and Brighton make up the bottom three. Brentford have had an awful month with five consecutive losses and an aggregate scoreline of 2-25.

Elsewhere in Europe: Erling Haaland has joined Chelsea for £98 million, and Jude Bellingham gets a Premier League move.

Spoiler

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February 2022

No real business was done on deadline day, but Stepan Oganesyan had his loan deal terminated early and was sent back to Spartak Moscow.

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21 shots against Everton. 11 on target. One missed penalty. No goals. Yet another game we've dominated but contrived not to win. A two week fine for Aleksandar Mitrovic and some time in the ressies. When Brentford scored against the run of play due to a mistake by Oussama Idrissi and we went in one down at half-time I gave the players the hairdryer treatment. The second half was much better and we ran them off the pitch, Daniel James getting his first goal for the club and Alex Kral scoring a whomper-stomper.

Liverpool thrashed us, and the Southampton game was the worst of the month. Nearly a complete re-run of the Everton game from a few weeks ago, but instead of missing a penalty, this time our moron striker Rhian Brewster got sent off instead, and Southampton got a completely undeserved winner.

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It should have been nine points. Easily. There's no excuse for not picking up three wins there. Getting just four points from that is abysmal. I think these players actively want to get relegated. We also happen to be left with no first-team strikers, as all of the senior forwards have been relegated to the reserves for their consistent uselessness. And the youngsters with any potential are all out on loan at the moment too, which leaves me very shorthanded up front.

We're continuing to rack up losses at an alarming rate, and the gap to the relegation area has shrunk to just five points.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Liverpool have now gone top, but Manchester United are two points behind with a game in hand. Marcus Rashford leads Sadio Mane in the scoring charts, 18 goals to 17. The bottom three is made up of Brentford, Swansea and Brighton. After we beat Brentford (18th) they dispatched of Lee Johnson and brought in Eddie Howe to try and lead them to safety. 

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March 2022

Our FA Cup run went on a bit longer and we made it to the quarter-finals, but inevitably that was where it ended. That's now five games against Manchester City, and zero wins.

In the league we played two games against sides in the relegation area. We beat Brighton fairly easily, but our task against Leicester was made a lot harder when Igor Diveev got himself sent off for a second yellow after 37 minutes. We were already trailing 1-0 at that point, but once we went down to ten men we hit back almost immediately, and if anything were unlucky not to go on and get the win.

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We've risen one place and extended our lead over the bottom three to seven points. I was hoping for a full six points this month, but the red card ruined that plan.

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Elsewhere in the Premier League: Liverpool are top with a three point lead over Manchester United.

Elsewhere in England: Frank Lampard won his second Carabao Cup in three years, as Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-0 in the final.

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Posted (edited)

March 2022

There was definitely a lot of exaggerating going on from the HoYD when they suggested this was going to be a good group of players. The top two hit only 3.5 stars of PA, and there's no strength in depth either. In the trial game this squad lost 1-0 to the Under 18s.

I've been renaming the graduate who comes through top of the class, as well as anyone else with 4.0 star potential when they arrive. So this year it's just the one player with a new name and face. Christian Cage (22a) is tall but slow, so I've put him on quickness training.

Spoiler

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Edited by DaneBramage
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Just wanted to leave a comment saying how much I've enjoyed following along so far! Hopefully you can find a consistent striker for next season to push on to the next level

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  • DaneBramage changed the title to [FM20] Fulham FC - All Elite Football

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