Jump to content

[FM21] Taming of the Shrews


Recommended Posts


Historical Context of Shrewsbury Town

After Shrewsbury joined The Football League in 1950, Shrewsbury have been a steady mainstay, only slipping out for the 2003/04 campaign. Even so, the Shrews only managed a 3rd placed finish in what was then The Conference and have since finished 2nd in League Two twice, once in 2011/12 and again in 2014/15 after a relegation from League One in 2013/14. They were then very much nearly men in 2017/18 when they finished 3rd in League One but lost to Rotherham United in the play-off final.

Shrewsbury's entire history boasts 1 League One title in 1978/79 and 1 League Two title in 1993/94. They stayed in the old Second Division, now what we know as The Championship for 10 seasons in the 1980s but have yet to return.

The Squad


I assessed the playing personnel when I took over and concluded that this was my best squad. I wasn't entirely satisfied with LB, AML, ST and CM options. With this in mind, I moved to bring in Anthony Elanga on loan from Manchester United, George Bello on loan from Atlanta United, Ricky Jade-Jones on loan from Peterborough, Alexandre Jankewitz on loan from Southampton and David Jones on a free. The starting lineup after these signings looked like this below:


Alas, I was quite pleased with what I had at my disposal at this point and was particularly looking at playing a vertical tiki-taka system.

Edited by ShaunG95
Link to post
Share on other sites

September to January fixtures


The tactical system was working wonders and we found ourselves in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup against Leeds. At this point, I wasn't getting overly excited but promotion looked very much on the cards if we kept up the consistency. Surprisingly, I don't believe that we were 1st at this point as Ipswich and Hull were battering everyone. Fortunately for us, with a much inferior squad might I add, managed to pickup two draws against the chasing pack. Considering the number of games that we had played, Daniel Udoh was very hit and miss, only netting 8 goals at this point in the season and missing some crucial one-on-ones in games that we ended up drawing. The standout performer was George Bello by a country mile (average rating of 6.97 across all competitions but a 7.00 average in League One), he was awesome, not to Americanize this thread of anything but it was warranted. However, his loan deal ended on January 1st and he was unfortunately not granted a work permit to extend which was heartbreaking in itself. Naturally, I had to dip back into the loan market in the January window.

January Dealings

Despite the strong league position we found ourselves in, Bello's departure gave me a headache that was eased by the arrival of Leif Davis from Leeds until the end of the season. Although at RB Sears and Love had performed well in rotation, Love's head had turned as he signed a pre-contract deal with Hamilton. I decided to move for a RB as I'm not fond of giving playing time to players who are leaving. Cheekily, I saw Neco Williams on the loan list alongside Ki-Jana Hoever, I debated between the Liverpool players of present and past and although Hoever offered coverage at CB, Williams was far too strong of an option to turn down for a League One outfit. So, Williams arrived and I was very pleased at the acquisition, all whilst staying within our wage budget. Will Nightingale also arrived from AFC Wimbledon for £14.75k as a professional head in the dressing as well as a bit of additional backup at CB. Meanwhile former Swansea winger Nathan Dyer came on trial with us and later signed after loanee Harry Chapman succumbed to a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Curtis Main also decided to leave us and sign a pre-contract with St. Johnstone despite offers representing monetary value from divisional rivals.

Ideally, I would have liked another striker in this window but unfortunately the right signing wasn't available. Ricky Jade-Jones had netted 4 goals at this point in the campaign and I figured that keeping the faith in Daniel Udoh was sensible as his attributes are certainly not terrible for a League One striker.

Link to post
Share on other sites

January to May fixtures


Admittedly, January was a terrible month. Psychologically I pinned it on George Bello's departure combined with me completely rotating my starting eleven for the games against Cardiff and Blackpool respectively, in which we were knocked out of both the FA Cup and Papa John's Trophy. Two away defeats to Oxford and Sunderland followed and I genuinely thought we were losing footing on our promotion push as Ipswich and Hull widened the gap on us in the top 2 position. February was equally a slow month as Neco Williams and Leif Davis took some time to bed into the team and Harry Chapman's injury left us short for threatening options on right-wing. Convincing wins against MK Dons and Bristol Rovers seemed to reinvigorate our season.

When March came, Daniel Udoh seemed to finally come alive as the 3 goals he had scored in January and February combined was doubled, netting 6 and receiving a Player of the Month award in the process. The victory against Hull City was especially big for us as we closed the gap on them as they were 2nd at the time.

April was our month, make no mistake about it. The wins against Gillingham and Portsmouth were very much victories we had to grind out and we also showed tremendous character against the struggling Wigan who let a 2-0 lead slip against us. I was gutted that we didn't make it 7 wins from 7 but Blackpool matched us in that game. 

Understandably, I've developed this narrative about how close we were with Ipswich and Hull without actually showing the table. This was how close the table was going into May's fixtures:


Never in my time of playing FM have I seen such a close title race!

Crucially, on the day of our win against Oxford in which Ollie Norburn scored a 1st minute penalty, Ipswich drew away to Swindon and Hull drew at home to Wigan. Advantage Shrewsbury. Although Crewe was a potential banana skin fixture, the morale in the squad was incredibly high and once Shaun Whalley had settled the nerves with the opener, the win was a mere formality. Credit to Whalley by the way, he really stepped up in Harry Chapman's absence.

Title Winners


I will be honest, I didn't think I'd win the league. With the squad at hand, it just didn't look likely but the tactic did work a treat. We seemed to struggle against teams that played a back 5 but other than that, we managed to steamroll through a lot of the League One opposition. I'd essentially put that down to the quality that we loaned in. All loanees have been retained for our Championship campaign which was great news as Neco Williams and Leif Davis in particular were superb once they had gelled with their teammates.

Special praise must be awarded to Davis who came into the side having to fill the boots of George Bello who was very good in the first-half of the season. He actually achieved the joint-highest average rating in the league alongside Ipswich's Keanan Bennetts which was quite the achievement given that he only played half the season. Perhaps we should all take a leaf out of Davis' book...

Davis' Performances


Link to post
Share on other sites

Youth Intake Day

As somewhat of an aside, we got quite a decent talent come through our first intake.



As we can see, he is less of a striker and more of an inverted winger which is exactly where I see him playing in the team in the future. There doesn't seem to be any caveats in regards to Moses' attitude as he is professional which was apparently influenced by Head of Youth Development's Patrik Andersson personality. He is raw however and I don't envisage him breaking into the first team anytime soon but a couple of years of youth football will lead to him mingling with the first team. I am very much running this save as a long-term project so I will be nursing his development along the way.

Link to post
Share on other sites

2021/22 Transfer Dealings

In the autopsy of my first season at the helm of Shrewsbury Town, the Shrews' board decided to give me £600k to work with in the transfer market with a wage budget of £104k at absolute maximum, the smallest in the league. A league that now boasts freshly relegated Southampton, Crystal Palace and Burnley. Not to mention my fellow League One pack chasers Ipswich and Hull, the latter of which won the Play-Offs on penalties against Sunderland, deservedly so too. You shouldn't get 97 points in a league campaign when 6th place has 20 points less than you, it's just immoral.

The Ins

I extended the loans of Leif Davis, Neco Williams, Anthony Elanga, Alexandre Jankewitz and Ricky Jade-Jones. I had zero complaints about any of these as I believe they could all make the step-up. I was actually quite fortunate as I renewed some of these loans before they signed new deals at their parent clubs so I did save a lot in wages.

So, you're probably reading this thinking I'm a loan merchant and well, you're right. I genuinely think my summer dealings were very smart during this window in particular and I will delve into this shortly. I didn't completely dismantle the squad as the upgrades available to us were limited. I spent hours on end scouring the depths of the abyss that is the list of players that were out of contract and in fairness, I stumbled across some excellent names after rigorous scouting. It is worth noting that this is the first time in a long time that I'm playing with the 'fog of war' (attribute masking) on, it feels more realistic when you're managing a lesser side and I have found it very rewarding. Anyway, enough of these side tangents.

Firstly, I signed Callum O'Dowda for his versatility. I got him for £100k up front, £150k across 3 years and potentially £100k after 50 league appearances. I liked the look of him initially. Is he amazing? Not really but his wages were low and I will look to use him on both flanks. Retrospectively, the fee seemed reasonable but I will say that this was a transfer I made earlier in the window so I did contemplate if I'd made the right decision afterwards.


Secondly, Luke Garbutt came in for £5k. I probably could have waited until his contract completely expired but I didn't fancy waiting around. Scott Golbourne decided to retire at the end of his contract so I thought I'd move for a player I was familiar with on earlier FM saves with Everton. Cheap and cheerful, nothing to crazy. He's a really good set-piece option with low wages so I liked this one quite a lot actually.


Another player incoming was Kyle Dempsey for £100k rising to £150k who was a bright spark in a faltering Gillingham side that got relegated last season. I play a box-to-box midfielder so I thought he'd be a no brainer for depth as I decided to allow Brad Walker, David Davis leave on frees while David Jones retired.


Adam Phillips, Tyler Smith and Christian Walton were all signed on frees from last season's Premier League outfits. Phillips looks a good alternative to Norburn as the regista in my formation while Tyler Smith is an upgrade on Daniel Udoh and Christian Walton will provide competition for Harry Burgoyne who is occasionally flappable.




The last set of frees were Alex Pritchard, Scott Malone and Jeremy Sarmiento. Considering Pritchard signed for Huddersfield for £12m a fair few years prior, I think we did well to pull him to the club. Malone, similarly is an established Championship player while Sarmiento is a bit of a wildcard but is very direct and effective from either flank. I'd never actually heard of him previously so I was quite pleased with his signing.




I also managed to lure Marcus Ayomide to the club. I looked at his scout report and thought he'd be crazy good in the Championship but unfortunately he didn't get a work permit, I am hoping this will be rectified after his spell in Austria is finished though.


If we are talking value for money, perhaps O'Dowda wasn't amazing however the signing of Tom McIntyre for £650k from Reading was a steal. Ideally, I thought I'd get him for free as he was out of contract but his chose to stay at Reading without a contract, this meant I still had to pay a tribunal fee. The fee had come down from when I tried to approach to sign him earlier. Coincidentally, I could only actually afford this because I chose the low options for both of the bonuses for the players come the end of the season. Doing this added around £800k to my budget which was a real help.


Okay, so the final 'proper' signing of the window was Umut Tohumcu who arrived from Hoffenheim. Admittedly, he was a bit of a punt. I'd previously seen him develop quite well on another save so I thought I'd take the risk on him as he's a low reputation youngster who was interested in joining. I particularly liked the fact that he is either footed so I'm looking forward to seeing how he develops. We got him for around £100k up front while other installments bring the fee to £400k, however with international appearance bonuses and other such nonsense clauses, it could rise to £1.9m. The fee felt a lot like when Man United signed Anthony Martial and included the Ballon D'Or winner fee clause in the deal, except on a much, much smaller scale. As you can see though, he's developing nicely.


Youngsters Colin Greaves and Will Pearce also arrived. I can only assume that these two were newgens who generated as free agents. A couple of lower league clubs had offered contracts to the pair of them but I managed to snag them both after a scout recommendation, good old Mel Johnson. Allegedly they are both 5* potential players but I am doubtful given our current position in The Football League.



So that brings a conclusion to players who I actually signed. However, there were more loan signings to be made. These were Ethan Laird, Jamie Shackleton, Jack Jenkins and the Man City pair Gavin Bazunu and Yan Couto. There was a massive plus in regards to the last two as I managed to get both of them by completely swerving paying their wages. The reason? I got Man City as my senior affiliate! The initial intention was to go all out to try and get Liam Delap on loan without paying his wages but they weren't interested in doing that which scuppered my plans. I'm not going to post screenshots of those lot as I'm sure a lot of you know of them. Laird and Shackleton are top quality for the Championship so I'm really quite excited about the eleven that I've built for the upcoming season. Signing Laird also offers me another option by using Neco Williams as a right-winger which in itself feels like a new signing. I have deliberately left one loan signing until the very last...

Alessio Rosa arrived from Atalanta! His skillset reminds me a lot of Sebastiano Esposito from last year, he's a very good well-rounded striker and only just 18. I'll be honest, I have played numerous saves this year and never once even encountered this guy. Lets just say that he is currently injured on my save but has made a very good impression already in The Championship.


Lesser players that I signed were Regan Booty, Kacper Sezonienko (loaned out, no work permit), Maximilian Meier, Nicolo Cudrig, Serine Sanneh and Nathan Butler-Oyedeji. Essentially, all of these players were signed on frees to pad out the newly formed U23 team.

The Outs

To summarise, Leon Clarke, David Jones and Scott Golbourne all retired. Shaun Whalley was on a downward spiral physically so I chose not to renew his deal. As previously mentioned, David Davis and Brad Walker were also released while numerous irrelevant youngsters also left. The pair of them simply wanted too much money to renew for me to justify keeping them. I liked both of them, for what it is worth. Curtis Main and Donald Love joined St. Johnstone and Hamilton respectively as I alluded to in my previous post. 

Actual sales were Nathanael Ogbeta to Plymouth for £100k plus 30% of his next sale which was tidy business, the same can't be said for Josh Daniels' departure to Crewe for £7.5k which was a pittance but he hardly played last season.

Link to post
Share on other sites

2021/22 Starting Eleven


Really pleased with the depth that we have in the squad for the upcoming season. Admittedly, we aren't the strongest side in the league but the morale is high going into the new season after a good few friendly wins over Premier League opposition. It is also worth noting that I need this kind of depth primarily because I am only allowed to include 5 of the loanees in my match-day squads. This unfortunately meant that I couldn't register Bazunu, Couto and Jenkins for my final squad. However, I may well choose to include them depending on how the squad has been shaping up coming up to January.

Link to post
Share on other sites

2021/22 in the Championship: September to January fixtures


I feel compelled to share my tactic after this monstrosity of a run in our first season in the Championship, which I shall do later in the post. The season opened against Middlesbrough who we played in the Carabao Cup last season, with that in mind I was quietly confident but didn't anticipate the level of dominance that we'd display. Alessio Rosa became an instant hero with a hattrick and Jamie Shackleton made an immediate impact too with an absolute rocket. I would say every game up until Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace was straight forward, those two were amongst the other clubs hanging with us at the top of the table, in fact, Palace were unbeaten at that point so to hammer them away was something special. I decided to bow out of the Carabao against Burnley by fielding a second team, I had low expectations and gave them a good game but their Premier League quality put us to bed in that one. It goes without saying that Rosa was a big player for us, he scored 15 goals in 15 games before getting a 6 week layoff in training after the Rotherham game. In his absence, Tyler Smith was proving to be more than capable of leading the line by firing 7 goals in 9 games. Anthony Elanga and Jeremy Sarmiento have been immense on the wings, with Neco Williams proving an excellent makeshift RW when called upon during Sarmiento's spell of the side-lines, which stretched two months in total.

The month of December was the icing on the cake for us, completely dismantling fellow newly-promoted sides Ipswich and Hull away while also grinding out two difficult away wins against Middlesbrough and Stoke. I owe some of these narrow wins down to Iain Macintosh's Football Manager podcast on The Athletic, I consistently heard him talk about his near post corner routine which I have replicated as one of my routines and we've scored a fair few by implementing that tactic. 

January Dealings

Short and sweet from me this time, Hakon Rafn Valdimarsson arrived on a free from Grotta in Iceland, one of my scouts raved about him so I decided to take a punt. However, he has no work permit and no one wanted him on loan so I did feel a little cheated on that front. 


I also brought in Jordon Ibe on loan from Derby who are now in the Premier League, I feared Anthony Elanga was accumulating a lot of minutes and I thought he could do a job to step in when needed. Philip Moses, although improving massively throughout the season (screenshot below with added aesthetic of Zealand's facepack), didn't exactly set the world alight in substitute appearances when Sarmiento and Callum O'Dowda both had spells on the sidelines.


Meanwhile, Regan Booty, Daniel Udoh and Sean Goss all left on loan to Colchester, Northampton and Blackpool respectively. All were unregistered and allowed us to shift some wages off the books.



I can confirm that these tactics play beautiful possession football, obviously, as with any tactic, you need the right players for it to work and work it has. With other tactics I've made in previous years, any away game would provide some anxiety for me but we seem to be on the front foot in most games, regardless of where we'd be playing, we really control possession and work a lot of passing triangles all over the pitch. I do believe that the tactic has been much better this season as we now have a prolific striker in Rosa and also a creative lynchpin in Alex Pritchard who has been sublime from set plays (15 assists from 34 league games currently speaks volumes).



Edited by ShaunG95
Deleting screenshot
Link to post
Share on other sites

2021/22 in the Championship: January to April fixtures


And there we have it, from scraping the title in League One to absolutely barnstorming the Championship. Did I expect to be contending? Yes. Did I expect to go the full season unbeaten? Absolutely not. However, here we are. The summit of English football awaits us. 

League Table


Title Winners


There were some tremendous highs during this second-half of the season, particularly the away win against Norwich on New Years Day in the FA Cup. Adam Phillips netted a hat-trick of penalties, he successfully completed his reverse Martin Palermo impression emphatically. Equally, the 6-1 home victory against Crystal Palace instilled a lot of belief in myself and the players to cement our place at the top of the table. Alessio Rosa scored in the 42nd, 43rd and 46th minute of the first-half which must have been some sort of a record. In total, he netted four hat-tricks across the season which was outstanding, leading the goalscoring charts in the Championship with 35 goals in 38 appearances. It is safe to say that his stay with us has been extended into our debut campaign in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, Philip Moses made 19 appearances in the league, mostly from the bench. He scored his first goals for the club on the final day of the season when he banged in a brace against Huddersfield. Not a bad way to introduce yourself to the first-team!


Alessio Rosa - A Shrewsbury Legend






Edited by ShaunG95
Link to post
Share on other sites

Youth Intake Day

It wouldn't be a season without an influx of academy prospects now, would it?



Quite excited by this guy, when the intake preview message came through earlier in the season, I wasn't too optimistic but the pair I got are actually very promising. Howell doesn't really have any weaknesses aside from maybe strength and jumping so I've decided to try and bring his quickness up even more to compensate. I may train his strength and jumping at a later point in time but I do prefer my wing-backs to be as quick as possible.


Llyr Parker is arguably a natural heir to Alex Pritchard as he will be the corner and free-kick taker in the youth team. I love the fact he has such high flair at such a young age and I'll be getting him to work on his passing in order to progress further. I've no doubt the pair of these will break into the first team sooner rather than later but I do manage my youngsters carefully. Although Moses got a lot of first-team exposure last season, it was because of an injury crisis in which he showed a great deal of maturity in the games that he appeared in. Stay tuned!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...