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[FM22 > Derby County] - Managing the (not so) Mighty Rams


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*** Coming Soon ***

Stu Stuniverse will be managing the (not so) Mighty Rams once the full release of FM22 comes out.

Managing Derby County, a football club that:

  • is in Administration
  • is under a Transfer Embargo
  • starts the season bottom of the Championship on -12 points
  • only has 15 senior players aged 21 or over as of the 1st January 2021.

What can possibly go wrong?

With the full release of FM22 planned for Tuesday 9th November, I expect this save to start on Wednesday 10th or Thursday 11th November as there are a few things I want to set-up in the pre-game Editor before commencing the save.

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Save set-up

Nations / Leagues loaded

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I included the following Nations / Leagues so that:

  • Irish First Division and above - to allow former Rams U23 Harry Halwax to play and develop in-game
  • Norwegian First Division and above - to allow former Rams U23 Cameron Cresswell to play and develop in-game
  • Slovak Second Division and above - to allow former Rams U23 Henrich Ravas to play and develop in-game
  • Swiss Challenge League and above - to allow former Rams U23 Archie Brown to play and develop in-game.

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Pre-game Editor changes

I will be making a few minor changes in the pre-game editor, including:

  • Wayne Rooney - job role changed to AM (from M) on a salary of £10,000 per week
  • Liam Rosenior - job role changed to FTC (from AM) on a salary of £5,000 per week
  • Adam Thorley - (Derby U18 AM in FM22) moved to Chelsea as U15 Lead (approx. 30/10/2021) after data lock. I will be setting him as Chelsea U18 coach for my save
  • Osazee Aghatise  - squad #44, named on the first-team bench for the away game at Barnsley on 03/11/2021 and came on as a late substitute away at Millwall on 06/11/2021
  • Louie Watson - brother of Noah Watson (Crystal Palace)
  • Eddie Howe - Newcastle United manager
  • Keith Millen - Carlisle United manager
  • Adam Lakeland - Curzon Ashton manager.

--

Personal Bans

I also gave the following players a ban for personal reasons, as they are still free agents at the point I started my save, until 09/11/2021:

  • Andre Wisdom - former Ram whose contract expired at the end of last season, was one of the free agents participating in pre-season training that Rooney said he was keen to sign but EFL embargo restrictions prevented it happening
  • Reece Hutchinson - released by Burton Albion in the summer, he’s played in six of the last seven Derby County U23 games as a ‘Trialist’, missing the one game through suspension
  • Jack Wilshere - never joined Derby for pre-season training but Wilshere has confirmed Rooney has been in contact with him
  • Jahmal Hector-Ingram - former Rams U23 player who was released in the summer. There have been reports he is still training with Derby County. Travelled by train with other Rams fans to support his former U23 teammates when a fair number of them played against Sheffield United in the Carabao Cup
  • Josh Shonibare - former Rams U23 player who was released in the summer. Travelled by train with other Rams fans to support his former U23 teammates when a fair number of them played against Sheffield United in the Carabao Cup.

These are all currently free agents who it is believed Derby County may look to sign once the transfer embargo restrictions are lifted.

I’m not saying I will look to sign any of these players, but it would be nice to have the opportunity to consider signing them in game.

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1 hour ago, Punch said:

Good luck with this save. Sounds like a good challenge.

Thanks, @Punch. I’m looking forward to it… with some trepidation as I don’t want to be the one to manage my beloved Derby County to relegation… -12 points, or no -12 points.

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The save begins...

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FM22 has launched, all the placeholder posts above have been filled, and the save begins today...

Wish me luck, I think I'm going to need it...

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Game date: Monday 5th July 2021

What have I walked into?

Derby County are in Administration and subject to a Transfer Embargo.

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We are rock bottom of the Championship and cast adrift by 12 points before we've even kicked a ball.

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The odds really are against us.

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And the only way the club can register the minimum number of 15 squad players was by including Krystian Bielik (who'll be out for five to six months with damaged cruciate ligaments) and Josh Barnes (who's primarily employed as the U18s Goalkeeping Coach).

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44 minutes ago, Stuniverse said:

And the only way the club can register the minimum number of 15 squad players was by including Krystian Bielik (who'll be out for five to six months with damaged cruciate ligaments) and Josh Barnes (who's primarily employed as the U18s Goalkeeping Coach).

Wow! That's a bare bones squad to start with. This sure is going to be a challenge.

Good luck!

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1 hour ago, Punch said:

Wow! That's a bare bones squad to start with. This sure is going to be a challenge.

Good luck!

Thanks, @Punch. Tell me about it.

1 hour ago, Recyclic3021 said:

Good Luck with this save Stu, just as a reminder don't extend Baldock or Jagielka's contract when the takeover might go through. Buchanan and Lawrence are more than good enough from what i played in the beta

Cheers, @Recyclic3021 and thanks for the advice.

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Game date: Tuesday 6th July 2021

Team Meeting

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Had a good team meeting with the first team squad today. At least I think it was  a good meeting.

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11 minutes ago, Punch said:

About as good a result as you could hope for I reckon.

I always seem to find some players get upset now matter how positive you are in those meetings :lol:

Thanks, @Punch. It was mainly the Stuniverse-Tom Lawrence show. I wonder if he'll be so upbeat when I take the arm band off him.

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Game date: Tuesday 6th July 2021

Press Conference

And then I got to meet the media.

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Game date: Saturday 10th July 2021

We don't have enough players

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I'm excited to be managing Derby County in a game for the first time today at home to Manchester United in our first pre-season friendly, but the reality of managing a football club in Administration and under transfer embargo has really kicked in. I don't have enough players to field a match day squad.

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Four players are still on holiday after being away on International duty and another nine players are out through injury.

I can just about field a starting-11.

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Note: This won't be my main tactic, but it's something I want to give a try to for when we're up against stronger opposition or we're looking to defend a lead in the closing stages of a game.

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But I have eight spaces on the substitute's bench so I'll have to call up some U23 / U18 players.

--

EDIT

And now Curtis Davies has bruised his ribs. My medical team have declared him fit enough to play 45 minutes but I can't afford to risk him getting a worse injury.

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I managed them in the Beta and managed to save them and in a comfortable 11th place.

Stuck to rock bottom until Match Day 28, then went on a 10 match winning streak and another 7 match unbeaten streak until the end.

Without the deduction it would have been a 3rd place.

Enjoy your save!

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1 hour ago, jmgrima said:

I managed them in the Beta and managed to save them and in a comfortable 11th place.

Stuck to rock bottom until Match Day 28, then went on a 10 match winning streak and another 7 match unbeaten streak until the end.

Without the deduction it would have been a 3rd place.

Enjoy your save!

Thank you, @jmgrima. That’s a very impressive achievement you had there.

To be honest, whilst I’ll aim high and hope to match your achievement, I’ll be happy with 4th bottom by the end of the season. I don’t want to be the manager who gets Derby County relegated… -12 points, or no -12 points.

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42 minutes ago, abulezz said:

How did that first result against Man United go? 

Hi @abulezz, thank you for the question.

I haven't played the Manchester United game yet but the next time I'm on (which should be later today) I'll be pretty much straight into selecting the team and playing the game. I tend to take the screenshots in real-time and then post them on here soon after.

After my last post, I was busy sorting out the Staff Responsibilities, Tactics, Scouting Assignments, and deciding which U23 / U18 players to promote (temporarily, probably) to the first team squad for the chance to play against Manchester United.

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Game date: Saturday 10th July 2021

Preparing for Manchester United

Today I get to manage Derby County for the first time in our opening pre-season game against Manchester United at Pride Park Stadium.

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The pre-season schedule was organised before I was appointed and, had it been me, I would probably have arranged the toughest game for last, rather than first, but it is what it is.

I have 10 players unavailable due to injury, 11 with Curtis Davies who bruised his ribs in training. I'm also without David Marshall, Kamil Jozwiak, Ravel Morrison and Tom Lawrence who have yet to report back for training after being away on international duty.

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So lots of U23 and U18 players involved in the matchday squad.

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Game date: Saturday 10th July 2021

Derby County v Manchester United (Friendly)

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I'm absolutely delighted with that showing. I've been here less than a week and the players were magnificent today. If they respond like that, for the rest of the season, I'm sure we'll be fine.

I know we weren't facing Manchester United's strongest team but it was still a strong line-up Ole Gunnar Solkskjaer picked today.

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We rode our luck a bit, I'll admit, at 0-0 they hit the post, and at 2-0 they hit the crossbar, and they had a lot more chances than us, but we both had six attempts on target. In the end, we took two of our chances and they didn't take any.

With less than a quarter of an hour played, we got a big boost when Hannibal was sent off for a two-footed challenge that we were lucky didn't injure Sam Baldock.

Louie Sibley gave us the lead with a stunning shot that curled into the bottom corner and Malcolm Ebiowei added a second after the break, heading in Dylan Williams's superb cross at the far post.

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I went with a 5-2-3 WB Wide, cautious fluid counter-attack system that worked really well. That won't be the way we play this season, but I wanted to give it a try against Manchester United as we may need it this season against teams that are stronger than us or when we're looking to see out games in the closing stages.

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Just before the hour mark I made nine substitutions and then had to make two more, late on, through injury, Connor Dixon for Festy Ebosele (bruised shin) and Bobby Duncan for Luke Plange (pulled groin).

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Game date: Tuesday 13th July 2021

Next Up Holstein Kiel

It was great to welcome back David MarshallRavel Morrison and Tom Lawrence to pre-season training today after their extended holiday following international duty. The only player not back with us is Poland International Kamil Jozwiak who's been given an extra week off.

Fortunately, all three have reported back fit and healthy as our injury list is already long enough. It's likely I'll put Ravel and Tom on the bench and they'll get some playing time. I'm tending to give the goalkeepers a full 90 minutes so Ryan Allsop will play today with Kelle Roos on the bench after playing, and playing well, against Manchester United. David will probably be on the bench for the following friendly and play the one after that.

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Bundesliga 2 team Holstein Kiel will give us a stern test today and I'm keen to see how we adapt to a different system in front of our own fans.

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Game date: Tuesday 13th July 2021

Derby County v Holstein Kiel (Friendly)

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It was disappointing to lose the game today, particularly to a late goal when it looked like we would at least get a draw, but I have to take my hat off to Aleksandar Ignjovski for putting his free-kick right in the top corner where Ryan Allsop couldn't get to it.

Things could've been much different but Sam Bladock was unfortunate when his penalty struck the outside of the post after 15 minutes.

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Overall, I didn't think there was much in it. We gave as good as we got and I think a draw would've been a fair result. Ultimately, one moment of magic from Aleksandar Ignjovski made the difference.

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Game date: Saturday 17th July 2021

Trip to Gretna

Today I manage Derby County in my first away game as we visit Gretna 2008 of the Scottish Lowland League.

Curtis Davies is back in training after bruising his ribs but our medical team advise us to limit his playing time to 45 minutes. Kamil Jozwiak is due to return from his extended holiday on Monday and we expect Eiran Cashin (thigh strain) to return to training next week. Hopefully, Louie Watson (ankle) and Jack Stretton (calf strain) will be back in training the week after. It's unlikely we'll see any of the other walking wounded back before the start of the season.

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We're going to take a close look at the younger players in the first team squad against Gretna 2008 and then we'll decide over the weekend  which players will stay with the first team squad and which players will go back to the U23s.

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Game date: Saturday 17th July 2021

Gretna FC 2008 v Derby County (Friendly)

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We expected a good run-out against Gretna and that's exactly what we got. Gretna are a big, strong team and our young players definitely knew they'd been in a football match.

For the second consecutive game, we conceded a goal direct from a free-kick, this time a great strike from Robbie Ivison.

The youngsters showed great character to fight back and Isaac Hutchinson equalised from the penalty spot, after Malcolm Ebiowei was pushed to the ground.

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Overall, I thought we were the better team. We created a lot more chances than Gretna did, we worked their goalkeeper a lot more than they worked David Marshall, and with a bit more luck in front of goal we would've won the game.

On another day, Bartosz Cybulski would've grabbed a hat-trick - Gretna's goalkeeper Matthew Cooper produced two fine saves to deny Bartosz and he put another effort narrowly over the bar.

I now have to discuss the first team squad with Wayne Rooney (Asistant Manager), Liam Rosenior (First Team Coach), Justin Walker (First Team Coach) and Jason Pearcey  (Goalkeeping Coach) and we have some difficult decisions to make over which young players stay in the first team squad and which go back to the U23s, at least for now.

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Game date: Tuesday 20th 2021

Away trip to Exeter

For our penultimate friendly we make the trip to Devon to play League Two Exeter City.

Kamil Jozwiak has returned unscathed after his exploits for Poland in the Euros and it's great to welcome him back into the fold. Curtis Davies has recovered from his bruised ribs but I'm still being advised by the medical team to only give him 45 minutes so I need to start giving him some playing time now to build up his fitness as, I suppose, there's only so long I can keep the players wrapped up in cotton wool. Marko Borkovic (hamstring) and Luke Plange (groin) are also back in training.

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Dylan Williams (groin) and Eiran Cashin (thigh) are due to return to training tomorrow, with Jack Stretton (calf) and Louie Watson (ankle) joining them by the end of the week, hopefully.

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With players returning to first team training, I've asked some of our younger players to report to Pat Lyons (U23 Manager) for training this week - Connor Dixon, Max BardellMarko BorkovicLuke Plange and Osazee Aghatise.

That still leaves us with six players out injured who will definitely miss the start of the season and Jason Knight (ankle), Colin Kazim-Richards (achilles), Krystian Bielik (ACL) and Tyree Wilson (knee) will be out for some time yet.

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We have two away friendlies left against Exeter City today and Oxford United a week on Saturday so the focus is firmly on preparing the team for our opening Championship fixture at home to Huddersfield Town, but we are considering arranging another friendly for next week to give catch-up playing time to those players who haven't featured much so far this pre-season.

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Game date: Tuesday 20th 2021

Exeter City v Derby County (Friendly)

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If I'm being honest this was a difficult defeat to take. We did almost everything right, we dominated the game, we bossed possession, we created more than enough chances and got more than enough of them on target, to win most games, but Cameron Dawson was in inspired form for them between the sticks and we just couldn't get the ball in the back of the net.

We took Craig Forsyth off at the break as he had a suspected fractured finger and we moved Graeme Shinnie to left-back as Lee Buchanan and Dylan Williams are out injured.

Then, on 53 minutes, totally against the run of play, Nelson Iseguan crosses to the far post, Kelle Roos stays on his line, Kyle Taylor comes in unmarked and heads home from close range. It was the sort of cross a natural left-back deals with easily but Graeme was caught on his heels unfortunately.

We have a lot of work to do on the training ground because we should have won this game with all the chances we created.

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Game date: Sunday 25th July 2021

Debts restructured

I've been advised that the club has been able to restructure its debts.

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We're still in Administration and under a transfer embargo though.

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And we've sold 21,800 season tickets.

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Game date: Wednesday 28th July 2021

Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday

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We decided to arrange another pre-season in the end so that we could give paying time to some of our returning walking wounded who haven't played much so far this pre-season. We lined up Sheffield Wednesday and a short away trip to play at Hillsbrough.

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Dylan Williams (groin), Eiran Cashin (thigh), Louie Watson (ankle) and Jack Stretton (calf) are all back in training which means Harrison SolomonOlamide Ibrahim and Bartosz Cybulski have returned to the U23 squad.

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Game date: Wednesday 28th July 2021

Sheffield Wednesday v Derby County (Friendly)

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We got what we deserved today and I'm delighted with the win. I thought we were the better team, even in the last hour when we were down to 10 men.

Dylan Williams hit the crossbar early with a shot from outside the penalty area that deserved better.

We deservedly took the lead  after 18 minutes when Curtis Davies scored with a powerful header from Louie Sibley's free-kick.

After half an hour, we were down to 10-men following Festy Ebosele's red card. The tackle looked worse than any intent, I felt, but Festy needs to learn from that.

Wayne Rooney (AM), Liam Rosenior (FTC) and me debated what to do. Liam wanted to shut-up-shop and go very defensive but I wanted to wait a bit and see how the game started to play out. We sacrificed Graeme Shinnie to bring Jordan Brown on at right-back and Sheffield Wednesday were unable to cause us too many problems so we stayed as we were.

That helped us keep on the front foot and Craig Forsyth doubled our lead in the second-half when he headed in Louie Sibley's corner.

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Game date: Saturday 31st July 2021

Pre-season ends in Oxford

We finish pre-season at the Kassam Stadium against League One Oxford United.

With a week to go until our opening Championship fixture at home to Huddersfield Town, I have no idea what my starting-11 will be next Saturday because we have a lot of players still struggling for full match fitness.

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Game date: Saturday 31st July 2021

Oxford United v Derby County (Friendly)

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We're disappointed to concede a late equaliser because we thought we'd done enough to win the game.

There wasn't much in it, to be fair, not much to choose between the teams, but having grabbed the lead early in the second-half, when Sam Baldock turned in Tom Lawrence's cross at the near post, we thought we should have seen the game out for the win. By then, we had six U23s on the pitch, but that's no excuse, and to give credit to Cameron Brannagan, he had to produce a superb strike from outside the penalty area to beat David Marshall.

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Our pre-season has been a mixed bag. Won two. Drawn two. Lost two. There's been some positives and some negatives.

We now have to prepare the team properly and be ready for Huddersfield Town at Pride Prak Stadium in a week's time.

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Edited by Stuniverse
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Game date: Monday 2nd August 2021

Rams captain confirmed

Having spoken to Tom Lawrence a week or so ago, about relieving him of the captaincy, I've been talking to Curtis Davies and Craig Forsyth about taking on more responsibility within the group.

I confirmed their appointments today.

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Edited by Stuniverse
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