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FM22: The English Football League thread


warlock
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With apologies for the late running, the thread now arriving on a variety of platforms is the FM22 service, calling at all stations to the top flight of English football. Below you'll find a brief guide to all 72 clubs in the EFL, their (often miserly) budgets, and a special shoutout to all the naughty chairmen who have been living beyond their means and are now suffering transfer embargoes as a consequence. For each of the EFL's three divisions, clubs are listed in the order of FM media predicted finish. This is the prediction shown in the club selection screens and is different from the bookies' predictions in the season preview screen - media predictions never change; bookies' predictions change constantly as you improve (or weaken) your squad.

If you spot any factual errors please point them out and corrections will be made forthwith. 

As ever, if you opt to join the English pyramid in the Vanorama Leagues - or even lower - feel free to join in and share your progress here; we expect you to become EFL clubs in the near future. Also, feel free to update here if you exit the EFL to the Premiership so we can follow your money-crazed depravity.

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1 Fulham | £2m
Hot favourites to win immediate promotion back to the Premiership, Fulham should have the tools to get the job done. But they probably have to – a new manager will be greeted with a constant refrain of dire FPP warnings, and messages urging you to sell, sell, sell. Promotion is the only way to avoid FFP penalties – even selling your best players is unlikely to clear the forecast £76m loss in the current FFP period. Yet, somehow, the club have conjured up enough cash to invest nearly £20m in Liverpool’s Harry Wilson, Watford’s Nathaniel Chalobah, and a bit of South American flair in Brazilian striker Rodrigo Muniz, and still leave £2m in the kitty. It’s a strong squad, made even stronger… but that constantly ticking FFP clock adds a bit of tension to the save.

2 West Brom | £2.5m
Post-relegation, West Brom were always going to have one of the strongest teams in the Championship if they held on to their better players and, with the exception of Matheus Pereira, they’ve managed to do so. They’ve also added some extra Championship experience in the form of Barnsley’s Alex Mowatt and Sheffield United’s Kean Bryan, while the loans of Brighton’s Matt Clarke and Jayson Molumby are useful squad options. Unlike Fulham, the Baggies are predicted to pass FFP requirements – although the margins are tight and budgets will need to be managed carefully.

3 Sheffield United | £1m
The media prediction of a run-and-miss at the automatic promotion spot is probably fair, but given the quality of the teams expected to compete at the top of the table even the playoffs might be out of reach. The board requirement is promotion however it’s achieved, so the pressure is on a new manager. Summer saw the expected clearout required to slash the wage budget, and the loss of not one but two good ‘keepers in Simon Moore and Aaron Ramsdale is only partially compensated by the loan signing of Roma’s Robin Olsen. CB Ben Davies on loan from Liverpool will bolster the defence, and Wolves’ Morgan Gibbs-White brings a touch of class to a midfield that also retains Sander Berge and John Fleck. Promotion is certainly on the cards but there’s little room for error.

4 Bournemouth | £0
Having been among the favourites last time to make an immediate return to the Premiership, the Cherries’ ambitions took a hit with a 6th-place finish and disappointment in the playoffs. They’re tipped to do better this time, but that prediction may be optimistic. Having lost two key players in LB Diego Rico and AML Arnaut Danjuma, recruitment has been mixed. Celtic’s Ryan Christie looks like a great signing, but AMC Emiliano Marcondes, with his 3 goals in 4 years for Brentford, much less so. They also look short-handed at the back with just 3 central defenders, including new arrival,  35-year-old Gary Cahill. With no money for further reinforcements (unless you sell to buy), Bournemouth will do well to reach the playoffs again.

5 Nottingham Forest | £2.5m
In 2020 Forest missed the playoffs by the narrowest margin, losing out on the final spot to Swansea on goal difference. So expectations were high last year before the team slumped to a bottom-half finish, winning just two of their last 14 games. At least in part, that form is easy to lay at the feet of Lewis Grabban – the top scorer found the net just 6 times in all competitions, while backup Lyle Taylor bagged just 4. Summer transfer business has failed to fill the gap, and although a decent transfer budget is available it doesn’t look like enough. Your loan options are also limited with 5 signings already on the books. A media prediction of a Top 5 finish seems ludicrously optimistic.

6 Cardiff City | £500k
While the media expect Cardiff to do a little better than last year’s finish just outside the playoff positions, the board expectations are more modest in hoping merely for a top-half spot. And the board may be wise: a lot of experience has departed the squad – Joe Bennett, Sol Bamba, Junior Hoilett, Robert Glatzel – while recruitment has focussed on youth. Of the 8 new signings, only striker James Collins from Luton, and CM Ryan Wintle from Oxford, are over 22. Collins joins Keiffer Moore up front and they should provide a reliable source of goals, so another run at the playoffs is possible but otherwise the Bluebirds might be a good choice for a low-pressure start to a longer-term project.

7 Middlesbrough | £2.5m
With a finish in 10th last time, Middlesbrough have made steady progress since flirting with relegation a couple of years ago. Their main problem seemed to be a lack of squad depth, and it isn’t clear that they’ve solve the problem in the summer. While they’ve added 8 new first-teamers, 7 were allowed to leave, and several more have been loaned away, including Lewis Wing and Chuba Akpom. Up front, they’re reliant on goals from new signing Uche Ikpeazu who managed just 6 for Wycombe in the Championship last season. Martin Payero, from Argentina’s Banfield, looks like a solid addition to midfield. 

8 Reading | £0 | Transfer ban
Was last season the Royals’ big chance of a return to the big league? While a playoff position seemed possible, the team ultimately came up one place short. That disappointment was followed by a summer transfer window that saw Omar Richards depart for Bayern Munich and – worse – the loss of Michael Olise to Crystal Palace. Lucas Joao remains but he seems unlikely to enjoy the same scoring prowess without Olise to create. Worse still for a new manager, the £8m fee for Olise has simply disappeared: the club spent nothing in the summer, and no money is available for further business. A transfer ban simply rubs salt into the wounds. The loans of Baba Rahman from Chelsea and Tom Dele-Bashiru from Watford are welcome additions to the squad, but ultimately this looks like a weaker side than a year go.

9 Stoke City | £0
Stoke represent a stark warning to relegated Premiership teams who expect a quick return to the top flight. The Potters’ record since their fall from grace has been 3 years of mid-table finishes, never once threatening the playoffs. The loss of promising defender Nathan Collins is a blow, but the arrivals of Ben Wilmot from Watford, and Leo Ostigard on loan from Brighton will be some compensation. The lack of firepower up front has been a long-standing issue for Stoke and the signing of Sam Surridge from Bournemouth seems unlikely to solve the problem. The board requirement for a top-half finish looks realistic.

10 Swansea City | £2m
The Swans were well in the promotion hunt last year until ultimately suffering a playoff loss. Repeating that performance might be beyond them this time – the loss of Andre Ayew and Jamal Lowe will surely hurt the cause. Summer saw the arrival of some decent support, particularly in the form of Man Utd youngster Ethan Laird (rated the club’s best defender) and Liverpool’s Rhys Williams, both on loan. But the sole addition of Southampton’s Michael Obafemi to a young and far-from prolific strikeforce does not provide much cause for optimism.

11 Luton Town | £50k
After promotion 2 years ago, Luton struggled to avoid relegation and many expected a similarly difficult second season. Instead, the Hatters found their way to a comfortable mid-table finish. In the summer window, they moved on a number of players who were probably at their ability ceiling, freeing up wages for reinforcements. Arrivals Cameron Jerome and Henri Lansbury won’t add much energy but will bring experience. Energy will be provided by Motherwell’s Allan Campbell and Leicester’s Admiral Muskwe. There’s a strong spine to the first team and, although the lack of an u23 squad makes management a little difficult, another mid-table finish looks achievable.

12 Blackburn | £100k
Whatever happened to the £15m Southampton paid for Adam Armstrong, Rovers haven’t spent it during the summer, and it certainly isn’t available for a new manager. With just £100k in the pot (and a bit of surplus wage budget) you won’t have much room to improve an injury-ravaged squad that will start the season without Sam Gallagher, Joe Rankin-Costello, Bradley Johnson and Scott Wharton, while Bradley Dack could miss most of the season with a cruciate ligament injury. This campaign marks a decade since Rovers dropped out of the Premiership, but a return looks as far away as ever.

13 Barnsley | £400k 
Having confounded expectations last year with a playoff place, the Tykes might have hoped for a repeat this season, but the loss of midfield general Alex Mowatt has put a dent in those ambitions. The board (and the media) now expect no more than a mid-table finish. But, Mowatt aside, the club held on to a number of key players, including star striker Cauley Woodrow, and a young squad has the potential to over-achieve again.

14 Millwall | £0
Millwall have enjoyed something of a roller-coaster ride since returning to the Championship in 2017. They followed that promotion with a solid run at the playoffs, ultimately finishing in 8th position, followed by a flirtation with relegation, and then another 8th place before falling back a little last time. It would be no surprise if they exited the division either way. It will require some serious tactical tinkering to get the squad to play anything other than 442, but they’re well setup for the system – perhaps a little short of quality up front. On the other hand, Jake ‘Man Mountain’ Cooper is a threat from set-pieces… in the current match engine, the 6’7” defender could easily be top scorer.

15 Queens Park Rangers | £1m
In the last 3 seasons Rangers have finished 19th, 13th and 9th, a trajectory that would surely propel them to the playoffs this time around. But the R’s are reliably unreliable, hence the media prediction of a fall back to 15th. Summer recruitment is a mixed bag – Andre Dozzell from Ipswich could be a great signing, or not. With the return of Charlie Austin, fans will be hoping for the striker who bagged 45 goals in two-and-a-half seasons up to 2015, but may have to settle for the striker who scored just 34 in the six years since then. Overall, the question is one of consistency – the squad is capable of a playoff finish, but can they put together the kind of sustained run required?

16 Birmingham City | £500k
Birmingham City were in danger of dropping into League One until a change of manager hauled them out of the relegation zone to end the season in 18th. The board want a mid-table finish while playing entertaining, attacking football, which might be delusional for a squad that has been built around a raft of free transfers and loan signings, while relying for goals on an ageing strikeforce that includes Lukas Jutkiewicz and Troy Deeney. Meanwhile, established players like Ivan Sanchez, Maxime Colin, Kristian Pedersen and Ivan Sunjic are all subject to transfer interest. Would you cash in for a rebuild, or hope that experience might keep you out of trouble?

17 Coventry | £0
The Sky Blues did well to consolidate on promotion with a safe finish in 16th last time. Whether they can improve on that depends on how well a raft of new signings can gel. The additions of Martyn Waghorn from Derby, and Viktor Gyokeres after a loan from Brighton, look like good business, as does the loan of Chelsea’s Jake Clarke-Salter in defence. The squad looks solid, if not spectacular, but the lack of funds will likely make for a slow-burner of a save.

18 Hull City | £600k | Transfer ban
The transfer budget is pretty generous for the Championship’s new boys. Unfortunately, a new manager won’t be able to spend it as the Tigers start the season under a transfer embargo. But the club managed to get some signings through the door and the squad needs little reinforcement in the short term. Chelsea GK Nathan Baxter and Man City midfielder Matt Smith are good loan signings, while Championship experience arrives with permanent signings Tom Huddlestone from Derby and George Moncur from Luton. The predicted finish in 18th looks very pessimistic - with existing talents Alfie Jones, Georges Honeyman and Docherty, Malik Wilks and Josh Magennis, plus promising youngsters Jacob Greaves and Keane Lewis-Potter, Hull are well-placed for a season of consolidation before pushing for the playoffs next time.

19 Bristol City | £1m
Since returning to the Championship in 2015, the Robins made steady progress to an 8th place finish in 2019. Unfortunately, they’ve fallen far and fast from that highwater mark, landing just above the relegation zone last season. This time, the media prediction is a repeat of that finish in 19th. In better news, some good reinforcements have arrived in the form of Leicester’s Matty James in midfield, and Oxford’s Rob Atkinson in central defence – but they may struggle to hold on to hot prospect Han-Noah Massengo, who is targeted by Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs. There’s a decent sum in the kitty, which might usefully be invested up front where Nahki Wells and Chris Martin are your only natural strikers.

20 Preston | £3m
It would be harsh, but arguably true, to say that the phrase “mid-table mediocrity” was invented for Preston. When you look at the quality throughout the squad, they always seem to be capable of a strong season but never actually deliver, while individually many bright prospects have come and gone without achieving their potential. This year’s departures include Jayden Stockley, Louis Moult and Billy Bodin, three attackers replaced by Palace’s Connor Wickham. Two other new signings already require replacements: RB Matt Olosunde is out until the new year, and Izzy Browne will miss the whole of the season. That £3m kitty looks like a lot, but it won’t go far. The board require a top-half finish— anything better than last year’s 13th would be a bonus.

21 Peterborough | £1.5m
The big question for newly-promoted sides is whether they have a reliable source of goals. Posh should be fine – Jonson Clarke-Harris found the net 31 times last season, his best return ever. There’s a fine understudy to hand, too, in the shape of Ricky Jade-Jones, and they’ve added the enigmatic Jack Marriott to the mix. There’s plenty of creativity in a midfield that includes Siriki Dembele and Sammie Szmodics, to which they’ve added Lincoln’s Jorge Grant and Colchester’s Kwame Poku. If there’s an area of concern it would be defence, where the squad looks short of quality and cover, but Posh should have enough about them to survive the predicted relegation battle and secure another season in the Championship.

22 Blackpool | £200k
Blackpool did brilliantly to earn an unlikely promotion via the play-offs last season, stringing together an unbeaten run of 16 league games  to turn their campaign around. They relied on goals from Jerry Yates (20 in 44), and will be hoping that new recruit, Irish striker Shayne Lavery, can bolster that output – he found the net 23 times for Linfield last season. There are concerns at the other end, with only one RB and just 3 natural CBs, including the immobile Richard Keogh. Survival would be a major achievement.

23 Huddersfield | £0
After relegation from the Premier League in 2019, the Terriers have been in freefall. Stumbling to an 18th place finish on their return to the Championship, they did even worse last time dropping a further 2 places and narrowly avoiding another relegation. The pundits are sure they will not escape the drop this time – but pundits have been wrong before, even if the doubts are understandable. The squad has suffered a steady loss of experience and talent, largely replaced by free signings and loans. This year’s additions include the itinerant Jordan Rhodes, and young Norwich winger Danel Sinani on loan.

24 Derby County | £0 | Transfer ban
The clear candidates for the top Championship challenge, Derby start the save in the red, with significant long-term debt, under a transfer embargo, with a 12pt deduction, and with a raft of injuries to a limited first-team squad. Football doesn’t get much tougher than this. And yet… several FM managers have already demonstrated that not only is safety possible but, with good management and a lot of luck, a playoff run – and even promotion – is not beyond beyond reach. More proof that FM is too easy? We refrain from comment.

Edited by warlock
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1 Sunderland | £200k
Yet another promotion prediction for the perennially disappointing Wearsiders, but for once there might be cause for optimism. Under new ownership, and with the highly-regarded Kristjaan Speakman installed as Director of Football, Sunderland are building for the future. A host of older names have been moved out, and recruitment has been heavily focussed on young prospects. The exceptions include Blackburn’s Corry Evans and Huddersfield’s Alex Pritchard who bring a wealth of experience to the midfield. Otherwise, the club have cast their net wide for potential: Man City’s LB Callum Doyle is joined by Germans Leon Dajaku and Ron-Thorben Hoffman, Everton’s Nathan Broadhead, and young Dane Frederik Alves Ibsen from West Ham, all on season-long loans. It’s a gamble, but one that might pay off.

2 Ipswich| £300k
As at Sunderland, it’s all change for the Tractor Boys, on and off the pitch. Long-standing chairman Marcus Evans has gone and the club is now in the hands of a US-based consortium. Even greater changes have been made in the playing staff with a host of ageing players (who should have been moved on years ago) departing – Cole Skuse, Alan Judge, Freddie Sears, Luke Chambers, Stephen Ward – plus a number of younger players who never quite developed their full potential: Andre Dozzell, Jack Lankester, Teddy Bishop, Flynn Downes among them. Among the newcomers, eye-catching names include West Brom’s Rekeem Harper, Barnsley’s Conor Chaplin, George Edmunson from Rangers, Scott Fraser from MK Dons and Salford GK Vaclav Hladky. A new manager will have to get this bunch of strangers to gel in a hurry – the board demand nothing but the title.

3 Portsmouth| £0
Pompey missed out on the playoffs by 2 points last time and will be looking to do better. Gassan Ahadme, on loan from Norwich, looks like a smart piece of business, and the loan of Man City prospect Gavin Bazunu is a major upgrade between the sticks. But the loss of Tom Naylor and Jack Whatmough will surely hinder their ambitions. Board requirements are for a playoff place in season 1, with promotion to follow next year, which seems fair.

4 Sheffield Wednesday | £0
The financial failings that resulted in a points deduction and ultimately relegation last season continue to hang over the Owls. As a result, there’s been a large-scale exodus of players over the summer. Mighty midfielder Barry Bannan remains, and is joined by the likes of Swansea’s George Byers and Boro’s Lewis Wing, but Saido Berahino and Lee Gregory seem unlikely to provide much firepower up front. 

5 Rotherham| £300k
It used to be said that only two things were certain in life – death and taxes. To which we can now add two more – Shark Week on Discovery Channel, and Rotherham failing to survive in the Championship. At least we can say that the Millers certainly know how to mount a promotion campaign and they might well pull it off again, although it will be without some familiar faces: Matt Olosunde, Clark Robertson, Jamie Proctor and Trevor Clarke have all departed, but the loss of Matt Crooks may be the biggest blow.  Coming the other way, Millwall’s Shane Ferguson will add some dynamism to the left wing, but it’s been a long time since Will Grigg, on loan from Sunderland, was on fire. Michael Smith, Josh Kayode and Freddie Ladapo will be more reliable in front of goal.

6 Charlton| £100k
Charlton mounted a late run at the Top 6 last time, missing out only on goal difference. So two new signings could make a crucial difference – Jayden Stockley up front, and Craig MacGillivray in goal. Overall, the squad has been rejuvenated with a number of older players departing and younger faces – like ex-Morecambe captain Sam Lavelle and Crewe’s Charlie Kirk – replacing them. The board don’t care how you do it, but they want promotion.

7 Wigan| £50
After a dispiriting couple of years things might finally be looking up for Wigan. It’s far from the Newcastle scenario but Middle East financial backing is a welcome change that has seen some investment in the squad. Among new signings are experienced GK Ben Amos, as well as former Portsmouth duo Tom Naylor and Jack Whatmough. Stephen Humphries proved a reliable source of goals at Southend and Rochdale and the Latics will hoping for more of the same. However, the board want an early return on their investment and will accept nothing less than a playoff position.

8 Lincoln| £50k
The Imps were top of the division in February and although ultimate success eluded them they still overachieved and there’s no reason they couldn’t repeat this time around. Lewis Fiorini, on loan from Man City, could be the difference-maker. Dan Nlundulu, on loan from Southampton,, will bring some firepower up front, but injuries to defenders Joe Walsh and Sean Roughan may hinder the start of the campaign.

9 Wycombe| £0
The Chairboys came within a whisker of Championship survival last time and will be confident of putting that disappointment behind them. Striker Sam Vokes is a handy arrival, as is attacking midfielder Sullay Kaikai. An immediate return to the second tier may be beyond them, but it isn’t impossible.

10 Bolton Wanderers| £25k
The Trotters achieved promotion after losing just 3 of their last 22 matches, and look to be the best-equipped of the promoted sides. The bulk of the squad remains, bolstered by the arrivals of Swansea’s Declan John, Coventry’s Amadou Bakayoko and former Huddersfield front man Elias Kachunga. The mid-table prediction does not flatter the squad.

11 Oxford| £0
The loss of CB Rob Atkinson to Bristol City is undoubtedly a setback to Oxford’s ambitions and he hasn’t been replaced, which means a new manager will be relying on veteran John Mousinho and young prospect Luke McNally, still waiting on his first-team debut. The club have upgraded elsewhere in defence with Wimbledon’s Steve Seddon replacing Josh Ruffels, while Forest’s Marcus McGuane joins Cameron Brannigan in midfield. The U’s will be looking for a big season from striker Daniel Agyei but can also call on the reliable Matty Taylor and new signing Billy Bodin.

12 MK Dons| £200k
There was growing optimism at Milton Keynes until manager Russell Martin departed for Swansea just six days before the season opener. But they’ve recruited well and Matt O’Riley is joined by an impressive strike force of Scott Twine, Mo Eisa, Max Watters and Spurs loanee Troy Parrott. It’s a good squad with no obvious weaknesses and they could do much better than the predicted mid-table finish.

13 Burton| £0
Since their brief stay in the Championship, the Brewers have suffered a steady decline following relegation in 2018 with progressively lower finishes pointing to a relegation battle this time. So a major turnaround is required. To that end, no fewer than 16 players arrived in the summer, allowing Burton improve from back to front – Brentford’s young GK Ellery Balcombe, Southampton’s LB Thomas O’Connor, Leicester CB Sam Hughes, Rochdale CM Conor Shaughnessy, and Preston frontman Louis Moult are among the most eye-catching names. The board are looking for a new manager to stop the slide and improve to a top-half finish. Definitely achievable. 

14 Shrewsbury| £120k
For one glorious spring in 2018 it looked as though the Shrews might ascend to the lofty heights of the Championship. After playoff disappointment they promptly fell into the more familiar territory of the bottom half of the league. Now the board is looking to push on to a top-half finish, and have provided some decent tools to do it. Title-winning GK Marko Maroši joins from Coventry while, in an attempt to get more out of striker Daniel Udoh, they have signed not one but two target forwards in Exeter’s Ryan Bowman and Birmingham’s Sam Cosgrove. Elliott Bennet may not have the pace of yore but brings undoubted leadership qualities. On the downside, the squad is short of numbers and any kind of injury crisis will be hard to handle.

15 AFC Wimbledon| £50k
The loss of reliable goalscorer Joe Pigott to Ipswich raises the obvious question of who can fill those boots? The Dons have turned to Brentford loanee Aaron Pressley. The 19-year-old has the strength and aerial prowess to lead the line, but with just two senior appearances to date he will have to grow into the responsibility, and fast. Elsewhere, there is some good quality in the squad, and the acquisition of Chelsea youngster Luke McCormick on a free looks a very smart piece of business. But beyond a handful of veterans, this is a young group and Pressley won’t be the only teenager thrown in at the deep end. The board want a new manager to avoid a relegation battle but after four straight finishes in the bottom 6 that might not be possible.

16 Gillingham| £25k| transfer ban
Gillingham have established themselves as a solid mid-table team with successive finishes in 10th. This could be the season they push on to more ambitious targets, although the board only require more of the same. Target forward Vadaine Oliver hit 20 goals in all competitions last season but  could have done even better with a quick strike partner but the untested Charlie Kelman, on loan from QPR, may not be the one. The Gills have also added an excellent goalkeeper in Jamie Cumming, who joins on loan from Chelsea after keeping 17 League Two clean sheets last season at Stevenage.

17 Plymouth| £50k
In their first season back in L1 the Pilgrims suffered a battering at the tail-end of last season, losing 11 of their last 15 games. Defensive reinforcements should surely have been a priority, but it isn’t clear that enough has been done. RB James Bolton was signed from Portsmouth, but an early injury will keep him out until the new year. That leaves the squad with no natural replacement. There are three LBs, but one will probably have to serve double-duty at CB, where the only new recruit is ex-Ipswich defender James Wilson. The presence of Niall Ennis, Luke Jephcott and Ryan Hardie up front suggests scoring should not be a problem, but overall this looks like a makeshift squad. Another season of struggle beckons.

18 Doncaster| £0
Through judicious use of free transfers and the loan market Rovers have put together a strong squad, with a heavy seasoning of talent from the Man United academy: CB Ro-Shaun Williams and CM Aidan Barlow join permanently and team up with loan signing Ethan Galbraith. Pontus Dahlberg, on loan from Watford, is a top-class ‘keeper at this level. Portsmouth’s Jordy Hiwula, and Newcastle’s Rodrigo Vilca (loan), will add some creativity in midfield, while Omar Bogle will lead the line again. The challenge will be to get this collection of talents to play as a unit, in which case Doncaster could far exceed the bottom-half finish predicted.

19 Accrington| £0
Stanley’s steady progress up the pyramid is one of the great stories of lower-league football. Since returning to the EFL in 2006, Accrington made two attempts at promotion to L1 in 10 years, before finally achieving it in 2018. They followed that with two seasons of consolidation before recording an 11th place finish last time, all accomplished while living within very limited means. That typically means smart business in the free transfer and loan markets, and this time Stanley have added 17 recruits to the cause. Perhaps the most eye-catching name is Colchester’s tough-tackling CM Harry Pell, but ex-Liverpool youngsters Joe Hardy and Liam Coyle also look like good captures. They should be good enough to avoid a relegation battle and could, yet again, manage a top-half finish.

20 Fleetwood| £0| transfer ban
Like Accrington, Fleetwood have a long history of achieving much with very little. Unlike Accrington, the Cod Army appear to have stretched that little too far and start the season under a transfer embargo. That has also meant cutbacks that have seen familiar faces like Paul Coutts, Mark Duffy, Josh Morris and Glenn Whelan released. The result is a 22-many squad that will rely heavily on youngsters for cover and rotation. Their 7-year status as L1 survivors could well be under threat.

21 Crewe| £5k
Crewe come into this season following promotion in 2019-20 and a deserved top half finish in their first season back in League One. That record was built on a core of academy graduates like RB Perry Ng, LB Harry Pickering, deep-lying playmaker Ryan Wintle and left-sided forward Charlie Kirk. All have now departed. Southampton loanee Kayne Ramsey could fill Ng’s shoes, but the defence still looks makeshift, and the next generation to emerge from the Crewe conveyor wlll have to develop quickly. Avoiding relegation would be counted a great success.

22 Cheltenham| £50k
The Robins kept 21 clean sheets last season, making them the strongest defensive unit out of all the promoted sides. They’ll need similar heroics this time if they’re to avoid an immediate return to L2. After three years with Rotherham, Kyle Vassell knows the score by heart. Other recruits include Birmingham’s Dan Crowley, who brings some inconsistent quality; and loan signings Mattie Polllack, a promising CB from Watford, and Kyle Joseph, a promising young striker from Swansea. With Cambridge and Morecambe looking like a lost cause, Cheltenham only need to better than one of the rest to survive.

23 Cambridge| £10k
The U’s begin their first campaign at their highest level of football without top scorer Paul Mullin, who opted to drop two levels of the pyramid to join the Hollywood party at Wrexham. The club will need a breakout season from Sam Smith, on a free signing from Reading as their only signing up front. They have done better in midfield, adding Ipswich prospect Jack Lankester, and Brighton’s Jensen Weir on loan, and QPR’s Conor Masterson to central defence. They also retain the invaluable services of midfield maestro Wes Hoolahan, although the fact that the 39-year-old is ranked the club’s best player may be indicative.

24 Morecambe| £0
Winning promotion to the 3rd tier was a massive achievement for the Shrimpers; avoiding an immediate return to L2 will be an even greater accomplishment. They’ve lost midfield destroyer Yann Songo’o, young captain Sam Lavelle, and top scorer Carlos Mendes Gomes. In return a raft of new faces have arrived but, aside from the experienced Ryan McLaughlin at right-back, most of the quality is in the shape of loan signings: Reading’s Jokull Andresson in goal, Burnley’s Adam Phillps and Leeds’ Alfie McCalmont in midfield.

Edited by warlock
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1 Salford | £50k
City fell two points short of the playoffs last time but have recruited well in signing Fleetwood’s Josh Morris and Rochdale’s Matty Lund, who add some L1 experience to the squad. But new managers should be wary of the board, who have itchy trigger fingers when it comes to those who fall short of expectations. This year’s expectation is nothing short of the league title.

2 Bradford City| £0
The Bantams will be looking to mount a promotion push after two disappointing seasons. Those ambitions should be helped by reinforcements up front where TF Andy Cook returns from Mansfield, and Lee Angol comes in from Leyton Orient, while Scunthorpe’s Abobaker Eisa will bring some pace out wide. Yann Songo’o joins from promoted Morecambe to add some bite to the midfield.

3 Forest Green Rovers| £100k
The Rovers go into their 5th season in the EFL with confidence after last year’s playoff campaign. A relatively quiet transfer window saw them add just 5 first-team players. Bristol City’s Opi Edwards adds pace out wide, while Regan Hendry of Raith Rovers and Ben Stevenson from Colchester provide creativity and workrate in central midfield. A strikeforce of Jamille Matt, Matty Stevens, Josh March and young Jake Young should provide plenty of goals. It’s not the biggest squad but there are funds available to plug the gaps.

4 Bristol Rovers| £50k
The Gas ran out of gas last time as they slumped to the bottom of L1. Inevitably the board expects and immediate return to the third tier. Summer recruitment looks promising with some much-needed firepower up front. Aaron Collins comes in from Forest Green, and Harvey Saunders is one of three signings from Fleetwood. But it’s an ageing squad, and the arrivals of Glenn Whelan (37), Paul Coutts (32) and Brett Pitman (33) have done nothing to lower the average age.

5 Exeter| £80k
Exeter did not make it to Wembley last time – they have lost three play-off finals in the past five seasons – and a new manager will be expected to deliver another run this year. They’ve done well by relying on home-grown talent and are sticking with the plan – academy graduate Matt Jay gets the captain’s armband. But the squad looks short of attacking momentum and goals might be hard to come by.

6 Mansfield| £30k
It is difficult to envisage Mansfield, last seen wandering aimlessly to 16th, being so far off the pace this season. Ambitions to compete at the top of the table have been boosted with additional attacking talent in the form of Leyton Orient’s Danny Johnson, and Rhys Oates, who helped Hartlepool to promotion with 15 goals from left-wing. But they’ll be hoping for better from Ipswich’s Ollie Hawkins, who found the net just once in 20 games for the Tractor Boys.

7 Leyton Orient| £0
The O’s have done incredibly well to build on their return from non-league football and look to improve on last season’s top-half finish. Midfielder Darren Pratley impressed in League One for Charlton last season and Paul Smyth from QPR also looks another shrewd pickup. They will surely miss the goals of the departed Danny Johnson, and Aaron Drinan from Ipswich does not have an inspiring strike record.

8 Tranmere| £0
There are more teams expecting to reach the playoffs than there are places available. Rovers are one of those who might fall short despite the board’s ambition. After a summer of mixed recruitment, the most eye-catching signing is Callum McManaman, back in England after a spell in Australia, while Liverpool’s Paul Glatzel, on a season-long loan, brings bags of potential but will need to develop quickly.

9 Northampton| £10k
After their previous relegation it took the Cobblers’ two years to escape L2 and it may be a similar story this time around. Recruitment strategy has been focussed on strengthening the defence with Livingston’s Jon Guthrie, Tranmere’s Sid Nelson, Kilmarnock’s Aaron McGowan, and Dominic Revan, on loan from Aston Villa, all reinforcing the back line. At the other end, Spurs youngster Kion Etete will look to support Danny Rose in search of goals.

10 Port Vale| £30k
It’s four years since the Valiants fell out of L1, and there’s been little cause for excitement since. They’ll be hoping to improve on last season’s 13th place but the board demands for the playoffs seem unrealistic. There are 14 new faces at the club, perhaps the most noteworthy being James Wilson, graduate of the Man Utd academy and once a hot prospect. That the backroom staff rate him the best striker at the club is a concern, given his 9 goals in two seasons at Salford.

11 Newport County| £35k
Disappointed play-off finalists last season, the Exiles have lost key players, including reliable midfielder Josh Sheehan to Bolton. Inevitably the board want another playoff season. A busy summer has brought in the likes of Bristol Rovers midfielder Ed Upson and Colchester winger Courtney Senior, while young Finn Azaz, signed to Aston Villa on the back of a promotion season with Cheltenham, joins on loan. Finding a reliable source of goals will be a problem.

12 Carlisle| £0
The Cumbrian club were set fair for promotion in the new year, sitting in first place before being slammed by a health crisis that led to 10 games being called off in 46 days. The resulting fixture congestion saw form plummet. Ahead of the new campaign, several important players have departed, including wide forwards Omari Patrick and Josh Kayode, and CB Rhys Bennett. The arrival of Zach Clough prompts the usual questions. The answers will determine whether Carlisle can go again, or slump back to mid-table.

13 Swindon| £0| transfer ban
It’s easy to forget that more than a quarter-century ago, for one glorious season Swindon graced the Premier League. It was a blink-and-you-missed it experience and most of the intervening years have seen the club in L1. Worryingly, though, they’ve spent more of the last 5 years in L2 than in the division above. After another relegation last time the board wants – guess! – the playoffs at a minimum. Unfortunately, the transfer embargo means there’s no chance to reinforce a thin squad before the new year. Several u19s are already present, and a number of loan signings are similar, although long on potential. The main concern is attack, where the only natural striker is Ipswich youngster Tyreece Simpson, 19, without a senior goal to his name.

14 Rochdale| £50k
Rochdale, another team relegated last season, have had their best players poached, including Stephen Humphrys who has joined Wigan, Conor Shaughnessy to Burton, Ryan McLaughlin to Morecambe, and the ever-present Oliver Rathbone to Rotherham. At least there’s boardroom realism and a mid-table finish will be acceptable.

15 Walsall| £20k
Walsall have endured a worrying slide since relegation two years ago, and flirted with relegation from the EFL last year. The board wants a turnaround in fortune and a top-half finish, and Tranmere’s Manny Monthé, Orient’s Conor Wilkinson and Newport’s Joss Labadie have been lured from league rivals to help the cause. George Miller, on loan from Barnsley, will be a willing presence up front but some tactical creativity will be required to get goals from the attacking midfield unit.

16 Stevenage| £20k
Stevenage secured a mid-table finish last time but only relegated Southend and Grimsby scored fewer goals. It isn’t clear that the problem has been solved, with Mansfield’s Jamie Reid the only addition to the strikeforce. Elsewhere the squad looks capable, with Lincoln LB Max Melbourne and West Ham ‘keeper Joseph Anang useful reinforcements.

17 Harrogate| £25k
After an impressive debut in the EFL, Harrogate will be looking to consolidate while managing a squad rebuild that has seen five departures and seven arrivals. Newcomers include GK Mark Oxley, who will hope for better defensive protection after enduring a torrid time at Southend. New defensive options include Nathan Sheron from Fleetwood, and LB Lewis Page from Exeter. 

18 Sutton| £5k
When Sutton clinched the Vanorama National League title last year they earned their highest-ever position in the English pyramid. To prepare for tougher competition, much of the recruitment has been up front, and the club have recruited well. Isaac Olaofe, who scored 14 goals for the U’s on loan from Millwall, is back for another season, and he’ll be joined by Donovan Wilson, another loanee last year who caught the eye with 7 goals in 16 appearances, signed permanently from Bath. Best known of the new recruits is the experienced Enzio Boldewijn, who joins from Notts County.

19 Hartlepool| £25k
Hartlepool will be glad to put a four-year stay in the VNL behind them, but face a tough battle to avoid an early return. To help the cause they’ve turned to players who know what it takes to survive, including Jake Lawlor, who did it with Harrogate, Scunthorpe striker Olufela Olomola, Port Vale’s Mark Cullen, and Grimsby’s Luke Hendrie. With just two relegation places, safety should be achievable.

20 Colchester| £50k
United endured a run of one win in 25 games between December and April to plunge them into a relegation dogfight, one they only survived when fellow Essex outfit Southend were consigned to non-league football. If they do better this time, they’ll have local rivals Ipswich Town to thank – the Tractor Boys have provided the bulk of the squad in the shape of Freddie Sears, Alan Judge, Frank Nouble, Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse, who joined former team-mates Tommy Smith, Tom Eastman and Dean Gerken. If that sounds rather elephants graveyard, Colchester have an enviable record of producing quality youngsters. How well a new manager can blend youth and experience will determine whether the U’s can escape relegation again.

21 Crawley| £25k
After standing on the brink of relegation 3 years ago, Crawley appear to  have stopped the rot with back-to-back finishes in mid-table. The board would like the same again but media sceptics are predicting a return to bad habits. GK Blondy Noukeu arrives on loan from Stoke to provide competition between the sticks – and could emerge as the No1 – and Ashley Nadesan remains to lead the line. The Red Devils have a strong spine; success will depend on getting the best from the supporting cast.

22 Barrow    £0
 Barrow’s first season in Tier 4 was a success, even if they skirted with the drop. This time they’re hoping for a season of upward progress. A dent in those ambitions was the loss of top scorer Scott Quigley who went down the coast to Stockport. Staying local, the Bluebirds have turned to Offrande Zanzala, signed from Carlisle, in an attempt to replace those goals. Tom White, part of the promotion-winning team while on loan from Blackburn, returns as a permanent signing. 

23 Oldham| £0| transfer ban
Last season the Latics shipped a league-high 81 goals, yet miraculously never looked like being relegated. Survival was achieved by bagging 72 goals of their own – third highest in the division. While they have retained the services of Dylan Bahamboula, arguably the best player in the league last year, and Davis Keillor-Dunn, they have lost Conor McAleny to Salford so replicating that attack this year might be beyond them. Meanwhile, despite the arrival of GK Jayson Leutwiler and CB Harrison McGahey, the defensive frailties are likely to remain.

24 Scunthorpe | £0| transfer ban
The last 5 years have seen the Iron almost win promotion to the Championship and then almost fall out of the EFL altogether, finishing in 22nd place last time. Reinforcements in the shape of Harry Davis and Alex Kenyon from Morecambe, and Harry Bunn from York, have nearly 700 EFL appearances between them and represent much needed experience. But questions remain about the lack of scoring options with new signing Jake Scrimshaw, on loan from Birmingham, unlikely to provide sufficient firepower.

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I have started my traditional Bradford City save, and am already in the 4th season. I'll do a quick summary to that point as details haven't been retained as to who I played where but I'll try from memory.

After multiple failed attempts (i.e. sacked before the end of the first season) with Bradford with various 4 defender formations, I tried a 5-3-2 wingback formation, and we've retained that since.

In season one (2021/2022), the line up and setup was something like this:

Spoiler

GK (SK-Su): 

O'Donnell

WCB (De)x2:

Staunton (left) Songo'o (right)

DC (Co):

O'Connor

WB (Su) x2:

Wilson-Esbrand - Man City parent club loan (left) Threlkeld (right)

MC-DLF (De):

Watt

MC-CM (Su):

Cooke

IF (At):

Eisa (left)

W (At):

Gilliead (right)

St-F9 (Su):

Lavery

The concept being that the false 9 drags opposition defenders out of position to be exploited by the wide attacking players. This formation also served to retain possession despite being set to slightly more direct.

We performed really well, although I suffered the recurring title run in jitters with no wins from seven games going into the final game against Carlisle need to do better than title rivals Bristol Rovers. We pulled it together and edged over the line with a 1-0 win, thanks an own goal by former Bradford player Kelvin Mellor.

 Parent club Man City were very helpful, providing depth to the squad in January with Mbete, McDonald and Edozie all coming in on loans.

Season Two (2022/2023):

With promotion and slightly bigger budgets in mind, I head into the new season unable to resist the star power of Giovanni dos Santos, available for free but for a wapping £5k per week. However, he should be great as a False 9 that doesn't need any pace shouldn't he?

I've been scouting players in their last year of contract at premiership team U23s for all of the previous season, sensible signings are: Luke Dreher (Crystal Palace), Josh Pask (Coventry), Tom Allen (Newcastle), Thomas McGill (Brighton), Adam Phillips, Joel Mumbongo, and Richard Nartey all from Burnley. Gary Madine had been released by Blackpool and was more of a last minute backup for dos Santos signing. Man City provided us with Esbrand-Wilson and Mbete for another season, along with Oscar Bobb. James Norris with a wage paying loan from Liverpool arrived for right back rotation and we had a pretty strong squad. Once Stoke had finally decided to let Demeaco Duhaney go, he arrived in January on a free transfer.

We did well as a newly promoted side carrying on with the formation and tactic, making the play-offs in 6th. Having to face local rivals Huddersfield seemed to much to handle and we went out to them in a pretty dull 1-0 aggregate loss.

Season Three (2023/2024):

dos Santos hadn't been the roaring success I'd hoped, and was acceptable at best, most of last season's success coming from wide positions. So Giovanni headed off once more to Mexico on an end of contract deal. In last season's January window we already identified his replacement as Kun Temenuzkhov, who I'd signed in FM21 and seemed a good fit for the False 9 role and was now the main man up front.

Oscar Bobb and Mbete returned on loan again, with Charles Hagan, Jayden Richardson, Lewis Fiorini and Luke Badley-Morgan also loaning in. Our one permanent signing was Denver Hume. I can't play all the loans together, so Badley-Morgan, who was technically much worse than my scouting had viewed him to be, got a bit unhappy with his playing time. 

However, we have a consistent season throughout, and we're at the top of the table for most of it. We even avoid the repetition of a bad run in, securing automatic promotion several games before the end of the season, and despite losing the final game 1-0 to Lincoln, we are promoted as Champions, beating Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Derby by 3 points. 

We head into a Championship season with lots of contracts running out of players who aren't good enough, half the first team being loans from a parent club, so it should be an interesting close season transfer window.

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10 minutes ago, Parmie said:

We performed really well, although I suffered the recurring title run in jitters with no wins from seven games going into the final game against Carlisle need to do better than title rivals Bristol Rovers. We pulled it together and edged over the line with a 1-0 win, thanks an own goal by former Bradford player Kelvin Mellor.

 

Agent Mellor helping his old club over the line :cool:

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1 hour ago, Parmie said:

I have started my traditional Bradford City save

Excellent, and thanks for getting the thread off to a good start. It'll be interesting to see how you get on in the Championship - usually a big step up in competition. 

 

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58 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Have you picked your first EFL team yet

Indeed. As is my habit, I've gone for a gentle (read: easy!) introduction to the new game. Now a couple of months in with Fulham, and I'll try to get an intro post up tonight.

PS: No idea who Warlock1792 is, but I can assure you he gave me no help whatsoever :lol:

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19 minutes ago, warlock said:

Indeed. As is my habit, I've gone for a gentle (read: easy!) introduction to the new game. Now a couple of months in with Fulham, and I'll try to get an intro post up tonight.

PS: No idea who Warlock1792 is, but I can assure you he gave me no help whatsoever :lol:

Oops! Edited. Now you pinged him too, so that's two notifications he will get :lol: Ah no, you were smarter than that...

I only did a few months with Fulham in the BETA as a tester. Made a couple of signings (with a pre-contract agreement for Donovan Pines too) and sold a few on. I like Seri but his wages were criminal at Championship level so I was delighted to trade him to Burnley for free as they paid the whole wage.

A nice gentle introduction to FM22 as you say!

2046335630_Fulhamtransferwindow1.1.png.b2b2ad1e1a6a5be70f85615f928095a9.png

Edited by Jogo Bonito
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I've started with Charlton and just coming into the new year sit in third 4 points behind second placed Ipswich.

The club is losing money every month so I've got rid of 4 bigger earners who aren't regulars and promoted some talented youth. Had a great 1-3 away win at Preston in the cup and hoping I can get a big draw to bring some money in. Picked up Jota on a free and he has been exceptional in an IF position on the right.

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3 hours ago, limey150781 said:

The club is losing money every month so I've got rid of 4 bigger earners

I doubt you'll be alone in that situation :). It's going to be interesting to see how FM22 deals with finances long term - previous editions have tended to magic up money when your club needs it but it would add to the challenge if boards cracked down on the debts.

But good luck in the promotion hunt!

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just to let you know that we running an online save in L1 (as a career mode- if someone interested PM me on discord. Ricky Jade -Jones still banging, Sam Cosgrove of course dont. Id say pretty realistic unless the fact that I ve managed to loan Ovando (Argentinos Jrs) and Lazaro (Flamengo) to Shrewsbury, players about which Mr Roland Wycherley can only dream about. Some hidden gems from Scotland as well -Regan Mimnaugh signed as a bargain from Hamilton Accies bossing the midfield.

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Fulham, November 2021

The Cottagers are odds-on for the title, and the board expect nothing less than promotion, but they certainly have a squad capable of delivering. However, not everything in the garden is rosy - as per the OP, every staff meeting will hammer home the message that FFP failure is a certainty, and that every player is simply an asset to be sold in the name of reducing the expected debt. After considering the matter, I took a different view... the FFP punishment only kicks in if we fail to win promotion, selling almost every first-choice player wouldn't raise enough money to clear the debts, so why not keep the best players, go all-out for the title and worry about the debt next year.

But we don't have to be stupid about it - it's a big squad with some obvious candidates for moving out. With a healthy choice of central defenders the ageing Tim Ream was the first to go, heading home to the US after Seattle paid us £475k. We also had a surplus at right-back with Kenny Tete and Cyrus Christie on the books, Dennis Odoi more than capable of covering, and Steven Sessengnon in the u23s as a player I wanted to develop. Christie was nominated for the chop and, although we couldn't get a transfer fee, he departed for Blackburn on a loan deal that more than covered his wages. I was happy, until the gods of FM delivered their usual reminder that happiness is fleeting. With Tosin Adarabioyo set to miss the opening weeks with injury, we then lost Sessengnon for two months with a muscle tear. From an embarrassment of defensive riches, we were suddenly struggling for cover so I arranged for Norwich youngster Andrew Obobamidele to come in on loan. The intention was to send him home in the January window but he's playing well enough that he might end up staying.

Further attempted deals came to nothing - the expensive Jean Michael Seri and Bobby Cordova Reid failed to find a taker, while our other loan signing, Watford's Domingos Quina, turned out to have a no-termination clause in his loan agreement.

When it came to the actual football, the squad is flexible enough that almost any system is possible - except my favourite narrow set-ups because of the number of widemen. After enjoying huge success with it in FM21, I opted for a simple 4231, which brought immediate success:

image.png.cef7a21d2de87825ccbc00885e450984.png

Worth noting: 5 penalties in 3 games. On the other hand, only Alfie Mawson's strike against Hull came from a corner.

Naturally,, the FM gods were watching, so what happening next was obvious:

image.png.9239ff65538542fc330b997e658ac0db.png

So, we can beat anyone in the division... except newly-promoted Blackpool who were then and remain mired in the relegation zone. Otherwise, it was a good month, and we ran Premiership Watford close in the Carabao Cup, Only one pen this month, but two corner goals against Birmingham.

image.png.409b37b6bc08bed364b0f46cba6b364b.png

And our good form continued in October, although we are becoming more reliant on corners, needing two of them to get past second-placed West Brom.

Suggestions that we might be a one-man team are entirely accurate, that man being Harry Wilson. He isn't quite getting on the end of his own crosses but it can only be a matter of time. He's doing everything else:

image.png.86fdf5a3e229fbd4d094dd1d391bf444.png

We sit top of the table with 14 wins and just the one defeat, 11pts clear of Bournemouth who, in turn, have a 2pt advantage over the Baggies.

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Bradford City: Season 4 (2024/2025)

So, with our first season in the Championship looming, I need to get busy recruiting.

I don't fully understand the work permit rules, as some uncapped players can get a permit. Such is the case with Janderson, a free signing from Brazil that someone in the scouting team seemed to become aware of. I also splash some cash for the first time, signing Anto Babic from Buducnost for £230k, a Montenegrin international. Kik Pierie was also picked up from Ajax, the premiership still provides free signings, Dominic Thompson (Brentford), McEachran (Chelsea), Mathurin (Spurs).

Our relationship with Man City and their players is getting to that pivoting point. Oscar Bobb, who developed well under us for 2 seasons, now worries to come to a team tipped for relegation, and they're wanting wages paid, which are huge for other Championship level players. I settle for Morgan Rogers and Gyabi.

Also on a bit of a whim, I utilise our increase scouting range over Europe to look at who some of the big continental clubs released (World-transfers-filter for countries and eyeball the player list). The scouts think Nehemia Fernandez-Velez is Championship level and could improve, his former PSG colleague Daouda Weidmann both get permits and join on frees too.

We're looking pretty strong, but QPR come in with £850k for Temenuzkhov, I feel like keeping a positive finance outlook is important, and if Fernandez-Velez is as good as the scouts thought, I can let him go.

The season is one of consolidation, despite 1 win and 3 losses to start off with, we steadily accrue points, my formation is never going to turn anyone into a 30 goal a season striker, but Fernandez-Velez does ok, with 8 goals and 6 assists as deep lying forward. The goals are pretty much spread around the midfield, only Morgan Rogers getting into double figures. 

We finish on 62 points and 13th. There is nothing much to say about the cups, 1st round Carabao penalty shootout loss to Forest, and 3rd round FA Cup exit at the hands of money-bags Newcastle.

I decide to switch up my transfer policy, previously it was pretty much anyone with Championship potential, without much focus on current ability. Previous versions have taught me that selling on the way up helps progress if I don't get lost in just always recruiting prospects. So I start a shortlist purge of players that aren't currently at Championship level, leaving me with lists of players who are already at that level and would improve the first eleven, and prospects who might get as far as the Premiership (of which I haven't found many due to only scouting final year of contract players). 

End of season prize/being in the Championship money of £5,28m comes in to give us a nice positive bank balance, and overall profit, I swiftly ask for more wage budget to ensure we can keep the players we want to and recruit better ones, the board, just as quickly, declines. Adam Phillips has been declining renewals of £9k/week, wanting much more like £13k which I can't afford, we may have some challenges implementing my new transfer policy!

Edited by Parmie
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Was looking forward to seeing this thread. Currently running a save with Hartlepool in League 2. 

Currently 4th in the table as of November 7th, but there's four points between 1st and 8th - so still fairly tight!

Tyler Burey's been the main man - 14 goals in 16 games playing as an advanced forward. Mike Fondop's proved a great foil for him, with 8 goals in 11. My sole signing, Rodel Richards, joined in October and is on 6 goals in 6 games. 

I'm using a possession-based 5-3-2 system, which is roughly akin to what's been used by both Dave Challinor and Tony Sweeney this season. Though I'm using two WCB(S) which is a little bit more aggressive.

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Great to see this thread back up and running, and already some interesting posts to read.

Enjoyed the club write up's @warlock :applause:

On 19/11/2021 at 00:12, warlock said:

6 Charlton| £100k
Charlton mounted a late run at the Top 6 last time, missing out only on goal difference. So two new signings could make a crucial difference – Jayden Stockley up front, and Craig MacGillivray in goal. Overall, the squad has been rejuvenated with a number of older players departing and younger faces – like ex-Morecambe captain Sam Lavelle and Crewe’s Charlie Kirk – replacing them. The board don’t care how you do it, but they want promotion.

I still haven't settled on what my long term save (that I'll likely write about in detail over in the FMCU), so in the meantime I am having a bit of fun with a team I enjoyed managing in FM20, Charlton Athletic. They appear to have a well balanced squad, with decent quality throughout without particularly having any star players. I've dismantled and rebuilt the staff list at the club and made some signings - but I think I'll wait till the transfer window has closed before I share more info on this. 

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1 minute ago, Dong21 said:

I am having a bit of fun with a team I enjoyed managing in FM20, Charlton Athletic

Should be enjoyable - "decent quality throughout" sounds about right. Lavelle was excellent for me in a save last year.

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22 hours ago, warlock said:

Fulham, November 2021

We sit top of the table with 14 wins and just the one defeat, 11pts clear of Bournemouth who, in turn, have a 2pt advantage over the Baggies.

Coasting! Whatever you do, please do not break the 106 points record. Thank you in advance ;)

Nice to see managers doing well at Bradford and Hartlepool - neither are the most frequently named EFL clubs. And a 'bit of fun' at Charlton will probably last until FM23 for you @Dong21 :lol:

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Bradford City: Season 5 (2025/2026)

So, following on from my last post, transfers!

Things got interesting, I left out of my season 4 update that Richard Nartey had headed off the MLS at the beginning of April for £3.4m. It seemed like a decent deal with survival all but assured at that point. As I was planning new targets, Derby who had secured promotion, came in with £7m for Kik Pierie. He wanted to go and that was a lot of money. Nehamia Fernandez-Velez had his release clause of £8m activated by Sheffield United, who offered him back on a season loan with no wages, I'll take that.

I'm not idle trying to get players in while the money is rolling in, but I am still operating in bargain mode. Wesley (the one who was at SEP) was a free once we had room in the salary budget. Neco Williams, Liam Kitching and Jacob Davenport all look suitable for this level to upgrade us and arrive on domestic end of contract deals. The newgens are creeping in and 3 arrive on loan from Man City, although none of them are great, the Championship level players left in their U23s still refuse to join us.

With a swollen balance making the bank happy, I spend more money. Lamare Bogarde has been listed by Villa for £105k and joins us as a wide centre back. The scouting team pops up with a young Australian newgen who they think is already Championship level and could get to the Premiership, he's got a release clause of £1m, I thought if they're right, that's pretty good, and he's a False 9, he's also got English 2nd nationality so no permit issues to worry about.

Jason Younghusband

Spoiler

Younghusband.thumb.PNG.a6910439c5ea07e6d43d1834575df1fb.PNG

We embark on the season with a 1-0 away win at Bristol City even with a player sent off and then a Carabao 1st round win vs Rotherham. I think it looks promising to build on last season. That lasts until the next few games, where we start a draw and loss streak, punctuated with a couple of wins, to then go on another bad run. In January, we're still above but not clear of relegation, I decide the addition of the technical players like Wesley, and Younghusband no longer suit the slightly direct style, and I tweak the style to a shorter, slower passing game. We then go 9 games unbeaten including 2 rounds of the FA Cup, struggle more in March but rally towards the end to once again finish in midtable, albeit slightly worse than last season. Kitching, one of our major defensive signings had torn a calf muscle in December which didn't help things.

60 points - 15th.

January had seen our keeper Thomas McGill go to Derby for £4m as I was never convinced by him (and his Canadian team trips occasionally left me in the lurch) and I had thought a replacement would have been easy to find, I wasn't sure on him but we bought Mark Flekken for £200k who felt like a more finished article. I focused on providing Younghusband 1st team development rather than continue with Fernandez-Velez as he's no longer our player, but that left us light up front and Armindo Sieb was going to be let go by Bayern, I signed him for just £22k.

I feel like we've got good options in midfield and up front now, I think a push up the table with those players is likely if I can shore us up at the back, I need a top keeper for the division (but who?) and 2 centre backs (as we play with 3). The board isn't generous, and despite all the incoming funds, doesn't give us any room in the wage budget and £3.4m for transfers, which could be a lot for the Championship but also not much at all, lower league managers know what I mean.

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13 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Whatever you do, please do not break the 106 points record. Thank you in advance ;)

I'll see what I can do :thup:

4 hours ago, Parmie said:

I tweak the style to a shorter, slower passing game. We then go 9 games unbeaten

Good stuff!

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Hull City look a pretty decent side to go with. Expectations are modest and mid-table stability should be easily achievable for a couple of seasons, whilst you shape the squad. Some great young talents - Jacob Greaves, Keane Lewis-Potter, James Scott, Mallik Wilks - to build around and some good experienced pros in that first season. The transfer ban in the first window probably helps, though they look a bit light up front in the short term. But, I think there is a lot you could do with this side within a few seasons.

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2 hours ago, dothestrand said:

Hull City look a pretty decent side to go with

Agreed - I did about 20 games with them in beta and I'd say your thoughts are bang on - including the lack of firepower up front, although there's a couple of AMs who can double-up as strikers.

Don't forget Brandon Fleming (lurking in the u23s) who can do a good job as backup at LB.

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Bradford City: Season 6 (2026/2027)

Keeper issue is resolved. Jesse Joronen joins us from Brescia for £400k, he's an experienced international, a bit better than Mark Flekken. This leaves me trying to offload Flekken after 6 months with us, he doesn't want to go, and what bids are made for him, the board won't accept (£400-£450k). After some arguing, Flekken will go, however, a frustrating issue within FM is differing board reactions to identical requests, we try just about every response possible, they accept the simplest reconsider request to a Sheffield Wednesday bid of £400k, but decline an identical bid with the same plea from me, however, Flekken is nudged out of the door. Haris Ramic a young newgen from Dinamo, comes on a free transfer as backup.

I splash out £1m for Sepp van den Berg from Leeds, I needed centre back upgrades as priority, I've got money in the bank and he looks like decent premiership level. Vid Koderman has moved to Palace and joins as cover for left wingback, as does a newgen from Mainz for right wingback both on loans. I've upset both parent club Man City and Liverpool along the way with not playing players enough/in the right position, neither wants to loan me anyone, don't burn those bridges readers.

I keep everyone else who seems a good standard and feel confident once again of maybe even trying a playoff place challenge. 4 from 5 wins Augst to Mid-September is a good start. I rotate for the Carabao (Forest again!), go out which I am not fussed about, lose away to Preston, win at home to Barnsley to then go on a 6 game losing run. Recover with 2 wins, then another 7 without a win, It's the end of November and this is hovering around relegation form, tactically, we're conceding far too many, which is annoying given we're now stronger than we were. 

Going into an international break, I decide to change tactics completely, Younghusband and Sieb are both decent at this level in different ways, and I've got good wide players. So I go to a 442, much more direct and faster. If I'm going to get the sack, at least it'll be entertaining. I lose the first game to Luton with it, draw the next two, 2 more wins, 2 losses and a draw. It's still inconsistent but the average points is better and we're heading up to mid-table safety. Then, the players seem to get more tactical familiarity and start forming partnerships which work, we win 13 of the last 20 games, and shoot up to the dizzy heights of the upper mid-table.

73 points - 8th.

The 442 does seem to produce promotion threatening form, we'll try to adjust the squad to suit it more, I recalled Frank Francis (academy newgen) from his loan at Mansfield on the last day of the January window to give us an option and he did well.

Finances have taken a big hit, van den Berg coming in was balanced out by Anto Babic leaving for £850k and cashing in on interest of a Championship level academy graduate. However, wages have crept up with extensions and we end up starting from £15m to ending the season on about half that. I had declined a £10.75m bid for Wesley at the start of the season thinking keeping the team together was more important with that cushion. Next season we're shopping in the bargain bucket again and potentially may have to let 1 or 2 go if we get big bids.

 

Edited by Parmie
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3 hours ago, warlock said:

Agreed - I did about 20 games with them in beta and I'd say your thoughts are bang on - including the lack of firepower up front, although there's a couple of AMs who can double-up as strikers.

Don't forget Brandon Fleming (lurking in the u23s) who can do a good job as backup at LB.

I went on holiday for a season and they finished 6th, losing the play off final, so not sure about them now! Lewis-Potter has loads of interest though, so you could massively revamp the squad with the proceeds.

Edited by dothestrand
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I've started a Rochdale save as my LLM this season should be interesting, the aim is to take them to a place they have never been in their 107 year history into the top divisions.  

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1 minute ago, Mr_Demus said:

Started out as QPR. 

 

My goal is to stick to a system, and buy players to fit it. Might seem obvious, but I have never been good at that.

Yeah that's usually how I go, decide how I want to play and stick to it even when moving clubs. A lot of managers utilise small changes on systems but the underlying principles will stay the same, makes it more interesting imo.

For instance I don't use wingers and if they can't be utilised upfront, wingback or as a number 10 I'll sell them.

Might cause you a few issues if a key player doesn't fit into your system though.

 

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1 hour ago, Mr_Demus said:

Started out as QPR

A challenge, I think, because you never know what you're going to get!

39 minutes ago, dothestrand said:

they finished 6th... so not sure about them now!

Too easy, eh? :D

37 minutes ago, Woolly said:

I've started a Rochdale save

In it for the long haul? Good luck :thup:

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11 minutes ago, Jamesbfc1887 said:

I don't use wingers

I've written before how I like narrow systems because it greatly simplifies squad management. And I'm looking for a suitable candidate now (quit the Fulham save already - I thought it would be a soft intro to FM22 but it was ridiculously easy, no challenge at all :rolleyes:). But it can make for massive disruption in the first season, especially if - as  you say - you have key players or team leaders out wide and you want to get rid.

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Good luck with QPR & Rochdale chaps. QPR should be capable of a top six finish, Rochdale might be tougher but a good challenge!

Going well at Bradford @Parmie - six seasons already wow.

@warlock I'm not too surprised you said that. I think you should try what I am doing - no parent clubs, limit your loans & play your youngsters, knock your coaching badges &manager rep down one or two notches. And pick a club which needs some work. Fulham is a great club but very strong. Which league and/or clubs do you have in mind?

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Good evening all, I followed the FM21 FL thread on and off, but mainly managed abroad in last years save.

This year I have decided to manage in England and was toying with the idea of Championship / League 1 but I couldn't decide so ended up unemployed. 

Background

I'm playing as a 34 year old, who was recently retired from the game. Typically a B2B type hard tackling English midfielder who gave his all for his team, more determination than ability. Spent a number of years in the Championship but never really good enough for the PL. Ex clubs included Southampton, Palace, Blackpool, Brighton, Cardiff, before finishing my career at Middlesbrough. A typical Neil Warnock signing...

Based on the type of player JC used to be, I thought I would set his preferences and style as a direct 4-4-2. It isn't a style I usually implement, usually I go with a high press Gegen or possession based style. Something a bit different at least.

To make it a bit more realistic, I will be setting very high competition targets with low wage & transfer budgets to reflect the hiring / firing nature of Management. 

 

Season 1 - Following Neil Warnock's sacking, Middlesbrough turn to first team coach JC on a deal till the end of the season. The new coach has promised a return to the PL via the playoffs as his target, despite the club being 21st in the League after 15 games. 

Priory Woods School & Arts College - Training with Middlesbrough FC

I have actually finished the season already but I'll post a couple of screenshots and updates later. I just thought I'd get the ball rolling with an intro.

 

Edited by Jimpanzee
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12 minutes ago, Jimpanzee said:

To make it a bit more realistic, I will be setting very high competition targets with low wage & transfer budgets to reflect the hiring / firing nature of Management. 

Season 1 - Following Neil Warnock's sacking, Middlesbrough turn to first team coach JC on a deal till the end of the season. The new coach has promised a return to the PL via the playoffs as his target, despite the club being 21st in the League after 15 games. 

I have actually finished the season already but I'll post a couple of screenshots and updates later. I just thought I'd get the ball rolling with an intro.

Welcome and good luck. I like the idea you have ramped up the pressure with less room for failure. A very good club pick in my opinion.

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2 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

no parent clubs, limit your loans & play your youngsters, knock your coaching badges &manager rep down one or two notches. And pick a club which needs some work

Great minds :). I've just started a Crewe save - haven't done one for years. Predicted to finish in 19th, no money, no parent clubs, board requirement to develop youth, badges and rep down one notch each. We'll see how this one goes.

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Great start so far qith QPR.

6 wins in the first 6 games. In the league we've beaten Middlesbrough, Barnsley, Hull and Millwall. In the League Cup, we've gone past Bristol City and Leyton Orient. Only conceded twice so far. Scored 13.

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Just finished 1st EFL1 season in our online game. Got promoted with Shrewsbury thanks to a blend of some Scottish Championship and South American players. Regan Mimnaugh (bought from Hamilton Accies for a just 120 k in installments) was the best player. If anyone interested, new players can join anytime.
 

 

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Season 1 summary - Middlesbrough

It was all going so well with 7 wins in my first 9 games to steer the club away from the relegation zone and into the top half. With a limited budget, I used what available wages I had on 2 free transfers - Fernando Llorente & Hal Robson Kanu. 

Both contributed enormously to our initial success 

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But the quality of depth outside of the main 11. began to show in the latter stages of the season with our form drastically tailing off, as we plummeted from 8th to 13th. Several warnings from the board followed and when a 6th defeat in 8 confirmed the playoffs would be out of reach, I was sacked with 3 games to go.

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Middlesbrough finished in 12th position. 

My league record with Boro reads as P26 W13 D4 L9

Edited by Jimpanzee
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Season 2 - I started the season by confidently applying for the Head Coach roles at L1 Pompey, L1 Wigan, L2 Wimbledon & L2 Plymouth and to my surprise I was promptly rejected by all 4 clubs.....

I went into the season without a club and had to wait until November before being offered my next position...

Welcome to The Den JC....

 

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Millwall: Once or twice a season the old violent myth takes hold | The  Independent | The Independent

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23 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Welcome and good luck. I like the idea you have ramped up the pressure with less room for failure. A very good club pick in my opinion.

Thanks Jogo - as you can see from my update...it certainly has made my game more interesting. My first sacking in possibly 10 or 11 editions.:eek:

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9 minutes ago, Jimpanzee said:

Thanks Jogo - as you can see from my update...it certainly has made my game more interesting. My first sacking in possibly 10 or 11 editions.:eek:

Enjoyable story so far. A little harsh to be sacked by Boro, but best of luck at Millwall. I can't remember my last sacking either, your idea to put yourself under more pressure has definitely made it more interesting!

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22 hours ago, warlock said:

Great minds :). I've just started a Crewe save - haven't done one for years. Predicted to finish in 19th, no money, no parent clubs, board requirement to develop youth, badges and rep down one notch each. We'll see how this one goes.

I hope that can be one to get your teeth in to. I used to be quote an admirer of Crewe, but events over the last few years have really made the club quite unappealing to me. A great fit for a developing players approach though.

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Season 2 Summary - Millwall

  image.png.c846b715e2a938ddf835abc1bd25b882.png

 

Wall legend Neil Harris was sacked in November with the club hovering in 21st place. Millwall turned to 4-4-2 direct passing advocate JC to turn their fortunes around. JC promised the club would finish in a safe mid-table finish.

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After just 1 point in the opening 5 league games and with the club sinking to the bottom of the league. a mid-table finish seemed a long way off. The signings of Oli McBurnie 700K, Greg Taylor 200K & Luke Freeman (Loan) inspired a change of fortune, with the club eventually finding itself in 16th position by the final game of the season

 

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Next season we will look to push on for a top half position. 

 

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Despite being inconsistent - we did enough to comfortably beat the drop zone

 

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Edited by Jimpanzee
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52 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

events over the last few years have really made the club quite unappealing

I think I know what you mean, although I hadn't really thought about it. But new broom, clean sweep, next chapter, etc :)

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Crewe Alexandra, October 2021

As indicated a few posts back, I was looking for a squad that could play my preferred narrow diamond system without too much disruption. After some rummaging about the various club pages I happened upon the Railwaymen. I was also looking for a bit of a challenge and a club with no money and predicted to finish 19th seemed like a good prospect.

Transfer business

I wasn't expecting to do much - the squad is pretty well setup for the 4312/4132 system, with only two wide forwards in the squad when I took over. Ben Knight is a prospect on loan from Man City, but happily is also natural in the AMC role. J'Neil Bennett was more problematic, as an out-and-out winger with little ability to play anything else, so I resolved to terminate his loan from Spurs as soon as possible, which happened just before transfer deadline day. Elsewhere, the first-team squad is decent throughout with good backups almost everywhere. We have a good GK in Will Jääskeläinen, a strong backline, excellent unit in central midfield, and 3 good strikers, plus the ageing player-coach Chris Porter. The latter was my only concern but I don't expect to rely on him much and he's still an adequate backup to TF Michael Mandron.

But French champions Lille threw a spanner in the works when they arrived out of the blue with a bid for star CM Tom Lowery. He was keen - not to say insistent - on the move, so it quickly became a question of driving up the price as much as possible. Eventually Lille offered £750k up front and a 30% slice of any future fee (fee, not profit!). I thought I might squeeze them a little more, but my chairman intervened and the deal was done. Which left me short a midfielder. With the transfer deadline looming, there wasn't a lot of choice available, but I eventually signed Hiram Boateng from MK Dons for £32.5k - he lacks Lowery's class but he's an energetic presence in a B2B role. 

One minor issue was bothering me - we had Southampton's young RB Kayne Ramsey on loan, which looked reasonable because on the squad view we only had one other RB in the shape of Travis Johnson. But on closer view, Luke Offord - who shows in the squad views as a CB - turned out to be the better RB by quite some distance. And while he's certainly a good CB, he's only 5'10", which is too short in my view. Suddenly in my mind, we had to terminate Ramsay's loan, move Offord to RB, and sign a new CB. Unfortunately, there was no quality available to sign permanently, so I turned to the loan market. Mark McGuinness was a young prospect from Arsenal who I knew well from Ipswich saves last year. Sadly, he's already made a permanent move to Cardiff, but he was available for loan and Cardiff wanted no wage contribution, which made it a no-brainer.

Early form

I was looking for a challenge... well, I'm not sure I've found it yet:

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Eight games played, eight games won, in all competitions, including an away day at Championship outfit Preston in the Carabao Cup. Standout performer so far has been Scott Kashket, playing as an AF, with 7 goals in 5 starts and one sub appearance. Of particular note is his double-strike against Shrewsbury, scoring twice in a minute with the second coming almost immediately from the kick-off after Finney nicked the ball off a Shrewsbury player and put Kashket straight through on goal. Finney would be me choice as runner-up in the most-important-player stakes, with 4 assists and 2 goals of his own. At the other end, Jääskeläinen has 4 clean sheets in 7 appearances.

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And for anyone who'd like to give it a go, here's the tactic:

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Not quite the strongest 11 shown, several players are away on international duty. Only PIs are 'mark tighter' on the front 3. I'm not normally a fan of fully-symmetrical formations, but this has worked very well - with few changes - since early FM21. For tougher games it's easy to make it a more defensively solid 4132 by dropping the DLP to the DM slot, and the AMC becomes a CM-A.

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9 hours ago, warlock said:

Good recovery :thup:. What are your plans for the transfer window, or are you pretty much set?

Cheers Warlock - fantastic thread btw.

I have 3 key players who are out of contract next summer and their wage demands are likely to be out of reach for us - Jake Coopers, George Saville & Luca Vido. So that could make an interesting summer, as I’m likely to try and cash in. I need at least 5 players to fill gaps for players I’ve set for release.

I’m waiting for the 1st June to roll around so I can begin making a few offers for other out of contract players.

Cracking start to the season with Crewe - they are always a team that appeals because of their youth setup and reliance to bring sell these players to keep the club afloat. Good luck 

Edited by Jimpanzee
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