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[FM22] Colchester United youth academy challenge.


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Colchester United

Colchester United FC's emblem

Anyone that has heard of Colchester United knows of the clubs rich history of being completely average and going long periods of winning absolutely nothing. The clubs best achievements to date have been beating Don Revie's Leeds United in the F.A cup 5th round in 1971 and spending two seasons in the Championship. The only other times you hear of the club is when they get dumped out of the cup by non league opposition which happens more than i'd like to admit.

The heights of the Championship

It hasn't all been doom and gloom though as the club enjoyed a prosperous time under the ownership of Peter Heard and management of Phil Parkinson. With club in the 2005-06 season achieving a second place finish in League One securing promotion to the second tier of English Football for the first time in the clubs history.

The promotion combined with a new 10,000 seater stadium being built and a couple of years from completion gave fans real hope that the club is really heading somewhere. There were early fears though as manager Phil Parkinson left for Hull City and Peter Heard sells the club to local businessman Robbie Cowling. Although Peter Heard does stay on in the role of chairman to oversee the transition for the first year. But those fears were diminished by an exceptional 10th place finish narrowly missing out on the play offs in their first ever season in the Championship.

The decline and new ownership

Naturally after such a successful season there will be lots of demand for members of such an overachieving team. That proves to be the case as the squad is gutted and the club is unable to replicate previous heroics as they finish 24th getting relegated.

Following relegation to League One Peter Heard steps back from his role at the club allowing Mr.Cowling to start implementing his vision at the club. His vision is to become a completely self reliant football club relying on the clubs ability to produce talent that can be developed and sold for significant profit. He has even built a new state of the art (for Colchester's standards) training facility for the first team and youth teams. His footballing philosophy is to have an eye catching passing brand of football and to constantly promote players to the first team. The club also has a set philosophy of promoting coaches from within to the managers job to provide a continuation of said philosophy.

Now you may be thinking, hang on that sounds a lot like something that Ajax and Barcelona do. And it does seem that was his original intention, to have a core philosophy run through the whole club from the youth team to the coaches. But there does seem to be a small problem with the plan, we are not dealing with Ajax or Barcelona here. This is Colchester United and the coaches and players are not of the ability of our Spanish and Dutch counterparts. And predictably under his reign Colchester have gone from the Championship to spending the last two seasons fighting relegation to the National League.

Challenge and aims

The aim is to channel my frustrations with the club in real life to achieve what Mr.Cowling has always wanted. To implement a possession based style of football and have a team full of academy graduates. The goal over the first 2 or 3 seasons is to completely phase out any non academy graduate and to have an entire squad of youth products.

I'll be looking to provide updates at the start, middle and end of each season. I'll post the players i'm looking to build my team around long term and provide details of their development. The goal short term is not get relegated to the National League. And hopefully long term the goal is to reach the lofty heights of the Championship using the owners philosophy that isn't working in real life. So you get hopefully an interesting story you can follow and i get catharsis, deal?

 

 

 

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43 minutes ago, wildecooke said:

good luck :brock:

Thanks!!!

33 minutes ago, Ronaldo Beckham said:

Interesting idea. Have Colchester produced some good players in the past then @Captain Blackadder?

Yes we've got a good record with youngsters, ironically our biggest academy sales came from before Cowling started his project. But the area in general is always good at producing youngsters since Ipswich is down the road as well. But generally the best talents do end up at Ipswich and they've produced some cracking players over the years.

For context our biggest academy sales before 2008 included Greg Halford who went to Reading for £2.5 million. Lomana LuaLua we signed at 17/18 who didn't have a club but scouts saw him playing football for his school and took a punt on him, 2/3 years later sold to Newcastle for £2.25 million. George Elokobi signed aged 18 from non league, sold him to Wolves for £500,000. We also had a kid called Medy Elito who was seriously talented and was getting linked with teams like Liverpool and Newcastle at one point. But for some reason he never fulfilled his potential though and is currently at Wealdstone. Bearing in mind this was 15/20 years ago that's very good money, but we also produced some players that spent most of their career here and were very good servants to the club.

Since the project started the best players produced have been Sammy Szmodics and Frankie Kent who are both at Peterborough now. But neither of them went for more than £500,000. Alex Gilbey has done well for himself as well, think he's at Charlton now but he went on a free transfer. So as you can see there was more success before the takeover but i think the project could start to see some real dividends soon. There are some very talented players coming through right now that could potentially do very well in the game. It's a great team for youth saves since pretty much every season for the last 3/4 years the club have had a good amount of youngsters with 4 star potential.

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3 minutes ago, Captain Blackadder said:

Thanks!!!

Yes we've got a good record with youngsters, ironically our biggest academy sales came from before Cowling started his project. But the area in general is always good at producing youngsters since Ipswich is down the road as well. But generally the best talents do end up at Ipswich and they've produced some cracking players over the years.

For context our biggest academy sales before 2008 included Greg Halford who went to Reading for £2.5 million. Lomana LuaLua we signed at 17/18 who didn't have a club but scouts saw him playing football for his school and took a punt on him, 2/3 years later sold to Newcastle for £2.25 million. George Elokobi signed aged 18 from non league, sold him to Wolves for £500,000. We also had a kid called Medy Elito who was seriously talented and was getting linked with teams like Liverpool and Newcastle at one point. But for some reason he never fulfilled his potential though and is currently at Wealdstone. Bearing in mind this was 15/20 years ago that's very good money, but we also produced some players that spent most of their career here and were very good servants to the club.

Since the project started the best players produced have been Sammy Szmodics and Frankie Kent who are both at Peterborough now. But neither of them went for more than £500,000. Alex Gilbey has done well for himself as well, think he's at Charlton now but he went on a free transfer. So as you can see there was more success before the takeover but i think the project could start to see some real dividends soon. There are some very talented players coming through right now that could potentially do very well in the game. It's a great team for youth saves since pretty much every season for the last 3/4 years the club have had a good amount of youngsters with 4 star potential.

Awesome it seems like a good project. I have never done a save with Colchester but I might do one with them and only sign Non League players and try bring through the best players from my Youth Academy.

I used to do a Youth Only save with Crewe due to their history of producing good young players.

Anyway good luck with Colchester buddy. I will keep an eye out for this.

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Posted (edited)

The squad

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My original plan was to slowly integrate the young players over the next couple of seasons to give them game time to progress. But thankfully i found out that the expectations for the season is just to avoid relegation. My aim now is to play the youngsters as much as possible whilst expectations are low to get them valuable experience. Then next season the expectation is top half so they'll have had a seasons playing time by then. So i've culled the squad of any player that will hold back the youngsters of minutes apart from keeping experienced pros for mentoring. The rest have been sold, loaned out or demoted to the reserves. I'd imagine key players for the future will be Collins, Tchmadeu, Terry Clampin, Kennedy, Chilvers, Tovide and Thomas. I also have high hopes for Chakawa, Sayer, Price, Marcel, Bennett and Hutchinson if i can develop them right.

Quick confession i am already a couple of months into the season so a couple of the younger players current ability have gone up. I have a problem of not lasting long on saves and constantly start new ones all the time. I hope that by doing this and if people are interested then it will help me be able to do a long term save. Just thought i'd lay the groundwork and provide some info before i post how i'm getting on. 

Tactics

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I'm not one for cheat tactics but last season i was browsing looking for new tactics to try and came across this. It wasn't in the big tactics thread but it was created by someone who wanted to recreate the tactics of Hasenhuttl at Southampton. I've made some modifications from it and it is a fun tactic to use so i'm deciding to try it out on this years version to see if it still works. 

Edited by Captain Blackadder
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Posted (edited)

Facilities

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As i've mentioned previously the owner put a lot of money into a new training ground for the first and youth teams. Having facilities this good for a League 2 side is an impressive feat and gives me one less thing to worry about as they won't need upgrading any time soon. For a youth academy challenge the youth coaching and recruitment is a problem though and one that will need to be improved to get high quality youngsters coming through.

Key Players

Ted Collins

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Young goalkeeper Ted Collins has 4 star potential so i've made the decision to immediately promote him to number 1. I feel he will progress further by having a whole season of senior football under his belt to become our long term number 1. The fact that there are no other talented keepers in the youth teams makes helping Collins reach his potential a priority.

Tom Eastman

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Tom Eastman has been Mr.Dependable at the heart of the defence for many years now. And i will be relying on his experience because my plan is to partner him with some of our promising center backs throughout the season. He will also serve as a good mentor for some of the younger players.

Ryan Clampin

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Academy graduate Ryan Clampin is now 22 and has had to bide his time to become a U's regular after being understudy to Cohen Bramall who left last season for Lincoln in League 1. Now the spot is his and it's time to shine, hopefully he can be a big part of this academy challenge going forward.

Brendan Wiredu

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Brendan Wiredu is an essential cog in Colchester's midfield who in January was attracting interest from the likes of Nottingham Forest. If he keeps up his impressive performances no doubt bigger fish will come calling again in the summer. Unfortunately he will not be in this challenge long term as he is not an academy player only joining recently from Charlton. But this season he will play a big part in the engine room and may well start attracting interest from higher up in the game as well.

 

 

Edited by Captain Blackadder
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Posted (edited)

Noah Chilvers

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At 20 years old, midfielder Noah Chilvers like Clampin is another academy product i will look to build this team around. He's already been getting minutes in the first team since 18 so already has a good amount of appearances and experience to his name. Most notably scoring the winning penalty in the shootout knocking Spurs out of the Carabao Cup a few years ago shortly before the end of Pochettino's reign.

Corie Andrews

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Pacy striker is at the club on a season long loan from AFC Wimbledon. I feel his pace and goals will be essential in keeping the U's out of a relegation scrap as half of the team will have younger academy players playing regularly. My only dilemma is long term the clubs most promising striker is Jake Hutchinson who is more of a target man holding up play. I've never had much luck getting target men to do well and score for me as i like my teams playing balls behind the defence for a fast striker to run on to.

First choice XI (when fit)

 

 

 

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I feel this team has the right mix of quality combined with younger players getting essential minutes. It will be a big step up for Collins, Tchmadeu, Terry and Tovide as they are still very inexperienced but are i feel the highest potential players that need developing. My bench will be pretty much entirely academy graduates who will also get valuable minutes off the bench plus rotating when necessary. Dobra is on loan from Ipswich and Wright from Aston Villa which i feel will provide some quality like Andrews in keeping the U's out of danger.

Now i have pondered what to do if i start really well and are mid table or higher come January time. If that's the case and i'm confident relegation is not possible i will go full youth team and remove the loanees to give them more experience ahead of next season.

Edited by Captain Blackadder
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3 hours ago, ITFC_Blue said:

Great stuff. Will be following. I live in Ipswich but go past Colchester's ground every day on my way to work. Will be following! 

Thanks!!! It's a lovely stadium but doesn't really have any soul, doesn't help barely any good moments have happened there and also it's so far out of the way. I love stadiums that are in the town and are a key part of the community like Layer Road was.

I'm also very impressed with the club's brand new scouting strategy which is genius, it's called sign any and every Ipswich cast off we can get our hands on. I'm pretty certain Colchester can field an entire starting 11 of players signed from Ipswich, it's ridiculous.

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January update

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I'm absolutely blown away at our league position come January especially after our start to the season which i'll post below. But i have a few reasons why i think we've been doing so well and the first one is the tactic. I mentioned that i saw it on this forum and while it's not a "cheat" tactic it is proving to be an extremely effective tactic. It's a tactic that creates a lot of chances and i spend a lot of matches in the opposition half but the big problem is when i get pinned back a bit the team struggles defensively again as i'll show below.

Second reason is Corie Andrews, man what a player he's been for us. His pace has been a nightmare for the opposition defence scoring 15 goals in 22 matches for us. Unfortunately as i said if i'm comfortable by mid season i'll stop playing the loanees to give the youngsters more minutes to prepare for next season. I'd also add Tyreik Wright to this as his 5 goal 8 assist contribution as well as his quality has been a major asset to us but alas he has to go as well.

Another thing i noticed was while i did throw in a lot of youngsters at the start and results were really not good. I found that the more games they played the more comfortable they looked in the side and really didn't look out of place despite their current ability not really improving. It's now at the point where i reckon if i played a game with the youth players against the senior players that aren't academy products they could give them a good game.

Academy minutes

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All in all i'm super happy with the performances my younger players are putting in and is far exceeding any expectations i had of them for this season. Ted Collins is currently second for clean sheets in the league this season which is fantastic.

Billy Cracknell has been a very reliable player providing cover for both the right back and center back position. Junior Tchmadeu really struggled in his first few matches putting in some really poor performances but has really found his stride now and is excellent consistently now. Frankie Terry like Cracknell has been very reliable at center back and has been good cover for left back as well. Namory Kane has only recently started getting some minutes but as you can see with an average of 7.43 per match has been absolutely fantastic and is on the verge of being first choice. Bradley Chakawa has been getting good minutes as well ans has had some good games for us but some bad ones as well. Ryan Clampin has been good for us so far but has had a few injury problems and is attracting interest from Oxford, hopefully i can keep hold of him.

In midfield Noah Chilvers has disappointingly been out for most of the season but has done very well when played, but i hope his injuries don't stunt his development. His replacement Gene Kennedy has really stepped up and been very good getting a few assists as well, he's also got interest from Bolton so here's hoping no bids come in. Sam Cornish has had a few games as well but being 20 already and a poor average rating i really need him to step up to become good depth. Freddie Price has managed to get some minutes at left back after an injury crisis and he stepped up well and even got a couple of assists. Harvey Sayer has been injured a lot but 4 assists in 4 starts and some very good performances leaves me very happy with him and will get more minutes. Andre Hasanally has only played a few times but has really struggled when he has played and it might be with other options for the wide area that he ends up leaving at some point. Donell Thomas with 5 goals so far has left me very impressed but i'm still not sure what his best position is yet but could be a valuable utility player in the end.

Samson Tovide is the jewel of the academy bunch and it's easy to see why with 6 goals and 4 assists so far mainly from wide and sometimes as a second striker. With Corie Andrews no longer playing and Sam Hutchinson struggling to impress up front i might trial Tovide up front to see if he can be my long term number 9. Here's hoping because if he can't then with Hutchinson i'm screwed. Speaking of Hutchinson i've been very disappointed in him with his only goal coming against Woking in the cup. His hold up play is good but really struggles to provide any goals or assists which i need him to start providing. I did one match try him up top in a 2 man front line rather than a striker and a shadow striker and he seemed to do much better. That could mean i need to change tactic to get the best out of my forward options.

Kai Redgrave hasn't had any minutes yet but i plan on doing so during the second half of the season. Taizo Marcel has been a very nice surprise returning 4 goals and 2 assists in 7 starts, also breaking Colchester's youngest goalscorer record at 16 years and 80 days against Tranmere. Kaan Bennett has got some good minutes as well and even managed to get his first U's goal against Harrogate. Tom Stagg has only had 1 sub appearance and did ok but is the same problem as Hutchinson in that he's a target man with no real goalscoring threat. So i'm unsure weather or not Stagg will have a long term future at Colchester, we'll see.

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Posted (edited)

Results

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We've definitely been a bit patchy so far this season. As you can see at the start things really weren't going well, mainly because the youngster were quite out of their depth. But then from Barrow onwards the team and the youngster really clicked and there were some very nice results including big wins against League One Gilliingham and Burton. There were a couple of games where we were totally outclassed though such as the 6-1 loss to Forest Green and the 4-0 loss to Bradford.

Highlights

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These games are particular highlights to me as they are the games where academy products got their first goals for the club. Tovide, Cracknell, Thomas, Marcel, Bennett and Kane all scoring and Marcel broke the youngest goalscorer record at 16 years and 80 days.

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While no academy players scored in these two matches they both stand out as big wins over higher league opposition. Especially the fact that the Gillingham game 7 academy players started the match and 8 started in the Burton match. That gives me real optimism that these players can make the step up.

Youth intake

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This looks like a very promising potential youth intake and hopefully there's some players that will be very useful for the club going forward in this challenge.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Captain Blackadder
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Youth Intake update

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Since this is an academy challenge i thought it would be good to do an update now i have my new youth intake. Overall i'm very happy with some of the players and a few might even get a few games before the end of the season. I'll post a few of the ones that i'm most happy with.

The best of the youth intake

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So the highest rated of the bunch is Maxwell O'Nien. A very handy looking ball winning midfielder with excellent work rate and fitness the key highlights here.

 

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Up next is playmaker Dion Lester who i think is the pick of the bunch. Good technique, lovely flair and excellent teamwork means i'm super excited by this guy and could be a U's legend in the making.

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Another ball winning midfielder in Ty Calver here to go alongside Maxwell O'Nien. His bravery and determination are his biggest assets and could be a good player for us.

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Lastly we have full back Rhys Robinson with good bravery and determination and excellent fitness levels. But with Tchmadeu our current first choice Rhys might not get a look in unless Tchmadeu gets sold, either way he'll be a good option for us.

 

That's it for the youth intake and my next update will be at the end of the season and i'm aiming to get a few of these some games before then. 

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2021-22 Season Review

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Our form did tail off massively after losing all the loanees but somehow still hung around the play off spots before falling short on the final day. Overall though considering i was expecting lower half at best i'm very happy with the teams development this season. To be honest i'm quite happy missing the play offs as had we gone up our young team would have been pummeled in League One.

Academy progress

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Young goalkeeper Ted Collins has had a valuable season of senior football being Colchester's number 1 playing 48 games. With an average rating of 6.93 he's certainly made the step up and is making huge strides in his development to become a key figure in this challenge. 

Nanory Kane has been the biggest surprise of them all being a rock at the heart of the defence every time he plays. With an average rating of 7.35 over 19 starts shows he's more than ready to become first choice next season. Billy Cracknell had injury problems in the second half of the season so didn't play so many games but is Mr.Dependable showing versatility a both right back and center back. Frankie Terry has also made good progress with 23 starts and will be first choice with Kane at center back next season. Junior Tchmadeu has had a very good season averaging 6.94 per match and going forward i'd like to see more assists from him. Bradley Chakawa being one of the younger players still managed a good 16 starts and will serve as back up to Terry and Kane at center back next season. Ryan Clampin i highlighted as a key player for this season and returned 3 goals, 2 assists and a 7.06 average rating proving that notion. Like Tchmadeu though, i'd like more assists from him and he's more than capable of doing so. Freddie Price like Chakawa is one of the younger players and was a good deputy to Clampin at left back starting 15 games.

Sam Cornish really struggled with form and injuries this season only playing 17 games total and a lowly 6.61 average doesn't leave me impressed. Gene Kennedy had a storming first half of the season which attracted interest from above. On deadline day an offer came in from Preston which was swiftly rejected but cause him to throw his toys out of the pram. His fury combined with Chilvers returning from injury resulted in him not playing that much over the second half of the season. He's wanted by Millwall now and he could very well leave this summer if he keeps sulking. Noah Chilvers after an injury hit first half of the season roared back with an excellent 5 goal 5 assist contribution being the vital creativity in midfield. Maxwell O'Nien was one of the better players from the youth intake and even got a start breaking Colchester's youngest player record. Harvey Sayer has been brilliant with 9 assists from the wing and has become first choice as the season has progressed, there's still much more to come though. Andre Hassanally keeps struggling with injuries and poor form and he could find himself at another club either on loan or permanent next season. Dion Lester like O'Nien came from the youth intake but has got a few starts and even an assist as well, he's going to play a lot more next season. Donell Thomas struggled second half of the season getting no goals or assists after a good start, he does serve as a good utility player though.

Samson Tovide is the shining light of the academy and returned a very impressive 11 goals 7 assists this season. He's going to be our talisman next season so i expect even better numbers from him. Kai Redgrave has broken out over the second half of the season returning 3 goals and put in some good performances. After such a good start Taizo Marcel stalled a bit as the season progressed but again being one of the younger players still has so much time ahead of him. Like Marcel Kaan Bennett also struggled as the season progressed and only got 1 goal and 1 assist, long term he may only be a back up for us but has to return better numbers to do so. Jake Hutchinson FINALLY stepped up after Corie Andrews left and managed to get 7 goals in the second half, hopefully now i've finally got a tune out of him he can kick on now. Tom Stagg though is still struggling a bit and like Hassanally could very well go out on loan next season.

Overall 22 players from the academy made appearances for Colchester this season which is excellent. It's vital for this challenge that these players are good enough to step up and thankfully they seem more than good enough.

Lastly i apologize for the long bits of text about the players development. I feel i need to provide updates on each of them because of what the challenge is but since there's so many it looks a bit boring. Being honest i don't blame anyone who can't be arsed to read all of that but thank you to those who do and are interested in this challenge :applause:

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Results

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In January after the loanees left we still kept up some good form including knocking Birmingham out of the F.A cup. From February onward our form plummeted which resulted in a tactic change from the Exeter game forwards. The new tactic worked wonders and kept the play off hopes alive but unfortunately it was too late.

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I'd like to highlight this game in particular since it was the first game in which the entire first 11 and subs that came on are all from the academy.

The return of old players

Now since this is an academy challenge to install a philosophy similar to Ajax and Barcelona we need to look at coaching as well. Both of these teams have coaches in the first team and youth teams that played for the club and understand the philosophy. So at Colchester i'll start bringing former players in as coaches so i have an entire playing squad from the academy and coaches who played here as well. First in is Kem Izzet who while is not an academy graduate he did play for the club for over 10 years so in he comes as a coach.

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Before we start i've looked at my earlier posts and feel they were maybe too big and not easily digestible. I'll try to keep them shorter to keep you from getting bored halfway through.

2022-23 Season

After a very successful first season with this challenge in which we missed out on the play offs on goal difference can we go one further? Well to start, once again the expectations set by the owner is to not get relegated. Where last season i was wary of a relegation battle with such a young squad, this time round i have absolutely no worries. The squad has been weakened a bit though and senior leadership have gone so this seasons squad is extremely young. But with a full season of games already under their belt from last season they are adequately equipped this time around. Honestly anything less than mid table and i'll be very disappointed and play offs this time i think is definitely achievable, which feels weird considering the average age of my squad is less than 20.

Transfers

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Gene Kennedy had a bid rejected from Preston in January and threw a bit of a hissy fit. He didn't play well after that and entering the final year of his deal and no intention of signing a new one sold him to Ipswich for £100k. Tom Eastman again in the final year of his deal and wanted a new challenge, with other defenders ready to step up i sold him to Plymouth. In one of the weirder transfers Brendan Wiredu was another who wanted a new challenge, once again with talented academy players ready to step up off he went as well to Go Ahead Eagles.

Sam Cornish, Andre Hasanally and Tom Stagg are all players who haven't impressed me whenever they've played. And with them being 19/20 years old their development is better served getting a full season of games elsewhere. And to finish the major outgoings both Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse have both hung up their boots and retired and become youth coaches at the club.

The Gene Kennedy deal has sprung an idea for future updates. What i'm going to do is keep a tally of the transfer fees accumulated by sales of academy products to see how much i can make. Obviously ideally i'd like to keep them around but with some of them they will go to bigger clubs as i can no longer keep them here. So with Kennedy being the first, so far we've made £100k from academy players, not bad so far. 

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Playing squad

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So this is my first team squad for this season. As i said a lot of senior players left, actually all senior players left so now my entire squad is from the academy which only being in the second season is quite scary. Both my captain and vice captain left in the summer so i've taken a gamble and appointed young defender Frankie Terry as captain. Being honest there wasn't a lot of options since there's no real leadership since everyone's so young but he had the best leadership and mentality.

Endurance Johnson, Eddie Hill, Al-Amin Kazeem and Ty Calver have all been promoted from the youth team to provide depth for this season. Academy player Gene Kennedy has already left for Ipswich and sharks are circling for a couple of my other players. Noah Chilvers has interest from Morecambe which to be honest doesn't really worry me, if a Championship club comes in later that might be a problem though. And Harvey Sayer has already had bids come in from Coventry and Middlesbrough but thankfully i've persuaded him to stay for the time being.

As i said all the leadership has gone and with the squad so fresh faced i though i'd post our current dynamics for a laugh.

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Tactics

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So during the abysmal run during the second half of last season i changed tactics which turned around our results. So i'm sticking with it this season and it provides quite a nice balance despite it being quite attacking. The team currently in the tactic is what i consider to be my strongest line up and the average age of the team is 18.6 :lol: who says you don't win anything with kids.

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Key Players For This Season

Frankie Terry

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It's a big season ahead for Frankie Terry as following the departures of senior players he's been given the captaincy. He'll be at the heart of the defence alongside Namory Kane this season so it's a big ask for the young players to step up and help keep clean sheets.

Ryan Clampin

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Ryan Clampin is the oldest player in the squad this season with an ancient age of 23 years old. He struggled with injuries last season but did well when played and has attracted interest from Oxford recently but won't be going anywhere. With only a few assists last season i hope for at least 5 this time round as the marauding full back is more than capable.

Noah Chilvers

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Like Clampin Chilvers is one of the more senior players at the squad and will be the driving force in midfield this season. Again like Clampin he struggled with injuries but still returned a decent 5 goals and 5 assists, let's hope he can push for 10 goals and assists this time around.

Harvey Sayer

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Harvey Sayer broke into the team and became a regular in the second half of last season and returned an impressive 9 assists in that time. With bids already rejected from Coventry and Middlesbrough this window he's in high demand. He's happy to stay for the time being though with promises of a promotion push enough to keep him here and he'll play a big part. Hopefully he can get double figures for assists this season and maybe even contribute a few goals as well.

Samson Tovide

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The jewel of the crown Samson Tovide stepped up last season with over double figures in goals and 7 assists in all competitions. The young forward hasn't had any interest from higher up yet but another impressive season again and no doubt big names will come calling. He's got another 2 years on his deal but unless i get promotion this might be his last season here as i might look to cash in next summer if he has no intention of renewing.

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August

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I'm going to do monthly updates instead of half season updates to keep things smaller and avoid long posts. We've started decently, we took the game to Reading in the Carabao Cup but fell short. Defensively we've been quite porous so far with 3 goals also conceded against newly promoted Grimsby and Southampton U23's. But good wins against newly relegated Gillingham and money bags Wrexham has provided some highlights so far.

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Once again we find ourselves 1 place outside the play offs, but only 4 matches played so pretty happy. Still a long way to go but i'm still hopeful of a play off push again this season.

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Posted (edited)

September

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Bit of a disaster really, after a bad end to August September was no better and a fragile defence was starting to show. The Walsall game in particular infuriated me, 60% possession over 20 shots and an xg of 2.5 and Walsall went and scored with their only shots on target. This resulted in another change of tactic to a back 5 for the Cambridge and Crawley matches which have resulted in 2 clean sheets so will persist for the time being. Also key midfielder Noah Chilvers broke his leg and is out for 6 months, not good news.

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Not a good month form wise saw a slide down the table to 14th. With the shambles in defence and blunt attack maybe my ambitious aims for a play off spot were just that and consolidation now the aim for this season. 

Edited by Captain Blackadder
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October

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Following a leaky start to the season i switched to a back five at the back end of September and got 2 clean sheets. Heading into October and that completely fell apart, the worst being a humiliating loss to Sutton thankfully not in the league though. I persisted with it one more game against Port Vale and even though we won we still conceded so many chances that it's no point playing with 5 defenders. So from Doncaster onward i switched to my 3rd formation of the season and again have a few promising results to start with.

Even with a 5 at the back i was still conceding so many chances and despite playing 2 strikers i wasn't taking any chances. So i took the mentality of well if the opposition can't get the ball they can't score so took a leaf out of Man City's book. The new tactic is a striker less formation which to be honest i never thought i'd be able to get one of those working but it's been very good so far. I don't want to jinx the tactic though so if i'm still doing well with it in the November update then i will post the tactic.

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All in all i'm happy that we are mid table and only a few points off the play offs. After the Doncaster match we were down in 16th and i was very pessimistic about this season but the new formation has sparked some optimism. Hopefully a strong November occurs and by the next update i'll be in the play offs.

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November

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Once again inconsistency is the issue, although losses to Doncaster and Peterborough could be expected we only won 2 matches this month. It may have been down to me adjusting tactics trying to find the right balance. In my striker less formation i was struggling with the wingers and was getting an average of 6.3 per match from both wingers. So i was experimenting on different roles for the wingers trying to find the right one and it's pretty obvious which games i found the right combination.

 

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Despite our inconsistencies we still only find ourselves a couple of points and places outside the play offs. If only we can get some consistency as the automatic promotion places are only 5 points away, but right now i'd settle for the play offs.

New Tactic

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So this is the new striker less tactic i've been talking about. It's interesting because my Mezzala's are my biggest goal threats in this tactic since they get the most chances. Hutchinson who couldn't score for toffee playing as a striker has 4 goals playing as a playmaker and i've finally got some consistency from the wingers. Like Manchester City the full backs occupy the space in central midfield vacated by the Mezzala's who often make runs behind the defence being played in by either the playmaker or wide players.

I'd love to know what people think of the tactic. It's a weird one but i'm playing well despite some bad results but there have been results where everything clicked and got a very nice victory.

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December

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A bit of a mixed bag this month with some frustrating results in matches where we dominated but didn't take chances. Tranmere and Bradford we were by far the better side but lapses in concentration defensively cost us valuable points. Good victories against Stevenage and Barrow but again we should have scored far more. Don't have any complaints about the Rochdale result as we weren't in the match at all.

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Despite some hiccups we've moved into the play off spots which i'm pleased with. If only we could find some consistency which is something i've been saying pretty much every month this season. If we can find some consistency the play offs at least are very achievable.

Going into January and once again big fish (in comparison to us) are coming calling for our players. Even though bids were rejected for Harvey Sayer from Coventry and Middlesbrough in the summer and he was happy to stay. There's interest from Birmingham, Ipswich, Luton and QPR this time round although i'm pretty certain he'll see out the season here unless he kicks up a fuss which i doubt. And interest has finally arrived for jewel of the crown Samson Tovide from multiple Championship clubs (Birmingham, Hull, Coventry, QPR) and this one i'm more concerned about. Last season since his deal ran out at the end of this season we had to offer him a new deal, but would only sign one with a release clause in it. So i reluctantly agreed with a minimum release clause of £450k, if a bid comes in i think he'll want to go but i don't know if i'll be able to convince him to stay. If i do let him go i'd ideally only let him go if the release clause is met but rumors of bids of only £250k are being mentioned and i might not have any power here. £250k would still be very good business but i'd rather he didn't leave mid season so we'll see if either i can get him to stay or get a loan back for the rest of the season.

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10 hours ago, davidmcain said:

@Captain Blackaddernice looking tactic, and I'm enjoying the posts as well. I think my two favorite ways to play FM are wither Youth Only or Strikerless. Hopefully you guys can push on and challenge for promotion!

Thanks! I was worried people might lose interest if i don't get promotion soon since i'd of thought people want to see progress and not stay in the same division for 4 or 5 seasons. But with a youth save it's hard to get out of divisions as it relies on the quality of players in the youth intakes.

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Was born in Colchester and grew up nearby so am enjoying reading this.

55 minutes ago, Captain Blackadder said:

i'd of thought people want to see progress and not stay in the same division for 4 or 5 seasons

Check out some of the stories in the Youth Academy Challenge thread, some people spend decades in the same division, don't worry about 4 or 5!

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January

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January was what every football manager hates, the kind that makes you want to uninstall the game and throw your laptop against the wall. Before it even began Talisman Samson Tovide got a calf injury ruling him out for the entire month. On top of that back up goalkeeper Endurance Johnson is out for 6 weeks with a back injury (that's relevant in a minute). And for the Doncaster, Harrogate and Exeter matches first choice Ted Collins was ruled out for 2 weeks with flu meaning i had to pluck a goalkeeper from the youth teams to deputize, safe to say it didn't go well.

The Port Vale and Salford games were the same, i didn't create anything and neither did they, very boring matches but defensive lapses meant two 1-0 losses. This resulted in further tactical tweaks from Doncaster onwards, to be more like Man City and having everyone roam. So i made sure every player had the instruction roam from position, either from their tactical role or instruction added if it wasn't already included. Even though it doesn't look like it it was actually a good idea as some of the play has been sensational. Every match i have completely dominated but because we are Colchester not Manchester City we are more prone to crap finishing and defending, so a good win against Doncaster was followed by the match from hell.

What can i say about the Harrogate match? Well like i said it's every football managers nightmare, 25 shots with an xg of 2.5, no goals scored and two goals conceded from a massive error and a penalty. It's funny though because in that match we played one of the best matches i've ever played on football manager, pretty much every player got a rating of over 7. We completely dominated the ball and every time we went forward we cut through them like a hot knife through butter, but the players thought we were playing rugby for some reason.

Another brilliant performance against Exeter with more terrible finishing and defending resulted in a 3-1 loss. And just as i was browsing P.C World for a new laptop in anticipation of another bad result we finally got a result our performance deserved. A fantastic 2-0 win against Northampton in which they didn't have a sniff and we could have easily gotten 4 or 5.

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I feel like i'm constantly repeating myself here. Again despite our massive inconsistency we are still only a couple of points and places off the play offs.

Goodbye Tovide (sort of)

As i said there was big interest in Sayer and Tovide and i was expecting bids to come in this window. With Sayer a few bids came in from Luton and Ipswich but as i expected he was fine to stay as i'd promised a promotion push this season. With Tovide the calf injury he sustained meant he lost a lot of interest... until deadline day. Early on deadline day i got a derisory offer of £75k from Derby, Tovide wanted to go and i couldn't persuade him to stay. So i said if an offer of £250k came in he could go which he was happy with. As predicted a larger offer came in which i negotiated up to £300k and a loan back for the rest of the season which was agreeable. So Samson Tovide has signed for Derby and will remain here for the rest of the season.

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After Gene Kennedy left for Ipswich in the summer for a fee of £100k we are now up to £400k in sales from academy players. Considering we are a league 2 side and only 18 months into the challenge that's a good amount of money made so far. I expect Harvey Sayer to leave this summer and i reckon i can get another £150-200k from him as well. The trouble is Samson Tovide being out for this month has demonstrated how reliant we are on him, without him we look like we can't score so next season will be very challenging without him.

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February

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Not a bad month, not a good month but one word keeps popping up this season, consistency. Against Walsall we were abject with only 25% possession and barely had a sniff on Walsall's goal. Against Cambridge we were excellent but were undone by 2 set pieces, set pieces have been a pretty big weakness as we don't have a lot of strong players or any decent heading ability. Crawley was good, we had good control of the ball and really should have scored more. Same with Bristol Rovers, we were very good and created lots of chances and only conceded from a direct free kick.

 

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We've dropped a few positions in the table but still find ourselves only a few points off the play offs as usual. At this stage i'm fairly certain we won't find the consistency needed to actually get in the play offs but you never know. The big news is that Noah Chilvers is finally fit after a broken leg in August and will now be available for March onwards. Maybe that's the catalyst needed to get the consistency that's required to make that next step into the play offs.

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March

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Good news everyone i finally have another word other than consistency for this month, this time it's frustration. A good performance against table topping Carlisle but ultimately came up short and a very good home win against Scunthorpe. The Sutton game i was 3-2 up then conceded a 94th minute equalizer and Gillingham i was 1-0 up then gave away a 92nd minute penalty to level things up. So what should have been 3 wins from 4 this month is now 1 win, 2 draws and 1 defeat so i am quite frustrated at 4 points dropped.

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Those 4 points dropped could be massive in our play off push as it could have put us just outside with not long to go. I've also passed 100 games in charge of one club which i haven't done for a few years so that's a nice bonus for me. But it's so frustrating knowing that i could get out of this league easily with just a few signings but i guess that's part of the fun otherwise it'd be too easy and why i often get bored in the first place.

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2022-23 Youth Intake

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All in all i'm fairly happy with this youth intake, the quality is fantastic and is leaving my squad a bit over loaded in certain positions. But the downside is some of the players have rubbish personalities including unambitious, light hearted and even fickle. My 2 best players from last years intake had similar personalities, does anyone know why that is potentially? I've checked the personality of my head of youth development and he is balanced so i don't know why i'm producing so many lackadaisical players.

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April + May

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With the play offs a slim possibility we finally picked up a bit of form for the back end of the season. Good although boring 1-0 wins against Grimsby, Tranmere, Stevenage and Swindon propelled us closer to that top 7. We were outclassed by Crewe but was very unfortunate to lose to Wrexham through an 89th minute goal, something that has been a recurring pattern recently. Then on the final day we were a couple of points outside the play offs and had to go and get a result against Bradford to stand any chance. So of course we were absolutely dire and lost 4-1 for a dismal end to an inconsistent campaign and once again miss out on the play offs on the final day.

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I feel 13th is an accurate position for us this season but also not in a sense. In the league we never went higher than 7th i think or lower than 16th so we were completely average all season. But in my next post i'll post team stats that show we should have finished higher as attacking stats wise we were at the top of pretty much everything. 

Player stats

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The key standouts this season was our defence. As our usual starting back 4 of Tchamadeu, Kane, Terry and Clampin all averaged over 7 this season which i'm delighted with. But that also has a price as 3 of them are now wanted by those higher up in the footballing pyramid. Stars from last years youth intake Maxwell O'Nien and Dion Lester had decent first senior campaigns. Both starting nearly 30 games each and generally looked like they didn't stand out for the wrong reasons which bodes well. Our top scorer this season in a surprising twist is Jake Hutchinson with only 9 goals, i think that demonstrates where we went wrong this season. 

I was super happy with the contribution of young midfielder Taizo Marcel this season. I've been re-training him from a forward player to a mezzala and got 7 goals from central midfield, i've got high hopes of double figures next season. I'd also like to praise this seasons biggest surprise which is midfielder Ryan Lowe. He started this season in the U'18s but was promoted because of Chilvers' broken leg and took his chance with both hands. He's not great ability wise with only 2 star potential but to his credit was fantastic and even got 5 goals from 15 starts. He's done enough to prove to me that he can be counted on next season as well.

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Team Stats - Where Did It Go Wrong

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Looking at the general stats we are at the top in pass completion, possession and tackles won. Obviously possession without scoring is meaningless but the other teams dominating the stats above are Walsall and Crewe who finished 1st and 2nd this season.

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Interesting one this, we were top in the headers won percentage yet 3rd bottom in headers one. It's an odd paradox that we barely had any headers yet are so good at winning them, yet we were crap from scoring from headers at set pieces.

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Statistically defensively we were very good this season, we were joint 3rd for clean sheets and the 4th best xg against. That is the benefit of a possession orientated system in that if you can keep the ball well then then you can't really concede too many chances and goals. It doesn't take a genius to figure out if we were so good defensively then why did we finish mid table, well we're about to find out.

 

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As you can see we completely dominated the passing and possession stats. We completed over 500 more passes than any team in the division this season. So if we were good defensively and were very good in possession where did we go wrong?

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And this is where the problems this season were. 3rd in the league for chances created and xg yet 11th in goals and a shocking 18th in shot conversion rate. So we were fantastic defensively, in possession and chance creation yet absolutely rubbish in scoring goals. I have alluded to that during updates throughout the season. We dominated pretty much every match this season yet when it came to putting the chances away we thought we were playing rugby.

So it's obvious that in order to achieve glory next season we need to keep doing what we are doing and somehow find our scoring boots.

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2023-24 Season Preview

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It's been a very quiet transfer window so far with players mostly only going out on loan to get more experience. The only sale predictable was Harvey Sayer who has left for Championship bound Sunderland for £150k. That takes academy sales in this save up to £550k.

There's been lots of interest in other players though with right back Junior Tchamadeu attracting interest from League 1 with Crewe and Walsall both making bids. Billy Cracknell has also had 3 bids rejected from Portsmouth but like Tchamadeu both seem more than happy to stay. Namory Kane has been the subject of bids from Portsmouth, Burton and Lincoln but also isn't pushing for a move. There's also interest from League 1 for club captain Frankie Terry but he has shown no desire to move and is more than happy to stay.

In midfield Samson Tovide's loan ended so he has now gone to Derby. Dion Lester has had bids from Coventry and QPR rejected and like the others seems to have no desire to leave right now. Noah Chilvers has had 2 bids from Forest Green in League 1 turned down and Jake Hutchinson is attracting interest from Charlton but no bids have come in yet.

Squad

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There's been a few changes to the squad for this season. In goal backup goalkeeper Endurance Johnson has gone out on loan and Scott Murray will be the deputy for this season.

There's been no changes in defence this season, no one has left or gone on loan so no one needed promoting from the youth teams.

In midfield Sam Cornish and Ty Calver have gone out on loan allowing Simon Roger Ndongala to become backup to holding midfielder Maxwell O'Nien. Martin Okyere replaces Harvey Sayer while Andre Hasanally returns after a successful loan spell at Torquay last season to replace Freddie Price who's gone on loan to Kingstonian for the season. Eric Petrie, Ellis Emptage and James Williams also get promoted to provide some squad depth for this season.

Tactics

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The starting line up is pretty much the same as last season. The back 5 of Collins, Tchamadeu, Kane, Terry and Clampin is unchanged providing no late bids come in for any of them.

In midfield O'Nien, Thomas and Marcel was the first choice midfield 3 for most of last season, Thomas and Marcel both got 7 goals each last season so i'm hopeful of double figures from both this season.

Up top Hutchinson keeps his place as the false 9 while Okyere becomes the natural replacement for the outgoing Sayer. Noah Chilvers starts this season out on the right side of midfield after falling down the pecking order in midfield after his broken leg last season. While he was out for 6 months Thomas and Marcel both thrived meaning no place for him when he returned. But he's still too talented to bench so out on the right is the only place i can put him right now although he has performed well in the no.10 striker less role so could oust Hutchinson during the season.

Hopes and Expectations

This season the expectation like in the first two seasons has been to avoid relegation which i think by now we know isn't going to happen. As the stats showed last season we should really have gotten a play off place at least but were let down by abysmal finishing. I'm quietly confident of success this season as the new youth intake players are technically quite good so we are playing better football and creating better chances. I think a fast start is crucial though as it allows confidence and momentum to grow whereas a slow start means we are constantly playing catch up. 

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August

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I wanted a fast start and i got one, not exactly exhilarating results but wins none the less. Only one goal conceded which was against Gillingham and was a penalty so we look far more defensively secure. We're still having the same problem scoring goals as we create enough to win most matches by 2 or 3 goals so constantly grinding out 1-0's is pretty frustrating.

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Good start and i'm hopeful i can keep this up. But if we still can't take our chances i have a bad feeling we'll start to slip back down to mid table over the course of the season.

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September

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I've got 2 words and they rhyme with the words clucking bell. Bottom line my tactic completely fell apart and stopped working. For the past season i'd average 60% possession, over 20 shots and an xg of over 2 per match but terrible finishing meant inconsistent results. The Swindon and Spurs u23 matches i was literally backs against the wall for 90 minutes and was completely dominated. Stockport wasn't much better but at least i got a goal, Port Vale was a bloodbath which i'll show below but at least i scored twice.

But these awful performances led me to the tactics forum to try and get some help. I said that i have no good wingers, lots of creative midfielders who can't score and a striker who can't score with his feet only his head and posted my tactic. For those of you who know the tactic my tactic got criticized pretty heavily and was told to simplify everything. But the whole reason i went with such a quirky tactic in the first place was that nothing was working and ironically that tactic up until recently was by far the best i've had so far.

So i changed up, stuck Hutchinson back as a striker and went back to a more simple formation and way of playing. It hasn't gone well so far as Mansfield and Wrexham was much the same as before. I was completely dominated and when i did get a chance it was missed in hilarious fashion

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I think the less said about this the better.

The Battle Of Port Vale

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I don't know what on earth possessed Port Vale in this match but it was a bloodbath. 8 yellow cards and 1 red and a penalty conceded, has anyone seen anything close to that? But as usual the game ended in frustrating fashion after i thought i'd won it with a 92nd minute penalty they went straight up the other end and equalized. Like i said, clucking bell.

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Interesting thread. Following, because I like long-term, youth only saves.

What concerns your tactics, similar story happened to me, too - I cruised through first season pretty well, scoring goals and so on, but at the beginning of the second season - nothing. The same setup, same attacking players and roles, against fairly small teams in the league and results like 1:0 and 0:0. Lucky I didn't lose too many points. And suddenly in October... bam... things start to click again - 4:0 and 5:0 results, plenty of key passes, several chances in the game and clinical finishing. Not really sure what happened in between.

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On 11/05/2022 at 12:49, wearesporting said:

Port Vale must have been infected by their neighbours for that game.

Considering the last week or so i first thought you were referencing Leeds but then thankfully my geography kicked in. Unless my geography is crap and you are referencing Leeds?

On 11/05/2022 at 13:47, Draakon said:

Interesting thread. Following, because I like long-term, youth only saves.

What concerns your tactics, similar story happened to me, too - I cruised through first season pretty well, scoring goals and so on, but at the beginning of the second season - nothing. The same setup, same attacking players and roles, against fairly small teams in the league and results like 1:0 and 0:0. Lucky I didn't lose too many points. And suddenly in October... bam... things start to click again - 4:0 and 5:0 results, plenty of key passes, several chances in the game and clinical finishing. Not really sure what happened in between.

Thanks mate and i've kept an eye on yours as well. I think first season everything is normal as there's not too much change but after that it get's more difficult. Key players get sold and old players retire and no incomings means without signing anyone the dynamics and team hierarchy take a massive hit, plus you have to wait for leaders to emerge.

On 11/05/2022 at 16:25, JackJCFC said:

Great thread so far, looks like you might have for your first waves of youth intakes to develop a bit before pushing for a promotion.

Yeah i probably got too far ahead of myself aiming for promotion. They need time to develop but they're getting lots of games so hopefully that speeds things up a bit. Hopefully i can ride out the bad results and trust everything will come together at some point.

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3 hours ago, Captain Blackadder said:

Considering the last week or so i first thought you were referencing Leeds but then thankfully my geography kicked in. Unless my geography is crap and you are referencing Leeds?

Not being English, local geography is definitely not my thing. I was shook to learn recently that Stoke and Port Vale reside within 6 miles of each other.

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October

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Another month of bad results and performances, there's definitely a problem but i can't be certain what it is. My team is very young and every defeat is affecting moral despite my best efforts to raise them again. With my strikerless formation i at least had over 55% possession per match, over 20 shots and an xg of over 2. But since changing tactics i average less than 45% possession, less than 10 shots and an xg of roughly 0.5 per match, we're even worse than before. I know it takes time for new tactics to start working but we are genuinely inept right now and our attack is about as dangerous as a daffodil.  

Our only decent striker and only one that could score right now Jake Hutchinson got injured in the Tranmere match and is out for 6 weeks. To be honest i thought we wouldn't score but instead scored 6 in 2 games, go figure, maybe he's the problem. But that little optimism was dashed at the end of the month things reverted to the norm with another bad display at Woking.

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I think the next course of action is to find a way to just be solid, we have a young team so i need a system that will get everything out of what i have. I'm going to look to Simeone's Atletico and how Dyche used to set Burnley up for inspiration. If we're not going to score we at least need to be hard to break down because we're conceding too many easy goals as well. I'll also look to start making the best use of set pieces as we need any goal we can get right now and i need a few good results to boost morale then things might start improving.

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November

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My aim to become more solid like Atletico Madrid or Burnley hasn't gone exactly to plan to put it mildly. The Doncaster and Exeter matches were the only times we were able to soak up pressure and grab a winner. But most of the time the dam eventually burst and the floodgates opened which resulted in a few batterings even if the score only stayed 1-0. I'm in two minds on whether to continue this strategy or not as we are not defensively strong enough to withstand constant attacking pressure.

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Factor in our inability to score or keep clean sheets i'm starting to get a little worried about relegation. I don't really like playing so defensively as it feels cowardly to me, if we could actually win that way i wouldn't mind so much but we're still not doing well. It might get to the point where i'll take the mentality of "if we're going to go down then we'll go down fighting" and go full on attack. It could result in further thrashings but it could also be what we need to do, either way if we do go down i'd rather not go down playing like a coward.

Edited by Captain Blackadder
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December

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I decided to persist with my Burnley/Atletico tactic to see if i'd get any improvement, i did not. After the Accrington game i took the "if we're going to go down we may as well go down swinging" mentality and went for another tactic change. Full on throttle attacking football, going for the jugular and not giving the opposition the chance to get out of their half. Like i said i'd no idea how it was going to go as it could have just meant bigger thrashings, but THANKFULLY i got what i was looking for. Three excellent results followed against Newport, Bristol Rovers and Crawley and all of a sudden my outlook on the season has changed.

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No positional change but we have some space between us ans the teams below. I'm not even going to pay any attention to the fact i'm now only 11 points from the play offs. Any time i get my hopes up we fall apart so i'm just going to take it one game at a time and keep giving the youngsters playing time to keep them progressing. 

The fantastic news in those last 3 wins was that players from the previous 2 years youth intake scored. Martin Okyere, James Williams and Eric Petrie all got their first goals for the club so i take that as a good sign to persist with this new tactic, that and also the fact i'm finally winning.

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