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[FM21] Generational Manager 1.1


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Some of you who have been following my career updates recently, will know that my FM22 stopped working and I decided to start a new save called Generational Manager. While it is fun, some of the rules that I had applied to my save, have proven to be a little too annoying, specially all the rules that required me to do no hiring apart from staff and no transfers.

So, I am restarting this save in FM21, as my FM22 still does not work. However, with this save there will be no real rules, apart from the overarching spirit of the save which was to play a manager as realistically as possible, that means caring about the contract I am provided (although I will be tracking my earnings far less, as that was a little annoying as well), and eventually retiring and having a relative continue the journey into the future.

Another change I am making is that each manager will have just one tactic that they must be wed to. I can amend the roles possibly or amend the mentality should I require but I am only allowed one tactic.

The only real part of the rules that will remain will be what I am doing with the leagues. Every 5 years the top 7 coefficient leagues in Europe remain as well as three randomly drawn leagues from elsewhere in Europe. Starting in 2020 and going to 2025 and so on from there.

We will be starting at the closest club to me that is in the pyramid and that will be Wealdstone much like last time around.

I think that is pretty much everything, next up I will introduce the manager and the tactic.

I might also change the way I report back. I am more of fan now of the yearly updates. I think it provides a good synopsis of what happened and keeps everything contained and should allow people to catch up quickly on what has happened.

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Joao Terminale, no experience and no badges. First role in management will be in charge of Vanarama National League side Wealdstone.

 

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We are going with an assymetric 4-5-1. Nothing too special going on with it I would say apart from from inverted wing backs which should help in midfield. Normal centre backs on defend. A sweeper keeper to cover anything over the top as we are playing the offside trap. In midfield we have a deep lying playmaker sitting, with a central midfielder joining attacks from deep, as well as an attacking midfielder. Two wingers to provide balls into the box and an advanced forward to hopefully put things away. I may find that it is a little too attacking, but we must keep the formation the same although we can amend a few roles here and there should we like.

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Coefficient Leagues

es.png.a8ffdf815d4c7725d9a4d03daa288436.png  Spain

gb-eng.png.eccb2a7ee2096c72e186244fe4877b2f.png  England

de.png.6b0a5ee594e897e2dae120d5577bb87f.png  Germany

  it.png.f1398bebb4862393b36cbe6360eb292d.png  Italy

fr.png.bb95cb6847306cae673f05fcdd3f0b53.png  France

pt.png.a1bd0f005b1e047583f9ce60541fef02.png  Portugal

ru.png.e1a00b2a400528f85116091a36281dc5.png  Russia

Wildcard Leagues

hu.png.71be048f7b3c78e246b79adb3c25fe81.png  Hungary

tr.png.4384298787e4ce850c14104178189b6a.png  Turkey

bg.png.0b505bf63b76ebacbdc0f1c8d8c60ae5.png  Bulgaria

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2020-2021 Season

| Fixtures 1 | Fixtures 2 | Fixtures 3 | League Table | Transfers | Squad Overview | Top Youth Intake Prospects | Other Youth Prospects | Manager Profile |

 

We made our transfers at the start of the season as we used up all the available wage budget and then some to bring in Jack Madelin, Thomas Sang, Kyle Barker, Paul Taylor and Daniel Phillips. I felt they were all players that would improve the first team, although we missed out on bringing any improvements on the wings which I would have loved to, but we missed out on our targets. Daniel Phillips was a bit of an afterthought for us, but he is a good player and keeps the relationship we have with Watford as an affiliate club going, and he would cost us nothing to take on loan, they would even cover his wages.

In terms of the expectations for the season, we were expected to finish in 19th place this season which would leave us just a few places above the relegation zone. I expected us to do a bit better than that, but so much of football at this level or at any level is momentum so I was hoping we could start well.

October

It marked an unbeaten month for us as we started off well in the league and managed to get through in the FA Cup Qualifying Rounds against Eastbourne Borough. There were a couple of draws at the end of the month to keep us on our toes. Danny Parish did get himself injured towards the end of the month which meant that we would need to rely on Jerome Slew up front.

November

We suffered our first loss of the season in the opener as we faced off against Yeovil Town and and came away with a 3-0 loss. But we would recover for the remainder of the month. As we got through in the FA Cup, as we beat Northampton Town in the 1st Round and Swindon Town in the 2nd Round, to give us a nice little cup run. The draw would see us play Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion in the 3rd Round and with it some good money. In the league we continued the good form with wins against much fancied Stockport County and Wrexham amongst the three wins and draw we had in the month after the Yeovil defeat.

December

We played out a draw against rivals Barnet away and then continued our good form with a couple of wins before we faced Leatherhead United in the FA Trophy Third Round just in time for Danny Parish to come back into the starting line-up. We beat Leatherhead 4-1 to advance to the next round. Around this time, we were also receiving quite a lot of criticism from parent managers with regards to their players on loan with us and playing them out of position which I attempted to cajole and persuade them to overlook the issue. As we got towards the end of the month, we continued our great form and managed to hit the top of the league.

January

As we entered the new year, we sat top of the league, and we beat Halifax Town in the opener for the month away 4-2 to continue our form. I was a little concerned the wheels might come off because they were in good form going into the game. The FA Cup Third Round came around early in the month against Brighton and Hove Albion, however we were never really in the game eventually succumbing to them 3-1 at home. Just after this result we lost Thomas Sang, as he was recalled by Cardiff City. It was always a possibility since we were playing him irregularly and often out of the position that we agreed with them. Still, it was not the biggest loss for us. Right after that we were in the FA Trophy again for the 4th Round against Farsley Celtic and managed to get through the tie winning 4-1. However, there was a blow for us again right after this game as this time Jack Madelin was recalled, who was playing an awful lot of football for us. Again, we were having to play him at times out of position that was agreed. We would win the remainder of our games in the month until the final game of the month where we uncharacteristically lost to Dagenham & Redbridge who were right near the bottom of the league. The loss ended a 13-game unbeaten streak.

February

The opening game for February saw us face 2nd placed Maidenhead United away and with three points between us, it was a key game, and we came away with a big three points as we beat them 3-1. Next up we were back in the FA Trophy, at the 4th Round stage to face Weymouth. It was a tough affair, but we came through it 2-1 to advance to the next round where would play National League North side Chorley. In the league we continued our winning ways beating Solihull Moors and Eastleigh but then had a hiccup at home to Bromley as we lost 2-0 in a very poor performance, before returning to winning ways in the league with a win over King’s Lynn Town. The final fixture of the month was the aforementioned FA Trophy Quarter Final against Chorley and despite falling behind, we came through the tie in the end winning 5-2 away in extra time to book our place in the semi-finals. However, Danny Parish would again suffer a month’s long injury as a result of the game, which was not good news for us.

One thing that was noticeable now was the fact that we had a lot of tiredness and fatigue within the team. With a semi-professional team trying to complete a National League season without a full week’s training or the pre-season to allow us to go out on all fronts. Secondly the tactic we were using requires a lot of hard graft from the players so is not so well suited to this level of the game.

March

This month was jam packed with games as we entered the final stretch of the season. Before a ball was kicked, we sat, seven points clear of Maidenhead United with a game in hand over them and eight points clear of Aldershot Town, having played the same number of games. Incidentally we played them first up in the month. This month had a huge amount of the harder fixtures, including the likes of Hartlepool away, Wrexham at home, Yeovil at home, Stockport County away as well as Barnet at home. While it could have gone pear-shaped, we were actually brilliant, winning all our matches apart from away at Dover Athletic and away at Notts County. This put us 12 points ahead in the league, but with 2nd placed Stockport County having two games in hand on us.

Meanwhile the draw for the FA Trophy would see us play Barnet in the semi-final, which would be played early in April.

This month we signed a new deal at the club, that would keep us at Wealdstone until June 2023, with a small increase in wage to £875 per week and an additional bonus if we were to be promoted to the top division. As well as a compensation package of £90,000 to buy out our contract for any other club.

April

We opened the month with our semi final game against Barnet in the FA Trophy at home. I expected it to be close but, in the end, we were much too strong for Barnet as we booked a final place after a 5-1 win, and that was after they had taken the lead after just three minutes. In the final we would play National League strugglers Woking, to be played in early May. The next few games were problematic for us as we dropped points against Torquay United at home and lost to Woking away. We then also dropped points away to Weymouth to really start to pile on the pressure on ourselves. Woking and Weymouth particularly were poor results because they were right down their in the relegation fight. After the Weymouth game we still sat 10 points clear in the league from Stockport County, but they had two games in hand so could cut the gap to just four points.

Another home loss in the next game against Boreham Wood, really told me we were in crisis and in serious peril of blowing our massive lead at the top of the table. The gap was down to six points at this stage to Stockport County with a game in hand in their favour. Fortunately, they had not had all their own way and had drawn against Maidenhead United. By the time we would play our next game, the gap would remain at six points after Stockport County would lose to Eastleigh away. There were five league games to go, and we realistically needed to win likely three of the five to be more or less assured of winning the league. Depending on results and goal difference swings we may end up needing to win four of them, but it all depended on what Stockport County could do, and at a long shot Aldershot Town and Yeovil Town still had a very remote chance of winning the league if we both cocked it up.

Around this time there was a bit of falling out between myself and Moses Emmanuel. He had been asking to leave and we did try and get him a move but there was no club coming forward for his services. Eventually this escalated into a meeting, and the meeting did not go well, as I objected to the players asking me about selection policy. The main outcome was that there was no way back for Moses with the club and I will let his contract expire at the end of the season and some very minor morale damage to a few of team leaders at the club who brokered the deal. The end result was that for now Moses was demoted to the Under 23s as I am no longer willing to deal with him. If he wants to play, he can play Under 23 football.

This month we got our youth graduates. There seemed to be a little bit of potential, in the likes of Aaron Skelton, Luke Murray-Allard and Nana Higgins. But at this level, I would be surprised if any of these players would ever make it with us, as we just don’t have the infrastructure to develop the players to their maximum.

May

This was the crunch month; we knew that we would need to grind out results and I had one eye on what Stockport County were doing in their games. Last month had been a nightmare we had given up the momentum in the title race and made what looked like an unassailable league, look very much assailable again. First up we faced off against mid-table Halifax Town at home, but before we got a chance to play Stockport County gave us confidence as they were held at home by Solihull Moors, the final score finishing 2-2. Now they were five points behind having played a game more.

We hosted Halifax Town and returned to winning ways with a very nice 3-0 win, which more less put one of our hands on the trophy. Eight points ahead we were now, with just 12 possible points remaining. We realistically needed a win and draw from our remaining games. The run in also did not see us play against any of the promotion hopefuls apart from Chesterfield who were sitting in 8th, and we still had the likes of Altrincham, who were battling relegation and Sutton United and Dagenham & Redbridge that had nothing to play for and were hopefully already on the beach.

Before we could get back to league, we were at Wembley for the FA Trophy final against Woking. They had been struggling in the National League and looked like they would be relegated, but this was the cup, and anything could happen. The game sat at 1-1 for quite some time, when Woking cancelled out our opener in the second half, but we ramped things up in the last 15 minutes and ended up running out 4-1 winners, to win the FA Trophy. A big confidence boost going into the remainder of the final month of the season with promotion now firmly the only thing on our minds.

Meanwhile before we even kicked another ball in the league we had great news, Stockport County who were now under all the pressure in the title race had dropped more points losing at Bromley 3-1. With a goal difference that was 15 goals superior to that of Stockport’s we now realistically just needed a point from our remaining games to be promoted. Two points would change that equation to being mathematically promoted.

Sutton United was our next game and this was our opportunity to be promoted, and we did just that as we turned a 2-1 deficit late on into a 3-2 win, to confirm ourselves as promoted to the Football League. Obviously, the reaction the promotion was one of delight as at the start of the season there would have been few who would have predicted it, but we had done and, in the end, we still had three games left to play.

The final few weeks of the league season would not go all our own way as we lost to Chesterfield late on after leading the game, but did manage to beat Altrincham and Dagenham & Redbridge.

Following our promotion, the board informed me that we would be turning professional, which is essentially a necessity to join the Football League. The main advantage that I could see is that we will now have all week to work on training, which this season has been a problem both in preparing for upcoming games but also in terms of maintaining fitness.

Manager Thoughts

In the end it was a wonderful season for us as we managed to pick up both the FA Trophy and the National League title. Next season is going to be difficult. We already know that we are going to be very much favourites for the drop, and I will need to really scour the transfer market to get the team in shape to look to survive next season. I think we will be letting go of a fair few players and looking to get in replacements more suited to the level we will be playing at. Of course, there are already those that I have throughout the season been periodically providing new contracts to. The likes of Danny Parish, Alex Dyer, Josh Meekings and Michee Efete just to name a few.

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Career Summary

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2021-2022 Season

| Fixtures 1 | Fixtures 2 | Fixtures 3 | League Table | Papa John’s Trophy Group | Transfers 1 | Transfers 2 | Squad Overview | Top Youth Intake Prospects | Other Youth Prospects | Finances | Manager Profile |

To comply with the rules of the Football League we were forced to move from Grosvenor Lane into The Hive, which is in Harrow and is where Barnet play their games. It is a 6,500-seater stadium and would likely help us attract larger attendances.

This season we did not have a huge amount more to spend on wages, only another £5k or so, and we did have a transfer budget of around £40k, but I was loathe to spend money if there were better alternatives available either on a free transfer or in the loan market.

We had to release a fair few players this season. Connor Stevens, Jacob Mendy, Ross Lafayette, Connor Smith, Daniel Green, and Jerome Okimo all left the club. Paul Taylor retired, and despite his quality last season I think he was not good enough to compete at League Two standard so I would have let him go as well.

Later in the window Moses Emmanuel, Dennon Lewis and Charlee Hughes were also released. In the case of Lewis, I would have kept him, but he wanted a lot of money in wages, and I did not think he was worth the money.

Into the club Rob Alter on loan from Blackpool, Tiago Cakur on loan from Watford, Stephen Duke-McKenna on loan from QPR, Elliott Johnson joined us from Dagenham & Redbridge.

Gary Harkins, Andrew Tutte and Jake Buxton were unattached and brought in. Adam Randell came in on loan from Plymouth Argyle and Sam Blair came in from Norwich City on loan. Liam Daly came in from Barnet

Towards the end of the window, we got in Iestyn Hughes on loan from Manchester United.

In terms of media predictions for the league we are expected to get relegated this season and expected to finish 23rd just in front of fellow promoted side Aldershot Town.

July

We opened our pre-season we a revised set of training schedules, and this allowed us finally to prepare properly for games, focussing on attacking corners, and defending them as well as many other areas of the game. The friendlies went to plan this month as we played a few Under 23 teams as well as Lincoln City and some non-league sides.

We also opened the league season against Scunthorpe United at home and we managed to pick an opening day win with a 2-0 win.

August

We started this month away to Stevenage in the league and we continued to defy the odds as we smashed them 5-1. Before we could get back to the league, we were in the Carabao Cup first round against Millwall at home, and we bested our higher league opponent winning on penalties after a 0-0 draw, to advance to the Second Round of the Carabao Cup. The draw would put us up against Premier League side Cardiff City.

Back in the league we could only manage a draw in our next game against Colchester United with a 1-1 score line.

Our first defeat of the season would come in the Carabao Cup as we lost at home to Cardiff City 5-3. We certainly gave them a game but, in the end, it was not enough.

We would suffer our first defeat in the league in our next league game against Port Vale, losing 2-1.

The final fixture of the month would see us travel to Cheltenham Town for the opening game of the Papa John’s Trophy and we suffered a another defeat this time 1-0.

September

The month opened with a third successive away game against Mansfield, and we got back to winning ways with a 3-1 win, but we then dropped points as we lost to Tranmere Rovers at home 1-0 after dominating the game. It was showing that the step up in class was giving us our fair share of problems. However, the start had been good up to this point and we were sitting in the playoff spots.

In the final fixtures of the month, we went away to Bolton Wanderers and lost, but managed to get back to winning ways at home to Forest Green to remain in the playoff hunt.

October

We opened this month by smashing Carlisle United away 5-2. We were in the Papa John’s Trophy looking to get our first points next against Bournemouth Under 23s, and unfortunately, we lost 1-0 and that put us out of the competition at the group stage.

Another win against Salford in the league put us on the front foot, but we came crashing back down to earth very quickly in our next game as we went away to top of the table Crewe Alexandra and lost 5-0, in a very disappointing defeat. Ironically, I did not think the stats would show that Crewe were particularly better than us, but they took their chances.

I was hoping for a recovery in the next game at home to Plymouth Argyle but again we were well beaten 3-1 and again it was a game where we were not worse than our opponents.

During this time, we learned that we would be playing Colchester United away in the FA Cup First Round.

The month kept getting worse as we lost to Crawley Town, drew against Walsall at home and then lost to Cambridge United, to make it no win in 5 league games. We dropped down the table to 9th place and now sitting three points away from the playoff places. We needed a massive return to form as this month had been trash.

November

After continuing our different form against Northampton Town with a draw away, we went to Colchester United for the FA Cup First Round and we managed to find a way to win as we came away with a 2-1 result, to qualify for the Second Round.

The Second Round of the FA Cup was drawn, and we got Bromley, which should give us a decent chance of making it to the Third Round.

Our next fixture was back in the Papa John’s Trophy for a dead rubber against Gillingham and we got a nice 2-0 win which was nice just to keep the morale up.

However, when we did return to the league to play Doncaster Rovers, we could only manage a 3-3 draw at home, as our tough form continued. We only managed to get parity in the 94 minute of the game, so things continue to be problematic in the league, and my eyes continued to look downwards as opposed to upwards, as I was fearing the bad form could reel us in to trouble. We were now seven games without a win.

Another loss this time against Barrow, now made it no wins in eight as we now dropped down to 13th place, and I was beginning to get worried.

After the Barrow game it was time to ask the board to continue to fund my coaching badges, which so far, I had only got to National C Licence with. It went as far as me threatening to resign if they did not grant me my wish, as I was so annoyed at the very stupid attitude of the board towards this. They thankfully relented and we were allowed to proceed on with our National B Licence.

It did not improve our results much as we got a 1-1 draw away to Newport County, who are not having the best of seasons, but at least it was not another loss.

We finally did get a win in our final game of the season, however it was in the FA Cup as we got an away win against Bromley 2-0, to book our place in the Third Round.  The draw would give us Southampton at home in the Third Round. I would have liked it away more, since we would have received more revenue, but it still should be a good earner for the club. The tie would be played in January.

December

First up in December we faced Leyton Orient, still looking to get back to winning ways in the league, but we could only manage a 1-1 draw, which made it 10 in a row without a win, and we were now 13th in the table.

After 10 matches without winning finally away to Morecambe, who were bottom of the table we managed to get the win by 1-0. Amazingly despite our absolutely shocking form we were only six points from the playoff places.

We almost won our next game away at Scunthorpe United, but they equalised in injury time to make it 1-1 the final result. However, we would taste victory again in our next game when we beat Bradford City 3-1. It finally felt as if that horrible form was somewhat behind us again.

Next, we had a difficult situation having to play Colchester United away and then Stevenage at home within 3 days. Colchester United we managed to beat with two very late goals to give us a 2-0 win.  We had to completely to rotate the squad for the game with Stevenage, but regardless of that we managed to come up with a 1-0 win.

All in all, the month ended up being a good one, as we went unbeaten through it, and what had been a 10-game winless run was now a 6 game unbeaten run.

January

The opener for the new year was the FA Cup Third Round tie against Southampton at home. Even though Southampton were having a tough Premier League season, they dominated the game denying us a shot on target and ended up winning 1-0. At least it was not a battering, and so I hope the morale is not too affected. Money-wise it was worth about £150,000 to the club with the gate receipts and the TV revenue related to the fixture, so that is at least a big positive for us.

Port Vale at home was the first game after the FA Cup and we got a big 4-1 win which pushed us up the league now back into the playoff spots and now just two points behind Leyton Orient in the final automatic promotion spot. A few days later we beat Mansfield 4-1 to now jump into the automatic playoff places.

Another postponement followed this month as we were due to play Aldershot Town away, but a waterlogged pitch again delayed the match, and it was rescheduled for February.

During this period, I finally got to grips with reorganising our scouting network. We had successfully gotten a third scout, as well as the chief scout. This allowed us to have a scout covering England and Wales, a scout in Northern Ireland and Ireland and a scout solely covering Scotland, since that was the extent of where we were allowed to scout. This should allow us to build some good information on the additional regions, and they have already gotten to work.

Back in the league and we were at Tranmere Rovers next, and we got a decent 2-2 draw there. This pushed us out of the automatic promotion spots, but we were still in touching distance after this result.

Our next home match scheduled against Bolton Wanderers would also be called off due to the waterlogged pitch meaning that out final game of the month would be at home to Carlisle United, which we managed to win 4-2 to move back into the automatic spots, and to make it 11 games unbeaten.

Right at the end of the month we had some bad news as Josh Meekings had a bad injury that would see him miss at least 4 months of the season, which pretty much ruled him our for the remainder of the season.

February

First up in the month we had the rescheduled match against Aldershot Town, and we were poor and ended up on the end of a 2-0 loss. Our away performances this season had left a lot to be desired and we had a whole host of them up next. With that result we dropped back out of the automatic promotion spots.

It was an away trip to Forest Green Rovers next but again we were not much better and lost again 2-0, and we were now losing ground in the hunt for the automatic spots as we dropped to 5th place and now six points adrift of Cambridge United in that final spot.

Struggling Salford were up next away from home, and it was disappointing as we could not find the net and it ended 0-0, as I felt the bad times were about to roll back in especially with top of the table Plymouth Argyle and 2nd placed Crewe Alexandra still to come in the month. With that result we also dropped completely out of the playoff spots as the bad form really started to affect our league position.

We hosted Crewe next and last time around they had essentially started our bad run by beating us 5-0, but it was not to happen again as we are different animal at home and got ourselves a much needed 2-0 win, and we were back up to 6th in the league table and back in the promotion spots.

The next one was going to be extremely tough as went to top of the table Plymouth Argyle, and we were dominated but the score line did not reflect it as we only lost 1-0. At the very least we could take some heart from the fact that it had been close. The worst news from the game was that we lost Liam Daly with a broken collarbone and at least a 2-month period on the sidelines from the game, especially with Meekings out that was not good news for the centre of defence.

Walsall away was the final fixture of the month and all we could manage was a 2-2 draw, as we dropped down to 9th place and outside of the playoff places.

March

We host fellow promotion hopefuls Crawley Town in the opener for the month and we got a big 3-0 win, to push ourselves back into 7th spot and the final playoff place.

We had the rescheduled tie against Bolton Wanderers next at home and they were just above us in the league going into this game. This game also set a milestone for us as it was our 100th game in management and consequently also our hundredth game in charge of Wealdstone. It would not be a game I would remember fondly as we threw away a point late in the game as they got the 2-1 win over us and massively dented our promotion aspirations, however we remained in 7th place in the final playoff spot.

We would host Northampton Town next with our third home game in row. They were struggling down in 17th and so it was imperative that we got back to winning ways, but a sending off and calamitous defending ultimately consigned us to bitterly disappointing defeat 4-3. The wheels were coming off the wagon in a very big way now.

We would have a 4th home game in a row as we hosted high flying Cambridge United and this one was make or break really. If we won, realistically we could push back up the table and secure at the least a playoff place. A loss might well be terminal to out aspirations. Despite a spirited performance however, we would lose 2-0 and I could feel the playoffs slipping through our hands.

After all the results were in, we were now 5 points outside the playoffs with five games to go and it was looking bleak on that front.

At the end of the month after a thankfully long break we played Barrow in our fifth home game in a row. We had one of the four home games so far, showing how **** poor we had been this month. We had to win and thankfully we did as we won 4-1, despite a red card to Iestyn Hughes in the second half. That result left us two points behind Leyton Orient who had a game in hand in 7th place and three points from Scunthorpe United in 6th place, who had played the same number of games as us.

This month we also completed our National B Licence, but the board are refusing to allow me to progress with my National A Licence. This is becoming grounds in my mind to walk away from the club. They are straining any kind of loyalty I would have for them.

April

The main problem facing us now is that of our remaining five games, the first three were away from home and the last two would be at home. Unless we could somehow get something going away from home those final home games would be dead rubbers to us.

At the start of the month, we had a look at our development teams and decided to call up Nigel Kelly, who looks a decent prospect for us. With our ongoing issues in defence and the fact that he was knocking on the door of first team football it was a good opportunity to bring him into the fold. Still unsure if he would play at this stage but it was better to have him up than keep him in the Under 18s. At 17 years old we would have to keep a careful eye on him.

Around this time, we also made some decision on the staff situation at the club. We decided who was staying and brought in some new faces where we needed them. A fair few people got their marching orders, from coaches to a scout, and the Head of Youth Development as we looked to upgrade the standards where we could.

We started out at Doncaster Rovers who would need a lot of things to go their way to have any chance at the playoffs. We produced a great display to kill off their chances and give ourselves a massive boost with a 2-1 win. That win shot us into 7th place and the final playoff spot, but it was incredibly tight in this area of the table, with 4th to 9th split by just 5 points.

Fellow promotion hopefuls Leyton Orient were next away for us, another tough game for us that we need to perform well in.  We produced one of our best performances of the season as we gave as good as we got, and Tiago Cukur got us the goal a few minutes from half time that would prove to be the difference as we won 1-0. Despite the win, we remained in 7th place and not really any better off, as the teams around us also won. The big losers were Orient who now were just above us in 6th place, having been in 4th place before the game.

Around this time Plymouth Argyle, who had run away with the league confirmed themselves as champions. Themselves and Crewe Alexandra were already safely promoted a few weeks before.

For a third successive fixture we once again went on the road, this time to Bradford City, who sat in 10th place and had a very remote chance of getting into the playoffs now, needing to win all their game and needing results elsewhere to go their way.  The day before the game, some of fixtures had occurred and it left us outside the playoffs before a ball had been kicked so we knew if we messed it up here, we were playing catch up despite the big results we had just gotten. We could only manage a 1-1 draw, and that left us outside looking in with two games to go.

The full situation in the playoffs was the following. Cambridge United sat 3rd and Forest Green 4th on 73 points, we could only catch them with two wins, but they would need to only get a point from their games and then it would come down to goal difference, which if we won these games, we would have more than both. Bolton Wanderers sat just a point behind on 72 points, Scunthorpe United sat on 70 points in 6th place and Leyton Orient sat in 7th place on the same points as us; 68 points, with a goal difference that was three better.  Carlisle United were just two points behind us, and Bradford City now in 10th were now out of the playoff picture, seven points behind ourselves and Orient with two games to play.

Cambridge United still had to play Orient and Bradford City, so points were likely to be dropped, and either Orient or Cambridge would certainly be dropping points. Scunthorpe had a tough ride, needing to go to Champions Plymouth and travelling away to Walsall.  The others hopefully arguably had winnable games. We had to still play Newport County at home and Morecambe. Newport County were down towards the bottom of the table and Morecambe were rooted to the bottom of the table and already relegated. This was going to be a fight to the end.

So, it came down the final few games and first up we hosted Newport County and we were by far the better team and managed to convert that dominance into goals in the second half as we won the game 2-0. Elsewhere Bolton were held at home by Mansfield 0-0. Cambridge had beaten Orient 2-1. Carlisle United beat Port Vale 2-0 to keep their hopes alive. Forest Green had kept their hopes alive of automatic promotion with a 2-0 win over Aldershot Town. Scunthorpe had travelled to Plymouth Argyle and got a very good draw 2-2, but it they had dropped points.

Going into the final fixture of the season, the table looked like this. Plymouth and Crewe were already promoted in 1st an 2nd. Cambridge sat in 3rd in the final promotion spot and very safe on goals difference from Forest Green in 4th, both on 76 points. Bolton Wanderers sat three points back from them, but their goal difference meant they had no prospect of catching Cambridge, all three of these sides had clinched a playoff place as a minimum. We sat two points behind Bolton in 5th on 71 points and Scunthorpe were in the final promotion spot also on 71 points. Two points back with no prospect of matching our goal difference was Carlisle United on 69 points and Leyton Orient were a further point back on 68 points but with the same goal difference as us +20 and superior to all the teams around them, apart from us.

On the final day there would be a lot to play for. We realistically just needed a point from the final game, as that would mean Leyton Orient could not catch us, and Carlisle United would need to swing to goal difference by 20 goals which was not going to happen, and so we went into the final day,

We hosted already relegated Morecambe, and despite a few jitters in the match, we got the job done, winning 3-1 on the final day to assure ourselves of a playoff place.

The other results went as follows, Leyton Orient went to Barrow and lost 3-2, which meant they were out of contention for the playoffs. Cambridge United could only managed a draw at home to Bradford City, and that allowed Forest Green Rovers to leapfrog them into the final automatic promotion place as they got the job done at home to Tranmere Rovers 2-1. Bolton Wanderers won away at Northampton Town 3-1, which meant they remained in 5th place, as they had already secured a playoff place. Carlisle United could only draw at home to Mansfield which made it academic that Scunthorpe United would make the playoffs, but they won anyway 2-0 at Walsall. All that meant that the playoffs would see Cambridge United play Scunthorpe United, and we would face off against Bolton Wanderers in the semi-finals.

May

This was the business end of the season, and the playoff matches against Bolton Wanderers. We were drawn to play at home first, and so it was important that we came out of traps flying to take something back to Bolton.  We worked heavily in training on match preparation to make sure that we were completely ready to take advantage of all situations including set pieces and that we knew what we wanted to do defensively.

The match against Bolton Wanderers was a classic affair. We took the lead through Harkins, but they pegged us back straight away, to make it 1-1 after 23 minutes. Just after half-time we came out and quickly got a couple of goals to give us a 3-1 lead, as Cawley and Hughes got the all-important goals.

Bolton seemingly had made the game respectable and ideal for themselves 10 minutes from time when they got themselves back to just a goal behind at 3-2, but in injury time we sucker punched them twice with goals from Johnson and Daly. The result was 5-2 to us, and we had a hell of lead to take back to Bolton, as well as probably some psychologically leverage.

In the other game, Scunthorpe United had shocked Cambridge United at home winning 2-0 and giving Cambridge a lot of work to do in the return leg.

The return leg with Bolton was only a few days later, and the key now was to keep the first 20 minutes nice and clean, retain possession of the football and kill of any impetus Bolton might have in front of their own fans.  Well that went out of the window instantaneously when Bolton scored inside a minute to give themselves a 1-0 lead. Credit to us though we were back level before 5 minutes through Alex Dyer. Bolton retook the lead in the first half, and it remained 2-1 for the entirety of the match, as they were chasing another couple of goals that they needed, we managed to grab another on the break in injury time. The final score 2-2 on the night and 7-4 on aggregate, as we booked our place at Wembley.

The return leg between leg between Scunthorpe and Cambridge had a lot more drama. It looked like it was all over as Scunthorpe United took the lead at Cambridge in the first minute mimicking what Bolton did to us, but Cambridge fought back admirably scoring before half time and then twice in the second half to make the score on the night 3-1 and 3-3 on aggregate. In the end extra time had no goals and it would be decided on penalties, and Scunthorpe held their nerve to book their place in the Wembley playoff final.

It came down to the final between Wealdstone and Scunthorpe United. The prize a place in League One. Both the unfancied sides that had sneaked into the playoffs on the final day had bested their opponents who had finished above them in the table. It would now be a battle to see who could come out on top. We had played Scunthorpe on opening day and beaten them 2-0, and the return had finished in a 1-1 draw, so perhaps we had the psychological edge going into the game. Again we worked heavily in training on match preparation looking at all aspects of the game that could help, from corners, to free kicks, our general attacking movement, defensive shape, pressing, marking and set piece delivery and penalties. Everything that could come up was covered to give the boys the best chance of getting the job done.

So we headed to Wembley to face Scunthorpe United in front of nearly 52,000 fans at the home of English football. In the end the game itself went to plan, it was pretty even but we got the breaks. Cawley and Wishart got the goals for us as we ran out 2-0 winners and booked the final place in League One. It could of gone either way but in the end it went our way.

Manager Thoughts

It was a season of ups and downs. At times it looked like we might be dragged into a relegation battle, especially when we went 10 or 11 games without a league win. Those were testing times but we got through it and eventually we managed to start to put things right. We were predicted to go down this season, so to end up in the playoff final and win it, and book our place to League One is both amazing and frightening at the same time as we need time now to rebuild the team ready to tackle the challenges that will be faced in League One.

Career Overview

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