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91 "There's no crying in baseball"

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  1. Unfortunately I’m not - a couple of things dissuaded me from carrying on. a) Richarlison did his ACL and he was one of the key players I wanted to build around. This partly killed my motivation b) updating the save here was taking almost more time than playing the save itself. I may restart it at some point and do some updates in a bit less detail Its definitely an enjoyable save though. The squad needs plenty of work but is better than it looks. Some really good youth though, Branthwaite and Gordon looked excellent after a few games in the first season
  2. September Round Up We started September back at Goodison Park, welcoming Jose Mourinho’s Spurs, before trips to Wolves and Leicester in the league, and Middlesbrough in the EFL Cup, and a home game against West Ham United, now led by former Everton manager David Moyes. 01/09/2019: EVERTON vs Tottenham Hotspur, Goodison Park We started again with our 4-2-3-1 with the only notable team news being Tom Davies playing next to Gomes in the midfield 2, while Spurs set up with what was a pretty defensive 4-1-4-1 in typical Mourinho fashion. Despite what the scoreline says, the game could’ve gone either way. We took the lead with a Gomes thunderbolt from around 25 yards, and five minutes later a corner was cleared to Calvert-Lewin on the half way line who used his pace and power to bully his way through three players and round Lloris to slot in. Two wonder goals had us in the driving seat and we were then able to pick them off. Sigurdsson rounded off the scoring with a rebounded volley from inside the box. We were good value for a win but 3-0 flattered us, but I’ll not be complaining about that as we go into the international break with a win. 14/09/2019: Wolves vs EVERTON, Molineux We travelled to Molineux in good form, while Wolves had been much more inconsistent. They lined up in their 5-3-2 / 5-2-3 variant that they had become synonymous with under Nuno Espirito Santo, while we named an unchanged team from the win at home to Spurs. Notably, an inexperienced centre back in Max Kilman was named at wing back for Wolves, something I’d hope to exploit. As it was, we weren’t able to capitalise on our fantastic start. I received a news item after the game that Calvert-Lewin’s goal was Everton’s fastest ever but we never got going after that and Neves scored from 20 yards after a cross had been cleared to his feet. We were never able to get at Kilman, and in fact he rather ‘pocketed’ Richarlison who had had an indifferent start to the season on the right. In truth I was probably a little cautious in my approach once we were ahead but a point away at Wolves is not to be sniffed at. 21/09/2019: EVERTON vs West Ham United, Goodison Park West Ham came to Goodison in the same shape as Wolves had played, while we made a couple of changes. I brought Kean in on the right wing and moved Richarlison over to the left after his mixed form playing on the other side, while Alex Iwobi was preferred to Gylfi Sigurdsson behind the striker as I sought to go with a more pacey and direct side. I had felt our physicality was something that we could do with exploiting a little more and the hope was that the front four selected wouldn’t give a defence a moments rest. Delph also came in for Tom Davies as we nursed him back to sharpness. As it was we put in our most complete performance of the season. The goalscoring started in somewhat strange fashion. A ball was cleared and Mina collected it inside the centre circle, running 20 yards with and placing it into the bottom corner off the post from 25 yards out – definitely not the sort of goals I’d expect my centre back to score. After that, we were dominant. The Kean and Keane combo both scored from set pieces while Digne later scored two from distance, one being from a direct free kick. Very satisfying result. 24/09/2019, Middlesbrough vs EVERTON, Riverside Stadium This game saw us make the first foray into using 4-4-2. It was something I was keen to try as we have considerable strength up front. We gave starts to academy graduates Beni Baningime and Anthony Gordon. A rotated team but still a strong one, while Middlesbrough were the third team in a row to play a 5 at the back variant against us. We then proceeded to put in an utterly woeful performance, second best all over the pitch and Nmecha scored two great goals to have the Championship side comfortably ahead. I was incredibly frustrated, partly with myself for the rotation of the team and partly with the team who had been abject. We switched back to 4-2-3-1 and threw players forward, as well as bringing on some of the first choice players. What followed was ridiculous, three goals at the death to win the game, including one with the very last kick of the game. Not a good performance but we get away with it. Our reward was a tie at home to Frank Lampard's Chelsea. 28/09/2019, Leicester City vs EVERTON, King Power Stadium Our final game of September was a repeat of the EFL Cup 2nd Round, albeit away from home this time. Interestingly they were without Vardy and Maddison through injury. Aleksandar Mitrovic is excellent but suits the way we want to defend, aggressively and with a high line, much better than Vardy would in theory. Sigurdsson came in for Iwobi from our previous league fixture as we aimed for more control. Another highly polished performance saw us leave victorious. Some good work from Coleman down the right slipped in Kean who rifled home just before half time, and Yerry Mina poked in at the back post mid way through the second half after Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed across goal. Summary All in all a very pleasing month, with the dropped points at Wolves the only small blip. Really happy with the way we are performing, and the physicality of the side is proving really important. Calvert-Lewin is regularly bullying centre backs and Yerry Mina has excelled at the back. We are sat atop the table currently but it is still far too soon to make any judgements. Our biggest test to date has seen us concede 5 goals, so I will definitely not be counting any chickens, but pleasing nonetheless. We also had Digne win Goal of the Month for his free kick against West Ham, and Kean win Young Player of the Month for his performances, largely out of position on the right where he has been excellent. However, my Player of the Month is Yerry Mina. Next Month October sees only three league games: Man City (H), Southampton (A) and Norwich City (H), as well as an EFL Cup fixture at home to Chelsea. Fairly tough schedule again.
  3. August Round Up As mentioned previously, we had been dealt a relatively tricky hand for the start of my reign, playing two heavyweights in our bitter rivals Liverpool (Away), and Man United (Home), as well as a tough trip away to Turf Moor to play Burnley and a home tie against fellow Premier League side Leicester in the EFL Cup. And with that, let’s get into it. 10/08/2019: Liverpool vs EVERTON, Anfield After the good results in pre-season, I decided to stick with the 4-2-3-1. In terms of decisions around individual personnel, the team largely picked itself. Richarlison and Alex Iwobi had had a limited amount of game time in pre-season and so weren’t quite sharp enough to start, meaning Bernard, Sigurdsson and Walcott took up their places in the three behind the striker, where Dominic Calvert-Lewin was preferred to Kean. I’d rather give Kean a chance to settle in to the squad, and not rush him. Liverpool also went with a 4-2-3-1 and interestingly were missing Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, something I felt may give us more of a sniff of goals. With this in mind I decided to set up more positively than I otherwise may have done, and at 2-0 and then 3-1 I was in dreamland. Unfortunately I pressed the panic button a little, we sat back and ultimately I think the goal on the stroke of half time was a real killer. Liverpool’s class shone through in the second half. I was disappointed with the second half but there were many positives to take, not least the performance of Calvert-Lewin who bullied their stand in centre backs at times. 18/08/2019: EVERTON vs Manchester United, Goodison Park We took the positives from the high scoring game at Anfield and moved on to a tough home fixture vs Man United, a shadow of their former selves but not to be taken lightly. Richarlison in for Walcott the only change. Our depth on the left wing is much stronger than on the right, meaning that he may have to fight it out with Walcott going forward, especially if Bernard can continue in the same vein as last week. Man United also lined up in the same shape, with a pretty scary left-ish hand side with Pogba, Fernandes, Martial and Rashford. In truth the game was a very cagey affair. Both sides missed chances but United probably just edged it on the balance of play. It was looking like both teams would settle for a point when Richarlison robbed Luke Shaw on the half way line late on. Moise Kean was already on the move when the ball was slipped through to him, he took it to the side of de Gea to create an angle and slotted it in. 24/08/2019: Burnley vs EVERTON, Turf Moor Our final league game of the month saw us round off our trio of Lancashire opponents with a trip to Turf Moor. They lined up in their traditional 4-4-2 with the two brutes up front while we stuck with our 4-2-3-1, Baines coming in for Digne, who was out with a knock, and Tom Davies coming in for Schneiderlin who had so far been off the pace. We dominated the game but were struggling get the killer touch in front of goal. Keane and Mina dealt with their two physical strikers well but creativity was lacking until substitute Moise Kean was pushed over by Tarkowski as he challenged for a cross in to the box. A penalty was awarded after a VAR consultation. Baines stepped up and placed it home. Kean was becoming a very handy option, directly winning us 4 points in two games with his contributions from the bench. 27/08/2019: EVERTON vs Leicester City, Goodison Park (EFL Cup 2nd Round) The final fixture of the month was an EFL Cup tie at home to Leicester. As mentioned in previous updates, cup runs are something I felt had been lacking at this club previously, so I was frustrated to have landed a tough draw in only the 2nd Round. Brendan Rodgers had them lined up in a 4-3-3, but interestingly I felt their midfield 3 was a touch on the defensive side with both Hamza Choudhury and Wilfried Ndidi there. We rotated slightly but still named a strong team, Fabian Delph coming in for his debut on return from his injury, fit again Digne back in for Baines, Holgate in for Mina, as well as Moise Kean being rewarded for his early good form with a start. Ndidi got them in front with an early goal from a corner, frustratingly, after we didn’t clear our lines well enough. This was perhaps a by product of resting Mina who had been a colossus in aerial battles. However, it wasn’t long before Richarlison headed a cross in the back post – having a winger so proficient in the air can be very advantageous at times. He then took a knock on the stroke of half time and was forced off and the rest of the game passed with little incident aside from a disallowed goal for Kean. The new format is straight to penalties upon a draw, Leicester took first with new signing Mitrovic putting it away, but our penalties were flawless and a Pickford save from Gray, and Perez hitting the post with his meant we were through 4-2. A very pleasing result. League Table It is still far too early to be drawing any conclusions from the league table, but we are sat slap bang in mid table albeit with a game in hand due to the way the weekend has fallen in the month (we play on the 1st of September). Manager’s Player of the Month My player of the month for August is Andre Gomes. He is such a classy operator in the middle of the park and chipped in with a few assists. In truth no one stood out. I didn’t draw too many conclusions from our 5-3 reverse at Liverpool and the other league games were largely scrappy affairs. Next Month We do get a little respite from the tough fixtures next month. We start with Spurs (H), then go away to Wolves, before our EFL Cup 3rd Round tie away at Middlesbrough is sandwiched by West Ham at home and Leicester away.
  4. Pre-Season, Tactics and Transfers Our pre-season schedule saw a mix of opponents. I foresaw Zenit being a difficult game first up, with little sharpness in the legs and many players still on holiday. Past that every game would give me a good chance to rotate as necessary and try different things out, up to the final showpiece fixture against Roma at Goodison. Nice for Baines and Coleman to get testimonials, with the Zenit and the Panetolikos being for the benefit of our long serving full backs respectively. Quite what the significance of the two fixtures were for the players I am not sure – I would have thought Wigan and Sligo Rovers would have made sense. I decided pretty early on my base shape would be a 4-2-3-1, operating with a Gegenpress playing style while I got to grips with things. I felt this was most appropriate, our forward players are all very hard working and our full backs can get up and down very well (although less so in Baines’ case). The two deeper midfielders can then provide a base for this front four and cover the gaps from the attacking full backs in case of any counters against us. I did also toy with a 4-4-2. It’s something I am very much considering as we go forwards but I decided the personnel we have currently weren’t quite aligned to it, particularly in centre midfield, with Gomes in particular appearing just too specialised as a deep lying playmaker to fit in what I would want from the formation, as well as lacking in mobility. I love the idea of the way 4-4-2 creates partnerships all over the pitch so will definitely look at it as an option in the future. We were very quiet on the transfer front. I agreed deals for a few players before pulling out of them. I was probably closest to bringing in Alexey Miranchuk, for his £7m release clause, but ultimately I decided his £70k p/w wage demands were more than I was comfortable with for what would probably be a rotation option, with Sigurdsson and Iwobi capable of playing in the central attacking midfield position, and Walcott, Iwobi and Richarlison all capable on the right wing. His contract in the below screenshot reflects his new one with Lokomotiv Moscow that he signed, removing the release clause, around £25k p/w less than he wanted from me. Another Russian based player we came close on was Jaka Bijol, but again, I couldn't get him much down from the requested wage of £45k p/w, which was far more than I was comfortable paying for a player who wasn’t a sure thing to develop to our level. Finally, I did agree a deal for Florentino Luis at £36m, and sizeable wages of £80k p/w. Pricey but I was confident that with his Model Citizen personality he would develop very well and outgrow that fee comfortably. He was exactly what I wanted next to Andre Gomes. However, we didn’t have enough in the budgets to bring him in and I couldn’t make the sales that we needed, especially as I am not willing to sell players for significantly lower than their value – I would rather make use of players such as Morgan Schneiderlin and hope that interest in them develops naturally as opposed to transfer listing them out of desperation. Frustratingly, I didn’t consider the idea of loaning Luis in with a future fee and waiting on having that in the bank, and he went off to Auxerre on loan in Ligue 2 after our window had closed. It’s way below his level and I feel I have missed a trick, as if I am able to go back in for him at a later date I will have missed out on a year of developing him into my team. In terms of outgoings, we let Oumar Niasse go to Dynamo Moscow for a smallish fee of £3.8m rising to £4.7m, and Nathan Markelo left for Preston for a nominal fee. I’ve included a buy back of £1m in his deal in case he develops beyond my expectations. This is something I am likely to try and include in deals for many of the young players we will inevitably let go as the seasons pass on. I was happy to let Niasse leave, we have ample cover up front in Calvert-Lewin, Kean, Richarlison and Anthony Gordon. Pre-season results were largely very good, with Zenit the only blip in our first game, during which half the squad were still on holiday. This did allow me to give minutes to Anthony Gordon, who has very much played his way into my thoughts, and is capable of playing on the left, as a #10 and up front. This allowed us to look ahead into the season properly. We had an outrageously tough start, making the short journey across the city to Anfield to face Liverpool on opening day, followed by Man United visiting Goodison, and a trip to Burnley. August would then be rounded off by Leicester at home in the EFL Cup, an annoyingly difficult fixture as I seek to go on cup runs. Coming out of those fixtures with three points in total and into the next round in the cup would be considered a success by me.
  5. Thanks very much for the kind words. The finances are my biggest concern at the moment - it's my first time managing in the PL this year so I am really unsure how sustainable the wage bill is and what the sugar daddy status of the owner is. Either way I would like to become self sufficient.
  6. I will be starting a write-up on my new save. My first club is Everton, a team who remain uninspiring and ultimately unsuccessful despite expensive recruitment in recent seasons. I don't have much of an idea of my long term plans, I may attempt to win both European competitions and all five major leagues in this save, or equally I may stick with Everton if I feel we are building something special. With that, let's get into it. Squad Report Everton as a club have been underachieving for too long. Too many different managers have been trusted with too much money, from Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh’s policy of signing all the #10’s they could get their hands on, to the bizarre reign of Sam Allardyce, to the very expensive hiring, trusting and eventual firing of Marco Silva. It’s time to change all that. To start with, a general overview of the club. As we can see, there is a history of success, but none of it is recent enough. There are past domestic achievements, and no Premier League titles is forgivable, but not having been successful in the last few years in cup competitions is not good enough. We have some fantastic facilities on the training and youth side of things, with the club responsible for the production of England’s greatest ever goalscorer in Wayne Rooney, but have any other academy products really excelled since him? His debut was nearly two decades ago, and looking through some of the top squads in the country doesn’t show many players that have started out here. A media prediction of 9th is probably fair, the squad is reasonable but far too expensively assembled, with too many players signed as cast offs from wealthier clubs. This brings with it high transfer fees and more importantly high wage bills. This is a transfer policy I will aim to get away from. Goodison Park is a lovely, traditional ground, but perhaps not good enough for the modern game. With that in mind, we can move on to the club culture. A reasonable set of targets there, an expectation to finish in the top half while playing entertaining football is reasonable and, I feel, achievable. Crucially, the club also plans to move into a new stadium within five years. This throws an interesting spanner into the works. Maintaining a competitive squad while working on a low enough a budget that the club can afford a stadium will be an interesting challenge. To me, it looks like the job here is akin to when Pochettino took over at Spurs. Perennial underachievers with grand plans. So, onto the squad. Goalkeepers Clearly, Jordan Pickford is our number one here. He has the potential for some brain farts but is an otherwise excellent goalkeeper who crucially can help us build from the back. Holding the England #1 jersey brings with it pressure for good domestic performances, which he can hopefully provide. Maarten Stekelenburg is a reasonable backup with a good personality. For as long as he is willing, I see no reason to change this. Defenders This is an area of the team where we have good quality and some reasonable depth. At right back we have club captain Seamus Coleman and Monaco loanee Djibril Sidibe. I think Coleman is the definite first choice here, he is a bit of an all-rounder, capable going forwards and backwards. Crucially, Sidibe is costing us a pittance in wages, with us only covering around 20% of his wages. This is great in the short term, but means we would be unlikely to take on the remainder of his wages permanently at the end of the season. It is therefore handy that we have Jonjoe Kenny, an academy graduate currently on loan at Bundesliga side Schalke, who will hopefully return from his spell there ready to compete for a place here. Cuco Martina is also part of the squad, but very much an afterthought and someone who I will do well to be rid of. At centre back, we have three options who are all capable. The key player here appears to be Yerry Mina, signed for a big fee from Barcelona. He looks to be aerially dominant, reasonably mobile and capable of playing out. If he performs as hoped, that would leave Michael Keane and Mason Holgate competing for the spot in the team next to him. Keane is closer to a traditional defender, while Holgate is very much in the mould of a modern centre back and has developed nicely since signing from Barnsley a few years back. At left back, we have Lucas Digne and club icon Leighton Baines. Digne is very dynamic going forward and definite first choice, but Baines looks a capable backup even with his decline from his peak. I’d like to keep him around in a player role as long as he is willing, and hopefully transition him into a member of my backroom team thereafter. I will never turn my nose up at someone listed as a model citizen. Midfielders The midfield is one area I do feel we are lacking. The star man is undoubtedly Andre Gomes, a classy playmaker who can dictate from a deep position in the midfield. I am a little wary about many of the other players here. Morgan Schneiderlin looks okay but most definitely doesn’t warrant the contract he is on, and the same goes for Gylfi Sigurdsson, very proficient technically but lacking energy and mobility. For me, both of these players are hallmarks of the recruitment policy I am trying to get away from, albeit for different reasons. Tom Davies is a jack of all trades academy graduate who I will likely use in a number of roles, while Fabian Delph and Jean-Phillipe Gbamin both look useful combative midfielders, but both are injured, Gbamin for the entire season. Beni Baningime could be useful for the future. There is food for thought here in terms of recruitment, for someone who can play next to Gomes. Equally, I don’t want to sign anyone if Gbamin is going to come back from his injury in good shape so I may choose to make do for the time being. Attackers Where the midfield was uninspiring, the attack here is most definitely at the other end of the spectrum, with depth and quality for the most part. Richarlison can play across the front three and could feasibly do an equally good job in all of those positions, while Alex Iwobi and Bernard could play on either wing and, in Iwobi’s case, behind a striker as well if I choose that tactical direction. Theo Walcott is a pace merchant and another hallmark of the previous lack of direction at the club. Allowing a manager who was only ever going to be at the club for 6 months to sign players on long term contracts, ridiculous. Up front, we have two excellent players. Choosing between Moise Kean and Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a really nice problem to have. Both may have to accept being rotated, especially given that the riches we have on the wings may mean Richarlison is an option up front as well. This leaves Oumar Niasse as very much surplus to requirements. Summary All in all, it’s a reasonable squad, the forwards give me hope we can score goals given the chances, and the defenders give me hope we can keep clean sheets if protected adequately. The midfield is full of depth, but all are much of a muchness. The fact that three of our key players are cast offs from Barcelona (Digne, Mina, Gomes) is indicative of the previous shoddy transfer policy. Yes, these are great players but recruiting from a pool of players not quite good enough for one of the biggest clubs in the world is easy – I want to find these players before they reach Barcelona, at smaller fees and smaller wages, and sell them on at profits. This brings me on to recruitment. I wouldn’t mind a proper defensive midfielder, someone who essentially can win the ball and give it to someone who can do a bit more with it. In Jean-Phillipe Gbamin we do have this player, but I am wary of how well he will return from an eleven month injury. I may choose to have Schneiderlin and Delph occupy this role between them and see how we get on, but I will definitely have my eye on the market for anyone that pops up. Other than that, I think we are okay for the time being. While I am uncertain about the financial situation around the new stadium and with a frankly preposterous wage bill of £2.1m a week (nearly double that of Wolves, for reference) I don’t want to go too mad, and I want every player I sign to have a clear role in the squad, or to have a clear pathway to the first team if signed as a prospect.
  7. Great read this, has inspired me to start something vaguely similar with Everton and attempt to do a write up on it as well
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