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About G_D_K

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  • Biography
    Retired USAF serviceman -- spent (nearly) 12 years in England -- where I found one of my passions in the Championship/Football manager series. Found the game in the early-mid 90s, have purchased every edition since then. Currently you can find me streaming my FM challenge matches (as well as a host of other games) at https://www.twitch.tv/castinar

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  • Favourite Team
    Cambridge United

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  • Currently Managing
    South Shields Mariners

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  1. Is this some sort of record maybe????? 17-16 PK shootout, round one of the Carabao cup
  2. Season Review (Season Seven, 2026-27) Table / Position Graph / Squad / Finances / Transfers / Manager Attributes / Facilities / Annual Injuries / Competitions / Reputation / Club Vision SUMMARY Season Seven went about as I expected. We did get off to a quicker start than I anticipated, then settled down to a steady slog. In the end we finished well out of the relegation zone, but we lacked consistency of any kind. Part of the problem was the fact that I only had 1/4 or so of the squad on full-time contracts -- the board surprised me a bit when they went pro in early June (before I had the chance to ask); I already had renewed some critical contracts and couldn't offer new contracts to key players for several months. By the end of the season, the percentage of players on full-time contracts had risen to about 85-90%. Hopefully, with a full season ahead on full time contracts (and a wage budget that has nearly doubled -- all the way to £24.2K/wk!) we will do a better job of moving up the table. Our best team stat this year overall was on defense -- we were 2nd in tackles won ratio (at 91%) -- though we need to attempt more tackles total, because in that category we were only 21st! Overall, our 74 goals conceded looked much better than Wycombe (who conceded 104)...but that was the only team we stayed ahead of as we finished 23rd. Offensively, we did better, finishing joint 13th with 52 goals scored. Tom Fielding, of course, remained leading goalscorer for the team, but only managed 14. Although he dropped off a bit from the previous season, Rio Campbell continued his decent run of form from the left wing scoring 7; meanwhile Richard Wilde and Harley Johnson finished joint 3rd. Service was a problem, as we didn't have a single player finish even near double digits in assists; Rio Campbell with 6 assists led in that category. Promotion / Playoffs Yep...nope. Not close! Cup Competitions New league, new competitions to get knocked out of! This season featured our first ever appearance in the Carabao Cup, and, while Wycombe conceded a bunch of goals this season, it wasn't to us (at least not in the cup -- we scored 8 against them in the league!), as we got knocked out in the first round 2-0. In another new competition -- the leasing.com trophy, we did better, as we managed a 1-0 win over Wycombe in our final game of the series. Sadly, Portsmouth and Southampton U23s had already put the nail in our coffin in this trophy prior to this matchup with 1-0 and 2-0 losses respectively. We fought hard, but, in the end, we're not ready yet for these matchups. That left the FA Cup, and here, we did better, as we faced easier competition early on. First up was fellow L2 York, a team we had just managed a 1-1 away draw with in the league (Fielding getting a 2nd half equalizer to cancel out their 8th minute strike). This home played much better, as we managed a 4-0 route of the League Two veterans (Fielding, Bradbury, Campbell, and Sakyi all getting on the scoreboard). York wasn't helped (nor really hindered) by their loss of fullback Wannell in the 79th minute for his 2nd yellow offense). That game in the books set us up for a nice simple matchup vs VNLN Chorley, a team with which we had had some familiarity (6 prior meetings we had won 3 and lost 3). Two divisions higher, and I hoped for a good showing, and the lads provided it with a solid, if not spectacular, 2-0 win (Campbell and Fielding, again). I think the tele lights had blinded some of the players, but in the end we prevailed. Sadly, we lost our new right winger thru the critical December stretch of matches due to a groin strain in this match. This win gave us our third (?) straight FAC 3rd round chance, and, for once, we got a good one. Tottenham away! Our first real moneymaker. I won't lie and say I hoped for anything other than a packed stadium here! In the end....we didn't get much more than that either. Tottenham up 3-0 in the 85th minute, and I don't think we'd managed more than 3 shots all match... I let them loose in the final 5 minutes and we doubled our shot tally, and Shepherd, just back from injury, popped up with an 89th minute goal to make the scoreline look (even more) respectable. Anyone who watched the match wouldn't be fooled--but if they just caught the score in the local papers they might have wondered about this upstart league two team! Additional Details Team of the Season Best XI Inductees Three new players were inducted into the team Best XI this year. Luke Robinson (130 appearances), in his 3rd season with Needham Market plays left fullback and tallied 5 goals and 10 assists, while averaging about 3.5 Tk/game. Second season right fullback Benjamin Allison and first year right winger Sam Murray (21 app, 3 goals/5 assists) were also added. Historical Best XI Fans Player of the Season -- For the...4th? 5th?? Straight year, Fielding won the fans heart and FPoY with 45% of the vote. Free Kick specialist Harley Johnson managed 24% of the vote, while MC Jesurun Rak Sakyi managed 19%. (Sakyi is one of two, I believe, players that have been with the team since my second season in charge -- the other being GK Hall). Signing of the Season DC Alex Algar (£6.5k) 29(8) appearances and desperately needed to shore up the defense as we moved up to L2. Was one of my first full-time contract signings. Young Player of the Season Well...Tom Fielding can't win this award every year...at some point he's not a "young player" any longer! This year it goes to striker partner Richard Wilde. End of Season Stats -- For the THIRD consecutive year, Fielding dominated the team stats, as top goalscorer (14), Highest AvR (6.96), and best pass completion (81%). Rio Campell and Harley Johnson each contributed six assists, while Harley Johnson also tallied most PoM awards (4). On the negative side, Gary Mitchell led the team with 6 yellow cards, and we didn't have a single red card all season (down from 14 yellows for worst offender last season, and five different players with red cards). Discipline working??? Or we're being too gentle with the opposition??!! Youth Intake Top Graduate TEAM, INDIVIDUAL, AND LEAGUE RECORDS A host of records were set or broken this year: (* denotes ongoing record -- bold indicates record broken this year) The Rest of England What's Next Season 7 was about as successful as I could hope for. We turned pro (surprisingly, the board went there before I had the chance to ask!) Sadly, they're still as tightfisted as ever. After earning a huge paycheck at Tottenham for the FAC3R, I immediately asked for upgrades (We had over £1M in the bank). First I asked for an upgrade for the youth development -- response was "we rather you'd focus on the senior team". Fine....can we get a training facility upgrade? Response "You're doing fine with what you have." What??? Okay. I quit. This save is over. I give them an ultimatum.... and he capitulates. ??? We have an UPGRADE coming? Yep...one training upgrade in the works! I also, at the end of the season, managed to prise out an additional coach from the chairman...but that is it. Well-- we have another season, with everyone on full-time contracts at least. Oh...and, takeover rumors...again. And this time...it went thru.... until it didn't. Soured at the last moment, and I'm STILL STUCK WITH THIS IDIOT! At least the transfer embargo ended in mid-late May, and I immediately signed a trio of players...my luck, there will be more attempts in the summer blocking any July-August signings! Career Overview Season Team League League Position(Predicted) FAT FAC JPT LC UEFA CL OTHER
  3. Heartwrenching end to the season GoonerGez! Great job on such a successful run though! Hopefully you can build on it and win it all next season....so close in that first season!
  4. Season Review (Season Six, 2025-26) Table / Position Graph / Squad / Finances / Transfers / Manager Attributes / Facilities / Annual Injuries / Competitions / Reputation / Club Vision SUMMARY Season Six was, to put it mildly, a stunning success. We started out slow, but gradually picked up steam as some new players integrated into the team. Things looked bleak early, with a rare run of form in the friendlies giving us one draw and 5 losses, causing, I am sure, a plummet in morale. Looking back, the slate of teams we played (Man Utd U23s, Grimsby, Fulham U23s, Cardiff) set us up for failure! Will have to pay more careful attention next season. August saw us open w/ 2 pts in our first 3 before grabbing our first two wins.... and from there a 7 match unbeaten streak. That gave us the momentum we needed, and we didn't lose more than 2 games in a row all season (and that, only twice). By matchday 11, we were firmly entrenched in the playoff hunt, dropping out on a couple occasions when we had matches in hand due to cup ties (and cup replays...lots of those I seem to recall!). After matchday 30, we never dropped out of the playoffs, and continued to climb the table. By matchday 37, we had a first round bye all but secured (never dropped lower than 3rd after that week), and after matchday 42, we had 2nd in our hands and just needed to see it out. Surprisingly, Stockport, the eventual winners, fell off form and gave us an out to snatch the title, but a timely win in their penultimate match meant we could at best tie them, and they had a +7 goal differential for us to overcome. It didn't matter, they handily won their final match, so that left us with the reins on 2nd, a first round playoff bye, and the future in our own hands. Offensively, we were a powerhouse. Our 79 team goals placed us joint 2nd on the league leaderboard (Leyton Orient managed 91 for first). Satisfying our boards demands of making most of set pieces, we scored 13 goals from corners (also joint second in league, also behind Leyton Orient), 3 from DFKs (joint 3rd), and 8 from IFKs (6th). We had FIVE different players with double-digit goals, led (of course!) by Tom Fielding (22 goals). FIelding was followed closely by left winger Rio Campbell (15 goals). Rounding out the group were strikers Richard Wilde, Harvey Bradbury, and midfielder Tom Sharpe, who snuck in late in the season with some great goals to reach a career season high (in fact, Sharpe only had three senior goals prior to this season). Defensively, we were solid, although not spectacular. Our 48 goals conceded put us 7th on the defensive leaderboard. The defense was led (from December on at least), by newcomer Alpha Camara, who instantly became my best center back upon his signing. (He entered the team as a decent VNL CA, w/ Leading VNL potential -- one of the few VNL CA players on the squad). He would end the season with a respectable 7.02 AvR, and be instrumental in our solid run in the second half of the season. He was aided by the returning DCs Bradley-Green, Oliver Casey, and Matthew Moloney. In addition to a solid defense the quartet also contributed 7 goals from setpieces. Rounding out the defense were starting fullbacks Benjamin Allison (DR--42 appearances w/ a 91% tackle won ration) and Luke Robinson (40 appearances /w a 91% tackle won ration, 2 goals and 4 assists). This backline aided our two goalkeepers Joshua Roach and Ryan Hall, who together managed 19 clean sheets in the league --- 3rd overall. These two are going to get a boost (or one of the two will...assuming I potentially let one go) by the All said and done, a very successful run to make the playoffs for the second straight season. Here's hoping our playoff push goes better this season. Given our results (esp. against some of the top 5 or 6 teams in the division), I had high hopes. Promotion / Playoffs Well, well, well. Playoffs...for the second straight year. This is year 6 -- the year I historically like to get out of the VNL mire in this challenge. Usually I'm successful...but usually it's by winning the title...the playoffs are just so...chancy! We had a (small) chance of snatching the title, but Stockport did just well enough in their final two matches to deny us...so here we are again. At least, by finishing 2nd, we have a bye and a chance for some VERY MUCH NEEDED REST, after playing 14 matches in March/April! We also have the home field advantage --- and home field crowds (which have been climbing steadily for the past couple months!) to cheer us on. Our first fight would be vs Barnet, a team we had beaten 3 times, lost two twice, and drawn with once in our 6 matches together since we've joined the VNL. Of note, this year featured a 1-0 away loss and a 1-0 home win. So, I could expect a tough match, and hope our home-field luck still worked. It did. Well, luck, and skill. And, a ref that wasn't violently Anti-Needham Market helped too (8 yellows in the match, 5 for Barnet, 3 for us), and the team combined for 31 fouls (15 Barnet/16 Needham Market). It was a well fought battle, almost literally! Barnet grabbed a lead late in the first half with a break-away goal --- their keeper distributing the ball over the top, and striker Flint splitting defenders Camara and Bradley-Green to slot it past a helpless Ryan Hall. That goal, in the 40th minute, stood, until, exactly 40 minutes later, in the 80th minute, left winger Rio Campbell, who was having the season of his career, made a run into the box on Harvey Johnson's corner kick and tucked the ball into the net behind the keeper at the far post...and ultimately sending us into extra time. Extra time brought no heroics as each team tried to grab the winner, and to the penalty shootout we went. And I say, WE went, as Barnet didn't seem to know what to do. Harvey Bradbury, Rio Robinson, and right winger Joshua Crompton scored on our first three attempts. Ryan Hall saved Barnet's first attempt. And his second. And, with his THIRD PK SAVE of the shootout, won the semi-final, denying Tom Fielding even the need to take his shot! With the FAT final to come, we now were facing TWO Wembley appearances this season! To the final, and after we had dispatched Kettering in the FAT final the week prior, the lads were now well used to the environment...and ready to face <groan>……. Gillingham. Again. Okay....yes, I say this with a groan. Sure...we've faced them in two big matches, and came out on top. The first, last year in the league playoff semi-final, was certainly a fluke win. And, while the meeting in the FAT2R wasn't a fluke win, we were still badly outplayed. IN fact, prior to this final, we've played them 6 times and not lost once.... and you KNOW they are out for blood. This is going to be one helluva match! And.... It didn't seem that way early on, as Tom Fielding once again plays the hero, scoring in the FOURTH minute and putting the team at easy. This is our match to win. This is our ticket to league football. We're up, Gillingham has it all to do....again. Then....the ref steps in. Booking, Richard Wilde, 8th minute. Sakyi 25th minute. Johson 34th minute. Sackey 45th minute.....whoa there ref! (to be fair, Gillingham picked up 2 first half bookings as well, but still.....). Start the second half, and we make it thru to the 84th minute with our goal lead and no more bookings...when Gillinghams two strikers link up and beat Hall at the far post.....1-1. And, to extra time we go (4 yellow cards for us, 3 for Gillingham at this point. Extra time would add two to our tally, costing us a fine, while adding one to Gillingham's tally as well, for a total of 10 bookings in the match). Extra time, and it was, fittingly, extra time connoisseur Tom Fielding, with the goal of his career (tho by far his best goal) scoring in the 107th minute to give us a 2-1 lead that would hold to the end, and to victory, especially as Ryan Hall came up with two HUGE saves in the final minute to deny Gillingham yet again. Playoff Champions, League TWO, here we come!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cup Competitions Needham Market had another pretty decent run in the cups this year. In addition to our normal FAC and FAT runs, we had a pleasant surprise waiting at the beginning of the season, as I found myself in something called the "Tunnock's Wafer Cup" --- the.... wtf? cup is this? Turns out it is the Scottish Challenge Cup, which expanded it's included teams outside of Scotland back in (I think) 2017 -- and we were the invitees from England to help them round out their cup schedule. So, we get a few more games under our belt...no problems, right? Just another game probably...but one (2-0 win over Scottish Queen's Park) turned into another....and hit an end. Not a very bad end, mind you...a hard contested 1-0 win against Scottish Championship Ross County (who would go on to win the entire thing). But, an end, nonetheless. The only disappointing thing was we only had 654 in attendance at this home match. But, that aside, we now had the FA Cup to look forward to. Hoping on a big money grab this season (as we're still deep in debt at this point)...turned futile. We did...as well as last year, picking up wins against Guisley (2-0), Barrow (2-0), and Dover (3-1) -- the latter two at home with more disappointing crowds to set us up with a 3rd round matchup for the 2nd straight year. This time, it was a lucrative away matchup.....vs Peterborough. So much for any ££££. A crowd of only 4500 turned up to watch a lopsided match (Peterborough had 34 shots to our 6) in all respects save the final scoreline….we scored twice late to make it a more respectable 4-2 at the whistle. Those that only caught the scores on the tele might have been impressed. So...no money there, that leaves us with the FA Trophy. And this is where we nearly wrecked our squad! We started out well enough, with an easy 1st round win vs Tamworth (3-2 at home) in December. Easy enough, but it took us two penalty kicks to seal the win, against a feisty VNLN squad who were looking to slay the giants (sort of!). The January round two match saw us face up against a team that's got to be hating us by now --- the same Gillingham we knocked out of the VNL playoff semi-finals in season 5. You remember, the match we won 1-0, despite getting outshot 20-3? The match where our goal wasn't even one of our three shots?? Yeah...they're out for blood. We took the lead in first-half stoppage time thru Richard Wilde, but Gillingham made it a contest with a late 87th minute goal forcing extra time. As has been the case for the previous 4-5 matches to this...it was miracle man Tom Fielding who stepped up and grabbed a goal early in the 1st half stoppage time to give us a 2-1 lead and eventually win the match for us. Poor Gillingham---they dominated us again (though not as badly as our playoff semi-final -- shots were 22(6) to our 14(7), though the did enjoy 58% of the possession as well. Their downfall...they played with only 10 men for the last hour of regulation + stoppage time! Well...an extra-time match at this stage of the year wasn't ideal, but worse was to come, as we managed, only thru a replay, to get by Carlisle (1-1 away, 2-1 home), setting up a semi-final matchup vs Fylde (and here, I thought this was a final, as it was a 2-leg match! So, TWO more matches to see if we make our first ever FAT final (and one of MY few, if not MY first ever FAT final! Probably not my first...but they've been rare!). Two more matches tho….were a killer. Because of this, because of weather delays and/or other postponements, we had NINE matches in March and FIVE matches in April. That was an absolute killer. Toss in a couple 3-4 week injuries and I was hard pressed to field a team capable of achieving my goals at the end of the season! Regardless...Fylde. A brilliant 3-0 away win set us up to be comfortable in the home match...and as I had opted to field some of my youth players in the league match or two prior (vs bottom of table opponents) I was able to field pretty much a starting lineup. Possibly didn't need to, as a 14th minute goal gave us an aggregate 4-0 lead, but Fylde battled back and grabbed a goal in the 53rd, and a 2nd in the 87th when my team started flagging. It was too little too late however, and we would make our first ever FAT final in the team's history. And, since the playoffs have already been posted above....you'll note that this is our 2nd Wembley appearance of the season! The final was pretty anti-climatic (though not easy). We were pitted against VNLN Kettering, a team that had bested us 4 out of 5 prior matches (back in our early days in the VNLN). Again, with rest we fielded a full-strength team, and our winning goal came thru a Blaize Clucas DFK -- a goal that might have been goal of the season if it had been in the league. As it was played before the playoff final, this ensured our first trophy of the historic DOUBLE that we achieved! The £ was what was the best however, as between this, the playoff final (and the playoff final of last year), we cut our cash deficit do around £200K (from nearly £1M we were at prior to this point last season). Additional Details Team of the Season Best XI Inductees Set piece specialist Harley Johnson proudly joined the teams historic Top XI team, with 85 appearances, 12 goals, 19 assists, and an 7.07 AvR over Two seasons. Additionally, Declan Blanchfield became the first Needham Market youth academy graduate to feature in the teams historic Top XI. Declan graduate the academy in the 20/21 season and made his senior debut in the VNLN matchup on 4 Sept 2021 vs Gateshead. Playing as a right winger, he scored his first senior goal against Nuneaton Boro on 5 Feb 2022. Declan has made 84 league appearances, scoring 6 times while providing 11 assists. He has also featured in 10 cup matches, scoring twice and providing one assist. Historical Best XI Fans Player of the Season -- Tom Fielding (30 goals, 6 assists, 10 PoM, and a 7.27 AvR) was the clear choice in the voiting again this year, garnering 64% of the votes. while left winger Campbell (12 goals/9 assists/7.13 AvR) and Set PIece Taker (MC) Harley Jonshon (7 goals/8 assists/7.11 AvR) got 15% and 12% respectively. Signing of the Season DM/DC Hugo Jenkinson (Free) Young Player of the Season Let's just round it out by introducing Tom Fielding as the young Player of the Season as well. End of Season Stats -- For the second consecutive year, Fielding dominated the team stats, as top goalscorer (30), Highest AvR (7.27), and most PoM awards (10). Rio Campell on the left wing contributed with the most team assists (9), while Sakyi was best passer (82%). On the negative side, Josh Hosie (loanee DL) had 14 yellow cards, while 5 players (Blanchfield, Bradley-Green, Pata, Rio Campbell, and Tylyer Daly) all saw red once. Youth Intake Top Graduate TEAM, INDIVIDUAL, AND LEAGUE RECORDS A host of records were set or broken this year: (* denotes ongoing record -- bold indicates record broken this year) The Rest of England What's Next Season 6 was an outstanding success, in many ways. In addition to the success in the matches, we had a small uptick in reputation (1.5* and regional reputation). This gave us an early boost to home attendance --- not huge, but, just enough that from September on we actually made small profits each month. That gained traction as the season went on successfully, and even without the cup runs, we were slowly climbing out of debt. We'd still be deep in debt w/o the two Wembley runs --- but those two very nearly pulled us out. As of late June, we are only £65K in cash debt (another £1.4M in loan debt as well, as the stadium is being fit for League Two requirements -- but nothing we can do about that). Our board remained tight-fisted throughout the run, however, and up until the end of the season, thru six seasons in charge, I had managed to get ONE SINGLE SCOUT from him. That all changed abruptly as we won promotion to league two. Before I woke up the next day from the wild celebrations, he had already contact me about going professional. "Who are you and what have you done with my Chairman?????" Okay...all jokes aside, it was fast, but it was very welcome. I also asked and was approved to go on my VERY FIRST COACHING COURSE of the save. Sadly, trying to get another coach a course was not authorized. Still, it's a start. We also got auto upgraded in coaching department (new Sports Scientist, Head of Sports Science, and one precious new coach allowed). And, an upgrade to our scouting range, to include all of UK&I now. Finally, small, incremental progress. We're still getting regular rumor of takeovers -- they died around December, then picked up hard late in the season. Who knows --- I don't think anything is going to happen... but it would be welcome if it did. It's still going to be pulling teeth to get anything out of him I think. For next year...well, we only need to be better than two teams to stay up. That's one of the beauties of L2. But, I want to do better... Maybe not top half, but better than 8 or 10 will do. Looking hard at the squad, picking who is good enough to stay and who I need to replace. Rio Campbell, Fielding, Hall and/or Roach, Camara, Johnson, Sakyi, are all definite keepers. I need potentially another DL, definitely an MR, probably a DM, and a whole lot of squad/rotation players. At the moment, I have...18 players set for release (though I might change my mind on one or two of them, and maybe half of them are graduates that just came up from the youth team that will never make the squad). It still leaves me with a few holes, but I think the core is fairly strong. One, two seasons in L2 would be great, but I need some signings to do it. Going pro is good...but the £12K wage budget is going to be rough...but we'll persevere, as usual! Career Overview Season Team League League Position(Predicted) FAT FAC JPT LC UEFA CL OTHER
  5. Um....so in season 6....I got drawn in the "Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup" --- essentially the scottish cup. How does a SE/Mid-East English team find itself drawn in the Scottish Challenge cup??? Am I bugged??? Okay...checking the wiki on the Scottish Challenge Cup --- it's random -- 2 teams from the English National League (started in 2016/7) --- just...never seen it before!
  6. Season Review (Season Five, 2024-25) Table / Position Graph / Squad / Finances / Transfers / Manager Attributes / Facilities / Annual Injuries / Competitions / Reputation / Club Vision SUMMARY Season Five was, quetly, very successful overall. At least, we achieved my own private goal of challenging for the playoffs. By the players and board's standards, it had to be hugely successful, as neither of those two entities shared my opinion of our capability to achieve that type of goal. However, by matchday eight, it was pretty much a surety. We didn't have any really long stretches of greatness as we had a couple of times in the previous seasons -- just a steady plod up the table, beating the teams we should have, beating the teams that we needed to, and getting some draws against some tough competition that showed we could fight for the right to be in the top 8 or so. As in the previous years, the attack was led by striker Tom Fielding, whose 22 league goals was two shy of qualifying for top-goalscorer for the 2nd straight season (the leader, from Stevenage I believe, had 23 league goals, but in 10 fewer matches). Unlike last season, where Fielding did not score in the Cup matches, this year Tom Fiedling scored 8 times, including a modern-day record setting SEVEN in the FA Cup). Joining him in the attack were fellow striker/TargetMan Harvey Bradbury (14 goals, 5 Assists), Left Winger Rio Campbell (12 goals/9 assists), and newcomer MC/Set-piece taker Harley Johnson (7 goals/8 assists). Overall the team would finish around top-8 in league goal-scoring, but these players really stood out. Joining Johnson in Midfield was the ever present Sakyi (with us for the 4th season, and team's top rated passer at 82% completion), Tommy Best, also with us for four seasons, and a disgruntled Tom Sharpe who spent most of the season on the transfer list (by his request), before coming off the list (also by his request) near the end of the season. The three would contribute 2 goals and nine assists, but did a fairly good job at controlling the midfield for us. With Rio Campbell on the left wing we were set for all but the right side --- an area I need to improve in the coming season. Defensively, I had to rely on veterans Moloney and Bradley-Green, joined by newcomer Oliver Casey to hold the back line. Casey became my top rated defender overall with his signing, and will hopefully be enough to anchor the back four in the coming season. Fullbacks didn't change much, barring the addition of loanee Josh Hosie from Alfreton (whom I had to sign as an emergency replacement when we suffered a rare spate of injuries, including Pata, for an extended time). I will definitely be looking for a new right (and perhaps left) back in the coming season. Finally, at keeper, Ryan Hall was joined by new signing Joshua Roach....the same keeper I had tried to sign in season two. East Thurrock was letting him go, and as he is better in most key attributes than Hall, I opted to sign him and groom him as my upcoming starter (he only wanted to sign on as a backup, which was fine for his first year, despite his 2.5x salary committment). The two would play roughly equal numbers of games, and both did well in their appearnces. Hall has been outstanding thru 5 seasons but, looking to the future, I think Roach is the better and is the one I opted to keep going forward. Of course, the real news of the season has nothing to do with the players, with the results, or with me...instead, it is the board (the one-man board named Chairman Sam Taylor) that takes center-stage...again. For the 2nd consecutive year, Taylor opts to deal with our £1M (plus) debt by...cutting wages. Twice. We started with a wage budget of £7.4K/wk, and, right on schedule, come the first of October, we have a cut. I believe the first cut was to roughly £5.7k/wk -- putting me immediately over budget (despite the fact I had left myself some room knowing a wage cut was coming -- I was only spending £6.4k/wk). Of course, Taylor was immediately put off with me for not staying within my wage budget (a key part of the team vision). Well...DON"T CUT MY WAGE BUDGET if you want me to satisify your vision!!!! To rub salt in the wound.....(and I predicted it on my twitch channel) January 1st --- TWO DAYS PRIOR to an away FAC3R match -- the chairman cut our wages again (this time to roughly £4.5k/wk) to nearly half of our starting wages. Two. Days. Prior. Uh....the chairman can't be bothered in the team enough to look at a calendar? Or he's just too dumb to do simple math and realize we are just about guaranteed to have a decent pay-day? (We made just about £200K in gate receipts in our away match to Championship Bristol Rovers, putting us temporarily with a profit on the season, if only just). He just has to go. Really, Really, HAS. TO. GO. NOW. We started the season with takeover rumors (as we had in season 1 and 2 both), then they died off. Then, for the first time, we started getting takeover rumors again near the end of the season. So....maybe this is the year? Or did I ruin the chances by making the playoff finals with a very nice Wembley gate receipt??? If he sticks around another year....I am not sure I can handle it. Our wage budget is already set at £7k/wk for next season --- which is lower than our current season started at. This also means that by Oct 2 we'll be down to £5.5k/wk, and January ......£3.9K/wk??? I just can't ahndle that another season! Promotion / Playoffs Well, well, well. We made it. Actually, we were never very far from the playoffs, but with players getting tired with regularity I wasn't always convinced. Playoffs were my personal goal, but neither the players nor the board were convinced by my aspirations. Barring Boston Utd, we had at least played tough against all other playoff contenders, so I had hoped to make it at least some distance, and the team did not (completely) dissapoint. First off was Hartlepool, whom we would face at home. We'd faced them twice in the season, suffering a 0-1 loss and manageing a 1-1 draw, so it was not going to be easy. The match did not disappoint, but took a lot of patience (and, for once -- a ref that wasn't biased in our opponents' favor!) Harley Jonhnson started the scoring with a goal from the run of play (as opposed to most of his goals, which were set-piece creations) in the 17th minute, and we held strong until Hartlepool answered with an equalizer in the 62 minute. The tide of the battle changed in the 72d minute, when Hartelpool had a player sent off with his 2nd yellow (the 6th of NINE hartlepool would pick up total), but we were unable to cash in in regulation time. That took us to extra time, where DR Pata gave us the go-ahead goal in the 96th minute with a shot into an open net at the far post. Hartlepool then suffered the indignation of having a 2nd player sent off in the 118th minute before left winger Rio Campbell sealed the deal in stoppage time for a 3-1 win, and a trip to the semi-finals. The Semi-finals would pit us against a Gillingham team that had never beat us -- but neither had we beat, having faced them down to a 0-0 draw and a 1-1 draw earlier in the season. This match is where a bit of luck came in. Okay, face it.... a lot of luck. And some good, old-fashioned defense, at which we do well usually. Unlike the previous match....this time the yellow cards went against us, as we would draw 6 in total (DR Pata getting two, which would mean missing the final...if we made it). And, it did not look like we would make it. There is a huge gap in the quality of our two teams, and it showed, as Gillingham made attack after attack after relentless attack. In the end, they managed 20 shots -- but the tenacity of our defence ensured that they had no real chances -- indeed, they only manged 5 shots on target. Meanwhile -- we were also having problems making any attacks of our own---and only managed 3 shots (2 of which were on target). In the end, this match was decided.....by a fluke goal -- not even counted as a shot -- as Rio Campbell made a far-post cross from the left touch line....which completely eluded the keeper and drifted inside the far post for a 1-0 26th minute lead which we would cling to until the final whistle. WEMBLEY---- HERE WE COME!!!!!!!! Wembley would see us face off against a vastly superior Boston United that had bested us in 4 of 6 previous meetings (the other two matches were a 1-1 draw back in the VNN, and a 2-1 win in our first meeting together in the VNL). Both of us had graduated from the VNN in the same season, but they have a real chairman and board (and the top budget in the VNL at something like £2M/yr (to my £300k/yr). I'll chalk our 4-0 defeat at Wembley up to the difference in the chairmen, rather that tactics or squad :P Yep..not much to say about the final --- other than the fact that we made a tidy gate receipt in it, ensuring our first ever profitable season (sadly, because a profitable season might just keep my chairman interested in hanging around another year ) So...no league football next season, and while I think we can achieve the playoffs again next season.....we really need some overall quality based on our ability to face down the....top 6 overall teams we will have to fight off for the honor of promotion. Without a change at the top (above me, that is)...../shrug Cup Competitions Needham Market had an exciting cup run this season, making the 3rd round of both the FA Trophy and the FA Cup. The FAT saw us enter the first round with a 2-0 win over VNS St. Albans, before a fiarly tough matchup vs Braintree. This matchup featured a 1-1 scoreline at home, forcing an away replay that featured a whopping 11 yellow cards (5 for Braintree, 6 for us -- leaving us a man short for most of the 2nd half). It looked to be headed for extra time and penalties, before Tom Fielding popped up with an 84th minute tap-in at the near post to seal a win, and a 3rd round matchup vs a then-in-form FC Halifax. By this point, we were suffering from a long campaign, and I had to rest multiple starters if we were going to continue to press our league for the playoff spots, which we were holding onto. As such, Fielding, Hall, Sakyi, all were left off the bench, and the weakened team was not up to the task despite the home advantage--and we crashed out with a 2-0 loss. The FA Cup was much more interesting, as we managed to score 13 goals in our 4-match run. Tom Fielding netted seven times in total, setting modern-day FAC Record (which actually kind of surprised me!). The wins included a 3-2 win over Altrincham, 5-0 demolishing of Hornchurch, and another 5-1 Thrashing vs FC Halifax (who would repay us shortly after by knocking us out of the FAT!). All three matches were home matches, but the final win set us up for one of our biggest money-makers so far in the challenge -- an away matchup vs Championship Bristol City. I even had hopes of snatching a win, as they were struggling mightily at the time...but the difference in quality was just too much; we marched out of the stadium with our heads held high however, as we limited the Rovers to a 2-0 win --- and we had a chance to score twice, with Fiedling being denied by an acrobatic save in the early 2nd half, being denied by an offside flag, and the team also had a penalty saved (which, I believe, just about summed up our shots in total!). Still, it was a great run, and the 3rd round matchup gave us a profit both on the month and (temporarily at least), on the year (after the match, we were showing a profit of about £30K on the year). Sadly, just 2 days prior, our chairman had already cut our wage budget for a 2nd time on the year --- not being foresighted enough to look at the calendar and realize we were about to earn a moderately decent gate receipt :P Additional Details Team of the Season Best XI Inductees Center Back Moloney was the top pick of the three new inductees, having made the squad 119 times and scoring 2 goals in his tenure. Joining him this year are Winger Rio Campbell and Goalkeeper Joshua Roach. Historical Best XI Fans Player of the Season -- Tom Fielding (30 goals, 6 assists, 10 PoM, and a 7.27 AvR) was the clear choice in the voiting again this year, garnering 64% of the votes. while left winger Campbell (12 goals/9 assists/7.13 AvR) and Set PIece Taker (MC) Harley Jonshon (7 goals/8 assists/7.11 AvR) got 15% and 12% respectively. Signing of the Season DM/DC Hugo Jenkinson (Free) Young Player of the Season Let's just round it out by introducing Tom Fielding as the young Player of the Season as well. End of Season Stats -- For the second consecutive year, Fielding dominated the team stats, as top goalscorer (30), Highest AvR (7.27), and most PoM awards (10). Rio Campell on the left wing contributed with the most team assists (9), while Sakyi was best passer (82%). On the negative side, Josh Hosie (loanee DL) had 14 yellow cards, while 5 players (Blanchfield, Bradley-Green, Pata, Rio Campbell, and Tylyer Daly) all saw red once. Youth Intake Top Graduate TEAM, INDIVIDUAL, AND LEAGUE RECORDS A host of records were set or broken this year: (* denotes ongoing record -- bold indicates record broken this year) The Rest of England What's Next Season 5 was definitely a good season, but the difference in quality between us and the top teams was apparent. We did get lucky on a couple occasions, putting us within a game of league football --- but we can't rely on luck forever. Unfortunately....my hands are still tied by my board. Two more wage cuts last season (putting us at 5 in 3 seasons if my count is correct) prevented me from resigning most of my staff and most of my players until the new wages were set at the end of the season (and set lower than my previous season--season five-- started at despite turning a profit for the year due to our Wembley apperance in the final). As long as the chairman is still in charge.....we are just not going to get any better. In practical terms, I need a new right fullback and right winger....and then maybe just solidify my defense in general. My attacking options are still great for this level, with Fielding netting 30, Rio Campbell on the left wing grabbing a dozen, and Target Man Bradbury also getting on the scoresheet 14 times. All three will thankfully return, as is my free kick taker Johnson, who satisfied the club vision of making most out of set-pieces (and improved our set pieces a thousandfold over the previous year. We both started and ended the year with takeover rumors......so, here's hoping!!! Career Overview Season Team League League Position(Predicted) FAT FAC JPT LC UEFA CL
  7. Eh...the reason is we're nearly/over £1M cash debt. Unlike other boards.....he's not up for being replaced...nor for injecting cash into the club. his answer to making up the 1M cash debt is reduce wages by a thousand or two. would only take...50 years...to make up that 1M debt that way The sad thing is this season --- he cut the wages Jan 1, knowing we had an away FAC3R match 2 days later ---which netted us nearly £200k in gate receipts (putting us into profit for the season, if only temporarily). Had he waited 2 days, he wouldn't have needed the wage cut.
  8. And....right on schedule (again) -- Jan 1, wages reduced again... from 5.36K/wk to 4.47k/wk --- now, most of the VNN/S teams have a wage budget higher than mine....and we're sitting 6th in the VNL! If we don't replace our board after this season.....I am very likely done
  9. sounds like my style I rely on my scouts to forward interesting players for me to look at. I generally only trial in 10 or fewer in a season --- and they must have a scout recommendation of at least 70 for me to do that (barring an emergency -- for instance I lose two starting DCs mid-season, then I might trial in someone slightly lower). I also only sign staff who answer adverts (or are recommended by existing staff). Gives it a bit more challenge...but I've done this for years, so no reason to change now My thoughts are --- I pay a staff to do something....they oughta be doing it!
  10. And.....right on schedule...Oct 2 of season 6....the board cuts my wage budget from £7.65k/wk to £5.36k/wk..... (actually, a steeper percentage cut than he's made in the past....means by January I'll be down to...£3.9k/wk???
  11. Yeah...gonna stick with it another season. It's the first time in this challenge (I've been playing this challenge for at least six or seven past versions of FM) where by this point and with this debt I haven't 1) either had a takeover or 2) at least have the board inject cash at least (and usually more than) once in 4+ seasons. We'll see what happens. Third year in five I've got takeover rumors floating around... with an expectation of hitting -£1M cash debt by end of season (barring a great cup draw/run) I'm hoping that will trigger it. Worst part is probably getting dinged for "failing to stay within budget" when I'm within budget, until I get 2 budget cuts in a season!
  12. Season Review (Season Four, 2023-24) Table / Position Graph / Squad / Finances / Transfers / Manager Attributes / Manager Character / Facilities / Annual Injuries / Competitions / Reputation / Club Vision SUMMARY Season Four was frustratingly great (for our first season in the VNL at least. We had a lot of ups and downs thru the season, but for the most part stayed clear of the relegation battle from the start. We scored fairly well (when we took shots -- we were top of league in shots on target ratio, but only mid table in shots taken). Last season's acquisition, Tom Fielding, was great in front of goal. He not only beat his own record for league goals in a season with 24, but he captured the league top goalscorer as well (a first for me in a long time!) Davison, playing a mix of MR and Forward positioins, added 9 league and 2 cup goals, while targetman Bradbury added 10 of his own. An assortment of goals from the midfield rounded out the offense. What was lacking this season were my goals from set pieces (a critical club vision requirement) -- we didn't manage a single goal from corners this season! Defensively, we were much worse off (and it showed in our foul count as well). We were in the bottom 6 or 8 in goals allowed, and in top 5 worst in discipline overall as well. Part of the issue ended up being our only real injury crunch, as I lost few players for long spells....but when I lost players, I lost them in a bunch (just after midseason, I was without 6 or 7 starters -- 5 thru injury for 3-4 weeks, another 2 for 3 matches due to red card offenses). I also don't have a really solid DM/anchorman --- a keystone for 2 of my 3 formations. I've got a couple DM/DC types that can do the job, but really don't have the standout anchorman I am used to being able to rely on. Keeper Ryan Hall was still solid in goal, making some incredible saves in order to keep us competitive in a number of matches when the defense got a bit leaky. The rest of my midfield is still pretty solid, with Rio Campbell joining to play wide left and providing some dangerous crosses (created some chances, but only managed 2 assists -- hoping he gets a bit better with a tactical tweak). Tom Sharpe and Jeremy Watts (late) joined Sakyi and Raikhy in the center to solidify the rotation (had more problems in the VNL w/ players tiring from the number of matches played). Davision and Blanchfield remained my sole options out wide right. Altogether, they had a solid effort in controlling the midfield for me this season. The key point in the season undoubtable came late..a stretch of matches starting at the end of Februrary. We had just had a 5 match losing streak; we had a couple mid-table matches coming up that were must win, because after that we faced 5 top-8 teams before finishing off with 5 bottom half teams. Had we continued to pile losses up, those final five matches would have had us in a life-or-death struggle. Following the 5 match loss streak, we put together a great run however; starting with a 4-1 drubbing of mid-table Ebbsfleet. That gave us a bit of confidence -- a draw vs Barrow then a surprise 2-1 win over 3rd Barrow really gave us impetus to finish the season strong, and we finished the year with only 2 losses in our final 13 to stay solidly mid-table. Not bad for our first VNL. Oh, why was it frustrating???? One word. Well...two. "The Board." It stinks. In four seasons....I've gotten exactly.....one extra scout out of him. No funds dumped into the club. No additional coaches. Won't try for an affiliate club -- he prefers not to rely on loan players. Can't get a coaching license. We are now £1.1M or therabouts in debt --- 325K or so of it remaining loan debt for our stadium upgrade for entering the VNL. The rest is cash debt. The chairman's sole method of dealing with the debt --- reduce my wage allowance. This year, for the second year running, he dropped my wage allowance twice --- first in October, and again in....February, I think it was. We started the season with a wage budget of £6.4/wk, in October it was dropped to about £5.7k, then dropped again to £4.9K/wk. Yep...that's gonna drop our budget deficit quickly! Really impacting my desire to continue this save, TBH. Promotion / Playoffs Not this season. We did well getting to (and staying) mid-table, but we're far short of the quality needed to push for playoffs. Don't forsee that changing any time soon. Cup Competitions Not much going on here either. We achieved expectations, but didn't get much more than that. The FAC featured a 1-0 win over Gosport, then a FAC1R 1-1/1-0 win vs Alfreton, before losing to L2 Doncaster in the 2nd round in a match that wasn't as close as the 3-0 scoreline indicated. The FAT featured us up against Wrexham, and we took them to a replay as well, which we went out on penalties after a 1-1 scoreline. Wrexham has turned into a bit of a bogey team for us...but we finally beat them in that end stretch of matches in the league. Additional Details Team of the Season Best XI Inductees Both fullbacks Yfeko and Pata made the new overall best XI. Historical Best XI Fans Player of the Season For the second season, it wasn't quite unanimous, but Tom Fielding (24 League goals--top league goalscorer/5 assists, and a 7.42AvR), was the only choice in the voting, garnering 74% of the votes. Midfielders Sakyi (5 goals/4 assists/7.05 AvR) and Best (3 goals/6 assists/7.17 AvR) got 10% and 9% respectively. Signing of the Season DM/DC Hugo Jenkinson (Free) Young Player of the Season Let's just round it out by introducing Tom Fielding as the young Player of the Season as well. End of Season Stats -- Fielding dominated with Top Goalscorer, Highest AvR, and most PoM awards (same as last season), and added most pass completion (81%) as well for the season. Most assists (6) were shared by Best and Raikhy. Bradley-Green had 12 yellow cards for the team worst, while DL Dunk had 2 Red cards. Youth Intake Top Graduate TEAM, INDIVIDUAL, AND LEAGUE RECORDS A host of records were set or broken this year: (* denotes ongoing record -- bold indicates record broken this year) The Rest of England What's Next Season Four -- overall, a good season. Season Five....well, unless the rumored takeover comes thru, I'm not sure how far I'll make it this season. Takeover rumor has started earlier than it had in the previous two years where takeover rumors exist -- but not holding my breath. With no money coming in from the board (which consists of....my chairman....), and with our debt, and with the knowledge that my £7.5k/wk wage allowance will be down to about £5k/wk by Dec/Jan..... I'm losing interest rapidly. To start the new season, I have a new keeper (someone I tried to sign 3 seasons ago, but got beat out --- he's better than Hall (who has been pretty good), but only wants backup status....so we'll see how much I can work him in w/o irritating him. Also have another decent midfielder that can handle set piece duties for me --- something I've been missing this past season. Other than that, I need a bit more to solidify my defense...midfield and forwards are still in great shape (Fielding was in on a 2-year deal, so didn't have to worry about resigning him!). We'll see how far this season goes....if no takeover (or change in chairman's philosophy/money handling)….I might just sim to end of season and quit, trying to take over a new team that comes up that meets the requirements (or just start a new manager in 2025 w/ a team that meets those requirements). Career Overview Season Team League League Position(Predicted) FAT FAC JPT LC UEFA CL
  13. Havent seen them yet. Still running some holidays while ….. on holiday :P up to about 60% of teams discovered. Will try to remember and ping you if I find and host on the page 1 thread.
  14. Good luck---I'm up to about 50....last half dozen vacations have netted only one new team. Gonna keep at it and continue hosting new saves back on page one thru the holidays at least.
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