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Tom Ashley

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    FC Den Bosch/TBA

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  1. [FM 15] Where the Road May Lead

    27 May 2015 Exactly a week later, Dan got a call from Lucas Dean. The Leatherhead board were willing to bring him in for an interview. He borrowed Paul's car and made the hour-long drive around the M25 to the Tanners' grounds at Fetcham Grove. Dan liked Lucas Dean. He was a pleasant, soft-spoken man, and he had a clear vision of the kind of manager he wanted to hire. He shared Dan's desire to play direct football; it might not always be stylish, but it often worked quite well in the lower leagues, and most British lads knew how to play that kind of game. Dean also wanted to bring in young players, and Dan agreed with that objective, too. He figured he might be able to command the authority of players in their late teens more easily than those who might be several years older than he. The two men shook hands, and Dean told him he'd be in touch when the board had made up their minds. The drive back to north London seemed much shorter. That evening, Dan got together with a few of his mates to watch the FA Cup Final. Trevor Hale was there, and a couple of lads he knew from Eton Manor. They watched Chelsea get a brace from Javier Herrera, who'd scored 32 goals in all comps, and a third goal on an audacious strike from their flashy Brazilian winger, Capitāo. Plucky Norwich got a late goal from Ian Francis, who banged it in off the post. Trevor was a Chelsea supporter, so he was especially delighted with the outcome. The weather fit the English stereotype on 20 May, with a low fog that never burned off. Dan had always felt better about days like these when he got outside and did something active, so he took his bicycle out for a good, long ride. Shortly before noon, his phone rang. “Dan, this is Lucas Dean,” said the voice on the other end. “We'd like to offer you a contract to manage our club.” Dan nearly dropped his mobile. He nearly blurted out “Yes, Mr. Dean,” but something made him pause. He hadn't heard anything about the Barrow position. Did he dare asking Dean for time to consider his offer...just in case Barrow were considering an offer, too? How would a move like that, from a managerial candidate with absolutely no experience, come across? He took a deep breath. “Thank you very much, Mr. Dean,” he replied. “I'd like to think about the offer a bit, if you don't mind.” “That's fine, Dan. We'd like to have you. We can wait a week before we need to know anything definite.” Dan closed his eyes. Perfect, he thought. “I appreciate it very much.” Was it his imagination, or had the fog really begun to lift as soon as Dan ended his call from Lucas Dean? Life certainly seemed more exciting now, full of possibility. Such was not the case for supporters of Wigan Athletic. They hosted Watford in the Promotion Playoff, with a berth in the Premier League at stake. The visitors struck three times in the second half, dashing the Latics' hopes. Watford would join Reading and Fulham in the top flight next season, with Stoke, West Ham, and Leicester going down. The next morning, Dan's phone buzzed again. This time it was Jeremy Traynor, calling from Barrow. Could Dan make the trip up to interview for their manager's position the next day? “I realize this is short notice, but we'd really like to speak with you,” Traynor explained. “Sure, I can be there,” a delighted Dan replied. The next noon, Dan was seated in Traynor's office at Holker Street, discussing the chairman's plans for his club. Traynor was also open to Dan's suggestion of a direct playing style. And Dan agreed with the Barrow board's goal of developing the club's young talent. Dan had plenty of time to think about the interview on the long drive south, and he felt quite good about how it went. Jeremy Traynor wasn't wasting time. Dan was eating breakfast the next morning when Traynor called with a job offer. When Dan asked for time to think it over, Traynor agreed. Eight days earlier, Dan Beardsley was this close to ending his dreams of managing a football club. Now, he had two job offers—enticing ones—from which to choose.
  2. [FM 15] Where the Road May Lead

    9 May 2015 Dan spent that spring watching for news of managers who might be getting the sack. He felt a bit guilty about almost rooting for other men—men with pride, with a love for the game, perhaps with families to support—to lose their jobs. For a while, the job market was very slow, and that gave Dan time to pay closer attention to events on the pitch. The news out of his second nation was not good. On the first day of April, the American national team traveled to Vaduz for a friendly match with tiny Liechtenstein, and the hosts handed them a 1-0 defeat on a goal by a rather nondescript forward called Martin Hartmann. He was at Wembley a fortnight or so later, watching Norwich upset Spurs in the FA Cup Semi Final. The Championship side got a brace from Spanish front man Francisco Jesús Moreno. The Canaries would face Chelsea—who saw off Arsenal in the other Semi Final. April turned to May, and Dan was starting to resign himself to the idea of finding a job outside football. His father had spoken to a headmaster friend who had a position available for an English literature teacher, starting in the fall. He'd be willing to keep the position open until the end of the month to give Dan a few more weeks to pursue his last few managerial job leads. Almost on cue, the first of those leads materialized. The aspiring manager's hopes were thereby rekindled. Barrow had been an overwhelming favorite to win the Conference North this season. The Bluebirds underachieved, finishing fifth, nine points off front-running Harrogate's pace. They battled back to earn a place in the Promotion Final, but when they were trounced by Leamington, the board sacked manager Sean Edwards. Dan sent his CV to Barrow chairman Jeremy Traynor. Expectations had also been high at Leatherhead. The Isthmian Premier League side had been tapped to earn a place in the Promotion Playoff. But when the team collected only two points from their first five matches, manager Joe Whittaker--who'd been there since 2011--was dismissed. His successor, Jake Beale, didn't fare much better. The Tanners spent most of the season fighting to keep above the drop zone and finished 18th, and that cost Beale his job, too. The Leatherhead position was intriguing. A Level Seven club like the Tanners might be more willing to take a chance on an inexperienced manager like Dan. He decided to put his name in the pot for that position as well. Chairman Lucas Dean acknowledged the receipt of his application and promised to respond in the near future. Now, all Dan could do was wait for either—or both—the clubs to contact him for an interview. Something told him that these could be his last chances.
  3. [FM 15] Where the Road May Lead

    October 2014-March 2015 “I think you're selling yourself a bit short, Danny. You've got a National A license. You ought to be taking a shot at a manager's position.” Trevor Hale took a long sip of his drink. He'd been a good friend of Dan's since they were schoolboys. Dan knew he could count on Trevor to give it to him straight, but this time he wasn't completely convinced his friend was right. “I haven't been given a shot at a coaching job, Trev. If a club won't bring me in to talk to me about that, what makes you think I'd stand a chance at the top job?” “What's it going to cost you? The time it takes you to change a couple lines on your CV?” Dan shrugged. “I guess you have a point there.” Over the next few weeks, the first round of sackings began. The press actually listed him among the front-runners for the job at Nuneaton Town in early December. Nothing came of it; the Conference club hired Stephen Leeson, a veteran manager with a single England cap to his credit. Dan spent Christmas with his mum and dad in Edinburgh. For a few days, he relaxed and took his mind off his job search. After the calendar turned to 2015, however, he found himself becoming more anxious about his prospects. A number of jobs came open with clubs in the Conference North and South—Boston United, Worcester, Hemel Hempstead, Basingstoke, Bradford Park Avenue—and while Dan was sometimes mentioned as a “short list” candidate, none of the clubs considered him seriously enough to interview for a position. Then, on a dreary February day, Dan learned his position at the animal shelter was going to be cut in a month. Money was tight, and a volunteer or two could do the jobs Dan was covering. The owner felt badly, and Dan didn't harbor any ill feelings, but the fact remained that Dan was now out of work. He had no choice but to return to his parents' home. It was now nearly springtime. Paul Beardsley's connections with schools in the towns north of London were fairly extensive, and he pointed that fact out to his son one night over dinner. “I can talk to a few people, Dan. I ought to be able to get you an interview for a teaching position somewhere.” Dan sighed deeply. “If I haven't found a job by the end of the term, I'll give it some thought. Maybe I can coach a school team, something like that.” Perhaps it was time to turn another page.
  4. [FM 15] Where the Road May Lead

    I haven't forgotten my Dutch story, but I can't resist the temptation to manage in England, too. This time my protagonist will start out unemployed, and we'll see where he ends up. Football Manager 15; "fake names," so I can create player-characters with their own personalities. Prologue: Spring and Summer 2014 Paul Beardsley was doing graduate work in history at the University of Michigan when he met Patti Howell, a vivacious blonde who thought his accent was “precious.” An invitation out for coffee turned into a four-hour conversation, and two years later, Paul and Patti were husband and wife. The Beardsleys returned to England; Paul took a teaching position at a school in north London, and Patti worked at Debenhams. Baby made three on the first day of December, 1987, and they named their new son Daniel Paul Howell Beardsley. Paul had been a decent Sunday league footballer, a scrappy defensive midfielder. Dan inherited his dad's talent, and then some. He played the same position as Paul, with just as much grit and a bit more panache. Intrigued by his mum's homeland after spending some time there on summer vacations, he studied and played football at a small college in Pennsylvania (or "soccer," as they called it in the States) . He took a degree in English literature and came back home to England without any real plan for what might happen next. Dan was good enough to play for Eton Manor, a semi-professional club in the Essex Senior League, and he found work with an animal shelter, where he wrote copy for their website and did anything else the owner needed. The more time he spent around the football club, the more he realized he'd enjoy coaching the game more than he did playing it. He began studying for his coaching badges and got as far as the National A level. He finished near the top of his class each time and, just as significantly, the bug bit him. Hard. He thanked his manager at Eton Manor, a fellow named Micky Hatfield, for giving him a chance to stay in the game, and told him he'd be hanging up his boots. Micky wished him well, and told him he'd be welcome to help out with the youth teams while he looked for a paying position. That spring, Dan began sending his CV to any nearby club who advertised for a coaching position. Money was tighter now; Dan found himself missing the little bit he was paid to play for Eton Manor now that it was gone. There were times when he doubted the wisdom of his decision. Those times came more frequently in July, once the preseason began and he hadn't heard anything from any of the clubs he contacted. Dan was a patient man, and he'd need every bit of that patience now.
  5. Franjo: A Journeyman Story

    A good story is a good story, no matter what version of the game you're playing. I've gone back to playing FM14 myself! Enjoy your Christmas break, and happy 2018, in advance! Tom
  6. Dutch Treat [FM 15]

    8 August 2014 Tom arrived in Holland in early July, and he had five weeks to shape the Den Bosch squad that would contend for the Eerste Divisie title. He decided to leave the club’s back room staff intact, at least for the time being. He sensed the players might appreciate some sense of continuity, because most of them had liked their previous boss. Tom really liked Kevin Zwaan, who would be continuing as his assistant. Kevin was a local hero of sorts, a hometown lad who kept goal for the club in the 1980s and stayed on to coach the goalkeepers before earning a promotion to the assistant managership. The decision to keep Kevin around was, therefore, a no-brainer. Den Bosch employed an avuncular Belgian called Björn Schaap as Director of Football. He had found several players he wanted to bring into the team, but none of them had been willing to play for the Blue White Dragons--at least for the wages the team were willing to play them. The team's transfer budget stood at zero, and there weren't more than a few hundred euro worth of room in the wage budget. So, Tom would have to make do with the team he'd inherited, too. Tom was a true son of England when it came to football tactics. He favored direct football, big target men, and pacey wingers, a system where every man knew his place and played his role. His father Jan warned him that approach might not work in the country that gave the world totaalvoetbal. "You're going to have to give them a bit of what they want," Jan cautioned him. "Your team can't just lump the ball up the pitch to the big blokes." Tom, somewhat begrudgingly, set aside his beloved 4-4-2 for a "trendier" 4-2-3-1, but he'd also been training the team in a 4-4-1-1 that more closely fit his own preferred style of play. One man who wasn't sorry to meet the new boss was the team's number one 'keeper, Padraic O'Connor. Paddy hailed from Limerick, and spoke only a few words of Dutch. He was, however, a very well-rounded custodian. Young Pip Joosten backed him up. Right back Jeffrey de Jong was the best defender in the team. He was athletic and, at 21, understood the game like a veteran. Wee Ruud Nelis, all 5'6" of him, would start on the left. He had bags of pace and the mentality of a terrier. Tom wished there were a couple big British-style center halves in the team. Right now, the best choices were Derek Klooster, who was a natural midfielder, and Tim Verlaan, who was much more comfortable on the left. Neither Derek nor Tim were good in the air, and Tim revealed a disturbing unwillingness to get stuck in. Björn Schaap was hard at work looking for their replacements. Harry Blom was a decent holding midfielder, and he'd team with either quick Eric Thoma or tough Jerry Groeneveld. In front of them, Tom could choose to employ Tiago Ferreira, a clever Portuguese import, or club captain Mike Berghuis. Right now, Tom was leaning toward playing Tiago as an advanced playmaker, with Mike shifting to the left wing. Even at 37, Berghuis was in superb shape, and could still do the job out wide. Another speed merchant, Mats de Goede, played on the right. Mats was also absolutely deadly from free kicks. The young manager had several options at center forward, too. Bart Sneijder wasn't flashy, but he did everything fairly well. Arjen de Groot was tall, strong, and quick--in other words, a classic target man. Tom couldn't help thinking how well the two players would work together in a formation with two strikers... Today, the Blue White Dragons would open their season at home away to Telstar. As he sat in his office before the team boarded the coach for their journey to IJmuiden--an hour or so from the team's home in the old city of 's-Hertogenbosch--Tom heard his phone buzz. He picked it up to see a text from his dad. Good luck gaffer. Tom smiled. He took a deep breath, slipped his phone into the pocket of his jacket, and stood up from his desk. It was almost time.
  7. Dutch Treat [FM 15]

    I originally began this save on FM 14, but the file crashed. I liked the story idea enough to give it another go, using FM 15 this time. Same basic premise, same first couple posts...with a few changes that reflect the details of the new game. "Fake players" again. Summer 2014 Some boys who grow up with famous fathers decide they'll do anything but follow in Dad's large footsteps. If Dad's a musician, they won't pick up an instrument. If he's a doctor, they aspire to a career in law. Others never consider anything other than "the family business." Tommy van de Mark was one of those lads. Tommy's father, Jan, had been a very good footballer in his day, a center half with eleven Holland caps to his name. It was as a manager, however, that Jan truly excelled. He led AS La Jeunesse d'Esch-Alzette to three league titles in Luxembourg. He managed in the Dutch lower leagues for several seasons, and in 1979 went from there to England, where he became a club icon at Carlisle United. Jan van de Mark liked England. He put down roots there, marrying an English woman ten years his junior and, finally, starting a family. Tommy arrived on 1 December 1983, Jan's second child, and only son. Tommy quickly proved he'd inherited his father's athletic gifts, and then some; his mum, Emma, had been a fine athlete as a schoolgirl, and she passed her pace down to Tommy. Armed with that speed, Tom became a flashy winger, good with either foot. By the time he was 20, he'd cracked the first team at Aldershot Town. He wasn't destined for the highest levels of the game, but he was well on his way to establishing himself as a solid professional. It became clear to Tom that he had inherited his dad's love of coaching the game of football. He'd often stop by the pitches where the youth teams were training, lending a hand and chatting with the youth coaches. He also began studying for his coaching badges. More and more, Tom found greater enjoyment in these activities than he did playing the game itself. Dad wasn't shocked when, in 2010, he received an application for a coaching position from his son. "I asked Tom if he was sure this was what he wanted to do," Jan recalled. "He was only 26, and he was still in his prime years as a player. He wasn't injured, and he was a fixture in the first team at Aldershot. So it wasn't a desperate move on his part. He assured me he was doing exactly what he wanted to do." There were some whispers of nepotism when Tom got the job, but he quickly proved he was a good hire. "I don't have a family. I can come in early and stay late, and I'm happiest when that's what I'm doing," he explained. His boss was impressed by his knowledge, too. "I tried to be neither too demanding or too easy on Tom," said Jan. "I really didn't have to look over his shoulder too much. He's good." Ronald de Jong was the chairman of FC Den Bosch, a club in the Eerste Divisie, Holland's second division. De Jong had known Jan van de Mark for years; they'd played against each other as schoolboys. One day in the late spring of 2013, de Jong gave his old friend a call. His manager had just taken another position, and he had a vacancy. Did he know of any talented coaches who might be flying under the radar, someone who might want a chance to manage a team? "I didn't recommend anyone," Jan insisted. "I simply told him I would put the word out among people I knew." A week later, de Jong received a resume from Tom van de Mark. The directors weren't immediately impressed. Tom was 30, and his experience was limited to three years as a first team coach. His name and heritage were Dutch, and he could speak the language, but Tom had never lived outside England. He'd be managing men who might be several years older than he, with better credentials as players. Hiring such a manager would be a gamble. With some reservations, the board put his name on the short list of candidates who would come to stadion De Vliert for an interview. In Tom's words, "I aced it." The board were impressed with his energy and optimism. The interim assistant manager, Kevin Zwaan, found him easy to talk to, easy to work with. So did Jan Hooiveld, the Under 19s manager. What impressed chairman de Jong the most was the way the players responded to the young candidate. Mike Berghuis, the club captain, was four years older than Tom and might have been less than happy with the idea of taking direction from him. Instead, Berghuis took the initiative to dash off an email to de Jong, letting him know how favorably the players viewed Tom. So, against the wishes of at least one of the directors, Tom van de Mark was offered the chance to manage FC Den Bosch. His father, back for another year at Carlisle, was the first to wish him well. "I'm not going to be managing against him, so I hope he wins every single match," Jan said with a wink.
  8. You've Got To Have a Dream [FM 14]

    @BluesGuy : Thanks very much! I didn't attend Davidson, but a good friend of mine did, and I spent some time on their campus. My own alma mater doesn't play Division I soccer, and I wanted my character to have a decent playing career. 15 August 2013 I've been on the job here at Diss Town for about six weeks now. At first I thought I might want to ask the chairman, Danny Bennett, to allow me to bring in a new backroom staff, but after some consideration, I decided to stick with the current situation. They're all nice enough fellows, and good enough at their jobs, especially for a club in the County Leagues. The best of the lot is Steven Williams, my assistant, who just hung up his boots at the age of 48. He's a former center forward who would like to see us play an attacking formation like a 4-3-3, but I don't think we have the players for that style of football right now. Steven knows the lads well, so I've been leaning on him pretty heavily while I get to know them. Our squad is small right now--only sixteen players, and two of them are still schoolboys. There's no money in our budget to bring any more in, unless I want to push my luck with the board. And, what's more, the best player in the team is a non-contract player. He's a Welshman called Rhys Collins. I've been using Rhys at right back, but he is comfortable anywhere along that side of the pitch and at center back. He can do a job at striker, too, so he'll be in my eleven as often as he's fit. The goalkeeper looks like a good one, too. His name is Norman McShane. He's 19, and with some additional work on his positioning he'll possibly be too good for our league. For now, he's an automatic choice for our number one. He's also the only 'keeper in the team. Center back Neil Clough is the club's captain, and our unquestioned leader. Since I arrived, several clubs have tried to prise Neil from us, offering 25 percent of his next sale price. I've turned them down, because I think we need his presence on the pitch and his steady play in the heart of our defense. I've been tempted by the offers, though. Center back is the one position where we actually have a bit of depth. Besides Clough, we have James Cameron, a big lad who plays in the mold of an old school English center half, and Anthony Peers, the best in the team at marking and tackling. The left back is Steve Adams, a well-rounded footballer who seems to do most things fairly well and nothing spectacularly. I'll take that. We've been training to play 4-4-1-1. On the right side of midfield is Joe Collins, the team's elder statesman at 32. Joe excels at the mental aspects of the game, and he is the club's vice captain. Pacey Jamie Harvey mans the other flank. Our best central midfielder is Ryan Leggett, a tenacious player with a balanced set of skills. Ryan can fill any role in our midfield, depending on who else is on the pitch. He is a full foot shorter than the 6'5" Cameron, his best mate. Craig Billings frustrates me. He's got the physique of a decathlete, and more than enough technical skill for this level. He's also a slacker of the first order, who usually looks like he's running uphill. I like Chris Cooper's attitude a lot better. Chris is a work in progress as a player, but his attitude is first rate. Leggett is well-suited to play the point of our midfield triangle, which means using both Billings and Cooper. I can also use versatile Brian Middleton, who can do a job in any position from the midfield forward. I've had Middleton in the first eleven most of the time during the preseason. Collins is probably our best striker, but he's so much better than the alternatives at right back that he's going to play there for the time being. We have other decent options to lead the line, including Martin Williams, a big, powerful striker, and David Bruce, who has more pace and can finish but otherwise lacks Williams' finesse. A pair of youngsters round out the team. Simon McKie is a right-sided midfielder, a very athletic player who plays with verve. I nearly mistook the other lad for a Under 13 who had cheekily wandered over to senior team training. I thought about shooing him away. He might have been five feet tall. Even Ryan Leggett has a few inches on him. I asked Steven who he was. "That's Gavin Sturdy," he told me. "He's how old?" "Sixteen. He's a scrappy lad, though. He can play anywhere you want, except in goal. That motor of his never stops." After the first week of training, I was already a fan. Steven was right. Gavin threw himself into every drill with gusto. I could tell that his teammates respected his pluck, and wouldn't go out of their way to rough him up. Still, when things did get physical, he picked himself up and went right back into the mix, and I soon saw that Gavin gave as good as he got. Sturdy is quite a fine name for the lad. We played seven friendlies during the preseason, all at our home grounds, Brewers Green Lane. We did well, winning five, drawing one, and losing one (0-1) to a Histon side that plays in the Conference North. Williams and Bruce each scored three goals. Better yet, we only conceded two goals ourselves. Is it too much to expect us to keep up that form as we enter league play? Is that the first dream I'll have to put aside? Again, we'll see. The Premier Division of the Eastern Counties League awaits.
  9. You've Got To Have a Dream [FM 14]

    I'm going to give story writing another go. I'm playing FM 14, with a database that extends the English system down to the County Leagues. I'm using "fake players," so all my characters are entirely fictional. My name is Tom Ashley. I'm about to turn thirty years old. I don't have a wife, a girlfriend, or a pet. I do, however, have a job. Actually, I now have two jobs. That's how this story begins. On second thought, perhaps I should back up a bit, to my days as a schoolboy. I didn't usually have a girlfriend then, either. I was too busy with two other loves: football and my studies. I was better at the latter than I was at the former, but I was good enough at both to attend an American university on a scholarship, and a good one. I played at Davidson College, in North Carolina, and took a degree in history. I liked the USA, but not well enough to stay there, so I came back home to Norwich and got a job teaching at my former grammar school. I found the time and the energy to turn out for semi-professional clubs from time to time, and once or twice I was told I might be able to do better than that if I went all in and concentrated on my football. Maybe I could have. I'll never know, because I didn't want to risk quitting my teaching post, not making it as a footballer, and finding myself with no place to turn. I suppose trying my hand at coaching was the next natural step. I began taking my badges three years ago, and now I have a National A license. Don't get me wrong. I love teaching history. Every class, every day is different, and I enjoy the vibe, the atmosphere of a school. But I've never let go of my desire to be part of the world of football. I'm very lucky to have the chance to pursue that desire. Fortunately for me, my headmaster is a football fan, and he gave me his blessing, more or less, to look for a coaching gig. I figured I might land a spot on a club's coaching staff, maybe working with the youth teams. Instead, I got an offer to manage a club--and a semi-pro club, at that! Diss Town Football Club has been willing to take a chance on me. Diss isn't far from Norfolk, twenty minutes or so by car. The team trains on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and the headmaster was kind enough to let me take a lighter teaching load. It will make for some long and tiring days, but if my players can work at their jobs and come to training afterwards, so can I. There's a song from a Rogers and Hammerstein musical my mum used to sing to me. It's called Happy Talk. I've never forgotten one line from the song: You've got to have a dream. If you don't have a dream, how you gonna make a dream come true? What's my dream? Right now I'm not entirely sure. I might want to go all in this time, pursue football management as a career, and see how far I can go. I might want to keep teaching while I manage a smaller club like Diss Town, and do both for thirty years. I do think I want a pet, though. Probably a girlfriend, too. Let's see which of these dreams I can make come true.
  10. Franjo: A Journeyman Story

    VAMOS HERÓIS!!! Congratulations on your come-from-behind victory and on your promotion! And, again, you tell the story with style. That's quite a cliff-hanger you've left for us, too. Looking forward to learning what comes next...
  11. @Rashidi : I've started a lower-league save, and I've got a player who has the attributes to make a good Enganche at our level. My best striker is a fairly good lower-level approximation of the player you describe as a "Diego Costa"-style striker--decent first touch (especially for his level), strong as an ox, brave, hard-working, and determined. I've never tried the Enganche role. Do you think my "bully" center forward can pair well with an Enganche, and if so, what role do you think might be the best for him? Thanks!
  12. Thanks for these replies, gentlemen. You're giving me lots of food for thought, and that's why I posted my questions in the first place. @Vince Lombardi : I think I see what you mean when you mention that everyone's making mistakes at the lower levels. If they were all executing perfectly, it wouldn't be an accurate representation of lower league football. There are fast men and big, strong men, and if they had better technique and a better feel for the game, they wouldn't still be playing at lower levels. @Cuenca Guy : Yes, I have a custom database that includes leagues below the Conference. I'm looking at starting with a team in the County Leagues, and at that level there are plenty of players who have 5 or below for most attributes. I'd guess the players in the lower leagues from some of the countries that are part of the out-of-the-box database aren't much better. I read somewhere that Football Manager's game engine isn't really suited to work well with leagues below the seventh or eighth tier in England. If that's the case, I might not try to manage lower than that.
  13. Thanks for your replies. I had a feeling that assembling a squad of players of Speedy's ilk might be the best idea. There seem to be more of them available in the lower leagues, too. I might have to wait until I'm managing a bigger club to make my dreams of playing truly attractive football come true. From that, it seems to follow that a simple tactic, with very basic roles and duties, would be the right choice to enable Speedy and his mates to do their thing. Do any of you ever try to employ more "specialist" roles with lower level clubs? And, if you do, how well does it work?
  14. I have a question about the capabilities of lower league players. By "lower league," I mean leagues with players whose attributes often don't exceed the lower single digits. I've wondered if it's possible for teams at this level to play effectively with a tactic that requires them to do anything but whack the ball up the pitch and run after it. I'm wondering which of these scenarios would be more likely to happen? Scenario One: My players don't have much technical skill and they don't always make good decisions; their attributes might not be higher than 4 or 5. However, their opponents aren't smart or skillful either. In fact, I've managed to find players who are better at these aspects of football than most of their opponents. As a result, we make some mistakes, but we play a style that's somewhat pleasing to watch. We can play out of defense when I want us to. We can string together a pretty passing sequence from time to time. We might not have as much physical prowess as the other teams in our league--for example, our pace and strength are below league average--but we can capitalize on our relative advantage in other areas and contend for a title. Scenario Two: Although my players are comparatively better, technically and mentally, than our opponents, they're still rubbish. That average score of 5.50 for Decisions might be one of the better marks in the league, but it's still low, and as a result, if I try to have our players do anything more than the bare basics, they'll screw it up with alarming regularity. Meanwhile, week in and week out, we're bullied by the physically dominant teams in our league. Their pace and strength get the better of us every time, and I'm sacked for failing to keep us out of a relegation battle. I'd appreciate hearing from any of you who have more experience with FM than I do, which will be many, many of you. Cheers, Tom
  15. Franjo: A Journeyman Story

    I'm possibly the newest member of the FM Stories gang, and I spent some very enjoyable time last night reading your story. You have a way of making your characters come alive, whether they be players or staff. It's impossible not to root for them. Keep up the great work, Franjo!