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optimusprimal82

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  1. That last post got me thinking actually, I haven't checked the Home/Away tables in a good while and sure enough, the results back up my suggestion that we're struggling at home. Away from Ewen Fields we're on fire with the best record in the league, presumably because everyone thinks they can beat us and plays open, attacking football; At home, it's a slightly different story - whilst no means bad form, it's quite a noticeable difference; The goals scored may not look all that different, but what I wouldn't have given for a few extra in those home games when we couldn't seem to buy one! Interesting to note who's top of the Home table, our most comprehensive defeat this year was to them so I'm glad to see we weren't the only ones!
  2. A solid October, but it could have been so much more; a great start lost a little of it's shine towards the end of the month with an unexpected loss and another toothless home game where we didn't ever look capable of scoring... Jekyll or Hyde...? Most of the games this month were decided by very fine margins, albeit with two exceptions being the Macclesfield game which was pretty routine and the Boston game which saw a few young players step up to the plate; a goal from Stephen Wells (20A) saw his decent form continue, but more impressive was Gavin Thomson (20C), scoring 2 on his full debut and taking home the Pom award. Aside from that, we just about held off Concord and scored a late second against Ebbsfleet to make it seem more comfortable than it was; Wrexham was an incredibly frustrating game in which we had two goals ruled out for offside before conceding a 93rd minute equaliser, and Dover was a nothing game with no clear cut chances and only one half-chance (for us annoyingly!). The home game to Halifax concerned me going into it as I'd started to notice that although we're scoring well on the road, we're definitely struggling at home. We drew a fair few games at home last year too, with our strikers long since identified as a weak link within the team. That trend has sadly continued this year, with obviously the better defences making life even harder for our guy up front (Wells - 20A - is a good prospect with a few goals but he's still down CA wise at present but I'm giving him as much time as I can to speed his development along). As the Halifax game wore on I started making a few tweaks tactically (nothing unusual there) but I've started toying with the formation a little; problem I have of course is that we are where we are in the league due to tactics more than player ability (I think) so I don't want to change the attacking balance too much and have the opposite effect. The obvious answer is to move the DMC up to AMC/STC, but I have no one who can really play AMC and I'm not sure how comfortable I feel without a DMC given that my DC's are not the quickest guys around. For this game I moved one of the MC's up top (so it was a strange kind of 4132) but it came to nothing and my concern is that the MC mezzala top scored last year and changing that pairing might actually reduce goals. I'll keep playing around and see if I can striker a good balance, but it's a problem we do need to solve as the 6 point lead we pulled out has already been cut back to 2 (Billericay won their last game 7-2 so we may have made them angry!) The magic of the FA cup... After smashing Boston we were hoping for an easy tie to maybe help us get a bit further and snatch a lucrative away game, sadly the draw had other ideas, drawing us away - as always seems to be the case (see below) - to a Coventry team having a good season in League 2, safe to say I wasn't delighted. Come the game, the media gave us no chance, calling it Mission Impossible; Seems that the Coventry lads may have been watching the film rather than training for the game though as they were dreadful, rolling out a 433 with 3 strikers which my scout definitely hadn't seen coming. Needless to say that after a cagey opening 15 minutes I decided to push just a little further forward and open up the counter attack and it worked brilliantly, seeing us take the lead in the 28th minute. I worried that our old friends 'profligacy' and 'lack of composure' had come to visit again as we missed chance after chance as we moved past half time, but fortunately my heart got a rest in the 76th as we added a quickfire double to make the result safe and send Coventry packing. I did a quick check after the game to see if they'd fielded a changed side but sure enough it was their usual first XI, not sure if it was down to poor tactics or complacency but I didn't really care at that point, we're in the hat and the 18k prize money will (laughably) make a big difference (sadly the attendance wasn't enough to see us get any sort of windfall) So much for predictions... Whilst obviously my pre-season suggestion that Billericay would do well was well founded, my other assertions that Port Vale will & Macclesfield may do have proven to be completely off target; Vale have just sacked their manager whilst languishing in 19th (3pts above the drop zone) and Macclesfield are faring marginally better in 17th - looking at their players they're definitely underperforming but I've no idea why (maybe morale is still rock bottom after the drop?) Shut up and do your job... Ok, so that isn't quite what they said but it was the overriding message from the board as I tried to force an upgrade or two during contract negotiations. They've handed me a 2 year deal this time which with hindsight I should have made a 1 so we could have a similarly fruitless conversation next year! Perception vs reality... I'm pretty sure every FM manager has thought about this at some point, but how many times do you feel that the cup draws are out to get you? In my last save it felt like we were destined to draw Man City in every competition & as early as possible (starting whilst we were still in the Vanarama), but whilst that could be irritating, what made it worse is that it felt like 75-90% of the time we were drawn to play away? Now I haven't been playing this save for long but I've caught myself thinking along similar lines already so I've decided that's it, I'm actually going to document it and keep a running total, to prove to myself that it's not fixed (if nothing else!) 2019-20 3 away games but one was a replay so we won't count that; all fair and even at 2 home, 2 away. Looking at this season, it's early days but it's been all away days thus far, I'll keep an eye on it though, you mark my words!
  3. Not exactly bought for gaming but it's what I FM on all the same! Computer Type: Laptop CPU: Intel i7 6820HK @2.7 (3.6GHz turbo) RAM: 32 GB DDR4 @2400 MHz OS: Windows 10 X64 Version 1809 Storage: PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD Benchmark A: 3 min 18 sec Benchmark B: 6 min 45 sec Benchmark C: 10 min 56 sec Result for 'C' a little surprising when compared to the Ryzen in first post given the Intel's lower clock, cache and cores but hey-ho, if i think more about it i'll spend an hour looking into something that isn't that important!
  4. Good luck with this, always find saves with an emotional pull/connection are the ones we get most invested in! That is no small undertaking though given what I guess will be a low selection of quality players! Think you're definitely aiming in the right direction focusing on youth, interested to see how you get on!
  5. Big game preview | 1st vs 2nd | Hyde United vs Billericay Town Heading into the weekend with the big game on everyone's mind, Billericay scored an early mental blow when they announced the signing of a promising young right back. Prevented from signing anyone by strange unseen forces known only as 'The FM Gods', Hyde had nonetheless scouted this guy anyway, if only to see what they were missing out on - turns out, quite a lot! A little disappointing I can't see more of his attributes given that he's been scouted, but even with the mask still firmly in place it's enough to see that he's comfortably better than our (or indeed their) current first choice so he'll almost certainly be playing, fitness aside. Shortly after this little bombshell, the scout reports started to come in and I was happy to see that Billericay normally play a 442; Now some people would actually construe this as potentially bad news given the 442's perceived strength in this years game, but I think people tend to get too fixated on base formation rather than the underlying instructions - I've got three variants now of a 4141 in this save alone and each of them performs very differently to fit the need at the time as an easy example. What I like to look at - and obviously none of this is exact - is how my formation/tactics fare against opposition formations in general. Now the game gives us some tools to do this (under Tactics - Analysis - Formations) but the advice there can be somewhat misleading/contradictory. According to the reports, 442 is actually the worst formation for us to face given the amount of chances created against us, but taking that at face value can be misleading as it ignores some crucial context and favours other formations we've barely played (but done very well) against; let's face it, we're always going to concede chances at some point whether a relegation battler or a top team, it's restricting that number whilst making chances at the other end that is the main objective. Our overall ratio shows that despite our incredible form we're not that strong overall chance vs chance which highlights how close a lot of the games have been. Likewise, the ratio against a 442 isn't our best, nor as good as I'd like, but looking at it positively, we do make chances against it which has been our struggle this year against other formations (for example, we struggle greatly against any side using the same formation as us, but luckily we don't encounter it all that often). Now I don't believe it's always necessary to go into this much depth when playing the game, but if you do give it a quick glance, you can sometimes avoid - or at least predict - some of the non-performances that people have termed as too 'video game-y'. Now I'll be the first to state that I believe there are many improvements that can be made to the current ME, but there are also improvements we ourselves can make to how we approach games - the ME has become increasingly complex over the last 10 years but many of us have been playing the game for so long that we sometimes forget to notice that we play it the same (or almost the same) today as we did when the 'F' was a 'C'! Going back to my previous save again (I always like to use current version examples for comparison as most relevant), my eyes were opened heading into an otherwise meaningless Premier League away game against Newcastle; they were lower-mid table with little to play for and I had no feelings either negative or positive (other than I expected us to win) about them either way. What stopped me in my tracks was the pre-match preview where I noticed their recent record against me and it woke me right up - posting this more or less straight away on the Discord channel I contribute to; I changed things up that game, playing far more cautiously than normal and whilst I can't remember exactly how the game went now, I remember that we won it and did so again for the next few games - it woke me up to paying attention to this stuff, especially as it only takes an extra minute to check. Finding your way around it might take a little longer but it's always worth having a plan B up your sleeve for such an occasion! Media aside, the other analysis came in, highlighting that they have a weakness for conceding goals just outside the penalty area, music to 'Sir Long-shots' himself - Mr Morgan James' - ears! I was unlikely to rotate in this game given the importance, but noticing they favour attacks down their right hammered home not to play the younger/less experienced LB I've been giving minutes too in this game! Fast forward a few days and in general I was quite upbeat given the fixture was at our ground, but the media (unsurprisingly) were not so, heavily favouring Billericay; No problem for us, everyone loves an underdog, except maybe for the referee who's dished out 8 yellows and 1 red in just two games!! Game day... So the match starts - both teams lining up predictably as the scouts had suggested (and with Billericay's new signing somehow fully fit and present) - and any pre-match nerves are swiftly pushed to one side as our ML scores after just 4 minutes from a corner of all things! Last year we had an absolutely terrible record from corners, scoring from just 3 all season, this year we have 2 (including this one) from 12 games! What followed was 70 of the most torturous, drawn out minutes imaginable as a stodgy, midfield dominated game trundled on with little in the way of chances for either side. Sometimes as manager you get it right, others you don't and I had to wear this one as a move to a more defensive approach in the 72nd minute (70 minutes being one of my key 'assessment' zones) backfired almost immediately - from a simple throw-in, nobody closed down the taker who on receiving the ball back launched a cross from deep that only their striker - who we'd left free at the throw for whatever reason - reacted to; our GK managed to save his initial effort, but despite our DC's having finally woken up, he was still alert enough to get to the rebound and tie the game up at 1-1. Needless to say I'll be looking at our defensive throw-in settings shortly! Gutted at losing the lead so late on, I decided to throw all caution to the wind and changed to my most attacking variant (no crazy formation changes, just higher mentality/more attacking/creative roles) and luckily it paid off as they seemingly lacked concentration following their equaliser and a glorious (read: hopeful) punt upfield was tucked away by our previously low-scoring striker! This spurred Billericay (much the same as their equaliser had us) and they started to pour forward, even getting the ball in the net (much to my dismay) on 81 minutes, only for the referee to - quite rightly - disallow it, continuing our current run of luck! With them pushing hard, I changed down to my 'close out the game' strategy and we were much more comfortable, even adding a third as Town gave Morgan James - as the scout reports suggested they might - far too much time outside their area which he duly took advantage of, ripping one into the net from 20 yards! A close game that could have gone either way, but final score - and a result that puts us top of the table - is 3-1 to Hyde United FC!
  6. So happy as I type this that if anyone could see me they'd likely think me daft, such is the childish and cheesy grin spread across my face - but what a start! Trying not to get carried away... We blitzed pre-season as usual and started the season with morale flying high, storming through our first game at home to Aldershot 3-1, with Stephen Wells (20A) coming off the bench to score his first of the season, if the season could have ended there, naturally I'd have taken it; Next up we had Tranmere, the guys who knocked us out of the cup last year. We'd been badly outplayed that day so I was unsure quite how to play it; last time i'd gone defensively and it hadn't worked so I stuck true to my usual ethos and it just worked, with Tranmere missing a penalty in the 90th minute (phew!); A convincing win against Bromley next up had me in dreamland before we all came back to earth with a mighty thump away to Blyth Spartans. You may (or may not) recall that Blyth got promoted from the same division as we did last year, albeit through the playoffs? Last season we won the home game comfortably and got a 2-2 draw on their patch so whilst I wasn't expecting a 5-0 win I also wasn't expecting a result like this. As it happened, Blyth took the lead and then immediately sat back - what should have made things easier actually hindered our situation as they had a man sent off and thus retreated so far back we couldn't work any sort of opening and ended up dominating a game we never looked like scoring in. A disappointing draw at home to Harrogate followed a similar script (albeit without the red card) before we found a bit of form (and more importantly, the net) away to Oxford City and back at the 'Fields for Eastleigh (which was a lucky result as you'll soon see). As far as a first month in a higher division goes, have to say we were all super happy with the outcome so far, admittedly with a small niggling feeling of 'what might have been' given the Blyth game, regardless, if I'd been 16 points from 21 before the season started I'd definitely have taken them! As far as other teams, ourselves, Dover & Wrexham were making the most of the early running, one team stood above us all however and - damn my predictions - it's Billericay. Yes, it just had to be a team I hold a serious grudge against (in FM19 for their treatment of two of my loan players in a previous save); whilst our form has been really good, their's has been amazing, dropping just 2 points so far in an away draw at Boreham Wood (who always have a conveyor belt of good youngsters because of their incredible youth setup). I'd highlighted them before the season because they just have a few players that look way beyond mine and most of the division and at this level, a fast and prolific striker can make the world of difference (what I wouldn't give to have one!!). September comes bearing grudges... September got off to an irritating start with this little nugget from my assistant; Now normally I'm super keen to get all of my guys on courses and help make them better, but let's not kid ourselves, I'm as likely to keep the coaches I hired last season for more than 3-4 years as I am to win the champions league with the team as it is now, so spending 3k on a course for an easily disposed of Ass Man is a nonsense and I wish I'd been consulted - the decision plunged us back into the red too balance-wise which had me more than rolling my eyes! It went from bad off the pitch to worse on it; I've always had a soft spot for Crewe as they were one of the few lower division teams bringing young players through properly long before it became popular, they can jog right on after this game though. It wasn't quite as one sided as the score (3-1 for them) suggests - they added a third as I rolled the dice late on - but if anyone deserved to win it was them, you could tell we were a little short both physically and ability wise. Since then I made a few changes to try and freshen the team up and it's paid dividends with 3 wins from the next 3 games. I stopped there to write this because as I looked at the table and then on to my schedule the fixture leapt off the page; Yes that's right, next up we have the league leaders and there couldn't be more riding on it for me; the chance to avenge my previous team and the 'double prizes' thought of knocking them off the top perch! Putting emotion to one side, whilst I could quote Keegan here and tell you how much I'd love to beat them, the fact is it's still way too early in the season to go all-in, but at least as it's at our ground we should have a great chance of taking all 3 points! Reading between the lines... Whilst the results have naturally been incredible for our first season in this division, there are one or two alarm bells ringing; our inability to finish Blyth off was worrying, as was the way we huffed and puffed against Eastleigh, winning it in the 92nd minute courtesy of a penalty. Factor in the missed Tranmere Penalty too and with a little less luck things would still have been good, just not quite as jaw droppingly so. Naturally I'm enjoying the run, I guess my point is that ordinarily I'd project this out across the season now which is really exciting (and scary as I've seriously no idea how we'll cope in League 2 with this side) but if we (as we're likely to) get a few injuries, a few heads drop or the luck turns then the wheels could come off quickly so whilst I was downplaying our chances more in disbelief last season, overall we were often pretty even if not on top in the games which isn't the case so much this year. Naturally we're performing well, but the quality of some of the sides is definitely noticeable and may come back to bite us later in the season or my guys could rise to the challenge, improve themselves and get us within touching distance of the promised land... If I was offered a playoff final penalty shoot-out right now i'd take it - I was expecting this season to be a relatively laid back year of consolidation but just 11 games in it feels like the pressure is already well and truly on!
  7. Season 2 Preview So we're deep into pre-season now, the players have (hopefully) enjoyed a well-deserved rest and we're up and running with a few friendlies (P2 W2 so far!). Normally pre-season is my slowest period of playing the game as I love the squad building part and spend a long long time scouting and whatnot, safe to say it's gone through a fair bit quicker on this save, but that doesn't mean that there hasn't been a lot of things happening still! Bored of the board... It must be difficult to run a (very) low league football club, but considering I'm not asking for transfer funds or anything of that ilk you'd have hoped my board would be a little more accommodating? With finances moving back into black following a new kit deal and our yearly season ticket cash (I'd mention the TV money buuuuut... it's gone!) I'd hoped I may be able to persuade them into spending a little on something but sadly they were unwilling to improve any of our facilities, nor would they agree to us turning professional. The one concession I did get our of them is that they did agree to fund another training course for yours truly which is my third now so before long I should have my National A License! Scratching under the surface... So last year I'd say pretty much everyone - me included - underestimated our guys and it's a mistake I'm determined not to repeat. I've mentioned a few times with tongue in cheek that I expect us to struggle this year, as most people logically would, yet when re-assessing the squad I've actually raised me expectations above what I previously assumed would be a relegation battle. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we'll go and win the league again, but assessing my guys and comparing to other teams in the division I actually think we compare pretty well and should be able to hold our own, certainly to the tune of mid-table - so long as we stay injury free! Like last year we have a solid first team, but our second XI sadly doesn't hold up to anywhere near the same level, but if we can keep the majority of our first team fresh and still give some of the youngsters a game here and there I reckon we can certainly surprise a few teams, especially if we can get a good run going (morale being so important in the world of FM of course!). There have been a couple of outgoing this year with both McCombe (DC) and Wright (ML) retiring - neither of who played much last year - and I also released our third choice STC David Brown who at 31 had already played his best games. To cover these departures I've promoted Lloyd Adkins (20F - DC), Gavin Thomson (20C - MC/DMC) & Stephen Wells (20A - STC/AML) into the first team squad. None of the other youngsters were really ready for the step up yet which is unfortunate given our lack of cover in the wide midfield roles but we should manage through all but the worst injury crisis. Due to the better quality coaches and the fact we're a division higher, naturally the star levels have dropped quite considerably from the first season across the board, it's far from all doom and gloom however with the step up between the Vanarama divisions obviously not being all that great. Casting my mind back to my FC United save, the Vanarama National was my easiest season overall thinking about it - whilst there were one or two other quality sides, the rest of the league was distinctly average and I'd strengthened well so we stormed the league; I'm not for a minute suggesting we're going to do as well as that, this team isn't in the same quality league as that one was, but I've renewed confidence that we can finish at least mid-table? Based off the opinion of my best CA judge, in our 23 man squad we have; 0 players rated 4 or higher 3 players rated at 3.5 4 players rated at 3 12 players rated at 2 stars or less A lot of the 2-3 star players still have space in their potential pool looking at the coaches opinion, so it's not entirely unreasonable to assume that come season end we have a full 11 rated at 3-3.5 or above which I think gives us a great chance of having a good season and perhaps - with luck on our side - a cheeky outside chance of sneaking into the playoffs? I suggested mid-table to my guys as they came back from pre-season, seems i'm the only one riding the optimistic wave at Hyde right now but this is written here now so let's see what happens in a week or so! Tactically I'm afraid there's not much room for manoeuvre right now and it certainly doesn't appear to be broken so why fix it? I'll start as I finished last season, obviously with my trigger finger itching and raring to make changes if my bullish optimism is completely unfounded and we do indeed need to batten down the hatches! Points win prizes...? Looking back at the Vanarama National over the last two seasons, the league has been won with 88 & 94 points respectively, with 46 points being the safety margin for avoiding relegation. It seems 15 wins is enough to stop you from looking over your shoulder whilst 25 will get you well into the reckoning for the automatic spot - there's 24 teams in the league so 23 Home games, I'm not for a minute saying we can win them all, but (cliché warning) if we can make our own ground a fortress then who knows where it could take us? Know your enemy... Ignoring the oft-terrible media predictions, Billericay seem to have a pretty decent squad from a casual observation, but it's the newly relegated teams I'll be keeping a wary eye on; Port Vale & Macclesfield have come down and they've certainly got a few players between them that could cause serious damage in this division. Attribute masking means I can't get a complete picture and I'm loathe to get more than one scout/data analyst (for opposition reports) at present to save as much as is humanly possible towards better facilities, but people like this guy (Port Vale forward) show the gulf in class we'll have to hope my game management can mitigate; My best striker for comparison (in-game comparison isn't a great help when the player is unscouted) Yikes! Written off before a ball has been kicked... Well I expect it from the media really, but surprised that my own board are being as pessimistic as they are? Great news for me though as it's effectively a "can't lose" job remit for the season, especially as if we do as well as I expect/hope then they should be loving me (and if we can find money from someone/somewhere it may lead to much needed improvements!)!
  8. Is it 2022 in your game? Will be the world cup about to happen if so.
  9. PLEASE NOTE: This post has been edited (by me at no-ones prompting) to remove supporting images in conjunction with the thread rules etc - to see it as the FM gods intended then please head over here! What are you waiting for? Go, go, go!! Season 1 - End of Year Review - 2019/20 Competitions Vanarama National League North | Board Expectation - Avoid Relegation | Media Prediction: 22/22 | Actual Finish: 1/22 What was expected to be a tough season became one of the more straightforward seasons you're likely to enjoy as - a few wobbles aside - the team raced to the top of the division after the 3rd game and never looked back from there, losing just 3 games in total across the 42 game schedule. Some mid-game tinkering definitely saved our bacon on occasion and there were certainly games that ability wise we should have lost too, but overall we were largely in control for the majority, finishing the season with no one standout player and illustrating what a team effort it was overall. English FA Trophy | Board Expectation - First Round | Achieved: First Round Exit (Tranmere Rovers) I'd be lying if I said I cared even a little bit about this ten pence trophy and was delighted to be knocked out to reduce fixture congestion and keep my players healthy. One thing definitely at the back of my mind (and swiftly moving forward) is just how easily Tranmere were able to dispatch us in this match; they finished 3rd in the division we're moving up to which doesn't bode particularly well for the coming season! English FA Cup | Board Expectation - Fourth Qualifying Round | Achieved: Third Qualifying Round Exit (Chester City) The scene of maybe my biggest mistake this season, fielding half a side instead of either playing my first XI or rotating completely - it left us with a replay that was scheduled for the most ridiculous date and the knock-on ran rampant with fatigue and injuries causing an early season blip that I was incredibly grateful to recover from! I was pretty irritated to be knocked out by Chester in the end and looking back we should have gone further with the hope of landing a potentially lucrative tie, but at the time I was just relieved to be out of all the cups and able to focus solely on the league Youth Intake 2020 Described by my HoyD as 'wonderfully talented' with 'the makings of a potential golden generation', my own analysis would be better headlined as 'Solid but unspectacular'. Obviously it's early days, but whilst there is definitely something to work with, there isn't anyone from the group who really stands out as exceptional. Stephen Wells (20A) is our brightest prospect at 3 (+1 black) stars potential and he did manage to help himself to a couple of goal from his 3 performances towards season end. He is much quicker than my main option up front but similarly lacks both strength and physical presence, not to mention bravery, work rate & teamwork which I'd consider pretty important for a Pressing Forward & would have been a help at this level. Not writing him off yet of course but it'll definitely be interesting to see how he gets on. There are another three that round out the highest rated (3+ star) group, for my money Ian Burns is the pick of the bunch; his injury susceptibility isn't ideal but it may still be something we can manage going forward. Transfers Somewhat unsurprisingly there wasn't much (read: any) movement on this front. We did have a couple of offers around December but I don't feel in a position to sell anyone right now and - so far at least - there don't seem to be any vultures circling. We do have 6 players over 30 now, two of which are retiring, with another who's considering it. Of the other 3, two are my backup strikers of which I'd like to keep one for cover, with another set to go on a free - I won't be looking to move anyone on otherwise for at least the next season whilst I try and bridge the PA gap with some of the younger players. Squad Statistics Top Scorer - Morgan James (20) | Most Assists - Morgan James, Kyle Harrison, Chris Sutherland, Keenan Quansah, Kyle Brownhill (9) | Top Rating - Morgan James (7.43) A successful season overall means that naturally all of our numbers are pretty impressive. Most encouraging was the way we managed to share both the goalscoring & assist burden around the team having relied on Morgan James for much of the early campaign. Having five different players with 9 assists from all over the park is incredibly satisfying, particularly with the other two midfielders just one behind on 8 each and the MC backups just behind again. My strikers managed 25 goals between them plus 4 assists which certainly isn't a bad return at face value; already identified as the weak link in my starting XI though I'll be looking for Wells (20A) to give Pratt a run for his money and maybe help spread those numbers out a little more consistently as opposed to the bunches they tended to arrive in this season. Naturally I expect we'll be scoring a lot less overall next season, but i'd trade the 2-3 goal hauls in place of a few solitary & clinical strikes as that's something we were definitely missing this year which ultimately contributed to a lot of our drawn games. Vanarama National League North Player of The Season: Morgan James Vanarama National League North Top Goalscorer: Morgan James (20 goals) Vanarama National League North Manager of The Season: Optimus Prime Hyde United FC Awards Night: please head over here! Managers Player of The Season: Grant Roberts Overlooked by everyone mainly because the awards are all tied to ratings, but the first name on my teamsheet as Mr Consistency; his rating may be the lowest of the starting 5 midfielders but he has by far the most restricted role so it's no real surprise that his rating doesn't get as much of a 'goals inflation'. As the guy tasked with getting around the field and linking defence, midfield and attack he also finished 6th in the league overall for chances created is something I'd be happy with from my playmaker, let alone a Carrilero whose main focus is defending if not supplying the nails for the Mezzalas hammer - just a shame someone didn't tell the trophy makers that there's already one like that out in the world kicking around somewhere! In other news Premier League Winners: Manchester United FA cup Winners: Bournemouth League Cup Winners: Manchester City Champions League Winners: Manchester City Europa League Winners: Schalke La Liga Winners: Barcelona Bundesliga Winners: Bayern Munich Serie A Winners: Juventus Vanarama National League North Playoff Winner: Blyth Spartans (finished 16 points behind York, the team they beat in the final) Final Thoughts Obviously a great first season in the sense that we got promoted when everyone and his dog suggested we'd do well to even stay in the division! Next year will be tough, not least considering that our youth intake has seemingly added numbers as opposed to any quality. With the number of old players and retirees that's not the end of the world and I'm confident that we can do enough to avoid the drop, but with no money in the bank and little in the way of value it's hard to see where facility improvements will come from so we're relying on our HoyD to at least find a few Zirconias next year! We're set to lose maybe 4 players over the summer and naturally I'll promote a few up from the youth squad; there is a CA gap that needs bridging between the young lads and the first team and I expect the gap to the next divisions first teams to be even bigger still so it may be a baptism of fire for the young lads at certain points, but hopefully playing at the higher level will help them develop a little more quickly. Predictions for next season: Narrowly avoid relegation whilst enjoying dreadful cup runs/early exits
  10. Season 1 - End of Year Review - 2019/20 Competitions Vanarama National League North | Board Expectation - Avoid Relegation | Media Prediction: 22/22 | Actual Finish: 1/22 What was expected to be a tough season became one of the more straightforward seasons you're likely to enjoy as - a few wobbles aside - the team raced to the top of the division after the 3rd game and never looked back from there, losing just 3 games in total across the 42 game schedule. Some mid-game tinkering definitely saved our bacon on occasion and there were certainly games that ability wise we should have lost too, but overall we were largely in control for the majority, finishing the season with no one standout player and illustrating what a team effort it was overall. English FA Trophy | Board Expectation - First Round | Achieved: First Round Exit (Tranmere Rovers) I'd be lying if I said I cared even a little bit about this ten pence trophy and was delighted to be knocked out to reduce fixture congestion and keep my players healthy. One thing definitely at the back of my mind (and swiftly moving forward) is just how easily Tranmere were able to dispatch us in this match; they finished 3rd in the division we're moving up to which doesn't bode particularly well for the coming season! English FA Cup | Board Expectation - Fourth Qualifying Round | Achieved: Third Qualifying Round Exit (Chester City) The scene of maybe my biggest mistake this season, fielding half a side instead of either playing my first XI or rotating completely - it left us with a replay that was scheduled for the most ridiculous date and the knock-on ran rampant with fatigue and injuries causing an early season blip that I was incredibly grateful to recover from! I was pretty irritated to be knocked out by Chester in the end and looking back we should have gone further with the hope of landing a potentially lucrative tie, but at the time I was just relieved to be out of all the cups and able to focus solely on the league Youth Intake 2020 Described by my HoyD as 'wonderfully talented' with 'the makings of a potential golden generation', my own analysis would be better headlined as 'Solid but unspectacular'. Obviously it's early days, but whilst there is definitely something to work with, there isn't anyone from the group who really stands out as exceptional. Stephen Wells (20A) is our brightest prospect at 3 (+1 black) stars potential and he did manage to help himself to a couple of goal from his 3 performances towards season end. He is much quicker than my main option up front but similarly lacks both strength and physical presence, not to mention bravery, work rate & teamwork which I'd consider pretty important for a Pressing Forward & would have been a help at this level. Not writing him off yet of course but it'll definitely be interesting to see how he gets on. There are another three that round out the highest rated (3+ star) group, for my money Ian Burns is the pick of the bunch; his injury susceptibility isn't ideal but it may still be something we can manage going forward. Transfers Somewhat unsurprisingly there wasn't much (read: any) movement on this front. We did have a couple of offers around December but I don't feel in a position to sell anyone right now and - so far at least - there don't seem to be any vultures circling. We do have 6 players over 30 now, two of which are retiring, with another who's considering it. Of the other 3, two are my backup strikers of which I'd like to keep one for cover, with another set to go on a free - I won't be looking to move anyone on otherwise for at least the next season whilst I try and bridge the PA gap with some of the younger players. Squad Statistics Top Scorer - Morgan James (20) | Most Assists - Morgan James, Kyle Harrison, Chris Sutherland, Keenan Quansah, Kyle Brownhill (9) | Top Rating - Morgan James (7.43) A successful season overall means that naturally all of our numbers are pretty impressive. Most encouraging was the way we managed to share both the goalscoring & assist burden around the team having relied on Morgan James for much of the early campaign. Having five different players with 9 assists from all over the park is incredibly satisfying, particularly with the other two midfielders just one behind on 8 each and the MC backups just behind again. My strikers managed 25 goals between them plus 4 assists which certainly isn't a bad return at face value; already identified as the weak link in my starting XI though I'll be looking for Wells (20A) to give Pratt a run for his money and maybe help spread those numbers out a little more consistently as opposed to the bunches they tended to arrive in this season. Naturally I expect we'll be scoring a lot less overall next season, but i'd trade the 2-3 goal hauls in place of a few solitary & clinical strikes as that's something we were definitely missing this year which ultimately contributed to a lot of our drawn games. Vanarama National League North Player of The Season: Morgan James Vanarama National League North Top Goalscorer: Morgan James (20 goals) Vanarama National League North Manager of The Season: Optimus Prime Hyde United FC Awards Night: Managers Player of The Season: Grant Roberts Overlooked by everyone mainly because the awards are all tied to ratings, but the first name on my teamsheet as Mr Consistency; his rating may be the lowest of the starting 5 midfielders but he has by far the most restricted role so it's no real surprise that his rating doesn't get as much of a 'goals inflation'. As the guy tasked with getting around the field and linking defence, midfield and attack he also finished 6th in the league overall for chances created is something I'd be happy with from my playmaker, let alone a Carrilero whose main focus is defending if not supplying the nails for the Mezzalas hammer - just a shame someone didn't tell the trophy makers that there's already one like that out in the world kicking around somewhere! In other news Premier League Winners: Manchester United FA cup Winners: Bournemouth League Cup Winners: Manchester City Champions League Winners: Manchester City Europa League Winners: Schalke La Liga Winners: Barcelona Bundesliga Winners: Bayern Munich Serie A Winners: Juventus Vanarama National League North Playoff Winner: Blyth Spartans (finished 16 points behind York, the team they beat in the final) Final Thoughts Obviously a great first season in the sense that we got promoted when everyone and his dog suggested we'd do well to even stay in the division! Next year will be tough, not least considering that our youth intake has seemingly added numbers as opposed to any quality. With the number of old players and retirees that's not the end of the world and I'm confident that we can do enough to avoid the drop, but with no money in the bank and little in the way of value it's hard to see where facility improvements will come from so we're relying on our HoyD to at least find a few Zirconias next year! We're set to lose maybe 4 players over the summer and naturally I'll promote a few up from the youth squad; there is a CA gap that needs bridging between the young lads and the first team and I expect the gap to the next divisions first teams to be even bigger still so it may be a baptism of fire for the young lads at certain points, but hopefully playing at the higher level will help them develop a little more quickly. Predictions for next season: Narrowly avoid relegation whilst enjoying dreadful cup runs/early exits
  11. Oh yeah for sure; the missing consistency and important matches ratings I expect will appear in due course once they know the players better - only natural and far more realistic that way! I'll have to keep an eye out next year for why the ratings changed in squad view quite so quickly (within the 3 days) - two schools of thought i have are; Both are the Ass Man's ratings, but the second one is taken after the initial youth vs U18 game he attends on my behalf so he effectively scouts all the players (thus increasing his rating accuracy) or I'm wondering if when still in the separated 'youth' group (can't remember what they call it, but when you get the youth prospects in the left sidebar under the U18's etc) it's the view of the HOYD and then when they're added to the main U18 group it's the Ass Man? Doesn't really matter all that much, but to see the ratings change so quickly was just a tiny bit disconcerting at first, but fine now I know to watch out for it etc; Geezus - thank goodness I didn't do that then!!
  12. The title run-in... With just 9 games to go and with us in great form with 8 wins from 9 and being unbeaten in the calendar year, momentum was definitely on our side as we entered the business end of the season. Three further wins in March brought us to a potential title decider with us only needing to equal (or better) York's result away to Spennymoor to clinch the cup and sole automatic promotion place! My guys were nervy throughout and they couldn't do what their old manager had done many (many) years ago and score at Aggborough - yes, in a nice little twist, we were playing away to Kidderminster, a ground I have fond memories of irl having scored a cup final goal there a long long time ago - resulting in a scoreless final result. I was pretty relaxed having spotted that York were trailing 2-0 at half time in their game but despite their valiant comeback to 2-2 it wasn't enough and we were duly crowned division champions with 5 games to go...! Naturally the fans and board spoke of their 'delight' but I've been around the scene long enough to recognise the plastic smiles and am all too ready for them to turn to snarls next season when we're going to face a much bigger challenge with our current squad and no ability to strengthen! This little run was enough to ensure another MotM award was added to my collection making 4 for the season/overall; Giving youth a chance... With the league wrapped up and thoughts turning to next season it seemed prudent to cast a glance at some of the fringe and youth players in the squad - even if they're not quite ready to make the step-up to the first XI, we've got 6 players the wrong side of 30 (4 of which are over 32) and with a couple of retirements to come & the way in which players fade in FM in general we may be struggling for squad depth if the other guys aren't ready to step up! I'd previously mentioned Grant Doran and Elijah Gabriel; they were the two best rated youth prospects in the side when I first took over and I'd been giving them time on the pitch wherever possible throughout the year but we were still short elsewhere so I dipped into the new recruits and handed debuts/gametime to Stephen Wells (20A - Striker), Ian Burns (20D - Full back), Lloyd Adkins (20F - DC) & Dan McWilliams (20O - ML) across the remaining fixtures and Wells in particular did well, scoring 2 goals from 4 appearances (3 starts) with one PoM award enough to get him in the team of the week; The Invincible's...? Sadly our 2020 unbeaten run wasn't to be although we gave ourselves a great chance - with my rotation and throwing kids into the mix, results were a little bit more mixed but we had enough to win or draw all of our fixtures until the final game of the season where a bizarrely toothless performance - very reminiscent of our game against Leamington - saw us go down 2-0 despite having what appeared to be the better of the game. Hereford had just 4 shots, 3 of which were on target, but alarmingly from such few chances, 2 of them were clear cut which gave them the edge; They were using a 4141 identical to mine - in formation at least - and it nullified our attacking threat considerably. I don't expect to be playing against teams defending like that next year but it's something to keep in mind that on occasion we struggle with a ' plan B', especially with few game changing options off the bench (if Wells - 20A develops ok then we may at least be able to field 2 strikers more consistently in future, although whether we'll get the chance at the higher level remains to be seen). Having their wing's clipped...? I mentioned in one of my very first threads how wingers are my favourite position on a football field, whether playing/watching the game for real or when playing FM - as highlighted previously, I think 19 has some issues with wide play which I largely try and circumvent with the 'wide midfielder' role or by using attacking wingers more like forwards. Interestingly, whilst there've been no updates to the Match Engine that I'm aware of since 19.3.0, I - and some others over on the Discord group I'm active on - have spotted the AI rocking some new and varied formations since (we think) 19.3.3 hit last week. Not saying for a minute that no teams/managers used these previously, but in the many (many) hours I've spent on the game so far, I'd certainly never come across these two prior - notable for their complete lack of wingers altogether; Selling my soul... Unsurprisingly the board approached me with a new contract offer - I tried the time tested trick of forcing a youth upgrade but given we're now in the red (albeit only slightly) they were less than forthcoming - it means we'll be staying as-is for another year and with no sign of any cash injection on the horizon (no one is signing anyone from this team for hundreds of thousands for a long time!) it may stay that way for a while yet! I did consider reducing my wage request to the minimum allowed as it would have effectively save us £500p/w - one thing stopping me was my concern about how it might encourage them to dispense with me more easily next season - when I seriously do expect a struggle - if push comes to shove. Even at the wage offered it's not exactly great security but as every little helps I went ahead and signed on the line! Player of the season... Whilst the main award is a week or so away with the playoffs ongoing, the voting has taken place and Hyde were incredibly well represented with 7 players nominated; Naturally I couldn't vote for any of my guys but I did what surely any decent manager would and voted for the guy with the worst overall rating/numbers with the thinking that less people are likely to vote for him, consequently giving my guys less competition? My striker finished the season with 17 goals (16 in the league) but the fact he didn't make the cut shows how his form fluctuated quite consistently throughout the season. It's really tough for me to pick from my guys if I was allowed to vote for them - Morgan James pretty much carried us through the first quarter of a season, winning games almost single handedly, but he was ably supported by his more unsung midfield partner Grant Roberts who had much less of a license/more defensive responsibility yet still chipped in with some useful goals/assists? Platt and Porritt both post good numbers, but the fact I had to kick them up the bum so often for dodgy training means there's no way they'd ever get my vote. One for the record books...? Sadly no league records this year, but I'll be honest and admit that whilst I may normally keep one eye on the history books I seriously gave less than zero plops this year and would have settled for scraping in via the playoffs with 1-0 wins all the way! The fact it's been (much) easier than expected is certainly welcome, but I'm conscious it may be instilling a false confidence and reckon next year could be a serious reality check; my 'quick-click analysis' suggests serious strengthening will be needed to climb out of the next division but whilst my first XI will definitely start next season stronger than they did this, they're obviously playing at a higher level and I actually think with ageing and a couple of departures that the squad will be - albeit only slightly - weaker for at least the first half of the season? I don't think we'll be in any position to improve our facilities so my hope is that we can do enough to stay up (4 teams get relegated though) and maybe playing at the higher level will allow me to attract better staff & entice some slightly better youngsters into the club? I'm not saying that the ones we got in this year aren't good enough/won't make it, but after doing the thorough sanity check above, the best potentially rated player is still only 3 stars at our current level, so variance/inaccuracy aside, it's still likely that the new players will be average even if they reach their peak. End of season review coming up shortly...!
  13. I've never gone into this level of detail before but I guess this is kind of replacing the usual scouting/recruitment part of the game for me whilst I can't do them - they're probably my favourite parts of the game after seeing youth players come through/make it big so guess this obsessive and (frankly) over the top analysis will be my comfort blanket throughout the challenge! I'll stress again that in no way do i tihnk this level of detail is required or even necessary, but whereas on a regular save I guess i'd get to see them develop over 3-4 years before making decisions, here I'm actually needing to potentially use them straight away so any extra information or insight is super helpful when comparing two very average looking players! It definitely looks 'Ass Man'-y in the squad view, it was just with the way the ratings changed in the space of 3 in-game days that threw me - but that may well be because the first shot was taken before the intake vs U18 game and the further analysis was done after; the reason for that is that the coach reports before the game were very light on detail and I was curious (and correct in this one instance) that they'd be far more complete after the game. Still need more time in the squad it seems to get information on things like consistency and important matches as none of that is as yet mentioned - or it's the coincidence of all time and they're all middle of the road for both! The stats are what they are, crying is about all I can do without being able to buy anyone, but don't worry, any tears are firmly with my tongue firmly in cheek! Technical stats at this level I largely don't care about anyway - I mean what is really the difference between a 3 and a 6 in passing!? - but as I learnt many many years back, rubbish players can still run and think, so I expect good physical and mentals from my players at least! Obviously good is both subjective and relative, someone made an awesome spreadsheet way way back (the first version I saw was earlier than 14) which unfortunately I cannot find/no-one seems to have any more but I do have this one screen of the lower league levels I largely pay attention to; From that year onwards I created my own version for each release (which given my unnecessary spreadsheeting I'm sure surprises no-one) and 19 is no exception; With the corresponding adjustment values; It largely stays the same each year but certain stats do become more prominent as the game changes or I learn new things/adapt - someone told me just a few days back on Discord that I was unnecessarily fussy with my criteria but to each their own - all these numbers are to me are selection criteria/a base that helps me compare two players etc. Determination was the big stat way back in FM05-06 that I started to pay attention too, then bravery and teamwork became more of a thing for me, with work rate coming on board (and now vital in the time of counter-pressing) and now composure taking on huge importance in more recent releases (surprising number of roles listing it as a key/secondary stat which a lot of people don't/still haven't noticed). Naturally these attributes are my vision of the ideal player so I never expect to ever find someone who meets them all (and they're likely at odds with other people's opinions) but i filter down from there (and am a lot less stringent in the lower leagues due to scarcity of good technical stats and attribute masking/awful scouting!). It's doing me a the world of good having to settle for less than the best in any case and has given me a new lease of life! No doubt you guys all have your own ideas on this stuff, if i were to guess I'd say that they're likely 80-90% similar with subtle differences and it's those differences I find so interesting from reading the other career threads
  14. Should have spotted the in-game date before I posted - very next 'continue' we pick up the MotM & PotM awards! The improvement in both of my wide players since I made the adjustments mentioned a few posts ago has been incredible - long may it continue!
  15. Ugh, that's pretty frustrating... There are sadly still a few quirks in the set piece tactical settings and unfortunately this appears to be another to add to the list. I have had a few issues with the 'taker' and 'stay back' settings for corners, with the game arbitrarily deciding on occasion that one of my fullbacks - one of the three designated to stay back - will be the one to take the corner despite both sides being designated as the corresponding winger. On occasions when leading,the AI will leave 3 players up top for a counter and it can be frustrating to see you've only got 2/3 designated players back (with the other taking the kick) and being outnumbered. I've only seen two goals against as a result but as it's the taker logic that seems faulty I wonder if it's cut from the same cloth as your issue here? It was (the corner taker issue) raised as a bug back in 19.1 and have seen it raised in several other places so can only hope it's fixed soon. Far from ideal but some small comfort that you were still (comfortably) victorious - looking forward to seeing Bouchez add to his tally soon though!
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