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  1. So he has been out on loan for the last couple of seasons in the Championship. He hasn't turned up trees but I am pleased with his progress. Going against him is that he has been hampered with a series of injuries during that time, and is competing for spots in a very strong part of the team. However I feel that his attributes now warrant giving him a try in the first team, so I will keep him around until January and judge his progress from there. Screenshots provided for interest
  2. In my save it only kicked in towards the end of 3rd season, so 2021. First sign I got of it wasn't until towards end of 2nd season.
  3. Cheers guys! Sadly Man Utd have strengthened even further this season. They've only gone and signed Hazard now...
  4. Pre-Season 2020 Squad Changes The squad has not changed massively since last season, it has been a relatively quiet transfer window. My first objective was to ship out Cedric and Stephens. Cedric was turning 29 and Yan Valery had taken his first team spot, in the end I managed to squeeze Wolves out of £15m for him. A couple of seasons ago I was fending off bids double that, so it is a shame, but I am pleased he has left on my terms. I'd lost faith in Jack Stephens to put in the level of performance I needed, so another engineered move saw him go to Stoke. Incoming is just the one defender, Mouctar Diakhaby. He was not my first choice, but I am pleased nonetheless. He has good physical attributes, and should be able to give Bednarek a run for his spot. Jens Jonsson is a Swedish newgen I had my eye on for quite some time. Interest was increasing in the guy from big clubs, so it was the right time to make my move. We were lacking young left sided center backs (although seem to have far too many right sided ones!) so he fits the bill quite nicely. In the absence of much transfer business, I set about trying to tie down current players to contracts. Lots of players were heading into the last year of their deals, and some players were not getting the sort of money that reflected their importance to the team. Panzo and Jankewitz were sorted out first, then Callum Wilson given a new three season deal. Our main and original midfielders of Ward Prowse, Hojberg, Lemina and Armstrong also get new contracts. Danny Ings and Matty Targett have been secured as well. I'm really pleased with the balance in the squad at the moment. There doesn't feel to be any deadwood in the team, and not too much competition for places that players will get grouchy at not playing. The depth in the youth team is great (although much of it is out on loan), so were I to get injuries then I feel we could cope. Staff Garip Capin and Jens Lehmann join my coaching team, and I now have 4+ star coaching across the board! Pre-Season Some great results across the board here, lots of goals scored. I was hoping Gent might put up more of a fight in our home friendly but alas no. Perhaps some stronger opposition would have been a better test. Season Expectations So how to follow a season like the one I just had? I was seriously expecting the teams around me to strengthen in the window, and they certainly have. To reflect that I played quite conservatively in my points predictions ahead of this season, and I am aiming to get around 75 points. We have a tough start, with games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal consecutively. It's these matches that I have struggled with in previous seasons, so there is a challenge to be met there. The champions league will also complicate things. If we make it through the group stage I may need to strengthen in January. We'll see. Let's go!
  5. The Final! So as per usual, I go into this with a 5-3-2 shape. We've warmed up for this with a match against the U23s a few days prior - otherwise we wouldn't have had a game for two and a half weeks going into the match. Man Utd have their typically ferocious looking side out today. It's going to be a tough game. The game starts well for us. We are passing it around nicely, controlling the possession. Valery is looking rusty at right back so I drop Ward Prowse deeper to help him out somewhat. The Man Utd players seem to know this and are giving him lots of attention. But then, with 15 minutes played... Disaster. Panzo falls asleep and loses his man, Martial puts a peach of a cross in and all of a sudden it's 1-0. To make matters worse, just 1 minute after the restart and Ward Prowse pulls up. Hojberg comes on to replace him. The team continue to push on without their captain, but can't really create much. Then all of a sudden Martial breaks away with the ball, fizzes it across the box. It comes out to Isco who puts a ball into the box towards Pogba and... Oh for ****s sake! Hoedt has brought him down, it's a penalty. Pogba smashes it home. 2-0. 25 minutes gone. Despair. We somehow stumble our way through to half time, which feels like a miracle in itself. The team are clearly demoralised and to make things worse Wilson now has a groin strain. I can't see anyway out of this other than to go for it, so we switch to the 4-3-3. That necessitates a shift in personal, and I use my final two substitutes after just 45 minutes. Panzo off for Redmond, and the knackered Wilson comes off for Jankewitz. The game is much more stretched out now. We create some half chances. Danny Ings gets in around the far post with a header but it screws wide. 70 minutes played and now Valery is hobbling around. It's not that surprising, but without the option of a 4th sub, I leave him out there. 80 minutes played and Valery picks the ball up wide on the right. The ball goes in and, oh wait, Jankewitz is free at the far post here! He must score! Nope. 85 minutes are played, and finally we are put to bed. Isco swings in a corner. Dybala heads it towards goal. Tah pops up with the killer. .... Disappointing doesn't quite capture it. All in all, it went pretty much as badly as it could have. It was key to keep them quiet early doors but the Rashford goal put us on the backfoot and we couldn't quite recover. Lessons will be learned.
  6. May 2021 - End of 3rd Season League & FA Cup Liverpool away went as Liverpool away does. We took them to extra time having played with a man down for much of the game, but could not get over the line into penalties. No domestic cup glory for me this year! So, as for the league. We put in some good performances along the way, including a very credible draw at Old Trafford, but had something of a stuttering finish to the season. Nevertheless, we did just about enough to secure a runners up spot (even if it was only on goal difference in the end!). Chelsea finished the season strongly after appointing Guardiola and I suspect they will be a force to be reckoned with next season. Highlights: Finishing the season with two wins to cement our runners up spot and the draw against Man Utd after going 2-1 down. Lowlights: A fixture pileup in April left the squad fatigued and prevented us from taking full points from Leicester, West Ham and Wolves (who certainly feel like a bogey team for me at this point). Europa League A really fun Europa League campaign this. We conquered Belgium and Holland in the first two knockout rounds. We managed to concede 5 against Betis, but pulled back 2 late away goals. Into the semi-final against a really exciting Hamburg team and... well we wiped the floor with them! So, our European adventure has continued all the way to the final! Where we will face....! Ah. Well I didn't want to win it anyway. I'll do an extra update for the final. Season Review Negatives: We conceded 48 goals this season, more than double the amount Man Utd conceded. That's where the league was lost this year. Home form vs Away form. I took 40 points at home and 40 points away this season. Obviously a great return, but you would expect a slightly better ratio than 1:1 on home vs away. We dropped points (7) in the final run in. This is likely due to having a fatigued squad from our European exploits. Positives: Goals! Lots of them! 93 in the league to be exact. Defensive corner routine has worked a treat, conceding just two goals from corners in the league all year. This is in contrast to being 3rd worst in the league at this last season. 0 penalties conceded in league all season. Squad rotation, with all players getting opportunities. When little injuries picked up towards the end of the campaign, we had the cover we needed available. Opportunities afforded to youth team players. Tactics So my two styles are quite contradictory but they seem to work. The 4-3-3 is used in most games, where I feel we can take the game to our opponent. I also play with a mirrored variant from time to time. The 5-3-2 has become my strategy of choice for games against stronger teams. My plan from here is to use these tactics for a couple of seasons and try to get players who fit the moulds. Key Performers We couldn't have done it without the goals of Wilson (39), Ings (24) and Jankewtiz (18). Ward-Prowse had another good season (7.27 avg rating), and Stuart Armstrong really stepped up when we needed him (7.34 avg rating, 10 goals, 12 assists). The biggest surprise however has been the performances of our younger players like Vokins at left back (7.44 avg rating from 14 starts) and Panzo at center back (7.38 avg rating). These guys have set themselves high bars for next season! And just to contrast some of these numbers in the league - Wilson strolled away with the top goalscorer prize with second place Mane 13 goals behind the pace. Youth Progress This year's youth intake was another good one, although I have been flooded with yet more defenders! The most exciting players I have screen-shotted here. One member of the intake is rather keen on blessing the rains down in Africa. I'm not going to go back over the likes of Jankewitz and co. in this post, but one little development I would like to report is that Jankewitz and Panzo are now described as 'Wonderkids' Summary What a season - and it's not even over yet! Next season the aim is to keep our place in the top 4 (although I feel that could be a stretch).
  7. Hard to say really. Man Utd's squad is just absolutely ridiculous (I'll put a screenshot below), it'll be hard to keep pace and especially if we go deep into cup competitions. Even if we don't, we should be able to secure champions league football and that will be an enormous achievement in itself. So I'm trying not to worry about the title really and just play each game as it comes! I mean it's a little top heavy, but bloody hell.
  8. January 2021 Fixture Review Lowlights: Close to none! A 2-0 defeat to Man Utd was not the revenge I was hoping for, but I made some progress in developing an effective strategy against bigger teams. We are also conceding slightly more often than I'd like, but it's hard to complain given our prowess at the other end. Highlights: As you can see, we are unbeaten in nearly 3 months across the densest part of the season so far. Goals are not proving to be difficult to come by. The 1-0 win vs Chelsea was a victory for my newly developed 3-5-2 and certainly the most satisfying. Overall: A phenomenal season so far. I think the fairy tale of the title is beyond us but a champions league spot could be within our grasp. As you would expect from that run of form, we are flying high and just two points off Man Utd who have a game in hand on us. We have a near-identical record with Luciano Spaletti's Man City, and a 10 point lead on 4th place Tottenham and 5th place Arsenal. All to play for and all to lose! Key Performers Callum Wilson continues to lead the way with 27 goals in all comps and counting, but the real story here is with our young guns. Jonathon Panzo stepped up in the absence of Wesley Hoedt to post a 7.65 average rating from 15 games (a little more on him later). Wing backs Vokins and Valery have played with enormous confidence, and with Kieran Freeman also impressing I am tempted to try and find Cedric a way out of the club. James Ward-Prowse remains our captain fantastic and has most assists so far with 11. I also want to mention Josh Sims, who I have been playing out of position (at least according to the game) in central midfield to great effect, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek who has been terrific in cup competitions this year. Only one player has struggled particularly so far, and that is Pierre Emile-Hojberg. My best guess is that I have had to rotate much more this season and he has struggled with inconsistent game time. Tactics So here is my big team buster. An asymmetric 3-5-2, I can switch the sides of the WB and DW depending on where the opposition seem to play their inside forward (typically I find it is from the left, hence the setup I'm showing here). What I have found is that if I play two wing backs I do not have enough thrust on the counter attack, and by playing one in the wide midfield positions it offers much more going forwards without sacrificing much defensive stability. This was demonstrated in the 1-1 draw with Man City, where Matt Targett managed to secure us the equalising goal, cutting in from the left. I will continue to tinker, but I think I am onto a winner here. Youth Progress In this update I just wanted to highlight these three guys Adams, Panzo and Jankewitz. All three have made the step up to being first team regulars this year, which I might have expected from Jankewitz but certainly not Adams and Panzo. In Adams' case the CM(d) position was one that I struggled to find someone who could perform in, but Adams has come in and made that spot his own. Panzo has developed massively in the first half of the season, but then lost his place to injury just as Wesley Hoedt came back into fitness. For Jankewitz's screenshot I have switched the attributes view to see how he has developed since the start of the game. Despite a somewhat weird drop in his determination, you can see how far the boy has come. Transfers Not a great deal of business to talk about. Harrison Reed and Sam McQueen make long overdue exits after finding themselves surplus to requirements. A number of young players have been allowed to leave the club on early free transfers. Michael Obafemi was not quite up to premier league scratch so has returned to Wycombe where he was previously a prolific goal scorer. In coming are two youngsters, Giordano Pavesi (Italian-American) and Dick Leatemia. Pavesi was a player I followed for a little while, being one of the random American newgens you can find across the start of the game. Leatemia was more of a spur of the moment purchase, but we have a little gap in the left back production line and I felt he was well worth the punt for £400k. Leatemia doesn't really fit the bill for the kind of player I set out to buy at the start of this save, Pavesi more so. The difficulty has been work permits, and this will only get more difficult with the incoming brexit rules. Before I get to that though, a quick bit of AI ******** to whinge about! Man Utd decide on the final day of the transfer window that they are in need of a 3rd choice goalkeeper, and so put in an absolutely derisory offer for my 1st choice - Angus Gunn. The move is rejected and Gunn is obviously furious about this. If this is something the AI has been coded to do (i.e. disrupt rival teams by putting in **** bids for their important players) then I must applaud the team responsible at SI, cause it's worked here to perfection. Brexit then. My scenario rules are: Squad limits of 17 foreigners. Irish players are treated as British. Foreign players must earn £34.6k p/m to play in the premier league. Under 23 years, foreign players must earn £13k p/m to play in youth or cup competitions, or go on loan. I can have a maximum of 5 players that fit this category. Players are exempt from these rules until they change clubs. That shouldn't be too problematic. I have 10 players across all my squads that don't have a UK passport, so well within the 17 player limit. All first team players earn way over £34.6k p/m, and those rules don't apply to players I already have anyway. Three U23 players would be in violation of the £13k p/m stipulation, Alan Tchaptchet and the two players I just signed! I am pleased I manged to bring them in before the rules kicked in. Upcoming Fixtures Here is the run to the end of the season as it stands. We drew Liverpool away in the FA cup (boo) so there goes any hopes of a nice easy run to the final. Standard Leige should be interesting opposition in the Europa League, I am hopeful of getting through these ties without too much fuss. After that it is another busy end of season. We still play reverse fixtures against Arsenal and Liverpool at home, then in early April the big one at Old Trafford. Thankfully they are all spaced out quite nicely. Wish me luck!
  9. October 2020 The 'yes this is still being updated' update. Fixture Review Highlights: A really good start to the season goal-scoring wise, Callum Wilson has been on fire (more on that later)! We scored 4+ goals in half of all our games this period. Lowlights: While handling teams of similar levels or below has not been anything of a challenge, we generally still find it difficult against the big boys. Defeats to Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool in the league have frustrated our progress. Also, being dumped out of the League cup in the 4th round on penalties to Man Utd (having come back from 2-0 down) was pretty gutting. Overall: I have mixed feelings. We have played well in many games and defensively capitulated in others. I should be pleased but I am frustrated at why we can't turn up against the better teams in the league. A somewhat mad start to the season see's Bournemouth (powered by Hwang Hee Chan and Josip Ilicic) top the table, with us in 5th. Last season's champions Liverpool have had something of a hangover but are fast on our tail. Tactics As mentioned in the last post, I was toying with a 4-1-3-2 and although it offered a lot going forwards I could not seem to get the balance right at the back. These two shapes (4-4-1-1 and 4-1-4-1) are the latest versions I am toying with. If anyone has any suggestions as to good strategies to use in these games please feel free to let me know. I feel a visit to the tactics corner might be required. Key Performers Summary: Callum Wilson has made an absolutely incredible start to this season, scoring 17 goals in 14 appearances and recording an average rating of 7.83 across all competitions. 16 of those goals have come in the league, where his average rating is currently 8.02 (see pic below)! Absolutely phenomenal numbers from our main man up front, I anticipate needing to fend off some bids come next transfer window (and fairly derisory ones at that knowing the AI...). It's not all been all been about Wilson though. James Ward-Prowse continues to post strong numbers and has made most appearances so far this season. Jan Bednarek has made the step up at centre back and now holds that position as his own. There have been some great performances from the young players, notably again from Jankewitz - but more about that in the next section. Youth Progress As mentioned, we have had some great performances from young players. The six highlighted here have all played roles, but none more-so than Jankewitz. I made a conscious effort this season to give him more games, and boy did he repay me, getting seven assists in his first five games of the season. Performances from the young man have wavered, but the only way to overcome inconsistency is by being afforded game time - so lets hope he gets out of this habit. Freeman and Vokins came in during the early games this year while full backs were struggling with injury, and they have certainly given me something to think about - proving that performances at this level are not beyond them. The return of players in the same positions has forced them back to the U23s for now, and one of those returning players is Yan Valery, who is now posting better figures than Cedric. Panzo has found it hard to get in the team ahead of Hoedt, but when he has he seems to be playing well. The only issue there is a lack of concentration, which has cost me goals. Tyler Adams often pays the price for his versatility, but in the games so far this season he's been getting time in his favoured central midfield position and doing quite well. Upcoming Fixtures Another busy few months ahead, with more group stage matches to play. Man Utd are only just around the corner and I'm hoping we can exact some revenge for the League Cup defeat. Mostly though I'm hoping to progress in the Europa League, mainly for the adventure!
  10. The only part of this thread so far I haven't approved of
  11. How is the CB situation coming along? I saw you had one come through your youth intake this year (Alberto).
  12. Superb stuff, congrats on a heroic achievement! Maybe interesting to upload the save and for someone to holiday another couple of decades to see how things progress from there?
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