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    Stockport County

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  1. What's a good nation for this challenge? I'm thinking of Belgium.
  2. 2021-22 Season - Fall Update Stockport entered their first season in League One with low expectations from the board (mid-table) and high expectations (6th place) from the media. The high expectations are warranted. We won the Vanarama National South title in 2019, the Vanarama National title in 2020, and League Two in 2021. Just like last season, we started off the season with an absolute drubbing of our opposition. This year, we only won 6-0 as compared to last season's 8-0 victory. We used the victory to tear through the month. Barnsley were the only team to knock us off in league play while Premier League, Huddersfield, knocked us out of the Carabao Cup. Carlisle were accommodating by scoring an own goal to give us a 1-0 victory to start our journey in the Checkatrade Trophy. The game of the month was the offensive shootout against Bolton. Neither team could defend worth a damn. Left winger Mihai Dobre clinched the game for us with an 83rd minute goal while Mallik Wilks poured in four first half goals. The only blemish in September was a 1-1 draw at Rochdale. Southend had us dead to rights with a 2-0 lead as we headed into stoppage time. Mihai Dobre cut the deficit to one in the first minute of stoppage time. Centerback Tunji Akinola tied the game just a minute later. Center forward Mallik Wilks completed the comeback in the dying second of extra time to claim an unlikely win. Bradford City jumped on us early and did not give us to come back like Southend did in September. The 3-1 loss was our only dropped game in the month. Everything else wasn't even close. Mihai Dobre and Mallik Wilks continue to pour in the goals. Both players are way above this level and it shows. They are, most likely, #1 and #2 in the League One Player of the Year race. We sit in our typical standing of first place. We have a six-point lead over second place Charlton who we play in November and a seven-point lead over the playoff contenders led by Colchester and Bolton. Center forward Mallik Wilks has scored 17 goals in 15 appearances and churning out a whopping 1.46 goals per 90 minutes. Left winger Mihai Dobre is not far behind. He has scored 12 goals in 17 appearances which is working out to 0.84 goals per 90 minutes. It's a luxury to go into every game with two players who are combining for over two goals per 90 minutes. The defense, outside of the 5-4 game against Bolton, has been strong as well. Rhys Williams has developed an all-around game for a League One defender. He makes the tackles, wins the headers, and makes the interceptions. He is starting to attract the interest of low-level Premier League/high-level Championship clubs. He is paired with Regan Poole in home games as a ball-playing center back and Tunji Akinola in road games as a standard center back. Mark Wright gets time as the young defender coming off the bench. The odd man out, at center back, is Cameron Humphreys. I'll be looking to move him during the winter transfer window.
  3. It's the first time I've seen the Bosman Rule eradicated in a FM Brexit.
  4. End of Season 3 The 2020-21 season has come to an end and it ended with another championship and promotion to the next division. I'm hoping that League One is where I will finally need to do some squad building, consolidation, and spending some time in a division instead of just walking to the division title. Looking at the infrastructure of the club, I think League One we will, finally, face teams that have better facilities than us. Bigger stadiums, better youth academies, bigger bank rolls. Things that will make it tough for us to advance to the Championship. February Ebbsfleet continue to be a thorn in our side. They had our number in the Vanarama National League and they continue to make our lives difficult in League Two. I'm looking forward to leaving them behind in League Two as we advance to League One. Outside of that loss, goals were still hard to come by. Our offense is stagnating. Teams are starting to defend against us in numbers and we are having a hard time breaking them down. March Welcome back to finding the net, Keyendrah Simmons. He absolutely tore it up this month by scoring five goals in five matches. J'Neil Bennett has started to turn into the goalscoring threat on the right wing that Luis Longstaff has established on the left wing. Bennett chipped in four goals this month as well. Our road woes from February continued. Swindon put three passed us at the beginning of the month. After that match, I made a tactical tweak. On road, we played with a holding midfield behind our two-man central midfield. At home, we removed the holding midfielder in favor of an attacking midfielder. I was starting to think that we were becoming too simple from a tactical standpoint and teams knew how we were going to play and how to attack our weakness while covering up their own. April/May We clinched the title on our first chance when we beat Shrewsbury, 4-1. After that match, I went into full shutdown mode for our veteran players and played the youth that spent the majority of the season with the first team. The results were mixed with a pair of 0-0 draws and a lackluster finale that we lost 2-1. My three league titles and one FA Trophy have me knocking on the door of the top all-time managers in the United States. I think a League One title plus something minor like the Checkatrade Trophy and I should knock off former USA and L.A Galaxy manager, Steve Sampson for 10th place. It was a tight battle for the remaining promotion places and playoff places. Colchester and Bristol Rovers survived the battle and won the two automatic promotion playoffs. Shrewsbury survived two tough playoff series and will be the 4th team moving up to League One next season. Gateshead and Cheltenham fall out of the league football ranks for the 2021-22 season. Doncaster survived relegation by one point. Luis Longstaff won the League Two Player of the Year. Longstaff was second on the team with 18 goals and led the team with 14 assists. His contract was extended and his minimum release clause removed right after he won the award. I wasn't about to let another player slip away for next to nothing. Keyendrah Simmons led the team and League Two with 26 goals in league play and he scored 27 goals in all competitions. J'Neil Bennett became that third scoring option which our team needed. He finished the season with 14 goals to his name along with 10 assists. One of the things that I will need next season is a creative midfielder. We were sorely lacking assists from the center of the field. We got plenty of assists from the wings but we need a midfielder who is willing to make a defense-splitting pass to create a scoring change. I was proud of the time that I could give our young players this season. Goalkeeper Ethan Wady found his way into 19 of the over 50 games we played this season and did so with very little drop off from starter Robert Sanchez. Center back Mark Wright got action in 31 games including 13 starts. Toward the end of the season, he moved up to the top choice center back off the bench and spot starter. Center forward/attacking midfielder Paul Glatzel played in 32 games with 17 starts but only scored five goals with one assist. Finances are in great shape. The board, again, gave me a transfer budget of over one million pounds. I pour some of that into the scouting budget and some more of that will go to the wage budget as we closer to the start of next season. The board has given me a weekly wage budget of £36,519 per week which works out to a yearly budget of £1.9 million which will still be toward the bottom of League One. The good news is our top players are young and playing for relatively cheap contracts which will give me some flexibility to go out and get some players who want higher wages without blowing a massive hole in the wage budget. I'm envisioning a wage budget on July 1 of £45,000 per week which is a yearly budget of £2.34 million. Still low but an amount that, I think, should make us more competitive for free agents. Now, you guys are all caught up. Next update will be the summer transfer deals and roster breakdown.
  5. Season 3 Update 2 I had a first during the November international break. Right-back Sam Robinson was selected to the England U19 team. This is both blessing and a curse. It's great to have a player selected to the U19 team but everybody discovered his talent. November November was a good month on the cup front. A pair of wins in the FA Cup saw as through to the 3rd round where will make a money-earning trip to Middlesbrough. We also won our last Carabao Cup match against League One Blackpool. However, our cup success did not translate into the league. The large number of cup games made it difficult for us and the large number of lineup changes led to disjointed performances when the first teamers returned for League Two play. A pair of shutout losses book-ended a home win. December Another month of disjointed league performances. We are having trouble finding a second scorer from our attacking four outside of Keyendrah Simmons. Taylor Perry scored three goals but all of his goals have come from deep in the midfield on long shots. We are suffering from "a long shot turning into goals." by our opposition. We give up a long shot goal early in the match and the opposition just bunkers in and holds on for the one-goal victory. Very frustrating. We need to find goals from somebody else other than Simmons. January Outside of the FA Cup loss to Middlesbrough, it was a much more productive month in league play. The defense was rock solid allowing only two goals in five matches. We are still, pretty much, a one-man show in Keyendrah Simmons who scored five of the seven goals. The cup run got our young players some quality playing time in tough road environments. The downside was our defense took a big hit. Cardiff activated the £205,000 release clause for clubs in a higher division. I tried to re-negotiate his contract after he got called up to the England U19 team but he declined my offer. I should have taken West Brom's offer of less money and a 40% profit on next transfer offer. But hindsight is 20-20 and we will go forward. I brought in a right back on loan from Norwich as a short-term replacement for the rest of the season but Robinson will be a big loss to the squad. For as much as I've complained about our form, we've actually stretched out a little bit of a gap. Notts County has seen their form go to absolute crap and have fallen to 6th place. Peterborough and Bristol Rovers have caught fire and have moved up into the automatic promotion spots. Realistically, 14th place Accrington Stanley can say that they have a chance to make the playoffs as they only sit eight points behind 7th place Coventry. The playoff race is going to be red hot this season. Doncaster and Gateshead can probably punch their tickets into the Vanarama National League next season. This is a big change for me from the previous two seasons. I've only got two real scorers: Simmons and Longstaff. Longstaff is in the middle of a long cold spell fueled by injuries. I really need him or someone else to pick up the scoring slack. If Simmons goes cold, I'm in big trouble. Reserve center forwards Glatzel, Fonkeu, and Clayton aren't providing much scoring punch. We are living on our defense, this season, with the likes of Rhys Williams, Cameron Humphreys, and Robert Sanchez providing a nice triangle of two center backs plus goalie. The terms of the upcoming Brexit has been announced. The major takeaway is the elimination of the Bosman rule. This could have a big impact on the lower level clubs like myself. I like to lock up players from other teams before their contract expired and have they have been "set for release" from their club. I prefer this method because I can get good players before they hit the open market and I have to face increased competition for their signature. This is how I got Simmons, Williams, Humphreys, Lyons-Foster, and Robinson. So, this could have a big impact on how I conduct my business.
  6. Fall 2021 Update August August was a busy month with nine matches in 29 days. The large majority of these were on the road thanks to a pair of Carabao Cup games on the road. The opening round match against Sheffield Wednesday was an epic match. We took a 2-1 lead into half-time then went a man down. Then scored another goal to make it 3-1. Then defense cracked like an egg allowing two late goals which saw the match go to penalties. The shootout went 10 rounds. Goalkeeper Ethan Wady broke the deadlock and pushed Stockport into the 2nd round. There, we faced another Championship club in West Brom. They took an early 2-0 lead. We battled back to 2-1 but couldn't get the tying goal and we knocked out of the cup. The league couldn't go any better. The only loss was a hangover game to Bristol Rovers after our cup victory over Wednesday. Coventry and Crew battled us to draws. Everything else was wins. We entered League Two with all guns blazing as we smashed Accrington, 8-0, for our biggest win under my management. We ended the month with a 3-0 road win over Notts County. September Another busy month with seven matches as Checkatrade Trophy matches began. August was book-ended with massive wins. September was book-ended with heartbreaking losses. Burnley's U23 beat us on penalties while Carlisle scored late and gave us our second loss in League Two. In between, a nice five-match winning streak featuring big wins over Peterborough and Oldham as well as tight wins over Lincoln and Ebbsfleet, who were a thorn in our side last season. It was nice to beat them, 1-0. Especially when that goal was scored in the 2nd minute of play and we held on for the rest of the game to claim the win. October A month where we couldn't generate any momentum. No streaks of notes. Just wins followed by a bad performance followed by a win. Barnsley ended any hopes that we had of advancing in the Carabao Cup. Fine by me, I put forth a team of players who need to gain match experience. If we won, we won. If we lost, not a big concern. We've got one more Carabao Cup match and then the FA Cup. The kids will have gotten six or more cup matches under their belt this season plus any rotation/sub chances in league games. In league matches, we won three of four and only had a road draw against Tranmere. This season is looking a like repeat of last season. It's a two-horse race, at present, for the League Two title between myself and Notts County. As of this moment, both of us will automatically go up and joined by Colchester as the third automatically promoted team. Though, they are locked in a tight battle with nine teams within four points of 3rd place. My strategy is finding Premier League U18 castoffs is proving to be successful once again this season. Two of top three players, so far this season, are new signings just like Lyons-Foster and Simmons were last season. Robinson on the right and Lyons-Foster on the left give me the best of pair of wingbacks in the league and they are both under 19. They are providing early service into the box leading to goals from the wide forwards. Robinson leads the team with five assists and Lyons-Foster has three which already matches last season total for him. We are getting plenty of assists from the middle of the field too with Diaz Wright, Rhys Williams and Ben Close all on four assists for the season. We've got a very balanced attack in terms of where the assists are coming from. Left winger Luis Longstaff leads the squad with 11 goals and center forward Keyendrah Simmons has nine goals. Robert Sanchez is having another great year in goal. The club has only allowed 14 goals in the 18 league matches. Sanchez has played in 16 of those 18 matches. Back-up Ethan Wady has played in all four cup matches plus two league matches. Youth academy products have gone some time as well. Mark Wright has seen more time thanks to some injuries to our center backs. He has stepped in and performed at a good enough level that he gained my trust to the point where he can start if any of my starters need a rest. Peter Clayton has struggled when he has seen the field and as a result as seen less and less time. He may need some more time with the U23 team as the season wears on. Finances continue to be in good shape. Those large dips in May/June are when we dip into our cash reserves and upgrade the youth facilities. Once the youth facilities are completed later in November, I'm going to use a little money to start up our data analysis facilities.
  7. Making Arsenal's Little Brother competitive might make Gunnersaurus angry. You won't like Gunnersaurus when he's angry.
  8. March A hurky-jerky March had us struggling for offense with just seven goals in a busy six-game calendar for the month. We just couldn't get anything going. The big lead we had built up over second-place Chesterfield started to shrink. Thankfully, the end of the month saw the club rebound with a pair of two-goal wins over Barrow and Billericay. The problem was Chesterfield kept winning too so we could not lengthen our lead over the second-place club. April and May Another loss to Ebbsfleet saw the lead shrink down to just five points. It was starting to get tight. Tight enough that media thought enough of it to make a story out of it. We have the better run of games at the end. Our "most difficult game" is against 9th place Leyton Orient while Chesterfield has games against both 3rd place Hartlepool and 5th place Barnet. Wins over Dover and Leyton Orient gave us a chance to clinch the title at Eastleigh. At Eastleigh, we proceeded to fold under the pressure. A pair of early goals cosigned us to defeat. The club got into the changing room and received word that Chesterfield had won and our near double digit points lead was down to just two points. The advantage was ours, however, we had a home game against Sutton while Chesterfield had to travel to Hartlepool. We scored four first-half goals to leave no doubt has to who was claiming the title. A 4-1 win combined with a Chesterfield loss saw our final margin to be five points and back-to-back automatic promotions to from the Vanarama National League North to the professional ranks of League Two. It was another season of playoff heartbreak for Chesterfield. Last season, they finished on 87 points which was good enough for 2nd place behind the league winners who put up 90 points. They lost in the playoffs. This season, they put up 100 points which would have won the league season, last season, by 10 points. This season, it earned them another trip to the playoffs which ended in semifinal heartbreak to 5th place Barnet. Maybe the 3rd time will be the charm. We finished the season in the top four in every major category (goals scored, goals conceded, average possession, average attendance, attendance by capacity). Hell, we even led the league in red cards with seven. Those seven red cards didn't impact how we played through out the season. We wanted to push the opposition. Push them into mistakes. Put them under pressure. Force turnovers. Get the ball back and find the back of the net. We hopped on the back of our defense and rode it all the way to the league title. That center-back pairing of Williams and Humphreys definitely led the way this season. My coaches have them rated as League One and League Two talents respectively so they are out-classing everybody in this league. I still argue that the move of the season was resigning Darren Stephenson who led the team with 17 goals in all competitions. He might be punching above his weight in League Two but he is a solid Vanarama League player. I made a slight adjustment to the roles within my 4-2-3-1 formation. The center of the three was shadow striker. I moved it an advanced playmaker with Matthew Warburton in the role. He responded by finishing the season with 10 assists. The most from any midfield player in my two seasons at Stockport. It was a weird year with the assists coming from the center of the field instead of from the wings like last season. We finished the season with five players who scored 10+ goals for the season down from last year's six. None of the five scored 20+ which is also a change from last year. My initial thoughts are to continue with the gegen pressing style than won us the Vanarama National League North and National League titles. But I'm also open to a more conservative style to grind out results. I expect a bigger gulf in class between the newly promoted teams to League Two and the established League Two than I saw moving from the North to National League. Some infrastructure improvements during the off-season. Another upgrade to the youth facilities and the move into League Two finally forced the board's hand in terms of moving the club from semi-professional to professional.
  9. Season 2 Mid-Season Update For the second straight season, things were rolling with Stockport so I made no moves in the transfer market because I did not want to upset the apple cart. Plenty of clubs came in with bids for my kids that I featured in my last post. Thankfully, they all love playing for Stockport and, more importantly, under contract until at least 2021 so I wasn't put in a position where I had to sell in order to get something from them. I held the leverage. That leverage will probably disappear over the summer when they aren't, likely, to sign a second contract with me and I'll need to sell them to in order to get something from them. Right now, I'm in the middle of the championship run, I'm not selling for the sake of selling. I held firm. The players weren't upset that they weren't sold so we really didn't see a big dip in form over the last three months. Five straight wins sandwiched by a road draw and a road loss. The road loss was a function of a heavily rotated lineup since it was the four match in 11 days for the club. We also fielded a heavily rotated squad in the FA Trophy match where we needed a stoppage time goal to advance to the second round. Boreham Wood was another game where Robert Sanchez had a game where he was a swinging gate in goal. He got benched for the next two matches as Ben Hitchcliffe led us to a pair of clean sheet victories. My favorite part of this month is goals came from all players in all positions. We had attackers, midfielders, and defenders all find the back of the net. Attendance seems to be on the increase and we playing to half-full stadiums which is helping our finances. This is where we hit our "roughest patch of form." We finished the month with a pair of losses (though one was on penalty kicks). King's Lynn really pissed me off. They were the first club to decline playing extra time and get a winner. We played a rotated side and stumbled to a 1-1 draw. We played the same side in the replay because we had a league match just three days later. The rotated side played just as well on the road as they did at home and stumbled to a 1-1 draw. The penalty kicks were disaster. We missed all four shots and lost 3-0 on kicks. The hangover continued when the first choice squad slipped up against Maidstone. The end of month left a bad taste in my mouth as we were humming along nicely before King's Lynn came in and disrupted our mojo. February was a month where we shattered dreams. York's dreams of a championship were shattered on the back of two late goals co-signed them defeat and left them double digits behind us in the points column. Barnet, Grimsby, and Salford all had small but mathematical chances to push for the championship. Those dreams came to an end as well. All four teams are likely to make and meet each other in the playoffs but the playoffs is the best they can hope for. This month turned the championship race into a two-horse race: Stockport and Chesterfield. Chesterfield need a win to make the championship race go down to the wire. They are two full games back with 11 games remaining and we absolutely dominate the goal difference tie-breaker over them. They hold a commanded lead over the pack. York leads the "pack teams." You can put a blanket over 4th through 7th place. Grimsby and Salford are not that far behind Ebbsfleet. Our center-backs make this team go. Cameron Humphreys and Rhys Williams just don't let anybody get past them. Williams has let his tackle rate "slip" to 98%. Humphreys is "only" at 88%. Both are strong in the air and have about seven interceptions per game between the two of them which has done wonders for shutting down our attack. Goals get scored on us in one of three ways: 1) A ball which gets played over the top and into the vast space between our high defensive line and the goalkeeper, 2) A "wonder goal" from outside the box or 3) A set piece. The majority of the goals this season come from the wing positions. Darren Stephenson leads the team with 16 goals. Not bad for a guy who I thinking about shipping out midway through the first season. Omari Patrick has 10 goals from the other wing position. The assists are coming from central locations with three central players: Matthew Warburton (9), Diaz Wright (8) and Keyendrah Simmons (7) leading the way here. This is the exact opposite of last season where the wings were providing the assists and the central players were scoring the goals. The interesting thing to note is I haven't really changed the roles and team instructions but how the goals are scored is completely different. Four players are going to see their time at the club come to an end when the season is over. Center-back/midfielder Jordan Keane, center-back Ashley Palmer, center midfielder and team captain Paul Turnbill and back-up goalkeeper Ben Hitchcliffe will not see their contracts renewed at the end of the season. They aren't good enough for this level and will just take up a roster spot and drain salary on a potential League Two squad. Two good players highlight this youth intake. Jay Woodward is potential replacement, in a few years, for Darren Stephenson on the left wing. Mark Wright is a player who can make a play for a reserve center back role in a couple seasons.
  10. 2019-2020 Season The summer got off to an interesting start in Stockport. The good news about this takeover was the takeover process was short. The takeover took about a week. The bad news was it was the week before the transfer window opened on June 7 so I couldn't make any future signings before the transfer window open. The takeover was completed on the day the transfer window opened so I was not hamstrung by the takeover process dragging into the transfer window and restricting my ability to sign players. The good news is the new chairman pumped in, roughly, the same amount of money that the upgraded youth facilities cost. As a result, our bank balance remains pretty much unchanged. 10 new faces join the club for this season and only two depart. The two names are big ones though. Frank Mulhern and his 18 goals from last season head over to Ireland. This one was a screw-up on my behalf. Mulhern was muddling along in January and February and wasn't interested in signing. Then, Longford showed interest in him and made noise that they wanted to sign him. He did not want to open contract negotiations with me. I put him in the lineup in hopes that he would. Then, he started scoring. Longford offered him a contract. He still wouldn't open negotiations with me. He kept on scoring. I kept on playing him. He signed with Longford. I had to spend the spring looking for a replacement. That replacement can in the form of youngster Keyendrah Simmons, a product of the Manchester City academy which rankled the board somewhat. We poached the Liverpool academy for three players: center back Rhys Williams, center midfielder Abdi Sharif, and attacking midfielder Paul Glatzel. The Tottenham academy provided us with Swiss Army knife defender Brooklyn Lyons-Foster. Goalkeepers Left Backs Right Backs Center Backs Center Midfielders Wingers Center Forwards We enter the season in great shape. The team is a bit on the young side. Our average age is 22.83 which ranks 20th out of the 24 teams in the league. If anything lets us down this season, it will be our inexperience. And the media like our chances. We beat preseason 3rd place team, Chesterfield, in the FA Trophy semifinals last season. That said, a 46-game league season is much different than a two-legged cup tie. We will see how we adapt to the National League.
  11. End of 2018-19 Season With nine games remaining in the season, we were in a good position to take the Vanarama National League North division title. We had a five point lead. We were in great form. We had adapted well to the 4-2-3-1 formation. So, what happened. A solid March put us in an even stronger position. We won six out of the seven matches. We advanced to the FA Trophy Final where we will face playoff contender York City. We are now just beating up on teams in the lower depths of the table. The 4-1 win over Ashton United was a bit of a surprise. They were one of the few teams that could realistically challenge us for the title. The lone slip-up was against Darlington. Darlington came into the match on great form as they were pushing for the bottom of the playoff spots. They caught us in between cup matches against Vanarama National League side Chesterfield. We clinched the title on our home ground against mid-table Blyth Spartans. Blyth made us work for the title. They played great defense and stonewalled us at just about every opportunity. Supersub, Frank Mulhern, came in and scored a headed goal at the death to give us the goal we needed to get all three points and secure the title. The last three matches were all about not getting our small squad hurt before the cup final against York which took place about a month after the league season ended. The rust showed in the cup final. Our high-flying offense had crashed back to earth and were out of sorts. Jake Kirby would provide the only goal that we would need in the Final as the club completed a Vanarama National League South-FA Trophy Cup double. In the end, we won the league by 11 points over Ashton United. York City will be joining us in the National League next season as the winner of the playoffs. Guiseley, Nuneaton Boro, Cruzon Ashton drop out of the national leagues and return to regional football. Not knowing who is dropping down into the South Division next season, I would make Ashton United and Darlington as favorites to win the league next season. The playoffs were all wide open affairs. Multiple goals in all the games. Not sure if this has to do with the one-off nature of the rounds but it made for some exciting soccer including an extra time final won by York City. The offense, once we switched formations, hit on all cylinders. We had six players score 10+ goals for the season. 11 players finished the season with an average rating at 7.00 or above including league player of the year candidate Scott Duxbury, who finished the season with 7.44 rating. Duxbury was our top defender and assist man for the season. He racked up 17 assists from his left back position, won over 90% of his tackles, and 75% of his headers. He did all of this while picking up only five yellow cards for the entire season. First name on the team sheet before every game. Matthew Warburton ran things from his attacking midfielder location. He led the team with 22 goals and added in another seven assists. Out of our six players with 10+ goals, we only had one player who racked up double figures in both goals and assists. That was Jake Kirby who had 12 goals and 10 assists. The large majority of our assists came from our wingback. Duxbury was the team leader with 17. Right back Same Minihan was second on the team with 12 assists. Our two central midfielders were tasked with winning the ball back and getting the ball in position to start or re-start an attack. Still Connor Dimaio had 10 goals for the season. The board was willing to take some our £1.2 million that we have sitting in the bank and spending it on improving our youth facilities. Our first youth intake was very lackluster. Hopefully, some improved facilities will help our future intakes as we roll through the seasons (and hopefully divisions).
  12. 2018-19 Winter Update Another tactical shift led to some short term difficulties but once the team sorted things out, especially at the back, they put together the foundation of a championship season. Transfer-wise, we didn't make any moves during the winter. The team was very settled and everyone knew their roles. It's a small squad but they don't get hurt (not sure how much of the part-time status has with that). They go out and do their job without much complaint. We had a pair of cup games in addition to the typical league games, we entered the FA Trophy competition in the 3rd qualifying round. It was a lot of work but we dispatched the Cows of Hereford on a late headed goal by center back Zehn Mohammed. The 1st round proper was much easier against lower-division side, AFC Sudbury. The league was fairly easy. Promotion contenders, Ashton United, caught us in a rotated lineup after the cup match and beat us 2-1. Three straight league wins allowing just one goal followed. The month and year ended with a thud as Kidderminster earned a draw on our home ground. January was a month of upheaval for the club from a tactical standpoint. The defense was very leaky. The offense did what it could to earn draws. Teams started to attack us early and force to play from behind which we couldn't do especially once teams bunkered in after getting the lead. We took only five points from a possible 15 during the month. The tactical switch we made was abandoning the 4-4-1-1 with wing play and 4-4-2 controlling possession. The controlling possession was all well and good. We kept the ball with the tactic but did nothing with it. We moved a 4-2-3-1 gegenpress. The defense struggled with it in the beginning which you can see by the lack of clean sheets. I was impressed with the offense and it's ability to score and break down defenses. The FCUM game made me think that we were on to something with the formation. Two goals in the last 10 minutes of the game to earn a point showed me that this squad wanted more out of the season than a cup of coffee in the playoffs. In February, the club took off. The defense solidified. The offense kept clicked. The wins kept coming. Only one cup game as we kept our cup run going with a 2-1 win over Chester. 15 points from a possible 15 saw us rocketed up the table. Everybody is contributing to the effort. Goals coming from center forwards, wingers, central midfielders, and center backs. We even got a goal from our left back in Scott Duxbury. Just a great month from the team. Our form has moved us to the top of table with a little bit of a cushion over 2nd place York. The playoffs, at this point, are all but assured with an 18 point lead over 8th place Alfreton with 10 games remaining. It's looking like regional football for Curzon Ashton who just can't win and lead the league with 20 losses. Scott Duxbury has been the class of the team, this season, from his left back position. He leads the team with 13 assists while being one of our top defenders as he wins 93% of his tackles and making just under two interceptions per game. While he is currently suffering from a dip in form, right winger Jake Kirby has been a bright spot since moving to the 4-2-3-1 formation. A great all-around player with eight goals (3rd on the team) and nine assists (2nd on the team). This dip in form as been covered over by back-up Adam Thomas who has chipped in with one goal off the bench but has provided good all-around play which doesn't always show up in goals and assists. The center of the attack has been covered by a three-headed monster. Loanee Rowan Roache and Matthew Warburton get the majority of the starts. Warburton leads the team with 19 goals with Roache not far behind with 16 goals. Frank Mulhern comes off the bench in league games and starts in cup games. He has added seven goals in this role. A youth intake that doesn't have a lot to write home about. There are some players in here who could contribute to the club in a reserve or spot starter role at best. Maybe with improved youth facilities and full-time training, they will develop faster than expected and I can sell them off for a small chunk of change to lower division clubs who have a lot of money but not a lot of training facilities to make their existing players better. Teams that need a more polished product. I have the biggest hopes for center forward Peter Clayton and wingers Ron Brownhill, Gary Johnstone and Charlie Edgar.
  13. I've been at this save for a while now and wanted to give it a little more exposure. Club History Stockport County was a member of the Football League since 1900 before it was relegated from League Two into the Conference National in 2011. It was a quick drop into the North Division just two years later. The club has been part of the North Division for the last six seasons. It is, clearly, a club that has an infrastructure way too big for the level that it is playing in. Stockport spent most of it's history bouncing around League One and League Two with a brief spell in the Championship. The club has, at least on Football Manager, a fierce rivalry with Manchester City. I'm guessing this came about during City's time as a Championship/League One club before the oil money flowed in. In addition to the good training facilities (especially for a Vanarama National League North club), they play at Edgeley Park which boasted an all-seater capacity of 10,500. It is the largest in the sixth tier and the fourth biggest in the Vanarama National League (behind Halifax, Gateshead, and Wrexham). This capacity means I won't need to worry about expanding the stadium in the first few years of the save allowing me to invest more money into the youth and data facilities. The top priority, in my opinion, for the club is to shed it's semi-professional status and become a full-fledged professional club. Friendly Season I went into the summer friendly season wanting to keep things simple. We are running a 4-4-2 under a variety of tactical plans. Control possession against teams we are stronger than. Route One against teams we are weaker than. Wing play against teams who only have one player out on the wing in an attempt to overload him and stretch the center of the defense/midfield. I started out with a resounding 4-0 win against a lower division club in Leek. After that, I cancelled a bunch of friendlies and scheduled some money-making friendlies against higher division clubs. A 1-1 win against Bury was a shock but then we dropped the next two friendlies against Stock and Notts County. The losses also stripped away some of the club's confidence and the losses lingered in matches against Brighton's U-23 team and lower division Clitheroe. The purpose of the Clitheroe match was to rebuild our confidence with what I thought was going to be an easy win. Instead, we came out of it with a 0-0 draw and squad whose confidence was still on the shaky side. Vanarama National League North Scheduling those friendlies against bigger sides had a bigger impact on the team's confidence than I thought that it would. We started shaky out of the gate. We only lost one game but our offense was struggling to find the net outside of a 4-1 thrashing of Southport. We had lots of possession and lots of shots but they were either getting blocked by the opposition midfield and defense or sent wide. We finished August with a 2-4-1 record which had us firmly in the middle of the table. At the beginning of December, I switched from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-4-1-1 formation. Our deep lying center forward prefers to play in an attacking midfielder role. Thinking that this could part of the problem with our offense, I decided to slide him back into his preferred position. As you can see, the club immediately felt the impact of the move as we took all 12 points in the month and I was named Manager of the Month. Matthew Warburton, the player in question, responded by second two goals in four matches while his strike partner Rowan Roache, on loan from Blackpool, scored two goals in the month as well. The winning streak stretched to five games as the strike partnership scored all three goals in a 3-1 victory over Hereford. The streak came to an end against Blyth. The strike partnership was hitting on all cylinders to close the month as Roache and Warburton scored all four goals in a 4-1 win over Chorley. We go 2-1-1 in the month and 6-1-1 since we made the formation switch. The club continued to rise up the table. November was a light month in the league with a week off at the end of the month and a cup game which forced a reschedule. It was another undefeated month but Warburton and Roche did not lead the way. We had to find a third scoring option which we did in right winger Jake Kirby and an option off the bench in Harry Crawford when we pushed against relegation candidate Brackley as we went into a 3-4-1-2 formation to try to claim all three points and keep us in the promotion hunt. Another undefeated month and an 8-2-1 record with the 4-4-1-1 formation. Vanarama National North Table 1) York 40 pts. +24 2) Ashton United 38 pts. +17 3. Stockport 36 pts. +16 4. Blyth 35 pts. +12 5. Chorley 34 pts. +7 6. Leamington 31 pts. +5 7. FC United 30 pts. +5 FA Cup We had an easy run into the 1st round of the FA Cup. We got to play two lower-division sides in Methryr and Warrington before we had to hold on to claim a 4-3 victory against Nuneaton Boro. That gave us entry into the 1st round proper and we got drawn against League Two side Grimsby Town. They made easy work of us and knocked us out of the cup. My team takes a lot of shots which I like in the lower levels. Every shot is, basically, a lottery ticket. It forces the goalkeeper and defense to make a save and be in position to stop any rebounds or loose balls. If they aren't ready, our offense needs to be ready to pounce on the rebound. I'm not too concerned with pass completion percentage at this level because it's more of a physical "kick ball" style game. The games aren't pretty and you need to win ugly on occasion. I am concerned with our lack of aerial prowess. We aren't strong in the air and this could cost us points as the season goes on. I do like that we have one strong player per "line." Scott Duxbury is the cream of the crop. The left back has one of most consistent players all season. He leads the team with five man of the match awards and has a whopping nine assists. He is also one of our best defenders. He wins 96% of his tackles, 81% of his headers and has two interceptions per game. A very good all around player. Right winger Jake Kirby is the top midfielder. He has scored five goals while adding five assists. He is one of the few players who I trust with making a risky pass to unlock the defense. As a result, he has one key pass per game. Matthew Warburton leads the team with 13 goals in 20 appearances. He is a volume shooter has he also leads the team with 3.56 shots per 90 minutes. Finances are not an issue for the club. We have made money every month even in the month where we only had three league games. I can't wait to see what the board will let me do with this money (expanded transfer/wage budget, improve facilities, allow me to take coaching courses). Making and having money is all well and good but what's more important at these lower levels is what I'm allowed to do with the money. Sorry for the small images. Not sure why I can't post full size images that you can read.
  14. At the end of the season, I lost a data analyst to a bigger club. I promoted my U21 data analyst into the senior side role. In my current season, I no longer receive analyst reports. I still have the same Chief Data Analyst. Where did my reports go? What do I have to do to get them back? Thanks
  15. keeper#1

    Difficulty of FM16

    My first season at Crewe Board Expectations: Battle Bravely Against Relegation Media Prediction: 24th in League One Result: 16th place