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Everything posted by DaneBramage

  1. October 2026 A lot of green here, I like the look of this. After the opening defeat our Europa League campaign is back on track with two wins, both with clean sheets too. We also had League Cup success with an easy win over League One Barnsley, where we got another clean sheet. Maxwell Jacob Friedman (21a) was between the sticks for all three of these games. In the league we hammered Newcastle, but lost by the only goal of the game to Chelsea. Our next league game was against the other member of the top two, Manchester United, but this time the single goal was in our favour. Bram Feys was a bit of a goal machine after joining last season, but he hadn't scored at all this year until the Bournemouth game. Unfortunately it was at the wrong end, and we finished the month with a draw. --------------------------------- We're still flying high in the league, but the four teams below us are within two points and include some stiff competition. In Europe it looks like there will be three teams competing for the two qualification spots, at the moment we're looking good to claim one of them. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Chelsea have climbed to the top, one point ahead of Manchester United. It's all very close at the bottom, with West Brom, Brentford, and Sheffield United currently occupying the relegation places. Elsewhere in England: The national team beat Austria easily before drawing with Turkey, scoring goals as far apart as possible (Marcus Rashford in the 1st and 96th minutes). Wardlow (21b) was again an unused substitute. ---------------------------------
  2. September 2026 Another of our AEW-named players left this month, as Darby Allin (23a) was sold to Everton for just under £5 million. I wanted to keep him and was on the verge of promoting him to the senior squad this season, but he was refusing to sign a new contract and was showing interest in any club that made an offer, so it was time to bite the bullet and get some cash for him now before his contract runs out next summer. --------------------------------- The international break meant our five games this month were crammed into just 13 days. We had to do plenty of rotating to keep players, and performances suffered due to this. The first-team were selected for the league games, and we started strongly with a 3-0 win over Sheffield United. But the next two games were both away, and we had similar struggles to last month. Things weren't as bad, we didn't lose both games, but we couldn't win either. That's four away league games without a win, so perhaps a change of sorts is needed to improve the situation. In the cups we played the second-string. The Europa League campaign began with a disappointing loss, but at last we won in the League Cup to make things look a little more positive. --------------------------------- Despite our away form being rocky at best, our home form is enough to put us in the top six at this early stage of the season. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Manchester United sit top of the league with a 100% record, already boasting a goal different of +24 mainly thanks to Troy Parrott (eight goals) and Marcus Rashford (seven). Sheffield United have just one point so far. Elsewhere in England: Quique Sanchez Flores started his spell as England manager with a win over Turkey, but suffered defeat to Germany in his second game in charge. Wardlow (21b) was called up for the first time, but was an unused substitute in both games. Marcus Rashford and Dele Alli both earned their 100th caps. ---------------------------------
  3. August 2026 A bit of a dodgy start to the season, as we pick up a pair of decent home wins, but can't manage a single goal, let alone a point, on the road. One encouraging sign though was Diego Moro bagging the winner on his debut. --------------------------------- I thought we'd be going into the Europe League during one of the preliminary rounds, but it turns out that we go straight into the group stage. As third seeds it looks like we've been given a bit of a tough group, with opponents from Germany, France, and the Netherlands. ---------------------------------
  4. Seeing this map each month always causes me to get a bit ahead of myself, and start thinking about where my next save should be. There's definitely a few big gaps that nobody's in at the moment that I've not tried before.
  5. June + July 2026 I received my second invitation for an interview, but wasn't offered the job by Tottenham. For some reason they thought Zinedine Zidane was a better option instead (15th best manager of all time, three Champions Leagues, one Serie A, one La Liga - okay, maybe they're right). Not that I'd have accepted it anyway. --------------------------------- We're now ranked as the 7th most reputable team in England, behind only the big six. We've made a big jump up to 34th in Europe, and 38th in the world. I believe facilities are now maxed out. Our bank balance has fallen after January's large transfer outlay, but is still in a very healthy state. --------------------------------- No real change in expectations as the board want us to finish top-half again, and to give a good go of it in the cups. I'd like to consolidate with another top six finish. The media have us finishing 7th, while the bookies have us at 8-1 for the title, and 30-1 to go down. --------------------------------- We sold a couple of players from the first-team squad who'd slipped out of contention, and it was time to cash in on them. Hopefully Chris Jericho (20a) will go on to have a good career in the Championship, the transfer fee received for him is the most we've got for any academy graduate. He's also the first of any of the AEW-named players to have left the club. --------------------------------- Just the one new signing as we added another wonderkid striker to our ranks, taking Diego Moro on a Bosman from Internazionale. He only got a few minutes on the pitch for Inter, but did score a few Serie A goals when on loan at Parma. --------------------------------- This is how my squad looks going into the new season. I'm happy with it, but we could strengthen our defensive ranks. The addition of Bram Feys (5.0 stars!) seems to have re-rated his counterparts down. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Tottenham sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer over the summer and replaced him with Zinedine Zidane. Chelsea got rid of Quique Setien and brought in Danny Buijs (one French Cup with Marseille). Mikel Arteta quit Arsenal to take the Spain job, and his vacant seat was filled by Roberto De Zerbi (fresh off of winning the World Cup with Italy). Elsewhere in England: England warmed up for World Cup 2026 with wins over Iran and Algeria, and got through the group stage easily with big wins over Tunisia and South Korea. But as soon as they hit the knockout stage the run was over, falling victim to Belgium in a 3-2 defeat. Gareth Southgate stood down from his role at the end of the tournament, and in a pretty uninspiring appointment, Quique Sanchez Flores was his replacement. Elsewhere in Europe: Some big name managers moved to Italy as Lazio (Diego Simeone), Internazionale (Thomas Tuchel), and Roma (Daniele De Rossi) all hired new gaffers. Likewise in France, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over at PSG, while Thierry Henry took the national job. Jose Mourinho's unemployment didn't last long, as he became the new Portugal boss. Manchester United, PSG, Barcelona (Callum Hudson-Odoi from Chelsea), and Chelsea (Michael Olise from Bayern Munich) all broke the £100 million mark on individual players. Harry Kane left PSG, joining Internazionale for £61 million. Elsewhere in the World: The World Cup was won on home soil by Italy, recovering from being 2-1 down to beating Germany 4-2 in the final. ---------------------------------
  6. May 2026 We gave Bournemouth a bit of a battering, but went in behind at the break when Danylo Sikan (as he always does) scored against us. We eventually made a break through though to earn a share of the points. Against Newcastle we again went down to a first-half goal, but the second-half fightback was even better this time as we secured the win. The final game of the season saw us visit Manchester City. We ensured their miserable year ended on a terrible note as we defeated them easily, with that man Bram Feys grabbing our final goal of the campaign. We had a big enough gap going into this last month that finishing at least 7th was almost a certainty, with an outside chance of climbing the table. Could we do it? Would we get a European place, or be cruelly denied again? --------------------------------- GET IN!!! While we were flying over the final nine games, Wolves were falling apart. We overtook them to finish in 6th place, the club's highest ever Premier League finish, and we beat our previous best points tally by nine. We also ended with the third best attack in the division. As it turned out Watford lost in the FA Cup final and Manchester City lost in the Europa League semis, so 7th would have been good enough for Conference League football next year. But sod that, we've gone one better. Off to the Europa League! --------------------------------- Goalkeepers: Maarten Vandervoort continues to be a safe pair of hands in goal, improving his goals conceded per game ratio from 1.38 last year to 1.20 this time. Maxwell Jacob Friedman (21a) did well when called upon, and will be used more next year with European football to take into account. Defenders: Let's cut straight to the main man, Bram Feys. What. A. Signing! Okay, for £72 million you expect quality, but he brought it in bucketloads. We won 10 out of 13 games that he played after joining in the winter transfer window, and a 7.91 average rating is incredible. And nine goals in 13 games from a centre-back! Whichever scout found him first deserves a big raise. Everyone else was pretty good for the most part too, as you can see from the smattering of average ratings in the green. Midfielders: I probably have one player too many here, as it was difficult to give everyone the playing time they need. But all of them have done well when they've been on the pitch, so I'm not looking to cut anyone, and again, more games from European football next season will help out here. Wingers: With the amount of wingers I've been through I think we can safely say it's my tactics, rather than the players themselves, that are likely the problem. I'm sure I'm not getting the most out of anyone. Nobody reached double figures for assists or goals, though with seven combined in 12 games Andrea Andorlini made a quick impression after his January arrival. Strikers: Wardlow (21b) was my first choice most of the year, but struggled and only just reached double figures. Pedro Sartori ended up as top scorer for a second time in three years. --------------------------------- Wardlow (21b) became our first academy graduate to reach a century of games, and is also running away at the top of the goals and assists charts. Maxwell Jacob Friedman (21a) was an able backup in goal, and Sammy Guevara (20b) saw some gametime at right-back. However, time is surely running out on Chris Jericho (20a)'s time at the club. He didn't play a single minute this season, and spent the second half of the year on loan at Huddersfield. Even there he barely got on the pitch and only made four appearances. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: There was a three-way tie at the top of the goalcharts, between Michael Usman (Tottenham), Troy Parrott (Manchester United), and Danylo Sikan (Bournemouth) all on 19. Paulo Dybala (Liverpool) was the top creator for a third year in a row with 14 assists. Lorenzo Pellegini (Arsenal) had the highest average rating at 7.47, while Tomas Barrionuevo (Manchester United) kept 19 clean sheets. Elsewhere in England: Marcus Rashford scored the only goal as Manchester United beat Watford 1-0 in the FA Cup final. Everton won the Championship and were promoted with Sheffield United and Brentford. QPR won League One, and Port Vale won League Two. Elsewhere in Europe: Milan won Serie A for the first time in 15 years. Cristiano Ronaldo left the dream team at Porto to become the AssMan at Real Madrid under Carlo Ancelotti instead. Lazio won the Europa League for the first time, then fired Jose Mourinho the next day (they'd finished 6th in Serie A). England Hall of Fame: After winning another league title and League Cup with Liverpool Pep Guardiola is now up to 4th in the rankings. Worldwide Hall of Fame: He's gone under the radar as it's not a name I recognise, but Jorge Jesus is now the 5th greatest manager of all time thanks to a lot of trophies with Flamengo over the last few years, including the last two Copa Libertadores. Marcello Gallardo has also climbed up to 9th after winning a few trophies with Corinthians. Zinedine Zidane only won the Portuguese Cup with Porto this year, but that was enough for him to rise to 15th. ---------------------------------
  7. April 2026 Great month. We started by hosting bottom-of-the-table Blackburn, and piled more misery on them with a 5-1 thrashing. Away at midtable Watford was a tougher task, but we had enough about us to take the win with the only goal of the game. Wolves were the only team we played this period who were above us in the table, and this was the only game where we dropped points. Igor Diveev missed a penalty and their keeper was MOTM making 11 saves, so this really was a game we should have won. We ended the month against Brighton, another team in the relegation area. We made a terrible start and went one down within two minutes, but on the cusp of halt-time we grabbed an equaliser. In the second-half there was only ever going to be one winner and we made it a comfortable victory. Pleasingly six of our nine goals this month came from our January signings, they have settled in very nicely. Bram Feys in particular has seven goals in his first ten games. --------------------------------- Barring a total collapse we're nailed on for 7th, and if any of the teams above us fall in to a rough patch of form we may even make the top six, although it is a long shot with just three games left. Annoyingly though, we may miss out on Europe again, with a near identical situation to last year. Manchester City are in the semi-finals of the Europa League, so fingers crossed Lyon can do us a favour. And the FA Cup final is Manchester United v Watford, so that's another potential obstacle in our way. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Liverpool have only picked up one win from their last two matches, but with a four point lead over Manchester United they'll likely hang on to win the title. Blackburn have had relegation confirmed, their local rivals Burnley will need a miracle to avoid joining them in the Championship next year, and the last spot will be taken by either Leeds or West Brom. ---------------------------------
  8. March 2026 The preview said this would be a mediocre batch, so at least I was prepared for this. Not much to shout about at all. They did beat the Under 18s 2-1 in the evaluation match though, so perhaps there is something there. The only player at 4.0 PA is tiny left-back John Silver (26a). New nationalities from Denmark and Montserrat. And Quewayne is a name I've never heard before. ---------------------------------
  9. March 2026 Our FA Cup run came to an end with a loss to Manchester United, and we then lost in the league a few days later to Tottenham. It looked like we were having trouble with the big six teams so I didn't expect much from the Liverpool match. We went 4-5-1 and crossed our fingers. And it worked. Liverpool had a lot more possession and a lot more shots, but we stood strong and when we had chances we took them. Igor Diveev stole the show with two goals, one a header at a corner and the other from the penalty spot. After a tough run of games we then had an easier task, taking on West Brom who were struggling down the end of the table. We gave them a whooping to put them in even more trouble. Andrea Andorlini scored his first goal for the club, but we seem to have a more surprising goal threat in Bram Feys. He's scored four times in his first six appearances from central defence. --------------------------------- I feel a bit like a broken record, but we're still 7th. A couple of teams have dropped out of contention, it looks like it's just between us and Newcastle to be best of the rest. You can see below that Manchester City are down in 11th. It's a shame that in the year they've been terrible Wolves have been really strong, and so we've been prevented from breaking into the top six. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Not much change at the top, as Liverpool still lead with four points and a game in hand over Arsenal and Wolves. Blackburn are as good as relegated, but any two of Leeds, Burnley, West Brom, West Ham, or Brighton could join them. Danylo Sikan is leading the goal charts with 18 for Bournemouth. Definitely gave up too early and should have given him a fairer crack here. Elsewhere in England: The national team won a couple of friendlies against Syria and New Zealand. ---------------------------------
  10. February 2026 I think I've been too cautious with spending money in this save. FM20 is the first game I've played much of since FM07, so I'm not used to how much transfers and wages have escalated. There've been a few transfers I've had agreed, then pulled the plug at the last minute rather than committing to huge amounts. That changed this month. I couldn't quite bring myself to do it, I sent Tony Khan to negotiate the deal, but we obliterated our record transfer fee to sign Bram Feys from Lyon. The elite Belgian already has 15 caps for his country, and over 160 appearances combined in the French and Belgian top tiers. I've wanted a centre-back for a while, and he looks like he should improve us immediately, as well as having tonnes of potential to grow into. Should be a key part of our defence for years to come. (The elite description is also new for me in FM20. I assumed it was the level before world-class, but then I saw an elite player referred to as a world-class player in a media story. So who knows?) Joining him was a couple of wonderkids, one for each wing. Paulo Cesar has been on my radar for a little while, and with the departure of Oussama Idrissi we needed a new left-winger. And while I was going through my scouted list I noticed Andrea Andorlini didn't have a very high estimated asking price, so I made a move for him too. Both men can also work on the opposite wings if they need to. They won't necessarily be first choices straight away, but should see plenty of time on the pitch over the second half of the season. And they both have winning mentalities with several trophies won for their previous clubs in the Brazilian and Italian Under 20 set-ups. --------------------------------- All three signings made their debuts in the FA Cup replay against Portsmouth. Paulo Cesar made an immediate impression with an early goal, but Bram Feys ensured a share of the headlines with a goal of his own in a MOTM appearance. To quote Sven Goran Eriksson "first half good, second half not so good". We beat Burnley mainly thanks to a cracking first half showing from Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa. He opened the scoring with an exquisite free-kick, then created two more goals for Wardlow (21b). And in the second half we did our best to throw it away, conceding twice from corners, but luckily held on for the win. Bram Feys grabbed his second goal in three games when we played Arsenal, but the star turn came from Pedro Sartori, coming off the bench to score a brace in a second 3-2 win in a row. After losing our first five games against Arsenal, we've now beaten them six times in the last eight encounters. Looks like we've replaced Sam Allardyce's Bolton as their bogey side. We ended the month with a fourth consecutive win, Lars Dose taking the plaudits after setting up both goals. --------------------------------- A good month has put us back into 7th place. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Liverpool have stuttered this month and not won any of their last three. They still have a game in hand, but are being closed down by Tottenham (three points behind) and Wolves (five points). Blackburn and Leeds remain in the bottom three, now joined by Burnley. Elsewhere in England: Liverpool won the League Cup for a tenth time, with a 2-1 win over Manchester United. ---------------------------------
  11. January 2026 We offloaded a couple of players who'd served us well at times over the years, but weren't getting much playing time these days. --------------------------------- We started January strong with a good win over Leeds, and a comfortable FA Cup win over Reading. It all went wrong after that though. We went to the 4-5-1 formation that had done us well so far against the big clubs, and we got torn apart by Manchester United. Big mistake, and we lost all momentum from there. We put in a good comeback against West Ham to recover from being 2-0 down, finding an equaliser deep into injury-time. And again we came from behind to get a point from Norwich. But three games without a win wasn't the best form to go into another FA Cup game with, and we struggled again. We had a lead over Portsmouth for most of the second-half, but conceded late on to condemn us to a replay next month. --------------------------------- One win, two draws, and one loss isn't the end of the world, but it's not particularly good either. The battle for 7th place seems to be becoming a four horse race, but I wouldn't count out Manchester City either. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Liverpool have built up a commanding ten point lead at the top. West Brom, Leeds, and Blackburn make up the bottom three. Elsewhere in Europe: Chelsea paid £102 million to bring in Kaio Jorge from Sevilla (18 goals in 50 La Liga games), while Arsenal spent more than £70 million on two players, including signing Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City. ---------------------------------
  12. December 2025 And apparently I'm the best person they could find to replace him. Turned them down of course. The point of this save is that it's a long-term job at Fulham, so I'm not looking to go anywhere else at the moment. Maybe one day once I've turned Fulham into a trophy-winning machine (or more likely that I get fired), but I'm not there yet. --------------------------------- We received a message this month saying the target of having the best youth set-up in the country was completed. Which makes the youth preview all the more disappointing. A mediocre group of players, so I'll be pinning my hopes on this Scottish right winger. --------------------------------- I'm fairly happy with these results, with one big exception. I was hoping for nine points from these games, thinking we'd get nothing from the big six sides but could beat the other three. I used my more defensive 5-3-2 line-up for the games against Liverpool, Tottenham, and Arsenal, and was very pleased with the four points we won from these games. In particular the 93rd minute winner against Arsenal sparked a big celebration. The normal 4-5-1 formation was used in the other games, and we beat Leicester comfortably. After Christmas we had two games in quick succession so we did a bit of rotating against Norwich. I still think our line-up was good enough to win this match, but maybe not. Two days later though we did much better and smashed Villa off the park. The defence had a cracking month, conceding just three times and keeping four clean sheets. At the other end of the pitch goals were more sparse though, excluding the Villa thrashing we only scored twice. Wardlow (21b) has just two goals in 18 league starts, I think it's time for him to sit out for a while and let Pedro Sartori have a go (eight goals in 10 starts (plus nine off the bench)). --------------------------------- We're still in 7th, but the gap between us and 6th place has grown a bit. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Liverpool are back in their usual position, top of the league. Tottenham sit four points behind. Leicester and West Brom are 18th and 19th, while Blackburn are starting to get cut adrift in 20th. Luis Enrique has been hired as manager at Manchester City (13th) but hasn't yet improved their fortunes. Chris Wilder replaced Thomas Frank at Burnley (16th), but Thomas Frank was only out of work for two weeks before replacing Michel at Leicester (18th). Quique Sanchez Flores was sacked by Brighton (14th). Elsewhere in England: Everton are ten points clear at the top of the Championship, Luton lead League One, and Port Vale are at the summit of League Two. Elsewhere in the World: Corinthians won the Brasileiro for a ninth time. ---------------------------------
  13. October + November 2025 On paper we had a series of matches where we should have picked up a lot of points, facing none of the big six and taking on all three of the newly promoted clubs. October started well with two wins, including a big hammering of West Ham (pun intended), but things then went sideways against Villa. We lost to the only goal of the game, but in reality they bossed us and we were lucky not to lose by more. Then we took on Watford and both of us will have come away annoyed at not winning. Twice they led, twice we equalised. We took the lead with 15 minutes to go, but conceded in the 92nd minute to share the points. And things only got worse against Wolves as we offered nothing, and got a deserved beating. Going into the international break I told the players they needed to get their acts together and perform much better. I put on a couple of friendlies against low level clubs to get some confidence back in the team, and the 11-0 and 12-0 wins we managed did the job. When we returned to league action we were up against the sides in 16th and 17th, and we beat them handily. I think the hat-trick from Pedro Sartori was our first since 2022. --------------------------------- We've risen up the table and found ourselves in the 7th place spot I'm aiming for, but we were helped by a kind fixture list. December will be tougher with ties against three of the big six. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: The hot starts for Bournemouth and Watford have fizzled out and they've slumped down the table. Normality hasn't quite resumed at the top though, as Tottenham have taken over at the head of the table. Liverpool are three points behind. Blackburn, Burnley, and Leeds make up the bottom three. Manchester City (12th) are really struggling, and Marcelino has paid for the poor results with his job. It was also time for a change at West Ham (15th), as Chris Wilder was relieved of his duties and replaced by Luis Castro (three league titles and two cup wins in six years at Shakhtar). Elsewhere in England: The national team secured qualification for the 2026 World Cup, but made hard work of it. Home wins were recorded against Slovakia and Kazakhstan, but they lost away to both Norway and Israel. John Terry's spell at Barnsley lasted just three months before he was fired with the side 21st in League One. ---------------------------------
  14. September 2025 Jeremie Charpentier has been in and around the first-team for a couple of years, without really breaking in. He's still only 20, so a year out on loan to get some more playing-time will do him good. Plus it opens up a registration spot for a new signing. --------------------------------- During a game at the end of August we had both senior keepers out injured, so I had to call up a player from the ressies. Afterwards I took a look at my scouted players list to see if there were any young goalkeepers I could bring in, and although the one I was interested in turned me down, while I was on the screen I noticed an outfield player that was transfer-listed. Lars Dose, 18 year old wonderkid, 5.0 star potential model citizen, available for less than £4 million. Yes please, take my money. --------------------------------- After the transfer window closed, Sky Sports News released a report showing the wage bills for each club in the division. At the top were the Manchester clubs and Liverpool, all spending over £5 million per week. Chelsea were a fraction behind them, before Tottenham and Arsenal rounded out the top six at around £3 million each. Ten more clubs followed before we showed up in 17th place, on £1.3 million per week. Only the three recently promoted clubs spend less on wages than us. --------------------------------- A mixed month here as I experimented with some tactical tinkering, with mixed results. The Good: In the two home games against the Manchester Clubs I went with a 5-3-2 formation, to pack plenty of players behind the ball but still retain some width to get the ball to the two players up top. This worked nicely as we nicked four points from the two games. The Bad: Against Newcastle we went back to my usual 4-5-1. We didn't perform anywhere near as well as we should and lost to a team that I'm sure we'll be battling with later in the season as we compete to be best of the rest. The Ugly: In the League Cup I went attacking 4-4-2 against Wolves, and it didn't pay-off. There were a few youngsters in the team and we got to full-time level before losing on penalties. That's on me, for some reason I thought they were a Championship club, when they're actually in the Premier League with us. --------------------------------- In the top-half, but only just. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Bournemouth's hot start continues as they sit top after seven games, with Watford just behind in 2nd. Blackburn, Brighton, and Burnley make up the bottom three. Anthony Martial is leading the way with 11 goals, and more than half of these came in one game as he scored seven times as Watford destroyed Burnley 8-0. Elsewhere in England: The national team got back to winning ways with World Cup qualifying victories over Kazakhstan and Israel. Harry Kane reached 100 caps, but has only scored twice in the last two years. ---------------------------------
  15. Thanks. I'm not sure I agree with that suggestion. I currently have two strikers listed as wonderkids, plus another who just lost that description after turning 21. So I think I'm sorted for strikers, bringing anyone else in will harm their progression. Pedro Sartori and Wardlow (21b) have been my top scorers in the last two seasons so there's goals in them, just a bit more consistency is needed. I see centre-back as the priority position. I could probably use another top quality player coming in now, and by next season we will probably be even more in need with Alfie Mawson a year older. There aren't really any immediate options pushing them in the reserves, with Roman Yershov permanently agitating for a move away and it's not looking like Gioacchino Cassone will make it either. Alfie McGonigle-Pearse (24b) has some potential, but is still a long way off at the moment. Though I must admit I didn't notice his potential was quite this high, it must have been re-judged at some point as if it had been this high when he came through he would have been renamed. Looking back at the 2024 intake it was only 3.5 stars at the time, so a decent jump since then.
  16. August 2025 There wasn't much transfer activity this month, though one player from the senior squad was sent out on loan for the season. Adonis spent half a year at Stuttgart last season which wasn't terribly successful (five goals in 20 games), so hopefully this will go better. After this deal was agreed he actually scored on the first day of the season which made me wonder if I should keep him, but decided to go ahead anyway as his status said he wanted to go on loan for more first-team football. --------------------------------- We haven't lost our opening day fixture once in my time here, and this run continued with a 2-1 win over Burnley. We left it late, but Adonis came on as sub and scored a lovely goal, dancing through the defence before slotting into the corner. We took the lead against Chelsea shortly after the break, but this only served to anger them and they scored three times in the next 20 minutes to put us back in our place. And this then turned into a mini-slump with a loss to Bournemouth as well, Danylo Sikan again scoring against us (three times in five games since we sold him). We then came up against one of our feeder clubs, Wycombe, in the League Cup. We beat them fairly easily with Gerard Poiret scoring on his debut, one of several reserves to get a run out, but after the game their boss decided to slag us off, saying we weren't as good as we thought we were. The link was terminated instantly, and I've made a note to recall the player we have out on loan there when we can in January. Back in the league we picked up another win with two goals in the opening 15 minutes setting us on our way. --------------------------------- For what it's worth, we sit in 11th place after four games. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Bournemouth are the only club with a 100% winning record after four games, while Blackburn have the opposite record of 100% losses. The early pacesetters in the goalscoring charts are Erling Haaland (Chelsea) and Harvey Barnes (Bournemouth) with six apiece. Elsewhere in the World: The USA beat Jamaica 1-0 in the Gold Cup final. ---------------------------------
  17. June + July 2025 Our reputation has taken a jump up to the next level, and we've risen to being the 9th most reputable club in England. We're also ranked 50th in Europe, and 56th in the world. --------------------------------- The board want us in the top-half again, and I'd be very disappointed if that didn't happen. The media predict that we'll finish 10th, and the bookies have us at 50-1 for the title. Also 14-1 to go down if you want to throw your money away. --------------------------------- Kieron Bowie was a pre-arranged transfer before I arrived. He'd spent the last five years out on loan at various League One and Championship clubs, so when Aberdeen offered £10 million I snatched their hands off. Josh Onomah never quite became an important player for me. I don't think he ever started more than half of our games in any season here. In my first few years he was still involved a fair amount, but last year that dropped massively so it was time to let him go. --------------------------------- Just the one signing. A wonderkid on a free transfer, lovely. Emiliano Bonetti was refusing to sign a new contract with Juventus so we jumped in to snatch him away. Instantly valued at £30 million with 5.0 star potential, absolute bargain. Had spent the last two years on loan at Perugia, playing 68 times to help get them promoted, then consolidated in Serie A with a midtable finish. --------------------------------- This is how our squad looks going into the new season. I'm not actively looking to sign anyone at the moment, but I can't rule out any last-minute action either. Another centre-back, possibly on loan, may be handy. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in England: The national team flopped in the knockout stages of the UEFA Nations League, losing in both the semi-final and third place game without scoring. Elsewhere in Europe: Four teams spent more than £100 million on individual players, including Chelsea buying Eduardo Camavinga from Barcelona for £117 million, who then used this to buy Kylian Mbappe from PSG for £137 million. The UEFA Nations League was won by Italy with a 2-0 win over France. Elsewhere in the World: The African Cup of Nations was won by Ivory Coast for a third time in a row after they beat Senegal 3-0. Benfica won the first version of the Club World Cup with its new expanded format, beating PSG 3-1 in the final. ---------------------------------
  18. May 2025 We started May with our game in hand, and wasted it with a disappointing loss. We then had two games in quick succession, so I opted to prioritise the midweek fixture and play the second string against Manchester City. We suffered the expected loss to City while Tottenham won their game to extend the gap to five points. My gamble paid off though, as the fresh first eleven scored twice in the second half to beat Watford. Tottenham lost, and going into the final game of the season we sat two points behind them. Spurs had the much tougher task, facing 2nd placed Manchester United. And their day started badly, going behind in just the fourth minute. Our trip to already relegated Sheffield United could have been a banana skin of a tie, but we navigated our way past them easily enough. Tottenham conceded another midway through the second half, and that was it. We'd overtaken them on the final day, and found ourselves back into the European Conference Lea... --------------------------------- ...oh balls. Balls balls balls. We've equalled our best ever Premier League finish and points tally, but due to a cruel twist of fate we've missed out on European qualification. As it turned out, Tottenham just happened to be in this season's Conference League final. One 3-0 win later for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, and they're back in Europe again next season. And we're not. Balls. --------------------------------- Goalkeepers: We conceded 11 goals fewer than last year, so there was a definite improvement between the sticks. Maarten Vandervoort only kept eight clean sheets though, so there's more to come. Maxwell Jacob Friedman (21a) is a more than capable backup, starting all of the cup games, and keeping a clean sheet in his one league appearance. Defenders: Steven Sessegnon shone at right-back, ending the season as our top creator with 14 assists, the highest amount that anyone has managed in a single season since we reached the Premier League. Lyanco and Igor Diveev continue to be solid in the centre of defence, but Alfie Mawson is perhaps showing signs of ageing. Daniel Raymond was a fine addition on loan, but Liverpool want ridiculous money so I don't think a permanent move will be happening. Midfielders: Ryan Gravenberch was the star man in midfield, as our record signing showed his class with the highest average rating, most MOTM awards, and was voted our player of the season. James Garner missed a lot of time through injury, and Josh Onomah's spell at the club is likely coming to an end with his contract up in the summer. Faustino Anjorin flattered to deceive, and I'm sure we're not getting the most out of whoever we use in the attacking midfield position. Wingers: As inconsistent as ever. Paolo Ghiglione, Takefusa Kubo, and Gianmarco Cangiano all had spells when they impressed, but would then go off the boil for a couple of months. Strikers: Wardlow (21b) had a breakthrough season, finishing the year as our first choice striker and our top scorer. He did well, but this was necessitated by how poorly Pedro Sartori and Adonis performed, who found themselves shifted out to the right-wing and on loan to Stuttgart respectively. --------------------------------- Without the early rounds of European competition to contend with there were less chances this year for academy graduates to get involved with first team action. Opportunities were then restricted further when I started using the Instant Result button on a regular basis rather than watching the games, and they suffered from the AssMan's reluctance to ever sub on younger players. So it was only really the four players in the senior squad who got much gametime this year. Wardlow (21b) impressed, finishing the season as top scorer. As a result of that he now has a lot more goals than any other academy graduate, as well as also having more assists and more MOTM awards. Maxwell Jacob Friedman (21a) is a good backup keeper and will surely one day be first choice, and he got 10 starts this year. Sammy Guevara (20b) also played a lot more than ever before, though I don't think he'll ever become a first choice right-back. Chris Jericho (20a) got plenty of gametime, but didn't impress. Just two assists in his career from nearly 100 games on the wing is nowhere near a big enough contribution, and he just isn't progressing. I think it might be time to give up on the idea of him ever becoming an important player for us. I'll keep him around as a backup option for now, but if an offer comes in I think it might be best to let him go and play somewhere more his level. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Juan Hernandez of Leicester was the season's top scorer with 19 goals, while Paolo Dybala managed the same number of assists for Liverpool. Also at Liverpool, Alisson far outperformed every other goalkeeper in the division with 25 clean sheets. Everton were relegated for the first time in 70 years. Elsewhere in England: Blackburn won the Championship, and Leeds and West Brom were promoted with them. Charlton won League One, and Doncaster won League Two. Chelsea won the FA Cup on penalties, after a 1-1 draw with Manchester City. Elsewhere in Europe: England Hall of Fame: With another Premier League title for him and Liverpool, Pep Guardiola has jumped from 8th to 5th, above Jose Mourinho, Kenny Dalglish, and Matt Busby. ---------------------------------
  19. April 2025 Our good run of form came to a halt as we struggled in April and went four games without a win. Most frustrating is the fact that lots of this damage was self-inflicted. We should have beaten Newcastle, but Igor Diveev missed a 77th minute penalty. The game against Brighton was goalless until Alfie Mawson got sent off in the 50th minute, and they then scored from the resulting free-kick. We were one-nil down but still looking strong against Manchester City, until Samir Benrabah was dismissed on the stroke of half-time and ruined any chance of us getting back into the game. That was also the end of our FA Cup run. At least there was a silver lining at the end of the month as we fought back from a goal down to beat Manchester United. Wardlow (21b) reached double figures for league goals in the process. --------------------------------- We've dropped behind Tottenham but we're still in the fight with them for 7th place, and we do have a game in hand. Our final four matches are away at Norwich (13th) and Sheffield United (19th), and home against Manchester City (6th) and Watford (18th). --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: With just three games left Liverpool now lead by eight points and will almost certainly win the title for a fifth time in six years. Sunderland are relegated, barring a miracle Sheffield United will be joining them, and it will probably be one of Watford or Everton also going down. Elsewhere in England: The national team beat Norway 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier. ---------------------------------
  20. March 2025 Yeah, this is a bit rubbish. The preview gave away that there was nothing to be excited by, and it wasn't wrong. On the plus side we've had players arrive from two new nations, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. ---------------------------------
  21. March 2025 The month started with a bit of a stutter, as we conceded in the 89th minute and then the 96th minute to drop two points. Our ex-striker Danylo Sikan was of course one of Bournemouth's scorers. Another familiar face came back to haunt us against Leicester, as Aleksandar Mitrovic opened the scoring from the spot. But we got the last laugh as we blew them away in the second half to claim the win. Against Aston Villa we again conceded while leading, but this time we held on for the win. And we reached the FA Cup semi final for a first time after a rotated side beat Tottenham. For a third game in a row we scored a penalty. --------------------------------- We've put ourselves into a good position to make it back in to Europe, just got to keep this consistency going and make the most of our game in hand. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Both Liverpool and Manchester United had perfect months, so the Scousers stay five points ahead. There's no change to the bottom three. Elsewhere in England: Chelsea won the League Cup for an eighth time, with a 2-0 win over Arsenal. The national team beat Slovakia in a World Cup 2026 qualifier. ---------------------------------
  22. February 2025 Another good month. We won the two league games we should have won, before the expected loss against Liverpool. We had 32 shots against Arsenal, so not getting anything from that game would have been a travesty. We trailed for more than an hour before Igor Diveev got ahead of his marker to score at a corner. The game went to penalties and we were flawless from the spot. This puts us through to the quarter-finals for just the second time. --------------------------------- We stay on the outskirts on the European places. Let's hope Tottenham's poor form continues and this'll give us an opportunity to overtake them. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Liverpool have increased their lead at the top and Manchester United now sit five points behind. Watford and Sheffield United are still battling to stay up, but with no wins in the last 16 games Sunderland should probably start preparing for a return to the Championship. ---------------------------------
  23. January 2025 I often find that young players who are already at a club when I join struggle. They're overlooked at first because I use the senior players, then a couple of years in when they should be ready for more gametime, I already have 'my' academy prospects coming through and taking priority. And so it was with Fabio Carvalho, who had plenty of potential and probably could have become a fine footballer, but he was always on the outskirts of my first-team squad and didn't really get a fair shake because of the emergence of Chris Jericho (20a). After just one goal in nine games Adonis has somehow seen his description rise and be considered a wonderkid. I've shipped him off on loan for the rest of the season anyway in the hope that he can find his shooting boots in Germany. He's scored twice in his first three games for Stuttgart, so let's hope he can keep it up. --------------------------------- The deal for Edgar Gomez was agreed a while back but we had to wait until he turned 18 before he could move to Europe. At just £1 million he's cheap as chips and has tonnes of potential. Had already racked up over 50 senior appearances for Millionarios. --------------------------------- We're still going strong in the FA Cup, even if the habit of conceding two goals per game is a bit of a dodgy one. Wardlow (21b) continued to stake his claim for more gametime with three more goals. In the league we won two more games, including a bigtime upset over Chelsea. Unfortunately we then came unstuck in what should have been a more winnable against Burnley. --------------------------------- No change in position from last month, but the gap to the European places has grown by an additional point. And I think we can rule out relegation now. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Both Manchester United and Liverpool are still unbeaten after 24 games, but with two more wins Liverpool lead by four points. Norwich have gone nine league games without a win and have joined Sheffield United and Southampton in the dangerzone. This was enough for Slaven Bilic to be given the boot, to be replaced by Steven Gerrard. Elsewhere in England: Southampton lead the Championship, but are now managerless after Steven Gerrard's resignation. Peterborough top League One, Doncaster top League Two. Elsewhere in Europe: The second biggest transfer of the last six years has taken place, Liverpool signing Ansu Fati from Barcelona for £143 million. ---------------------------------
  24. December 2024 Oh dear. --------------------------------- The improved form continued as we picked up four league wins in December. Putting four past Villa was especially pleasing due to them having our ex-keeper Dani Martin in goal. Admittedly conceding three doesn't make our current goalie look much better, but at least the player I kicked out did worse. We ran into problems when taking on members of the top six though. Manchester United knocked us out of the League Cup, while Liverpool and Tottenham both beat us in the league. On the plus side, we weren't thrashed in any of these games and all of them were lost by just the one goal. --------------------------------- We've recovered from our dodgy spell and climbed up into the top-half, but a little gap has opened up between us and the teams in the European places. --------------------------------- Elsewhere in the Premier League: Manchester United drew three games during December and slipped to five points behind Liverpool, but they do still have a game in hand. Gennaro Gattuso was sacked by Watford (17th) and replaced by Rudi Garcia. Antonio Conte was given the boot by Leicester (18th) after just two wins from 19 games. Elsewhere in the World: Gremio won their third Brasileiro. ---------------------------------
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