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This is my first time of writing about the game/series which has consumed so many days (and nights) of my life so far. Having started playing CM2 at 7 years old, I was hooked and must have played thousands of hours on that version alone, as I was still playing it when I was 21! I bought all the Championship Manager games that followed but growing up without internet meant I was oblivious to the split and the creation of Football Manager. That was until a discussion at college where my friends told me that Football Manager was the one to be playing now so on the way home I bought FM08. Thanks to those friends, I have spent over 1000 hours on pretty much every version since then. Where does Braintree fit into this, especially as a Sheffield United fan? Well, I fancied starting at the bottom in England and working my way up and my way of picking my team was to choose the best name. Braintree fitted the bill on FM08 and I started with them. I learnt as much as I could about them from Google and began my save game. Many hours later, I had successfully taken Braintree Town from the Conference South to the Premiership, narrowly missing out on the title (finished second to Arsenal) just as the next iteration of FM was released and that save game was lost to the archives of time. I did, in typical Football Manager obsessed fashion, write to the club and got myself the home and away shirts (I think they thought I was crazy!) I have followed Braintree's results in real life ever since, from their promotion from the Conference South, to the playoff heartbreak a year ago under the Cowley brothers and then the disappointment of relegation from the Conference last season. I've been looking for a way to get me back into FM this year, after my main save has grown stale. I am going to try and repeat (and better) what I achieved on FM08 by getting Braintree promoted all the way to the Premiership. For added realism, I have simmed the first season and made sure Braintree were relegated so that, just like in real life, I will be starting in the Conference South. Please note, this will all be done on FM Touch on the iPad as I don't have the time available any more to play the full fat version of FM. So without further ado, meet the new manager of Braintree Town: With just Sunday League experience to my name, I have taken over following the final game of season 1, the team having been relegated to the Conference South. When I start a save game, I like to control everything from top down to start with to make sure my blueprint for long term saves is implemented immediately. This meant removing all the staff, as none were particularly good compared to what I could bring in on frees. With a new team of staff in place, I needed to assess the playing staff. The squad is looking quite thin on the ground and lacking quality in key positions. Lots of players are out of contract this summer. I have signed up a couple of them to new deals but set the majority for release, due to them either being not good enough in my eyes or wanting far too much money for the level we are at. I then scoured the free transfer market for anybody that would improve the squad, particularly the key positions we are desperately short in (GK, DC and AMC). I will be using a strikerless tactic that I was using on my main save this year – a risk for this level, yes, but I want to start as I mean to go on. I am therefore looking for technical players above anyone else and furiously hoping that I'm not setting myself up to fail right from the start. Before I even had chance to begin my purchasing exercise, Rotherham enquired about one of the midfielders already at the club. Rated as 4 stars and with the potential to be a good league 1 player, he was considered a talent. Valued at 22k, I managed to negotiate the fee upwards of 200k. A massive amount for this level and enough to help me strengthen my team going forward, far more than I could have done without this money. A few hours of trawling through all the released youth players, the player search and the scout reports I had available, and I am pleased with the squad I have been able to assemble. I have a good blend of young players and experienced heads, with a squad that should be far better than most if not all the opponents in the division, on paper. The season preview has us as 9/4 favourites to win the league and the media's ideal team has 9 Braintree players in it going into the season. This makes me think I've done well recruitment wise. The board's expectations for the season seem reasonable. I will be aiming to win the league and try and get as far in the cups as possible as any prize money will be a big boost to the club. I was approached by 4 big teams wanting to play friendlies against us. Normally I like to play smaller teams to boost confidence but a combination of gate receipts plus the challenge of playing these better teams was too good to turn down. My theory being that if we can compete in these games, we should have no issues in the league. The first game of my tenure was at home to Southend, our parent club. A pleasing performance and an excellent result to start things off. I never read too much into friendlies but it gives me confidence that we are heading in the right direction already. The remaining friendlies are against Burnley, Norwich and Forest. I will be updating as I go along, hopefully I will achieve the aim of reaching the Premiership. And hopefully someone might enjoy reading my first attempt at writing!