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FM14: The Sky Bet Football League Thread - Sponsored by William Hill


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Aye lads, recommend me some players that would be indispensable to any Championship team.

I try to avoid signing the random Mexicans that some players like to go for, I'd rather sign league one/Scottish players who're realistic signings in real life.


Paddy Madden

Iain Vigurs

Ed Upson

Harlee Dean

Salif Diao (wants £300pw and he's a reasonable scout)

Korey Smith

Tom Hateley

Danny Green (on loan)

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Nice going MC. To be honest I have never heard of him but hopefully he will perform for you during the remaining period...

I've also reached the summit in L2 with Portsmouth (November 2013) and I'm very pleased with our league form and style of play so far. The current record is PL16, W11, D3, L2, GF24, GA10, PTS36. For your information, Plymouth are 24th with just 9 points so far, although they did hold us to a 1-1 draw at Home Park in front of the TV cameras.

Less successful was our form in the cups - COC exit in Round 1 to Millwall via a penalty in extra time, JPT exit in Round 1 to Oxford on penalties 9-8 when we made the first miss with the 17th kick and they scored the 18th, and most recently FAC exit in Round 1 by a solitary goal to Grimsby at Blundell (blunder?) Park!

In fairness, I think taking Argyle to the top is a harder task than mine, so you must be very pleased. I'm sure that you wouldn't swap our debt with yours though, or wish for our current monthly losses of £450k - something that (thanks to loan repayments) is set to continue at the same rate for some time despite my best endeavours.

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Cheers Jogo, he's definitely an upgrade on who I had before and it means I now have two decent defensive MCs for when I play better teams or need to shut up shop.

Looking good in your save - I like the defensive record especially. I've always preferred keeping things tight rather than play attacking football (something I'm trying on this save actually), so I can appreciate someone keeping a mean defence.

Ouch with that debt. How long do the repayments last? I guess I'm lucky that my repayments only total about 100k per month. Thanks to some bigger crowds and me streamlining the squad a little, we've actually made profit in the last two months!

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The other defensive CM being Hourihane?

I'm like you, I always strive for a solid defence (that's why I disliked the previous patch so much, way too many goals from both sides). I think it's more down to player quality than anything this time, I use standard/rigid and team instruction of 'mark tighter' but don't use any other instructions or any in-game shouts, whether trailing or leading. To be able to hold out for wins and clean-sheets despite not specifically going more defensive is surprising even me, to be honest. Interestingly, our GF column was vastly improved in my last outing, a 4-0 win at AFC Wimbledon, the first time we scored more than two in any game so far.

Our average home league attendance, as you would expect, is very nice (15,794) but the debts as you can see below are set to continue for years! In my test save at Shrewsbury, I was amazed to make a massive profit in my 1.5 seasons, so am sure that gives you great satisfaction! Anyway, laugh at these loans (I suffered it with Coventry in FM13 so it's good practice for my future CCFC save in FM14). Pay-Up Pompey, Pompey Pay-Up...


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Aye Hourihane is the other. I mean, it's not like he's a defensive beast, but at least he has tackling above 11.

Those loans aren't quite as horrifying as I imagined they might have been, although the £119k p/m for 5 years is going to be a sod. At least a couple of them will be gone by the summer, though Feb - April 2014 are going to be rough months!

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I understand what you mean about Hourihane. I have Simon Ferry as my CM (defend) in a flat 442, and his tackling is only 12, marking 8, strength 10, aggression 11 - hardly a hardnut for L2 level but he does have passing 14 and does a reasonable job alongside the even less destructive Jed Wallace.

Yeah, the finances are just something to ride out, not much I can do except be sensible with my transfers and wages. At least our sponsors are Jobsite, something that may be handy for me if I don't get this season 1 promotion!

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If anyone wants a challenge, I'd recommend Colchester. Great youth facilities, good training facilities, some decent youth players but the first team is pretty rubbish for the most part. Team Comparison page is pretty depressing, to say the least.

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Just finished the first season with Yeovil. Unfortunately, I lost in the playoff final to Reading 3-2 in extra time.

Yeovil's team isn't as bad as 24th suggests, it has some quality players such as Kevin Dawson, Ed Upson, Marek Stech and Paddy Madden. However, it certainly has its weaknesses. Firstly, the crux of their defence is Alan Tate and Liam Fontaine, players who are on loan and leave in January. Likewise, Yeovil have no proper wingers, the ones that they have are quite poor. Finally, they only have one championship-quality striker, Paddy Madden. Michael Ngoo, on loan from Liverpool, is handy, but he doesn't have the sufficient quality to threaten, whilst the backup, James Hayter, is 34 and, well, crap.

Also, Yeovil have used the majority of their permitted loans for the season, meaning you have to decide carefully where to strengthen.

Anyway, I sold Ed Upson to Reading for £1.1m. This allowed me to sign Danny Green, a RM from Charlton, for the season. Also, I signed Keith Tracey, a LM from Burnley, for three months. Finally, I added to the team with Papa Bouba Diop and Keith Fahey on free transfers. In January, both Tate and Fontaine left, meaning I had no real quality at the back. This forced me to sign Jake Buxton on loan for three months. However, what really pushed me was the fact that I spent heavily on Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro (220k,3.8k pw), Lassad (free transfer, 5k pw) and Geovanni (free transfer, 5k pw).

Anyway, Buxton was pretty good for the three months he was here, making a few errors, but generally solid. Geovanni was poor, hence I won't be extending his contract. Diop, despite being 36, has earned another year in my eyes as he was brilliant in holding the line whilst my B2B midfielders, Fahey and the young Kevin Dawson, pushed up.

Madden was deadly, scoring 28 in 40. Akpa-Akpro managed 13 in 20, whilst Lassad scored 12 in 15.

My team, at the end of the year was:

Marek Stech (GKd)

Luke Ayling (RBs) - Danny Seaborne (CBd) - Byron Webster CBd) - Jamie McAllister (LBd)

Danny Green (WMa) - Papa Boup Diop (CMd) - Keith Fahey (B2B) - Sam Foley (WMs)

Paddy Madden (F9s) - Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro (AFa)

The board has allowed me 2m to spend, with an increased wage budget of 69k from the previous 50k. I've agreed a deal with Charlton to sign Danny Green permanently. After this, I'm looking for two CBs, a LB, a LM, a CM to enforce the first team.

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Thought I'd give a update on my save with Plymouth having just finished the second season


Finished the season in a surprising third place and earned promotion, played an attacking 442 with Gary Martin signed from KR for £44k scoring 25 goals in 44 league games. Ended by pairing him with Tyler Harvey who added 11 goals despite having Ruban Ried and Rowan Vine (£0). Other start signings were Frankie Sutherland on loan from QPR AND Darby and De Vitta on loan from Bradford


Saw a big clear out of players and more brought in on free transfers and loans - trying to improve the quality of the squad with an inability to pay decent wages proved a real struggle, however Martin Wood from Brentford Luisma Villa and Yado Mambo were key players, but the stand out signing was the loan of Ahmad Benlia from Brescia in midfield. Once again Gray Martin lead the way with 26 league goals and 17 from Tyler Harvey with Rowan Vine adding 12. Ended up in 12th place, just lacing that quality to kick onto the play offs

Best 11 - highlights Martin and Harvey partnership Martine scoring 54 goals in 92 games and Harvey 31 in 82

Luke Young, Connor Hourihane and Curtis Nelson have been other standout players over the 2 seasons

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Unlucky Michael, good luck in season 2. Congrats libertine for an early promotion and a solid first season in L1.

I'm about to enter January 2014 with Portsmouth, a couple of points clear at the top of League 2 thanks mainly to an excellent defensive record which earned me a 'park the bus' achievement for six successive clean sheets. The current record so far is PL23, W14, D6, L3, GF28, GA13, PTS48 - screenies and more details have been added in the specific Portsmouth thread.

Transfer strategy and plans for progress

It's always exciting to reach a transfer window. With finances tight, and the reputation of League 2 being restrictive in who I can bring in to the club, it's going to be interesting to see who I can attract. I'm looking for highly regarded young players with the potential to grow at the pace we need to, or others in their prime years that are somewhat under the radar.

Anybody joining should be an immediate improvement on what we already have - an instant contribution will be expected. They will also need to convince me they are capable of developing at the same pace as the club, that's crucial as I continue to re-build Portsmouth. These players can be loans, out of contract, free transfers or Bosmans, or can be available for cut-price fees. But they must all add something to the cause - cover players and squad-fillers are not the order of the day right now. If this mission is successful (not just in this window, but again in the summer) this will allow me to phase out the older heads or limited talents we have in the squad.

I have already used six of my eight loan slots in August, bringing in Neil Etheridge (Fulham), Anthony O'Connor (Blackburn), Aaron Martin (Southampton), Danny Green (Charlton) and Cauley Woodrow (Fulham) on non-contributory season-long loans. I also completed a short-term loan for Joe Partington earlier in the season as I wanted to take a quick look at the ex-Pompey youth player and club-supporting midfielder.

With only five loanees available for a matchday squad, and knowing that this quintet are regular starters when fit and available, I don't want to waste any remaining slots on players that will cause me selection issues of the negative sort. I don't want quality loanees or their parent clubs complaining of a lack of playing time, so I approach the window with this in mind. There is no longer a loophole (thanks Watford) where overseas loans do not count against your entitlement, so this avenue which was useful to clubs like ours is no longer an option.

I'd already tried and failed to sign a few players on permanent deals before this window approached, but work permits were refused for three strikers who had agreed to join for free: Sebastian Saez (Audax Italiano), Emmanuel Baffour (Mamelodi Sundowns), and Ibrahima Drame (a promising youngster from the ASPIRE Academy).

I've been very active in the African market, as players from the motherland played a big part in the success of the club a few years back, and in particular I would love to sign 'the new Yakubu'. Unfortunately, much patience is required in this sector as you try to beat the WP and league reputation issues, but my shortlist is packed full of African candidates that I identified myself. I'm also looking at other areas that have produced good Pompey players in recent years, like Israel (Ben-Haim isn't the sole reason here, because Yakubu was found there back in the day) and Croatia (thinking back to Prosinecki and Kranjcar). France, for players with French-African connections, and Holland (for similar types), both also come in to my thinking here, although France might be too easy so I haven't looked there yet.

Speaking of Holland, my first winter deal is on the horizon, and it's a Dutch-Congolese striker by the name of Patrick N'Koyi. He hasn't ever made it to the Eredivisie, but has a fairly decent record in the 2nd tier (Jupiler League) with 37 goals in 99 league real-life appearances at that level. The 23-year old has agreed to join on a Bosman deal at the end of the first season and has strong stats (he isn't Yakubu, but this is League 2) across the board that suggest he could be a useful addition. Assuming I complete the deal, I could pay a nominal fee to bring him in early, but I think whilst I have Woodrow, Harris, Agyemang and Connolly, it wouldn't be necessary to do so. Part of the attraction towards N'Koyi is the memory of how well a similar type of player did for me at Coventry in FM13 - but for now, Glynor Plet remains a pipe dream!

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Like the other Argyle save people seem to be managing, I've got Plymouth promoted in the first season. There's still two games to go so I'll post some screenies after the season is complete. It's been squeaky-bum-time right at the end though; we were sailing along top of the league from November onwards and were unbeaten and often dominating games, until we had a couple of poor draws against teams in the bottom half and then the wheels kind of fell off. We were still pretty solid at the back, but the team just forgot how to score (my three main strikers failed to score in 7 games straight for instance). Luckily, just in time, we faced freshly relegated Wimbledon, put 6 past them and restored our mojo.

Cheltenham have managed to overhaul us at the top though and we are now second with 2 games remaining, one point behind the Robins.

I made one additional signing in the January window bringing in veteran Argentine LB Diego Placente as I'd moved Grant Basey to a covering CB and I felt that Purrington is still too young for first team football every week.

We had, I think, a fantastic youth intake. I say "I think", because I'm wondering if it's just that the squad is generally poor, so the youth appear better than they actually are! I've got a screenshot saved somewhere, but I think there were 3 with 4 1/2 star potential, 3 with 4 star potential and another 3 with 3 1/2 star. I also got the board to agree to a £400k upgrade to our training facilities - hopefully the first of many once the loans start to clear.

I've still been using my hard pressing 442 system, but I think I'm going to have to move away from it for the following season. It's great against 442s, but I'm starting to find that teams are using 4231 or 451s against me and they are just swamping us at times. I want to keep 2 strikers though, so I may be moving to a 532 or even 4132 - I'll be spending my lunchbreak today trying to find a nice looking system - and my summer transfers will be based on that.

@libertine: A good couple of seasons there. I think a consolidation season in L1 is probably a good thing? What transfer/wage budget did you get for season 2?

@Jogo: Cracking update Sir, love the detail. I presume you have African players loaded specifically? I'm hoping that promotion will bump our reputation enough that we'll be able to bring in some Premier league loans much like you have. More kudos on the cracking defence too. Apologies if you've mentioned it higher up, but what formation are you using?

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I received something like 60k so whacked it onto wages and brought in some free players and loans.

Third season and second in league one lead to promotion via the playoffs after being 3 nil down at half time. Gary Martin again with 27 goals was outstanding, I made the mistake of trying to replace Harvey but he came back strong reaching 20 goals in all comps I also brought into David Coles as my Ass man and a few ex internationals as coaches. I normally would not sign over the hill pros but Hugo Viana was a beast for me in midfield.

Just started in the Championship, has raided Sporting B for some class regens, and humped out a load of players who provided great service but no longer required. Only Luke Young, Curtis Nelson and Tyler Harvey remain - but Gray Martin and Mambo still remain from season 1 amazing reallly, Martin is still scoring freely in the Championship

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Nice work! Did the board increase your wage budget too?

I've found Harvey so effective as a F9 and his attributes are rising nicely, so I'm going to try and persevere with him for as long as possible, ditto Nelson and Young (even if only for his free kicks). I can see I'm going to have to check out Gary Martin too!

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Great work on the promotions, Argylians! I'm pleased to see Martin is still on fire, as with FM13 he can light up the lower leagues with that rather generous 'finishing' stat! Good to see the likes of Young, Harvey and Nelson progressing well too.

MeesterCat, thanks for the kind words - I'm trying to match your detail! Yes, I have all Africans loaded up and a reasonable knowledge of who I want to sign, but it's really hard to get them at this level because of the WP situations. If they have caps, they are usually too good for L2, but I'm hopeful I will get a few in at some stage. Until then I may have to compromise slightly on the dual-nationality types like N'Koyi. I've also been active in Israel and have agreed terms with Eyal Golasa for a summer move on a Bosman deal, but Wisla are also now interested in him. This transfer would be a major coup for us, but I'm not optimistic we will get our man, as I still feel sure he will get a better offer.

I'm still playing a standard 442 with just the one instruction, which is for the team to 'mark tighter'. My GK and back-four are all on defend duties, except my DR (O'Connor) who is on support duty. My flat midfield has two wide midfielders with the right on support (Green) and the left on attack (Barcham). Centrally I use my right-sided CM on auto (Wallace) and my left-sided CM on defend duty (Ferry). My strikers are a combination of supporting F9 on the right (Harris) and an AF attacking on the left (Woodrow/Agyemang).

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I do get carried away with detail, you're right! I'd post in the careers forum, but I don't think I progress fast enough to keep people interested.

It sounds like you play an almost identical formation to me except I use a DLP-D and I have a couple more team instructions. Good luck with Golasa - that would be a quality signing especially at L2 level. I seem to remember in previous FMs that he was a stroppy git though?

A small update from me as I was able to finish the season and a little bit of the close season last night. We had a thrilling end to the season. With one game to go, three clubs had gained automatic promotion: us, Portsmouth and Cheltenham (this pleases me as I'm Plymouth, my wife supports Portsmouth and we live in Cheltenham). All three clubs were on 87 points, with us being top on goal difference. Our last game, just like real life, was at Fratton Park.

Title Decider!

Luckily, Pompey played a 442 and we eat those for breakfast :D Basically we steamrollered them 3-0. Boesso and Harvey were unplayable most of the game, Hourihane back from injury provided the creativity from midfield that had been lacking. Even Purrington, who to be fair plays better than his ratings often suggest, got a 7.5. It was a great way to end the season.

I've been half-heartedly identifying transfer targets as I had a feeling that better players would become available once our reputation increased, with this in mind I've not made any moves yet. My main striker target is James Keatings from Hamilton but he is out with a broken leg. His club released him though, so that may be a silver lining.

Financially we're doing ok, I think. Our sponsorship jumped from £183k per annum to just over £1mil, so that should pay for the loans for the year. Our wages are under control and I'm not going to be going crazy. The board have set an initial transfer budget of £195k, but I'll probably use most of that for wages or loan fees.

I just still need to decide what formation I want to use, so I can start strengthening the squad.

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MC, I love the detail, it's what makes this thread what it is.

What a fantastic end to the season, with those three clubs all having a relevance to you! I can't say I'm impressed by Pompey collapsing like that against you, the tea cups would have been flying if I was managing them to a 3-0 home defeat, given my fondness for defensive frugality! Anyway, fair play to you for that great victory and congratulations on the title. Good luck with your pre-season planning, and that's really encouraging to see how much your sponsorships have risen. You should have a competitive budget for a solid season.

I'm in to February now, and whilst the clean-sheets have reduced, our form is still pretty good. After 30 games we are top with 64 points, Chesterfield are second with 54, followed by Northampton on 53. Hartlepool are fourth on 50, so we have a healthy 14 point cushion to the play-off spots.

Less satisfactory was the January transfer window. Patrick N'Koyi will join on a Bosman in July, and Jamie Vardy arrived from Leicester on deadline day in a loan deal to the end of the season. But I was rocked by the refusal of work permits for Eyal Golasa (yes, he was actually going to join), Patrick Okiaso, and Alexis Yougouda. I also tried to land Craig Goodwin from Newcastle Jets, but he will instead join Barnsley in the summer.

I'm confident the squad is plenty good enough to secure promotion, although acutely aware that my goalkeeper (Etheridge) and two of our first-choice defenders (O'Connor and Martin) are loanees. I'll be looking to see if I can extend the loans on all three, or preferably try to sign them permanently at the end of the season.

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Good work Jogo, shame about the work permit problems.

I see Chesterfield are semi snapping at your heels. They were quite a tough team in my save, then they got Jason Scotland in on loan in January and became beastly. There is another side which plays a very unconventional formation that are tough to beat. Possibly Dag & Red? It's a kind of 4123 with three central strikers.

Good luck with the remaining games (and your youth intake).

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I'm going to start doing updates like yours, I hate my small ones, it makes me look so much inferior. :(

Anyway, I'm at the January stage in season two. Fourth in the table. At the start of the season, I opted for the 'avoid relegation' target which gave me a £2.2m transfer budget and a hefty wage budget, although I've forgot what it was. More importantly, my excellent chairman signed a deal which meant that Liverpool would become my feeder club. As such, they've loaned me Tiago Illori, Sebestian Coates, John Flanagan, Brad Jones and Suso.

I've spent a record 1.4m on Luke Murphy, the Leeds midfielder. Murphy was joined by another Leeds player, Paul Green, who is capable capable of playing in 7 positions, on a free transfer. I signed Keith Tracey, the player who I had on loan last season, on a free transfer. Finally, the 36yo Clint Hill joined, supporting a pretty good defense. Anyway, my team is as follows:


Ayling - Coates - Illori - Flanagan

Danny Green - Luke Murphy - Keith Fahey - Keith Tracey

Paddy Madden - Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro

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Cheers MC, I think it's in my own hands, but it's good to have some pressure and challengers pushing me to keep it interesting. I'm pretty pleased with my squad, and hopefully won't need to do too much with the team next season. What I can do with my loanees will dicate that but hopefully it will be a term of consolidation in League 1 - not that I want to tempt fate.

MB, there should be no inferiority complex here. If it's a good read, short or long, it's cool. Excellent progress in season 2, and some great loans there. You're definitely getting the most out of that partnership with Liverpool. Interesting that after 1.5 seasons only three of your starting X1 are 'originals'. Now that is something I won't be able to match!

Off topic (apologies), I'm having some battery issues with my laptop. It's not charging which - given the number of powercuts for days on end here - is a bit challenging. Strangely, I can maintain battery capacity as it is, if I leave it plugged in to power and 'on-charge', but it's not going up at all. Dell are, so far, unresponsive to my warranty claim. At times like this I miss Bahrain, and even UK :(

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Just fiished my first season in the Championship, missed out on the playoffs by 1 goal, level with Leeds on 74 points. I scored 103 goals, but conceded 89! This happened when I jumped up to League 1 too, I refuse to change my tactics, second seasons seem to settle it down quite a lot.

MC STICK WITH HARVEY. I had my doubts, could Martin and Harvey cope with the Championship, boy could they! Tyler Harvey av rate 7.40 from 50 games scoring 34 goals and providing 11 assists and Gary Martin banged in 25 in 47 games with 18 assists and rating 7.30.

Of the existing players I signed, Ben Williams and Gregor Zabret shared the keeping duties both on free transfers Williams being 34 seemed to be perfect to bring on young Zabret. I paid 44k for Edger Le from FCP B who struggled with injuries but stats look good, and Scott Wiseman as a RB but I'm looking for a better option. MESSCA from Fulham on a free was a great purchase too

Coming window into the 5th season I'll be looking for young players to take me to the next level, EPL is calling

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Jogo, I still have some of the older players at the club, for instance Danny Seaborne, Lassad, Diop and Kevin Dawson, they just aren't in the first team at current. Seaborne is merely a backup defender who will play in the cup games or when/if I've had a bad loss. Lassad rotates with Madden, although I've currently had to change into a 4-2-4 (with 4 AMS) as Madden is out for six month and Akpo for five weeks. Diop, similar to Lassad, has a part to play but at the age of 36 he just can't cope with two games a week. Plus, my star player has been Luke Murphy who offers a creative edge. Unfortunately, Dawson has been injured for the most of this season, so he's not had a part to play. Last season he was a first teamer, but Fahey and Paul Green offer that hard working, no-nonsense approach that I need, especially as Murphy does't have the combative role that Diop has.

ps. Someone remind me how to screenshot from FM? I play windowed and then how I transfer them here?

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I just still need to decide what formation I want to use, so I can start strengthening the squad.

Not my place to determine your formation, but in the lower leagues I've always stood by the notion that a hardworking, strong at the back team would prosper. Even though I've experimented with the 4-2-4, this was merely due to injuries. Anyway, I normally go for a:


LFB (s) - CD (d) - CD (c/d) - LFB (s)

WM (s) - CM(d)/DLP (s) - B2B (s) - WM (a)

F9 (s) - AF (a)

My other two formations consist of a 4-1-2-1-2 narrow diamond and a 3-1-4-2. I'll post the roles of them up tomorrow morning as I can't remember them from my head.

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Cheers for the responses aimed at me. I definitely intend to stick with Harvey. Him and Nelson, plus Young to a slightly lesser degree, are going to be the main men for as long as possible. Harvey and Nelson's attributes are starting look really good from all the game time. I dont think I've quite found Young's favourite position which is why he's not progressed quite as well. I've been playing at MR as a WM-S in a kind of wide playmaker role - I dont think he's really strong enough to be MC in a 2 man midfield.

Which brings me to Michael's post. That formation you've posted is almost identical to the one I used in L2 and it really worked against most teams. However, it really struggled against 3 man midfields. I'm going to be facing much stronger teams next season and my wide players aren't much cop either (only loanee McFadzean really excelled; Boco and Alessandra aren't up to it), so I'm tempted to switch to a 4132 / 532 and try and be hard to beat for a season. That then leads to the issue of whether my full backs are up to it, and then I'm getting to the point about rebuilding half the squad and I really don't want to do that!

Decisions, decisions.

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Hi all,

Been playing FM for years, normally outside of the top flight, but this is my first attempt at joining in one of these threads. Not at home so going to do as much as I can from memory!!

Anyhow, just ended first season with Mansfield and managed to get promoted as champions from L2. Chose them due to the fact they seem to be fairly secure financially so would give me some scope to build my own team. I must admit, I've always struggled to get to grips fully with the tactical side of things, although am making more of a concerted effort to try this year, but have been using a 4231 formation that was posted on the sharing tactics forum.

I started with a transfer budget of £250k, and supplemented this by offering lower bonuses (the board's requirement was to avoid relegation, so thought this was a more prudent use of the money). This gave me an overall budget of around £400k, and a wage budget of approx £37kpw.

I cleared out a lot of deadwood over the course of the season, but have been running with quite a large squad. There are also a lot of youngsters at the club to start with, but plenty of Skrill league teams that want to loan them, so have been able to send them out to get game time. Some good prospects there as well, and the board have agreed to upgrade the youth facilities, the first step to hopefully being able to develop my own youngsters.

There were a couple of youngsters who looked as though they would be knocking at the door of the first team immediately. Of those one, Billy Simpson, wasn't quite ready so he ended up going out on loan to Skrill prem sides, but hasn't performed there and has been generally miserable. Undecided on whether I will retain him or let him go. The other, Kyle Hempshall, did well in some of the pre-season friendlies, and forced his way into the first team to cover some injuries, since then he has been almost ever-present, and finished the season with average rating of just over 7. Have already tied him down to a longer contract.

The league was a close run thing for most of the season, but managed to pull clear over the last couple of months, securing promotion with 3 games to spare, and the title with 2 to go. I bought in Dan Holman from Braintree at the start of the season, and he performed well, scoring 12 goals in the first half of the season, before succumbing to a torn calf muscle that kept him out for the rest of it. Rory Donnelly was bought in from Alloa (I think) in January, and took up the mantle well, finishing the season with 18 goals (I think). However, the stars of the squad have been players who were already at the club - Louis Briscoe and Sam Clucas, playing out on the wings have scored double digits each, as well as a bundle of assists. Briscoe ended the season as top scorer.

All in all, a fantasic season. Need to reduce the squad size further over the close season, and review which of the youngsters will remain, but as long as I can keep the star performers from this season, and with a couple of additions I am optomistic about surviving League One.

Sorry for lack of screenshots, am not at home, and not sure how to post them anyway!

Also apologies if there is not enough detail - it's my first go!

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Welcome GJHowell! No worries on the detail. There are no rules, and it's always refreshing to see a new contributor and a new club being managed. I can only speak for myself, but I feel if it's well written, long or short, with or without screenshots, I'm happy to read it.

Mansfield is a solid choice due to their budget, and I think they have potential to get to the Championship and, with good fortune, beyond that (in FM terms). On a personal level, I'm happy to see you sign Dan Holman. I used him several times in FM13 and he was a reliable scorer every time. I also signed him at Shrewsbury in season 1 of my test save in FM14 - he will continue to improve and score goals at L1 level and probably beyond. Good luck in season 2 and let us know who you bring in, please.

MeesterCat, good luck with your recruitment drive, I'm interested to see who you bring in and sell/release. Also, I look forward to seeing what you decide on your formation. For me, I can't see beyond 442 even if I achieve promotion with Portsmouth. Seeing how libertine has done with the club is encouraging, and Harvey is obviously a key component for both of you.

Michael, your 442 is not too far away from mine. Your 424 is a bit radical for me, but I can see you were forced in to that. I tried a 460 in FM13 with Dinamo Zagreb because they had lots of great attacking midfielders and no decent striker worthy of selection. It started off brightly, but then started to fail badly, and I gave up towards the end of season 1 as the sack was looming. I'm not normally a quitter, so it's a bit shameful to confess to that!

I didn't manage to get any game time today but hope to get on and complete season 1 at Fratton Park before the weekend.

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It's a bit radical for me Jogo! My formations are based on hardworking CMs, fast, skillful wingers and a DLF/F9 - AF/P attack. Lassad, the only forward available to me, was capable of playing the F9, but I had nobody who could run into the space that he creates. Therefore, he was virtually useless.

Anyway, I've managed to get promoted. Brighton ran away with the league, finishing 14 points ahead of me. It's going to be hard in the prem, but it's worth a definite try. I'm going to supplement the team with players from leagues that are inferior to the Prem such as the Championship and the Scottish divisions. The board has given me 11m and an increase in wages of around 40k, excluding those who I am preparing to release.

Tomorrow I'll do a proper update listing my ins and outs and how I'm going to approach the season.

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Welcome GJHowell, great post. Great job getting Mansfield promoted.

Much to to the despair/amusement of my wife, I spent about 3 hours last night looking for players. :D I think I'm going to stick with a 442, but keep a 4132 trained for the games where I need to be more compact. With this in mind I'm looking for wide players who can also play centrally.

The board have given me a £200k transfer budget and a £44k p/w wage budget with the aim of avoiding relegation. Hopefully that will be achievable, but there are some big teams to face this year including Birmingham, Sheff Utd, a surprisingly relegated Leicester City.

I've brought in three players so far: Thomas Flynn arrives as backup goalkeeper after his contract at Cowdenbeath expired. He'll need a lot of intensive training on his aerial ability, but he's only 23 and already looks better than Jake Cole. (Luke McCormick has left the club for £4.1k)

Josh Falkingham has also arrived on a free from Scotland, this time from Dunfermline. He's a player I've been tracking for a while and he looks like he'll be able to play well at DM, MC and MR if needed.

Darryl Westlake arrives from Sheff Utd also for free. He's a definite upgrade at DR.

I'm also intensely scouting for a ML and a MR. I've discovered, with some manual searching an absolutely amazing 16 year old regen at AaB in the Danish league. I'm currently bidding £40k for him, but this is climbing every other day and I suspect he's out of my reach. (I'll try and post a screenshot when I get home).

Leaving the club is Branston, Gurrieri, Chimbonda and Chadwick, while I'm trying to move on Blizzard and Alessandra.

One black cloud on the horizon - I went to offer Harvey a new contract as his runs out at the end of 2015 and he won't even discuss one with me. Erk.

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Thanks for the welcomes! Still between seasons at the moment, have released 18 players! But that has freed up a lot of the wage budget, and board have given me £840k which is great for L1. Haven't really spent any of yet - did have bids accepted by Tranmere for Akpa-Akpro and Bell-Baggie, but neither wanted to enter contract negotiations - shame as I think Akpa-Akpro particularly would have been a beast on the formation I play.

Meestercat - Cowdenbeath seem to have some gems, signed one of their young defenders in Jan of my first season, who I am expecting to force himself into the starting line-up regularly this season, and put a bid in last night on a young attacking midfielder (name escapes me at the moment) who would appear on paper to be first team level. Want to keep faith with the two wide players who did so well for me in L2 (Clucas and Briscoe) although they need some competition, and am a bit concerned that it may be a step too far for Briscoe.

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You're right, now I come to think of it, I think a few Cowdenbeath players are on my shortlist. Morton too. I keep asking the board to expand my scouting range so I can properly scout in Scandinavia (hopefully), but they keep turning me down.

I'm slightly jealous of your £840k to spend, although a perverse side of me likes it when I have no money. :)

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Thanks for the welcomes! Still between seasons at the moment, have released 18 players! But that has freed up a lot of the wage budget, and board have given me £840k which is great for L1. Haven't really spent any of yet - did have bids accepted by Tranmere for Akpa-Akpro and Bell-Baggie, but neither wanted to enter contract negotiations - shame as I think Akpa-Akpro particularly would have been a beast on the formation I play.

I'd hate to rub it in..but Jean-Louis did this for me:

2013/2014 (Signed in Jan, 220k)

Apps 22

Gls: 13

Asts: 4

PoM: 4

Av. R: 7.32


Apps: 38

Gls: 19

Asts: 12

PoM: 9

Av. R: 7.19

That was in the Championship...I'd absolutely hate to imagine what he'd do in L1 :D. Oh, and he was out 2 months in the last season through injury.

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I'm slightly jealous of your £840k to spend, although a perverse side of me likes it when I have no money. :)

I'm going to make the most of it - my next long-term game is likely to be with my real-life team, Colchester where, as was mentioned earlier, that will certainly be the case!

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Dammit! My only hope is that I'm flying high in the league come January, we're above Tranmere and he might be more open to a move!

I got him that cheap because his contract was running out. If I'm honest, you could get him cheaper if you negotiated, I just need a striker quickly at the time.

He's that good I rewarded him with a 9k contract (from 3.8k) for another year in the prem.

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I have to say that I have the BEST chairman EVER!

I've used the 'leak to press' feature three times in three seasons, and the chairman has done whatever I was complaining about.

Firstly, it was to upgrade my stadium, which he originally refused. Then I leaked, he upgraded to just over 10k.

Later, I asked him to upgrade my training facilities which, again, he refused. The day after he spent 1.8m for which the upgrade is still ongoing.

Just now, I asked for the transfer budget to be increased as I'm short on quality and I lack depth in the first XI. He refused. I moaned, he announced that he would increase my transfer budget to £6.9m!

Going to do a full squad analysis later, you'll be surprised at one of the signings. Lets just say, one of the best players we've seen in the 21st century on 5k a week at poor old Yeovil :D

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Good progress guys.

I've just completed March, and as the results below will show, I lost the ability to win low-scoring games or keep clean-sheets. The form became quite erratic - especially at home where we had been nearly invincible before the turn of the year. Then something suddenly clicked at play-off contenders Fleetwood, with a freak result. Since then, we have returned to much better form, and goalscoring seems to have become much easier too. Over the course of the season, our away form has been consistently excellent (with just one loss so far).

With six games to go, we are odds-on title favourites as we lead 2nd placed Chesterfield by 14 points. A solitary point will seal promotion back to League 1, although financially we are still going through tough times. The current record is PL40, W24, D10, L6, GF67, GA31, PTS82.

In other news, I sold Joe Devera to Sligo Rovers for £160k at the end of February, and made my final loan signing in March with the capture of young Norwich left-winger Joshua Murphy. He scored on his debut just a day after arriving, and now has two from his first three games. I wanted him at the start of the season but they wouldn't entertain a loan until recently. I only wish I had been able to have him for the whole campaign.

I will complete my end of season report once I have got through the last six games, but here are the results and scorers for the months of January, February and March.


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Just a little update as I'm at work and slightly half cut after the office party.

A couple of screenies of the players I've signed to give an idea of the progress the squad is making:

Thomas Flynn

Josh Falkingham

I also have signed this chap from Rosenborg Reserves:

Fredrik Torsteinbo

He only cost £10.75k, but I've to pay a little more wages than I would like. Worth it though I think!

This is the regen I'm desperately chasing.

Finally, I forgot to mention that I had this chap in my youth intake. Bigger clubs are already sniffing around. He looks to be an excellent DLP. Emanuel Godard

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MeesterCat, if memory serves me right, Argyle have a bit of a history with signing Scottish players over the years, don't they? Good luck with your squad and well done for posting even after the office party. That's dedication!

I've just completed season 1 with Portsmouth and won the L2 title with 95 points, which was 16 more than our nearest challengers (Hartlepool). Sorry to say, MC, that Plymouth were relegated in 24th position and earned only 41 points all season. I guess it highlights the fact that you and libertine did very well to move them out of this division in the right direction! To be fair to them, they held us 1-1 in both games this season though.

I'm looking forward to a tougher test next time around in L1, as I want to feel the realism. The first task will be to try and sign a few of my loanees on permanent deals, as I don't really want to borrow so many men next season. Financially, of course, the club is still a mess - I noticed that in one month we made losses of over £1 million - so I will have to wait and see what I am able to do with my squad.

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I figured I might as well ask in here and the Football League Thread. Anyway, gone back to my Eastleigh save after a month without playing it. We're top of the Skrill Premier after 18 games and are comfortably top as well. Port Vale have just come knocking and offered me an interview with £150k transfer budget & £40k in wage budget. It's a massive budget for that level and £20k extra in wages. Port Vale on 10th in League Two having been relegated and have just sacked Cotterill after 5 months. What would everyone do?

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Yeovil: 2015/16.

I got promoted in 2014/2015 in second place, 11 points behind Brighton. It's exciting to think that I'm going to be braving the Premiership with a squad that cost me around £2.5m. My reputation restricts the quality of players that I'll be able to bring in, whilst I'll have to be careful with the transfer and wage budget in order to evenly strengthen the squad.

2014/2015 squad.

I love making transfers, wheeling and dealing, negotiating. It's what makes the game for me. My initial thoughts were to avoid the 'big names' who had been relegated into the Championship as they wouldn't be as 'hungry' as those who had performed well in the Championship.

Firstly, I'll discuss my previous team. Even though I wanted to use the spine of my championship team in the Premiership, some of the players simply wouldn't be useful against the teams that I would come up against; clearly the difference in quality would be a vast step-up. In the defence, I released Danny Seaborne. Seaborne had been useful in the Championship, being able to rotate at centre half and left back when it was necessary. The other defenders were retained, but I'll speak about those in further detail. In the centre of the park, Keith Fahey transferred up to Hull in a deal that came to £38,000. The figure is irrelevant really, I was happy to receive the small sum of money for a player who had replaced my stalwart, Ed Upson, perfectly in my first season. In addition, Keith Tracey, Paul Green and El-Hadj Diouf left the club. Tracey had been a good, but not brilliant player, who provided an able service on the left wing. He joined in 2014 on a free transfer after his loan deal, but I felt that his wages would be better spent on a more technical player. Diouf, my hero (as a Leeds fan) retired. I'll be honest, he wasn't anything special, infact he was rather poor. However, he played in several positions, meaning that he was a perfect bench warmer. Green, however, I was sad to see leave as he parted company with me to join Huddersfield. I was willing to offer him a new deal because he was a 7/10 player, doing nothing special, but always doing it right. It's a shame that he wanted £10k a week when I was willing to offer him £6k. Furthermore, Lassad left the club on a free transfer. He had a clause in his contract stating hat he would match the highest earner which I wasn't prepared to do. So, he went his way.

(this post will carry on)

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To begin my Premiership campaign, I had the following players at the club

GK: Marek Stech

RB: Luke Ayling

CM: Kevin Dawson

CM: Luke Murphy

RM: Danny Green

ST: Jean-Louis Akpo-Akpro

ST: Paddy Madden

As you can see, my squad was, basically, a shambles and needed additions to avoid a certain drop to the Championship. You're allowed 25 players to be registered in the Prem, meaning that I wanted to cover all positions twice in a perfect world.

Transfer Dealings

Between the sticks, I had confidence in the notion that Marek Stech was technically capable of competing in the Premiership. Whilst he is a financial asset of the club who could have been moved on, I felt that his good technical attributes would be crucial at this level. So, my first deal was to complete the signing of Jan Mucha. I recognised him as a former employee of Everton, thus I believed he would be an able understudy for Marek Stech. He'd recently played in the Russian Premier League, where he had a fairly average record.

At right back, Luke Ayling had simply made the spot his own. As a former youth product at Arsenal, he'd spent seven years at Yeovil, making over 150 appearances. Whilst I was at the helm, he'd been crucial in supporting Danny Green on the flanks, providing a very capable option when attacking. In addition, he was capable of playing left back and centre half. Unfortunately, the additions that I made (which I'll explain in further detail) meant that I couldn't sign a backup in this area, although some of my signings could play there if I really needed them to. As you can see, Green leaving left a fairly big hole.

On the opposite flank, I had a huge gap waiting to fill. It was clear that I couldn't survive without a strong defence, thus I took action. One of my scouts who had been roaming Scotland notified me of the availability of Charlie Mulgrew who was playing for Celtic. Mulgrew had played in the Championship before with Wolves, although his time there was a dismal failure. Aberdeen, two seasons on, brought him back into Scotland ending his only affiliation with England. However, his technical and mental attributes were brilliant, he was well rounded and my scouts believed that he would become one of the best players at the club. Therefore, I spent a fairly hefty £2.6m in order to bring him to Huish Park.

Likewise, the breakdown would highlight how I had no centre halfs at the club. Whilst Mulgrew and Ayling could play there, I wanted to sign some experienced heads who had been here before and had the mental capacity to lead the team. Once again, my scouts brought Scott Dann to my attention. Research into Dann revealed that he had left Blackburn at his own will; the season before he had played 45 times for Blackburn with a good (7.19) rating. Similarly, his leadership qualities matched the criteria that I originally set for my number-one centre half. Negotiations were established with Dann who promptly signed as he fancied the challenge of the Premier League. However, Dann suffered from a lack of pace which worried me as most teams could exploit this. As such, I negotiated the release of Danny Wilson from Hull. Wilson, a Scottish international, provided me with the pace and ball-playing ability that Dann lacked.

In centre midfield, I already had choices at the club in the excellent Luke Murphy and Kevin Dawson. Whilst both players were creative, they lacked the hard-working, tough-tacking ability that had got me promoted (Diop and Fahey being excellent examples). Before the Premiership, I had wanted to sign Rodolph Austin, a Jamaican international who was in League One with the recently relegated Leeds. However, his wage demands were seen to be extravagant for a financially prudent team like mine. Premier League football, however, is always an attraction which prompted me to enter negotiations with Austin who's contract was ending with Leeds. He was the midfielder I needed (w.rate 17, aggression 18, determination 16, tackling 14, strength 15 etc) in order to support the efforts of his former teammate Luke Murphy. Therefore, he signed foon a three-year deal. Finally, my favourite addition yet in the centre. He was a Brazilian international with 85 caps to his name. Played at some of the the biggest clubs in the world, namely AC Milan and Real Madrid. Yes, Kaka signed for Yeovil on a one year deal, providing he could coach the youngsters in the U18 side. I don't normally play with a man behind the front two, but his signature lured me. He only wanted £6k a week wages which was a further bonus.

Whilst Danny Green had been a superb addition on the right, it was obvious that I needed to strengthen. Searching through the Championship revealed a played called Adam Forshaw who was playing his trade at Brentford. My scouts had the belief that I had found something special. I followed this advice, spending a club record £3.3m in order to grab his signature. Whilst he hadn't managed to play in the Premiership before Yeovil, the potential that he had meant that the outlay was well spent. On the opposite wing, I broke my rule of 'not signing failed pros' as I captured Andrew Surman on a £475k deal. He had been recently relegated with Sunderland and was fairly average if I'm honest. However, his ability to play numerous positions and a fairly low fee meant that I could splash out in other, more desperate areas.

Finally, the guys who get the goals. Both Paddy Madden and Jean-Louis Akpo-Akpro were stars of my Championship team and I had retained their signatures with the idea that their goalscoring abilities would not fade. However, a 6 month absence for Madden meant that I needed a star striker to lead the line. Once again, I scoured the lower leagues, finding a well-recognised player called Danny Graham. He, like Surman, played at Sunderland. However, I felt that his experience in the Premiership would be key, hence I forked out £275k in order for him to move down South. He'd lost his pace (6) and his acceleration (10), yet his general eye for goal meant that he had the ability to flourish without relying on bursts of speed.

2015/2016: January Transfers

As the title suggests, I have played this season. So, I'll update the thread on my team, come January 2016. I realised that I had a few areas that were struggling with the pace and general skill level of the Prem, thus I needed reinforcements. This led me to sign Marc Wilson, a utility player on a £1.4m deal. He was a first-teamer in a Stoke side that was thrashing the Championship, so I had faith in his ability to move up and play a part in my relegation battle. I was quite surprised that Stoke let him go for such a mediocre fee though. Likewise, Madden once again got an injury, leaving me with two established forwards. As such, Tulio De Melo joined the club from Lille on a six month loan. Tulio was a target man by trade who offered the ability to hold the ball up for the midfield. He was listed at Lille, so I naturally included the clause that, if I deemed it worthwhile, the clubs would conclude the loan with a £675k fee to make it permanent. Finally, Aron Gunnersson, the all-action midfielder, joined from Cardiff on a six month loan in order to cover for Austin who was failing to cope with the demands of the Premiership.

2015/16: How Did It Go?

Basically, here's how I got on during the season:

Premier League: 17th

Capital One Cup: Third Round

FA Cup: Final

Even though some of you might think it was a disappointing season, I believe it was a pretty good one. A few months in to the season highlighted to me that the squad was missing the talent needed to compete in this division. Likewise, my trusted 4-4-2 was being exploited by the ever dominating 4-2-3-1, meaning that I had to radically alter my formations in order to counter the opposition's strength in attack. An example of this would be the cup results as I lost the Capital One Cup, 3-0 to Wigan, a mid table Championship side. Unfortunately, some of my signings were failures. Stech and Mucha rotated in the net, with both going through their on and off days. However, Stech did offer some positives, leading me to offer him a new contract.

The defence, despite my bad goal difference, was pretty good and was a positive of the season. Dann and Mulgrew coped perfectly in the centre (I moved Surman to left back) and Ayling had a brilliant season.

However, the midfield and forwards was a mixed bag. Austin was a failure and I do regret signing him to a three year deal; I'd love to get rid of him next season. Likewise, Surman, at left midfield or full back, was just out of his depth and I do feel I wasted half a million pounds on him. Danny Green was average really, achieving a 6.8 rating throughout the season and not getting the assists necessary as he had done in the Championship (he managed 11 assists in both seasons and 6 and 8 goals respectively) Up front, Danny Graham was appalling. Despite his experience in the Prem, he achieved a measly eight goals in thirty-five appearances. At one point, he hadn't scored in sixteen games. Madden was the shadow of himself, managing three in fifteen. Jean-Louis was average, managing seven in twenty-five. Tulio De Melo was about the same, scoring four in 13.

On the other hand, Forshaw was absolutely incredible. By the end of the season, my entire team was reliant on moments of magic from him, supported by the absolutely brilliant Luke Ayling. The figures highlight this; he scored seven in 38, with a pretty good 14 assists at an average rating of 7.17. His performances were priceless, me to reject a £5m bid from Brighton. Luke Murphy is worth a mention; his creativity and composure in the centre meant that I could play the ball on the floor and involve players such as Forshaw rather than hoping for the (never occuring) moments of magic that I expected from Graham.

- - -- - - - - - - - - - -

Anyway, the new season approaches. I'll update once I've completed my transfers and played a few games, maybe around October. I hope you enjoyed the read and it isn't too repetitive. I'll be totally honest, my writing skills have slipped since the holidays as I haven't had the chance to write for Uni ;p

Let me know if you want any screenshots and lets keep this thread alive.

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Nice, comprehensive, update Michael - and a good read. It's always a tough task taking a small team up to the top flight, and in my opinion the act of survival is all that matters. If you do that, it should get easier to improve in subsequent seasons.

I like how you identified your new players, with the specific qualities and attributes needed to plug the gaps and concerns in your squad. Unfortunately, apart from Forshaw (and possibly Dann/Mulgrew) it seems that most of them failed to live up to your expectations. Maybe Wilson (Marc) and Gunnarsson (if you keep him) will help, but it looks like you have some work to do for the next season. With only a handful of 'originals' left and performing well, each year there seems to be a high turnover of personnel, which probably doesn't make it any easier. I'm sure you will get there in the end though, and staying up was the first achievement required.

I am sure the thread will survive and prosper, although there are a few absentees (I think due to time issues and other responsibilities at this time of year). I'm trying to nudge this and the Pompey thread along without repeating myself in both, but still have new Sky Bet saves to come that won't probably have the distraction of their own 'club guide'.

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Cheers Jogo.

Gunnarsson's contract was running out and Cardiff finished bottom of the league, so he seemed only too happy to leave. I paid £8k to definitely get his signature rather than wait until he was a free agent.

I forgot to mention in the update that I signed a player called Andre Martins on a free. I'd never heard of him, but his stats were encouraging. However, his performances were not, so I've transfer listed him. I'm pretty sure players would look better in a better squad, just, I don't have that luxury yet.

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Mike - when you say the opposition's 4-2-3-1, do you mean the narrow christmas tree one with two CMs and three AMs?

I've come across this one a number of times with my Havant side in L2 and usually get overwhelmed defensively by the attacking movement and options the AI gets out of it, even if I drop a DM back to support my three centre-halves and two wingbacks.

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Mike - when you say the opposition's 4-2-3-1, do you mean the narrow christmas tree one with two CMs and three AMs?

I've come across this one a number of times with my Havant side in L2 and usually get overwhelmed defensively by the attacking movement and options the AI gets out of it, even if I drop a DM back to support my three centre-halves and two wingbacks.

If I'm honest, it's both. I've said a few times that I'm a fan of the quite anarchic, boring, 4-4-2 that grinds results. I thought I could use this in the Prem, albeit with a more creative edge but it never worked. My first response to the 4-2-3-1 was to use wing backs. So, I messed around and created a 2-3-2-1-2, 3-1-4-2 and a 5-3-2. These were better equipped to face the 4-2-3-1. This was a positive step because quality additions to the squad should shield better results.

If I'm honest, I'd struggle to face it in L2. At least in the Prem I can sign players who can compete I guess.

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Awesome update Michael. Well done on promotion and survival. Kaka too!

I've not been able to play due to family Xmas stuff but hopefully ill be able to resume in January :/

I'm still stuck in pre-season desperately trying to find an ML and DC who don't want 3k+ wages.

Sorry for the tiny update, but I'm on my phone!

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Decided to start a save as Bury in League Two. Not sure how long it will last but what I will say is the squad I have has a lot of depth to it and the only position of real depth is right back. With only just over £1k in the budget left for wages and £50k for transfers it's going to be a wheel and deal season to add a right back to the squad and a possible 'great' striker. I'm looking to allow Trevor Carson to leave as he's back up keeper and I feel his £1.5k a week wages could be spent elsewhere. He's also valued quite highly and wanted by Barnsley.

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