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

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Welcome tommy, good job at MK Dons cesc and well done dino at the real dons.

As for smplfc, welcome back...and that's a new record there, three clubs in one post! Do Sheff Utd have the Arab owners and money in the game yet?

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Unfortunately Jogo, i've left Sheff Utd too!

I just cannot seem to get it right in the football league at the moment and i'm struggling.

I don't believe they did, i mean i didn't have millions at my disposal.

Any inspiration on some decent challenges mate?

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Haha, after brief spells at three clubs in one post I'm not sure if a challenge is a good idea for you :eek:. What sort of challenge do you want? Hard with no money, fallen giant or something else?

A long-term challenge, on original data, could be Coventry (small and generally young squad, -10 points, and administrators seem to sell one or two of your better players). Less challenging in L1 would be Wolves.

In L2, I have enjoyed my time at Portsmouth. Plymouth is a real challenge that others have done well at. When the final update arrives, I will probably try Scunthorpe.

In the Championship, if you want cash but a poor squad to rip apart and re-build you have Wigan (£15-£19m in season 1). Blackburn and Brighton have little cash to work with but both have a prolific striker (Rhodes/Ulloa). Reading have a strong squad (on paper) and some cash to play with. Once we get the new update, I am considering Burnley and/or Leicester. Little would be needed in terms of additional players at either club - but I'm waiting for the likes of Ings and Vardy to be adjusted.

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Try Barnsley guys and come over to our thread, i'll be starting with them when the new patch comes out. We now have Frimpong, Jack Hunt, Proschwitz from Hull and hardly any money as usual. Low rep too which makes it more of a challenge.

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Great to read all your updates guys. I'm currently house-sitting in deepest darkest Hampshire with only sketchy wireless/phone signal so I've not been able to update. I should have the End of Season report upon my return though!

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Coventry is a good shout. I've done Yeovil and that is also a good game, quite interesting and you have to rebalance the squad in order to push on though the leagues.

As Lewis said, Barnsley (or Doncaster Rovers) would be a challenge. If I get bored of my current save, I'll be doing Barnsley. Probably after the update.

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Haha, after brief spells at three clubs in one post I'm not sure if a challenge is a good idea for you :eek:. What sort of challenge do you want? Hard with no money, fallen giant or something else?

A long-term challenge, on original data, could be Coventry (small and generally young squad, -10 points, and administrators seem to sell one or two of your better players). Less challenging in L1 would be Wolves.

In L2, I have enjoyed my time at Portsmouth. Plymouth is a real challenge that others have done well at. When the final update arrives, I will probably try Scunthorpe.

In the Championship, if you want cash but a poor squad to rip apart and re-build you have Wigan (£15-£19m in season 1). Blackburn and Brighton have little cash to work with but both have a prolific striker (Rhodes/Ulloa). Reading have a strong squad (on paper) and some cash to play with. Once we get the new update, I am considering Burnley and/or Leicester. Little would be needed in terms of additional players at either club - but I'm waiting for the likes of Ings and Vardy to be adjusted.

I don't know why I wasn't getting into these games.

However, i've taken your advice and I've gone Wolves. Yes, it may not be the hardest challenge first season, but it's a challenge to get them back in to the premiership and doing so by playing my style of football and using young players.

Hopefully i can settle down on this one and get my love for the game back!

Cheers for the advice

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SkyBetLeagueTwo_zps303bbce6.jpg

AFC Wimbledon - Season One - A Mad Season

Transfers

Michael Smith - 01.01.2014 - Loan - Smith had only played six times for us before getting a three month injury. Despite this, I extended his loan. Looking at his stats, he was our best striker. This decision paid off for me with Smith bagging seven goals and setting up four.

Nicky Weaver - 17.01.2014 - Free - I got an offer for Seb Brown and after thinking about it, I accepted it. Brown was an okay goalkeeper but not the best. I looked for a replacement and I decided on Weaver to be the man to replace him. He wanted £1.4K in wages (£900 more than Brown) but he was a far better replacement and with £3K in the wages, he wasn't going to harm us financially either.

Ben Chorley - 24.01.2014 - Loan - I completely forgot I let Will Antwi go and after realising, I went after a centre back. Looking on the loan list, Ben Chorley was a fantastic replacement. Chorley was a lot better and Stevenage only required half (£550) of his wages to be played. I also managed to put a future fee of £0 in too but I am still to decide whether I want to activate that.

Victor Zapata - 09.03.2014 - Free - My scouts found him and gave him a 5* potential rating (leading Championship player). I signed him up as I have nothing to lose. If I am to sell him, I will make a profit and if not, I will have a fantastic player on my hands. He's on £140 a week, which means he is very cheap too. He was a breath of fresh air, scoring four goals in nine appearances (two starting, seven as a substitute).

27.03.2014 - Scott Kerr - Loan - Considering I use a ball winning midfielder in my system, it is worrying that it took me till March 2014 to realise that none of my current players can't play that role very well. Signed on the loan deadline day, Kerr is an experienced player and also has a £0 agreed fee.

Sky Bet League Two

The blip we were suffering ended and we went on a fantastic run, and by March we were top and six points clear off fourth. Unfortunately, we found ourselves in another blip only this one was considerably worse. In fact, it was A LOT worse. We won ONE in TEN games. That is not title winning form. We can thank the other teams around us because they weren't too consistent either but by the last day of the season, the league was ridiculously tight.

82ae5a42-a31f-4fdd-bfba-d722f1502b9d_zps679a3519.png

As you can see, we could still get promoted but we were relying on the other teams above us to slip up. Unfortunately, they didn't and we ended up finishing in 4th. One point behind Wycombe and two behind Dag & Red and Portsmouth. Actually, Portsmouth and Dag & Red were tied on everything so they had to play a play-off match the day after the final league game. Portsmouth won 4-2 meaning they won the league and Dag & Red finished second.

Anyway, how did we fare in the play-offs? We were drawn against York with them playing at home in the first leg. We got a 1-1 draw which I was happy with and with the home support, the second leg was ours to lose. Thankfully we won 4-1 (5-2 agg) with us taking a 3-0 lead within the first 42 minutes.

The play-off final was at Wembley, of course. Our opponents were Rochdale who also suffered a horrible run in the second half of the season but had picked up some form in the final few league games. The biggest thing I did was leave our top goalscorer Jack Midson out for the in form Victor Zapata. We started the game well but didn't take our chances and were punished when Rochdale scored three minutes before half time. The worse time for us to concede. We made an excellent start to the second half with Andy Frampton scoring from a corner. The game became very tense but Rochdale took the lead again and we were losing 2-1 with 27 minutes left. With 10 minutes to go, I threw the kitchen sink. From a 4-4-2, we went to a 3-2-3-2 (LB, CD, RB, CM, CM, LAM, CAM, RAM, ST, ST) and switched to overload. The game showed a highlight in 90th minute and Rochdale were taking a throw in. "Oh know, this is it" I muttered under my breath as the ball was thrown into the box and their striker forced a good save out of Nicky Weaver forcing a corner. We had about five players in the box, with the other five at the other end of the pitch. Lucky, the corner went straight to Weaver who threw it out quickly to our Italian winger Giovanni Taormina.

He ran from outside the box to just over the half way line with the ball before passing it to Jack Midson. Midson was on the left wing running at their defender before cutting inside and releasing a shot from the corner of the penalty box. At first I thought it was going wide but somehow, somehow it curled into the top right hand corner. 91 minutes on the clock and Midson, who had been dropped for this game, had given us another chance and took us into extra time. Extra time flew by and we found ourselves in a dreaded penalty shootout. We only scored four of ours five penalties. Why? Because we didn't have to take our 5th, Rochdale had already missed two and therefore we won promotion to League One.

F.A Cup

The F.A. Cup was a nice chance to not only make ourselves a bit of money, but also to compete against teams in leagues above and see what we have. We struggled against Forest Green Rovers and had to go to a replay to defeat them 2-1. We faced Braintree in the second round and beat them 4-2 away. In the third round we go drwn against Sheffield Wednesday away and to my surprise, we got TV coverage. This meant we received £120,000 and although we embarrassed ourselves (lost 5-0), the money was used upgrade our youth facilities.

Overview

What a season! We only needed an extra three points to win the league but that doesn't matter. What matters is that we have got promoted after being predicted to finish 16th. What an achievement! Next season we will be up against it and our aim is to avoid relegation.

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I know I keep posting in here about starting saves and then getting bored. Well I think I've finally found one for the time being. The team I have chosen is Accrington Stanley........................ Exactly! I have decided that I am going to try and play as realistically as possible which means that none of the backroom staff who are already at the club will be leaving and they will be supplemented by me bringing in some of my own staff. I'll also be using my backroom advice, transfer rumours, adverts and players offered to me in order to sign players and staff.

The reason for this is because I feel they represent one of the biggest challenges in League Two. My opinion seems warranted as the board have asked me to consolidate our position in the league and the media predict us to finish 21st. Originally I had just over £1k available in the wage kitty along with £10k in transfer budget. Looking at the squad I decided to tie down most of the squad to new 1 and a half year deals with us having the option of extending them for a further year if need be. With funds being tight I need to be clever in the market. I'll also be using our youth squad as that is something that can help us out. I also asked the board for some more wages and they agreed which meant at one stage I had £3k in wages to strengthen.

We played four pre-season friendlies which saw us gain victories over Ashton United and Gateshead whilst getting a good draw against Blackpool. Our only defeat came against Port Vale as we lost 4-1.

I'll start off with the backroom staff that we have brought in to supplement the current staff in a minute. But firstly I offered my three youth staff new contracts as we're over staffed here which is helpful. Incoming we saw Al Stewart come in an as assistant manager with Hughie McAuley coming in as a coach for the first team. Our youth staff was strengthened further with the additions of Nelson Gil and Calvin Whitehead coming in as Under 18s manager and under 18s assistant manager respectively. We maximised our scouting ability with the additions of Ian Storey-Moore, Gavin Tait and Gordon Watson.

Over the course of pre-season we saw five players join the club. They were Shelton Martis, Miguel Comminges, François Zoko, Dele Adebola and Jamey Osborne. The latter two have been signed from non-league clubs which is also another market I'll be looking to utilise. Andy Gray joined on a free transfer towards the end of October.

Outgoing we saw Ben Wilson, Andrew Dawber, Connor Atkinson, Josh Windass and James Jenkins depart the club on loans. Throughout the months we saw Ian Dunbavin complete a short term loan at Luton Town.

We got off to an average start in the league as we drew our first four league games. The final game of those four we came from behind. We then lost our final league game at home to Burton Albion 4-0. A second 4-0 loss to Chesterfield followed before a three match unbeaten run consisting of two draws and one win. Four more league losses happened after that as we lost three of them in a row 1-0. A 3-0 was then followed by a 5-3 loss at home to Wycombe Wanderers. Another loss in the league left us in trouble but a five match league unbeaten run helped steady the ship. The consistency of being inconsistent continued as we lost our next four league games. Things have got slightly better though as we've won two of our last three. In the league we sit 21st with a game or two in hand and nine points clear of the relegation zone.

In the cups we lost 3-0 to Doncaster Rovers in League Cup First Round. Whilst in the JPT we beat Rochdale in the First Round before losing to Bury. In the FA Cup there was no dream upsets as we smashed Southend United 6-0 in the First Round before taking Shrewsbury Town to a replay at our place after drawing 1-1 in the original tie. The replay saw us lose 3-0.

That's how are we are February 1st. January's transfers saw a number of new arrivals as well as a few departures.

Incoming we saw Conor Gethins join from Nairn County along with Aaron Morris joining on a free transfer. Steven Hewitt and Nacho Huertas joined on loans from Burnley and Liverpool until the end of the season whilst Sean Thornton joined from some Welsh side. We had two young Scottish players join on free transfers after we originally agreed pre-contracts with them. The players in question are Ricky Little and Martin McGuire. Josh Windass, Ian Dunbavin and Ben Wilson were all recalled from their loan spells early.

Outgoing we saw Michael Richardson return to Newcastle United after his loan spell came to an end as they wanted him to play with higher quality players. Marcus Carver, Luke Clark, James Gray and Ben Wilson all left the club on loans until the end of the season with the first three being transfer listed as well. Whilst Miguel Comminges left the club to join Cork City on a free transfer.

With this in mind we're £308 under our wage budget but we've just been placed under a transfer embargo. We're also £326k in the red.

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SkyBetLeagueTwo_zps303bbce6.jpg

AFC Wimbledon - Season One - A Mad Season

Transfers

Michael Smith - 01.01.2014 - Loan - Smith had only played six times for us before getting a three month injury. Despite this, I extended his loan. Looking at his stats, he was our best striker. This decision paid off for me with Smith bagging seven goals and setting up four.

Nicky Weaver - 17.01.2014 - Free - I got an offer for Seb Brown and after thinking about it, I accepted it. Brown was an okay goalkeeper but not the best. I looked for a replacement and I decided on Weaver to be the man to replace him. He wanted £1.4K in wages (£900 more than Brown) but he was a far better replacement and with £3K in the wages, he wasn't going to harm us financially either.

Ben Chorley - 24.01.2014 - Loan - I completely forgot I let Will Antwi go and after realising, I went after a centre back. Looking on the loan list, Ben Chorley was a fantastic replacement. Chorley was a lot better and Stevenage only required half (£550) of his wages to be played. I also managed to put a future fee of £0 in too but I am still to decide whether I want to activate that.

Victor Zapata - 09.03.2014 - Free - My scouts found him and gave him a 5* potential rating (leading Championship player). I signed him up as I have nothing to lose. If I am to sell him, I will make a profit and if not, I will have a fantastic player on my hands. He's on £140 a week, which means he is very cheap too. He was a breath of fresh air, scoring four goals in nine appearances (two starting, seven as a substitute).

27.03.2014 - Scott Kerr - Loan - Considering I use a ball winning midfielder in my system, it is worrying that it took me till March 2014 to realise that none of my current players can't play that role very well. Signed on the loan deadline day, Kerr is an experienced player and also has a £0 agreed fee.

Sky Bet League Two

The blip we were suffering ended and we went on a fantastic run, and by March we were top and six points clear off fourth. Unfortunately, we found ourselves in another blip only this one was considerably worse. In fact, it was A LOT worse. We won ONE in TEN games. That is not title winning form. We can thank the other teams around us because they weren't too consistent either but by the last day of the season, the league was ridiculously tight.

82ae5a42-a31f-4fdd-bfba-d722f1502b9d_zps679a3519.png

As you can see, we could still get promoted but we were relying on the other teams above us to slip up. Unfortunately, they didn't and we ended up finishing in 4th. One point behind Wycombe and two behind Dag & Red and Portsmouth. Actually, Portsmouth and Dag & Red were tied on everything so they had to play a play-off match the day after the final league game. Portsmouth won 4-2 meaning they won the league and Dag & Red finished second.

Anyway, how did we fare in the play-offs? We were drawn against York with them playing at home in the first leg. We got a 1-1 draw which I was happy with and with the home support, the second leg was ours to lose. Thankfully we won 4-1 (5-2 agg) with us taking a 3-0 lead within the first 42 minutes.

The play-off final was at Wembley, of course. Our opponents were Rochdale who also suffered a horrible run in the second half of the season but had picked up some form in the final few league games. The biggest thing I did was leave our top goalscorer Jack Midson out for the in form Victor Zapata. We started the game well but didn't take our chances and were punished when Rochdale scored three minutes before half time. The worse time for us to concede. We made an excellent start to the second half with Andy Frampton scoring from a corner. The game became very tense but Rochdale took the lead again and we were losing 2-1 with 27 minutes left. With 10 minutes to go, I threw the kitchen sink. From a 4-4-2, we went to a 3-2-3-2 (LB, CD, RB, CM, CM, LAM, CAM, RAM, ST, ST) and switched to overload. The game showed a highlight in 90th minute and Rochdale were taking a throw in. "Oh know, this is it" I muttered under my breath as the ball was thrown into the box and their striker forced a good save out of Nicky Weaver forcing a corner. We had about five players in the box, with the other five at the other end of the pitch. Lucky, the corner went straight to Weaver who threw it out quickly to our Italian winger Giovanni Taormina.

He ran from outside the box to just over the half way line with the ball before passing it to Jack Midson. Midson was on the left wing running at their defender before cutting inside and releasing a shot from the corner of the penalty box. At first I thought it was going wide but somehow, somehow it curled into the top right hand corner. 91 minutes on the clock and Midson, who had been dropped for this game, had given us another chance and took us into extra time. Extra time flew by and we found ourselves in a dreaded penalty shootout. We only scored four of ours five penalties. Why? Because we didn't have to take our 5th, Rochdale had already missed two and therefore we won promotion to League One.

F.A Cup

The F.A. Cup was a nice chance to not only make ourselves a bit of money, but also to compete against teams in leagues above and see what we have. We struggled against Forest Green Rovers and had to go to a replay to defeat them 2-1. We faced Braintree in the second round and beat them 4-2 away. In the third round we go drwn against Sheffield Wednesday away and to my surprise, we got TV coverage. This meant we received £120,000 and although we embarrassed ourselves (lost 5-0), the money was used upgrade our youth facilities.

Overview

What a season! We only needed an extra three points to win the league but that doesn't matter. What matters is that we have got promoted after being predicted to finish 16th. What an achievement! Next season we will be up against it and our aim is to avoid relegation.

Great achievement on promotion :thup:

Should be interesting to see how you fare in the transfer window

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With 5 games to go in the league we sit 22nd. We're 6 points clear of Newport County and I'm close to the sack due to winning 1 of the last 12 games. Unfortunately nothing seems to be working and some players just haven't performed. I'm hoping I can keep them up and be given a bit longer to reshape the squad how I want to. We've not played good enough this season.

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With 5 games to go in the league we sit 22nd. We're 6 points clear of Newport County and I'm close to the sack due to winning 1 of the last 12 games. Unfortunately nothing seems to be working and some players just haven't performed. I'm hoping I can keep them up and be given a bit longer to reshape the squad how I want to. We've not played good enough this season.

Did you keep them up mate?

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So we ended up securing our future in League Two for another season with two league games to go. However, we made it extremely difficult for ourselves as we only managed to win two of our last seventeen league games. The board at one stage had given me a month to turn it round and that only happened after I asked them to in a meeting. The board weren't happy with our form but over the course of the season were pleased that we'd stayed in the division. We finished 21st in the league, seven points above Newport County who were relegated along with Plymouth Argyle. The board proposed talks just after the end of the season where I penned a one year extension with the same aims as last season, consolidate. Still under an embargo until early June and still in financial bother. I decided to look for cheap options. Luckily the board decided that they would up my provisional wage budget by £1k to £20.5k for the season when they announced the budgets. There was a small transfer budget of about £500 but that was nothing to talk about really. Some affiliations with other clubs were terminated as we ended the links with Clitheroe and Radcliffe Boro and Blackburn were no longer considered a parent club to us. We still have Liverpool and Burnley though.

I had decided that I was going to shift some of the players who had underperformed last season and try to play better football. At times last season we would look to create chances which cost us but also helped us. A few members of my backroom staff left. They were my Head of Youth Development Keith Brown who has gone to Hamilton in Scotland and one of my coaches, Paul Lodge. Having got the adverts out I needed a new Head of Youth Development and coach. The Head of Youth Development role was taken by Gareth Gwillim. The position of coach wasn't filled however as my last backroom staff position went to new player/goalkeeping coach Maik Taylor. The 42 year old coming in as first choice just after I'd signed another keeper as first choice. Here are Taylor's playing and coaching attributes. The board then gave me the option to employ an under 21s manager. With that in mind a advert went out. My coach advert came back shortly afterwards and when I saw that this guy was interested in becoming my under 21s manager, I had to sign him. As I've said earlier, it was Beckham.

I had the decided that the formation I would be looking to play this season was a 4-1-2-1-2(Diamond). With that in mind fifteen players joined the club. Of those fifteen, eleven would be in the first team squad for the coming season. The eleven first team players are;

Filip Mentel(GK) - Free

George Bowerman(ST) - Free

Maik Taylor(GK) - Free

Jack Dunn(AMCLR/ST) - Loan from Liverpool

Robbie Simpson(AMC/ST - Free

Kem Izzet(MC/DM) - Free

Jamie Reckord(DL/R) - Loan from Wolves

Matthew Dolan(MC/DM) - Free

Aidan O'Brien(ST) - Loan from Millwall

Hugo Fernandez(DM/WBL/CM) - Loan from Blackburn

Andrai Jones(DC/DR) - Free

The four development players are all players who have been found by my scout in Wales.

Outgoing we have twenty-seven players departing the club. Leaving the club on permanently are;

Dele Adebola

Nicky Hunt

Rob Atkinson

Lee Naylor

Andy Gray

Connor Gethins

Josh Windass

Laurence Wilson

Ian Dunbavin

Marcus Carver

Leaving the club on loans as they have no future at the club are;

Piero Mingoia

James Gray

Luke Clark

Leaving the club on loan for first team football are;

Dalian Barker

Liam Goulding

James Jenkins

Jamey Osborne

Ben Wilson

Shay MacCarten

Callum Walsh

Keenan Quansah

Brandon Windor

Max Hazeldine

Kealan Steenson

Dieter Downey

Andrew Dawber

Daniel Hennigan

The board actually dropped the wage budget again to £19,986 per week. Of which we're spending £16,423 per week.

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@Nottingham Forest - Congratulations on keeping them up :thup:

Hopefully you can push them on higher up the table next season!

Update

So, i've finally settled in to a game with Wolves.

The fact that i've decided to try and build a young team, playing attractive, attacking + passing football has meant that the league hasn't been as easy as some would expect.

However, now the kids have settled in and the tactics are familiar we have managed to gain top spot for the first time this season, in the middle of January.

I'm 2 points ahead of Brentford in 2nd after 28 games, winning 17, drawing 7 and losing 4. My home form has been brilliant, winning 11 of the 15 games at Molineux, drawing 3 and losing just the 1.

Batth, Macalinden, Sako, Mcdonald and davies have been excellent throughout the season.

Hopefully I can keep my good form going and gain promotion to the championship, where the real test will begin.

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Well that went a bit closer to the wire than expected.

However a turn out of 90 points was enough to secure me the League 1 title, 6 points ahead of brentford.

Happy for my young squad, with only 1 player over 30.

Our attacking play was pleasing scoring 92, averaging 2 a game and conceding 47, the second least in the league.

I have faith in this squad, with the only addition in the first season being Marc Albrighton for £60k!!

I will look to bring in 1 or 2, maybe 3 tops, but this young squad will be the way forward in the championship and hopefully securing me a place in the division.

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Great thread guys:) Have taken on the challenge of Mansfield in latest save, have managed to achieve two successive promotions up to now, with a late rattle both seasons ensuring champions status. Have pretty much done it on 1 year contracts as well with players so when arrived in League 1 was nearly a new squad (just kept 5/6 best players from season before) managed to get Tom Pope for 250k in league 1 and finished top scorer with 26 goals, got Matthew Bates on a free as well and he managed to score a hat-trick against Man City in the cup (random)....currently lying 8th in Championship with Ryan Tunnicliffe been my best player up to now, anyone got any decent level championship players they can recommend and low cost?

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Great thread guys:) Have taken on the challenge of Mansfield in latest save, have managed to achieve two successive promotions up to now, with a late rattle both seasons ensuring champions status. Have pretty much done it on 1 year contracts as well with players so when arrived in League 1 was nearly a new squad (just kept 5/6 best players from season before) managed to get Tom Pope for 250k in league 1 and finished top scorer with 26 goals, got Matthew Bates on a free as well and he managed to score a hat-trick against Man City in the cup (random)....currently lying 8th in Championship with Ryan Tunnicliffe been my best player up to now, anyone got any decent level championship players they can recommend and low cost?

Congratulations on the promotions mate :thup:

Any positions you need strengthening in particular?

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Update

So I went in to pre-season with a lot of players returning from loan on high wages. I've been given £6m to achieve a mid-table finish, but I didn't plan on spending that much.

My main aim was to get those high earners off the bill, even for low fees.

Doyle - £950k

Doumbia - £700k

Margreitter - £500k

Clarke - £400k

Jacobs - £1.5m

Ward - Free

Johnson - Free

That saved me a lot on wages and cut the squad down to a decent size.

I brought in Craig Eastmond from Colchester £600k and Joe Mattock from Sheff Wed for £450k. Both are young-ish and English and both have a good work rate.

My risk signing is Mehdi Carcela from Standard Liege for £1.5m. I have a feeling he's the kind of player that will frustrate me for 80 mins, but then do something special to win you the game and i feel he could earn me some valuable points in the championship.

The only other deal in the pipe line is a £1.8m deal for Alex Smithies. Again, young and English and could turn out to be a bargain, just waiting to offer him a contract!

I have Leicester home first day of the season and i'm then faced with a trips to Millwall, Newcastle and Aston Villa in my first 3 away games :( Hoping to pick up whatever points I can.

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Right, time to get my ass back in this thread!

I (FINALLY) have managed to finish my first season at Ewood Park and it has been a very successful one. We won the Championship relatively comfortably and reached the FA Cup semi finals. I'm pretty happy with that.

I say we won it fairly comfortably because even though we didn't really have any runs of poor form, we were pushed all the way first by QPR, then by Burnley towards the end of the season. Thankfully, none of the key players really suffered any dips in form either and we were able to maintain a points buffer all the way to the end.

SkyBetChampionship_OverviewStages-2_zps03dd195e.png?t=1393147917

I'm especially happy with our defence, conceeding less than a goal a game. If I can nip in the bud the games where we suddenly, inexplicably concede 3 goals then I'll be even happier. Of course this will now be against much better teams.

Aside from Bolton, Middlesbrough and, uhm.. another team were relegated. Bolton and Boro are currently being devoured by vultures! :D Brighton got promoted through the playoffs, so we can all lol at QPR and their wage bill.

I'm very happy with how the team played and that goals, whilst primarily from Rhodes, were spread out across the team. I think the ratings have been a little harsh considering how well we've played (Kean especially), but as long as the players are doing what I'm asking of them I can't complain, right?

BlackburnRovers_SquadPlayers-4_zps7dfa9d62.png?t=1393147933

Rhodes, perhaps as expected was a goalscoring monster, however he tended to be a bit streaky and could often disappear from games. Happily, Rochina and Judge did very well in front of goal to make up any slack. In turn, useful goals came from Marshall, Mellis and Campbell.

Before I move on to close season stuff, I forgot to mention the cream of the Youth Intake from March: Chester Adams He looks like he has the potential to be a cracking Playmaker and is already being tracked by Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea.

And so... On to the exciting stuff!

The board have been very generous for our return to the Premiership, and have given me a Transfer Budget of almost £21million and a Wage Budget of £721k p/w. However, given the general state of the clubs finances and dodgy existing contracts for some players, I'm going to be fairly frugal with the money and rely heavily on the squad that got us promoted.

Following that last statement, I'm obviously happy with the squad generally, though it does need reinforcing in a couple of areas. I desperately need a backup to Rhodes - Campbell isn't the sort of striker I need for my system - a new AML, DL and a couple of extra bodies in the centre of midfield are a priority.

Having said that, there is deadwood that needs to go: Etuhu, Best, Goodwillie, Taylor, Spurr are all either on ridiculous wages or aren't good enough anymore. I really want to keep Dunn on as a tutor, but he wants too high wages to renew, so sadly he'll be leaving on a free. I'm also going to be as brutal as possible with the U21s as there is so much junk in there.

The first thing I did was to turn Anthony Annan's loan into a permanent deal - he arrives on a Free from Schalke. I was not able to get Chelsea to agree to extend Todd Kane's loan for another year, so I decided to splash the cash. He arrives for an initial £1.5mil plus an extra £1.3mil in installments and clauses. I also moved quickly when I noticed that Mads Albaek was transfer-listed at just £425k - he is an excellent all-rounder and gives me options. I almost pulled off a bit a coup by signing Niklas Helenius, but sadly he chose Hull instead of us. I decided to gamble slightly, and have gone for an unknown (to me at least) Swiss striker as Rhodes' back up. Orhan Ademi arrives for just £725k. My last signing, so far, has been a regen striker from Crewe for a compensation fee of just over £100k - Stefan Hazell

So the purchases so far have been:

Stefan Hazell : £105k

Todd Kane : Rising to £2.8m

Orhan Ademi : £725k

Mads Albaek : £425k

Anthony Annan : Free

I am still looking for an AML mainly. I'm also in a conundrum about my defence. Kilgallon, Dann and Hanley should be ok as my main DCs, but I don't think Edwards is quite up to it and will probably go out on loan. I could bring in another DC, but I don't want to restrict Hanley's game time. I may have to look for a loan option; likewise the DL position.

(Do you know when your Reputation changes during close season? I'm just before the date when the tables reset - technically I'm still a Championship club at the moment. Do you think if I wait a few more days, I might be able to attract a higher level of player?)

I'm having difficulty in shifting the aforementioned deadwood - their wages are just too high for their Rep and CA, so I may have to go down the loan route - which is annoying.

So, in closing - any tips for AML? ;)

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Have started a save with Torquay after needing a break from my non-league save. However have done it a little bit differently - holidayed until the end of December and then took over. Consequently I inherited a squad fighting relegation and with half the side out injured and all loans already used up.

Will look to build the squad around Joss Labadie in central midfield, while Tranmere's James Rowe was the only addition in January. We're seven points clear of relegation with 13 games to go, however the bottom half of the league is so tight that anywhere from 15th down could still get sucked into trouble.

Since taking over we've gone 2-5-2, which isn't red hot but certainly isn't relegation form either. Looking forward to surviving and then gutting the squad in the summer.

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Congrats to dino (AFC Wimbledon), smplfc (Wolves), bellboy (Mansfield), krosotv (Birmingham) and MeesterCat (Blackburn) on your promotions. It's been good to see your updates, strategies and transfer business. Welcome along to City&Colour, good luck with The Gulls.

I'm still just above mid-table in the Championship with Portsmouth (February, season 4). I'm happy that my defence is a tough nut to crack with my new formation, but goals have been less forthcoming because of my cautious approach. The loss (again) of DR Congo striker Patrick N'Koyi for more than a month to the African Cup of Nations didn't help, but at least it gave some minutes to Harris and one of our original youngsters, Conor Chaplin, in attack.

Because of my change of tactics, where I stopped playing wingers early on, I've had to give my two decent wingers (Mahrez and Thiel) outings in unfamiliar positions (SS/F9) just to keep them happy and involved. The January transfer window came and went without any activity, and I was happy with that as I didn't even look at bringing in any players. That almost changed when I had a £1.7m bid from Zwolle (Eredivisie) to take N'Koyi on deadline today. After they agreed to up their offer to £2m (+20% of any future profit), I made a couple of tentative enquiries for replacements, but was actually pleased to cancel the deal and keep him at Fratton Park when a WP was refused for Salim Cisse, and the signing of Mbwana Samata could not be completed in time. Apart from that, I made no further bids for any players.

MeesterCat, I always thought that the rep changed after your promotion became 'active' - e.g. when the tables are updated. I might be wrong. For an AML, personally, I would look at Maxime Lestienne - probably less of a gamble than your Swiss striker!

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Cheers Jogo. I'd forgotten about him. I actually did a Player Thread for him for FM10 I think it was...

Are you seriously suggesting that my Wenger-esque Striker signing is a gamble?! :p I'll have you know he was Eintracht Braunschweig's 3rd best striker during the season just gone!

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I used Lestienne at Coventry in FM13, and he now looks a little better, if anything. Your 'prolific' marksman hasn't done much since a semi-decent season in the second tier of Austria about three years ago. But his FM14 stats don't look bad, and I am all for seeing new names, especially strikers. Last year I used Glynor Plet and this time it's Patrick N'Koyi - I enjoyed making both of them my main man.

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@Jogo Cheers mate :thup: Do you have new owners at Portsmouth now or is the money still tight despite your promotions?

Update

I did bring Smithies in for £1.2m in the end, being my 4th and final signing.

A great start to the season, sitting top with 9 points:

Wolves 2-1 Leicester

Wolves 3-0 Newport (Cup)

Milwall 0-3 Wolves

Wolves 2-1 Brentford

Perfect start, but 2 away games against relegated Newcastle and Villa coming up makes me more happy knowing i've already got some points in the bag.

I think the fact that i haven't changed my squad much has helped me get straight into the season in fine form!

Hopefully I can keep this going and even sneak a play-off spot, a long way to go yet though!

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@smp, nice start! No, money hasn't been tight for more than two seasons, I have £6m transfer kitty available, but don't wish to use it.

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I used Lestienne at Coventry in FM13, and he now looks a little better, if anything. Your 'prolific' marksman hasn't done much since a semi-decent season in the second tier of Austria about three years ago. But his FM14 stats don't look bad, and I am all for seeing new names, especially strikers. Last year I used Glynor Plet and this time it's Patrick N'Koyi - I enjoyed making both of them my main man.

Yeah, it might not pay off, but I like to try different people. I look at the other team threads and it's all the same names; Balanta this, Fierro that. I nearly splurged £8mil on Ricky Van Wolfswinkel from relegated Norwich, but I figured I'm trying to sort out the finances so I went for the cheaper option. And I'm a notorious cheapskate.

Edit: I just noticed that someone has made a player thread for him this year! I may have to loan him out on the basis of not being obscure enough.

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MC, looking just now at that player thread and the FMCU of the guy who made it, loaning him out should be the last thing on your mind!

I totally agree about different names, that's why I don't look at any player threads. I actually do all my scouting myself too, from names in my head, and do insane research on their real life performance/personality before completing any deals. I just find it so much more satisfying and rewarding that way.

As for Ademi, if you signed him before seeing he wasn't as obscure as you thought, give him a blast and forgive yourself!

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@smp, nice start! No, money hasn't been tight for more than two seasons, I have £6m transfer kitty available, but don't wish to use it.

Cheers. Fair enough mate, do you have plans to spend it when the right player(s) come available or just saving it for the club for now?

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The last players I bought were 1st July 2016, both pre-arranged Bosmans (it's now Feb 2017). I only have one out-of-contract player at the end of this season too, Rainford Kalaba, who is over 30 and won't be required any longer. I'm not really planning on selling or buying anyone in the summer window either, but of course that may change, especially if I cash in on some players. I don't know why, but I just feel I have enough in the squad, with plenty of the original players involved, some ex-Pompey players, and some decent young British and Irish guys too. To be honest, I know I can buy better quality and get promoted, but I'm trying to do it in an understated way, if it happens.

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2013/14 - Torquay United

A wretched half a season in charge which culminated in avoiding relegation by a single point, with an 81st minute Elliot Benyon goal on the final day keeping us up.

When I took over the club was 19th but in a congested table, and despite only winning two of my first nine games in charge, we drew five of them to be seven points clear after 33 games. Unfortunately injuries and suspensions continued to pile up, and a winless run of ten matches (seven losses, three draws) put us right back into the relegation mix, with my job security flicking between 'stable' and 'insecure'.

Going into the final day we were a point better than Northampton but with a worse goal difference, so effectively we needed to match their result. We had 18th placed Wycombe at home, while they hosted champions Oxford. Benyon's goal put us 2-1 up, and with Northampton grabbing their own winner in the 85th minute, it proved to be the goal which secured survival.

With 12 players coming out of contract, I plan on completely gutting and rebuilding the squad. We also got John James through in our youth intake, and he is rated as having the potential to be a good Premier League player.

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The last players I bought were 1st July 2016, both pre-arranged Bosmans (it's now Feb 2017). I only have one out-of-contract player at the end of this season too, Rainford Kalaba, who is over 30 and won't be required any longer. I'm not really planning on selling or buying anyone in the summer window either, but of course that may change, especially if I cash in on some players. I don't know why, but I just feel I have enough in the squad, with plenty of the original players involved, some ex-Pompey players, and some decent young British and Irish guys too. To be honest, I know I can buy better quality and get promoted, but I'm trying to do it in an understated way, if it happens.

I like that approach. I'm trying to do it myself in a way. I've kept pretty much all of the players that got me promoted last season, the only players I sold were the ones who were out on loan, i feel it keeps the tactics highly trained and team cohesion high. I've only brought in 4 players too, with 3 of them young English players who will stay for a long time i hope. I'm feeling more sense of achievement for getting these players playing well together rather than bringing in big names who wont play well as a team.

How is Zeli Ismail doing on your game? He's been absolutely outstanding at the start of this season for me, in 6 games he has scored 6 and had 5 assists!

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Well, dang. I advanced a couple of weeks in Pre-season and the promotion clauses for the team have kicked in. Get this: Paul Robinson had a 70% promotion clause in his contract. That I didn't spot. He's now on £60k p/w. :(

I now have the best part of £200k in weekly wages being paid to players who are never going to get a game and are going to be impossible to shift.

Robinson - £60k p/w

Etuhu - £45k p/w

Best - £52k p/w

Goodwillie - £26k p/w

Slew - £12k p/w (This guy isn't even good enough for the U21s!)

Frustratingly, most of them run until 2016. This is unsustainable for a club with a 31,000 stadium, and I'm glad I've been careful with the spending so far. On that note I signed highly rated Dundee Utd left back Andy Robertson for £1.3m and should have a season loan of Adnan Januzaj completed shortly. I think that will complete my signings for the summer unless an absolutely stonking deal comes along.

Excellent job at survival C&C, even if you are Torquay :p Hopefully you'll be able to kick on in the second season. James looks like an excellent prospect!

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CityAndColour: Congrats, a tense but ultimately successful battle won! Good luck for season 2.

smplfc: Cheers for the approach endorsement, we are fairly similar by the looks of it. I'll take a look at Ismail next time I have the game open, but I don't remember his name coming up as being anything amazing. Great performances for you though!

MeesterCat: I hate those clauses! The inherited contracts are a real pain and what a waste of cash on those lot. It's madness, but it's Blackburn! On a positive note, I really like the signings of Robertson and Januzaj. I've checked out Robertson a few times just for awarenesss when/if I ever manage to get on to another save - he has been superb and his value has soared.

I've progressed to mid-March at Portsmouth. After a solid run of results, including a 2-1 win at table-topping Norwich, I have dropped off a little since a 3-0 loss at promotion-chasing Southampton in the following match. The fans didn't like that one, but a classy treble from Van Wolfswinkel did the damage. We followed this with a couple more draws, one where we conceded a 90th minute penalty, and we are sat back where we started, just above mid-table. To illustrate my tactical system, we are second lowest scorers in the league, and have the second best defensive record (behind leaders Norwich).

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Excellent job at survival C&C, even if you are Torquay :p Hopefully you'll be able to kick on in the second season. James looks like an excellent prospect!

That he does - I'm already getting bombarded with derisory offers from Bolton, Leeds, Burnley and Wigan for him. At one point I rejected offers of around £22K, so they kept coming back with offers of around £4.6K - figure that one out.

The squad overhaul went well, picked up some very good players for this level:

Anthony Malbon - the Kidderminster maestro comes for a club record £110K, although only part of that fee is up front. Paid for entirely by two clause buyouts for players who were sold before I took over.

Kwesi Appiah - former Palace striker, is quick and can finish. On a free.

Joe Widdowson - attacking left back on a free from relegated Northampton.

Jamie Turley - centre half on a free from my real life team, Forest Green. Signed for depth.

Ryan Leonard - utility man on a free from Southend, will play right back mainly.

Stuart Lewis - free from Wycombe, a solid box to box type.

Lenny Pidgeley comes in as my number two in goal, while loanees Harry Lennon (centre half, Charlton) and Jonathan Tiffoney (right back, Alloa) give me some squad depth. There's still another £2,500 per week in the wage budget too but may save that for January.

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UPDATE

So, 17 games in to my second season and my first in the Championship, I couldn't be more happier with my Wolves side!

Played 17

Won 11

Drawn 4

Lost 2

2nd place, 2 pts behind leaders Newcastle and 7 points clear of 7th place, meaning i'm comfortably in the play off reckoning at the moment.

My squad:

Gk - Smithies, McCarey

Rb - Doherty, Foley

Lb - Elokobi, Mattock

Cb - Batth, Hause,

Cb - Stearman, Ricketts, Ebanks-Landell

Dm - Eastmond, Davies

Cm - McDonald, Edwards, Price

Cm - O'hara, Evans

Amr - Henry, Albrighton, Ismail

Aml - Sako, Carcela

St - Siguardasson, McAlinden, Dicko.

As you can see, 21 of those players were at Wolves when i started in League 1, so keeping the squad tight and together, making sure my signings are thought out and will fit in with the hard working way i play is paramount to my success so far!

The only thing i may look to improve on in January is a striker. All 3 of my strikers are grabbing a goal here and there without taking a run of games by the scruff. McAlinden is still young and has 5 in 5 starts, so i'm happy enough with him, i just think i may need that extra quality to push me on. Carcela has been the signing i'd hoped he'd be, scoring 6 and getting 4 assists in his 14 games.

Anyone got any ideas on an Advanced Forward for me?

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CityAndColour, some decent lower-level L2 signings there, I would imagine both Malbon & Lewis would do decent jobs for you in particular. Good luck.

smplfc, I like your approach, doing it with most of the originals. Carcela looked on paper to be a fantastic signing, it's reassuring to know it's turned out like that! I've had McCarey as my starting 'keeper at Portsmouth for a while, after originally being my understudy.

Talking of Portsmouth, I realised I've been on this save for about 3 months and I'm only now nearing the end of season 4 - slow progress. I've decided, although planning to keep that one going, that I need to manage in some other countries too. I want to set up some alternatives in different countries prior to the database/transfer update, and there are countries I have never managed in (Spain, Italy, Germany are surprisingly amongst them) that I wanted to explore.

I usually go somewhere different after completing a Football League save, as a contrast to it, before going back to FL72 territory. I've done clubs in Israel, Denmark, Brazil, Croatia, Belgium, Holland, France and USA amongst others, but there are certain things to do before the data update, and I need to get on with it even though I haven't yet finished with Portsmouth. As I am currently in Spain, I should have tried here first, but I'm a bit reluctant because of the difficulty in toppling Barca and Madrid - especially without any decent funding. So, whilst I decide on which clubs to crack on with, I've gone back to France.

I'll get season 4 with Portsmouth completed soon, and will always be checking on your updates and contributing to this great thread. And I've got a few teams in mind for my next bash in here already, so you won't escape my ramblings for long!

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CityAndColour, some decent lower-level L2 signings there, I would imagine both Malbon & Lewis would do decent jobs for you in particular. Good luck.

Started the season really well (three wins from four in the league, third round of the League Cup after dispatching L1 Leyton Orient and CCC Doncaster) but got itchy feet for the lower leagues again, so have started a save with Canvey Island (same colours and nickname!).

Have kept my Torquay save though and will definitely go back to it at some point though, if only to develop James.

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So, whilst I decide on which clubs to crack on with, I've gone back to France.

Good luck with your excursion amongst our Gallic friends. Have you decided upon a team?

I've not really made any progress in my save, despite getting an hour or two to play it most evenings at the moment - my glacial pace gets even slower during the close season. I am amongst the friendlies however. Annoyingly, I've had a setback as my Januzaj loan deal got gazumped by Wigan(!) - I guess he thought he'd get more game time with them. So I'm still looking for an AML. I think I've narrowed it down to Lestienne or Ince, but I was hoping to get someone a bit more experienced; my first team's average age is 23 (the youngest in the Premiership) and I dont find this completely 'realistic'.

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CityAndColour, good luck at Canvey Island. Hopefully you will return to Torquay some time soon.

Meester, I've taken over at St.Etienne. They just edged out Marseille due to having a transfer budget and a thread in here - which I've added an update to. That's a shame about Januzaj, but I hear Ince usually performs for managers that have signed him. As for a slightly older alternative to him or Lestienne, I can't think of anyone. I doubt Tabanou is old enough? I know what you mean about the close season - it also takes me (virtual) days to get through that and winter windows in the early years of my saves.

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Ah Tabanou, I fond memories of him from my FM12 CL winning Lille side. He was my Complete WingBack before the role existed!

I'll keep an eye on the thread for your progress. I should really do a Lille save seeing as I created the thread for it...

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@Jogo - Good luck on your travels mate, i'll keep an eye on your updates.

Update

Well what a season that was. I managed to amass 86 points, earning me 2nd place, 19 points behind runaway leaders Newcastle, propelling me in to back to back promotions and in to the PREMIERSHIP!

I'm so pleased that i've managed to do this with the majority of the squad still in tact from when i took over.

I plan on keeping the bulk of the squad again, but I do feel i will need to make the spine of my team stronger, maybe with some experienced premiership players to mix it up with the young inexperienced players. It will all depend on the budget i'm given i suppose!

This will be one of the most intersting/challenging transfer windows i've had.

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Cheers guys, keep up the good work as I'll be watching closely!

Also, to all you contributors, let me know how the latest update version goes in the Football League - I won't be adding it just yet.

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Oh, not going to be able to play as Colchester on the new database. A player who has been in the first team since he signed before Christmas rated as just about good enough to be backup, some senior players receiving skill reductions for no reason (I could throw in the ridiculous skill reductions that were handed out in FM13 during a bad run of form but never reverted after a good run of form towards the end of the season). Thankfully some of the young players got their deserved buffs, but it means nothing when the researcher seems to disagree with the club's owner and has decided that only being Category 3 means we're not allowed any youth staff, no Head of Youth Development, only 1 scout and only 3 senior staff plus the assistant. All when and good having "Great" Training and Youth facilities, but what's the points if you have to choose between having a physio and a coach? It's a good thing they're already at the club, but can the club (in the game) sack those staff if they think we've got too many? Can they refuse to allow contract extensions?

I think I'm going to have to stay with the previous database for a Colchester save. -sigh-

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Was struggling for inspiration so I started a save by holidaying a season and seeing what was available after doing that. Derby finished 24th in the Championship and sacked McClaren, offering me the job in the process. I saw this as a nice little challenge to restore a fallen giant (hopefully).

Managed to retain the core of players that I wanted, as well as getting rid of the high earners and bringing in some of my own players. Still have a core to the side of Grant, O'Brien, Buxton,, Barker, Hendrick, Eustace, Hughes and Russell, and hopefully some of these will see me through to the Premiership if/when I get there.

Brought in £6.5m for the players I sold, and only spent £350k (on Jon Taylor) as well as a few frees, majority of which were for tutoring purposes.

Started the season with three wins, at home to Notts County, away to Braintree in the COCup, and away to Crawley in the league. Conceding too many goals still and that is something I need to sort, but luckily I'm creating plenty of chances.

Will hopefully update in more detail as I go on.

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Think I'm going to do the same as you Jamo, nothing seems to be interesting at me when I start a game.

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It always throws up some interesting scenarios that you can work with. The one I've ended up with is a really good example I think, what with Derby being a relatively large club and having such good facilities. I plan on trying to follow the Southampton model as closely as I can.

Plus, Will Hughes in League 1 :eek:

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