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james_wilko

FM14: Newcastle United - Vive La Revolution

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Welcome to the Official Newcastle United Thread for FM 2014. I have taken the plunge and created the thread after the beauty created by Tommonufc last season, and I am already regretting it. Oh well, hopefully this thread, like Newcastle United under your guidance can go from strength to strength.

Why Newcastle?

I could give you a history lesson on Newcastle, explain why a club with this fan base and history is an easy choice to make, and trust me I want to. But that would all swamped in my own bias. So, instead I will try and give you some encouragement from my own experiences managing Newcastle in previous FMs.

#1 You have one of the best players to watch in game, Hatem Ben Arfa. A regular occurrence in FM2013 for me was Ben Arfa receiving the ball on the right, dribbling past practically the entire team and then scoring a perfect side footed finish. If you haven`t had the chance to witness this yet, that alone should be enough to bring you to Newcastle.

#2 The challenge. Nothing worth having in life comes easy, and nothing comes easy in Newcastle. The media expects Newcastle to finish 16th, and while you have a talented first 11, beyond that there is very little. When coupled with the lack of funds you get early doors you will struggle to build an outstanding squad so managing Newcastle to the top will require creative management and expert use of your small bank balance. Are you up to it?

#3 The potential. 52405 seater stadium, superb training facilities and great youth facilities is a great base for you to work from. As it is unlikely you will be buying any 30 million pound players in your first few years, your youth team becomes very important. If you can improve the youth recruitment (currently above average) to help you build your squad from the academy then you stand a good chance of developing a talented young team that will help you lead Newcastle to the glory it so sorely craves.

#4 No trophies (of any value) since 1969. Who wouldn`t want to end that depressing run?

The Squad and Tactics

So now you`ve decided to sign a contract with Newcastle, here are the players who will form the beginning of your legacy. I have omitted the youth and reserve teams, because on a whole they are poor and you`ll be better off scrapping the ones there and starting over. The exceptions to this are probably Jak Alnwick and Adam Campbell who both seem to have high potential that you should nurture. You could possibly add Kevin Mbabu to this list as well.

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So there is Newcastle`s first team squad, and as you can see there are many good players, far too good for 16th position in fact. But as I said before, after the first 11 you will struggle and a few injuries would severely damage the team.

The Key Men

Goalkeeper – Tim Krul

Your number one and with good reason. One of the better keepers in the Premier League and with room to grow, provided you keep him happy and make Newcastle a top team again you could have that position sorted for 10 years.

Defence – Fabricio Coloccini

Team captain, approaching the end of his career at 31 but more than capable of being a starter for the next two seasons and a strong squad player when he gets too old for regular games. Great mental attributes that you should use to develop some of the younger players.

Midfield – Yohan Cabaye

The playmaker and Vice-Captain. A great passer with good mental attributes, the sort of player you should build your squad around. Versatile too, can comfortably play most creative midfield roles and I am currently using him as an Enganche in the CAM position.

Midfield – Hatem Ben Arfa

Le Wizard. Great dribbler, high technique and good passing but lazy with poor work rate. Ignore the negatives and focus on the positives, he is a player who can win you matches and silverware with one moment of brilliance. Either play him in CAM or RAM and watch the goals and assists fly in. But with the good comes the bad, and much like in real life you will have to be prepared for some awful performances too.

Striker – Papiss Cisse

The Number 9. A limited striker so don`t except him to be dropping deep, dribbling past a couple of players before playing the perfect pass for someone else to score because he can`t do that. Supply him with chances though and he will score. Poacher/Advanced forward, the choice is yours. Like Ben Arfa you will have to manage around his inconsistency but again if managed correctly it`s worth the hassle.

Honourable mentions to Yoann Gouffran, a versatile forward who while lacking quality will always put in a shift. He may not have the stand out attributes of players like Cisse and Ben Arfa, but he is a more than capable back up.

Loic Remy is another player who you will be happy to see in your squad. I use him as a wide target man on the left and he performs consistently well, but I have no doubts about his capability to lead the line either alongside or in place of Cisse.

Recommended formations.

I would either go 4-3-1-2, 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1 depending on who you buy/sell/injuries. Personally I am using a variation of 4-2-3-1 with 1 DM, 1CM and then a LAM/CAM/RAM combination behind the striker. Below you can see my formation in action, and the bare bones of the other two.

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To sign and to sell.

You receive 8 million at the start of the game and around 50k/week spare in wages, not great and not enough to overhaul the squad so for every two players you sell you will probably want to bring in 3. Difficult, but possible.

Who you sell and keep is up to you, but here are the players I recommend moving on:

Jonas Gutierrez – value 3.5mil. Wages 40k/week.

Aging, not particularly creative and while he will work for the team he lacks quality. He is also one of your higher earners, imagine how much better you can get for that wage. I sold him to Everton at market value, but I imagine you can get maybe 5million for him.

Cheik Tiote – Value 8.5mil. Wages 35k/week.

An extra 8.5mil to the pittance we call a transfer budget is too good to turn down, and Tiote has a more than able replacement in the squad in Vurnon Anita. Again sold for market value to Roma right at the start but you can almost certainly get more than that. If he is as good as he was in last years FM (when managed correctly) he will be a loss, so this is a judgement call.

Gabriel Obertan – Value 4mil. Wages 12k/week.

Not a high earner and not massively valuable, but much like he won`t bring much money in he won`t do much in a game for you. Quick but with nothing much to offer the team, he`s a poor player to try and back up HBA and you have better players who can play out wide. Sell quick, I doubt you will get more than his value for him though.

Sylvain Marveaux – Value 5mil. Wages 40k/week.

A good player to have in the squad, but if you aren`t planning on using a CAM then he`s a player you don`t really need. As with Jonas he earns 40k/week which is a good amount of money to have back for rebuilding the squad.

You could cash in on HBA and Cabaye as both are getting interest from some big clubs early on, but I wouldn`t recommend it. I signed them both to long term deals because they will be key. Santon is another who is a target from the big teams and one you could possibly handle losing with Haidara being a capable back up, but I opted against this and after several month he finally forgave me and signed a long term deal with the club.

To sign:

The players you sign will be ones who fit your managerial plan, if you want quality youngsters then I`m sure you`ve already started noting the future superstars mentioned on the forum, and if you like to sign older players who you know are class then you won`t need to waste time researching. But, here are a few of the players I signed and why I think they will be good additions to the squad.

Marc Wilson – Stoke

A versatile player, he provides cover for DM, CM and all three of the main defensive positions. I brought him in for 2.9mil and 28k/week in wages. While not an outstanding player, his versatility allow you a bit of freedom on the bench so you can stick an extra attacker on there.

Wilfried Zaha – Man Utd

Brought in on loan, he covers all across my attacking three. Man Utd have him up for loan so there`s no monthly fee, and wages of 17.5k/week. An upgrade on Obertan and seemingly happy to only play occasionally.

Michy Batshuayi - Standard Liege.

Signed for 4mil, he`s a promising striker who I am probably ruining by training him to play as a left winger with the view of him becoming a Wide Target Man, the same role I have Remy playing. Despite the lack of games, new country and completely alien position he`s now playing, he has performed quite well for me so far and I can only see him improving as he adapts to his new role and country.

Mohammed Diame - West Ham

Not one I have signed, but available for 3.5mil at the start he`s a cheap, combative midfielder who would shine in a ballwinning or box to box midfield role. Looks very similar to Moussa, but a bargain at that price.

Keisuke Honda - CSKA Moscow

Another I haven`t signed, but his contract runs out at the end of December 2013 and he is one hell of a player. You could probably sign him early for around 2mil, and if you plan on building your budget by selling someone like Cabaye then Honda has all the attributes necessary to replace him. Also potentially has the revenue benefits signing highly rated Asian players can bring in. Well worth a look.

It will be worth your while checking out the threads in here about cheap players and good youngsters as that`s all you can really afford in your first season unless you cash in on a star player.

So, you`ve made it this far. Do you have what it takes to take a club with one of the biggest fan bases in world football to the dreamy heights of European Football and finally clear some of the dust out of the trophy cabinet as you build the most dominant football team England has ever known? If so, good luck and enjoy the ride.

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Well the new patch is out, and usually you'd get a nice detailed update here with all the changes to the squad. I'm playing without a transfer budget for the challenge, but I'll still suggest some players.

Alas Newcastle only brought in one and let one go so there's not much to change.

You're now without Cabaye, so you'll want to look for a replacement. With the small transfer budget, I don't think that will be particularly easy. Personally, having used him as an Enganche in the CAM position, I'd be looking at the likes of Matias Fernandez from Fiorentina (and transfer listed) or Ibrahim Afellay who is transfer listed at Barcelona. Another option is to play either Moussa or HBA in the CAM role if you're looking to play with a 4-2-3-1. If you want to go 4-4-2 I don't think you'll need to worry about signing a direct replacement, as while you'd lose the creativity, Sissoko's strength and ability to force his way forward is a workable alternative.

But to the good news. First up, Loic Remy has been improved and now looks like a usable striker instead of being useless most of the time (15 finishing and 14 composure, pretty good). He'd also be a good option to play AML as an inside forward.

Next bit of good news, Luuk De Jong is here on loan (with an agreement to buy for 8mil) and he looks a good striker. From my test saves, he performed best with a partner while playing as a TM(A). I can see LDJ and Remy being very good both IRL and in game and that will be what I'm aiming to use this season.

Following on from my tests before the patch, I will be using a 4-4-2 variation, aiming to get all the best players on the pitch and out score the opponent. The back up option will be a 4-2-3-1 with Sissoko and Anita playing behind HBA, Remy and Gouffran on the wings and LDJ up top. Or, Tiote and Anita behind Sissoko and HBA/Remy on the wings.

On the downgrading side, Cisse has been taken down a fair bit which I don't think any can complain with since he's been crap for about 18 months now. Adam Cambell has had his PA reduced but his CA has improved and he's a step closer to being a first team player 'cause of it. It means he's unlikely to reach the superstar heights of past saves, but he'll still become a very good striker (if a bit one dimensional). I can't notice any obvious changes, but there may be a point or two change between players.

Recommended New Signings

The main part of this, if you're using the transfer budget then there are several positions that could do with strengthening.

#1 A right back, I went for Flannagan from Liverpool on loan. But, there are many good young options for RB to cover Debuchy, with the likes of Naughton, Gunter and others available for a decent fee.

#2 Wide midfielders. Currently you have HBA, Gouffran, Marveaux, Remy and Obertan as first team options for the wide positions, but personally I don't rate Obertan (who does?) and would rather play Remy up front. As such I'd be looking to bring in another player to play AMR to cover HBA, I'd probably go for Nathan Dyer to inject some real pace into the squad.

#3 A creative midfielder. The best one available for a lowish fee is probably Afellay, but if you have the budget I'd recommend someone like Milan Badelj who is pretty similar to Cabaye. Not sure how much he'd cost though.

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Brave man James, taking the plunge to set this up. :thup:

Good read, totally spot on with reasons to start a Newcastle save too.

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Diame could be a good midfielder to strengthen the midfield in my opinion, especially for £3.5m :cool:.

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If that is how little you can pick him up for then yes, Diame would be great at Newcastle. Would he be happy as a squad player though? Because Newcastle`s midfield is the strongest part of their squad.

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Great thread!

Although I've had a good start to my NUFC season (5th after 11 games), Hatem want's away & to move to a bigger club. I've tried everything, including encouraging his french teammates to convince him to stay but to no avail.

Any ideas of for an adequate replacement?

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If that is how little you can pick him up for then yes, Diame would be great at Newcastle. Would he be happy as a squad player though? Because Newcastle`s midfield is the strongest part of their squad.

Depends on how you want to balance the midfield. He is stronger, in my opinion than some of the players there. An attacking option could be Keisuke Honda, who is available to sign on a pre-contract for January 1st.

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Great thread!

Although I've had a good start to my NUFC season (5th after 11 games), Hatem want's away & to move to a bigger club. I've tried everything, including encouraging his french teammates to convince him to stay but to no avail.

Any ideas of for an adequate replacement?

How are you using him?

and SRL, cheers for the tip. He`s went to Man Utd on my save, but I`ll stick him in the opening post for people starting a new game. Ditto Honda.

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How are you using him?

and SRL, cheers for the tip. He`s went to Man Utd on my save, but I`ll stick him in the opening post for people starting a new game. Ditto Honda.

Sorry, forgot to say. I'm using him at RW as an Inside Forward.

Seconded on the Honda signing, he's been at the centre of everything for me. You can wait until Jan to get him on a pre, I decided to pay £1.5m to get him before the season started. You also get a boost in merch sales so it's worth every penny!

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Cheers for the update on Honda, Jack. He`s added to the list of players to sign.

As for HBA, if I was you I would try to keep hold of him. If you keep performing well in the league he`ll get happy eventually, then slap a big contract offer on the table and he should sign. I did this with Santon, and to HBA/Cabaye before they could get unhappy, and now all three are tied down to 2018.

If he forces his way out, I had quite a bit of success with Eduardo Salvio on last years FM. He still looks a great player and at 23 he should only get better. He`s available for loan at the start of the game, and the scouts reckon you could get him for between 11-17mil. 17 is probably a bit much, see if you can loan him first and sign him if he performs.

At a push, you can keep using Gouffran out there. He always performs for me so he should be solid for the remainder of the season.

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I was able to pick up Honda before the transfer window closed for £1.6 million on my beta save. His contract demands were pretty reasonable.

I've been using him at AMC behind the striker so I can use Ben Arfa to cut in from out on the right, but he can also drop back to MC to play the deep lying playmaker role if Cabaye is out.

I'm at work just now so can't give you too much info about my save, but I wasn't able to offload anyone during the summer to raise extra funds, so apart from Honda I've only added a couple of loanees.

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Jack, if you search for players similar to HBA you will get a list of players who play like he does. One of the ones who show up is Ravel Morrison from West Ham. Not sure how much he will cost but it should be less than Salvio and he`s younger and English so good on three counts. If you can get him tutor by one of the senior players (I`d go for Cabaye) then you have a potential star there.

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Just got to the end of pre-season and here are my summer dealings:

Newcastle_TransfersTransferHistory-2_zps312584d4.png

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Cracking signings there SRL, you planning on a back three with bringing in Papadopoulos? Or will he be part of the two CBs?

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Cheers for the update on Honda, Jack. He`s added to the list of players to sign.

As for HBA, if I was you I would try to keep hold of him. If you keep performing well in the league he`ll get happy eventually, then slap a big contract offer on the table and he should sign. I did this with Santon, and to HBA/Cabaye before they could get unhappy, and now all three are tied down to 2018.

If he forces his way out, I had quite a bit of success with Eduardo Salvio on last years FM. He still looks a great player and at 23 he should only get better. He`s available for loan at the start of the game, and the scouts reckon you could get him for between 11-17mil. 17 is probably a bit much, see if you can loan him first and sign him if he performs.

At a push, you can keep using Gouffran out there. He always performs for me so he should be solid for the remainder of the season.

Cheers for the advice James! Coincidentally, I just continued my game and got this..

benarfa1.jpg

I'll take your advice & tie him down with a new contract asap!

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Really looking forward to starting a new save once full version comes out. Couldn't get into last years game. Anyone bought balanta? That Colombian centre back. He looks incredible!!

Ps. Amazed you can get 4 million for obertan!!

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Cheers for the advice James! Coincidentally, I just continued my game and got this..

benarfa1.jpg

I'll take your advice & tie him down with a new contract asap!

That`s great, I`m paying him around 70k/week but I was desperate to keep hold so I don`t mind. Plus he is one of the best players at your squad and deserves it. Cabaye is on similar as well.

He`s just scored a brace for me V West Brom. Rest of the team let him down and we drew 2-2, but currently sitting 4th on 24 points from 12 games so I`m not too unhappy about it.

& Wils, I haven`t used Balanta but one look at his stats suggest he would be a very good signing. Went to Atletico Madrid for 6mil on my save so that`s a good price for him. Looks like he needs some work on his concentration (vital for a CB imo) but when you think how many years he should play for you I would definitely make an offer.

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You can also use that 4mil to get Leandro Damiao! Bought for 4.4m - 8 goals in 12 apps so far for me, and already worth over double what I paid (10.75m).

Heard good things about this Balanta fella too, might be a january purchase for me.

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You overpaid on ince i've just signed him for 3 million rising to 3.6 million he was meant to go back to blackpool on loan but they pulled out.

2013-10-20_00007_zps3abf37b1.jpg

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Cracking signings there SRL, you planning on a back three with bringing in Papadopoulos? Or will he be part of the two CBs?

Will likely be two CB's, but we will see on that.

You overpaid on ince i've just signed him for 3 million rising to 3.6 million he was meant to go back to blackpool on loan but they pulled out.

They wouldn't budge lower than £7.5m for me.

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Is anyone making use of the new player roles?

I personally have my CAM (either Cabaye or Marveaux) as a Enganche, my DM (one of Anita, Wilson or Zuculini) as a Half Back, both full backs as Complete Wingbacks and my LAM (usually Remy, but Gouffran and Batshuayi play there too) as a Wide Target Man - Support.

All these new roles seem to suit the players perfectly. Cabaye is a monster as an Enganche involved in most goals we score, Anita is dropping back and covering well when Santon/Debuchy bomb forward and Remy is solid on the left with 2 goals and 4 assists in 8 games so far. Very happy with the way it makes the team play as well.

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in my fist save i used ben arfa as a false nine in a 442 with advanced wingers him and cisse formed a lethal partnership both ended up in the premiership team of the year.

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Nice Jack, Ince is ruining his career in Scotland with Celtic in my save. Gutted as I was hoping to sign him this January :(

He went there for 2.5mil as well! I know he would have been a great player for the squad, but I`ll have to move on.

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2013/14 - Half Term Report - You have to be effin jokin 'ere

Right, hope you'll forgive the woeful pun there. Home late from work and thought I'd give a bit of detail so far on my beta save progress. I've made it into the January window of the first season and in the league we're far better than I'd hoped for so far. Ourselves and Everton are the surprise members of the top four going into the second half of the season with Man Utd and Chelsea occupying first and secon at the moment.

Transfer Activity

Not the busiest summer transfer window I've had on FM. I decided that I wasn't going to make too many changes anyway, the only players I was going to try and offload were Gosling, Obertan and Gutierrez and then try bring in maybe another striker, winger and defender if possible. With some agent fees and loyalty bonuses coming out of your transfer budget it meant my £8 million didn't stretch all that far after arranging one permanent signing and a couple of loans. I also wasn't able to scare up any offers for some of my transfer listed players, and my esteemed DoF didn't have much luck either.

Looking at the transfer list right at the start of the game one name rather jumped out at me. He's already been mentioned above and, despite midfield being the strongest area of the squad, I couldn't resist snapping up Keisuke Honda for the bargain price of £1.6million. Although MC is his natural position, I actually brought him in to play at AMC so I could use Ben Arfa as an Inside Forward on the right. My only other signings were two loanees, but 2 pretty quality loanees I think. Nico Gaitan and Eduardo Salvio both arrived from Benfica until the end of the season. Gaitan to be my first choice left winger, Salvio as back up for both wings.

As mentioned I didn't have any major outbound transfers, despite trying to actively offload one or two players. The only players who left in the summer were Streete, Good, Tavernier and Bgirimanna on loan deals.

Results so far

w7x9.png

I've set the team up in a fairly standard 4-2-3-1 formation which I think suits the personnel best, playing with a high line, hassling opponents and short passing which seems to be suiting the players so far. We've been pretty lucky with injuries so far, apart from one spell right after the Man utd game where we lost Krul, Cabaye and Yanga-Mbiwa in the spce of a couple days during an international break. The injury to Krul was the most serious, especially as both Alnwick and Elliot were out at the time too. Krul's lower back stress fracture meant we had to face Everton with one of the Under 18 keepers in goal and missing other key players, not surprisingly balance of the team was off and that meant our first defeat of the season. We were still missing a few key players when Cardiff put us out of the League Cup, but we still managed to pick up some good results in the league.

Even with all our players back December was a pretty tough month given the fixtures we had to play but over all I was pretty happy with our form. We rather threw away a win at West Brom, then really should have gotten at least a draw against Chelsea but missed a hatful of chances. We played exceptionally well against Norwich, Sunderland (should have been way more than 1-0) and Liverpool. The only disappointing performance was the 3-0 defeat to Man City who really just bullied us right from the off.

Best results

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Two of our best performances so far. I think i was happiest with the Liverpool game as it came on the back of the hiding from Man City and when they took the lead I was thinking 'Here we go again' but the team fought back to take a half time lead and were looking pretty comfortably defensively in the second half even before Lucas got sent off. The late, late brace from Sammy was just some nice icing on top.

So I was feeling fairly smug and confident after that game as I started to write this and then we got brought back down to earth with a bump by this....

vhus.png

In some ways one of our best performances in terms of possession, shots on goal and passing but dear oh dear.....extra shooting practise for all I think.

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DandyDon, seems like your tactic is working out quite well. To other Newcastle Fans, I tried to rebuild the squad with promising youngsters. To that end, I managed to sell Obertan for 6 million, Santon for 30 million after 1 season, Mbiwa for 15 after 1 season, Ben Arfa for 18 after 1 season (didn't want to sell but he got pissed). I would suggest keeping Tiote, Anita as they have been stars. Marveaux actually performs alright so could keep him for couple seasons until strong enough to ship him. Signed Balanta for 6 and Ummiti for 5. Vitinho for free after 1 season and he's a beast. Been trying to control finances while signing tons of 15 years old as you know our Youth System could be a bit weak.

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I'm also playing with Newcastle - like always when a new FM hits the shelf.

Been experimented a bit with the tactics, but looks like a 4-2-3-1 suits the team alright. Sold Gosling, Gouffran, Williamson, Obertan and Jonas for a nice £19M.

Brought in Papadopoulos (£10.25M), Bennett, Zaha (loan). Then with around a week to go of the transfer market, HBA wanted to be transferlisted - tried to convince him, but it failed.

Sold him to Real for £26.5M - and used some of the money to bring in Gaitan (£7M) and Niang (£5.25M)...

I have a problem though. The board wants me to bring in youngsters for the first team. Niang and Papa playes regularly - but the board are stille very disappointed. What to do?

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I have a problem though. The board wants me to bring in youngsters for the first team. Niang and Papa playes regularly - but the board are stille very disappointed. What to do?

I had the same problem. The only solution I can think of is to sign teenagers who you can throw straight in, but also ones you offer a contract of rotation and above.

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Yeah, but i signed Niang (18 - First Team in contract) and Papadopoulos (21 - squad rotation in contract) and the played 8-9 games from the kickoff in 14 matches. I think thats af first team player?

But maybe i'll have to give them more time.

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Okay, looks like a bug for me too.

EDIT: I just checked again, now the bar is on 19%... Could be because you need to give the signings enough games - and in that way show that they indeed are first team youngsters.

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Just had an unhappy Moyes complaining Zaha isn`t playing enough, I told him he wasn`t good enough for first team football and he accepted it.

Even in game Moyes hasn`t got a clue :D

Also strangely had the press talking to Jol about us playing a high possession game, we don`t. I have no desire to play a strong possession game and we tend to play quite direct/attacking football.

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Can't really get Cissé going. Playing 4-2-3-1 with ham as a lone striker. Tried AF and Poacher, without any luck. How are you playing your striker?

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I am playing a 4-2-3-1 formation also and Cisse is doing alright. He isn't setting the world alight by any stretch of the imagination but he has 5 goals in 13 games. His link up play at bringing Ince & Ben Arfa in is pretty good.

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I have Cisse as an AF, with an Enganche behind him, a wide target men to the left and an inside forward on the right. How are your players set up behind him? Because he isn`t good enough to create his own chances and it needs to be relatively direct to get him performing.

in 17 games for me he has 14 goals, but he is so inconsistent. 2 goals one game, then 2 games where he does nothing, then he will score 5 goals in three matches and do sod all in the next 4. It`s driving me wild, I am getting tempted to sell come the end of the season.

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The fans are a little upset with me after I finally sold Gutierrez in the January window as we only got £2.5 million for him. The only other bids we've received have been three seperate bids in 10 days for Davide Santon, all from Chelsea. None of them remotely close to what I would consider. Santon's agent of course jumped in asking for a new contract after we turned down the second bid, but I'm glad to see that the wage increase was actually pretty reasonable....got used to players on FM13 demanding that their wages be doubled, even trebled at times. His new wage is £38k a week, well under what we could offer for a player of his stature so I didn't even bother haggling with his agent.

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in 17 games for me he has 14 goals, but he is so inconsistent. 2 goals one game, then 2 games where he does nothing, then he will score 5 goals in three matches and do sod all in the next 4. It`s driving me wild, I am getting tempted to sell come the end of the season.

Still he's a bit more prolific in game than he has been so far irl. As you say he's not really good enough to create chances on his own as a lone striker, but the strength of the squad elsewhere tends to suggest a lone striker formation. He has been playing fairly well for me but like you I will consider selling him if it will let me bring in a more rounded/consistent frontman next season.

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Hard to tell whether I want to risk Campbell from next season, or if I go for a proven player.

Gouffran may do a job, might try him out a few times this season.

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Just lost Ben Arfa for 4 months right after the January window closed. Got kicked off the park as we grabbed a 2-1 win at Villa. :(

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Update- January 1st 2014

Alright lads here is my first update for my team.

Signings -

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Favourite signing has been Youri Tielemans or Michy Batshuayi. Young players who haven`t played much but soon they could be mainstays in my team. Youri has looked decent subbing in for Cabaye in cup games or the odd Premier League game he has been involved in. Highly recommend picking him up, less than 2mil for my future Enganche, well worth it. Batshuayi has started a few games with Remy being injured and has been solid but not outstanding. 6 games, no goals (but he is getting close) and one assist.

Honourable mention to Wilson, been great as a squad player and slots in and performs well no matter where I have stuck him which so far has been left or right back, centre back and defensive mid.

Fixtures -

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Expected loses to some of the bigger teams (Man Utd, City, Liverpool) but not often outplayed. Very pleased with the 3-1 over Swansea and Sunderland. Currently unbeaten at home I think which is exactly what is what I wanted, just need to tidy up when playing away and start to cause the bigger teams more issues when playing away.

Player stats -

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Very happy with how the squad as a whole is performing. Goals are well spread out with 12 players in on the action. Cisse obviously leading the pack with 14 and HBA on 9. A bit disappointed with Remy only having 3, but his 5 assists make up for that. As you can see, Gouffran is also chipping in well despite his limited role with another 3 goals and 5 assists.

Cabaye has less assists than I expected, with 4 in 18 games. But I have noticed he usually plays the pass before the assist and is vital in creating goals even if he isn`t the one playing the final pass. Quite often he will get the ball, play it to one of the wide men who will then set up either Cisse or the other wide man. It looks very good, and I can`t really complain with the performances of any individual.

Tim Krul has 7 clean sheets in 20 games which isn`t great, but since I play with two very attacking fullbacks it`s no surprise we concede quite often. Not really his fault but he could probably do a little better in certain situations.

And look at Dummett :D young player doing the business, got his dream start against the Mackems and set up one of the goals. Think I will be offering him a new contract come the end of the season and maybe look at moving Santon over to right back and start Dummett more often.

Contract renewals

Main ones are HBA, Cabaye and Santon all tied down until at least 2017. Basically they aren`t leaving unless I decide they are. HBA is now on 71k, Cabaye on 75k and Santon on 40k. All worth that much and to be honest I would have paid another 10-20k to keep Santon so getting him that cheap has me happy.

I gave Gosling a new contract until 2016, mainly to keep some English players in the squad and for cover. He has done well when called upon but I doubt he will ever play well enough to keep Sissoko out of the team. Also means come the end of the season if I bring in some better players I can sell him on for a decent amount.

As mentioned I will be renewing Dummett`s contract which ends in 2015, and will also try to do the same with Campbell, Tielemans and Batshuayi who all run out in 2016 and they are three young players I can see building my team around. Krul and Anita both have contract expiring in 2017, which if I can extend to 2019 I will look into doing just so I have them secured for the long term future and if I ever do have to sell it will be at a premium.

Future plans

So we are sitting in 5th position at the minute, much better than the anticipated 16th and I am extremely pleased with how things are going. It looks likely we will be playing in Europe next year which is great, that should keep Mike and the fans happy.

My main intention for the January window and end of season is to bulk the squad out. Marveaux will be getting moved on so Tielemans can get more game time, and to bring in a little bit of money from his fee and saving on his wages.

Will be looking at the free transfers come the end of the season. I see Ola Toivonen is available and may be one target, as well as Joe Ledley from Celtic who can provide cover for Sissoko and Anita. Two players who provide cover and competition for positions that I feel need strengthening. Ledley is a likely target, Toivonen though I`m not sure on.

Other first team players likely to move on include Steven Taylor (sale), Shola Ameobi (end of contract), I doubt I will try and sign Remy at the end of the season, even if he is available at a cheap price his 80k/week wages are just not worth it. Debuchy may also move on, if I decide to go ahead with Dummett as my starting left back.

Cisse is a strange one. Top goalscorer and a good average rating but when he is bad for me he is completely useless. Currently valued at 11mil and with a contract until 2017 I don`t think I will go out of my way to sell up, but if a team offers good money I may consider it. Hopefully if that is to happen he will be going abroad so I don`t have the fear of one of his good games coming against us, because when he plays well he always score.

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Looking good so far James :thup: I've had scouts looking at Tielemans and Batshuayi, unfortunately didn't have any funds available to sign them up because they both look very promising.

Unfortunately Dummett has put in a transfer request and is refusing to sign a new contract for me after getting a bit upset when I refused to guarantee him 1st team action. Told him he was still a back up at the moment as both Debuchy and Santon have been in fantastic form. I'm hoping he will change his mind before the end of the season, because I'd like to keep him around. In the meantime I've added Fabio from Man Utd for £475,000 as he can cover both flanks and counts as a homegrown player since he's been in England so long.

As far as summer transfer targets go I'm considering a permanent deal for Remy who has 14 goals in 20 appearances. His wages are a bit offputting though. Apart from Remy my main aim is to try and sign up a couple young English players, keeping tabs on Shaw and Ward-Prowse at Southampton as they may be relegated at the end of the season. Also sending a couple of scouts to have a long look at the Belgian leagues as the conveyor belt of talent there shows no signs of stopping at the moment.

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Bloody hell. Haidara just came and bitched that I put him on the loan list. He isn`t getting games here and I want him to improve and he is unhappy about that?

Idiot. He`s in a huff now and that is never good.

Cheers Dandy, if you can you should definitely get them in. Tielemans more so than Batshuayi but both are very good. Smart idea getting your scouts in Belgium, think I might do the same.

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End of 1st Season Review

Wow, what a first season that was. Lots of up's & downs but finished Runners up in the BPL & FA Cup Winners. I really wasn't expecting that when I first started my save!

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The season started well & I was sitting in the top 6 quite comfortably up until the busy winter schedule came, injuries & suspensions led to 6 straight draws & 3 straight losses across the Christmas period leaving me at mid table. I decided to do very little business in January with the exception of the arrival of Tom Ince for just over £1m but concentrate my efforts on making some important changes. The biggest change of the new year was my formation, opting for a 4-1-2-2-1 instead of the 4-3-3 that I used the previous year. Short passing, slow tempo possession football was the main focus & it certainly worked. Unbeaten in the last 18 games finishing in a 1-0 win over Villa to claim the FA Cup trophy.

Results

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Highlights for me were smashing the Mackems 3-0 on their own turf & grinding out a 1-0 win at home to City.

Transfers

Heres a glimpse at my business in both pre-season & January. Biggest departures were Cisse for £11m & Tiote for £9m, I felt I could get more consistent replacements with the cash & still have some change leftover for backups. On the topic of backups, much like James's save 'Youri Tielemans' did a great job as a rotation option - swapping between central midfield & right wing roles. I also relied heavily on the talented Keisuke Honda, 11 goals, 11 assists, 9 PoM's in 37 appearances, an absolute bargain of a player at £1.5m.

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(Yes, I am aware that in a moment of madness I let Paul Dummett go to Sheffield United for a measly 28k. I have no idea what I was thinking at that point in the game but he was never going to be part of my first team plans anyway.)

My signing of the season without a shadow of a doubt was Leandro Damiao for £4.1m, 26 goals in 37 apps in all competitions. This is a screenshot of him post season.

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Future Objectives

  • Squad depth has to be a main priority with competing in the Champions League next season, I've already identified a few weak areas and I have my work cut out to secure some signings. (Here's to hoping Ashley puts his hands in his pockets)
  • Securing important contracts - I've already convinced Hatem & Yohan to sign new deals, now for other key players to follow suit.

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Some good business there Jack and congrats on the cup. :thup:

How did Strandberg do for you? Can't believe I forgot about him when I was looking for defenders.

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Some good business there Jack and congrats on the cup. :thup:

How did Strandberg do for you? Can't believe I forgot about him when I was looking for defenders.

Cheers mate!

He did well, mainly played in cup games and appeared off the bench but did a good job when needed. I didn't manage to get him in FM13 as I didn't have the Norway league loaded, luckily you don't need it loaded this year so I made sure I didn't miss out!

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