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snootyjim

The Gloucester Kids - winning the Champions League with youth products

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The Background

Gloucester City AFC play in the Conference North, and whilst they have done well in recent years to be promoted and avoid relegation, it has been a tough few years. In 2007, their Meadow Park ground was flooded to almost 8 feet, and they have since led a somewhat nomadic life, moving from ground to ground and ultimately sharing with their great rivals, Cheltenham, at Whaddon Road. That they've maintained their Conference North status really is a miracle, and hopefully I can bring the success they deserve.

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The Challenge

I will not be signing any players - no loans, no transfers, no free transfers, no trialists, nothing. All of my players will be sourced from the youth intake each year. I will however be signing staff - I rely heavily on a good backroom, and would never be able to manage without them.

My only goal is to win the Champions League. Will I succeed? I sincerely doubt it. But the process of getting there should be good fun!

For those FMCUers with excellent memories, I tried the same thing in FM12 with Dorchester, where the new Gloucester manager, Daniel Hopper, first appeared as a youth player (YP7 I believe) that went on to become the greatest player in Dorchester's history. That story ended with Dorchester fighting relegation in the Premiership, but hopefully this time Gloucester will be more successful.

The Club

We're paying £25k p.a. to Cheltenham to groundshare, but 3912 seats in a capacity of 7133 is very impressive for this league. The poor training and basic youth facilities won't help much though, and it's the same story with our level 0 academy, minimal youth coaching and limited youth recruitment.

As for the squad, that's not great either. I expect Lewis Hogg (who I'm sure has played for me before in previous versions of FM) and Scott Wilson will be key, but we're really lacking in quality players.

The media are predicting 18th place, just outside the relegation spots, but they're probably anticipating someone more eager to dip into the transfer market - the board are perhaps more realistic in expecting me to "be competitive", but we'll see what happens.

And with that... I guess you'd better wish me luck. We'll certainly need it :D

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Best of luck,good to see another youth challenge pop up :D

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August Overview

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Started well in the first game, but we've really struggled since then. Performances are okay, but our strikers have been utterly, utterly woeful. On multiple occasions now I've seen my guys go one-on-one and then punt it off the sidelines. In many ways, I find it impressive.

Coupe, Green and Harris in defence have been very good, and Hogg has been very steady, but losing Scott Wilson to injury for a month really hurt us up front.

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Best of luck,good to see another youth challenge pop up :D

Cheers mate, let's hope I can stay in the job :)

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September Overview

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Much better this month, grabbing 3 victories in the league, including a hugely unexpected one against Altrincham (they could have gone top, had they won the match). It was a little disappointing to go out of the FA Cup to North Ferriby, but I'm really sturggling with squad fitness at the moment so I'm not too bothered - and at this level, there's a long way to go before you can have a genuinely useful cup run in terms of boosting finances.

Scott Wilson is back in the frame now up front, so I'm hoping that will make a difference in the coming month, but I have to admit he was pretty poor in his return in the cup match.

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Bloody me timbers, this is going to be tough :D.

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October Overview

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And another bad one. To be expected, I suppose, but it's still disappointing. We were winning against Solihull until the dying seconds, and played brilliantly against Stockport, before going down to an amazing Ade Akinbiyi (yes, really) performance.

We've got an FA Trophy tie coming up against Weston-super-mare, but I fear again that going out might be for the best. We're losing money hand-over-fist, yes, but the one thing I absolutely cannot afford is to be relegated, and right now that's a very real possibility.

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Bloody me timbers, this is going to be tough :D.

Aye, wondering whether this might be a false start already!

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Keep going jim! Always good to see a few careers which aren't just immediate success :)

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November Overview

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Mixed month. We pushed Weston-super-mare very hard, but I sort of wish we hadn't. It brought us very little in the end, other than a lot of fatigue, but at least we can focus on the league from now onwards.

The match against Bradford PA was scintillating, but then followed by a pathetic performance against whipping boys Vauxhall. I think this career may see a lot of inconsistency though. My one concern is that it's my older players keeping me in play at the moment - Hogg and Coupe are excellent, but I doubt I've got much more than a season in Coupe and Lincoln are sniffing around Hogg.

On the plus side, the board approved an upgrade to both the Youth Recruitment and Junior Coaching budgets - I think the philosophies make a big difference in FM14.

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Keep going jim! Always good to see a few careers which aren't just immediate success :)

Thanks very much! My last few FM games have been a touch too easy, so I am really looking forward to this, but it's definitely one for the long run.

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December Overview

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Another poor month, but it ended tremendously with a thumping of Worcester and a Scott Wilson hat-trick. Sadly, I'm not sure we'll benefit much from the morale boost, as we've got 2 games against Oxford on the way and I fully expect us to lose both.

It's certainly looking like it'll be a real battle to stay in the league, so Worcester's response to the defeat may be crucial, and their boss is under a lot of pressure so there might be some new blood to contend with as well.

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January Overview

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Unbelievably opener to the year, with a really surprising win against Oxford - sure, they got their revenge soon after, but we were riding high on a wave of confidence, and the results just kept coming. Liddiard and Harris had brilliant months, but the whole team looked very strong.

As things stand, we're looking much safer but my focus right now is on March and the next youth intake - we're going to need some good kids to really make an impact next year.

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Nice to see someone attempt something with them. It's a divine miracle that they're at the level they're at. Hardly any support for football around these areas, especially at a local level trying to compete with Gloucester Rugby.

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February Overview

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Another good month, and Will Morford became the club's record goalscorer, scoring his 60th league goal for the club. Drawing with Histon was a real surprise, and beating Workington and Brackley helped to pull us up towards a mid-table position.

We're not out of the woods yet, but 9 points clear should be sufficient for safety.

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Nice to see someone attempt something with them. It's a divine miracle that they're at the level they're at. Hardly any support for football around these areas, especially at a local level trying to compete with Gloucester Rugby.
Best of luck with Gloucester, they're one of my local club as they're only 27 minutes away, will be good if you can take them somewhere :D

Can't say I know a lot about Gloucester, but it does seem a very interesting prospect - a bit sad that they've not done any better over the course of a very long history. Not sure it'll be the fastest success story ever, but hopefully I can do something given enough time!

Thanks for your interest and posts, much appreciated!

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The toughness of this challenge will be that fact that Gloucester don't have a stake in Whaddon Road. Haven't heard anything of a new ground being built in Gloucester for a long time, as noted, football stands no chance when most of the population would rather go to Kingsholm.

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Can't say I know a lot about Gloucester, but it does seem a very interesting prospect - a bit sad that they've not done any better over the course of a very long history. Not sure it'll be the fastest success story ever, but hopefully I can do something given enough time!

Thanks for your interest and posts, much appreciated!

They were bigger than Cheltenham at one point. Interesting to know there is only one league club in the whole of Gloucestershire. ;)

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2014 Youth Overview

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Mark Halliday

Ashan Perry

Really pleased with this intake - a heck of a lot of talent and I should be able to bring Halliday straight into the first team squad. My assistant manager thinks Halliday could be a good Conference Premier striker in the future, which is exactly the sort of player I'll need to earn promotion.

My plan now is to start trying to break them into the first team...

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March Overview

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We're playing really consistently at the moment, which is great. I'm really pleased at the moment, even if this isn't exactly promotion form - it's certainly something to build on, unlike what we were seeing at the beginning of the season. A few of the players are still a little inconsistent, but by and large we're looking strong across the board, and no bids above £0 for any of my players in the transfer window which was helpful.

Also, we've got games against Leamington and Vauxhall coming up, so there should be at least a couple more wins before the end of the season unless our form collapses.

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The toughness of this challenge will be that fact that Gloucester don't have a stake in Whaddon Road. Haven't heard anything of a new ground being built in Gloucester for a long time, as noted, football stands no chance when most of the population would rather go to Kingsholm.

They were bigger than Cheltenham at one point. Interesting to know there is only one league club in the whole of Gloucestershire. ;)

Yeah, it's an interesting dynamic. On the plus side, it means we've got a much bigger ground than most clubs, and £25k per season is far from crippling. I suppose it might delay us a bit since we won't be able to sell the old ground to finance building a new one, and I have no idea what it will mean if there are mandatory upgrades linked to promotions. It's a problem that's a long way off though.

There might be two soon now that Hockaday has finally gone.

Had to google that :)

They're actually having a reasonable season in-game, you never know!

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Yeah, it's an interesting dynamic. On the plus side, it means we've got a much bigger ground than most clubs, and £25k per season is far from crippling. I suppose it might delay us a bit since we won't be able to sell the old ground to finance building a new one, and I have no idea what it will mean if there are mandatory upgrades linked to promotions. It's a problem that's a long way off though.

Whaddon Road is good enough till at least the Championship (albeit small) so having restriction shouldn't be an issue.

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April Overview

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Pretty rubbish last month, but my main focus was playing the youngsters and getting through them quickly to move onto the next season. Difference between table positions is pretty negligible at this point, so I'm not too bothered about whether we finish 15th or 19th, as long as it's not 20th!

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2013/14 Season Review

Competitions

League Table - Decent start to things, but frankly anything other than relegation is fine at this point.

Cups - Very little to say, knocked out at the first opportunity in both the FA Cup and the FA Trophy

Players

Three names to pick out this season, and of course no youth players yet:

Matt Coupe - Solid at the back, but attributes collapsing as age gets the better of him

Tom Hamblin - The other half of a fantastic centre-back pairing

Jack Harris - Alongside the other two, held the left side of defence as his own

My main concern is that I'm going to lose all of them, as we simply can't afford the wage demands of the better players and every single contract expires as the end of the season. Really not looking great on that front, although it will help the financials a touch.

Club

Facilities - Got an upgrade to youth recruitment and junior coaching, which is a great start. Might be a while before we make any more progress on that front though.

Finances - Not looking great, as expected. The board pumped £95k into the club, which helped us out, so we'll have to hope that all the players refusing to sign new contracts will be a benefit in the long run. I'm not sure that'll be the case though.

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Whaddon Road is good enough till at least the Championship (albeit small) so having restriction shouldn't be an issue.

Yeah, it's a definite bonus of being at Gloucester compared to some of the worse-equipped clubs.

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I would qualify your first season as a success, and with your youth intake bringing in some quality, hopefully you can have a better second season (if you don't lose most of your key players!)

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Well as you say, you survived, that's the main thing.

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Good job on surviving!

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Season 2 - August Overview

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So we've been moved (sensibly) into the Conference South, which means a whole host of new teams to play. Also, the big news is that we managed to retain most of our players - I had to bump up the wages a bit in some cases, but we need longer to transition the youngsters in so it was a fair investment.

Strikers Darren Edwards and Scott Wilson left, the latter of whom I would have liked to keep, but with the talent available up front it's not such a big concern. The loss of Tyler Weir in midfield was much more significant, as we're lacking in that position, but Chester came in with an offer that included a 25% profit sell on fee and something was better than nothing, so off he went. In most cases, players were only signed for another season, so it's not long until I need to go through all of this again. The sooner we can become professional and tie players down to 5 years contracts, the better! I'm also struggling to find any staff that we can afford, so the backroom is very threadbare.

As for the month, not too bad. The table is a bit deceiving I think after such a short period of time, but we've been playing pretty well. Hogg has been excellent, but no-one else has really stood out.

I've been giving a few of the last youth intake games, and whilst there have been a few impressive performances, no-one looks a shoe-in for the first team squad yet.

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I would qualify your first season as a success, and with your youth intake bringing in some quality, hopefully you can have a better second season (if you don't lose most of your key players!)

Yeah, we'll see what happens. I think it might take 2 or 3 seasons to really see the benefits of the youth improvements, but whether that will be sufficient to get us promoted I'm not sure yet.

Well as you say, you survived, that's the main thing.

Yep, same task again this time around!

Good job on surviving!

Thanks :)

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Season 2 - September Overview

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Easily the best month I've had in charge of Gloucester, with a string of terrific results. Parker and Morford were really impressive up front, with some of the most lethal poaching I've seen so far.

Youth players Rae, Clinton and Halliday had reasonable displays, but sadly Halliday still hasn't scored and is a long way behind Parker and Morford. Rae and Clinton are mainly getting games because we lack any alternatives, but I'm hoping they'll grow into their roles as time goes on.

We're up against Merthyr Tydfil in the FA Cup, which is definitely a winnable game - a little cup run would be good fun.

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Good job on your first season, good luck in the Conference South!

Thanks very much - going well so far!

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Season 2 - October Overview

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We made it through the Merthyr Tydfil game, but Woking in the Conference Premier were a step too far and at the end of an even game their incisiveness in front of goal made the difference - the board expected the 4th qualifying round, so I'll take it.

Results in the league tailed off a little, although the Parker hat-trick against Concord Rangers was a particular highlight. We're still playing very well however, looks like we'll be a long way from the relegation spots this season.

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Season 2 - November Overview

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Not a great start with the loss to Staines, but it was probably a blessing, as it was a long and tough month that took a lot out of my small squad.

We made the most of our games in hand to pull ourselves into pole position in the playoffs - there's no catching Bishop's Stortford, but we're having a really good stab at promotion. The youngsters are really starting to show their worth now, Ashan Perry coming into a tired squad to smash a hat-trick past Whitehawk, and Halliday deputising against Dover and making the difference in a tight match. Not sure how much longer we can keep up this run of form, but another 20-odd games would be lovely.

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Season 2 - November Overview

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Some tight games this month, but we came good in the end. Still having a few problems with fitness, but I'm starting to trust Perry and Halliday a bit more now - they seem to come up with the goods more often than you would expect from players in their debut seasons. Perry in particular might be a due a few games as first choice striker, but I'll see how things go.

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Season 2 - December/January Overview

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Our form has started to falter a bit now - we're struggling a little up front, neither Morford nor Halliday are playing particularly well. I'm probably going to give a few more games to Joe Parker now, see if he can replicate his earlier form that saw him grab 12 goals in 15 appearances, but we'll see. Otherwise, it should be a routine plod to the end of the season - I'm trying not to think too much about the playoffs, as we've only got an outside chance of competing, and even then I think it would be a travesty for us to win. Mind you, the money is always nice!

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2015 Youth Overview

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John Lindsay

Bit of a pathetic intake this year - can't see any of them making it. Even if Lindsay achieves his full potential, he still might not be a starter, and his current ability is incredibly low. Roll on next year!

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Season 2 - February-April Overview

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Well, the less said about that, the better. Only one win in a pretty horrific run of matches, that completely destroyed any hopes of finishing in the playoff spots.

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2014/15 Season Review

Competitions

Skrill South (12th) - We began the season in terrific form, but as expected it wasn't to last. I'm very happy with the overall performance though, and it's worth noting that we conceded the fewest goals of any team in the league! If only we had scored a few...

Cups - We had a fair run in the FA Cup, but it was always going to be tough beating competition from the division above. Board were satisfied, so I'll take it.

Key Players

Jake Brewer - Very young, but good attributes in all the right places and his aggression makes him a real handful.

Craig Richards - Another young defender, has been really impressive.

Tom Hamblin - The experienced head, holding everything together along with Brewer in the middle of defence.

Again, it was another fine showing from the defenders in the squad. Not so much in other areas, and the stats showed it.

Youth Players

I've added two of the 2014 intake to the list of YPs:

Marc Halliday (YP1) - Not exactly prolific in front of goal, but he had a decent season by my book. Hopefully he'll come into his own next year and start grabbing some of the goals we need.

Brendan Clinton (YP2) - Not great, but his attributes are growing really well and he could play a big part next year. He was only the 8th best player by the assistant manager's reckoning, which shows the value of their opinions.

Club

Facilities - No change here yet. I think we'll need to earn promotion first.

Finances - Going alright, with a small profit so far. I'm keeping a very close eye on staff and player costs, and hopefully will be able to reduce those a little in the summer.

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Two excellent seasons so far in this tough challenge :thup:

Just need to get lucky with the youth intakes, otherwise it could get very tricky.

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Good to see an improvement,hopefully the youth intake next year will give you some strikers!

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Ugh, tough last few months, but looking good for a playoff push next season!

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