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[FM16] Kafra FC - All Youth in England

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After years of playing Bromley and leading them to countless titles, it is time for a change. FM16 allows us to make our own club, which is exactly what I did - I replaced Bath with Kafra FC in the Vanarama South and got rid of all their non-youth players.

I've always wanted a go at a complete all-youth save, so that is what I am going for. I won't be making a single player signing throughout the save (staff is excluded from this), so all my players will be coming up through the youth system. I don't know how challenging this will be in England (the only ones I have seen are from far fetched reaches of football like the Faroe Islands or San Marino!), but hopefully it will be a good challenge and experience.

I will be giving one update per season, at the very end, with a detailed look at how each position and player performed.

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ORIGINALS

Shane Forde - Career: The club's greatest player from its inception in 2015 all the way through to the early 2030s, the Irish striker was without a doubt the main catalyst in all of its success during that time period. The club's starter at the Forward position from the first day, he never relinquished that title until a year before its retirement in 2034. In his early years, he twice the left the club after his contract had expired, only to come back and resign with Kafra both times - the first time in 2018 after 3 years with the club, and again in 2020, after leading the club to its first promotion from the Vanarama South to the Vanarama National league. After that, there was no more drama - in fact, a couple of years later, he was designated the club's vice-captain, forming an unbreakable bond with captain Graeme Jones for the rest of his career as the two would become synonymous with the club's success. In 2017/18, the last year of his first contract, he scored 23 League Goals, coming in 2nd in the league's Goalscoring charts, and was shortlisted for its Player of the Year. The Vanarama National days were perhaps his finest - in 2024/25, the year the club won its promotion to the Skybet League 2, Forde was never better. He would win the Vanarama National Player of the Season, scoring a then career-high 24 Goals. His form would continue well through the club's League 2 days as well, and in 2029/30, the club won win its promotion to the League 1 behind Forde's career-high 25 Goals - good enough for 3rd place in the league. As the club fought its way to the Championship league, winning its promotion 2032, Forde's abilities began to decline, and he finally decided to hang up his boots in 2034, retiring a club legend and easily its finest player ever through its first 20 years. He would leave the club as its record Goalscorer, and he would also own the record for most Kafra Player of the Year awards, winning an incredible 13 times in a row between 2018 and 2030. That means for 13 straight years, through multiple leagues, he was Kafra's best and most important player. His prime lasted from the early 2020s all the way through the late 2020s, and his importance to the club during that time can never be overstated. Incredible career from the club's most vital player during his playing days.

NOTABLES:

James Kirk, Career: One of the club's best players during their Vanarama league days...Was the starting right winger for several seasons.

Hussein Sarsilmaz, Career: Durable and versatile central midfielder, was highly important in the Vanarama leagues....Was able to cover both CM and AM positions.

Devarn Thomas, Career: The club's first true captain, was the leader in the locker-room in the club's formative years....Strong partnership with Peart in the defensive line was one of club's strongest characteristics in those years.

Stewart Peart - Career: The team's strongest CD during the Vanarama South days, he switched to LB as the club moved up....Partnership with Thomas made them fan favorites.

2016

Graeme Jones - Career: The club's 3rd and longest serving captain when he retired in 2035, Jones was one of the original legends of the club, along with Shane Forde. During the club's first 20 years of existence, it was Forde and Jones who guided Kafra from the Vanarama South all the way up to the Championship league, remaining the club's most important players throughout the journey. Part of the very first Youth Class that the Kafra Youth Academy delivered, he is the only player of note that came out of the '16 Youth Class, but more than made up for it with all that he gave the club through the years. He was named the club's vice-captain in 2018, and took over the captain's armband from Devarn Thomas in 2023, holding it until the summer of 2034, when he handed it over to George Kelledy. Although he never won the Kafra Player of the Year award, he was consistently the club's second best player behind Shane Forde, controlling and leading the middle behind Kafra's star man. Whether he played at the CM position like earlier in his career or the AM position like later in his career, one thing was for sure: he was constant, he was always solid, and he was always one of the best players on the pitch. Although he was physically weak, he only encountered two serious injuries in his career, bouncing back from the first one with no problem, but the second one came towards the end of his career and was probably the reason he ended up retiring at the of 35. When he finally hung up his boots, he held Kafra's all-time Appearance record with 691 League Games, having registered 51 Goals, 103 Assists, and a 6.99 AR throughout his career. The club had two legends in its first 20 years: Shane Forde and Graeme Jones.

2017

Paul Evans, Career: Played in every position across the defensive line as a starter during his 13 years with the club, giving the squad versatility and filling in where needed. Because of that, his importance to the squad - especially in the early and mid-2020s - was vital; when there were no real alternatives at both fullback positions, he shifted over and gave the club a presence. His natural position - and his best - was as a central defender, however, and that is where he thrived the most. He formed a strong partnership with Peart and Thomas in the late 2010s, becoming a starter himself in the early 2020s as the club was promoted to the Vanarama National league. The 2023/24 and 2024/25 were his best seasons - after that, with the influx of defensive talent coming in from the Youth Academy, he saw himself shifted to third CD and playing more as a fullback. He eventually retired after being let go from the club in 2030, but he will always be known as one of the best defenders the club had in its formative first ten years.

NOTABLES

Obinna Eze: Made his debut for the club during the 2019/20 season....Was briefly the club's starter at right back during the early part of the 2020s, but underwhelming performances led to his benching....Eventually left the club and played a bit for Grimsby before retiring at the age of 24.

Andray Lee: Was a bit part defender for the club, lasting only three seasons before moving on....His best season was the 2019/20 season, in which he played 32 games a third choice defender....Was let go shortly after that, and retired at the age of 20.

2018

NO STANDOUT STARS

NOTABLES

Freddie Kershaw: For a couple seasons in the late 2010s, was known as the club's best player....The left winger only spent 4 years with the club before moving on, playing for Maidstone for another 4 years and then retiring.

Ibrahim Nwachukwu, Career: Spent four years with the club after making his debut in the 2018/19 season as part of the rotation in the central midfield position...Was reliable and generally consistent, but failed to come to terms with the club for an extension to his contract...Left the club in 2022 and signed with Eastbourne Boro, where he played several seasons and the remainder of his career.

2019

NO STANDOUT STARS

NOTABLES:

George O'Sullivan, Career: The club's starting GK for five seasons between 2019 and 2024, he was eventually replaced by Will Robson, eventually leaving the club in 2026....Was a good shot-stopper and had a good team personality.

Damian Peacock: Was the team's starting striker for two seasons in the early 2020s, with Shane Forde playing behind him as an AM....Forde eventually became the striker, leaving Peacock on the bench....Was efficient, however - he scored 34 Goals in 71 Games before a terrible 2021/22 season....His manager lost faith him after that season and he never regained his place on the team.

Lee Charlton: Although part the 2019 class, he did not make his debut until the 2020/21 season...Would be the third choice CD for the next couple of years before leaving the club in 2024, after which he retired at the age of 20.

Ben Smith: Made his debut in 2019, with the coaching staff claiming he was perhaps the most talented member of the 2019 Youth Class...He failed to live up to that promise due to stagnant growth in his abilities, but he did play as cover for the CM position for a few years...Eventually left the club in 2023 after failing to appear a single time during the 2022/23 season...Had a trial with Macclesfield before finally retiring at the age of 20.

2020

Zac Sweeney, Career: Made his debut for the club in 2020, and went on to become the leader of the midfield line for the next 10 years...At the time of his departure from the club, he was its third longest serving player...Was one the club's most reliable and consistent performers during the 2020s, when the club was fighting in the Vanarama National and Skybet League 2...Was always amongst the league leaders in Pass Ratio, and also was a great tackler for his position...His best stretch came in the mid-2020s, with his best season coming in 2023/24...Was an overachiever, constantly playing at a much higher level than his talent suggested...Rarely had a bad game, but as the Youth Academy started delivering better players, he began to see his starter status questioned...Left the club in 2032 at the age of 28, having spent the 2031/32 season as the third choice CM...Was a fan and coaching staff favorite throughout his tenure at the club, and was always a professional...His legacy will know him as our most consistent and reliable CM of the 2020s.

NOTABLES:

Patrick Llewelyn, Career: Was the club's starting left winger in the early to mid 2020s....Was eventually relegated to the bench after failing to live up to his promised potential, and was widely considered one of the most underachieving players to ever come out of the Kafra Youth Academy.

2021

Neil Ward, Career: Made his debut for the club in 2021, and subsequently spent the early and mid-2020s underachieving as the club's starting RB...Although listed as a natural position for him, in his six years as the club's starting RB, he never registered higher than a 6.68 AR...He was still crucial to the club as he was its only option at the position, but after the club got promoted to the Skybet League 2 in 2025 and his form dipped further with the tougher challenge, he was removed as starting RB...He was shifted over to CD, starting alongside in Stylianou, in the mid-2020s, and held that post through the late 2020s...His form improved dramatically as he found his new position more suited to his needs, and he would hit a career-high of 6.86 in 2029/30, the year the club got promoted to the Skybet League 1...With the Youth Academy churning talented defensive prospects, his role would slowly fade, leading to his contract not being renewed in 2032...The Welshman would leave the club at the age of 27 after serving for 11 full seasons, known as its underachieving RB in the early and mid-2020s that turned his career around and became a focal part of the defense as a CD in the late 2020s.

NOTABLES:

Jordan Marshall: Much was expected of the left winger when he made his debut in 2021, and he was named the starter for the club for the 2021/22 season...He would go on to underachieve, and would be relegated to the bench the season after that...Voicing his unhappiness publicly, the club let him go at the end of the 2023/24 season, after having appeared only 4 times that year...He would retire shortly afterwards.

Danny Butcher: Was a part of the squad rotation at the CM position during the early 2020s...His playing time would decrease each season after his debut, before finally leaving in 2026 having not played a single game that year.

2022

Kyriakos Stylianou, Career: When the Cypriot U21 international made his debut for the club in 2022, he was instantly bookmarked as the best CD on the squad...He lived up to his billing, as he quickly became the leader of the defensive line even in his teens...Was one of the team's leaders in the mid-2020s when the club fought its way to promotion to the Skybet League 2 and the Professional title...Played perhaps his finest football in the late 2020s, also leading the club's defensive line in the successful promotion campaign to the League 1 in 2029/30...An injury in 2030/31 ruled him out of nearly 6 months of action, and he was never the same player since...Although he had great defensive abilities and instincts for the level of football he was playing in, he lacked pace and - after the injury - strength to be a successful CD in the Championship...The contract he signed in 2029 made him, at the time, the club's highest paid player ever, as he would earn £2.2k a week...With the decline in his abilities and high wages, he was let go at the end of his contract in 2032, after which he subsequently retired from football at the age of 27...There is no denying the importance he carried for the team from the early 2020s to the late 2020s, ranking up there as one of the team's stars with Forde and Jones...He was the first name to be called defensively for the team throughout the 2020s, leading up to him becoming the highest paid player in Kafra history at the time.

NOTABLES:

Bradley Howell, Career: Spent eight years with the club, and was an important part of the team that earned the promotion from the Vanarama National to the Skybet League 2 in 2025....Was part of the central midfield rotation through the mid-2020s in the first couple of years in the League 2, before the Youth Academy produced more talented central midfielders such as Hadan Lavine and Obed Mohammed who took away from his playing time....Eventually left the club at the end of the 2028/29 season, having been nothing more than a bit player through the last two years he was at the club.

Toby Dennis, Career: Made quite an impact early in his career in the early 2020s...His best season was 2022/23, where he scored 19 goals playing infront of Forde...When Forde was shifted back to striker, he found himself as the backup...Still, he was always reliable when called up, as witnessed by his record of 63 Goals in 147 League Appearances...His heyday was definitely the early 2020s, but remained with the team until the late 2020s as a backup, finally being let go in 2032 after not appearing once during the 2031/32 season...Had good attacking ability and pace, but just never found the playing time needed behind Forde...Still, in the club's first 20 years of existence, he can claim to be the second best striker the club had during that time.

Jed Rhodes: Was touted as the most talented player of the '22 Youth Class...Didn't quite live up to his potential, as stagnant growth in his abilities inhibited his playing time...His best season came in 2023/24, where he appeared in 25 Games...He did not impress, leading a decrease in his playing time over the next few years...Was let go in 2028, after failing to appear in a single game over the last two years...Ended up retiring at the age of 21 after playing in 53 Games for the club.

2023

Damian Mitchell, Career: Coming out of the Youth Academy in 2023, Mitchell became one of the club's most important players throughout the 2020s...He immediately became a starter, playing down both wings, and his contributions helped the team win promotion the Skybet League 2 in 2025...His best years would come in that league from the mid-2020s to the late 2020s, where the club would finally win its promotion the League 1 in 2030...Was a goalscoring threat, but was also good at delivering the ball, registering 8+ Assists 6 times throughout his career...Was inevitably replaced in the starting lineup by an influx of wing talent coming through the Youth Academy in the late 2020s, but still played a valuable role off the bench thanks to his versatility - he could play anywhere on the frontline behind the striker...Was let go by the club in 2034, having played with Kafra for a total of 11 seasons...Retired at the age of 28 having played 418 League Games for the club - the only club that he ended up playing for in his career.

Will Robson, Career: Served as the club's No.1 GK throughout the 2020s, winning the starting spot away from George O'Sullivan midway through the 2023/24 season...After an injury stopped O'Sullivan from playing, Robson was called up and showed enough improvement over his predecessor that he never relinquished it back...Manned the posts for the club as they won promotions from the Vanarama National all the way up to the Skybet League 1...Although he was consistent with his form, the manager thought that his ability was not up to standard of Championship level football, so in 2031, he took a risk and started a young Youth Academy prospect called George Kelledy...The young upstart immediately impressed, and Robson lost his starting spot after 8 seasons...His was unhappy with his role as backup, and eventually left the club in 2033 after his contract expired and having not played a single game in the past year...Joined Colchester and played with them one season in 2033/34 as their starting GK, where he had a miserable time (6.15 AR), leaving the club as they got relegated.

Chace Panzavechia, Career: Although he was the club's starter at the right back position for several years from the mid-2020s to the early 2030s, he will forever be known as perhaps the most underachieving player Kafra produced in its formative years of existence. Simply put, he was never any good - his form was inconsistent in that sometimes he played mediocre, and other times downright terrible. Still, he managed to make a total of 336 League Appearances for the club - how that happened, no one can explain. As a starter, he never registered more than 6.63 AR, constantly failing to impress. The frustrating thing was that he definitely had the ability to succeed - his defensive and mental statistics were much higher than the average, and the Kafra coaching staff even had him rated as one of the club's most important players in the early late 2020s, but even they saw that it was simply not the case. He was let go at the end of the 2032/33 season, where he joined Wrexham for half a season before finally retiring.

NOTABLES:

Ugo Bent, Career: Served as the primary backup for Graeme Jones in the mid-2020s at the AM position...Better prospects coming through the Youth Academy saw him become a bit part player by the late 2020s...Retired in 2029 after being let go by the club, having playin in 61 Games.

Charles Omolade: Was a versatile back-up CD and CM during the mid-2020s...Had his best season in 2023/24, where he played in 24 Games...Playing time dwindled after that, finally being let go at the age of 20 in 2027...He retired shortly after that.

2024

NO STANDOUT STARS

NOTABLES

James Devonshire, Career: Billed as the star of the '24 Youth Class, had the coaching staff at the time very excited about his potential...Was proclaimed to be the best winger the Kafra Youth Academy had developed at the time...Sadly, he never showed the kind of progress expected, and younger and better players eventually replaced him in the rotation...Was named the club's starting right winger immediately after making his debut, and spent the mid to late 2020s teasing with his potential...His finest season probably came in 2026/27, where he registered 10 Goals and 11 Assists...Lost his starting place in the late 2020s as the Youth Academy delivered an influx of wing talent during that time...Remained in the rotation through the early 2030s, before finally being let go from the club in 2033 after appearing 3 times over the past 2 years and none the last year...Retired at the age of 25, having served as the club's starting right winger for a few years from the mid-2020s to the late 2020s.

Ben Davis, Career: Part of the rotation at the CD position from the mid to late 2020s, was more often than not the 3rd choice CD behind Stylianou and Indeche (and after that, Ward) during that time...In retrospect, was out of his depth playing League 2 football, although at the time, the CD position was lacking talent behind the starting two...Left the club after seeing his playing time shrink in 2031, eventually retiring at the age of 24.

Dennis Johnson, Career: Was a 3rd choice CM for a couple of years in the mid-2020s...Actually appeared in 34 Games in 2025/26, registering a 6.80 AR...Left the club in 2027 after his initial contract was not renewed, retiring at the age of 20.

2025

Edwin Indeche, Career, Biography: The Kenyan central defender is widely associated with the beginning of the First Golden Age of the Kafra Youth Academy, which brought forward several international prospects from the mid-2020s through to the mid-2030s. When Indeche broke through the ranks, he was almost immediately touted the finest prospect that the Kafra Youth Academy had ever produced. He actually only spent two full years with the club, leaving Kafra still a teenager and ever having given the club a consistent, solid season. He became the first player ever sold by the club, as they earned £475k selling him to Crystal Palace in 2027. He spent four years playing for different teams on loan, before finally having a full season with the team that bought him, who then turned around and sold him for £1.1m to Swedish side Malmo. It was at Malmo that he enjoyed his most success, starting for a side that he won the Swedish Premier Division title with 8 times from 2032 to 2040. He then moved on to Slovakia, where he finished off his career as a bit part player first for Slovan Bratislava and then for Senac. He earned 51 Caps for Kenya, although his national team never did much during the 2020s and 2030s.

NOTABLES

Kieron Wassmer, Career: Was highly touted by the Kafra coaching staff after coming up through the Academy in 2025...Sadly, never really amounted to much, and showed almost no improvement in the time he spent with the club...That being said, he was part of the rotation in the late 2020s, covering both wing positions...Was let go at the age of 21 after playing very little during the 2028/29 season.

2026

Hadan Lavine, Career, Biography: When Lavine broke through the ranks, the entire fanbase and coaching staff of Kafra shook with excitement because never had they seen a midfield talent such as the Barbadian yet. He was immediately named as starter, spending four full seasons with the club before moving on. During those four seasons, he became Kafra’s first ever International player, as he made his debut for Barbados in March of 2029, one year before he was one of the main reasons Kafra surprised the country and got promoted from the League 2 to the League 1. His ambition to join a bigger club got the best of him, and he moved on to Yeovil in 2030, where he spent 5 years before moving on to Hartlepool for 2 years. He finished up his career in Sweden with Ostersunds FK, where his team would get relegated twice. His true glory, however, came with his national side: 121 Caps and 23 Goals for Barbados. Those numbers made him a legend back home, even if his best footballing days were when he was a youngster with Kafra.

2027

Obed Mohammed, Career: The Ghanaian only spent one full season at the club, having broken into the first team in 2027, but he was part of the Kafra Youth Academy’s First Golden Age, where it constantly delivered players that were skilled enough to be playing for teams at higher levels than the club. After a fantastic 2027/28 season, Mohammed was sold for a then club record of £3.5m to Bournemouth, but in hindsight, he should have just stayed at the club. He would earn 8 Ghana Caps in his career, but he would never really find his footing in England. He was sold to West Ham in 2035 for £1.2m, before being sold off to Rangers in 2037 for £400k, and although he was never impressive for Rangers, that is where he found his most success.

Samuel Watkins, Career: One of the great underdog stories of the club's preliminary years, Samuel Watkins was as afterthought of the '27 Youth Class, with Mohammed taking all the headlines being touted as the (then) greatest prospect the club had produced and David Plant being heralded as the perfect rotation player. That afterthought ended up being more important to the club than either one of the players mentioned, despite scratching and clawing his way into the starting lineup and, eventually, into the Kafra faithful's hearts. He made his debut in 2029, a full two years after being called up from the Youth Academy, but he wasted no time impressing his manager. In fact, he was one of the primary reasons the club only spent two years in the League 1 before being promoted to the Championship - a hard fact backed up by the fact that he was Kafra's Player of the Year for three consecutive years (2030/31-2032/33). With the club trying to find its new identity after the decline of Shane Forde and Graeme Jones, it was Watkins who played the most important role for them in the locker-room, as well as on the pitch. He was named Vice-Captain of the club in 2034, but by the mid-2030s, the Kafra Youth Academy was churning out hit after hit in what has now become known as the First Golden Age, something which saw Watkins' playing time diminish. He was eventually replaced as Vice-Captain in 2036, and sensing he had no more future at the club, he left at the end of the 2036/37 season, having only played in 7 Games that year. He joined GoSport in the Vanarama leagues after that, where he spent 4 years, where he was named the club's Player of the Year two time in a row and oversaw their promotion to the Vanarama National league. He left to join Nantwich in 2041, and in the 3 years he spent there, he also won the club's Player of the Year once. The last club he played for was Workington before finally hanging up his boots in 2044. Driven by his incredible work ethic and professional attitude, he was a success everywhere he went, and was the main reason Kafra was able to transition smoothly from Forde and Jones into their new era in the mid-2030s.

NOTABLES

David Plant, Career: Made his debut in 2027 for Kafra...He would spends the late 2020s and early 2030s as one of Jnoubi's first names off the bench, covering the AM position...Played in 25 Games during the 30/31 season, contributing mightily to a team which was playing in its first season in the League 1...Incidentally, he went on to make 0 Appearances over the next 3 years for the club before finally being let go...Spent the next 8 years of his career with Gainsborough, but in reality he was only a contributing part of the team for the first 3 seasons, seeing his club get promoted from the Vanarama North to the Vanarama National in 2037 before seeing them get relegated back in 2039...Retired from playing the game in 2042 at the age of 31, with hopes of continuing his career in football.

2028

Bruno Borges, Career: The winger played an important role in Kafra's history because he was part of the First Golden Age that came out of the Kafra Youth Academy. He spent only one full season at the club, but it was a spectacular one - it was the 2028/29 season, where he played 40 Games and registered 8 Goals, 15 Assists, and 7.02 AR. He was so impressive that an offer was made that summer for £1.7m from Norwich, and he was subsequently sold as the club was cash-strapped. His career was up and down after that - he spent the early 2030s on loan, before Norwich finally sold him to Hull in 2034 for £7.75m. He would then get sold twice in the next two years - Hull to Aston Villa for £7.25m, then Aston Villa to Ipswich for £2.9m. He gave Ipswich two good seasons in the Premier League from 2036 to 2038, and then he was sold again to QPR for £5.25m. His career dwindled down after that move, as he never quite found his footing for QPR the way he did from Ipswich, and he finally retired in 2047 after hopping around some lower league clubs in England, Spain, and Italy, then becoming the manager of Chesterfield as he embarked on a career as a manager. He is probably most fondly remembered by Kafra and Ipswich fans, as his 3 greatest seasons came with those two clubs.

NOTABLES

Eddie Bird, Career: Spent eight years at the club, departing Kafra on Free in 2036...Was a contributor for the club at both wing position, with his versatility making him a valuable asset as the club climbed from the League 2 to the Championship while he was a player there...His best time was in the early 2030s, where he featured in most of the games the club played...He eventually moved to a few clubs in the Vanarama leagues before finally retiring in 2045.

2029

Kemar Herrera, Career: When he came up from the Kafra Youth Academy in 2029, he was immediately recognized as one of the finest players the Youth Academy had ever produced up till then. He made an immediate impact on the team, and was a core reason for the club’s promotion for the League 2 to League 1 in 2030. He spent another two years with the club, and in 2031/32, he was one of the key players that led the club to promotion to the Championship. Unfortunately for Kafra, Herrera and his fellow ’29 Youth Class graduate Brett Brown and both agreed to Free Transfer moves to Aberdeen, prematurely ending their spell with the club. As with Brett Brown, Herrera’s club career never saw the heights that it did with Kafra, and he moved around the continent over the course of the decade, playing in England, Serbia, Czech Republic, Spain, and Italy, but never finding the right groove and mostly playing bit-part roles. For his national team, however, he was something of a legend – he earned 89 Caps throughout his career, going to the World Cup (2034) once with Jamaica and also winning 3 Caribbean Championship titles (2032, ’34, ’40).

Brett Brown, Career: Part of the Kafra Youth Academy's first Golden Age which produced several international players, Brown spent only 4 years at the club, but his form - especially in his last two years - keeps him in the memory of fans till this day...Made his debut towards the end of the 2028/29 season, and was made the club's starter at right wing the following year...His pace was very hard to contend with for opposing defenders, and in his first full season with the club, Kafra won promotion to the League 1...His finest two seasons of his career came during the club's only two seasons in the League 1 before being promoted, and that promotion had a lot to do with Brown's outstanding performances during the 2031/32 season...He scored 19 goals and registered 7.23 AR, becoming known as one of the brightest wingers in England outside of the Premier League...Sadly, he had already made his decision to leave the club on Free Transfer, and along with teammate Kemar Herrera, he made the move to Aberdeen that summer...His career completely fizzled out after that, and he retired a few years later having barely made a squeak since leaving Kafra...Still, he was absolutely one of Kafra's best players in the early 2030s, and a core reason the team only spent two seasons in the League 1 before being promoted to the Championship.

NOTABLES

Daniel Whittaker, Career: Was Kafra’s starting right back in the mid-2030s, although he was neither efficient nor good. Due to lack of depth and talent at the position at the time, the manager was forced to use Whittaker despite the player not being anywhere near Championship level material. With the emergence of Marvin John and then Mikele Burton, he saw his playing time dwindle towards the late 2030s, and he left the club on Free Transfer in 2039. He played a few seasons for Chester in the League 2 after that, finally retiring in 2042.

Stuart Porter, Career: Part of a relatively deep (for those days) Intake Class, Porter made a name for himself in the early 2030s as a relatively reliable backup for the midfield. He got to be part of the team that won promotion to the Championship league, before finally being released by the club in 2035. He would float around the leagues for a while, before sticking with North Ferriby for 4 years in the late 2030s and early 2040s, helping the team earn its promotion to the Vanarama National before joining Barrow for two seasons, winning their Player of the Year both times.

2030

George Kelledy (2046), Career: Up until Akil Joseph, George Kelledy was the best GK the club had ever produced. He made his debut in 2030, during the club’s last season in the Sky League 2, and took over the starting position from Will Robson at the beginning of the 2031/32 season at age of just 18 years. He was named Kafra’s club captain in 2034, and would hold that title for 14 years, setting a new club record. He manned the posts for the club as a starter through their days in the League 1, Championship, and finally, the club’s first eight years in the Premier League. The captaincy was finally given away to Louis Miller at the beginning of the 2047/48 season, and a year after that, Kelledy left the club and saw out the rest of his career with Vanarama side Lowestoft. He spent five years there, lifting the Vanarama North title in his final year as a footballer – he then retired at the end of the 2051/52 season. Despite Joseph becoming an England international – something Kelledy never achieved – he didn’t instill the confidence the way Kelledy did. He is easily rated as one of Kafra’s best ever players, and a club legend without a doubt, having made 596 League Appearances for Kafra in his career.

NOTABLES

Allan Bullivant (2038), Career: He was supposed to be Kafra’s answer at the left back position, and was the most heralded prospect in the 2030 Youth Class…He immediately became Kafra’s starter, and stayed in that position until the end of the 2037/38 season…That being said, he never lived up to the hype and delivered some awful performances through the years…He made 271 League Appearances for the club, but never really improved as a footballer, and was finally let go on Free in 2038…He played a few more years of football before finally retiring in 2043 at the age of 29 years.

Terry Davis (2039), Career: He was never projected to be more than a fringe player for the club, but he ended up being a starter in the mid-2030s in their first few years in the Championship…Was played out of necessity, as the club had a lack of depth at the position at that time…He still managed to turn out some decent seasons for the club, but started losing playing time to the likes Marvin John, Mitchell Brady, and Courtney Hendon…As the late 2030s rolled around, Davis was no longer a viable option in the rotation, and was let go in 2039…He actually went out to play a few seasons with Whitehawk, where he lifted the Vanarama South league title and the FA Cup before retiring in 2046 at the age of 32 years.

Dan Dean, Career: Was Kafra's main striker for a couple of seasons in the mid-2030s...Was Shane Forde's immediate replacement after he retired, and from 2033 till 2035, he did a pretty decent job...It all went down hill from there after that, as he just couldn't find his touch...His finest season was in 2034/35, where he ended up scoring 25 Goals in a highly impressive campaign...He retired in early 2039 after being let go by the club during the summer of 2038, so he only ever played for Kafra...In all fairness, his talent was better suited for the lower leagues, but he was able to contribute a lot during the club's transition period at the striker position, which made the blow of losing the legendary Shane Forde easier.

2031

Ernest Frimpong, Career[/i]:[/b]

NOTABLES

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2032

Marvin John, Career[/i]:[/b]

Phil Chappell, Career[/i]:[/b]

Jesse Simmonds, Career[/i]:[/b]

NOTABLES

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, Career[/i]:

, Career[/i]:

2033

Tom Ferguson, Career[/i]:[/b]

Mitchell Brady, Career[/i]:[/b]

NOTABLES

Gary Morris, Career: Played his entire career with Kafra, eventually retiring in 2040 after being let go by the club...Broke onto the scene in the mid-2030s, during the club's least talented phase at the forward position...Was eventually replaced by the more talented Jordan Webb, and saw his playing time dwindle to almost nothing over the next couple of seasons...Still, was solid in the mid-2030s for the club as it sought to solidify its position in the Championship at that time.

, Career[/i]:

, Career[/i]:

, Career[/i]:

2034

Phil Gwinnett, Career[/i]:[/b]

Louis Miller, Career[/i]:[/b]

NOTABLES

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, Career[/i]:

2035

Dimitris Dakoutros, Career[/i]:[/b]

NOTABLES

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, Career[/i]:

, Career[/i]:

, Career[/i]:

2036

Courtney Hendon, Career[/i]:[/b]

Elliot Watson, Career[/i]:[/b]

NOTABLES

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2037

Matty York, Career[/i]:

, Career[/i]:

Danny Judge, Career[/i]:

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NOTABLES

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2038

John Robertson, Career[/i]:[/b]

NOTABLES

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, Career[/i]:

2039

Ronayne Herdman, Career[/i]:[/b]

Alex Nkumu, Career[/i]:[/b]

NOTABLES

, Career[/i]:

2039

Stephen Hunter, Career[/i]:[/b]

Luis Medaglia, Career[/i]:[/b]

NOTABLES

, Career[/i]:

, Career[/i]:

, Career[/i]:

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SEASON REVIEW 2015/16

We had a highly inconsistent start to the season – our first four games went by without a defeat, but then we did not register a victory in our next seven games. That was really the pattern throughout the season – a few games without a defeat followed by a few games without a win. Nevertheless, considering our goal was to not get relegated, the season can be viewed as a success, even though we ended the season on hugely disappointing run. In the last eight games, we failed to win any match and only managed to muster up one point out of a maximum of twenty-four points. That was a bit of a worrying sign as the team seemed to completely run out of steam, and I am hoping it has to do with their youth and not a general personality trait on the squad.

The Kafra Stadium can fit upwards of 8,000 people, but our average this season was a lowly 691 – given that at this level our main source of income is gate receipts, we are going to have to do better next season. We managed to keep the club’s balance steady and we finished the season with £105k in the club’s coffers, but that is going to have to increase if we want to put money back into the Youth and Training facilities – they will be, essentially, the most important thing we can invest in as all of the club’s players will be coming through its Youth Academy. We had some contract drama surrounding Williams and Forde, our two biggest contributors this year, early in the season as they refused to sign extensions, but thankfully, they came around towards the end of the season and I was able to keep the core of the squad together.

Overall, I can’t be disappointed with a 16th Place finish given what I was working with. With every game, it seemed every other team was more talented than we were, so a low mid-table finish is quite respectable. The board were pleased with my work, which is always a good sign, and there are some genuine spots for optimism within the squad. Our 61 goals were ranked 14th best in the league, while our 81 goals conceded had us as the 18th – only 4 other teams were worse than us defensively. We made a bit of noise early in the FA Cup, reaching the 4th Qualifying Round before getting knocked out, but we were also a disappointment in the FA Trophy, getting knocked out in our first game.

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GOALKEEPERS

Giannis VeniosOllie Lee

This was possibly the weakest position, with both 17 years old GKs not up to standard whatsoever. Lee started the first few games before being replaced by Venios upon my staff’s recommendations, but in all honesty, neither one’s talents was up to par. They delivered very similar averages and numbers, although my staff were right in naming Venios the better of the two, albeit only slightly. Neither is a long term solution at the position at any level, however.

LEFT DEFENDERS

Ryan Bole

The shallowest position on the team, it was second only to the GK position in terms of weakest talent. Bole had the lowest AR out of anyone in the starting lineup – the sad thing was that he was also one of the most indispensable players in the team given that no one could play left back on the team except him.

CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Stewart Peart - Devarn Thomas - Wayne Jones

The deepest position we had this year, it was also one of the most consistent, as starters Peart and Thomas constantly played decent games. The only issue, especially with Thomas, was stamina, and usually towards the end of the games, their fitness would be at an extremely low level. Jones started the season as a non-factor, but he became one of the most improved players on the squad by the end of the year, forcing his way into the rotation and ending up being my third choice central defender. Peart and Thomas were first and second in Interceptions, with 569 and 487, respectively – the former was tied for 16th best in the league in the category. Both had rather low TpG numbers, however, and that is something we must see improvement on.

RIGHT DEFENDERS

John O’Flynn

The most impressive thing about O’Flynn was his durability – he appeared in 39 of the possibly 42 games. It also says a lot about the state of the fullback positions in the squad when the starting right back can appear in that many games despite registering a 6.54 AR. The left and right fullback position continues to be a source of headache, and given that the Youth Intake did not deliver any real alternatives, it will remain so for the foreseeable future. In fairness, O’Flynn did show good improvement in positioning throughout the season, but his performances seemed to lag the further the season got along.

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDERS

Michael Steel

Given my preference to play a 4-1-1-3-1, this position is of an utmost importance to the success of the tactic. Thankfully, it is also where one of our most gifted – and potentially best player in the near future – plays. Only 15 years old, Steel’s form really took off in the second half of the season. He led the club with 7.03 TpG, which was by far the best in the league, with the second best being 5.07 TpG. That being said, he also led the league with 183 defensive mistakes – also a number that far eclipsed the second place number of 138 – with 5 of those leading to a goal. But then again, he is only 15 years old, so such a statistic can be explained given how often he featured for the club. His 6.89 AR was the third highest in the squad, and it is only logical to expect that his improvement will result in better and more consistent performances next season. Steel is definitely one of the building blocks of this squad, a cornerstone player for years to come.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Huseyin Sarsilmaz - Sam Higgins

Although not a central midfielder by trade, Sarsilmaz was thrust into the role of starting central midfielder for the club this season, and although it could have been better for the 17 year old, he was by no means a disappointment. His 76% Pass Ratio was quite respectable given his position, and he was hugely reliable for the club, playing 40 of the 42 games in the league. He is definitely one of the more talented members of the squad, but his fitness and stamina saw him fatigue too quickly during games, which is why Higgins ended up playing a role in the rotation, as well. While Sarsilmaz is easily the more talented of the two, Higgins ended up appearing in 18 games, performing respectably (6.78 AR and 76% Pass Ratio), giving the club stability at the position if not entertainment.

LEFT WINGERS

Justin Lamb

The club captain, Lamb was also one of the more impressive players this season for Kafra, registering 8 goals, 6 assists, and 6.81 AR in 34 games. He did have a couple of minor injuries to deal, and the difference between him and whoever replaced him at the left winger position made it painfully clear just how important he is to the club. The 17 year old is one of the fastest players at the club – just the way I like my wingers – but he also proved to be reliable and consistent, giving the squad an attacking option down the left wing that was heavily utilized throughout the season.

RIGHT WINGERS

James Kirk

The one player quicker than Lamb in the squad, Kirk delivered a very similar season down the right wing as the club captain did at the left end of the pitch. In 38 games, he registered 11 goals, 4 assists, and a 6.81 AR – while Lamb was slightly more adept at creating chances, Kirk was the better finisher. The 18 year old right winger was a key cog in Kafra’s four man attack unit, showcasing a good overall game that saw him register 1.23 TpG to go with his 1.11 DpG.

ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Darren Williams

Our undisputed Player of the Year, Williams is perhaps our most naturally talented player on the squad. 32 games, 9 goals, 13 assists, 83% Pass Ratio, 7.18 AR – he was constantly our finest performer on the pitch. He had a couple of injuries to contend with, with the most serious being a twisted knee that ruled him out close to a month in late February. He also was the point of much frustration as he refused to sign an extension until late in the season, claiming he did not feel the club was at the level he thought he should be playing football at – thankfully, however, he relented and became our second highest player after Forde. Our strongest point is our attack, and Williams is perhaps the most vital piece of our attacking lineup.

FORWARDS

Shane Forde

Forde is really the only real goalscoring threat we have on the squad – thankfully, he is a rather good one. The number speak for themselves – in 33 games, he scored 20 goals, and his 7.07 AR was the second highest on the team. He is at his best playing as defensive forward, something which I was glad to accommodate given his goalscoring record. He was also perhaps our most improved player throughout the season, and we really struggled in his absence when he went down injured with a sprained ankle that ruled him out for six weeks. He gave me the same level of frustration as Williams did with his contract, but in the end it played out the same way, and his £190 per week makes him the club’s highest paid player.

YOUTH INTAKE

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Given the general lack of quality at the club, any youth intake was going to improve the squad. That being said, I was left a bit disappointed. Our best prospect, unfortunately, plays the same position as our best player, and I did not get any quality GKs, something which I sorely needed. Still, Jones looks like an immediate contributor, and Rifat and Curran both look like they could be fringe/rotation players as early as next year. Hopefully, Rifat will develop quickly enough so that he will not be a liability when I play him

2016/17 PRESEASON REPORT

We managed to sign back all our important players, so the hope is one or two of our Youth Intake players would be able to contribute. As I pointed out earlier, our most talented prospect plays the same position as our best player (Attacking Midfielder), so that was a bit of a letdown. The aim is pretty similar to last year – stay clear of the relegation zone and keep it in the mid-table. There is not enough talent on this squad yet to realistically look at a playoff spot.

I experimented with the 4-1-1-3-1 formation last year for the first time, and it kept us up despite having literally the least talented team in the league, so I am sticking with it. Wayne Jones made enough progress to replace Devarn Thomas in the starting lineup in the Central Defender position, but other than that, the starting eleven stay the same. Once again, I believe our best players will be Darren Williams and Shane Forde, but I will be hoping for better defensive performances this time around.

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One day, I'll do a youth-only save, too. Developing young players is one of my favorite things to do in FM.

I'll be following.

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FFS! I hate that news item

Never meant much before, but in an all youth save - nothing could be more frustrating!

One day, I'll do a youth-only save, too. Developing young players is one of my favorite things to do in FM.

I'll be following.

I've always wanted to do this, too - with the create your own club feature, I figured it was the right time.

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interested to follow this as always been interested in developing youth talent

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SEASON REVIEW 2016/2017

The start to the season was encouraging, but it quickly faded as injuries started piling up and results went against us. In general, it was a frustrating season – I was hoping improvement in the current crop of youngsters we have would lead to a few extra points, but we ended up in 16th for the second straight year. There were two major reasons for this – inconsistent performances from all our players, and injuries. The latter was especially tough to deal with given the depth (or lack thereof) of the squad, so on quite a number of occasions, I was putting in players in positions they had no experience playing in. Also for the second straight season, our results in the last quarter were terrible – this is a trend I hope we break next season. I felt that perhaps the players were getting exhausted too quick, so I changed the tempo they play at back to normal. We did well in the FA Cup, reaching the 1st Round before being knocked out, and we progressed further in the FA Trophy this year than we did last season.

Financially, things are not going so well. Our average attendance went up to 819 from 691 the previous season, but given our £190k investment in our Youth Facilities, our balance is now lower than £100k. Another issue was the resigning of most of my players – almost all of them were earning £5 a week on Youth Contracts, but with most of them resigned, they are now earning in excess of £100 a week. Our wages are running at £3.5k a week – much lower than the £6.5k allowed – but it is still bleeding the coffers faster than last season. Hopefully with another small increase in attendance we can at least stop the losses and maintain our balance.

The Youth Intake was disappointing – more so than last year. Although two of the newgens look like they could potentially be part of the first team, I am not getting any help in the positions I really need it – GK, fullbacks, wingers. With my three best players all telling me that they do not wish to renew their contracts come the end of the season, I am a little worried that things are going to get more difficult starting next season if we don’t progress in 2017/18. I had two players who were part of the rotation from the 2016 Youth class – Graeme Jones and central midfielder Kenan Akhan. The former has a future at the club, while the latter was played out of complete necessity. Overall, the 2016 Youth class has not really put anything forward in terms of outstanding potential or talent.

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GOALKEEPERS

Giannis Venios

Although Venios’ Goals Conceded (54) and Clean Sheets (10) were both substantially better than his previous season, his AR actually went down to 6.64 from 6.67 in 2015/16. That points clearly to one thing – while Venios still played mediocre, the defensive line in front of him became much improved. The GK was the least talented position for the club in 2015/16, and remained so this year – unfortunately, Venios remains the best the club has and will have going into next season. At 18 years old, he is still young enough to show substantial improvement, but it does look unlikely that he will and in any case his talent level is low enough that any improvement to bring him up to standard would have to be close to massive.

LEFT DEFENDERS

Ryan Bole

No longer the shallowest position on the team, Bole remains better than only perhaps GK Venios in terms of talent in the starting eleven. That being said, Bole showed big improvements, with his AR jumping from 6.40 to 6.60, as well as marked improvements in his TpG. He turned 19 years old during the season, so he is one of the elders on the team, which means his improvement from this point on might not be as pronounced as others on the team. He is still the starting left back by default because others that can play the position have not shown enough ability to demote him as of yet.

CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Stewart Peart - Devarn Thomas - Wayne Jones

Devarn Thomas ended up winning back his starting place from Wayne Jones a couple of months into the season as he was just the better performer, playing in 37 games compared to Jones’ 29 games (16 as a starter.) Thomas registered a 6.73 AR – up from 6.68 AR last year – while Jones registered a low 6.54 AR, underperforming and disappointing despite the expectations put on him. Peart was again the best central defender the team had this season, and it was Peart and Thomas who ranked 5th and 6th in Interceptions in the league, respectively. His 6.65 AR does point towards his inconsistent performances this season, however, and his TpG dropped from over 3 per game to a lowly 2.22. Overall, however, the strength and improvement of the central defenders available in the team led to much better defensive performance from the team in general over the course of the season.

RIGHT DEFENDERS

John O’Flynn

Another season of durability and not much else from O’Flynn, his 6.52 AR was actually lower than that of the previous season. He played in a team high 41 games, but unfortunately, his performance in most of them was disappointing – his 111 Mistakes Made, in fact, were 2nd only to teammate Michael Steele. The positive thing is that the current defensive line, as a unit, showed marked improvement over last year, even though individual performances were mostly mediocre. O’Flynn will probably start next season as the starter at the RD position, but there are a couple of players who play his position that will hopefully develop enough that they would be able to push him a little bit.

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDERS

Michael Steel

For the second straight season, Steel led the league in TpG, registering 6.47 TpG in a strong display of defensive prowess. He also led the league in Mistakes Made, although this time, only one of them led directly to a goal and the total number was a lot less than last season. That being said, he showed great improvements in all aspects of his game – in 29 games, he registered 6.47 TpG, 1.13 DpG, 4 PoMs, and a team-high 7.09 AR. He had a hernia that ruled him out for the first month of the season, but the 16 year old stormed back and was potentially Kafra’s best player this season. The fans certainly thought so, as he was voted Kafra’s 2017 Player of the Year. The only problem is that we might have trouble resigning him after his contract is up in 2018, as he believes he should be playing in the nLeague Two.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Huseyin Sarsilmaz - Graeme Jones

Playing a team-high 41 games (tied with O’Flynn), Huseyin Sarsilmaz registered 3 goals, 3 assists, 3 PoMs, 1.01 DpG, and a 6.85 AR, showcasing an improving all-around game that saw him become one of the most important players on the team. His flair is the highest on the team, and he was also amongst the most consistent performers for us this season, as well. Overall, while central midfielder is not his best position (he is only Competent at it), he remains our best option there. Graeme Jones, product of the 2016 Youth Intake, has become accomplished at the position, although he did not play as much as I would’ve liked thanks to a torn hamstring that kept him out of action for more than 3 months. His physical abilities took quite a beating thanks to the injury, but he did show some small improvements in the technical department. Overall, our best player from the 2016 Youth Intake doesn’t look to be than a rotation player at this point, however.

LEFT WINGERS

Justin Lamb

Our 18 year old club captain Justin Lamb was perhaps the most disappointing player we had this season. His 6.57 AR was a huge drop from the 6.81 AR he recorded last year, and although he registered 5 goals and 5 assists this season, his performances made the left wing a negligible threat for opponents. It was frustrating to see a player who consistently put decent performances seem so perplexed and mistake prone – unfortunately, there is no real candidate to replace him down the left wing. It is doubtful he will start next season still as the club captain, however.

RIGHT WINGERS

James Kirk

The left wing was not the only underachieving flank this season, as James Kirk also took a step back in terms of performance. Although he played 3 more games (41) than last year, his goals scored dropped from 11 to 3, and his AR from 6.81 to 6.68. He did improve his assists to 7, and his DpG did rise to 1.70, but overall, his lack of attacking threat allowed opposing defenses to make like miserable a lot of the time for the players in the center of the pitch. He has shown very good improvements in his abilities across the board, however, and looks set to have a bounce back season next year if he can maintain some consistency to his performances.

ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Darren Williams

It was a tough year for our 2016 Player of the Year – with both our wingers having off-seasons, defenses collapsed on what they rightfully identified as our best player and the results showed in the statistics. In 40 games, he only registered 3 goals, 8 assists, and a 6.81 AR – all numbers that were down from last season. This does not mean he did not progress as a player, however, as he showed great improvement in his abilities, especially his composure and anticipation. He is by far the best player in terms of technical ability we have on the squad, and he did register 1.28 TpG and 1.54 DpG – both numbers that were far better than last year and showcased his all-around ability.

FORWARDS

Shane Forde

Forde became an Ireland U19 international this season, as his development continued to impress. Injuries limited him to only 32 appearances, but he did score 17 goals and registered a 79% Pass Ratio. His 6.92 AR was down from the previous season, but he did spend quite a few games working back into shape from his various injuries. The 18 year old remains the club’s only viable threat upfront, and although his finishing still needs lots of improvement, he showed great progress in a lot of other abilities.

YOUTH INTAKE

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Disappointing crop to say the least. Our 2017 Youth Intake featured mostly defenders, of which only one of whom looks like having the potential to be part of the first team, Paul Evans. An already deep position in the club just got reinforcements, but I wish it was some of our other positions. In any case, I have not seen any standout players yet from our two Youth Intake classes.

2016/17 PRESEASON REPORT

The only departure of note this off-season was Ryan Bole, our starting left back over the last two seasons. I just figured he had not performed well at all, so there was no reason to give him a contract paying him the £200 per week he wants when a newgen can essentially give me the same production he did. Other than that, the rest of the starting eleven has stuck around to give it another go this season, and hopefully we will be able to improve on 16th Place, where we have finished the last two seasons.

We need more attacking consistency to improve this season, so the development of Shane Forde and Darren Williams is key. The winger positions need to find their 2015/16 form, as they were negligible threats last season. Both the central midfield and defensive midfield positions are in good hands with Sarsilmaz and Steel, respectively, as both have shown good improvement over the course of the last two seasons. Defensively, we showed good improvement last year, but we still need to tighten up the back and we need more from our fullbacks.

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...thousands of fans who care passionately for the future of Kafra FC.

Most of them must be admiring you from afar, then, with your average attendance of around 800... :D

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Definitely an interesting save. Want to see more :)

Thanks! Hopefully, I provide enough information in my updates to keep things interesting.

Most of them must be admiring you from afar, then, with your average attendance of around 800... :D

Lol! Wouldn't have to worry so much about my finances if a few hundred more of them showed up to the games!

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SEASON REVIEW 2017/18

Another up and down season that followed the patterns of the two previous ones, we had bouts of impressive form followed by streaks where we just could not buy a victory. Our squad was deeper this season than it had been, however, so injuries – although plentiful – did not affect us quite as much. Because of that, we ended up finishing in a respectable 12th Place, four spots higher than we had previously finished. It was a highly competitive season, too – a few more points, and we would have found ourselves contending for a Play-Off spot. Our FA Cup performance was also above expectation, as we again made the FA Cup 1st Round, but that was again followed by an unimpressive FA Trophy campaign – this time, we could only make the FA Trophy 1st Round.

We finished the season with our finances nearly depleted – I managed to keep us in the red for three full seasons, but we officially hit the red now. Our attendance was nearly identical to last season (822 as compared to 819), so the increase I was hoping for never bore fruit. Our Youth Facilities upgrade was scrapped early in the season because of lack of funds, so there is a real struggle here to continue to make things work as we begin sinking into the red. That being said, our highest paid three players – led by Michael Steel’s £1.4k a week – look like they will be off the books next season, as they have refused to resign with the club. That will take away nearly £2k a week in wages, and coupled with what I hope will be an increase in attendance, we should be closer to managing our expenses than ever before.

As mentioned above, our three highest paid players will most likely not be resigning – unfortunately for us, Michael Steel, Darren Williams, and Shane Forde are also undisputedly our three best players. They all gave us three good years, so I cannot complain too much, but it is going to leave the talent level in the squad much lower than before. Our Youth Intake this year, however, did give us what I believe is our best prospect yet, so even it is small, there is some room for optimism.

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GOALKEEPERS

Giannis Venios

For the third straight year, Venious conceded less goals than the previous season, and for the third straight year, this was mostly due to the performance of the defensive line in front of him than his own performances. His Goals Conceded went down to 44 from 54, but his AR was 6.66 – very close to his previous AR of 6.64 and 6.67. He has not shown much improvement in his ability, and his peak is probably where it is now, but unfortunately, there continues to be no alternative. The Youth Academy has not produced any GKs worthy of replacing him in the starting eleven, and so potentially the weakest GK in the league will continue to be our starter for the foreseeable future.

LEFT DEFENDERS

John O’Flynn

After abruptly deciding not to re-sign underachieving Ryan Bole, I switched O’Flynn from right back to starting left back. The experiment did not go as planned, however – O’Flynn’s 6.43 AR was the lowest of his career and significantly lower than Bole’s 6.60 AR last season. I did it because I thought I had more options at RB than I did at LB, and although O’Flynn was also an underachiever at RB, I figured maybe he could contribute on the other side of the pitch. He was disappointing, to say the least, and I am going to have to look long and hard at my “lesser” talents at the position come next year in hopes of getting more consistent performances from what has become one of my trouble positions.

CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Stewart Peart - Devarn Thomas - Paul Evans

The heart of our defensive line, both figuratively and literally, Peart and Thomas were again amongst the most reliable and consistent players I had this season. Stewart Peart has become one of the most important players on the team, and was also one of the most impactful defenders in the league this season. Now 19 years old, he registered a league high 632 Interceptions, while also registering a league high of 138 Key Headers to go along with his 6.79 AR, all while playing in every league game this season. Devarn Thomas – the team’s elder statesman at 20 years old – was 4th in the league with 563 Interceptions, and was tied for 5th with 22 Key Tackles. He played in 40 games and registered a 6.77 AR. Both Peart and Thomas have low TpG averages, but they have become one of the strongest central defender tandems in the league over the course of the past few seasons. Paul Evans, a product of the 2017 Youth Intake, has the ability to play anywhere in the defensive line, but the 17 year old needs to pick up his consistency – in 20 appearances this season, his 6.49 AR reflected on his mediocre performances. He is perhaps the most talented of a bunch of youngsters behind the starting two CDs, but the talent gap between them remains large.

RIGHT DEFENDERS

Wayne Jones

After shifting O’Flynn to LB, it was former CD Wayne Jones that moved to starter at the RB position. The 19 year old did not impress, however, as our fullback struggles continued – in 34 games, Jones registered a 6.50 AR with minimal contributions across the board. Like the left back position, however, there really is not any other solid alternative, so he is most likely going to remain starter for the foreseeable future.

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDERS

Michael Steel

The 2017 Kafra Player of the Year, the 17 year old led the league with 5.84 TpG for the third year in a row, delivering perhaps his finest season yet. Unfortunately, it also looks like it will be Steel’s last season with Kafra, as he has refused to re-sign his contract and instead has opted to let it expire as he tries to explore more challenging options. He played in a career-high 38 games, also registering a career-high 5 assists and a 7.09 AR. His undeniable presence in the midfield will be sorely missed, and he will most likely be the hardest player to replace.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Huseyin Sarsilmaz - Graeme Jones

While Sarsilmaz remained the defacto starter at the central midfield position, 2016 Youth Intake product Graeme Jones was the better performer throughout the season this year, finally showing the type of progress expected of him as his abilities improved across the board. In 35 appearances, Jones registered 2 goals, 10 assists (8th in the league), 2.37 TpG, 78% Pass Ratio, and a 6.92 AR, compared to Sarsilmaz 2 goals, 5 assists, 2.11 TpG, 76% Pass Ratio, and 6.89 AR, also in 35 games. Jones showed the ability to create for the attacking four, something Sarsilmaz had struggled with in prior seasons. Granted, he was playing out of position, but I think the foreseeable future for the club at the central midfield position has Jones as our starter. His physical abilities leave much to be desired, especially after a rough hamstring injury last year, but he did show nice growth in his other abilities throughout the season. Sarsilmaz will be looked upon to either take hold of the AM position if Williams, as expected, leaves, or rotate with Jones at the CM position if there is an alternative further down the pitch.

LEFT WINGERS

Justin Lamb

Given a second chance to stay as club captain, Lamb was just as disappointing this season as he was in 2016/17. He only played 28 games (a thigh strain and a back strain ruled him out for a total of two months), registering 2 goals, 4 assists, and a very mediocre 6.57 AR – not numbers you expect from you starting left winger or your club captain. He will definitely be replaced as captain come next season, and with 2018 Youth Intake prospect Freddie Kershaw making an immediate impact, his place in the starting eleven looks under threat, as well.

RIGHT WINGERS

James Kirk

While Lamb succumbed to second underachieving season this year, the same could not be said about the right flank starter, James Kirk. After a disappointing 2016/17 season, he bounced back and in 28 games, he registered 5 goals, 9 assists, 1.42 DpG, and a 6.84 AR – all quite respectable numbers. I am quite happy keeping him as the starter as he is showed he has the ability to be dangerous the right wing, and was quite decent at creating chances further infield when the opportunity called for it. His quickness is his strength – in fact, he is probably the fastest player on the squad.

ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Darren Williams

Our 2016 Player of the Year seemed to regress with each passing season, and he ended up delivering a career-low in assists this year (4 assists), although he did pitch in 6 goals and a 6.84 AR. Out of my top three players leaving, he will most likely be the one I miss the least as I have the most ready replacement at his position, but there is no doubting the quality he added to the team over the past three seasons. He was our most technically proficient player throughout, and it will be between Jones and Sarsilmaz to replace him in the starting lineup. Whoever does not line up at CM will most likely start here.

FORWARDS

Shane Forde

Our Player of the Year this season, it was his finest campaign yet. In only 30 games, he registered a career-high 23 goals to go along with his 6 PoMs and 7.18 AR. His proneness to injury continued to be evident, but his contributions to the side finishing in 12th Place could not be discounted. He will probably be the most missed out of the three leaving, and the U19 Ireland striker will also be the hardest to replace.

YOUTH INTAKE

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Much better than the past two previous seasons simply because I think Kreshaw is going to be good. I immediately thrust him in the starting lineup, and I can’t wait to see what he does over the course of a full season. Other than him, however, there is not much to be excited about – Nwachukwu looks like the best of the rest but I don’t see him becoming much past being a rotation player, if that.

2018/19 PRESEASON REPORT

This was our most dramatic pre-season yet, as Shane Forde, Darren Williams, and Michael Steel all left the club for greener pastures. Steel ended up joining Swindon in the League 1 for £1.2k a week (less than he was getting from us during the last season), while Williams accepted a £700 a week contract from our Vanarama South rivals Maidstone – so much for him wanting to challenge himself at a higher level. As of this writing, Forde had yet to sign for another club, but Bromley were supposed to be showing minor interest – they are also, incidentally, in our league, which is a bit disappointing.

The big thing now is who replaces them – I implemented a defensive midfielder in my tactics to make use of Steel, but now that he is gone, I will be shifting it to two central midfielders. Williams won’t be much of an issue as I believe between Sarsilmaz and Jones, we have enough talent to compensate for his depature, but Forde will be a loss. I simply don’t have the talent at the striker position to make up for his presence and goals. My most likely candidate is Darren Thompson, but he is very far removed from the talent Forde had.

Our financial situation is worsening, and this is the first season we will start in the red. The loss of the players mentioned above removes almost £2k from our wage bill, so hopefully that will help stop some of the bleeding, but I cannot invest in Youth Facilities without cash, and we will not get better without that investment.

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So I don't know if this is considered cheating, but I resigned Shane Forde - our current Player of the Year - off of the Free Transfer list! Basically, he left the club in the summer wanting to play for a club that matches his skill (along with my other 2 top players), but while they found clubs, he remained languishing as a Free Transfer. I attempted to offer him a contract, and he was willing to listen - he had previously not even given me the chance. Seeing as he has not played for anyone else yet, I figured its not a breach of my self imposed Youth Intake only rules, so we welcome back Shane Forde to the club!

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I would say Forde is within the "rules"! :D

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We've been having a few positive months in terms of profit thanks to a much lower wage bill this season, so I decided to try my luck. They accepted - lets hope they don't scrap it a few months from now!

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SEASON REVIEW 2018/19

Our 9th Place finish this year was our highest ever for the second straight season, and given that our three best players all decided to leave us at the end of last season (Forde eventually came back), I expected us to struggle to repeat our 12th Place finish in 2017/18. Thankfully, our GK improved, our defense stepped up, we had a breakout season from Graeme Jones, and Shane Forde returned, all of which led to a fantastic finish as we were expected to bravely fight against relegation. The inconsistency trend continued, however, as we continued to have large bouts where we were nearly unbeatable followed by long droughts were we could not buy a victory. At the end of the day, however, definite progress was made, and as our squad matures and gets better, I feel like a Play-off challenge is not so far off. Our FA Cup experience ended in the 1st Round for the third straight year, while our FA Trophy run also ended in the 1st Round.

For the first time, we actually improved our finances this season as a direct result of the wage bill dropping nearly £2k a week with the departure of the big three. We went from being in the red to ending the season with about £50k in our coffers, and the board approved the investment to improve our Youth Category, putting in £190k in the project. Hopefully, they won’t cancel it like they did the first time. Our average attendance took a nice big jump from 822 to 907, so that helped with the finances as well. Overall, while we increased some salaries, next season should be the same as this, with the aim being to get £100k in our account by the end of the 2019/20 season. Investment in Youth and Training is the only way this team can get better, so we need the money for it bad.

Our 2019 Youth Intake was potentially our best yet, with a surefire striker prospect who looks like the real deal, as well as two other prospects that look like they could definitely contribute to the team. Shane Forde’s return was not as successful as we would have hoped, and our full back positions are still a problem area, but the team is really starting to take shape, especially with Youth Academy products Graeme Jones and Freddie Kreshaw developing and playing the way they did.

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GOALKEEPERS

Giannis Venios

This was the first season of improvement in both form and ability for our GK by default. If you take a look at Venios’ Training Chart, you will notice that his ability improvements started a year ago during last summer. As a result, he recorded a career-high 11 Clean Sheets and 6.73 AR – not good numbers by any stretch, but a definite improvement over his previous numbers. He is 20 years old now, and if he can maintain his improvements for another couple of years before peaking, he might actually turn out to be a decent GK afterall.

LEFT DEFENDERS

John O’Flynn

Another player who is our starter by default due to a lack of competition, O’Flynn has now given us a four year average of 6.52 AR, recording 6.56 AR this season. The sad thing is, he played 40 games as a starter – there is no real alternative at the LB position. That being said, I think it time to start looking towards my younger, even less talented prospects at the position because, really, what is the difference going to be? The only thing that he does not do horrible at is tackling – his 3.03 TpG was actually the third best on the team, as well as his 18 Key Tackles. Unfortunately, that could not make up for his key statistic – 118 mistakes, 2nd worst in all the league.

CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Stewart Peart - Devarn Thomas - Paul Evans

Kafra probably has the most reliable CD partnership in the league thanks to Peart and Thomas, and in 2018/19, they both delivered their best seasons yet. Let’s start with Peart – his 685 Interceptions led the league, and he was second 117 Key Headers in the league, as well. He played all 42 games for the second season in a row, registering 3 goals, 3 assists, 4 PoMs, and a career-high 6.88 AR. His obvious strength is his aerial ability, but he has become completely competent with the ball at his feet, as well. Thomas was 3rd in the league with 100 Key Headers, 12th with 22 Key Tackles, and 13th with 500 Interceptions, as he played in 36 games and also delivered a career-high 6.83 AR. Between them, they have compensated for the lack of talent at the fullback positions and have turned Kafra’s defense into a respectable unit. Our third choice CD, 2018 Youth Intake product Evans, was actually 10th in the league with 3.80 TpG – while consistency still eludes his game, as witnessed by his 6.67 AR, if you look at Paul Evans Training Chart, the first thing you will notice his insane Determination development, which has led to much progress in his other abilities as well. If he continues down this track, given that he is only 18 years old, he will be our most talented CD before long.

RIGHT DEFENDERS

Wayne Jones

Our starting RB for the second straight season, the 20 year old showed minimal improvement over his first, unfortunately for our defense. In 33 games, he registered 2.50 TpG and a 6.62 AR – an improvement over his previous averages but by no means acceptable ones. As it is with our LB position, he is a starter by default, but I am going to have look good and hard at who could potentially be a replacement for Jones – things can’t get any worse at the position.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Graeme Jones - Josh Gregory - Ibrahim Nwachukwu

Lots of interesting things happening at the position this past season – for one, Jones (2017 Youth Class) gave us his finest season yet. In 40 games, he registered 4 goals, 8 assists, 4 PoMs, 76% Pass Ratio, and a 6.97 AR – overall, he was probably our best player this season. After a couple of years of relatively stagnant growth, he picked it up and really showed marked improvement in his abilities over the course of the season – obviously, that reflected in his form. The other CM position (converted from DM after the departure of Michael Steel in the summer) was a major question mark going into the season, but two 2018 Youth Intake prospects managed to step up and do a reasonably decent job. Gregory was starter for most games, playing in 29 games and registering 3 goals, 3 assists, 2.67 TpG, and a 6.95 AR, while Nwachukwu managed to appear in 24 games and register a 6.67 AR. The definite star here is Jones, who has been the best prospect to come out of your Youth Academy thus far in this career.

LEFT WINGERS

Freddie Kershaw

Although his 6.64 AR is low, it is more indicative of his Kershaw’s inconsistencies as opposed to his abilities. Thrown into the starting lineup in his first full season (he is a 2018 Youth Intake product), he appeared in 37 games, registering 7 goals, 4 assists, 1.11 TpG, 1.37 DpG – all at the age of 17. His improvements in his abilities throughout the season were very encouraging, and the choice to replace former club captain Justin Lamb with Kershaw down the left wing has proven to be a successful one. Kershaw and CM Graeme Jones are the two best prospects to come out of the Youth Academy by far, and potentially Kershaw could be a better player down the line than anyone from the Youth Academy thus far.

RIGHT WINGERS

James Kirk

This season was a bit of a step back for the 21 year old, who has become the club’s elder statesman. Although he did provide 7 goals, his 6.66 AR was a big dropoff from the previous year’s 6.84 AR. Still, he remains the club’s best option at the right wing position by far, and in all honesty, we have other positions that are worse off. His pace is his greatest asset, and his stamina has gotten significantly better over the past two years. Overall, I think he serves us just right for the Vanamara South league – we just need him to perform closer to his 2017/18 form.

ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Huseyin Sarsilmaz

Replacing Darren Williams was never going to be easy, but Sarsilmaz eased the blow with his form this season – although he did not perform as well as Williams, he did do a decent job as a starter for the first time in his natural position of AM. In 38 games, he registered 3 goals, 5 assists, 2.00 TpG, and a 6.80 AR, providing the squad with good attacking options in the final third of the pitch. His assists number would do well to go up, and his overall low training performance means that he has not seen much improvement at all in his abilities over the last few seasons, but he remains a very decent starter at the position for us.

FORWARDS

Shane Forde

The drama around Shane Forde was a season-long one – his contract ran out at the end of last season and he refused to re-sign with us, along with Michael Steel and Darren Williams. While the other two found clubs, Forde continued to languish as a free agent until the end of 2018. He finally agreed to a contract and returned to us, but his form was maddeningly inconsistent and this was in no way the Forde who had dominated our scoring charts the last three seasons. Instead, he only gave us 6 goals in 21 games, after providing 60 goals in 95 games the past three years. His 6.88 AR was a career-low and he fought injuries throughout the season. Obviously, he is our starter at the position for next year, and I really do appreciate having him back, but he is going to have live up to his expectations in 2019/20 if we are to continue to improve and challenge for a playoff spot.

YOUTH INTAKE

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Potentially our finest Youth Intake yet. My staff is really excited about Ben Smith, and while I see the potential, I believe our best prospect here is striker Damian Peacock. Good finishing, good pace, and a decent ability in the air, and he is only 15 years old still. His determination is obviously a worry, but his balanced personality suggests that he might not have a problem working hard. If he can show good and steady improvement in his abilities, we will have the star of the squad on our hands in a few years time. He will definitely get the playing time to help him develop. Smith has decent physical stats, and if he can show some immediate improvements, he should be part of the rotation next year. We also finally got a halfway decent GK, although he absolutely has a lot of improvement to do. His obvious talent is his shot-stopping ability, which exceeds Venios’ by a good margin, but he needs to work on everything else.

2019/2020 PRESEASON REPORT

I have a good feeling about the upcoming season – we have had great improvements across the board, the team is maturing and starting to get closer to its peak, and other than the fullback positions, we have decent talent everywhere. A couple of things need to happen for us to even think about challenging for a Play-Off spot, however – firstly, Shane Forde needs to find his form. Without the striker firing them in, our offense looks weak and shallow. Secondly, our defense needs to continue to show improvement – the difference between our first season and our last is quite big, but there still needs to be further improvements in their abilities and form. Only then can we consider a Play-Off spot a reality during this long season.

Financially, we are in a better place than we were a year ago. Our account is back in the positive, and it looks like we will be able to maintain ourselves once again this year. There are no exuberant wages to be paid, so our expenses are under control. Unfortunately, the board scrapped our Youth Category development for the second straight time, so that was frustrating. Hopefully we will see enough improvement in our finances to finally justify some investment in our youth system.

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WORLD NEWS

ITALY WINS WORLD CUP

Italy won the World Cup for the 5th time after defeating the Cristiano Ronaldo led Portuguese team 2-0 in the Finals at Zenit Arena in St. Petersburg, ending the run of what was one of the most dominating individual performances in the history of the tournament by Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid winger set a new record with 10 goals scored, and was won the Best Player award with all ease. The Italians, whom were led by their defense, played incredible team football and fully deserved their title. The tournament was hosted in Russia.

GHANA WINS ANC FOR SECOND STRAIGHT TIME

Ghana once again showed their class by winning their second straight African Nations Cup, defeating the D.R.C in the Finals. In 2017, they had defeated Algeria to win their first ANC title since 1982, and Africa’s best team proved it was no fluke as they did it again, bringing their total number of ANC wins to 6 titles, just one less than record holder Egypt. They missed out on the Best Player award for the second straight time, however, as that went to D.R.C’s midfielder Giannelli Imbula, who currently plays for Porto.

SOUTH KOREA WINS ASIAN CUP FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1960

South Korea, won of the most decorated teams in the history of Asian football, finally lifted the continent’s most prestigious cup for the first time since 1960, ending a drought that spanned two centuries. After winning back to back titles in 1956 and 1960, the South Koreans endured four losses in the Finals (1972, 1980, 1988, 2015) before capturing the title at the expense of Iran, whose last trip to the Finals was in 1976, where they became (and still are) the only team to win the Asian Cup three times in a row. The tournament, which was hosted in Kuwait, saw 31 year old Uzbekistan and Krasnodar midfielder Odil Ahmedov win the tournament’s MVP.

BRAZIL CROWNED CHAMPIONS OF SOUTH AMERICA

Brazil captured the Copa America title for the first time since 2007, defeating Uruguay 4-2 in the Finals at the iconic Maracana Stadium in Rio De Janiero. The hosts were led by Barcelona striker Neymar, who scored 8 goals and won the tournament’s Best Player award.

URUGUAY LIFT U20 WORLD CUP TROPHY FOR FIRST TIME

Beaten Finalists against Holland in Sweden in 2017, Uruguay defeated cinderella story Cameroon to win their first ever U20 World Cup, which was being hosted by Brazil. The exacted revenge on the Dutch team that beat them in the Finals in the Semi-Finals, as they became the first South American team to win the title since 2011.

BAYERN MUNICH LIFT CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TITLE FOR SIXTH TIME

Bayern Munich, losers to Arsenal in the 2018 Finals, set things right against another English opponent this time around, defeating Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, as they captured their sixth title in their history. The win ended a spectacular season by Bayern Munich, as they had also captured the German Bundesliga title a few days before, and by their striker Robert Lewandowski, who captured the Champions League Top Goalscorer award with 12 goals. Chelsea’s long time manager, Jose Mourinho, was sacked a day after the defeat, ending the Portuguese’s second tenure with the club, even though his player Eden Hazard captured the tournament’s Best Player award.

OTHER NEWS

- For the first time since 1961, Tottenham won the English Premier League thanks to outstanding performance of winger Christian Eriksen, who has become known as one of the finest players on the planet and was named the league’s Player of the Year. With 37 year old manager Alex Neil at the helm, Tottenham replaced Arsenal as league champions, beating out Manchester City and Manchester United.

- Barcelona wrestled the La Liga title away from Real Madrid this season, winning it on the final matchday. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez both delivered exceptional individual seasons, even though Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez was named La Liga Player of the Year, registering a phenomenal 8.06 AR over the course of the season.

- Juventus clinched its 8th consecutive Serie A – an amazing feat that was possible thanks to the contributions of their world class midfielder Paul Pogba and Argentine striker sensation Paul Dybala, as well as their defensive duo Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

- Led by Robert Lewandowski’s 26 goals, Bayern Munich recaptured the German Bundesliga title from Leverkusen as the Polish striker solidified himself as one of the greatest strikers of the decade, capturing the Player of the Year for the first time. Leverkusen were a massive eighteen points behind the new champions in the league standing as they finished in 2nd Place.

- It was seven times in a row for Paris Saint-Germain as they captured the Ligue 1 title yet again, although this time the margin was only four points between them and the Bernard Silva led Monaco. The Portuguese winger, fresh off a fantastic performance at the World Cup, had another incredible season, winning the league’s Player of the Year for the third straight time. For PSG, it was £39.5m signing Dominic Berardi, who signed from Barcelona in the summer, and Edinson Cavani who led the team to the title.

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SEASON REVIEW 2019/20

We did it! I believed this squad would be able to push for a Play-Off spot this year, and I was not wrong. As the team matures and we have important players enter their 20s, the play becomes more consistent. Plus, we have had a couple of good players come out of the Youth Academy the past few years that became big contributors this season, and with the return of Shane Forde to form, plus a better performing GK, we managed to finish in 3rd Place. The Play-Offs saw us knock off Welling United thanks to a draw away from home (we won 1-0 in the second leg at home), and a victory of Sutton United in the Play-Off Finals. Five years in the Vanarama South – the squad did well keeping it together throughout the season and staying relatively consistent in form. Graeme Jones was our only big injury of the season (he was out for over three months), so that helped a lot too. The FA Cup saw the usual 1st Round exit, while the FA Trophy saw us crash out at the very beginning.

Financially, this was our best season yet. Our average attendance jumped from 907 to a fantastic 1,142, so that helped a lot in turning a profit this season. Considering we were in the red two summers again, it is great news that we ended the season with around £150k in our account. Twice I have been given the green light to improve our Youth Facilities, and twice its been canceled. We are now on our third try, so hopefully we will be able to see this through. We are going to need better players to be developed by our Youth Academy if are to continue our progress up the divisions.

Our Youth Intake was, for the second straight year, very encouraging. We got another player who looks like he could be an immediate contributor, and few that potentially could be squad rotation players. Most importantly, the players that have come up through the Academy the past few years are taking important roles in the starting eleven and are giving good performances. Players like Freddie Kershaw (2018), Graeme Jones (2016), Damian Peacock (2019), and Paul Evans (2017) have all become integral parts of the starting eleven – this is also not forgetting the surprising play of GK George O’Sullivan (2019), who took over the starting job and never looked back.

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GOALKEEPERS

George O’Sullivan

Giannis Venios, our starting GK the past four years, went down to injury early in the season, and O’Sullivan took over and never looked back. His performance and form was substantially better than Venios’, so I gave him the starting job for the rest of the season. He did not let up throughout, and I figure he was one of the primary reason for our successful push for promotion. In 35 games, he conceded only 35 goals (4th best in league), had 12 Clean Sheets, and registered a 6.77 AR, numbers Venios never accomplished. His shot-stopping abilities are fantastic for this level, but he does have to work on improving other aspects of his game. Below is a comparison chart between O’Sullivan and Venios:

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LEFT DEFENDERS

Stewart Peart

Disenfranchised by the state of my fullbacks, I shifted my best defender – who is a natural at left back as well – to the left of the defensive line, and while his overall performance dropped, his form was still better than I could have had from anyone else on the team. He had his faults – he went from leading the league in Interceptions for the past three seasons to not even leading the team, and his 128 Mistakes was league leading – but he also played in 43 games, registering 2.89 TpG and a 6.70 AR. Obviously, he is not the long term fix at the position, but I appreciate that he was able to at least give me some consistency and stability that has lacked it over the past few seasons.

CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Devarn Thomas - Paul Evans

The club captain, Thomas is also the oldest player on the team at 22 years old. He also delivered his finest season to date, having been a starter for five years, playing in 36 games and registering a career-high 6.91 AR. He was 5th in the league with 25 Key Tackles, 4th with a 100 Key Headers, and 12th with 515 Interceptions – in general, he did a great job as a central defender. Paul Evans (2016) was the man who replaced Stewart Peart as starting CD next to Thomas, and the 19 year old did a decent job. He showed good durability, playing 39 games, registering 2.42 TpG and a 6.74 A. He was also 14th in the league with 498 Interceptions, effectively making up for Peart’s formerly league leading Interceptions number with Thomas. His improvements in his abilities were also noticeable, and he should continue to develop and post better numbers in the upcoming seasons.

RIGHT DEFENDERS

Obinna Eze

As I said I would, I went to my U18 and U21 sides looking for alternatives for Wayne Jones, and the best of the bunch was Obinna Eze (2016). I had no idea how he would perform, but I figured it could not have been worse than Jones – I was not wrong. Granted, he did not perform amazing (36 games, 2.90 TpG, 6.69 AR), but even those mediocre numbers were much better than what Jones gave me last year. Our issues at the position are not solved, and he is obviously not the long term fix, but the 19 year old seems to be capable of at least decent performances.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Graeme Jones - Huseyin Sarsilmaz

Graeme Jones (2016) might be my most technically gifted player, but it is apparent now he is also my most fragile. Putting aside the three month injury he had to deal with this season, his physical abilities just don’t look like they are going to be improving much. He only played in 29 games, although he did register a 7.03 AR in them, showing his importance to the club. I assigned him as vice-captain behind Thomas, and aside from his physical frailties, he is a great addition to our current squad. Sarsilmaz was shifted back to CM this year, and it was more of the same from him – 42 games, 7 assists, 1.93 TpG, 1.10 DpG, 6.92 AR (career-high). Consistent and durable, you know exactly what you are getting from Sarsilmaz, who is now 21 years old.

LEFT WINGERS

Freddie Kershaw

The star of our 2018 Youth Intake, the 18 year old took a huge step forward in his second year as our starting left winger this season. In 44 games, he registered 11 goals, 9 assists, 1.24 TpG, 1.51 DpG, and 6.83 AR – all career-highs. Not only that, he continued to improved steadily across the board in terms of his abilities, and my coaches think he is suited for the Vanarama National football level already. He was named in the league’s Team of the Week three times this season, but he really shone for us in the cup competitions, scoring 5 goals in the 7 games he played. Overall, I am very happy with the progress he has made and continues to make – hopefully, he won’t give me too much drama re-signing him next year.

RIGHT WINGERS

James Kirk

James Kirk joins Forde, Thomas, Peart, and Sarsilmaz as the only players still in the starting lineup since the inception of Kafra FC five years ago, and the 22 year old gave us perhaps his best season yet. In 38 games, he scored 12 goals and registered 11 assists, 1.58 DpG, and a 6.80 AR – all solid numbers and much improved from last year. I think he has the ability to continue to perform well in the Vanarama National league next season, and his quickness – he is the fastest player on the team – is an obvious plus, especially considering the position he plays.

ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Shane FordeCareer Stats

With the emergence of Damian Peacock, I decided to experiment and shifted Forde – my all-time leading goalscorer – to a Shadow Striker position, and he rewarded me with his best season yet. A natural already at the position, he gave me his first injury free season, playing in 44 games and registering a fantastic 18 goals, 17 assists (Best in the league), 10 PoMs (Best in the league), 1.72 TpG, 1.42 DpG, and a 7.15 AR. Simply put, he was our best player this year, as evident by his great all-around numbers. He refused to extend his contract throughout the season, but my guess is he will do so before it expires now that we have won promotion. He is indispensable to us.

FORWARDS

Damian Peacock

The 16 year old was given the starter position right off the bat as he has all the abilities I look for in a striker – good finishing and good speed. He did not disappoint – in 33 games, he scored 16 goals and registered a 6.94 AR, very good and encouraging numbers considering his age. He is the obvious star of our 2019 Youth Intake, but the one knock on him I have is that he did not show me substantial improvement in his abilities despite his playing time. My coaching staff are very high on him, and if he can show some dedication to improving this coming season, then he could really turn into something special for us.

YOUTH INTAKE

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Last year’s Youth Intake gave us two starters this season, and the 2020 Youth Intake measures up to the previous year, as well. Patrick Llewelyn is an immediate starter – the only problem is that he plays down the wings, and both wing positions have talented players there right now. He will eventually replace James Kirk down the right wing, but he is definitely going to get playing time this coming season. There was also a bunch of players that look like they could be at least good rotation players, with the best of them being Zac Sweeney and William Moore. I will try to get the former as much playing time as possible next season as I do think he has good potential.

2020/21 PRESEASON REPORT

This is going to be a tough year for us – we did great last year earning the promotion, but after scouting the talent in the Vanarama National league, there is a big gap between us and most of the teams. Adding insult to injury, Shane Forde inexplicably refused to a sign a new contract, despite saying his ambition was to play in the Vanamara National league, so for the second time in his career, he left us on a free transfer. It also looks like Freddie Kershaw, our star prospect from the 2018 Youth Intake, will be following in our Player of the Year's footsteps as he has consistently refused to sign a new contract. Financially, we are doing good - it looks like we will be turning positive months and our Youth Facilities got the confirmation for an upgrade and the project is scheduled to be completed in October. I hope it will reflect in this upcoming Youth Intake crop because we are severely overmatched - if we manage to stay up, then we would have done well.

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WORLD NEWS

GERMANY WIN EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP FOR RECORD 4TH TIME

The European Championship cup was lifted by the Germans for the 4th time this summer, as the defeated the surprising Ukraine 2-0 in the Finals. English striker Harry Kane led all goalscorers with 4 goals, while his teammate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain won named the tournament’s Best Player, leading England to the Semi-Finals before they eventually succumbed to the Ukraine on – you guessed it – penalties. Defending champions France lost out to Germany in the Semi-Finals, as well.

RONALDO NETS HAT-TRICK AS REAL MADRID WIN CL

Cristiano Ronaldo, as he has done so many times over his illustrious career, played hero once again as his Real Madrid defeated his former club Manchester United 3-0 in front of his fellow Portuguese at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon. This was a record 11th title for Europe’s most decorated club, and their first since winning it in 2014, incidentally also at the same venue. Romalu Lukaku, Manchester United’s £69m signing two summers ago, was their best player throughout the competition, scoring 10 goals – this was bested only by Ronaldo’s 11 goals. Not surprisingly, Ronaldo, who was the World Cup’s Best Player two summers ago, was named the competition’s Best Player, the third time he has captured that title. The Rafa Benitez led Real Madrid unseated Bayern Munich as champions of club football’s most prestigious tournament.

OTHER NEWS

English Premier League: Arsenal won the Premier League title for the second time in three years, with Mesut Ozil leading the way with his new league record of 7.94 AR for the season. Eden Hazard (33 games, 8 goals, 11 assists, 10 PoMs, 7.92 AR) won the Footballer of the Year for the second time in his career, while Newcastle surprised everyone by finishing in 3rd Place.

Spanish La Liga: For the second year in a row and the fourth time in five years, Barcelona won the title ahead of their Madrid rivals, with Atletico Madrid finishing 2nd and Real Madrid in 3rd Place. Lionel Messi scored a league leading 24 goals, the first time since his devastating injury in 2015 that he scored more than 20 goals in a season, as he was named the La Liga Player of the Year – he also registered a new league record of 8.21 AR.

Italian Serie A: After eight years on top, it was AC Milan who finally won the title away from Juventus, despite the play of Player of the Year – for the second straight year – Paul Pogba. AC Milan were led by a fantastic defense, led by Davide Zappacosta and Alessio Romagnoli, and midfielder Andrea Bertolacci. It was Luciano Spalleti who finally brought the title back to Milan, a team who had last won the title in 2011.

German Bundesliga: It was two in a row for Bayern Munich, as Egyptian midfielder Mohammed Salah (28 games, 7 goals, 6 assists, 6 PoMs, 7.65 AR) won the Player of the Year and striker Robert Lewandowski won the Top Goalscorer with 25 goals. Diego Simeone won the Manager of the Year for the third time in his career, as he led Bayern past their rivals Dortmund for the first place finish.

French League 1: Only two points separated them this season, but Paris Saint-Germain made it eight times in a row, led by the solid play of Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria. Monaco were once again led by Bernard Silva, the Portuguese winger who has become known as one of the finest players in the world right now – Silva was named the league’s Player of the Year.

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Great read. The intakes and promotions took a bit, but it's coming along nicely now, last two intakes particularly. Keep it up. :thup:

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Great thread, will keep an eye on this.

I'm usually playing a long Ajax save with the same rules (no signings), exceptions only players from feeder clubs. You might check out my thread.

But obviously Ajax has a way better starting point for such a challenge. Building up your youth system first takes a lot more patience.

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This is really engaging! I really love your in-depth focus on the individual players--part of what seems like the fun of youth saves is keeping a close eye on every player as they grow. It doesn't make sense that Freddie Kershaw didn't resign, but I hope your team can stay up in the National League, at least, away from regional play :)

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Well done on the promotion and great thread.

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Love this thread. KUTGW. Interesting to see how the transition to tougher competition comes for the youth

Thanks! Yes, the National is certainly a lot tougher than the South - the quality of players is a lot higher.

Awesome!

Thanks!

Great read. The intakes and promotions took a bit, but it's coming along nicely now, last two intakes particularly. Keep it up. :thup:

I think the 5 years it took me to get promoted was by far the longest, but given this is an all-youth save its expected. The last two intakes have been very encouraging.

Great thread, will keep an eye on this.

I'm usually playing a long Ajax save with the same rules (no signings), exceptions only players from feeder clubs. You might check out my thread.

But obviously Ajax has a way better starting point for such a challenge. Building up your youth system first takes a lot more patience.

I read your thread! I've even thrown in a few comments :)

WISH, I had the patience to try this out. Seriously love this series, keep it going. Go KAFRA

Thanks! Its actually quite fun if you have a bit of time to invest in the game.

Congrats for the youth level increase! I realized it's much tougher to get it up on this version :(

It seems so. I hope my Youth Level investment goes through!

This is really engaging! I really love your in-depth focus on the individual players--part of what seems like the fun of youth saves is keeping a close eye on every player as they grow. It doesn't make sense that Freddie Kershaw didn't resign, but I hope your team can stay up in the National League, at least, away from regional play :)

Thanks! I completely agree - the fun comes from seeing the development of your players through the years, and the following the careers of the ones that leave. I really hope Kershaw resigns, but he has been stubborn as hell so far.

Well done on the promotion and great thread.

Thanks!

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SEASON REVIEW 2020/2021

So the goal was to survive, and we did just that, finishing in 17th Place an ensuring another season in the Vanarama National. I think this is a good achievement because talent-wise, we were overmatched against almost every team. The difference in talent between some of the better teams and us was striking, and I think we have a long way to go before we begin to push for a Play-Off spot at this level. We spent all season in a relegation battle, but thankfully it never got to the point where we actually fell in the relegation zone (although it did get close around January/February.) We had a really bad run towards the end of the season, but we ended it on a high, winning two of our last three and drawing the other, allowing us to achieve our goals. The FA Cup First Round was again the maximum we advanced in that tournament, while our underachieving in the FA Trophy continued, as we were knocked out in the First Round of that tournament, as well.

Our investment in our Youth Facilities set us back £200k at the beginning of the season, and moving up to Category Four is going to cost an additional £80k a season, but it is worth it. Our balance is in the black still, but our Average Attendance continues to improve, jumping to 1,203 from 1,142 last season. I don’t foresee any financial issues going into next season as our wage bill remains under control, and with a little more increase in attendance, I think we can make up for lost grounds.

Our Youth Intake – the first after the investment in youth – was easily our finest yet. It produced probably our best prospect in the six years of the club’s existence in Neil Ward. The CD/RB is already better than any defender we’ve had at any position ever, so now it is on me to find the best way to help him improve and, hopefully, stick with the club. Freddie Kershaw is most likely leaving us on Free Transfer as he continues to insist on not signing his new contract, but hopefully I have enough talent that can play down the left wing that we won’t miss him much if he does go.

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GOALKEEPERS

George O’Sullivan

Second season as the team’s starter, the 18 year old was not more than mediocre this campaign. Granted, he was playing at a higher level than before, and the team in general struggled for most of the season, so I cannot be too hard on him. We were the 15th best defensive team in the league (out of 24), so he was not a disaster, but I definitely would like to see improvement next year. He played in 44 games, registering 1.43 G/Con, 11 Clean Sheets, and a 6.67 AR – all numbers lower than last season, which was in the Vanarama South. He showed good improvements in his Aerial Reach and Anticipation talents over the course of the season, but his Distribution and Communication are still poor.

LEFT DEFENDERS

Stewart Peart

Durable as ever, Peart played in all 46 games, which is the fourth season in a row he has played in all the games. Part of the original starting lineup from six years ago, Peart’s talents suggest he probably belongs in the Vanarama North/South level, and he had perhaps his most ineffective season to date playing at a higher level. He registered 2.96 TpG and a 6.63 AR, but unfortunately he led the league with 162 Mistakes – a number that is not really acceptable considering how high it was and how far off second place in the category was. I hope the 22 year old can show some improvement next year, but I doubt he will give us much more than what he is offering, which still leaves the left back position as a trouble spot for us.

CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Devarn Thomas - Paul Evans

Like his fellow 22 year old Stewart Peart, club captain Devarn Thomas is part of the original crop of players still with the team, and like Peart again, his talents probably belong a level below than where the team currently is. He also took a step back in form this season as the team played its first season in the Vanarama National, registering 43 games, 2.97 TpG, and a 6.74 AR – decent numbers, but probably the ceiling we can expect from him. Paul Evans (2017) was the one player in the defensive line that thrived at a higher level, however – he played 41 games, registering 25 Key Tackles (tied with Peart for 16th in the league), 125 Key Headers (4th in the league), 609 Interceptions (12th in the league), 2.67 TpG, and a career-high 6.85 AR. He was our most consistent defensive player and our best, having finally taken over the mantle from Peart and Thomas at the age of 20. You can see his Training Level here: Paul Evans Training Level.

RIGHT DEFENDERS

Obinna Eze

Our worst performing player in the starting lineup, the 20 year old Obinna Eze (2017) will thankfully not be starting next season thanks to an outstanding prospect at the position coming out from the Youth Academy (more on that below under the Youth Intake section). For most the season, Eze really struggled – he played in 37 games, registering 3.50 TpG and a sub-par 6.49 AR as he was mostly overmatched by a higher level of competition. After two years as our starter at RB, he will take a back seat next year and play relief.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Graeme Jones - Huseyin SarsilmazZac Sweeney

After suffering a tough hamstring injury last year, Graeme Jones (2016) bounced back this season, playing in 39 games while registering 3 assists, 4 PoMs, 2.80 TpG, and a 6.85 AR. The 20 year old has probably reached his ceiling in terms of ability as he has not shown much improvement over the course of the season, and he will always be physically fragile, but he remains our best central midfield player currently. Huseyin Sarsilmaz, part of the original team that started Kafra FC, was as expected, although he did have a hernia that ruled him out for a month and half at the beginning of the season. He ended up playing on 32 games, but did score a career-high 4 goals and registered a 6.78 AR. The 22 year old has shown the ability to play both at CM and at the AM positions, and he remains an important cog for the team. Our best prospect at CM has emerged to be Zac Sweeney (2020) – part of last year’s Youth Intake, the 17 year old has high Aggression and Determination, and has decent speed for the position. He played in 28 games, registering 2 Assists, 2.47 TpG, 1.07 DpG, and a 6.84 AR – very decent numbers for such a young player. He obviously needs a lot of development in his abilities, but his consistency was encouraging, and he has pushed himself into the rotation scheme at the position.

LEFT WINGERS

Freddie Kershaw

Freddie Kershaw (2018) has become our most naturally talented player, but the 19 year old underachieved this year – perhaps because of his Unhappiness through most of the season. He played in all 46 games, registering 7 goals, 11 assists, 1.69 TpG, 1.63 DpG, and only a 6.69 AR, a number that points to his lack of effort/consistency. He has refused to sign a new contract, and his current one expires in the summer, so we are looking at the possibility of starting next season without him. Thankfully, there are some good options that we can play around with at the LW position, so his absence might not be so missed. Of course, I would rather he sign his contract and continue his steady improvement in his abilities – his physical abilities have really improved over the last couple of years, as has his Passing and Off the Ball movement.

RIGHT WINGERS

Patrick LlewelynJames Kirk

Although he had a better season, James Kirk gave up his starting position – one which he has had since the beginning – to new prospect Patrick Llewelyn (2020) this year. The 17 year old played in 36 games, registering 5 Goals, 3 Assists, 1.29 TpG, 0.99 DpG, and a mediocre 6.63 AR. His strength is in his Pace and his Flair, and he has the ability to play on both wings as well as in the middle of the pitch. My coaching staff is extremely high on him and I can see why, which is the primary reason I exposed him to so much playing time at such a young age even with Kirk available. As for Kirk, he gave us what he usually gives – in 31 games, he registered 4 Goals, 8 Assists, 1.29 TpG, 1.63 DpG, and a 6.72 AR, very decent all around numbers that I hope Llewelyn can give us next year. Kirk’s strengths are very similar to Llewelyn, but Kirk is now 22 years old so his ability improvement looks to be capped. Still, he remains an important part of the team and very much part of the rotation.

ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Shane Forde

Again, Shane Forde left us over the summer, and again he resigned with us a couple of months into the season. He is, so far, the greatest player Kafra FC has produced, having won our Player of the Year award the previous three years and also holds the record for most goals scored with 91. He was put as a Shadow Striker again this season, playing in 28 games and registering 7 Goals, 5 Assists, 3 PoMs, and a 6.82 AR. Hopefully, he will give us a better season next year, especially considering he will be with us for the full course and not joining us in November as was the case this year.

FORWARDS

Damian Peacock

Our leading goalscorer, Damian Peacock (2019) has decent numbers – in 38 games, he scored 18 Goals while registering 7 PoMs and a 6.89 AR. The problem is he has not shown the type of development in his abilities that I would have liked. He is still pretty much the same player as the one we received from the Youth Academy – decent finishing and speed with some ability in the air. He is still only 17 years old, so time is on his side, but I would like to see more focus in his training so that he can become a striker that can really help improve the team at our current level.

YOUTH INTAKE

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The £200k we invested in our Youth Facilities paid off as our first Intake after the investment yielded our most promising defender since the inception of Kafra FC six years ago. We got quite a few players that look like they could be rotation worthy, and Jordan Marshall looks like he has enough talent to fill in the place for Kershaw if he does leave us, but the real gem here in Neil Ward. Simply put, he is easily the best defensive prospect we have ever had, and probably the best prospect overall, as well. I am really excited about him, and he will be slotting in as a starter immediately in one of our trouble positions at RB.

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Shame, but understandable.

Its annoying - from my experience, the real jump in talent is when you move up from the Vanarama National to the Leagues. We already are very behind in terms of talent in the Vanarama National, and without an improvement in Youth Facilities we have no chance of getting better.

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SEASON REVIEW 2021/2022

This was easily the most frustrating season since the inception of Kafra FC in 2015/16 – we had two players perform up to standard (Shane Forde and Graeme Jones), while the rest faltered between mediocre and inconsistent. Honestly, if it was not for a late season stretch (albeit a short one) where we won 4 out of 6 games – which was incidentally followed by a 4 game losing streak – we would have been relegated. At the end, we finished in the same spot as last season – in 17th Place, which means in the overall scheme of things I am not disappointed, as the goal was to survive for another year. Our team just is not up to Vanarama National standards, and disappointingly, the boys are not showing enough progress in their development. We lost one of our brightest prospects last summer in Freddie Kershaw, and now our wings have gone from being our primary weapons on offense to an after-thought. Our 54 goals were only the 20th best in the league, so our offense has really stalled. The reason for us avoiding relegation? Our defense, without a doubt. Although we do not have a single standout performer, we conceded 63 goals, which was good enough for 14th in the league, and 15 of them came late in the season over the course of 5 games. What we did do well, however, was compete in the FA Cup – we beat our own record this year and made it to the 3rd Round, where we faced Championship side Swansea City and played a very respectable game, losing only 2-1. The FA Trophy was the same old story, however, and we crashed out in the first round to Maidenhead.

Financially, we continue to be a good place. Our wages are completely under control, and we finished the season with over £200k in our account, so we have already recouped our Youth investment of last year. I have actually applied to improve our Youth once again, and the board gave preliminary approval, although I don’t know if it will actually go through as it will cost £600k and we have nowhere near that amount right now. Our Average Attendance shot up to 1,388 from 1,203, so that helps a lot in terms of turning a profit. We will have to pay some of our primary players extra in the summer, but it should not put too much of a dent in our finances.

Our Youth Intake this year was also encouraging, as we have three prospects that were immediately slotted into the first team. The advancement in Youth Category really paid off, as our last two Youth Intakes have produced a higher quality of players than before. Unfortunately, the talent gap between our team and the rest of the league is still high, and I would like to see more improvement from our players in terms of their abilities – they seem to be stagnating.

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GOALKEEPERS

George O’Sullivan

He might have conceded the same amount of goals as last year (63), but his form was much better this season. His Goals/Con dropped to 1.37, and he registered career-highs with 15 Clean Sheets and a 6.86 AR, all respectable numbers, so it’s safe to say he improved a lot from his first season in the Vanarama National league. He played in all 46 games, so the 19 year old has proven himself durable, but like most of his teammates, his ability improvements stagnated this year. Although there are a lot better GKs in the league talent-wise, he performed up to standard this season, something I hope he can continue to do for us as we don’t have any alternatives.

LEFT DEFENDERS

Stewart Peart

The good news is he no longer is the league leader in Mistakes, coming in 3rd with 121 Mistakes this season! The 23 year old did show some improvement this year over last – which was borderline miserable – as he played in 44 games, registering 3.09 TpG and a 6.71 AR. He would probably give us much better numbers as a DC, but that is a position I have a lot of talent in and the LB position is one where I am lacking, so his foreseeable future remains at the left end of the defensive line.

CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Devarn Thomas - Paul Evans

The club captain Devarn Thomas, now 24 years old, just completed his 7th season with the club, improving slightly on his form from last year. He registered 6.78 AR in 42 games to go with 2.36 TpG, while his 568 Interceptions was 18th best in the league. He always gives the club consistency in the back, something which has become his most useful trait as his abilities are below what they should be for the level the club is at right now. He also remains very good in the air, and his 110 Key Headers was good enough to be 8th best in the league. His partner as CD, Paul Evans (2017 Youth Intake), is currently the best defender on the team – his 120 Key Headers was 6th best in the league, while he was also among the league leaders with 25 Key Tackles (13th best) and 573 Interceptions (16th best.) He did remain inconsistent, and his performances at RB when he was asked to perform there were discouraging, which is why his 6.77 AR is not surprising. Overall, the 21 year old is the best the team has at CD, however, and his partnership with Thomas has solidified an already sturdy defense.

RIGHT DEFENDERS

Neil Ward

A product of the 2021 Youth Intake, Ward has the look of a star, and on paper, has the ability to easily be the best defender on our team. Blame it on his age (he is only 17 years old), but his first full season as a starter was marred by inconsistent form – in 39 games, he registered a 6.62 AR, which is not what I expected from him. On the bright side, his 3.67 TpG was 16th in the league, so he already has that down. His Determination is very high, and he did show improvement in his abilities over the course of the season, and with his ability, I have no doubt we are going to see a better season out of him next year.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Graeme Jones - Huseyin SarsilmazZac SweeneyDanny Butcher

At 21 years old, despite his physical shortcomings and frailty, Graeme Jones (2016) gave the club his best season of his career, playing in a career-high 42 games – a fantastic statistic for someone so injury-prone. He also registered 6 goals, 5 assists, 2.50 TpG, and a career-high 7.13 AR, giving us great all-around play from the center of the pitch. He became our second most important player after Shane Forde. For the most part, his partner at CM was Zac Sweeney (2020), one of the rare players who showed a substantial increase in his abilities this season. Sweeney played in 40 games, registered 4 assists, 2.20 TpG, 1.24 DpG, and a 6.83 AR, playing in a more defensive midfield role as opposed to Jones’ more attacking role. Now 18 years old, Sweeney looks set to be part of the rotation for years to come. He will likely be joined by Danny Butcher (2021) in the rotation, as the 16 year old surprised everyone by delivering solid play every time he stopped out on to the pitch. He appeared in 22 games, registering 2 goals, 2.26 TpG, and a 6.95 AR – considering he is just 16, those were quite decent numbers. He is being identified as a very similar player Huseyin Sarsilmaz, except with more potential. Speaking of Sarsilmaz, this was the first year he was not an automatic starter, and the reason being is while he has talent, there are better options at CM, while Forde is the starter at his natural AM position. Still, he appeared in 27 games, registering 2 assists, 1.54 TpG, and a 6.68 AR – numbers that were down from last year. There is a lot of potential coming through at CM for the club, and it looks like Sarsilmaz will be the odd man out in the next few seasons.

LEFT WINGERS

Patrick LlewelynJordan Marshall

The departure of Freddie Kershaw was a big blow for the club, and through the first half of the season, Jordan Marshall (2021) did not do much to make us miss Kershaw any less. The 17 year old is quick, but his technical ability just is not there yet, so we did not have much of a threat down the left wing (he registered 3 goals and 2 assists in 32 games) until I shifted Patrick Llewelyn (2020) to the left from the right wing. I figured since Llewelyn was giving me inconsistent form on the right, I would reinstate the proven James Kirk and shift the 18 year to the left, and it worked out well. Llewelyn’s form improved immediately, and in 44 games, he registered 5 goals, 11 assists, 1.41 TpG, 1.29 DpG, and a 6.76 AR. It will be exciting to see what Llewelyn can do on the left over the course of a full season, and it looks like we will adequately be able to replace the production Kershaw gave us at the position.

RIGHT WINGERS

James Kirk

He started the season on the bench, but after Llewelyn shifted over to the left wing, James Kirk became the starter again at the position for the club, and he did not let me down. The 24 year old played in 33 games, registering 8 goals, 4 assists, 1.79 DpG, and a 6.81 AR as he immediately gave the right wing an offensive threat it was lacking before. His experience and connection with Forde proved invaluable, and going into next season, there is no doubt who my starting right winger is.

ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Shane Forde

I don’t think there can be any doubt as to who our best player has been since the inception of the club – the 23 year old Irishman won the Kafra Player of the Year for the 5th straight year, and delivered one of his finest seasons yet. In 44 games, he scored 21 goals and registered 7 assists, 6 PoMs, 1.61 TpG, 1.41 DpG, and a 7.12 AR. His injury-proneness seems to be a thing of the past, and despite the drama he forces us to live every time his contract runs out, he is the most indispensable member of our team. I can safely say that he is probably going to go down as the club’s first ever legend.

FORWARDS

Damian Peacock

From leading goalscorer of the team to the most disappointing member of the team – that is the story of Damian Peacock (2019), and it all happened in one season. He scored 18 goals last year for us in our first season in the Vanarama National, so he proved he was able to find the net at this level. This season, however, he only managed one goal (!!) before I pulled him from the starting lineup and began to alternate between other players at the position. It is true that he is only 18 years old, but disappointingly, I have not seen much improvement in his abilities since he joined the club. It is doubtful he will start next season as a starter.

YOUTH INTAKE

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This was a good Intake again this year, with three players capable of being in the rotation right now. The best of the bunch seems to be Stylianou, the second Intake a row where we get a talented defender. That being said, both Rhodes and Dennis look like they are capable of contributing, and Dennis especially will be given plenty of opportunities as I have lost faith in Peacock. Rhodes will be play backup to Shane Forde, and depending on how fast he improves, he could see a good amount of playing time this year spotting our Player of the Year.

2022/23 PRESEASON REPORT

Not much changes going into the 2022/23 season – the same starting lineup that finished last season will be starting on Opening Day. Llewelyn will continue to play on the left, and James Kirk has been reinstated on the right. My only real dilemma is to figure out whether to give Peacock another chance, or to start Toby Dennis in hopes he improves at a quicker rate and gives me a decent amount of goals. We have finished in 17th Place the last two seasons in the Vanarama National, and obviously I am hoping to see progress, but my expectations for this coming year is still a mid-table finish. I would rather not be in a relegation dogfight like I was most of last season, and I hope it won’t be as frustrating a season as last year. We need our offense to do better – hopefully Dennis will help with that.

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Seems like for the short term you're going to get stuck in a vicious cycle of needing to progress to get money to develop, but needing the money/development to progress.

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Seems like for the short term you're going to get stuck in a vicious cycle of needing to progress to get money to develop, but needing the money/development to progress.

Exactly! Hopefully we will develop enough talent in the next few years to really challenge for a place in the leagues and turn professional.

Look forward to following this. Good luck.

Thanks! I hope you enjoy it.

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SEASON REVIEW 2022/2023

It was more of the same this season as we finished in 17th Place for the third straight year – a fair position given the level (or lack thereof) of talent in the squad. Once again, the goal was to avoid a relegation dogfight, and once again, we stayed true to that. We actually dropped down to 17th Place late in the season – as usual – as we went on a bad run. Prior to March, we were actually fighting between 13th-15th Place, so I am a bit disappointed that we could not best 17th Place yet again. Our safety was pretty much guaranteed by January as we were ahead of the relegation zone by double digit numbers, so the season itself did not carry as much frustration as last year. In the FA Cup, we were disappointing, however, failing to get past our first match. It was the same story in the FA Trophy, as well, the cup that we consistently underachieve in.

Our finances took a heavy beating this year, and we ended the season below £100k in our balance. I don’t quite know what happened – our wages remain under control, but we did not have any big attendances or prize money from the FA Cup this year, which could’ve played a difference. Overall, our financial situation is pretty much the same as it has always been – we are doing fine, but not enough to continue investing in our Youth Facilities. The one difference that I did not was that our Average Attendance dipped sharply to 1,040 from 1,388 the previous year. I guess people are sick of watching our club!

Our Youth Intake was not disappointing, but I don’t feel we got any one up to the caliber of our last two Intakes this year. We resigned Shane Forde for the first time during the actual season, so he is with us for another couple of years. Other than that, the squad stays in the same state it has been in – we continue to hope for some good improvement in the abilities of our current crop, but the reality is we would do well to finish in the mid-table next year.

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GOALKEEPERS

George O’Sullivan

My coaching staff thinks he is well suited for Vanarama North/South football, and they are probably right. Even though I have invested in a GK Coach, he just has not shown the kind of improvement you want from a youngster. His fourth season as a starter was very similar to his previous two – he played in 45 games, registering a 1.42 Goals/Con and 10 Clean Sheets to go with a 6.79 AR, numbers that were all down from the previous season. Now 20 years old, there is sadly no alternative to him at the GK position – our second best player was part this year’s Youth Intake and it is unclear if he will ever be as good as even O’Sullivan. For better or for worse, we are stuck with O’Sullivan for the foreseeable future.

LEFT DEFENDERS

Stewart Peart

This was Stewart Peart’s worst season by far. Once the beacon of stability for us at CD, his move to LB four years back was the direct reason for his dip in form. Sadly, we have not had a single LB better than him come through the ranks throughout these years, so he remains our first choice starter at the position. Now 24 years old, he played in 38 games, registering 3.28 TpG and a career-low 6.54 AR, although he did reduce the number of Mistakes he recorded down to 83. His dip from 6.71 AR to 6.54 AR from last season to this one is worrying, and although he has never been solid at the position since we moved up to the Vanamara National, we need him to do better next season.

CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Devarn Thomas - Paul EvansKyriakos Stylianou

Our 2022 Youth Intake produced perhaps our best CD yet in Cypriot Kyriakos Stylianou, and he earned his way into the starting lineup, mostly at the expense of club captain Devarn Thomas, a few months into the season. The 17 year old obviously still has a long way to go, but the most encouraging thing about him is not his ordinary stats (38 games, 3.03 TpG, 6.67 AR), it is the fact he consistently showed improvement during the course of the season. He is unquestionably going to be a starter next year, and it will be Thomas that will make way for him. The 25 year old remains as consistent as ever, registering the same 6.78 AR as last season in 38 games, but he is never going to be mistaken for one of the better CDs in the league. The talent is simply not there, and if the club is to show defensive improvements, some players have to get replaced by better ones. Thomas is such a player, although Evans could also become just a rotation member if we get more talented CDs produced by our Youth Academy. The 21 year old Paul Evans (2017 Youth Intake) did not have a great season, playing in 41 games but registering only 2.83 TpG and a 6.70 AR, both numbers down from the previous season. Defensively, the club remains amongst the better in the league (the 66 Goals Conceded was 12th Best), but talent wise, both Thomas and Evans are a bit lacking when it comes to being compared to the competition in the league. Stylianou, on the other hand, looks like he could be a defensive star for the team.

RIGHT DEFENDERS

Neil Ward

The 2021 Youth Intake produced Neil Ward, and I was super excited about him. Two years later as a starter, and while the ability is clearly there, I am becoming to have doubts about whether he will give us the type of form that we need to improve. The 18 year old played in 45 games, registering 3.40 TpG and a 6.61 AR, with the latter being the worrying number as his form was bot inconsistent and rarely any good. Still, his talent is undeniable and he is clearly superior to any RB (or even defensive) player we have, so there are no second thoughts about starting him. Defensively, he is a stud, he just needs to figure out to all make it work in football.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Graeme Jones - Zac Sweeney

Shane Forde is undoubtedly the team’s most important player, but the 22 year old Graeme Jones (2016 Youth Intake) has become its heart, overcoming his physical shortcomings to become one of the club’s most durable players the last few years. This season, he was once again one the best players on the squad, playing 45 games and registering 2 Goals, 3 Assists, 2 PoMs, 2.31 TpG, 1.34 DpG, and a 7.05 AR. His presence in the midfield is of utmost importance to the club, as he keeps the entire squad and the flow of Kafra’s game under control with his presence and ability. His partner in CM for most of last year, Zac Sweeney (2020 Youth Intake) cemented his place in the starting eleven this year, playing in 33 games and registering 4 Assists, 4.18 TpG (7th Best in the League), 1.67 DpG, and a 6.98 AR – very good, solid numbers for a Ball-Winning Midfielder, and especially impressive considering he is still only 19 years old. While Jones’ game is more finesse-driven, Sweeney relies on a more physical, direct one – as witnessed by his TpG – the most ever recorded by anyone at the club. His abilities have also continued to develop well, and he showed another season of marked improvements across the board. He has unseated Huseyin Sarsilmaz as a starting CM, and fought off the challenges of the younger Danny Butcher, and goes into the 2023/24 season as the undisputed starter alongside Jones.

LEFT WINGERS

Patrick Llewelyn

Just a year ago, Patrik Llewelyn (2020 Youth Intake) was undisputedly the most talented player coming out of his Intake class. That has changed, however, as a second straight subpar season as a starter coupled with an impressive first one by Sweeney now leaves the club staff asking a bunch of “ifs” and “what if” questions. Simply put, Llewelyn was a disappointment – in 45 games, he registered 3 Goals, 5 Assists, 1.54 TpG, 1.77 DpG, and a pitiful 6.68 AR. These are not encouraging numbers for someone who is supposed to be potentially one of our best players. His pace is his biggest weapon, but he just has not gotten the rest of his game together. He is still our No.1 left winger by a wide margin, but he will need to do better next season if we are to push past 17th Place.

RIGHT WINGERS

James Kirk

He spent the first two months of the season on the injured list, but once he did come back, he gave the club what he’s been giving us since the beginning – solid, consistent performances down the right wing. In 23 games, he registered 8 Assists, 1.80 DpG, and a 6.83 AR, and while it looks like Kirk might have to settle for being a rotation player with the emergence of new Youth Academy graduate Damian Mitchell, he remains one of the few original team members from that 2015 class that still has an important place in the team.

ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Shane Forde

Kafra’s current and all-time best player, Shane Forde – for the first time – resigned his contract with the team before the season ended! It is much appreciated, too, because he again delivered a great season for us – in 45 games, he registered 15 Goals, 13 Assists (4th Best in the League), 9 PoMs, 2.33 TpG, 1.37 DpG, 184 Key Passes (5th Best in the League), and a career-high 7.31 AR. Now 24 years old, he is the club’s most important player and, although not its captain, its undisputed leader on the field. He won his 6th consecutive Kafra Player of the Year award this season, cementing his legacy as perhaps the club’s first true legend.

FORWARDS

Toby Dennis

The first year starter was part of the 2022 Youth Intake, and he immediately staked his place as our starting striker with some good performances early in the season. He ended the season as our leading goalscorer despite his young age and glaring flaws, and his contributions were invaluable to us. In 34 games, he scored 19 Goals and registered a 7.00 AR – not bad at all for 16 year old who is terrible in the air. Whether he is our long term solution at the position remains to be seen, although if he shows dedication in improving his abilities, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be. We don’t have anyone that is more talented than he is currently, so he has every chance of making the position permanently his.

YOUTH INTAKE

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Not quite as impressive a crop this year, although we did get potentially our starter in the long term at the right wing position in Damian Mitchell. We also got a GK that looks like he’ll be able to contribute behind George O’Sullivan right away and maybe challenge for the first team, since there are no other real GKs at the club. The rest will be a wait and see – there a few potential rotation members but they will have to show significant improvement to become that.

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