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2028/29 - Man Utd Season & Squad Review

Premier League: 3rd
FA Cup: Quarter-Final
League Cup: 3rd Round
Champions League: Quarter-Final
European Super Cup: Runner-Up
Club World Cup: Winners
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Reserves and Under-18s

The reserves won their first title in 9 years, in a group containing Liverpool, who had won 4 of the last 5, and Newcastle.

As well as being top scorers, they were the only side to concede less than 29 goals in 18 games - only 16. Also the least amount of cards.

Not bad for a team that I accidentally forgot to set a manager for...

fletcher1.jpg

Darren Fletcher's Under-18s won their 12th title in a row.
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Confidence

The board are delighted with our stronger-than-expected league position. Also with our finances, which continue to grow now the club are back in the Champions League.

The fans are too. They expected a title challenge. We weren't quite there, but close.

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Records and Rankings

We broke the Premier League record for average attendance with 77,694, while our overall average of 76,179 was a club record. Those will be smashed next year after a full season with our newly expanded 92,212-seater stadium.

With our new capacity, we naturally broke our record for highest gate receipts for one match: the Champions League quarter-final against Newcastle United earned £4.4m.

Old Trafford will also break England's record attendance, due to hosting some Confederations Cup games in the summer.

We drop 8 places to 15th in the European coefficients, but that will rise after the club's 3 seasons of getting knocked out of the Europa League First Knockout Round expire. Newcastle and AC Milan remain the Big 2.

We rise from 10th to 6th in the Rich List and are now just behind Newcastle.

1 - AC Milan - £447m
2 - Bayern Munich - £424m
3 - Real Madrid - £399m
4 - Barcelona - £347m
5 - Newcastle United - £339m
6 - Manchester United - £322m

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Awards

Júnior wins Man Utd Fans' Player of the Year and shares the Golden Boot with 2 other players thanks to 15 goals, though he got it in the least amount of games: 27(5). It's the lowest amount ever scored for a Premier League Golden Boot.

English centre-back Burley, had the highest average Premier League rating by far with 7.50, 0.17 more than the rest.

They are Signing of the Season and runner-up for SotS respectively (both were free transfers), and came 2nd and 3rd for Players' Player of the Year respectively. They make the Team of the Year, while goalkeeper Bondarev is on the 'bench'.

I come 2nd for Manager of the Year.

For the 2nd season in a row, English winger Casey makes the Champions League Dream Team.

Free kick and long shot specialist Muller is runner-up for European Midfielder of the Year.

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Tactics

Tactics died a horrible, spectacular death this season as teams cowered in the now 92,000-strong Old Trafford. It was ridiculous. At our place, some teams just stuck 11 men in their box and waited. Infuriatingly, it worked, they would somehow score too!

We were already playing a 4-1-3-3 (more like a 2-3-5) to combat the increasing defensiveness of teams, but now we didn't even need any players in our own half as there was no one to mark! While we were good at winning aerial balls, other clubs were now buying very strong defenders (18+ in Jumping and Stength), so shoving 11 men into their half and hitting balls in their swamped box wasn't working, so a change in approach is needed next season. I already had a policy of buying players who were good AND physically strong, but there's a lack of quality strikers who are dominant in the air in the world right now, and my past 3 strikers to have standout seasons have been average in the air. So I'm going to try the opposite extreme and keep the ball on the ground and get attackers to dribble through the 11-man mass.

Because of this 11 v 11 in one half, I realised pace is now the top requirement for home defenders. If an attacker is breaking, they still have to run 50 yards to get to our goal, so pacy defenders have the time and space to catch up to him and tackle him calmly.

Teams continued to try to bamboozle us with the 3-3-2-1-1 formation. I already found the solution by playing a crazy man-for-man 1-1-2-3-3 formation, but even now I have to push the wingers even further forward.

Despite these suicidal tactics, I still kept a couple of men back... but whenever I did this, or went back to a sensible formation after taking a lead, the opposition would quickly score. So next season it's back to the original plan: keep everyone forward and outscore them, even if it means they get a few free shots.

In more sensible matches, we showed we could take a lead or nick a goal and defend it, especially away from home. Now that we're counter-attacking away, we're even better.

We're also scoring late winners and equalisers a lot more.

As a result of all this, we were the 2nd-highest scorers in the league (more than Newcastle!), and joint-least draws with 9. We also scored the most penalties with 5. It didn't feel like it! Only other major concern is getting only 1 goal from a corner, when it was usually a source of several goals. Although we got the joint-most from indirect free-kicks with 11.

Given this attacking and counter-attacking style, the 4-4-2 diamond, the stoppage time comebacks, the habit of winning penalties, the Old Trafford fear factor returning, the shock Champions League trophy and even a rotated front 4, it looks like my goal of emulating 1999 is coming to fruition!

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Staff

Assistant manager Tony Humes retires after 9 years at Man United. He started in 2020 as youth coach before I promoted him to assistant 3 years ago.

Brad-Friedel-training.jpg

His replacement will be Brad Friedel, the American international goalkeeper who spent most of his career at Blackburn before becoming a scout.

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Squad

The squad was a Europa League side when I arrived, then became a Champions League (winning!) side, and quickly a top 3 side. It's time to take it to the next stage and try to match Newcastle United.

(Only senior and first team squad players included)

GK

28. Alexey Bondarev - 23 years old, Russia (1 cap), valued at £3.4m - Played 47, Conceded 41, Clean Sheets 18, Man of the Match 1, Average Rating 6.94
17. Hamada Abdel Aziz - 24, Egypt (17) / France, £3.1m - P 7, Conc 8, CS 3, AvR 6.57
1. Thomas Butler - 25, England (U21), £2.7m - P 0

Bondarev started the season due to Abdel Aziz's injury and never lost the spot. At first his average rating was around 7.14, but a few so-so performances helped move it down. But, at last, I finally have a solid keeper.

Abdel Aziz was subbed off TWICE this season, though he had 'earned' a new contract as a backup after winning the Club World Cup. He's capable of world class saves and clean sheets, but we can't have a goalkeeper that can lose entire games, so the Champions League-winning keeper is going. Well, if anyone will risk having him.

No one wanted Butler on loan and he was injured 5+ times, including whenever he was about to get picked for a cup / nothing game, so he only played in the reserves. He's unhappy and requested a transfer, but I still have hope he's a future England #1.

Mahmoudi broke into the Iran squad; he has been travelling his pathway well.

(Next season's roles)
First Team - Bondarev
Backup/Out - Butler
Out - Abdel Aziz

It's a shame. We had 2 young keepers when I arrived, both looked world class, and neither have stuck around and reached their potential.
 

DR

12. (Renato Santos de) Souza - DR/C - 30, Portugal (4 goals in 49 caps) / Brazil, £4.7m - P 23(4), Assists 2, MotM 2, AvR 6.93
23. Simphiwe Makhubo - DR/C - 27, South Africa (9), £2.8m - P 19(4), Assists 1, AvR 6.83
+ Aleksandrowicz, (Rodrigo de) Souza

Makhubo started well, but overall wasn't reliable. I'd hoped he'd be an option in the centre too but, when I moved him there during a match, he made several errors and he was shoved back to the right for everyone's safety!

First Team -  (Renato Santos de) Souza
Backup - Aleksandrowicz
Backup/Out - Makhubo

 

DL

7. Steve McIntosh - Captain - D/WB/M/AML - 31, Republic of Ireland (11 in 56), £4.1m - P 33(1), G 2 A 7, MotM 3, AvR 7.24
5. Aktas Vezir - D/WBL - 25, Turkey (1 in 3) / Germany, bought from Valencia (La Liga) for £10.5m (valued at £20m) - P 15(1), A 5, MotM 1, AvR 7.06
+  (Rodrigo de) Souza, Viveros

McIntosh completed his transition to left-back and the captain led by example. He moved up to left-wing when Vezir came in and started getting goals and assists until his injury.

Thanks to a half-price minimum fee release clause, Vezir is McIntosh's long-term replacement. He's also being trained as a left-winger. He has so many 20s (see previous entry).

First Team - McIntosh, Vezir, Souza
Rotation - Viveros


DC

21. Elliot Burley - 30, England (3), £4.7m - P 43, G 3, A 2, MotM 10, 7.47
14. Richard Friar - 24, England (U21), £6m - P 28(1), A 2 MotM 3, AvR 7.31
25. Frank Larsen - 24, Denmark (5), £4.3m - P 17(1), MotM, AvR 7.44
6. Volker Kirn - 27, Germany (11), £4.8m - P 15(1), AvR 7.25
2. Jorge Padilla - 26, Ecuador (12), £2.3m - P 5, AvR 6.80
26. Giorgos Andreadis - 21, Greece (7), £3.4m - P 7, Avr 6.57
+ Aleksandrowicz, Makhubo, Souza, Souza

At first glance, you'd think Burley, Larsen, Friar and Kirn were rocks. I'm not sure how they got such crazy average ratings. In reality, Burley and Larsen made a few costly errors with poor marking, while Kirn was unassuming. Friar made a couple of errors, but was our most reliable defender.

Padilla's a fine defender, but we have so much depth and he failed to achieve in a cut-throat season. He requested a transfer anyway.

Andreadis signed as a wonderkid but, despite what the scouts said, he's evidently nowhere near our level yet.

Rotation - Burley, Friar, Kirn, Larsen
Youth - Andreadis
Out - Padilla


M/AMR

8. Ivan Hristov - D/WB/MR, DM/MC - 28, Bulgaria (22), £8.25m - P 28(7), G 3, A 4, AvR 6.91
4. Bartosz Aleksandrowicz - Vice-Captain - D/MR, DC, DM/MC - 26, Poland (31), £5.25m - P 29(14), G 1, A 5, AvR 6.81
22. Roddy Pressley - WB/M/AMR - 32, Scotland (1 in 41) / England, £3.5m - P 9(5), AvR 6.79
15. (Rodrigo de) Souza - DRLC/DM/MRLC - 23, Germany (1) / Brazil, bought from Real Madrid (La Liga) for £15m (£21m) - P 11(1), G 3, A 1, AvR 6.92

Hristov didn't repeat his incredible form of last season and had a few injuries, Pressley showed he wasn't an alternative and Aleksandrowicz is simply a defensive midfielder.

So, after a failure to capture him in the summer, I was finally able to pay Souza's minimum-fee release clause in January. He scored both goals in a debut win but unfortunately, as with all the good players, he was regularly injured. Maybe I'll tweak everyone's training...

I sold Pressley to Leicester for £3.3m. He had earned a new contract by the end of last season with his sub appearances helping lift the Champions League, but this season he made 0 assists and scored none.

First Team - Hristov, Souza
Out - Pressley


M/AML

11. Andy Casey - 23, England (U21), £8.5m - P 26(10), G 1, A 5, MotM 2, AvR 7.03
3. Juan Pablo Viveros - WB/M/AML - 34, Chile (3 in 67), £350k - P 22(12), G 1, A 3, Avr 6.91
+ McIntosh, Souza

Casey just needs to get more assists (or goals), but he's still young.

Viveros actually played more games than last season, with no drop in average rating, earning a new 1-year contract.

Rotation - Casey, McIntosh, Souza, Viveros


DM/MC

16. Sebastian Muller - DM/MC - 26, Germany (2 in 13), £8.25m - P 43(2), G 9, A 9, MotM 3, AvR 7.07
+ Aleksandrowicz, Artime, Hristov, Souza, Tsotetsi

Evidently, Muller is the engine of the side, providing defensive cover and goals equally. He enjoys scoring free-kicks and long range 'worldies'. We experimented training him into an AMC as his long-range ability made him perfect for home games against parked buses, but it had no impact. He finds joy coming in deep from central midfield so there he will stay.

With 2 new right-wingers in 3 transfer windows, Aleksandrowicz can now stay away from right-midfield and try to establish himself as a DM, but Muller is stiff competition.

First Team - Muller
Rotation - Aleksandrowicz, Artime, Souza


AMC

13. Luis Roberto Artime - MC/AMC - 24, Spain (2), £5.25m - P 27(13), G 3, A 1, MotM 1 AvR 6.82
24. Reginald Tsotetsi - MC/AMC - 24, South Africa (2 in 15), £5.5m - P 26(9), G 5, A 3, AvR 6.86
+ Popovic

After 11 assists last season, Artime only got 1 this year, but a slightly higher average rating despite several sub appearances.

Tsotetsi's contributions as AMC, an often quiet position, continue to plod along with the odd big goal, but he's still highly regarded by those in the game. Hopefully he begins showing more.

While used more as a striker during his few appearances, Popovic's lack of aerial ability mean's he's best as an AMC running at defences. Whether he can finish more chances will decide whether he becomes a United legend.

Rotation - Artime, Tsotetsi, Popovic


ST

20. Júnior - 30, Brazil (2), £16m - P 35(9), G 21, A 7, MotM 6, AvR 7.20
18. Kenny Reilly - 27, Scotland (9 in 22), £16.5m - P 10(8), G 4, A 2, MotM 1, AvR 6.83
9. Neil Sibiya - 25, South Africa (24 in 25), £25.5m - P 23(14), G 6, A 1, MotM 1, AvR 6.78
10. Santos - 27, Brazil (6 in 27), sold for £20m to Inter Milan (Serie A) - P 5(4), G 0, A 1, AvR 6.33
19. Jan Krpec - 24, Czech Republic (1 in 7), £6.25m - P 25(9), G 5, A 5, MotM 1, AvR 6.74
43. Predrag Popovic - AMC/ST - 23, Serbia (1 in 1), £5.75m - P 7(4), G 4, A 1, MotM 1, AvR 7.09
10. Stefan Schneider - 29, Germany (10 in 28), loan from Bayern Munich (Bundesliga) (valued at £9.5m) - P 5(2), G 3, MotM 1, AvR 6.86

Every season seems to see a new striker arise. My first 2 seasons, Sibiya was our star striker. Then last season Reilly was the hero. This season, free transfer Júnior became my first player to win (well, share) the golden boot while others faltered.

After a heroic Champions League-winning season, Reilly was dogged by injuries and we barely saw him this season. Naturally, with Sibiya and Reilly both being star strikers, there was wonder on whether they could play together. Naturally, they probably can't. That's how football works!

After scoring on 10th January, Sibiya missed a penalty 4 days later and never scored again in his last 8(6) games (838 minutes).

Santos failed to score at all for club or country in the first half of the season. Needing money to buy Souza, it was time to cash in. He did score 36 goals in his other 81(31) games for United.

Normally the 'home' striker, Krpec appeared in more away games, but his only problem was a failure to convert his many chances, only getting 5 goals from 28 shots on target, from 61 shots overall.

8 goals in 13 in Belgium followed by an international debut winner against Brazil was enough for Popovic to earn a work permit and join the team. He then got 3 in 2 for the reserves, so he couldn't be ignored and made his debut in the Club World Cup. Of course, he scored the late equaliser on his Premier League debut and a hat-trick on his FA Cup debut. A breakout season or flash in the pan?

Schneider isn't a future transfer.

First Team - Junior, Reilly, Sibiya
Rotation - Krpec
Backup - Popovic
Out - Santos

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Congratulations! 

Regarding the opposition parking the bus-have you ever experienced a situation at home, when the AI starts a defensive 4-4-2 with no arrows and then in case of an injury (even at your team) the AI subs off one of its strikers and goes ultra defensive 5-4-1 even when the result is e.g. still 0-0 and the minute is 5th? :D

The high average ratings of your DC's is probably due to their percentage of aerial battles won. Countless of times these ratings deceived even me and I continued to play them- closing one eye even when they made costly mistakes. Yeah, in regen era, finding a top aerial targetman is very hard, as you said, and focusing to pace will be key . Maybe you can find some good pacey AMCs with good off the ball attributes and retrain them to ST? 

Edited by Ales

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5 hours ago, Ales said:

Congratulations! 

Regarding the opposition parking the bus-have you ever experienced a situation at home, when the AI starts a defensive 4-4-2 with no arrows and then in case of an injury (even at your team) the AI subs off one of its strikers and goes ultra defensive 5-4-1 even when the result is e.g. still 0-0 and the minute is 5th? :D

The high average ratings of your DC's is probably due to their percentage of aerial battles won. Countless of times these ratings deceived even me and I continued to play them- closing one eye even when they made costly mistakes. Yeah, in regen era, finding a top aerial targetman is very hard, as you said, and focusing to pace will be key . Maybe you can find some good pacey AMCs with good off the ball attributes and retrain them to ST? 

Yes, that 5-4-1 is the 3-3-2-1-1 I mentioned. They use it in other scenarios too, like if it's 0-0 after 45 minutes or if they take a lead. Bus parkers start with the flat 4-4-2, but so do teams who are actually playing football. It's starting to become less obvious at the start who's playing for 0-0.

I know the rating goes up if a defender makes lots of interceptions too. I'm not using defenders who make errors now that we have money. I don't have to get players who are free or good value. Instead I can pick and wait for the right guy within reasonable price. I'm taking the Liverpool / Van Dijk transfer approach rather than the (real life) Man Utd one.

The only other time I went far in FM 07 I did have strikers with high Jumping, though they cost world record fees to take from rivals. It seems silly to worry about that now though if Newcastle's 36-goal striker has Jumping in 14 and my top 3 strikers have 15/16. I didn't look at pace because it didn't seem much use against busses, but I did buy a striker with I think 20s in Finishing, Composure, Dribbling and Strength. Also a 19-year-old midfielder who doesn't have the Pace or Strength yet, but has high red numbers in nearly all technical attributes, plus all the good mental ones, so worth a go. Both Brazilian, naturally!

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2028/29 Club Football Review

Biggest Transfers

Marco Di Vito (DR/C/DM/MR/C, Italian, 26) - Roma to AC Milan - £33m
Róbson (ST, Brazilian/Italian, 21) - Man City to Arsenal - £28m
Gérard Sola (DR/L, Swiss, 27) - Arsenal to AC Milan - £21m
Guillermo Blanco (ST, Mexican, 28) - Bayern Munich to Juventus - £20m
Santos (ST, Brazilian, 27) - Man Utd to Inter Milan - £20m


Champions League

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Tony Adams' shock disloyalty, when he left Arsenal to join AC Milan after only 2 weeks in charge, was rewarded as they matched Real Madrid's 10 Champions League trophies, with a 2-0 win over Gareth Southgate's Bayern Munich in the final.


England

England.jpg

Premier League & FA Cup

Marcelino García Toral retired after Newcastle United won their 2nd league & cup Double in a row. After arriving in September 2025 as the long-term successor to Sir Steve McClaren, he won back-to-back Champions Leagues, 3 FA Cups, and won the league in all of his full seasons. The gap had closed slightly due to a resurgent Arsenal and an improving Manchester United, however Newcastle have never been affected by manager changes before, so no bets are being made on a new champion any time soon.

At Arsenal, Simon Stewart (Adams' replacement) was sacked in his 2nd season with the team struggling for 4th and after an embarrassing Europa League exit to GAK, failing to even reach the group stage. But he was replaced with PSG's manager, whose first 19 games saw 3-0, 4-0, 5-0 and 6-0 wins and a run of 7 clean sheets in a row.

Former Bayern Munich, Man City and 2-time HSV manager Thomas Doll returned to management after 3 years away, taking charge of Premier League Norwich. They were 3rd by Christmas, but eventually finished 9th.

pep-wave.ashx?width=1024&height=576

Pep Guardiola's time at Manchester City lasted barely over a year, as he left at the end of the season to join Torino. In his only full season, City actually finished 2 places lower with 1 less point than last year.

Sheffield United lost their manager to Atlético in September, but replaced him well with Feyenoord's Yildiray Basturk, who got a debut 3-0 home win over Arsenal. Unfortunately, when their on-loan Man Utd striker was injured and recalled, they subsequently failed to score in 7 games then again failed to score in their final 6 games, causing them to be relegated for the 2nd time in 3 seasons.

Football League

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After 44 years away, Stoke City return to the Premier League after finishing 2nd in the Championship. Their manager joined a decade ago with the side battling relegation from League One.

Sunderland's dramatic fall and rise through the football league finally ended with a return to the Premier League as playoff winners. After the yo-yo club's last relegation from the top league in 2017, they dropped to League Two 5 years later. Phil Parkinson took charge with them midtable back in League One and got them promoted twice in 4 full seasons.

image.jpg?width=640

Chris Wilder resigned after 20 years and 13 days in charge of Stevenage. In that time he had taken the promotion-chasing Conference side down to Conference South, before going back up and finally reaching the Football League for the first time in 2020. They've stayed in League Two ever since, but Wilder resigned in March with the club in the relegation zone. They was no 'new manager bounce' under Phil Robinson and they went down.


France

France.jpg

This season's surprise title challengers were Dijon, who were in the 3rd tier only 8 seasons ago. They were top in February when their manager left for a second-tier Mexican side. Kennet Andersson came in and, on the final day, they had to win and hope back-to-back champions PSG lost.

A 90th-minute winner saw PSG's unlikely loss come to fruition... but Dijon also choked and lost, so PSG became the first club to win 3 titles in a row since Lyon's 2002-2006 dominance.


Scotland

Scotland.jpg

It was a nostalgic season harking back to the 'Big 2' Glasgow-dominant era, as Atillo Lombardo's Rangers were top for most of the season, before Celtic rose and it was neck-and-neck on the final day. Rangers could only manage a draw, but Celtic failed to find a winner, so Rangers won their first SPL title in 7 years.


Northern Ireland

GB-NIR-Northern-Ireland-Flag-icon.png

15645842757567.jpg

Andrés Iniesta was sacked by Northern Irish side Banbridge Town only half a season after becoming a hero by winning the league title and being one lost final away from a domestic treble. This with a side that had only ever won 1 league title, never reached an Irish Cup final and only 1 League Cup final before.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2028/29 International Football Review

England 2029 Confederations Cup

 

The Confederations Cup has grown into an important competitive tournament. Managers have been sacked or stepped down based on it, and the stakes were highest for hosts England's manager, whose 'ok' record was combined with a great home record of 10 wins and 2 draws, plus a a couple of 4-0 wins at Euro 2028 before choking. This was his final chance to prove he should lead England next year.

 

Unfortunately, he 'stepped down' by the end. A 0-0 draw with Algeria was followed by a draw with Argentina after going behind in 28 seconds. A routine win over Guatemala saved them, but Brazil easily beat them 2-0. A routine 3rd-place 1-0 win over World and European champions Scotland wasn't enough consolation. Of England's 4 goals, 2 came off the keeper and 2 were headered crosses. It wasn't a confident display.

With English managers spread out across top clubs in Europe, but international football becoming unpopular with top managers and now more a proving ground for the young and inexperienced ones, it'll be interesting to see who will replace him.

Thiago-Silva-of-Brazil-lift.jpg

So Brazil lifted the trophy after they beat surprise finalists Algeria 1-0 with a stoppage time winner from Willian (not that one).

South Korea sacked their manager despite beating New Zealand and drawing with the World champions. They only need a draw in Iraq to qualify for next year.

Argentina have qualified for next year, but will hope to improve on 3 draws against Guatemala, England and Algeria.


2028 OFC Nations Cup

New Caledonia were 6 minutes away from a shock underdog win, after taking a 1-0 lead away to Travis Medhurst's New Zealand in the 2nd leg of the final. But the Kiwis scored twice to lift their 4th trophy in a row.


2029 CONCACAF Gold Cup

For the first time ever, neither Mexico nor USA reached the semis, and all the semi-finalists were hoping for their first trophy.

In the end, Panama beat Anthony Streete's Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 to make history.

Guadeloupe made their debut and lost 2-0 away to USA but had an entertaining 3-2 loss to T&T.

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19 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

England need a Gareth Southgate.

The Bayern Munich manager is one of the names beings mentioned along with the other top guys like Aidy Boothroyd, Tony Adams and of course Paul Trollope!

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Posted (edited)

Man Utd 2029/30 - Pre-Season

Budget and Transfers

For the first time since spending £100m in my first season 4 years ago, I get a considerable starting transfer budget: £26m.

To take us to the next step of being a challenger to the dominant Newcatle United, I'll have to get rid of players who are good, but just not top class game changers.
 

Outgoing

We're now making good money on sales due to youngsters I've bought coming of age. This season, other clubs flocked onto them, all wanting a piece. I've never seen so much rumour and interest, with several flitting in and out of official 'wonderkid' status. I must have a good eye for a player! I wonder what the team will look like in 4 years...

We made the same amount in player sales as last season, around £50m, including from our English goalkeeping prospect Butler. He looked like a future England #1 when I arrived, but never achieved that potential and makes mistakes. It's time to try and do it elsewhere in a World Cup year, and maybe he can make the England squad for England 2030.

He was set to move to Middlesbrough for around £5m, but it was cancelled due to Boro's lack of funds. This sparked a bidding war from several Premier League clubs plus Celtic and Rangers and, on deadline day, he moved to Norwich City for £20m! That's probably a Premier League record for a goalkeeper (can't be arsed to check in-game).

There's also a rare move: one of our reserve defenders goes on loan to Liverpool.


New Players

The problem is overcoming Newcastle's incredible strength and technical ability. We also need to figure out how to stop teams stealing points at Old Trafford, now that they're putting 11 men in their box.

I need a top striker that's strong, especially in the air with accurate heading. Unfortunately, none seem to exist. So a complete change in tactical approach is needed, and I have to look at playing the ball on the ground and having individuals perhaps dribble their way into the box while holding off the mass of defenders with their strength.

Eventually I narrow it down to two: one attacker who only joined his club in January, so is far too much at £40m, the other I do sign.

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Willian - ST - 25, Brazil (3 goals in 5 apps), £25m from Hertha BSC (Bundesliga) - Pace 17, Jumping 15, Strength 20, Finishing 20, Composure 14

His goal record is being ignored because, while he scored 43 goals and made 11 more in his first 2.5 seasons after moving from Brazil to Groningen, he didn't score any in his final 23(2) games. He moved to Hertha and only scored 2 and made 1 in 19(1) games. However, in the Confederations Cup, he scored all the goals in a 2-0 semi win over England and a 1-0 win in the final.

His Dribbling in 20, decent First Touch and competent Technique means he can play on the ground, but he can win some balls in the air and direct them into goal, especially against lesser opposition. That's the plan, anyway.

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Under the same policy, I get a technically incredible youngster for only £600k:

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bHBFhKf.png

Hugo - ML/C, AML/C - 19, Brazil (U19), £600k from Feirense (Portuguese Second Division) - 20s all over the place!

Except for Headling, Marking and Tackling, his entire technical game is orange. As long as he physically grows, he could be scary. I'm going to keep him in the first team squad for now.

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I also finally get a good, experienced backup keeper:

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Charlie Whyte - GK - 31, Scotland (1 cap), free bosman from West Brom (Premier League) - Aerial Ability 17, Handling 16, Reflexes 19

Spent 12 years at WBA, usually getting 7.00 average rating or over, although he's been below 7 the last 2 seasons.

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And a loan:

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

Domingos - DR/C - 34, Portugal (17 caps), loan from Lazio (Serie A) - Pace 12, Jumping 18, Strength 17, Tackling 20, Marking 13

Has spent the last 4 seasons in the Premier League with average ratings of 7.17, 7.18, 7.16, 7.07.

=================================================

 

=================================================

Friendlies

(3rd, Belgian top tier) Royal Antwerp 1 - 1 Man Utd (3rd, EPL)

(17th, Ch.) Burnley 1 - 2 Man Utd (3rd, PL)

(3rd, EPL) Man Utd 1 - 0 AC Milan (1st, A)
Hugo doesn't endear himself to his new manager by publicly criticising my lack of team talk (I don't really give any for friendlies), especially as he was the only one who was bothered by it. He's warned.

Reserves 1 - 1 First Team
First Team win 5 - 4 on pens after 8 rounds (1-1, 2-2, 2-3, 2-3, 3-3, 3-3, 4-4, 4-5)
In Butler's only game of pre-season, he makes a mistake in the final minutes. Not a good way to win back favour...
But the shootout gives me a lot of penalty info.

=================================================

 

=================================================

Expectations and Odds

The board and fans are delighted with the progress and are in full support of my management.

The board want a title challenge, the fans think this season is the season we win it


Premier League Odds

2/1 - Newcastle Utd
8/1 - Arsenal, Man Utd
16/1 - Chelsea
20/1 - Coventry
33/1 - Middlesbrough

Pretty clear tiers, which I agree with. The only hope is that Newcastle's change in manager ruins them temporarily.
 

Champions League Odds:

3/1 - AC Milan, Newcastle Utd
5/1 - Lazio
15/2 - Bayern Munich
8/1 - Arsenal
9/1 - Inter

Perennial favourites Newcastle are joint-favourites with the defending champions.

Bookies continue to be high on Europa League winners Lazio, despite their failure to get out of the group stage for 3 seasons in a row now.

Our odds are unchanged at 10/1.
 

Media-predicted 2029/30 Table

(Last season's position in parentheses)

1 - Newcastle United (1)
2 - Arsenal (2)
3 - Manchester United (3)
4 - Chelsea (4)
------------------------------------------------------------
5 - Coventry City (5)
------------------------------------------------------------
6 - Middlesbrough (6)
7 - West Ham United (7)
8 - West Bromwich Albion (8)
9 - Liverpool (11)
10 - Norwich City (9)
11 - Manchester City (13)
12 - Preston North End (10)
13 - Leicester City (16th)
14 - Tottenham Hotspur (14)
15 - Blackburn Rovers (12)
16 - Sheffield Wednesday (15)
17 - Bolton Wanderers (1, Championship)
------------------------------------------------------------
18 - Southampton (17th)
19 - Stoke City (2, Championship)
20 - Sunderland (5, Championship)

Not much faith in any major improvements for teams this year.

 

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Manchester United - 2029/30

Geordies Off Their ****ing Perch?

August to March: The Old United

Results
 

Spoiler

 

Champions League - Third Qualifying Phase, 1st Leg

(Pred. 3rd, Ligue 1) Dijon 0 - 2 Man Utd (Pred. 3rd, EPL)

Premier League

(Pred. 20th) Sunderland 0 - 3 Man Utd (Pred. 3rd)

Champions League - Third Qualifying Phase, 2nd Leg

(Pred. 3rd, EPL) Man Utd 3 - 0 Dijon (Pred. 3rd, Ligue 1)

Man Utd win 5-0 on agg.

Premier League

(Pred. 13th) Leicester 1 - 2 Man Utd (Pred. 3rd)
(Pred. 3rd) Man Utd 2 - 0 Arsenal (Pred. 2nd)

Champions League Group Stage

(Pred. 3rd, EPL) Man Utd 0 - 0 Hannover (Pred. 5th, Bundesliga)

Premier League

(Pred. 10th) Norwich 2 - 1 Man Utd (Pred. 3rd)
(Pred. 3rd) Man Utd 3 - 0 West Ham (Pred. 7th)
(2nd) Man Utd 2 - 0 Stoke (12th)

Champions League Group Stage

(1st, Super League Greece) Asteras Tripolis 1 - 2 Man Utd (2nd, EPL)

Premier League

(4th) West Brom 1 - 0 Man Utd (2nd)

Champions League Group Stage

(8th, SA) Lazio 1 - 3 Man Utd (3rd, EPL)

Premier League

(19th) Sheff Wed 0 - 0 Man Utd (4th)

League Cup - 3rd Round

(15th, Ch.) Everton 0 - 1 Man Utd (3rd, PL)

Premier League

(3rd) Man Utd 2 - 1 Man City (7th)

Champions League Group Stage

(1st, EPL) Man Utd 1 - 1 Lazio (6th, SA)

Premier League

(4th) Newcastle 2 - 2 Man Utd (3rd)

League Cup 4th Round

(19th, PL) Southampton 0 - 3 Man Utd (2nd, PL) AET (0-0 FT)

Premier League

(2nd) Man Utd 2 - 0 Blackburn (6th)
(12th) Coventry 2 - 2 Man Utd (1st)

Champions League Group Stage

(13th, Bundesliga) Hannover 3 - 1 Man Utd (1st, EPL)

Premier League

(1st) Man Utd 1 - 0 Middlesbrough (15th)
(2nd) Liverpool 1 - 1 Man Utd (1st)
(1st) Man Utd 0 - 0 Preston (9th)

Champions League Group Stage

(1st) Man Utd 0 - 0 Asteras Tripolis (2nd, Super League Greece)

Premier League

(3rd) Chelsea 0 - 1 Man Utd (1st)
(2nd) Man Utd 2 - 0 Tottenham (10th)
(1st) Man Utd 3 - 0 Southampton (20th)

League Cup Quarter-Final

(1st, PL) Man Utd 2 - 0 Preston (12th, PL)

Premier League

(8th) Bolton 0 - 4 Man Utd (1st)
(1st) Man Utd 0 - 0 Sunderland (18th)
(14th) Arsenal 3 - 1 Man Utd (1st)
(2nd) Man Utd 1 - 0 Leicester (14th)

FA Cup - 3rd Round

(10th, Ch) Hartlepool 1 - 1 Man Utd (1st, EPL)

League Cup Semi-Final, 1st Leg

(1st, PL) Man Utd 1 - 0 Sheff Utd (1st, Ch)

Premier League

(16th) West Ham 2 - 1 Man Utd (1st)

FA Cup - 3rd Round Replay

(1st, PL) Man Utd 2 - 0 Hartlepool (13th, Ch)

Premier League

(1st) Man Utd 2 - 1 Norwich (10th)

League Cup Semi-final, 2nd leg

(1st, Ch) Sheff Utd 2 - 0 Man Utd (1st, PL)
Sheff Utd win 2 - 1 on agg.

FA Cup - 4th Round

(1st, PL) Man Utd 3 - 1 Stoke (20th, PL)

Premier League

(20th, PL) Stoke 2 - 4 Man Utd (1st, PL)
(1st) Man Utd 2 - 0 West Brom (8th)
(5th) Blackburn 1 - 2 Man Utd (1st)

Champion League - 1st Knockout Round, 1st Leg

(1st, EPL) Man Utd 1 - 0 Feyenoord (2nd, Eredivisie)

Premier League

(1st) Man Utd 2 - 0 Sheff Wed (17th)

FA Cup - 5th Round

(15th, PL) Middlesbrough 0 - 2 Man Utd (1st, PL)

(8th) Man City 2 - 3 Man Utd (1st)

Champion League - 1st Knockout Round, 2nd Leg

(1st, Eredivisie) Feyenoord 0 - 2 Man Utd (1st, EPL)
Man Utd win 3-0 on agg.

 

We had never won the first away game of the season while I was in charge. This season, we were 3-0 up at Sunderland in half an hour of our league opener, with new £25m signing Willian scoring from the tightest angle possible like it's nothing.

The train started rolling, with Willian scoring in his first 4 games and partner Reilly scoring or assisting in all of his first 10 starts, only ending in April. Even when they and Sibiya failed to score, a midfielder might break through or Muller would score a last-minute free kick to bring back visions of Sir David Beckham.

Under our new tactics, we couldn't stop scoring and enjoyed taking early leads. We wanted to be entertaining, though we lost at Norwich due to chasing a win rather than settling for a point. A vital point dropped?

m8sv0m6scvancof4wxku

We passed every test, beating Arsenal, Man City, going to back-to-back-to-back champions Newcastle's ground (who are now unbeaten in 46 home games) and New Anfield and coming away with unlucky draws (outshining the former with sexy passing football, and embarrassing the latter by debuting a young centre-back), then going to Stamford Bridge and beating them for the first time in 6 years, and away for the first time in 16 years!

By the halfway point, after 8 clean sheets in a row, we were just about top of the table, and had got the hardest games out of the way.

In 2030, another statement: we went to Man City...

spsG9nY.png

...Played with 10 men the whole match and beat them in an entertaining game, simply switching our 4-1-3-2 to a 3-1-3-2. Bondarev saved 8 of their 10 shots, we drew 34 fouls from our short dribbling game, and won 80% of our headers, mainly in our own box. City played right into our hands.

All our rivals were dropping points and we eventually gained a 7-point lead going into the business end of the season.

Meanwhile, we beat hipster's favourite Lazio 3 - 1 at their own ground and gradually progressed in the Champions League despite rotation, and the FA Cup despite a harsh penalty and Hartlepool's Championship-level finishing stopping them getting the biggest result in their history in either leg of the 3rd Round.

Plus the backup and youth reached the semis of the League Cup, but were beaten in the 97th minute of the 2nd leg by a corner won from them trying to waste time...

Champions League Group H Table

Lazio - 13
Man Utd - 9
---------------------------
Hannover - 6
Asteras Tripolis - 3

======================================================

 

======================================================

March to May: Squeaky Bum Time

Results
 

Spoiler

 

FA Cup - Quarter Final

(2nd, Ch.) Leeds 2 - 0 Man Utd (1st, PL)

Premier League

(1st, PL) Man Utd 0 - 0 Newcastle Utd (2nd, PL)
(6th) Tottenham 0 - 2 Man Utd (1st)

Champions League - Quarter-Final, 1st Leg

(2nd, SA) Lazio 3 - 2 Man Utd (1st, EPL)

Premier League

(1st) Man Utd 1 - 0 Coventry (11th)

Champions League - Quarter-Final, 2nd Leg

(1st, EPL) Man Utd 1 - 2 Lazio (2nd, SA)
Lazio win 5-3 on agg.

Premier League

(14th) Middlesbrough 2 - 0 Man Utd (1st)
(1st) Man Utd 1 - 0 Liverpool (5th)
(13th) Preston 0 - 0 Man Utd (1st)
(1st) Man Utd 0 - 1 Chelsea (3rd)
(20th) Southampton 0 - 0 Man Utd (1st)
(1st) Man Utd 2 - 0 Bolton (15th)

 

man-utd-v-leeds-jermaine-beckford-goal_2

Then suddenly, we lost to Championship Leeds in the FA Cup, our 'game of the season title decider' at home to Newcastle ended 0 - 0, lost both legs of the Champions League Quarter-Final to Lazio (a team we got 4 points off of in the group stage), then lost at Middlesbrough.

But Newcastle kept dropping points, leading to their boss getting banned for his outrage, and we scraped a win at home to Liverpool, with a set-piece goal followed by a saved Liverpool penalty.

Newcastle and Chelsea threw away leads and dropped more points, so a win at Preston would clinch the title. We drew 0 - 0.

It should be noted that had we settled for that point at Norwich, we would've been champions by now. Instead, Chelsea came to Old Trafford and won 1 - 0, despite going down to 10 men through injury. Really, this was a good result for us, as goal difference meant they wanted a big win. But we lost the chance of one last big title-winning moment and clinched the title with an anti-climactic 0 - 0 at relegated Southampton after having a penalty saved.

We ended on a high though. An entertaining 2 - 0 home win for a reserve team, with 8 league debuts on the day, saw an incredible curled free kick (not even by Muller) and a bright young sub score in stoppage time.

Then the 92,200 at Old Trafford celebrated the first Premier League winner not named Newcastle or Arsenal in 15 years!

united-trophy300.jpg


2029/30 Premier League Table

 

1 - Manchester United - 78
2 - Newcastle United - 71 (+29 Goal Difference)
3 - Chelsea - 71 (+25 GD)
4 - Arsenal - 69
----------------------------------------------------------
5 - Liverpool - 60
6 - Tottenham Hotspur - 59
7 - West Bromwich Albion - 56
8 - Norwich City - 55
9 - Manchester City - 53
10 - Coventry City - 51
11 - Blackburn Rovers - 50
12 - Preston North End - 46
13 - Middlesbrough - 45 (0 GD)
14 - West Ham United - 45 (-4 GD)
15 - Sheffield Wednesday - 41
16 - Bolton Wanderers - 39
17 - Leicester City - 38
----------------------------------------------------------
18 - Sunderland - 33
19 - Stoke City - 28
20 - Southampton - 27

A familiar-looking top 6 (if you replace the unstoppable Man City with the unstoppable Newcastle)!

Sorry, Stoke fans...

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Awesome season, congratulations on winning the title!

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Man Utd 2029/30 Season & Squad Review

Premier League: Winners
Champions League: Quarter-Finals
FA Cup: Quarter-Finals
League Cup: Semi-Finals

==============================

 

==============================

Reserves and Under-18s

Denny Mundee's defending Reserve champions finished 4th as Liverpool won their 5th Group 1 title in 7 seasons. Though we did break the record for highest attendance when 3,725 watched the opening 3-1 loss to Bolton.

Darren Fletcher's Under-18s won their 13th Group 3 title in a row with 3 games to spare, eventually winning by 14 points. They broke the record for most consecutive wins; they currently have 16 in a row.

==============================

 

==============================

Confidence

The board confidence is a rare "absolutely thrilled with the level of commitment you continue to show the club". They expected a title challenge and are delighted with the title win, as well as the financial status of the club.

Naturally the fans, who were expecting a win, are also delighted.

==============================

 

==============================

Finances

The balance is above the £100m mark for the first time since 2025 i.e. since I arrived, when it went into the red briefly in 2026 and again a year later.

220px-Wembley_Stadium_interior.jpg

Although the expansion of Old Trafford to 92,212 seats was completed early last season, we still saw a £12.5m jump in gate receipts this season now we've had a full season inside the intimdating bowl.

==============================

 

==============================

Records

As above, the club's record average attendance was unsurprisingly broken: 80,945.

Our Premier League average attendance of 84,311 was a record and 25,000 higher than anyone else.

We broke the Premier League attendance record with 92,205 watching Utd v City, 4 more than who watched Utd v West Ham last season!

We also broke the club record of most games in a row without conceding: 8 (in December 2029)

==============================

 

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Staff

Coach and Reserves Manager Denny Mundee retires after over 4 decades in the game. After playing in the football league and non-league for the likes of Brentford and Bournemouth, he was youth coach at Watford and then 18 years at Preston, before joining Manchester United in 2028.

==============================

 

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Tactics

Last season I said tactics died a horrible death, with teams parking 11 men in the area sometimes and me having to hurl 10 men into their half. But this season is when tactics won the title, with beautiful football too!

To beat teams parking the bus, throwing people forward wasn't working. It's hard to get through 11 bodies. So this season I decided to play strictly on the ground, running past and through defences and avoiding crosses and long balls. If the player doesn't get through, he may still be fouled in dangerous areas, and we have arguably the deadliest free kick taker in the world.

This not only worked for home games, with defenders having to deal with players coming at them, but away games when there was more space to run forward. We produced the sexiest passing football in the country and plenty of Maradona-esque goals.

I changed from my trusty 4-4-2 diamond to a variation of the formation I played at Valenciennes on our return to Ligue 1 that saw us qualify for Europe for the first time ever: 4-3-1-2 with 3 staggered central midfielders, with the attacking outside 2 going forward. I quickly moved the AMC to DM, so the default changed to a 4-1-3-2, which improved defensive cover but was still very attacking in the middle.

In normal play, the back 4 would stay back, the 1 DM would be somewhat defensive, the middle CM would be of normal mentality, one of the outside CMs would be attacking, and the other CM would be even more attacking.

When teams were parking the bus, this changed to a 4-3-1-2 with wing-backs. The wing-backs' mentality would be slightly below attacking, the DM-now-CM would go to normal, and the CM-now-AMC would be ultra-attacking.

When teams moved to the dreaded 3-3-2-1-1 formation, I'd push the wingbacks' runs all the way to the edge of their box, though not really change mentality. This gave the strikers more wide support, rather than having them wandering wide so much themselves.

Other settings:

Creative Freedom: None, but set individually based on their Flair, Creativity and Decisions.

Passing Style: Changed from short to all the way short.

Tempo: 1 notch slow, though not the slowest. Previously it had been fast, as the last thing I wanted was my error-prone defence passing it around or to their error-prone goalkeeper. But now my defence isn't so error-prone. I also kept patient up against the parked buses particularly. Normally, if there had been little happening for 30 minutes, I'd change something (like making the tempo faster or playing it a bit more in the air). But now I waited. Just by having the ball, we could win free kicks or corners, the former being particularly threatening, but it could take time before one goes in.

Width: A few notches away from ultra-narrow.

Closing Down: 1 notch often.

Time Wasting: Ultra-rarely. Attack is the best form of our defence and it was better to build an attack rather than run to the corner or boot it away. I'd only use it in stoppage time or in a game with few chances to scrape that win or point.

Defensive Line: Deep. As explained a while ago, we guided the opposition to use their flanks and hit crosses in, so we could head them away while avoiding a central threat. Playing deep encouraged this more, while central attacks would often be long-distance shots. To score you usually had to score a world class long-ranger... sometimes... However, against the parked buses, the line would be pushed up nearly all the way. The opposition are hoping to break (if even that), so we want their attacker to need to cover as much ground as possible before getting to our goal i.e. from the halfway line, so our pacy defenders could catch up to them and get a last-second tackle in. A common sight at Old Trafford.

Tackling: Normal. Although I did consider the real-life Man City tactic of having the strikers hard tackling, so they'd concede fouls to stop counter-attacks, but my defence was doing fine winning the counter-attack races anyway.

Marking: Zonal, although the centre-backs man-marked the striker(s), the DM (or CM when attacking) would mark their AMC, and the wing-backs would mark the central midfielders midfielders of bus-parkers (otherwise they'd be wide open to finish a move).

Corner Supply: Corners used to be a great goal source but midway through the season, with no goals from corners, I changed the corner supply setting from challenge GK to mixed. Now the taker could pass it short to a dribbler or it might find its way to the Gerrard-esque Muller 'lurking' in the D to score. Though we only scored once in the league.

Throw Supply: Long. May as well make use of those long-throwers!

Other tidbits:

We had the highest indirect free-kick goals with 14. Muller's free-kicks made us the highest direct free kick scorers too with 10.

I realised it'd be a good idea to have my full-backs, at least the ones who couldn't pass or cross,  set to cross and / or deliver through balls anyway, as they tended to lose the ball when the reached the box because they were looking for a pass when they could've just hit it in.

As a result of all this, we had the best away record in the league, by far scoring the most (29), and also the highest overall scorers in the league (57). We only conceded 3 goals at home.

3 of the top 4 dribblers in the league were United players and all strikers: Reilly (1st), Willian (3rd) and Sibiya (4th).

The top 5 pass completion rates were all taken up by United players (3 midfielders and the 2 centre-backs).

As well as top passers, that centre-back pairing Friar and Rabatti were also 2nd and 3rd top tacklers.

Notably, only one of our strikers got double figures in goals, Willian with 10. But the goals were shared around by the other 2 main strikers (Reilly and Sibiya) and Muller, with his free-kicks thanks to the dribblers conceding all those fouls, getting 9 each.

Another thing of note is my first XI became very regular with not much rotation, though this was more due to the poor form of everyone else than anything.

==============================

 

==============================

The Title-Winning Squad

They failed in the cups at vital moments and we were lucky that Newcastle struggled for a while. So, even though we won the long lost Premier League title, changes will continue to come.

(Only senior and first team squad players included)

GK

1. Alexey Bondarev - 24 years old, Russia (7 caps), valued at £8.5m - Played 52, Conceded 36, Clean Sheets 29, Man of the Match 1, Average Rating 6.88
17. Charlie Whyte - 32, Scotland (1), bosman (valued at £2.3m) from West Brom (PL) - P 5, Conc 6, CS 3, AvR 6.80

An established #1 makes all the difference. Bondarev made 1 or 2 memorable errors, but nothing like past keepers. He made several world class saves too.

Whyte was a bit unhappy but he DID join the club on the understanding he's a backup.

We have a slew of good-looking young keepers. One a January English signing who played 3 Premier League games aged just 18 with an average rating of 7.67 and played 7 games in the Championship this season with 7.14. But I'd prefer to keep Whyte's experience.

(Next season's roles)
First Team - Bondarev
Backup - Whyte


DR / WBR

12. (Renato Santos de) Souza - SW, DR/C - 31, Portugal (4 goals in 52 caps) / Brazil, £4.4m - P 41(1), Goals 3, Assists 4, MotM 1, AvR 7.02
2. Domingos - DR/C - 34, Portugal (17), loan from Lazio (Serie A) - P 10, A 2, AvR 7.10
+ Aleksandrowicz, Hristov, R.d.Souza

Domingos did a great job, but when he came back from injury in February, he'd lost his physicality. Age has caught up quickly.

Youngster Spinelli infamously went on loan to Liverpool, but damaged his cruciate ligaments before he could play. He was set to play our final game of the season, but got injured in the last reserve game. Who knows how he'll do?

It might be worth looking out for an attack-minded right wing-back, but it's not a priority.

First Team - Souza
Backup -  Hristov, R.d.Souza
Out -
Aleksandrowicz, Domingos (returns from loan)
Youth Promotion - Spinelli


DL / WBL

3. Juan Pablo Viveros - WB/M/AML - 35, Chile (3 in 67), N/A - P 26(4), G 3, A 2, AvR 7.10
5. Aktas Vezir - D/WBL - 26, Turkey (1 in 5) / Germany, £10.5m - P 26(14), G 2, A 2, MotM 2, AvR 6.95
7. Steve McIntosh - D/WB/M/AML - 32, Republic of Ireland (11 in 63), N/A - P 11(9), A 1, AvR 6.85
+  R.d.Souza

Viveros earned himself ANOTHER 1-year extension at the club with his best season since his debut, aged 34/35. A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one!

Vezir let himself down, completing only 62 of 99 tackles and making 8 errors. Can do a lot, lot better given all the 20s in his attributes.

McIntosh's last game was in January. The former captain failed to perform this season and his contract is allowed to expire after a testimonial and a decade making just under 300 appearances for the club.

First Team - Vezir
Backup - R.d.Souza, Viveros
Out - McIntosh


DC

32. Marco Rabatti - 23, Italy (U21), bought from Genk (Belgian First Division A) for £850k - P32, G 1, MotM 6, AvR 7.47
14. Richard Friar - Co-captain - 25, England (6), £6.75m - P 39, A 1, MotM 4, AvR 7.15
6. Volker Kirn - 28, Germany (18), £5.5m - P 21(1), AvR 7.09
25. Frank Larsen - 25, Denmark (11), £3.9m - P 10, MotM, AvR 7.30
21. Elliot Burley - 31, England (5), sold to Torino (Serie A) for £500k - P 14(1), A 1, MotM 2, 7.27
+ Aleksandrowicz, Domingos, R.d.Souza, R.S.d.Souza

dPWLbZd.png

What a breakout season for Rabatti! Needing pace against Liverpool, I picked him from the reserves to make his debut in the lion's den of New Anfield. He had been saying he was too good for a loan and was struggling to adapt to England, so I gave him enough rope to hang himself in a game with nothing to lose. Instead, he produced a solid performance in a draw and never lost his spot. He became the highest-rated player in the league.

Friar made an uncharacteristic 12 mistakes, but his incredible pace (19 Pace, 17 Acceleration) is important especially for home games, and he'll continue to mature.

If Kirn had Friar's pace, he'd start every game as he's usually error free. Even his 1 red card was a professional foul ala Solskjaer v Newcastle.

Larsen's done little wrong, but the quality of competition is so high and there's a large handful of youngsters who could fill in at any time, so he has to go.

Burley was failing to complete a lot of tackles and his would be let go for free at the end of the season anyway, so Torino bought him at 1/3rd of his value.

First Team - Friar, Kirn, Rabatti
Backup - R.d.Souza, R.S.d.Souza
Out - Aleksandrowicz, Burley, Domginos (return from loan), Larsen
Youth Promotion - Gianello, Spinelli, Toma


DM

16. Sebastian Muller - DM/MC - 26, Germany (3 in 18), £13m - P 44, G 11, A 7, MotM 5, AvR 7.07
4. Bartosz Aleksandrowicz - D/MR, DC, DM/MC - 27, Poland (1 in 36), £4.7m - P 16(7), A 1, AvR 6.74
+ Hristov, R.d.Souza

Muller is arguably are most important player. When the strikers are missing, he steps up and scores a free-kick, or knows where to place an indirect one to assist. In fact, any time there's a foul in or around the 'D', it's a guaranteed goal. He's the only player in my 24-year career that I've given free reign to shoot anywhere he wants. He's actually better off shooting than passing! (Though he's made 2,228 passes too!)

Aleksandrowicz was disappointing. While he's been decent before, the problem is he's not a creative player, and now everyone but the goalkeeper and centre-backs needs to be able score and assist. His lack of strength is an important weakness. With youngsters and potential transfers incoming, his time has come.

Much is expected of Giménez but he hasn't shown it yet. Now he must deliver.

First Team - Muller
Backup - Hristov, R.d.Souza
Out - Aleksandrowicz
Youth Promotion - Gianello, Giménez


MC (+ MR / ML / AMC)

8. Ivan Hristov - D/WB/MR, DM/MC - 29, Bulgaria (1 in 30), £6.75m - P 38(3), G 4, A 10, MotM 3, AvR 7.27
15. (Rodrigo de) Souza - DRLC/DM/MRLC - 24, Germany (7) / £15m - P 43(7), G 7, A 4, MotM 4, AvR 7.24
11. Andy Casey - M/AML - 24, England (1), £11.75m - P 36(4), G 4, A 6, AvR 7.13
24. Reginald Tsotetsi - MC/AMC - 25, South Africa (2 in 19), £6.5m - P 25(3), G 3, A 5, MotM 2, AvR 7.04
13. Luis Roberto Artime - MC/AMC - 25, Spain (7), £5.25m - P 15(16), A 4, AvR 6.77
27. Nikola Obradovic - M/AMR - 28, Serbia (2 in 20), £4.4m, loan from Bayern Munich (Bundesliga) - P 5(4), G 1, A 1, AvR 6.44
27. Hugo - M/AML, MC, AMC - 20, Brazilian (U21), bought from Feirense (Portuguese second tier) for 600K
+ Aleksandrowicz, McIntosh, Muller, Popovic, Vezir, Viveros

Hristov's injury seemed to coincide with a relatively poor spell of form for the club. He was a presence to fear on the right of the midfield 3.

It's hard to tell Souza's best position. One game he's running things in the centre, the next he's running down the flank into the area to score the only goal.

As a left winger not getting any games, Casey seemed doomed to a quiet season in a World Cup year (as hosts to boot!), but he eventually got his chance on the left of the 3 and established himself. He scored a few amazing goals, but the standard is so high at this club now that he could still do a bit more...

Artime is another player with huge potential, he's usually given a 'free role', but now has to prove it. A broken leg in the final game of the season means he definitely won't be moved on yet.

Hugo was tried, but the youngster isn't quality enough, so he went out on loan.

First Team - Casey, Hristov, Muller, R.d.Souza
Rotation - Artime, Popovic, Tsotetsi, Vezir, Viveros
Out - Aleksandrowicz, McIntosh, Obradovic (return from loan)
Youth Promotion - De Bellis, Gianello, Giménez


ST

10. Willian - 25, Brazil (3 in 6), bought from Hertha Berlin (Bundesliga) for £25m - P 32(4), G 13, A 8, MotM 7, AvR 7.31
9. Neil Sibiya - 26, South Africa (27 in 32), £32m - P 35(9), G 14, A 6, MotM 1, AvR 7.02
18. Kenny Reilly - 28, Scotland (11 in 32), £15m - P 19(8), G 11, A 3, MotM 2, AvR 7.04
23. Predrag Popovic - AMC/ST - 24, Serbia (1 in 8), £6.25m - P 13(21), G 4, A 1, MotM 1, AvR 7.09
19. Jan Krpec - 25, Czech Republic (2 in 12), £6m - P 13(18), G 3, MotM 1, AvR 6.48
20. Júnior - 31, Brazil (2), N/A - P 11(14), G 4, A 5, MotM 2, AvR 6.80

People thought I was mad to spend £25m on a striker who hadn't scored in 47 games... but Willian scored in his first 4 games and won Goal of the Month. Another season, another star striker.

Reilly gets injuries and knocks all the time, but also scores within a few minutes of returning all the time too! In fact, he either scored or assisted in all of his first 10 starts, stretching to April.

Popovic burst on the scene Rashford-like last season, but was low on goals this season. Can move around the attacking third and worth trying for another season.

Krpec greatly disappointed. His problem last season was a failure to convert, and he generally made no impact this season. Time to move on. Miguel is a pretty similar replacement, given they both provide an aerial option but may lack a world class striker's instinct.

Junior's form fell off a cliff after sharing the Golden Boot and winning Man Utd Fans' Player of the Year last season. He didn't score in the league at all and was dropped completely after the League Cup semi-final exit in January. He'll move back home to Brazil on a bosman.

First Team - Reilly, Sibiya, Willian
Backup - Popovic
Out - Junior, Krpec
Youth Promotion - De Bellis, Miguel


------------ Willian --- Reilly / Sibiya --
--------- Casey -- Souza -- Hristov ---
--------------------- Muller -----------------
Viveros -- Rabatti -- Friar -- Souza
------------------- Bondarev ---------------

==============================

 

==============================

Awards

I win Manager of the Season for knocking the Geordies off their perch. Paul Ince is runner-up with Liverpool. Surprisingly, Zhou Chen of Chelsea was snubbed despite a surprise title challenge.

R.d.Souza came runner-up for English Players' Player of the Year after a 7.33 average rating in the league.

He and fellow midfielders Hristov and Muller make the Team of the Year.

Reilly came runner-up for goal of the season with his dribble and long-ranger straight from kick-off.

The top 3 for the Champions League Best Player award are all Manchester United players. New signing Willian wins it with a 7.47 average rating, while two English centre-backs come 2nd and 3rd: Friar and on-loan-at-Rangers Uberschar.

4 players make the Champions League Dream Team (Friar, Vezir, Hristov and Willian).

==============================

 

==============================

With a sensational season over, it's time to enjoy watching England host the 2030 World Cup...

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Congratulations for the title, another fantastic update!

Rabatti is a rarely seen beast. Do his low Composure and Concentration affect his performances at all (like in terms of Mistakes/Mistakes leading to goals)?

 

 

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23 hours ago, Ales said:

Congratulations for the title, another fantastic update!

Rabatti is a rarely seen beast. Do his low Composure and Concentration affect his performances at all (like in terms of Mistakes/Mistakes leading to goals)?

Not at all! He's only made 4 mistakes in 32 games, 0 leading to goals.

Manuals around the time I think said Composure is an attacker's stat anyway, mainly their composure taking a shot (especially penalties).

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2029/30 Club Football Review

Biggest Transfers

Wagner (DM/MRC/AMRC, Brazilian, 23) - São Paulo to Newcastle - £26m
Willian (ST, Brazilian, 25) - Hertha BSC to Man Utd - £25m
Martin Abraham (DM/MC, Czech, 24) - Newcastle to AC Milan - £24m
Marcin Heinrich (DC/DM/MC, Polish, 23) - Arsenal to AC Milan - £23.5m
Adel Djoudi (DC, Algerian, 26) - Chelsea to Internazionale - £22.5m
Ciro Gardin (MC, Italian, 26) - Fiorentina to Internazionale - £22.5m
Héctor Ortiz (DR/C, Mexican, 25) - Juventus to AC Milan - £22m
 

Champions League

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Arsenal won their first Champions League in 17 years in one of the worst finals in recent time. Gareth Southgate's Bayern Munich lost their 2nd final in a row after drawing 0 - 0 then missing all their penalties.

England are dominating again: 3 English clubs have won 4 of the last 5 trophies (Newcastle, Man Utd, Arsenal).


England

England.jpg

Premier League

man-utd-champions-2007-2008.jpg

For the first time in 4 years, Newcastle didn't win the title. For the first time in 15 years, neither did Arsenal. Manchester United were the surprise winners.

Newcastle United's long search for Marcelino Garcia Toral's replacement ended in September with the hiring of Napoli's Polish manager Wojciech Stawowy, but they only scraped 2nd on the final day and were knocked out of the FA Cup in the 3rd Round by Championship Birmingham.

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Former Liverpool player and Everton manager Paul Ince turned Liverpool into early title contenders. They fell away in the closing stages, but 5th is an improvement.

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Craig Gordon's first job in management ended after a successful 3.5 years at Coventry. After being promoted from youth coach, he took the midtable side to an unprecedented 3rd place then reached the knockout round of their Champions League debut after going unbeaten in a group also containing Inter and Valencia. His replacement, Rafael Márquez, has big shoes to fill.

Stoke's fairytale return to the top league and Phil Parkinson's Sunderland's journey from top to bottom back to top saw them only last 1 season. They, along with Steve Potts' Southampton, were relegated quite early.

Football League & FA Cup

image.jpg

3 Championship sides reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and, in the final, it was Queens Park Rangers that beat Arsenal on penalties to lift their first ever FA Cup trophy after gaining promotion back into the Premier League!

After getting relegated from the Premier League again, Sheffield United had a big season. They won the Championship in March with 5 games to spare, reached the FA Cup semis, and the final of the League Cup after beating future Premier League champions Manchester United with a 97th-minute winner.

On the final day of the season, several teams were in contention for the League One title and promotion. Brighton & Hove Albion won it with a draw after their rivals both lost 3 - 0, returning to the Championship after 24 years away.

In fact, had Reading scored one more and beaten Oldham 4 - 0, they would've leapfrogged Oldham on goal difference and got promoted instead!

3 teams finished on 68 points, but it was Luton Town who squeezed into the final playoff place and eventually returned to the Championship after 23 years away!


Italy

Italy.jpg

After three 0 - 0 draws in a row, Michael Skibbe's Inter Milan needed to hope Lazio didn't match their result on the final day.

Inter scored a 91st-minute winner with Lazio drawing, but Lazio scored a 94-minute winner to clinch the title in the final second of the season!


Germany

Germany.jpg

Dortmund-loss-Getty.jpg

Dortmund legend Christoph Metzelder took charge of the midtable club in 2025. This season, he watched them relegated for the first time in their history (for footballing reasons anyway).


France

France.jpg

Patrick Vieira's managerial career has not taken off. After 16 years plying his trade in the French lower leagues, he was sacked by Créteil in just 9 months after relegating them from Ligue 2 and then leaving the club bottom of their new division by October.


Spain

Spain.jpg

Carles Puyol landed his first big job after 15 years in the 2nd and 3rd tier of Spanish football: Sevilla. 3 months later, he was lifting their first Copa del Rey since 1948, after beating Barcelona 4-1 on aggregate along the way.


The Americas

proi-america-map.png

Former Aston Villa and Colombia striker Juan Pablo Angel was promoted to manager of Colombian side Atlético Nacional after 20 years as a youth coach, then left after just 1 month and 1 win in 6 matches to take charge of Argentina's Primera División side San Martín de Mendoza.

Gus Poyet finally landed a glamour job after 21 years and 8 managerial roles in Shrewsbury, Sydney and the Americas. He replaces Dominic Kinnear as boss of the LA Galaxy. Unfortunately, the 2028 MLS finalists are currently bottom of their conference with 2 wins in 12.
 

Edited by git2thachoppa

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England Profile, Squad and New Manager...

The centenary 2030 World Cup will naturally be hosted by England (yes, football's coming home).

In this landmark year, it makes sense to look at England today. And we start with the new manager... oh, about that, just one thing...

2/7 - England Manager Leaves After Uninspiring Confederations Cup

3/7 - England Approach 'Home Game Expert' Man Utd Manager

4/7 - Man Utd Manager Apparently Unwilling To Leave Club

5/7 - England Deny Alleged Shortlist of Southgate, Trollope, Adams, Boothroyd

6/7 - Man Utd Manager: England World Cup Win "Very Unlikely"

7/7 - FA Negotiating with Man Utd For Short-Term Club & Country Agreement

8/7 - BREAKING - Man Utd Manager To Take Temporary Charge At 2030 World Cup

main-qimg-a8bde249711046c260a9b8ea595876

An arrangement has finally been agreed with me, the Manchester United manager, to take charge at the 2030 World Cup.

I'll remain at Manchester United, but will also have a 1-year contract with the FA, which covers the tournament and any potential preparation friendlies.

At the press conference, I give my stance: "I was always aware of this possibility for a long time and discussed it long ago with the board. I wasn't even sure if I'd take the job, but this only happens once. We go there to win, but we won't be favourites by any stretch of the imagination given our record, and our subpar showing at the Confederations Cup.

So I'll have no talk of it coming home!"

One journalist then put his hand up, stood up and recited: "We still believe... We still believe..."

 

ENGLAND

1200px-England_national_football_team_cr

Reasons For Choosing

This had been my plan since England were announced as hosts (so in reality, since I started this career).

I would be wary of taking the job usually, and in fact rejected it 7 years ago while at Valenciennes, as the player pool didn't look good. A manager rarely leaves the job without being labelled a clown, and expectations are usually higher than reality.
So if I'm going to take charge, it may as well be during a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as hosts. Even if we flop, the Man Utd fans will still like me and I'll still have a job!
 

Real-Life History (Pre-2006)

England are the joint-oldest international team ever, along with their opponents for the first ever international match, and current Euro and back-to-back World champs Scotland (it ended 0-0, naturally).

But despite being the 'home' of football, and its infrastructure, history and riches, they've only ever won the World Cup once: when they hosted it in 1966. They would massively under-achieve since, sometimes even failing to qualify for tournaments.

By 2006, they were blessed with another golden generation of world class players in nearly every position. Unfortunately, a tactically-lacking Sven Goran-Eriksson could only achieve quarter-final finishes in a reign more known for his flirting with other women and other clubs.


FM Game History (Post-2006)

mclaren-umbrella-hi-res2.jpg

Even Steve McClaren (who would later be knighted for his dominance of English and European football with Newcastle United) failed to win a trophy, losing the Euro 2008 final to the Dutch 2-0 and the 2009 Confederations Cup final to Brazil on penalties. He left as a villain, after leaving Michael Owen at home, risking an injured Rooney and rotating goalkeepers saw them exit at the group stage of 2010.

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Peter Beardsley's 6-year reign was memorable for 2014, when England were knocked out by Chile at the group stage by a drawing of lots after an exciting 3-3 draw.

His successor did reach the semis of 2018, but it was still the same old story of dominant qualifications followed by stale tournaments.

His replacement spent 7 years in charge, but the underwhelming performance in the 2029 Confederations Cup forced the FA's hand, and here we are.

England's knockout record in World Cups and Euros since 2008 (excluding 3rd place playoff) is: W1, L3, D4 (losing 3 of 4 penalty shootouts).

2008 European Championships: 2nd
2009 Confederations Cup: 2nd
2010 World Cup: Group
2012 EC: QF
2014 WC: Group
2016 EC: Group
2018 WC: 4th
2020 EC: QF
2022 WC: 2nd Round
2024 EC:  Group
2026 WC: 2nd Round
2028 EC: QF
2029 CC: 3rd


Stadium

b60ff6f5fcce6cdc716c4c6b480c4d35.jpg

The rebuilt Wembley holds 90,000, though it's not the biggest stadium in England any more.

As hosts, other potential stadiums will include the 92,212-capacity Old Trafford and the 60,000-sized New Anfield and Ashburton Grove (Emirates Stadium).


Rivals

Scotland - Naturally, but it has reached new heights now Scotland are back-to-back defending world champions as well as Euro 2028 winners. The glee from up north that Scotland have more World Cups than England now. And while England won it as hosts, Scotland did it by brushing aside each host in the final! England did get a 1-0 win over them in the 2029 Confederations Cup 3rd-place playoff though.

20170622-The18-Photo-Ronaldinho-goal-vs-

Brazil - England have never beaten Brazil in a tournament. After that Ronaldinho free-kick in 2002, Brazil beat England in the 2009 Confederations Cup final on penalties, beat them twice in 2018's World Cup, and knocked them out in 2029.

1296492167_original.jpg?itok=MiVa-q_Y

Turkey - After violent meetings in 2003, England knocked them out of Euro 2008, but they returned the favour in 2012 and again on penalties in 2020. Qualifying fixtures since have usually been competitive too.

Netherlands - Beat England to qualify for 1994, then famously torn apart 4-1 at Euro 96, before winning 2-0 in the Euro 2008 final. They've exchanged wins in a few group games since.

Germany - More an historic rivalry having only met twice in the past couple of decades, both being draws in group games.


Post-2006 Broken and Matched Records

Highest Attendance for an England match: 92,171 (Old Trafford) v Scotland, Confederations Cup 2029

Lowest Wembley Attendance for an England match: 40,722 v Macedonia, Euro 2008 qualifier

Most consecutive wins: 11 (2/9/2006 - 13/10/2007)

Most consecutive competitive wins: 10 (see above)

Most consecutive games without scoring: 4 (30/6/2018 - 1/9/2018)

Most consecutive clean sheets: 7 (6/10/2018 - 24/8/2019)


Ranking

England have been ranked 2nd for all but a few months of the past 2 years, far ahead of the rest, but just as far behind Scotland. After the Confederations Cup, Scotland dropped to 3rd and England are now the #1 ranked team in the world. Somehow.
But it's Scotland's world and we're all just living in it.


Expectations

The FA are expecting a World Cup win, the fans are hoping for one, I think that's optimistic for a team that traditionally flounders around the group stage.


Fixtures

There are 3 friendly spots in September and October, which I'll make home games. Then it's the World Cup.


Staff

I can bring my own staff, but as it's short-term there's no need to hire U21 or U19 managers.

I'll keep most of my Man Utd staff and England staff seperate and look for English guys who deserve a chance, plus some famous names...


Squad

Peter Shilton and Bobby Charlton still hold the records for most caps (125) and goals (49). There's only one eligible player with more than 38 caps, and only 2 players with double figures in goals (12 and 10).

Goalkeepers

Hutchings has been England's #1 for over a decade, and he's been at Middlesbrough for even longer. He's England's most-capped active player with 57, but he's also 37 years old and his last 2 seasons particularly have been poor. He was injured for the Confederations Cup, and the keeper who made his debut in his place was Butler, as in my Butler, the 'future England #1' who failed to reach his potential and I sold to Norwich for a record £20m.

The other player who earned his first cap this summer is the one who looks most likely to be my #1: Duxbury of Blackburn Rovers had a 7.14 average rating last season, and has been consistent for Rovers in the past few seasons of the Premier League.

Defenders

England's strongest area, there are many defenders performing above a 7 average rating in the Premier League, including my centre-back pairing of Burley (one of the best players in the league last season) and Friar.

Midfielders

While the first team is strong (the entire midfield was in Euro 2028's 'Team of the Tournament'), there's little depth at the moment, particularly on the right. I will call up my left-winger, Casey, who has been overlooked.

Strikers

After Lineker, Shearer, Owen then Rooney, in 2029 this is England's most worrying problem - no world class striker.

West Ham's Stott does have 10 goals in 17 England games, including Euro 2028's Golden Boot with 3 goals, but there's no one else close to being a 1-in-every-2-games striker, and physically/technically they're all quite average. Again, I'll have to hope one or two have a great season.

One player who looked like he could be a top England goalscorer is Chris Mills, who was once someone I tried hard to sign for United. But a debilitating illness has meant he will only ever be able to play at 90% condition and is unable to be called up. Like Rooney and Sneijder before him, he's doomed to a career ending early by cruel fate.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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England 2029 - Staff, First England Squad, debut v France and Iran

Home friendlies are arranged with France, my former employers Iran, and USA.

I also build my staff:

Way back in 2008, I brought in Andy Polston from non-league Billericay Town to be my assistant at Serie C club Varese. In 2029, still at Varese, he will now also be England assistant manager.

nevs_3521728b.jpg

The Neville brothers come in as coaches.

Gary got 96 caps before retiring at Everton (in the same team as Phil!) and becoming a youth coach at Coventry and Chelsea before coaching at Newcastle.

Phil earned 52 caps and also played for United then Everton, though he retired after a loan to Scunthorpe. He became assistant at Conference North side Northwich Victoria, lasted as manager for a year, and is assistant at Southend United.

Given I'm only here for a year, no permanent youth managers will be appointed. Instead, Gary will be in charge of the Under-19s for the U19 Euros, while Phil will take charge of the Under-21s.

I give the physio job to Colin Lewin, the Arsenal physio and cousin of ex-England physio Gary. He's joined by a former Arsenal graduate who spent his career in League One but hasn't got a job since retiring years ago, despite his ability.


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==========================================================


Before my first matches, Gary Neville's England Under-19s are knocked out of Euro 2029 at the semi-final stage on penalties. Their highlight was a 5-1 win over Germany.


==========================================================
==========================================================


My First England Squad

Goalkeepers

Butler - 25, Man Utd, 4 caps
Duxbury - 27, Blackburn, 1 cap
Zabek - 29, West Ham, Uncapped

England had been looking for a new goalkeeper now their former #1 is 37 and long past his best.

Duxbury is the most (perhaps only) in-form goalkeeper.

Butler is in the process of being sold to Norwich for a record £20m, with hopes he reaches his potential elsewhere.

Right-Backs

Huckle (DR/L/C) - 29, Arsenal, 2 goals in 28 caps
Morris - 31, Newcastle, 1 goal in 38 caps

Huckle is top class, while Morris is an able deputy.

An injury in this position (Cummins) means it's just these two for now.

Left-Backs

Petty (DL/C) - 22, Preston, Uncapped
Wilson (D/WBL) - 26, Arsenal, 4 caps

Wilson got 2 assists at Euro 2028.

Petty is a surprise call-up. He excelled in the SPL two seasons ago and did well in his handful of games last season for Preston. Really, there's no depth in the full-back positions, so we might instead use wing-backs.

Centre-backs

Burley - 31, Man Utd, 4 caps
Friar - 24, Man Utd, 4 caps
Holt (DC/ST) - 27, Bayern, 6 goals in 20 caps
James - 28, Newcastle, 30 caps

Despite his sensational form for us, Burley hadn't been called up before now.

Friar debuted at the Confederations Cup, and he and Burley seems an obvious partnership for club and country.

James is another world class centre-back, so it's looking more obvious to play 3 at the back with wing-backs.

Holt is European Defender of the Year, but I wouldn't rate him higher than a few other English centre-backs.

Right Wing-Backs and Wingers

Boardman (M/AMR) - 26, Newcastle, 3 goals in 10 caps
Melvin (WB/M/AMR) - 22, Arsenal, uncapped

Boardman scored in 3 of England's 4 Euro 2028 games, but made no impact in the Confederations Cup. Has the tackling ability to play as wing-back.

Melvin has only been fine in the Premier League, but we're really lacking depth on the right.

Left Wing-Backs and Wingers

Casey (ML/AML) - 23, Man Utd, uncapped
Hill (ML/AML) - 26, Roma, 1 goal in 7 caps
Stevens (M/AML, AMC) - 27, Coventry, 3 caps
Williamson (WB/M/AML) - 29, Inter, 18 caps

Williamson got 7.45, 7.08 and 7.40 in his last 3 seasons in Serie A, but for some reason his form tanks in cups, which doesn't help me...

Hill got a goal or assist in his 3 Euro 2028 games, and an assist at the Confederations Cup, but is regularly booked and is suspended for England's first World Cup game.

Despite impressing the past few seasons (and getting 5 goals in 17 U21 games), Casey has never been promoted. Another error I'm fixing.

Central Midfielders

Anderson (DC, DM/MC) - 22, Newcastle, uncapped
Austin (MC, AMC) - 29, Preston, 1 cap
Day (M/AMR, MC, AMC) - 30, Napoli, uncapped
Doyle (ML/C) - 27, Lazio, 19 caps

Anderson is another surprise callup as he's barely played, though he has once this season and scored. His attributes are really good so I want to see how he does.

Day had been a regular for Tottenham without blowing anyone anyway. Maybe I can find the right role for him.

Strikers

Henry - 27, Blackburn, 5 caps
Neal - 25, Coventry, 1 cap
Stokes (MC, AMC, ST) - 29, Leicester, 6 goals in 37 caps
Stott - 29, West Ham, 10 goals in 17 caps
Taylor - 26, Middlesbrough, 1 cap

Stott tends to either score a goal (or two) or is completely anonymous; he either wins a game or reduces you to effectively 10 men.

In comparison, Stokes has shown that special ability to often pop up at the right time to save the day, and his low return may be due to playing in midfield as much as up front.

Taylor got 4 goals and 3 assists last season in 20 league games, so you see what that says when even he makes the squad. He's physically strong, though, and may have potential to score more.

Henry scored 11 in 33 in the Premier League last season.

Neal got 19 goals and 10 assists in 41(4) games last season.


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==========================================================


v France @ Wembley Stadium, London - 1/9/29

_101089838_gettyimages-492017334-1.jpg

France are just about top of their qualifying group after 6 clean sheets in 9 matches, but were the wrong side of history with a 2-0 loss away to Moldova.

They haven't qualified for a competition since Euro 2024.

Tactics and Selection

With 3 or 4 really physically strong centre-backs, and little depth on the flanks (but top players that can attack and defend there), 5 at the back with wing-backs is the logical conclusion.

--- 10 -- 9 ---
------ 8 ------
--- 7 --- 2 ---
11 ---------- 6
-- 3 -- 5 -- 4 --
------ 1 ------

1 - Duxbury
4 - James
5 - Friar
3 - Burley
6 - Boardman
11 - Williamson
2 - Anderson
7 - Doyle
8 - Stokes (c)
9 - Stott
10 - Holt

Duxbury is my current choice for #1.

Newcastle United's James joins my Manchester United pairing for perhaps the physically strongest defensive line in football today.

Boardman is a midfielder, but a very good tackler. Also takes every set piece.

Young Anderson makes his debut as our defensive midfielder.

Stokes plays at MC, AMC and ST, so hopefully this is the perfect position for England's impact player. With England's usual captain not in the matchday squad, he takes the armband.

Stott, Holt and Stokes are the only England players with 6 or more international goals, so they're the front 3.

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

1734317-36684573-1600-900.jpg

(Ranked 1st) England 3 - 0 France (Ranked 13th)
Boardman (14)
Doyle (15)
Neal (70)

France nearly scored in 40 seconds but, after 15 minutes, we'd scored two 30-yarders from the middle of the pitch within 1 minute of each other.

We had 21 shots, though only 9 on target, in England's biggest win over France since 1969.

Ratings

GK - Duxbury - 8 - Made a couple of saves.
Sub - Zabek - 7 - No shots to save for the debutant.
CB - James - 8 (MOTM) - The most interceptions and didn't lose a tackle or header.
CB - Friar - 8
CB - Burley - 8 - Missed a few tackles.
RWB - Boardman - 8 - Opened the scoring and had dangerous free kicks.
Sub - Melvin - 7 - Easy debut.
LWB - Williamson - 7 - Great defending. Goal aside, played better than Boardman.
DM - Anderson - 8 - Highest passes by far with 64. Mature debut.
CM - Doyle - 8 - Several key passes and copied Boardman's goal with his own. On the plane in this form... oh wait, there is no plane if we're hosts...
(Sub) - Austin - 7 - 66% pass completion could be better.
AM - Stokes - 7 - A couple of key passes and shots, but I wanted more.
Sub (for Holt) - Stevens - 7
ST - Stott - 7 - 4 shots in 45 minutes despite physical weaknesses.
Sub - Taylor - 6 - My wildcard striker was injured within minutes.
Sub - Neal - 7 - His replacement, though, scored his first England goal after his initial header rebounded back off the post.
ST - Holt - 7 - Missed a few headers and shots.


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Taylor broke his foot, so he'll miss out on all of 2029 including our 2 remaining friendlies. Devastating for someone who was about to get a chance.

Goalkeeper Butler is injured in training.

I replace them with two uncapped central midfielders:

Jones (MC) - 26, Coventry, uncapped - I needed another defensive player and he's just completed a £15.75m move to Coventry after a good season at Chelsea.
Lea (MC / ST) - 22, Rangers, uncapped - Plays in midfield for club, but I want to see him up front.


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v Iran @ Wembley Stadium, London - 5/9/29

I took charge of Iran and enjoyed their best period since the Revolution, as I took them to the London Olympics, an Asian Cup final and 4 points at the World Cup (including a 3-1 win over current World and Euro champions Scotland).

0_KaebiJPG.jpg

They carried on reaching Asian Cup quarter-finals and World Cups after I left but, after hiring 108-cap legend (and my former player) Hosain Kaebi, they failed to even qualify for the 2026 World Cup or get out of the group stage of the 2027 Asian Cup. They're set to appear at 2030, though.

Kaebi's not the only former player I'm facing off against: I gave 34-year-old defender Fatemi his international debut at 18 in 2013. Today he'll make his 83rd appearance.

As well as good players, they present a new challenge in that they play a flat 3-5-2.

Tactics and Selection

--- 7 -- 9 ---
------ 8 ------
--- 4 --- 10 ---
11 ---------- 6
-- 2 -- 5 -- 3 --
------ 1 ------

1 - Zabek
3 - Burley
5 - Friar
2 - Huckle
6 - Melvin
11 - Casey
10 - Day
4 - Jones
8 - Stokes (c)
9 - Henry
7 - Lea

Zabek makes his full debut in goal so he can be tested.

It's important to keep the back 3 together, but James is injured. Huckle slots right in as another top, physically strong defender.

Day, Jones and my United winger Casey will make their debuts.

Despite many changes, Stokes stays in his position and hopefully he'll have a great game.

Lea makes his first appearance, while his strike partner will hope for his first England goal in his 6th game.

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(1st) England 4 - 1 Iran (56th)
Henry (22) - Foroutan (30)
Melvin (pen 55)
Stott (81)
Holt (90+2)

And score, he did.

It was actually a tougher game, with the last 2 goals only coming at the end. Possession was equal and shots pretty similar too. Iran gave us a good game.

Iran were the better team at the start, but still went behind, and my change to 3-4-3 / 5-2-3 hoof-ball gaves us more of the game. We scored from more open play this time, rather than long-rangers and rebounds.

Ratings

GK - Zabek - 7 - The whole defence was to blame for the goal.
DC - Burley - 8 (MOTM) - Despite an even poorer 'completed tackles' stat (2 in 7), he wins MOTM down to his assist and 16 interceptions.
DC - Friar - 7
Sub - Petty - 7
DC - Huckle - 8 - Most key passes (4).
RWB - Melvin - 7 - Poor in attack, good in defence, just as his attributes said. Scored a penalty.
Sub - Boardman - 7
LWB - Casey - 7 - The debutant assisted our opener before coming off at half-time, having already proved himself.
Sub - Hill - 8 - Got an assist.
MC - Day - 7 (6) - I give him a 6 or a harsh 5. No key passes and less than 50% tackle completion.
MC - Jones - 7 - Another debutant off in 45 minutes. That's a good thing.
Sub - Anderson - 8 - Brilliant performance, getting an assist too. In just 1.5 games, the 22-year-old looks to be in the squad. Hope Newcastle play him this season.
AM - Stokes (c) - 7 (5) - He's a 5 for me. Started in midfield before being pushed forward, but had a poor game: 5 in 14 passes, 4 in 14 headers, 1 in 3 shots, 4 fouls, and no goals or assists. Worrying.
ST - Henry - 7 - Opened the scoring, stropped when subbed.
Sub - Holt - 8 (7) - A nearly silent performance but pounced on a stoppage time goal. Still questions.
ST - Lea - 7 - Didn't pull the trigger early enough, did a bit better in midfield.
Sub (for Day) - Stott - 7 - As I suspected, his below-average physical game is compensated by his gumption and his ability to be at the right place at the right time. While Lea was quiet, Stott got a goal when he took his place.

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A crowd-pleasing start with the top players mostly performing as expected and already booking themselves a place on the plane*, but there is still many places to play for, with 1 friendly and a whole season to go...

*As we're hosts, there probably won't be a plane...
 

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