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[FM17] noikeee does the Dafuge Challenge: The Glassboys

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Hello and welcome to my FM17 Beta save. My original idea here was to mess around with a top team for a while until a good pack of additional leagues is out, because I want to do a true worldwide journeyman with lots of weird leagues from unusual nations. I even opened a thread on the Tactics forum about my short Beta save with Arsenal to pass the time meanwhile, but this is going to take weeks and weeks until that leagues pack is out... and all the bugs are corrected... and the game is proper polished...
 
Suddenly browsing the forum I had a better idea. I've never had much success in the lower leagues of UK&Ireland. In FM11 I took over Kettering - sacked. In FM16 I tried Berwick Rangers of the Scottish League 2 - resigned before getting sacked. Right next I went for Loughgall of Northern Ireland... sacked again. My only successes in UK&Ireland were a brief Premiership title with a tycoon-owned Spurs in FM12, and a couple of Scottish titles with Dundee Utd later on that same FM16 career. But lower league successes? Absolutely zero.
 
It's been a long standing ambition of mine to fix that, indeed I wanted to go through the English lower leagues in the journeyman I was going to start. And I want to "experience Brexit", which might make England surprisingly interesting. So... why wait for the extra leagues if I want to play in England? It's time for me to try the Dafuge Challenge for my first time.
 
Started a new game with the extra full ladders of Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Portugal, and the top tiers of Italy, Spain, Germany, France. Large database with full squads for the 3 divisions below the Conference North/South, as required. Holidayed to 24th of June 2017. Continued for another day and immediately found a satisfying team to take over without having to reload:
 
  • It's a relatively rare team, not one of the highest reputation eligible sides.
  • It's got a nice red-and-white strips kit, like my local club I used to play for. Or Olympiacos, Red Star Belgrade, Southampton.
  • It's based near a large city (Birmingham) which might help with youth in future seasons.
 
I am the new manager of Stourbridge FC. Also known as The Glassboys.

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Previous careers
 
 
First, a bit of nostalgia. I've been a member here for a while, and here's a little look at all my previous careers I've gone through in this forum.
 
 
Praiense, Kettering, Venezia, Dresden, Belenenses, Portugal U19s, Krylya Sovetov, Celta, Roma, Portugal
 
My original FMCU career and probably still my favourite, this was also the longest (22 seasons). A successful start in the Azores turned into a nightmare in England, and after about a decade of more ups and downs throughout Europe, success finally came in Spain with an Europa League trophy with Celta. But the end was the most satisfying, as I built an all-conquering Roma side on top of the incredible partnership of Bagayoko and Duval, winning back-to-back Champions Leagues, whilst also winning the World Cup with Portugal, held in Portugal.
 
 
Delémont, Westerlo, Torino, Real Madrid, Tottenham, Turkey, Ajax, Porto
 
Another 18-season saga. A short start in Switzerland led to an entertaining few seasons in Belgium, where I survived rumours of getting sacked to eventually taking Westerlo to the title. A brief stint with Torino led to a big job in Real Madrid, where I spent 463 million euros in a single season to revamp an aging squad. We became European champions but the pressure was too much and it remained the same in a tycoon-owned Spurs. I rediscovered some fun after going to Ajax, witnessing 4 seasons of relentless goalscoring by super-striker Volker Rahlfs, and my previous Spurs side knocking us out in a memorable Champions League semi-finals. A send-off season with favourite club Porto finished this with an Europa League trophy before crash dumps ruined this save.
 
 
3. [FM13] The Third Journey, by noikeee (November 2012 - December 2012)
Touggourt, Johor FC
 
An overly ambitious plan to start in the Algerian third tier led to only frustration for a long 4 seasons. Moving to Malaysia didn't help neither - horrendous football and finishing in the bottom half of the table somehow led to promotion under weird rules that I never figured out. I decided I didn't enjoy FM13 and went back to '12.
 
 
Torns IF, Independiente Rivadavia, Bastia
 
My FM12 return started on the Swedish 4th tier but soon we were all the way up to the top division. Regardless I abandonded Sweden after 6 years, and embarked on one of my most entertaining FM stints ever in Argentina. For another 6 years I constantly rebuilt the team with new youngsters as I kept on selling players under strict rules, taking Independiente Rivadavia from the 2nd tier to winning all possible competitions including the Club World Cup. A move to France wasn't as fun and I dropped it after 1 season.
 
 
Curicó Unido
 
I decided to give another chance to FM13 and started in Chile's 2nd division. This was starting to prove quite entertaining with a promotion on the 1st season and another good year next, but then computer problems and a fading interest in FM led me to stop playing for a while.
 
 
6. [FM14] Back once again for the renegade master (December 2013 - February 2014)
São João de Ver
 
Another short-lived adventure. I started in Portugal at the bottom again and whilst I managed to get promoted after 2 years, a difficult season in the 2nd tier and other interests beyond FM at the time led me to stop playing again.
 
 
7. [FM12] Trip to Nostalgia Lane (November 2014 - March 2015)
FC Eindhoven, Nacional da Madeira
 
I returned to FM and my most trusted version of the game again, but again didn't commit to it for long. I did play 8 seasons with FC Eindhoven under extremely strict rules for transfers and homegrown players, but having reached a ceiling in the Eredivisie, I turned back to Portugal only to decide to ditch this and move to FM15 after a single season.
 
 
Compostela, Kayserispor, Lyon
 
A slightly longer career lasting 13 seasons. The first 9 years were spent building up Compostela from the 3rd tier to La Liga, eventually breaking past what seemed like an impossible ceiling in Liga Adelante. But this suddenly exploded into success when I moved to Turkey, winning back-to-back titles with Kayserispor in 2 seasons packed full of goalscoring madness. Another 2 years with Lyon were much the same under Ballon d'Or winner striker Igor, but despite domestic domination we struggled to register as a force in Europe.
 
 
9. noikeee's FM16 Euro/LatinAmerican Journeyman (November 2015 - July 2016)
Berwick Rangers, Loughgall, Municipal Turrialba, Dolny Kubin, Austria Wien, Dundee Utd, Sampdoria, Sevilla
 
One of my longest as I fell just short of 20 seasons, but not as good a journeyman as the old FM11/FM12 days. This started wrong with disasters in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but I relaunched my career with an enjoyable few years in Costa Rica. My reputation was then made in Slovakia and Austria, but whilst I won the Austrian title, the peak of this career was a return to Scotland with a fun Dundee Utd side that eventually won the title as well. I finally moved to the top leagues but couldn't make things work in neither Italy or Spain, and decided I overall just didn't like FM16.
 
 
10. [FM15] noikeee goes East - A CSKA Sofia career(s?) (July 2016 - October 2016)
CSKA Sofia
 
Returning to FM15, this was my first career dedicated by design to a single club. Committed to a policy of only signing Eastern European players, the first few seasons proved remarkably difficult and I got sacked after 4 years. Regardless, I re-added myself as a new manager, and after another poor season, we bounced back with 5 consecutive Bulgarian titles, a Europa League semi-final, and a Champions League quarter-final. I moved on before acheiving the ultimate challenge of winning the Champions League, as FM17 came out.

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And now I'd like to talk about Stourbridge and actually start playing but it's taking forever and ever to fix all the logos and facepacks and kits and...

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I was loving this, until I got to the end of your list of teams that play in red and white :(

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6 minutes ago, dafuge said:

I was loving this, until I got to the end of your list of teams that play in red and white :(

Sunderland fan? Stoke?

Or just a Newcastle fan that got triggered? :D

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3 minutes ago, noikeee said:

Sunderland fan? Stoke?

Or just a Newcastle fan that got triggered? :D

Close, Portsmouth :D

Even managing PSV last year felt wrong.

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I keep on confusing Southampton with Sunderland, of course Sunderland are Newcastle's rivals not Southampton...

All those damn lookalike kits.

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Sunday, 25th of June 2017, Stourbridge, West Midlands, England
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
Welcome to the wonderful town of Stourbridge, a former centre of the glass making industry (hence "The Glassboys" nickname for the club), and to the War Memorial Athletic Ground:
 
 
6rylXgl.jpg
 
 

nAdjOCd.jpg

 
 
Founded in 1876, being a 140-year old club doesn't mean there's been 140 years of success. From what I worked out from reading the Wikipedia article on them, the National League North might well be the highest division they've ever been to. The list of honours for the club is extensive, including "Midland Alliance Champions", "Barclays Comm Services Cup Winners", "Birmingham League Champions", "Birmingham Combination Champions" and a hell of a lot of other trophies I've never heard about.
 
The weirdest of them all? Stourbridge made the 1974 Welsh Cup final. Yes, the actual Welsh Cup for Welsh clubs in Wales. Apparently random English clubs entered this competition in the distant past. Go figure.
 
As for what's the current status of this club at the moment? Heh, not brilliant. The stadium with capacity for 2000 people is in "very poor" condition. We have "basic corporate facilities", "poor training facilities", "basic youth facilities", "basic junior coaching" and "basic youth recruitment". This means the potential for improvement is huge, right? Right?
 
At least we have a positive balance of a whole 37.7K€! And a 35K€/month wage budget, of which we're paying 20,5K€. I've no idea how, because the vast majority of my squad are on non-contracts - is this the appearance fees summed up? We are semi-pro, something I believe I've only ever dealt with twice in my many previous careers (in Algeria and Northern Ireland), which means I think most of my players can just be snapped up at will by any time by any club. Oh, and all the good ones are wanted by like a dozen clubs.
 
 
 
 
Ie9MIdg.jpg
 
(Please notice the manager mug is bugged, I'm not supposed to be generic bald guy)
 
 
Squad
 

UhYSeP9.jpg

 
My wonderful squad! With all this writing and facepack-logopack-unzipping and all (and manually taking screenies with the PrtScr key - my screenshot shortcut isn't working, PLEASE LOOK AT MY BUG REPORT NOW SI), I haven't even had a proper look at my squad yet. So let's find out who's the highest rated players then, finally:
 
Darryl Westlake (DR) - Holy crap, a FIVE STAR right-back. He wouldn't get into the reserves of the reserves of my former CSKA Sofia side, but seems a downright spectacular fullback for this level. Weirdly there's no clubs interested. The scouts at this level must be utter idiots I guess.
 
Gradi Milenge (DC) - A quality, well rounded 20 year old centre-back with some potential. By quality we mean "very well-suited to Regional Premier Divs football", woops. (does this mean all of our players are utter crap compared to the opposition?). And is "inconsistent". Wanted by Harrogate, Hednesford, Hungerford, Boston Utd and Tamworth.
 
Wilfried Gnahore (MC / AMRLC) - An Ivorian player. What? He's not quite Yaya Touré but can spot a pass and pass it. Also has potential. And inconsistency.
 
Charles-Anthony Weston-Hayles (ST) - Bloody hell, that's a long name. I guess this is where our goals will come from. Exceptionally quick, exceptional dribbler, exceptional finisher, exceptional header, and is just 19. That looks wonderful, I guess the problem is consistency again.
 
 
 
Goals
 
Don't lose all of my good players, hire some better ones, and don't get sacked just yet?

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3 minutes ago, noikeee said:
The weirdest of them all? Stourbridge made the 1974 Welsh Cup final. Yes, the actual Welsh Cup for Welsh clubs in Wales. Apparently random English clubs entered this competition in the distant past. Go figure.

Crazy stuff, I mean you'd never get Welsh ... oh.

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9 minutes ago, dafuge said:

Crazy stuff, I mean you'd never get Welsh ... oh.

I get Cardiff, Swansea and the likes in the English football ladder. It's a much higher level of competition they can prove themselves in. I don't get a 7th tier English side playing in the Welsh Cup.

Though I just had a look at the map and I understand a little better now. They're not that far from Wales. I guess nearby clubs were invited.

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Brilliant, FM just crashed at the end of the first friendly. Lost everything I'd done. Sigh.

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Stourbridge are my local club so I'll be keeping an eye on this, good luck!

The War Memorial Athletic Ground isn't the biggest or best but it's a very picturesque ground. They share it with Stourbridge Cricket Club so it's a pretty interesting set up.

It is pretty rare to see them go up in FM which is a bit strange as they are one of the best supported clubs in the Northern Premier League so should be near the top of the reputation list IMO.

They've also done remarkably well in the FA Cup in the past six or seven years, reaching the first round on a number of occasions (including this season).

A lot of West Midlands clubs used to enter the Welsh Cup although that hasn't happened for a long time. Let's not forget that the team that dominates the Welsh Premier (The New Saints) is actually in England!

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Ah, a dafuge! Let's hope you go one better than I did in FM16 - I only managed to win the EPL before losing interest!

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Gnahore could play in L1/Championship a couple of FMs back, he's a very good player. Should be class at that level.

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3 hours ago, King Costly said:

Stourbridge are my local club so I'll be keeping an eye on this, good luck!

The War Memorial Athletic Ground isn't the biggest or best but it's a very picturesque ground. They share it with Stourbridge Cricket Club so it's a pretty interesting set up.

It is pretty rare to see them go up in FM which is a bit strange as they are one of the best supported clubs in the Northern Premier League so should be near the top of the reputation list IMO.

They've also done remarkably well in the FA Cup in the past six or seven years, reaching the first round on a number of occasions (including this season).

A lot of West Midlands clubs used to enter the Welsh Cup although that hasn't happened for a long time. Let's not forget that the team that dominates the Welsh Premier (The New Saints) is actually in England!

I think Stourbridge's reputation might've been slightly upgraded, as in the Dafuge Challenge thread someone reloaded a ton of saves and they came up quite a few times.

I've heard of TNS but had no idea they were from England, I thought they'd be from like Cardiff or something. :D

Great to see a local fan here, I hope I won't ruin your club too much. :D

3 hours ago, deltablue said:

Bit of trivia for you, Stourbridge has the shortest railway line in the country.

That's probably the least interesting random fact I've ever heard! :D

2 hours ago, Lenzar said:

Ah, a dafuge! Let's hope you go one better than I did in FM16 - I only managed to win the EPL before losing interest!

That's like... 95% of the job done. Weird time to lose interest!

39 minutes ago, MichaelBrown said:

Gnahore could play in L1/Championship a couple of FMs back, he's a very good player. Should be class at that level.

He's been doing great in pre-season. He's more of a playmaker type but I fit him into the starting 11 for now as an inside forward, and he's scored an absolute screamer to the top corner after dribbling past 2 defenders. Looked like Eden Hazard or something. Which was all the most outstanding given that most of our football (and our opponents as well) has been absolutely dismal so far!

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2017/2018 - Pre-season transfers - Stourbridge
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
I was going to make a "Summer transfer window update" but... there's no transfer windows at this level. Let's take a look at all of our transfer activity up to the beginning of August, regardless:
 
PtlUxwZ.jpg
 
First, the bad news. We were unable to hold on to a couple of players, most notably our superb right-back Darryl Westlake who was on a non-contract. In a weird interaction, he complained he wanted to leave, after much chatting I agreed to let him go whenever a bid of 0€ came in (lol), then he was automatically released by the club. What? I've filled a bug report. Other notable players to leave: centre-back Josh Urquhart, winger Luke Pritchard and midfielder Jake Heath.
 
But I also attacked the transfer market and brought in no less than 12 players, in a frantic attempt to try to improve the squad despite having zero knowledge of English football.
 
 
Key signings
 
Tom Eckersley (DRC, DM) - We had a serious lack of a centre-back partner for Gradi Milenge and this lad that came in from FC United, particularly good in the air, appears to be the best fit. See also the screenie for 18 year old Joel Bonner afterwards - there's little between them.
 
Calum Sturgess (DL) - Having lost Westlake, I struggled to find an equally class attacking right-back, but to be honest it'd fit my tactical setup better an attacking left-back - which is what we found in 18 year old Calum Sturgess, formerly of Palace. Can run, can cross, can tackle, is intelligent, and hopefully can improve a lot at this age. I'll take that.
 
Carl Kennedy (MC) - First out of two standout signings for the box-to-box midfielder position. "Standout" might be a strange word to describe Carl Kennedy who is good at everything and exceptional at nothing. I'm guessing attributes at 7/8/9 are pretty good for this level.
 
Greg Tempest (MLC) - My final signing (so far...) fits in the team in the exact same position as Kennedy, but I couldn't pass him up after being very well recommended by my scouts.
 
 
 
Other signings
 
 
 
 
Pre-season
 
4nl95kV.jpg
 
I don't intend to mention friendlies often as on the long-term they're irrelevant, but since this is season 1 and I'm building my first tactical system it's worth a quick word on them. I've went for a counter-attacking lopsided 4-1-4-1 with the ML moved to AML as inside forward (Wilfred Gnahore). I've been getting some really good vibes from it so far. The friendlies went very well, although most were against lower league opposition, with only 2 defeats, against Bolton (the difference in level between us REALLY shown), and a slightly unlucky one vs Barnet.
 
The first competitive match was highly promising - 3-0 away win at Stockport with a superb performance, a brace by Weston-Hayles and a freekick goal by Ryan Auger. This bodes well for our performance in the National North this season, but this is extremely early...
 
Will report back mid-season at the end of December.

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2017/2018 - Mid-season update - Stourbridge
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
Transfers
 
 
Not much happened on the transfer market since the last update, as I decided to stick to my players instead of constantly hiring. The only transfer was backup defender Lewis Probert being snapped up by Poole.
 
 
FA Cup
 
hiYITQy.jpg
 
This wasn't great. We hosted Gainsborough who are in the same league as us, but we were utterly confused by their narrow 4-3-3 formation and they beat us deservedly 0-2, knocking us out of the cup at the first attempt.
 
 
 
FA Trophy
 
KtIYriC.jpg
 
The trip to Alfreton made for a satisfying 0-0 draw where we successfully negated their attack for 120 minutes. The replay however, was a disaster. Their forward Liam Hearn was on crazy form scoring a poker, in our heaviest defeat of the season yet, and in a match that uncharacteristically ended 10 men vs 10 men. Unfortunately there's no cup runs this year.
 
 
 
National League North
 
 
sCjJMwU.jpg
 
 
This is where we've had all the excitement. A sensational start to the season saw us begin with 3 wins in a row, and we even only conceded our first goal by matchday 6. We led the table, but this defeat to Boston started a run of inconsistency, from which we recovered momentarily, but worsened around November/early December when we fell off the playoff positions. However throughout late December we embarked on an excellent run of form again, Weston-Hayles on sublime form scoring 6 in 4 matches, and we have just climbed up to 3rd again.
 
 
Gw5yrvU.jpg
 
 
 
 
Summary
 
This has been a surprisingly successful season, as my counter-attacking setup is proving able to nullify most sides at this level, although not consistently. I also feel this works better when teams try to attack us, and not so much when they park the bus against us, which is entirely what I'd expect from such a cagey setup anyway. Nevertheless, with a pre-season prediction of 21st place, I'm very happy with 3rd. If we can make the playoffs it would be a fantastic first season.
 
My only major concern is finances. We've been leaking money all season at a spectacular rate, and are just only in the black again thanks to a 95K€ cash injection from the board. For now I'll just keep on doing what I'm doing, but will watch out to see if this is a recurring problem. Another concern is how dependent we've been on Weston-Hayles' goals (he's our top scorer on 15, the next top scorer is on 2!!!), if he gets injured we might struggle.

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2017/2018 - Youth intake - Stourbridge
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
 
ZWzVSw1.jpg
 
 
Surprisingly, not completely poo.
 
 
Marvin Middleton (AMRC, ST) - I see a pretty good poacher in here. This is the player I'm most excited about (vaguely, but still).
 
Ashley Flynn (AMR) - There's pace in here and little else.
 
Tristan McCarthy (GK) - Good physicals but little else, and with high eccentricity.
 
Michael Hazelwood (DL) - Not sure I follow my staff's decent rating of him, I think he's pretty poor.

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On 22/10/2016 at 01:24, noikeee said:
 
Welcome to the wonderful town of Stourbridge...
 
 

 

You've never been to Stourbridge then Noikeee.

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8 minutes ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

You've never been to Stourbridge then Noikeee.

I haven't, but that sentence was with more than a hint of irony. ;) 

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17 minutes ago, BoxToBox said:

Good early season form, hopefully you at least keep a playoff place.

I'm afraid our form in the 2nd half of the season hasn't been anywhere near good enough to keep up at that level.

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2017/2018 - End of season update - Stourbridge
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
Transfers
 
 
There were three extra reinforcements. Meanwhile, wingers Gavin Rothery and Brian Smikle left us.
 
Oliver Roberts (MC) - This lad looked excellent on paper and I tried him as playmaker but eventually Jacob Evans regained the place.
 
Chris Sutherland (M/AMR) - Pacey winger that ended up not adding much.
 
Ashley Worsfold (M/AMR, ST) - Played even less, this striker was a bit of a failed signing.
 
 
 
 
National League North
 
 
yiDoN1X.jpg
 
 
We hit trouble at the beginning of January with two 0-1 defeats. It was some kind of premonition to what would happen in the remaining of the season. We did still then embark on a little run of 6 undefeated matches (although, only 2 of those were wins), but then from mid-February onwards things got bleaker and bleaker as we only won one more match, against Macclesfield who were actually top of the table then. We stopped being able to keep clean sheets and this accumulated into a lot of defeats. We slowly dropped out of contention of the playoffs and finished the season a midtable 12th.
 
 
sde6EAs.jpg
 
 
 
Summary
 
Well, I'd have taken 12th at the beginning of the season, but can't help but be very concerned at how bad this 2nd half of the season was compared to the first. Honestly it's not a huge surprise that our form declined, as we were playing a very one-dimentional counter-attacking game that relied almost exclusively on the opposition giving us space, but it was still a bit shocking how much the results worsened.

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2017/2018 - Season review - Stourbridge
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
Tactics
 
HBL2Rmk.jpg
 
We played this counterattacking 4-1-4-1 most of the season. As I've explained, it was just too one-dimensional as essentially it exploited Weston-Hayles' pace and did little else. What I believe happened as the season went on, is that as opponents started rating us higher, not only did they gave us less space for Weston-Hayles to run into, as they started playing against us in lower mentalities they started being able to break us down more consistently. The result is that we had less space to attack and the opposition also attacked us better.
 
There were two other gameplans, a 4-4-1-1 with Gnahore as AMC, and a 4-4-2 which just didn't work. I think as long as we play into Weston-Hayles we have a serious problem as he's too good for us not to use him, but he's also not very suited to a lone striker system. To top it off, we didn't have any pace at the back if we wanted to play a higher line (which would've suited a more aggressive 4-4-2 to fit him in better). I'm considering switching to 3-5-2 for next season as we're about to lose Gnahore who won't renew his contract.
 
 
 
Finances
 
 
Dismal, consistently losing cash. Early in the season the board bailed us out with a 95K€ cash injection, which momentarily put us back in the black, but we're down to -133K€ balance now again.
 
 
 
Player statistics
 
J5PAhw1.jpg
 
 
 
Starting eleven
 
GK: Dan Wallis (19, ENG) - 45 apps, 12 clean sheets, 6.86AR (New signing)
This kid impressed me early on and I trusted him, but as the season went on he started giving me some serious doubts.
 
DL: Louis Moss (25, BRB) - 14 apps, 1 goal, 1 assist, 7.11AR
He had surprisingly won the left-back position when he broke his foot in December, and only came back at the very end. Other players in this position were nowhere near his standard. By the way, he's an international for Barbados!
 
DC: Gradi Milenge (21, ENG) - 42(1) apps, 2 goals, 1 assist, 7.05AR
One of my better players, I trusted him much more than all other centre-backs, but his form tanked like everyone else's in the 2nd half of the season.
 
DC: Joel Bonner (19, ENG) - 34(3) apps, 2 goals, 6.91AR (New signing)
I struggled to appoint a partner to Milenge on the centre of defence, Tom Eckersley was supposed to be the solution here but I found him a liability and stuck with this kid instead, who didn't impress.
 
DR: Ryan Auger (23, ENG) - 38 apps, 2 goals, 6.89AR (New signing)
A serious problem position as I wasn't happy with Ryan's performances at all but the other alternatives were worse.
 
DM: Lloyd Kerry (30, ENG) - 35(3) apps, 2 goals, 2 assists, 7.04AR (New signing)
This versatile veteran grabbed the DM position pretty decisively, and although at the end his performances dipped like everyone else's, I think he's been one of my better players.
 
MC: Jacob Evans (20, ENG) - 33(11) apps, 2 goals, 2 assists, 6.97AR
A mid-season loan signing of Oliver Roberts seriously threatened his position, but I felt Jacob was just that little bit better. I could've done with more assists as he has the passing skills to get them.
 
MC: Greg Tempest (24, ENG) - 27(12) apps, 4 goals, 2 assists, 6.87AR (New signing)
The box-to-box midfielder position was originally Carl Kennedy's, but as Carl picked up an injury I promoted Greg, and he'd stay there. Greg's ratings are slightly lower but I felt he was slightly more important. Nevertheless, not a great season by either of them.
 
MR: Daniel Emerton (26, ENG) - 41(2) apps, 1 goal, 11 assists, 7.04AR
An old-school winger is quite a misfit in this system, with a lone dwarf upfront. However Daniel was too good for me not to play him, and he was probably the one player whose 2nd half of the season was better than the 1st, as the bulk of all of those assists came then.
 
AML: Wilfred Gnahore (22, CIV) - 39(3) apps, 4 goals, 8 assists, 6.92AR
I'm slightly disappointed with his contribution, even if by the end his assists number was alright, and he was our 2nd top scorer on par with Tempest. Ultimately the inside forward role wasn't a perfect fit, and I did try him slightly further back as ML, or in the middle as MC/AMC, but it was just better for the team to have him there. I would've liked him to stay but his contract is running out and he wants to go.
 
ST: Charles-Anthony Weston-Hayles (20, ENG) - 44(1) apps, 23 goals, 3 assists, 7.09AR (Player of the season)
A blessing and a curse. With 23 goals he became the National League North top scorer, but he also became a tactical problem that made us too predictable as he was, essentially, plan A, B, and C. Just look at the difference in goals to the next top scorer.
 
 
 
Top prospects
 
None really. The youth intake was alright but to call any of them "prospects" might be a stretch.
 
 
 
 
Career progress table
 
Season   League                  Cups                              Europe                         Other
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
16/17    National North - 12th   FA Cup 2ndQRnd, FA Tphy 3rdQRnd   (n/a)

 

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ZuwMuaq.jpg

 

Not good news. We're nowhere near packing the stadium, don't have the money to expand it, yet in 1 year's time we'll have to because it's the rules. Minimum stadium capacity is 3000, we have place for 2000.

I guess it'll stay in place for the future though.

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good stuff so far, maybe some friendlies in pre-season to raise some cash?

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2018/2019 - Pre-season transfers - Stourbridge
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
Watch out, it's another massive squad revolution. I suspect this is going to be a common occurence:
 
ln5nEm5.jpg
 
Of the outgoing players, the most notable are midfielder/inside forward Wilfred Gnahore, and goalkeeper Dan Wallis, both of whom were key figures of our starting 11 last year. However I don't think I'll particularly miss them, as I brought in 14 new faces, committing to a formation change into a 3-5-2 (as I explained in a little more detail in the Tactics Forum).
 
 
Key signings
 
Jean-Yves Koué (DC, DM) - An extraordinary centre-back for this level, imperial in the air, he is perhaps my favourite signing of all. Unfortunately strained his knee ligaments in pre-season and should return only in September.
 
Marcus Beauchamp (GK) - When Dan Wallis was surprisingly poached, I didn't have a replacement goalie lined up but eventually found quite an upgrade in this loanee. However I'm not entirely convinced by his pre-season performances, watch out for the other goalie we signed in Charlie Andrew who might grab the place.
 
Tom Molyneux (DM, MC) - Defensive midfelder wasn't a priority position to reinforce as we were doing well there with Lloyd Kerry, but I'll take a solid upgrade like this.
 
Adam Boyes (ML, ST) - I was missing a striker partner for Weston-Hayes to make the 3-5-2 work, and in Adam Boyes we found almost the perfect fit. Looks a very exciting signing now after he scored a poker in a pre-season friendly!
 
 
 
Other signings
 
 
 
Pre-season
 
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A pre-season of two halves. We narrowly lost all the matches against the big teams that were set up for us to gain a little bit of cash (and a surprise defeat to lowly Carlton where we were unlucky); then we beat a bunch of minnows pretty damn convincingly, with the highlight being the mammoth 8-0 win over Welsh side Berriew.
 
Obviously I can't take many conclusions from a bunch of matches in which every single opponent was either much stronger or much weaker than us, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm a bit excited about this side right now. The 3-5-2 is playing out like I expected, and my squad has been heavily improved. I honestly want to be properly in contention for the top places in the league this season.
Edited by noikeee

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Will be interesting to see how your new formation works out, especially in the lower reaches of English football.

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54 minutes ago, DB08 said:

Will be interesting to see how your new formation works out, especially in the lower reaches of English football.

I might've stayed up until stupid hours to play the first 5 league matches. If I'd done so, I'd say the first signs are very positive...

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On 26 October 2016 at 09:29, noikeee said:

I might've stayed up until stupid hours to play the first 5 league matches. If I'd done so, I'd say the first signs are very positive...

That's good news, or it would be if you'd stayed up to play those games ;)

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18 hours ago, Torminator said:

I'll be following this! Last your threads through the years!

I think something got messed up on that sentence, but thanks. :D

53 minutes ago, facman said:

That's good news, or it would be if you'd stayed up to play those games ;)

And if I'd played even more I'd say there's even more good news!

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2018/2019 - Mid-season update - Stourbridge
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
Transfers
 
 
Two starters of last season moved on, after being pushed out by other players: Greg Tempest was released on a free after becoming the 6th choice(!) midfielder, and right-back Ryan Auger was poached by Wingate & Finchley.
 
Not long afterwards, we had to make a signing:
 
Joe Doyle (D/WBR, DM, MRC) - Due to a massive injury crisis to wingbacks (Ryan Higgins' season is over after damaging his cruciate ligaments, Ryan Wilson broke his leg and will only return later in the season, and Daniel Emerton also was out for 2 months although he's back now), I was forced to make this emergency signing. Unfortunately I'm not impressed so far.
 
 
 
FA Cup
 
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We started our FA Cup participation against Spennymoor who are from a lower league. We scored twice before them, but it wasn't the most convincing win ever. Nevertheless we qualified to face Bradford PA, where an early goal frustratingly was enough to end our cup run rather early. I was hoping for a big tie against a Premier League side or something...
 
 
 
FA Trophy
 
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In the FA Trophy we also started against a lower league team - Dereham - and again won unconvincingly as they took us to extra-time when finally they capitulated. The next draw was far from easy as AFC Telford are one of the top sides in our division, but we had an inspired Adam Boyes in our side, scoring an early goal in the first match, and then on the replay 4 days later scoring a brace.
 
It is now quite likely that our run ends next, as we play Tranmere Rovers away, and they're a league above us.
 
 
 
National League North
 
 
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Despite an unimpressive 1-1 draw at home to Salford to kick off the season, we were soon in stellar form, much like last year. 4 consecutive clean sheets and a satisfying 4-0 win away at Guiseley put us in the top places. We did then get into momentary wobbly form with two narrow defeats, but then went on an absolutely excellent run of 7 wins in a row to go top of the league.
 
A large part of this early season quality form had been based on solid defense, but this was starting to go downhill as we might've been winning, but we stopped being able to get clean sheets. Against Kettering, not only our run of wins ended, we also conceded more than 1 goal for the first time this season. Nevertheless we survived this, and further lost points against Alfreton and Southport, to still remain top of the table, and recovered at the end of December with another two wins to put us in a truly excellent position.
 
 
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Summary
 
An excellent 1st half of the season puts us in a great position to fight for promotion, and quite possibly automatic promotion if we can keep up this form. I'm still a little wary, as last year we went wildly off-form past this point, and we're having a huge injury crisis with wingbacks who are such a key position in my new 3-5-2 formation, but I'm confident this can be a big breakthrough season for the club. We definitely feel much stronger than last year.
Edited by noikeee

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Great work to be top o the table! Hopefully you can get that title.

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14 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Certainly a lovely position to ring in the new year from.

 

13 hours ago, JHFM said:

Great work to be top o the table! Hopefully you can get that title.

 

13 hours ago, King Costly said:

Great start and fantastic defensive record!

Thanks everyone!

3 hours ago, facman said:

Good luck against Tranmere, the 2nd greatest team from Liverpool ;)

Everton hater or Liverpool FC hater? :D

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Kdlrvwo.jpg

 

Bit of an overly fancy announcement from a player who's on a non-contract...

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45 minutes ago, noikeee said:

I wonder who's my best player...

0RqkjAo.jpg

Hmmm... I know it's not Charles-Anthony Weston-Hayles... but who could it be? ;) 

 

Nice save so far, just read it in one go- I'm doing this challenge with Dulwich Hamlet (I'm only in November 2017 but I'm progressing fast- it's going really well!)

Edited by oohlala111

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1 hour ago, noikeee said:

Kdlrvwo.jpg

 

Bit of an overly fancy announcement from a player who's on a non-contract...

I remember him being at Bradford Park Avenue in 2014, scored me many goals in non league.

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Superb first half of the season. The new formation is definitely working well. :thup:

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