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[FM17] noikeee does the Dafuge Challenge: The Glassboys

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20 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Took it to the very edge, but took it! Well done!

 

19 hours ago, hasdgfas said:

Great work! Always a huge step in the process of a save like this.

 

3 hours ago, Jupjamie said:

Football League here you come! 

Thanks!!

 

 

3 hours ago, pheelf said:

Well done!!...I think that your career so far has been like a stack of dominoes poised to fall but you just weren't able to topple the first one to start off the chain. Now with your promotion and turning pro I can see you making progress very quickly....good luck in League 2

 

Wait, "turning pro"? That didn't even cross my mind. That's automatic when you reach League 2?

 

1 hour ago, Rikulec said:

I've just read through the thread, it's really inspiring to see someone pull through a tough period and carry on despite being on the verge of giving up and then achieve more success than ever. This is already a great story, and I feel there's much more to come.

Dunno, usually when I start going somewhere it's also when I get bored and go struggle in something else instead. :D

 

 

32 minutes ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Great stuff Noikeee. Aldershot well and truly blew it.

It's all the sweeter when the AI chokes in your favour. Reminds you of how random this game is - it CAN be pretty goddamn brutal, but it goes both ways.

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1 minute ago, noikeee said:

Wait, "turning pro"? That didn't even cross my mind. That's automatic when you reach League 2?

It is, to play league football in England it's a requirement to be a Pro club.

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2026/2027 - End of season update - Stourbridge
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
Transfers
 
 
The last few months of the transfer window were more about getting rid of unwanted players than anything else - off went wingers Drey Wright (ha ha, Wrexham actually paid 40K€ for him, idiots) and Roger Rowthorn, left-back Diego Caballo and striker James-John Mitchell. The only signing was this lad who didn't feature much:
 
 
 
FA Trophy
 
E0mR9H8.jpg
 
I decided to be completely disinterested in this competition to avoid last season's effect of tired legs being felt in the league, but my backups just wouldn't stop actually winning matches and progressing into new rounds - we beat both Folkestone and Dulwich Hamlet to get into the quarter-finals aka 4th round. Axel Prohouly was getting his scoring boots back on and just about took it to a replay with a 89th minute equaliser vs Maidstone, and in that replay it was finally over as we lost 0-1 at home.
 
 
 
National League
 
1q7LQE8.jpg
 
You may notice a seesaw pattern in the first couple of months of 2027 - defeat-win-defeat-win-defeat-win. Consistency went out of the window, and so went our league position, as we slowly faded from 2nd to 6th... dangerously just outside of the playoffs, by the end of February, after the loss to Newport Co.
 
I reckoned this would be yet another season of just-about-failure, but then, our players got possessed. Remember that I wrote above, that Axel Prohouly was getting his scoring boots back on? Just notice this - he was on 3 goals by midseason. Yet he finished as our top scorer!!!! (15 goals on all competitions). We got lucky that we had a bunch of easy matches on a row, and then I figured out yet more tactical stuff, AND Prohouly - and Barlaser on the other wing too - decided to enter freakish form mode. It was a sensational run of 9 wins in 10 - only briefly interrupted by a home draw with Boston Utd - to take us top with 3 matches to go, and which culminated in the massive demolition of Dorchester, 5-1.
 
The rest you guys already know. Sudden defeat to Halifax, and woops, Aldershot top of the table to our expense. Who the hell are Aldershot and how did they make it this far? Turns out they were also on an incredible run of 11 undefeated matches... Nevermind, we had the chance to play no other than Aldershot themselves in the penultimate match, a golden opportunity to overtake them back... which we blew with a goalless draw, despite playing most of the match against 10 men. We went into the finale hoping for a miracle, and the miracle happened as Aldershot spectacularly choked, losing at home 0-3, whilst our away draw with Flyde just about gave us the title and promotion on goal difference. STOURBRIDGE ARE VANARAMA NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!
 
d5SaOo8.jpg
 
 
 
Summary
 
Well this was great and unexpected - my goal was to put in a promotion charge and make the playoffs, but I didn't really think we had the ability to actually finish 1st. Turns out we did. It is, indeed, a massive breakthrough for the club, and a fantastic way to celebrate my landmark as I finish a full decade in charge of Stourbridge!! We're finally moving forward pretty rapidly, which is fantastic for all we've gone through, and a huge relief.
 
I am however slightly concerned for the immediate future. We're a bit crap for Vanarama champions - we've got the worst points total out of all the teams that won this league for the past decade. This doesn't bode well for our ability to survive in League 2 next year, although when only 2 teams out of 24 go down, you don't need to be that good. But the issue is also financial - we are "insecure" with a worrying negative balance and lots of players with big promotion wage rise clauses, AND the board barely increased the wage budget at all for next year. I remind you all that as it stands, we have one of the lowest wage bills in this division, so I'm not so sure how am I going to pay League 2 standard players... and do we need to upgrade our stadium?

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2026/2027 - Season review - Stourbridge
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
Tactics
 
IF7JsYr.jpg
 
If you're a good observer, you might find something slightly different. As if we didn't have enough fancy roles already, I introduced a roaming playmaker later this season. The reason is we get cornered in our area pretty easily with such a deep formation on Fluid - which is why in most matches I now switch to control mentality -, and against sides that press us up high, the RPM is great at exploiting the space just behind those high up midfields, running with the ball himself rather than pinging passes away from this zone immediately. However, the judge is still out on whether this is a good idea to keep as a permanent setting.
 
A very interesting development was also a new alternate plan specifically devised against narrow formations. This came as a result of a match where we faced a narrow 4-3-3 and were getting hammered, I switched some stuff and the turnaround effect in our favour was so dramatic I saved the tactic. It essentially involves pushing up Daniel Barlaser on the right to a AMR position on winger/attack role, going Structured/More Expressive, and checking "Clear Ball to Flanks" - to relieve the wingers out of any defensive responsibilities, and exploit the space behind the opposition fullbacks. To compensate, the left-back goes to FB/D, creating a nice 4-man block, together with the centre-backs and the half-back, to mark the 3 strikers; and the striker goes to DLF/S to pull apart defenders and create even more space for our wingers. Please play narrow 4-3-3s against us, we love it now. This plan was a big reason why Prohouly's and Barlaser's numbers improved so spectacularly late in the year.
 
 
 
Finances
 
 
I am a very irresponsible manager who loves burning money and living on board "investments".
 
 
 
Player statistics
 
cifWwkn.jpg
 
 
 
Starting eleven
 
GK: James Milner (23, ENG) - 50 apps, 20 clean sheets, 6.91AR
I am an absolute idiot - why on earth did I promise to sell him at the end of the season, if his contract is now running out? We're going to miss James pretty badly, whose spectacular saves were a huge reason why we had by far the best defensive record in the league. It's not as if we're going to face better sides now or anything...
 
DL: Dan Roeder (21, ENG) - 31 apps, 4 assists, 7.01AR (New signing)
A very good signing, on loan from Bury. From the top of my mind I don't recall any left-back with better performances for us in previous seasons, it's just been a systematically problematic position, but we sorted it this year.
 
DC: Ash Kigbu (28, NGA) - 38(1) apps, 2 goals, 1 assist, 7.09AR
This lad from Nigeria arrived midway through last season and didn't impress, but as I now often moved up to Control mentality I needed more pace from my defenders and wouldn't trust Nightingale/Lelan anymore as they're both over 30 years old now. Turn out I had a gem on the bench - this guy did great.
 
DC: Adie Ryan (25, ENG) - 40(5) apps, 1 goal, 7.02AR (New signing)
Hired as DM as he was only "competent" at centre-back, again, I needed pace at the back and he had lots of it. Wasn't quite as good as his partner though with a couple of noticeable mistakes. Nevertheless, everyone in my backline was good.
 
DR: Andy Cannon (31, ENG) - 46(2) apps, 1 goals, 6 assists, 7.32AR (Player of the season)
I'd like to file a protest against the league for not nominating him for the player of the season shortlist (Prohouly and Barlaser were our only players in it) - just absolutely ridiculous for a guy that was player of the match 11 different times, and had the best average ratings in the whole league. An absolutely superb inverted wingback, and now I don't know how will I replace him as he's getting older.
 
DM: Robert Jacobs (24, ENG) - 37(8) apps, 1 goal, 6.89AR
Actually regressed a little in ratings this season and is starting to look like the weakest link in our 11. There were signings for the place such as Adie Ryan (moved to CB), Tim Broxup, Flynn Downes, but none impressed and I didn't want to unsettle the team's balance by dropping Robert.
 
MC: David Brooks (29, ENG) - 42(9) apps, 5 goals, 3 assists, 7.00AR
It's a bit weird that he's still in the side all these years later, he's not that special yet just keeps on fending off all competition, and has now reinvented himself as roaming playmaker!
 
MC: Ben Flusfeder (23, ENG) - 40(5) apps, 9 goals, 3 assists, 7.03AR
I'm not sure why doesn't my staff rate him anymore, at 2 stars of CA, his ratings dropped slightly this season, but he continues to be one of my favourite players as one of the routine scorers in this side.
 
MR: Daniel Barlaser (30, ENG) - 35(7) apps, 5 goals, 12 assists, 7.15AR (New signing)
An absolutely fantastic signing! My right-wingers on support role don't tend to excel much, particularly when they don't have special pace, but Barlaser proved all of that wrong with loads of assists and excellent ratings overall.
 
AML: Axel Prohouly (29, FRA) - 38(6) apps, 15 goals, 8 assists, 7.09AR
Our French inside forward appears to have something against the first few months of the season, as again, we didn't do particularly well until February or so. In fact, he was pretty awful! I even dropped him for a while for Elliot Lee. But then, he transformed overnight into an agent of utter doom for our opponents, and still somehow ended as our top scorer again!
 
ST: Alberto Garmendia (24, SPA) - 23(9) apps, 14 goals, 6 assists, 7.02AR
After last season's disappointment, Alberto reinvented himself as a pretty damn good forward, capable of scoring goals at a decent rate. Indeed he still finished as our top scorer on the league (Prohouly beat him on all competitions). However he just got injured too often, and in one of those breaks teenager Conor Pemberton stole his place for the final few weeks of the season.
 
 
Top prospects
 
Conor Pemberton (AMC, ST) - 17(9) apps, 7 goals, 2 assists, 6.96AR (New signing)
This time we actually have a prospect, unfortunately it's Blackburn's, not ours. This kid has got a pretty damn good future as a very complete forward and I hope we can hold on to him. Very impressive for a 17 year old!!
 
 
Career progress table
 
Season   League                  Cups                              Europe                         Other
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
17/18    National North - 12th   FA Cup 2ndQRnd, FA Tphy 3rdQRnd   (n/a)
18/19    National North - 2nd    FA Cup 3rdQRnd, FA Tphy 2nd Rnd   (n/a)                          Promoted through playoffs
19/20    National League - 22nd  FA Cup 4thQRnd, FA Tphy 1st Rnd   (n/a)                          Relegated
20/21    National North - 11th   FA Cup 3rdQRnd, FA Tphy 1st Rnd   (n/a)
21/22    National North - 5th    FA Cup 4thQRnd, FA Tphy 1st Rnd   (n/a)                          Lost in playoff semi-final
22/23    National North - 7th    FA Cup 3rdQRnd, FA Tphy 1st Rnd   (n/a)             
23/24    National North - 4th    FA Cup 3rdQRnd, FA Tphy 2nd Rnd   (n/a)                          Promoted through playoffs
24/25    National League - 16th  FA Cup 4thQRnd, FA Tphy 2nd Rnd   (n/a)
25/26    National League - 9th   FA Cup 2nd Rnd, FA Tphy 1/4f      (n/a)
26/27    National League - 1st   FA Cup 4thQRnd, FA Tphy 1/4f      (n/a)                          Champions, promoted

 

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Excellent progress over the last three seasons. League Two is much easier in many ways and a safe mid table position shouldn't be too hard to achieve next season (at worst). You could even get into the playoffs with a bit of luck.

Edited by DB08

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7 hours ago, Ceching You Out said:

Well done! Bet you're glad now that you couldn't leave well enough alone :D.

I don't get it.. you mean I'm glad I didn't give up on the career? Well dunno. Now I still have 4 more leagues to climb, whilst if I had given up I'd be free to live my life. :(

 

7 minutes ago, DB08 said:

Excellent progress over the last three seasons. League Two is much easier in many ways and a safe mid table position shouldn't be too hard to achieve next season (at worst). You could even get into the playoffs with a bit of luck.

Woah woah there, slow down with the expectations. I just want to avoid the club melting down as it falls through a financial black hole, for now. If we can finish 22nd on goal difference I'll take it.

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1 hour ago, Lenzar said:

Congrats on the promotion!

Thanks, I'm scared shitless of the next level now. :D

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6 hours ago, noikeee said:

I don't get it.. you mean I'm glad I didn't give up on the career? Well dunno. Now I still have 4 more leagues to climb, whilst if I had given up I'd be free to live my life. :(

Exactly. And let's be honest, it's not like any of us "addicts" wouldn't simply find a different fix if we were freed from FM's allure :D. Plus it comes with a sense of accomplishment and working the ol' brain.

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I've always found the leap from the Conference National to League Two to be the hardest in the English football pyramid. Especially if you're semi-pro. If you're still semi pro, unless you have some exceptional players on part time deals, you basically need to sign an entirely new team. Good luck for the challenge Noikee. Like you I'd settle for not getting relegated and build a solid base of defensive players who can scrap and then look to the loan market for attacking talent.

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6 hours ago, Sudodoodo said:

I've always found the leap from the Conference National to League Two to be the hardest in the English football pyramid. Especially if you're semi-pro. If you're still semi pro, unless you have some exceptional players on part time deals, you basically need to sign an entirely new team. Good luck for the challenge Noikee. Like you I'd settle for not getting relegated and build a solid base of defensive players who can scrap and then look to the loan market for attacking talent.

Uh-oh.

I was indeed already thinking of going after some loans when possible - saves me money on wages. Loaning players isn't a great long-term strategy, but can be used to regroup for a while as I figure out who can perform at League 2 level and who can't.

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Some news. We're getting bigger!

alHtaY2.jpg

y56dKTZ.jpg

Ue4EMMU.jpg

ieCiLbW.jpg

 

Meanwhile, Aldershot had the last laugh. After Stockport poo'd on their party, they immediately knocked out Stockport in the playoffs, got promoted, and added the FA Trophy on top of it. We'll meet them next year again:

d9w0ug7.jpg

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I love the loan market when managing a team with limited finances. You can often get them in without contributing a single pound to the parent club, you don't have to pay them any bonuses, and they don't tend to moan as much as contracted players. And if they end up being good, you'll have a better chance of getting them when their contract is due. And if they end up being ****, no one really cares either. Perfect way to add squad depth at minimal cost.

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18 hours ago, Sudodoodo said:

I've always found the leap from the Conference National to League Two to be the hardest in the English football pyramid. Especially if you're semi-pro. If you're still semi pro, unless you have some exceptional players on part time deals, you basically need to sign an entirely new team. Good luck for the challenge Noikee. Like you I'd settle for not getting relegated and build a solid base of defensive players who can scrap and then look to the loan market for attacking talent.

I found League Two to League One to be much harder, at least last year. It shouldn't be that difficult to avoid relegation - you've only got to be better than two teams, and there's often a team that the AI has mismanaged.

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On 11/01/2017 at 07:51, Sudodoodo said:

I love the loan market when managing a team with limited finances. You can often get them in without contributing a single pound to the parent club, you don't have to pay them any bonuses, and they don't tend to moan as much as contracted players. And if they end up being good, you'll have a better chance of getting them when their contract is due. And if they end up being ****, no one really cares either. Perfect way to add squad depth at minimal cost.

I ended up loaning 2 more players (in addition to Roeder and Pemberton who were already with us on loan and continued), but I found the loan market a little limited as I tend to be quite specific with what kind of players I want.

 

On 11/01/2017 at 10:50, Lenzar said:

I found League Two to League One to be much harder, at least last year. It shouldn't be that difficult to avoid relegation - you've only got to be better than two teams, and there's often a team that the AI has mismanaged.

I probably won't do a proper update in the next couple of days as I've got some stuff to do, but I've played until the end of August and first impressions are that this is going to be a bit difficult. Currently 19th just above the relegation zone. We've hardly been massively outclassed but when it comes to playing around the box, converting chances, and creating better chances, the opposition has looked superior.

13 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

All's well in the end for Aldershot.

Aldershot will be an interesting sidestory for the season, I'm curious to see how they get on. But another team that's even more interesting is AFC Telford. They got promoted together with us from the National North to the National League a couple of years ago, but then they won back-to-back titles and went straight into League 2, whilst we had to wait for another couple of seasons until achieving the same. They remain in League 2 level, having narrowly avoided relegation last year, and now we meet again. It's the third different level in which we'll be playing them...

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2027/2028 - Pre-season transfers - Stourbridge
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
9 players arrive as we try to adapt our squad to the new division:
 
O0FdWOB.jpg
 
 
Key signings
 
Mark Taylor (DC, DM, MC) - It's not clear how will he fit my side, as he's a touch slower than I want my CBs to be, and he does not possess the technical ability to play higher up in my opinion, but he's now one of my best defenders. Already scored from a direct freekick!
 
Giorgos Kangelidis (DM, MC) - Midfield has been the area of my squad most heavily reinforced, I now have a massive surplus of midfielders. Kangelidis is class, I've been playing him as half-back but he could play in the MC line.
 
Ben Highfield (DM, M/AMC) - 19 at passing and 17 teamwork!! This teenager on loan from Swansea has some skills, he's been my CM/A so far with Hammond as RPM, and has looked good in the role, but they could yet switch.
 
Mike Hammond (MLC) - So far the least impressive out of this trio of classy midfielders whom I chucked them all onto the side, but is most definitely a very complete player.
 
Other signings
 
 
Gone are several players that were useful in the Conference but weren't starters anymore, so it didn't make sense to hold on to them at a higher level. Most notably Will Nightingale and Josh Lelan who were our starting centre-backs pairing just 2 years ago; or right-back Hakeem Odoffin who was once our best player outright. We also got money for striker Kieran Browne which was nice.
 
But the best news was the player we *didn't* sell, goalkeeper James Milner. After his contract ran out, he remained at the club in a rolling contract, and then my promise to sell him if Scunthorpe bid for him expired, so suddenly I was able to offer him a contract again, which he accepted. This whole interchange seems very mechanical and awkward, and isn't my favourite feature of the game, but what matters is that we can keep him, which may be crucial as he was brilliant at times for us last year.
 
 
 
Pre-season
 
 
2joKgTZ.jpg
 
 
I didn't exactly made it tough for us in pre-season and we breezed past a sequence of poor opponents, winning every match by at least 2 goals.
 
Then the real deal started. The club's first ever Football League match ended with a satisfactory 0-0 away draw at Swindon, and we again put in a great show in the League Cup, as we held Derby County - currently in the Championship - to a draw for 120 minutes until we succumbed on penalty kicks. Then things got a bit weird. We outplayed Doncaster only to lose 0-3, then went to Ebbsfleet and got completely annihilated all match long only to win 2-0. Heh?
 
Things started making more sense later, just not in a good way. Cheltenham were better than us and deserved to beat us. We led away at Hartlepool but they probably also deserved to turn that match around. This puts us 19th in the league at the end of August, as we are starting to really feel the much tougher level of opponents. To finish the month, we entered the EFL Trophy with a very unlucky 0-1 loss to Bristol City, something I can be proud of, as that was League 1 opposition. The other two teams in the group are Exeter and the Leicester Under 23s.
 
Overall I'm slightly concerned by this start but far from panic mode yet. I feel we're not good but we're also not quite as bad as the results are suggesting. We only really need to come 22nd anyway. Let's see what happens when I play a bit more and a clearer picture emerges.
Edited by noikeee

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Well, this is a name I wasn't expecting to come across this season in League 2...

oxydAmP.jpg

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1 hour ago, withnail316 said:

Tough start, but two or three wins and you'll shoot right up the table. 

That's exactly what happened. We won 2 matches and are up to 15th. :) 

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dwg1CGq.jpg

:cool:

Pemberton was also 2nd in the "player of the month" awards. Too bad neither of them are contracted permanently to our club...

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2027/2028 - Mid-season update - Stourbridge
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
Transfers
 
No transfers during this period, as we now have to respect transfer windows and were already beyond our wage budget.
 
 
EFL Trophy
 
1v00an2.jpg
 
or7bRHh.jpg
 
On this secondary cup, we did pretty poorly but it's not as if we put in a massive effort in it. After having been beaten by Bristol City in August, we also lost narrowly to Exeter and to the Leicester Under 23s, to finish dead last in the group with 0 points. The weird thing is that we were hardly outclassed in any of the 3 matches, but oh well, I'd rather be unlucky in here than in the other competitions.
 
 
FA Cup
 
Q1HKxqd.jpg
 
Now this has been exciting. We had looked good vs teams from higher divisions previously in the other cups, but vs Scunthorpe we actually beat a League 1 side! Pemberton's lone goal was enough. This put us vs Rochdale next and after nicking an away draw, we decided it in the replay at home through a player that has otherwise been a bit absent this season, but suddenly showed up with an unlikely hat-trick: winger Daniel Barlaser.
 
Our award for this performance is, not only reaching our best FA Cup run yet, but also what will be the first competitive match of my career vs a Premier League side, as we will travel to Leicester!
 
 
 
 
 
League Two
 
 
EY2aL1O.jpg
 
 
Also exciting. It now seems a bit strange, but back at the beginning of September a win over Burton with a lone Prohouly goal was a massive relief to put a gap over the relegation zone. It helped us for a while, as we went goalless for 3 matches and seemed to be sliding back again. Only for two 2-0 wins to give us a massive boost and propel us definitely from that zone of the table.
 
Against Exeter there was a momentary defeat but then we REALLY kicked on. Striker Conor Pemberton was finally out of his early season goal drought, and scored in the wacky 4-3 away win at Crewe, then got a brace against Blackpool, then there was a 3rd win in a row with a very late penalty kick over our old rivals from last season Aldershot. We were now on the brink of the playoff positions, and rather unbelievably actually entered them into 6th place after a 4th win in a row over Rochdale!!
 
The mood was euphoric but a pair of defeats brought us down back to earth, there was a momentary, very satisfying win over Shrewsbury who were high up, but we got beat again by Swindon, back down to 11th. With 3 remaining away matches to finish off the calendar year, I wasn't expecting much. Except we excelled vs both Doncaster and Port Vale with two great wins, and we were back to the playoffs! If that wasn't good enough, we went to leaders Portsmouth, and again, got a brilliant 2-0 win to head into 2028 in a barely believable 4th place.
 
 
TUH08hI.jpg
 
 
Summary
 
This has been so far, quite simply, the best season of my career. We had little ambitions other than avoiding relegation at all costs, yet find ourselves in the unlikely position of mixing it up in the promotion places. I'm not entirely sure if it can last, we're riding the wave of strong morale a bit, but we are playing good football. I believe now with about 5 seasons of perfecting my current system, I've learnt an enormous lot about how to tweak it vs different kinds of opponents and situations, and it's finally really paying off now.

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On 17/01/2017 at 05:30, Ceching You Out said:

Well done! A sigh of relief now that relegation is off the table.

Yeah we're definitely not going down. :D

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I'm afraid it's season over in January for one of our best players, Ben Highfield, who was having a wonderful season on loan from Swansea, as currently our 2nd top scorer from a midfield position (in fact he scored the opener in this match right before picking up the injury):

 

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7jF9FEA.jpg

 

:(

 

I think I won't terminate his loan, we're not paying him anything and there's a higher chance he'll renew his loan for next year then. Swansea would treat him better but we're selfish bastards.

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Wait, what?

 

ooFeWtp.jpg

 

They're 11th in Serie A.

I mean, I'm doing well in League 2, but this is bonkers. :idiot:

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Beyond the weirdness of having a James Milner in goal, he's looking very good for a league record. All he needs to do is keep 2 clean sheets (3 to surpass the current record) in any of the remaining 13 matches as we approach the end of the season:

 

dTAUMt5.jpg

 

This is not the kind of record I would've expected to be challenging for this season, but speaks volumes of how much I prioritize defence and how good my backline has been.

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2027/2028 - End of season update - Stourbridge
 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
Transfers
 
 
We brought in 3 players, although none of them have featured much. Giessing was supposed to be my new great IWB - I even paid some transfer fee cash for him - but Andy Cannon's still going strong and he didn't convince:
 
 
The great thing about this period was that I managed to get rid of backup centre-back Adie Ryan, who was being paid ridiculous wages after a couple clauses got activated with our promotion last year.
 
 
FA Cup
 
4B7lNmV.jpg
 
Our trip to Leicester ended in a rather predictable way. Although we conceded both goals before half-tine, and were completely outplayed, I was happy that we managed to leave the field of a Premier League side with only a 2-0 defeat, and we even managed to hit the woodwork once.
 
 
 
League Two
 
 
Vd7hTpN.jpg
 
 
It was a bit of a crappy beginning to January as we took two draws and a defeat, but we turned it around with a trio of wins including a massive hammering of Ebbsfleet. There was then another blip with a goalless draw vs Telford and a defeat to Forest Green, but we beat Yeovil and Mansfield to still remain comfortably 4th by mid-February - even well in the hunt for automatic promotion places, the top 3.
 
However things were starting to go wrong. We were now without Ben Higfield, injured for months, and our star striker Conor Pemberton had a mini goal-drought before getting injured himself for a few weeks. Without both of them, it was probably not a huge shock that we took a serious step back. We lost to Bristol Rovers (a wacky 0-3 defeat when the referee appointed 3 penalty kicks against us!) and Exeter, then drew 3 times in a row, and we were out of the playoff spots down to 8th. The bad run still wasn't over, though, and after losing to Rochdale and Crawley we dropped further to 11th.
 
It's not as if I would be unhappy with 11th this season, but after tasting the playoffs, I wanted to get there. It looked implausible now but we would stage a remarkable recovery.  A 3-1 win over dead last Accrington came in handy to stop the run, and then there was a goalless draw with Bury, but the big turning point was a 92nd minute winning goal by Pemberton over Grimsby. And we repeated that with another 90th minute winner over Portsmouth after they had fought back from a 2-0 lead for us. A 3rd win in a row over Shrewsbury pushed us back into playoff positions ahead of the final match. Which we won fairly easily, finishing the season in a rather great 6th place.
 
 
iZaN1Ko.jpg
 
 
 
Summary
 
A pretty fantastic season finishes with a position I thought impossible at the beginning, and the unlikely qualification for the playoffs. To be honest I'm not quite sure I want to get promoted just yet! I'm wary of progress this quick as I think we'd struggle in League 1. But we will still do our best to try to get the even more unlikely feat of back-to-back promotions: something I believe I have never achieved before in any FM!
Edited by noikeee

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2027/2028 League Two - playoff semi-finals, 1st leg
 
 
So here we are for the 1st leg of the playoff semi-finals, against Wayne Rooney's Yeovil! We line up with the same 11 that have given us wins in the last few weeks, Mike Hammond as CM/A under the (long) absence of Ben Highfield. Rooney's side lines up in a more adventurous 4-2-3-1 whilst we start from a more cautious point.
 
eITBJNW.jpg
 
 
 
 
This wasn't a very open match through the first half, but we looked the most dangerous side. Conor Pemberton hit the post, and then a little later took an hopeful shot from outside the area that got deflected and went in. We were winning 1-0 at half-time.
 
Yeovil started taking more risks and the game got more split after the break, we still looked the better side though, even if the possession stats were split. However, out of nowhere Mark Taylor committed a foul in the area and they equalised in the ensuing penalty kick. And then they scored again in a corner, to beat us, as we squandered a couple of chances in quick counters.
 
 
 
 
cQVlPmR.jpg
 
 
 
Feels frustrating to lose a game we deserved a bit more from, but it is what it is. We're in a bit of a difficult position into the 2nd leg and I don't really expect us to turn this around, but if we don't commit again the uncharacteristic mistakes we did in this match, we still have a chance.
Edited by noikeee

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2027/2028 League Two - playoff semi-finals, 2nd leg
 
Two changes as I drop Tim Broxup and Alberto Solís as I go through my whole team to check out who "doesn't enjoy big matches". Peter Preen comes in at MC, and Axel Prohouly at AML, straight from a long injury layoff.
 
rHX7vpp.jpg
 
 
 
 
The first half would be completely crazy. We conceded almost from the first kick, through a crossed ball; but almost immediately equalised in a lucky owngoal, also in a cross by Daniel Barlaser. A quick counter gave Yeovil their second still by 9 minute in a counter in which our defence looked unorganised, I started adjusting things, Pemberton equalised again in another Daniel Barlaser cross in the 19th minute. And just before half-time Pemberton made it 2-3, this time assisted by Axel Prohouly.
 
It was breathtaking football and although it never quite calmed down as it all continued on a hectic tone, the players started getting more and more tired, and there would be no more goals in 90 minutes. Or 120 despite the odd good chance or two for both sides. This was going to penalties.
 
 
Axel Prohouly for Stourbridge... 1-0!
Travis Frederick for Yeovil... 1-1!
Conor Pemberton for Stourbridge... 2-1!
Ezri Konsa for Yeovil... 2-2!
Andy Cannon for Stourbridge... 3-2!
Andy Cook for Yeovil... 3-3!
Daniel Barlaser for Stourbridge... 4-3!
Jack Young for Yeovil... saved by James Milner!! Stourbridge are one penalty kick away from the final!!
Ash Kigbu for Stourbridge... 5-3!! Stourbridge are through!
 
 
 
 
 
nmcEI4T.jpg
 
 
Well this was a bit unexpected. Fantastic match, fantastic result, and we're one match away from League 1. Surely that's a step too far? We will be facing Exeter in this upcoming exciting final.

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2027/2028 League Two - playoff final - 1st half
 
Welcome to the big League Two playoff final!! Stourbridge face a Exeter side who we have lost to 3 times in this season already, so this is not a great starting point. Another problem is two unexpected injuries to Daniel Barlaser and Axel Prohouly who had shone in the playoff semi-final, Axel takes an injection to allow him to take part. Midfielder Ben Highfield just about misses out on returning for the match, as I decide that on a 79% condition it's not worth it; centre-back Mark Taylor drops out of the side after 2 poor showings in both semi-final legs, in comes Singaporean international Peter Ng. Exeter lines up on a 4-2-3-1:
 
 
c1oZlE9.jpg
 
 
 
Well this has been a delightful first half here in Wembley in front of the 51764 spectators that came to watch us! Exeter is using a bizarre combination of a freakish high line and little pressure on our midfielders, and we're finding lots of space to play in dangerous through balls. One of them in the 9th minute found Axel Prohouly for the only goal so far - so it looks like it was a good decision to risk fielding the French inside forward despite his injury. 
 
 
 
3h2wA64.jpg
 
 
 
As the match progresses I have found Exeter going more aggressive, and we only have a single goal lead, so it's hardly job done here, but if the next 45 minutes go the same way, we have a pretty good chance of being in League One next year.

 

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2027/2028 League Two - playoff final - 2nd half
 
We continued to have enormous space to play through balls in, and missed two sitters. However, out of nowhere, their forward Jamie Granger scored a screamer from just outside the area and tied things, punishing us for being unable to settle the match. A little later their right-back Emilio Arroyo saw a 2nd yellow and they're now down to 10, but we've not improved noticeably despite having an extra man.
 
 
PgmqK24.jpg
 
 
Onto extra time...

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2027/2028 League Two - playoff final - extra-time
 
 
 
Well extra time was just ridiculous. Exeter were the first to nearly score, in a confusing corner, but then we missed yet another 3 sitters - Alberto Solís, Barry Webber and Colin Pemberton all messing it up alone vs their keeper. 7 clear cut chances for us in this match (to be fair Exeter too had 3), and just one goal. It goes to penalties...
 
 
 
 
 
Giorgos Kangelidis for Stourbridge... 1-0!
Donyell Malen for Exeter... saved by James Milner!!!
Conor Pemberton for Stourbridge... 2-0!
Erwin Koffi for Exeter... 2-1!
Andy Cannon for Stourbridge... 3-1!
Barry Williams-Cooke for Exeter... 3-2!
Ash Kigbu for Stourbridge... 4-2!
Mukhtar Ali for Exeter... 4-3!
Barry Webber for Stourbridge... 5-3!! STOURBRIDGE ARE PROMOTED TO LEAGUE ONE!!
 
 
 
aUR4K2c.jpg
 
4PVmL2o.jpg
 
 
Incredible end to the season!! I thought we had fluffed it after missing sooo many chances throughout the match, but we won another penalty shootout to climb a 2nd division in 2 years. We will be massive, massive underdogs next year, but I doubt anyone at the club is caring too much about that at the moment, it's party time!

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Fantastic performance! Next year will definitely be a big fight, but I have no doubt you'll put up a good one.

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Congratulations on back-to-back promotions, good luck in League 1. :thup:

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On 1/10/2017 at 14:37, DB08 said:

Excellent progress over the last three seasons. League Two is much easier in many ways and a safe mid table position shouldn't be too hard to achieve next season (at worst). You could even get into the playoffs with a bit of luck.

 

On 1/10/2017 at 14:51, noikeee said:

Woah woah there, slow down with the expectations. I just want to avoid the club melting down as it falls through a financial black hole, for now. If we can finish 22nd on goal difference I'll take it.

Told you. :brock:

 

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I've got a Mansfield Town regen save thats going in a similar fashion, jumping three leagues in five seasons.  And I have no idea what the heck I am doing at least half the time.   Excellent work, looking forward to the next season.

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16 hours ago, hasdgfas said:

Fantastic performance! Next year will definitely be a big fight, but I have no doubt you'll put up a good one.

 

16 hours ago, Ceching You Out said:

Well done! The impressive turnaround continues.

 

11 hours ago, Rikulec said:

Congratulations on back-to-back promotions, good luck in League 1. :thup:

 

Thanks! I'm **** scared of League 1 now. :D

 

 

7 hours ago, DB08 said:

 

Told you. :brock:

 

 

I did think of you earlier when we started reaching the playoff spots. :D Nostradamus-esque, well done.

 

2 hours ago, Jellico73 said:

I've got a Mansfield Town regen save thats going in a similar fashion, jumping three leagues in five seasons.  And I have no idea what the heck I am doing at least half the time.   Excellent work, looking forward to the next season.

In my game world, Mansfield have rather boringly spent the last entire decade in League 2 midtable. They're definitely in need of a manager like you.

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2027/2028 - Season review - Stourbridge

 
MnI1egY.jpg
 
 
Tactics
 
8Eb4RED.jpg
 
I've pretty much stuck to the same base of last year, although I'm deviating pretty heavily from the base every match as I react to things. I was going to write a pretty in-depth guide to this in the tactics forum but I'm lazy and it doesn't always work anyway.
 
 
 
Finances
 
 
A massive solidarity payment suddenly cleared up the balance, but we're still ranked as "insecure". I suspect we're in trouble for next season as I didn't expect to go up and a lot of players have lucrative promotion wage rise clauses. And we might need to upgrade our stadium again?
 
 
 
Player statistics
 
mOlyxtZ.jpg
 
 
 
Starting eleven
 
GK: James Milner (25, ENG) - 56 apps, 22 clean sheets, 6.86AR
A case of average rating not quite reflecting his ability? James took the step up in divisions magnificently, setting a new club record for most clean sheets (would've been a new League 2 record too, if not for Cheltenham's keeper getting one more). Still rated by my staff as one of our finest players, I tend to agree.
 
DL: Dan Roeder (22, ENG) - 45(2) apps, 4 assists, 6.96AR
Now on his 2nd season for the club, he helped us finish 6 positions above Bury who loaned him to us - huh, thanks? Stepped up well to League 2 but I don't think he's one of the strongest players in the team.
 
DC: Ash Kigbu (29, NGA) - 46(1) apps, 1 assist, 7.09AR
Despite fierce competition between 3 excellent centre-backs, Ash Kigbu remained on the side and matched the same superb ratings he had achieved in the National League last season. To think that 2 years ago I had him sitting unused on the bench...
 
DC: Mark Taylor (24, ENG) - 40(1) apps, 4 goals, 7.03AR (New signing)
Mark distinguished himself as a goalscoring centre-back with 3 wonderful direct freekick goals, and another headed in, but I wonder whether that inflated his ratings - overall, the Singaporean international Perry Ng, another new signing for this season, just about finished the year with slightly higher ratings and I think he might've well been the most reliable option. But Perry could also be inconsistent, fluctuating between superb days and mediocre showings.
 
DR: Andy Cannon (32, ENG) - 49(1) apps, 2 goals, 8 assists, 7.18AR
Good old Andy continued to be an undroppable name in the side, with another superb season, and this was despite the fact I hired Lukas Giessing mid-season as a long-term replacement for his specialized IWB role. The Danish player did not convince and Andy was just too good to move out, however he's getting older and slower now, and we're also moving up to tougher levels.
 
DM: Giorgos Kangelidis (27, ENG) - 37(7) apps, 1 goal, 2 assists, 6.80AR (New signing)
A very disappointing signing, I had huge hopes for him but he just never got going. I ended up rotating him with Robert Jacobs who had slightly better ratings, but trusted Giorgos' skills more despite it not translating very clearly on the pitch.
 
MC: Tim Broxup (24, ENG) - 36(13) apps, 1 goal, 1 assist, 6.94AR
A bit of a surprise, the RPM slot was meant to be given to new signing Mike Hammond, but Mike disappointed too (although he did get a lot more assists). So in comes Tim Broxup who was 2nd choice last year but now a starter despite tougher competition.
 
MC: Ben Highfield (19, ENG) - 29(1) apps, 8 goals, 4 assists, 7.15AR (New signing)
The teenager on loan from Swansea with sublime passing skills was truly, absolutely sensational during the first half of the year as the most advanced of our midfielders - proving a reliable scorer. Then he got injured in January and only became available for the playoff final.
 
MR: Daniel Barlaser (31, ENG) - 31(7) apps, 5 goals, 3 assists, 7.04AR
He's getting older, slower, and clearly also felt the step-up in level - the assists dried up pretty dramatically. Still right about retained a first team slot ahead of Isaac Welch, and did well in the playoffs, but I don't think he's up to the task in League 1 next year.
 
AML: Alberto Solís (30, SPA) - 38(10) apps, 11 goals, 10 assists, 7.04AR (New signing)
I didn't think much of him at the beginning of the season, other than seeing him as a new rotation player to give some competition to Axel Prohouly here for the spot, but he surprised me by claiming the AML position with healthy goal and assist numbers, whilst rarely dazzling.
 
ST: Conor Pemberton (18, ENG) - 45(3) apps, 21 goals, 7 assists, 7.32AR (Player of the season)
Blackburn's teenage gem proved the engine for our promotion to League 1, providing the biggest share of our goals, and settling himself as one of the division's greatest stars this season with superb ratings. He did have 2 short periods of goal droughts, and got injured for a while too, but overall was clearly our best player this year. Called up already to England U20s.
 
 
Top prospects
 
Peter Preen (M/AMC) (20, WAL) - 11(11) apps, 1 goal, 1 assists, 6.85AR
The former Man Utd youth player is yet to fully establish himself in our lineup, even with plenty of chances in midfield this season as Ben Highfield got injured, but is now the highest valued player in my squad.
 
Barry Webber (AML, ST) (19, WAL) - 9(20) apps, 1 goal, 1 assists, 6.69AR (New signing)
If the other Swansea loanee, Ben Highfield, proved a remarkable success, Barry was miles away from it. Is still a player with a bit of potential but clearly didn't shine on the pitch, neither upfront neither on the wing.
 
 
Career progress table
 
Season   League                  Cups                              Europe                         Other
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
17/18    National North - 12th   FA Cup 2ndQRnd, FA Tphy 3rdQRnd       
18/19    National North - 2nd    FA Cup 3rdQRnd, FA Tphy 2nd Rnd                                  Promoted through playoffs
19/20    National League - 22nd  FA Cup 4thQRnd, FA Tphy 1st Rnd                                  Relegated
20/21    National North - 11th   FA Cup 3rdQRnd, FA Tphy 1st Rnd   
21/22    National North - 5th    FA Cup 4thQRnd, FA Tphy 1st Rnd                                  Lost in playoff semi-final
22/23    National North - 7th    FA Cup 3rdQRnd, FA Tphy 1st Rnd                   
23/24    National North - 4th    FA Cup 3rdQRnd, FA Tphy 2nd Rnd                                  Promoted through playoffs
24/25    National League - 16th  FA Cup 4thQRnd, FA Tphy 2nd Rnd       
25/26    National League - 9th   FA Cup 2nd Rnd, FA Tphy 1/4f           
26/27    National League - 1st   FA Cup 4thQRnd, FA Tphy 1/4f                                     Champions, promoted
27/28    League 2 - 6th          FA Cup 3rd Rnd, Lg Cup 1st Rnd, Lg Tphy groups                   Promoted through playoffs

 

Edited by noikeee

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I'm not sure how big of a breakthrough this is, but should help. I'm starting to now see a few Portuguese players in the unattached players list thanks to my nationality:

 

h4XHbLa.jpg

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8 minutes ago, noikeee said:

I'm not sure how big of a breakthrough this is, but should help. I'm starting to now see a few Portuguese players in the unattached players list thanks to my nationality:

 

For me, it was huge.  I had a German scout and was able to revamp my Dline with a bunch of German FA's who were better than anything I could get as an FA in England.  And a 4 Star Swiss Goalkeep.  They've been instrumental in keeping me out of relegation this year.  

I still can't get the press to call my defense 'Festung Mansfield' though.  Long memories I suppose....

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9 hours ago, noikeee said:

 I did think of you earlier when we started reaching the playoff spots. :D Nostradamus-esque, well done.

It was based on past experience really.

On FM11, I won the Conference play offs (after coming 4th) with Wimbledon and followed it up by winning League Two.

On FM13, I came 2nd and got Luton up through the playoffs and then lost in the playoff final after coming 7th.

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Trucking along nicely! Hopefully you can pick up the odd Portuguese gem to help you in League 1.

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10 hours ago, Jellico73 said:

For me, it was huge.  I had a German scout and was able to revamp my Dline with a bunch of German FA's who were better than anything I could get as an FA in England.  And a 4 Star Swiss Goalkeep.  They've been instrumental in keeping me out of relegation this year.  

I still can't get the press to call my defense 'Festung Mansfield' though.  Long memories I suppose....

 

4 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Trucking along nicely! Hopefully you can pick up the odd Portuguese gem to help you in League 1.

Well so far it's not helped much, I did scout a few Germans and Portuguese, but I'm now near the end of the transfer window and haven't hired a single player from outside those released by UK clubs...

 

4 hours ago, DB08 said:

It was based on past experience really.

On FM11, I won the Conference play offs (after coming 4th) with Wimbledon and followed it up by winning League Two.

On FM13, I came 2nd and got Luton up through the playoffs and then lost in the playoff final after coming 7th.

I didn't know what to expect, I've played FM for many years but very rarely on the English lower leagues - and when I've done, the results haven't been great. Got sacked with Kettering on League 2 back in FM11 and I don't think I've gone back since to England below the Premiership. Got similar results in both Scotland and Northern Irish lower leagues in FM16, too. :lol:

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