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Jogo Bonito

The English Football League Thread - EFL in FM17

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@smplfc123 Best of luck for the new season with Crawley, it looks like a good and cheap squad overhaul and I'll be interested to see who shines for you.

I'm trundling along with Wimbledon and might get a few more matches in later if I'm lucky. Still more than 10 games left in the first season.

 

Edited by Jogo Bonito

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@Jogo Bonito I hope you manage to get those games in!

I'm a week in to September so I thought I'd give an update on how things have started. Here are the results so far:

Barnet H - 2-1 - Boldewijn, Roberts
Oxford A (LC) - 2-0 - Dawson x2

Stevenage A - 5-2 - Adams, Roberts x2, Collins x2
Southend H - 1-2 - Mcnerney
Mansfield A - 1-1 - Allassani
Leciester A (LC) - 1-1 - Collins (Lost 4-2 on pens)
Tranmere A - 1-0 - Sowe
Northampton H (CT) - 0-1
Bristol Rovers H - 3-2 - Collins x2, Boldewijn
Carlisle H - 2-2 - Collins, Watt

So as you can see, we've got off to a decent start.

4 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss sees us sit nicely in 3rd place in League 2 with 14 points from 7 games. It's a fantastic start considering how many new players I've had to gel in to the squad. I'm not getting ahead of myself, it's only 7 games and the aim is still to beat the 19th placed finish and points total from last season.

We did excellent in the League Cup, with a brilliant display away to oxford and Leicester before losing the lottery of penalties at the king power.

The checkatrade hasn't started too well, but I did throw a very mixed team out for that one.

My wide players and strikers are doing well. Hoping I can keep this good start up for a while.




 

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Been struggling to get into a file on this years FM since December, finally found one thanks to this thread.

 

Holidayed for a season and picked up Plymouth in league 2, they'd missed out on the play offs on GD so something to aim for this season, had a ridiculous transfer budget of £2 million which I spent most of, will update at the end of the season

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After trying to get a save with Barnet going and failing I decided to start a game with Oxford instead, I've always liked the badge lol and the way they have played over the last few years.

Oxford_United_FC_logo_svg.png

Looking through the squad they had a decent team to start with but I felt I still needed to add a few quality players to the mix, mainly on loan or on a free as I feel in L1 you don't need to spend loads of cash. The main area of the team that needed help imo was the centre halfs, they had a few decent ones but all lacked pace which is needed in any division so I managed to get a few quality ones in. Stephens from Southampton on loan turned out to be my main man at the back all season.

 

I also looked at could my strikers score enough goals and within a few games in pre season I decided I needed some quality upfront aswell and I managed to get Mousette from Bournemouth who turned out to be amazing and to think he once cost them £6.5m and I had him on a free loan :) 

 

Cups

Carabao Cup

Carabao Cup.jpg

 

Oxford United_  Senior Fixtures-4.png

I'll start first with the cups and in the Carabao Cup we had an amazing run managing to reach the Quarter finals and we nearly took Tottenham to extra time at that stage only for an unreal goal from the edge of the box in the last few minutes denying us. However we managed some great wins along the way beating Arsenal and Stoke so it turned out to be a brilliant competition for us and totally unexpected.

 

Checkatrade Trophy

checkatrade-trophy-8x6549-3226136_613x460.jpg

 

Oxford United_  Senior Fixtures-5.png

Like the Carabao Cup we had a great run managing to firstly do well in the group stage only losing to West Ham's u23s after I decided to rest a few players for important league games coming up. However as fate would have it we met again in the knock out stages of the competition and although I played a strong team, they just had too much quality for us in the end and we couldn't go any further.

 

FA Cup

Fa Cup logo.png

Oxford United_  Senior Fixtures-3.png

In the FA Cup we did well, we had some luck through the early rounds which saw us get to the 4th round quite easily, unfortunately we came up against another premier league side in another cup competition and although we pushed Newcastle far we just couldn't hold on for a replay and again went out but like the Carabao Cup, we got a lot further than I thought we would so can be proud of ourselves.

 

Fixtures

Oxford United_  Senior Fixtures.png

 

Oxford United_  Senior Fixtures-2.png

 

Well What a season it was I was hopeful with the squad I had and adding the right additions that we could push for a play off place at best as League 1 has a lot of strong teams in the division with former Premier League Champions Blackburn who I thought would run away with the title but how wrong I was.

 

We started brilliantly and all in all were never out of the top 6 all season and eventually putting a strong run of results together seen us not only finish well within the top 6 but pushed us to automatic promotion and within only 1 point of winning the title.

 

Final League Table

Sky Bet League One_ Overview Profile.png

 

 

 

Squad

Oxford United_ Players Players.png

 

Oxford United_ Players Players-2.png

 

 

Going forward I do think i'll need to improve the side quite a lot to cope with a campaign in the championship and again will probably look to a few loan signings to give us strength in the spine of the side. However with a nice £3.8m budget if I need to spend then I know I can do.

 

Edited by Chewy2006

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Will do a full update at the end of the season.

Half way through February and we sit in 4th place on 59 points, 7 points off top spot and 6 points clear of the final play off spot.

Massively exceeding expectations and seemingly over our mid table dip where we went 8 games without a win in the league.

Aaron Kuhl, George Green, Charlie Oliver, Dominik Smekal and Lee Evans have all been brought in on frees to bolster the squad, with Kaby being sold to Plymouth for £20k with just 6 months left on his contract.

Hopefully I can keep this form up and cement a play off finish which would be awesome considering expectations.

James Collins is a must buy for anyone in the lower leagues. The striker netted 21 times last season and is already on 19 this season with 12 games to go.

Come on Crawley!



 

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7 hours ago, smplfc123 said:

Will do a full update at the end of the season.

Half way through February and we sit in 4th place on 59 points, 7 points off top spot and 6 points clear of the final play off spot.

Massively exceeding expectations and seemingly over our mid table dip where we went 8 games without a win in the league.

Aaron Kuhl, George Green, Charlie Oliver, Dominik Smekal and Lee Evans have all been brought in on frees to bolster the squad, with Kaby being sold to Plymouth for £20k with just 6 months left on his contract.

Hopefully I can keep this form up and cement a play off finish which would be awesome considering expectations.

James Collins is a must buy for anyone in the lower leagues. The striker netted 21 times last season and is already on 19 this season with 12 games to go.

Come on Crawley!



 

Great stuff and good luck. James Collins is a regular scorer, and doing well for you. Rhys Healey would be another consistent marksman if available, and Lee Evans is a really good signing at that level. I always try and get him in L1/L2.

I just finished season 1 with Wimbledon tonight. In 5th place going in to the last game at home to Oldham, a play-off spot was mine to lose. Lyle Taylor smashed home his 27th goal of the season (23 in League 1) to put us 1-0 up after 52 minutes, but we let them level 10 minutes later and it ended 1-1. I thought that would be enough to finish in the top six, but checked the table and we finished 7th, losing out on that crucial last slot by just one goal on GD.  

 

Edited by Jogo Bonito

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That must be absolutely gutting for you @Jogo Bonito. Loving the resurgence of this thread at the moment, keep it up as I'm enjoying seeing your saves! Currently into a save in Iceland at the moment but I may join in the fun before FM18 launch, you lot are tempting me. :p

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IMG_5257.thumb.JPG.5f881d3f426e1b676f7483d2aadd912b.JPG

Wow! What a finish to the season. 19 games unbeaten, with 15 wins and 4 draws propelling me in to 2nd spot and promotion to League 1. I took over the club in Dec 16 in the relegation zone, so I'm proud of what I've managed to do in this season.

I'm going to stick by the core of this group in league 1. James Collins and Ali Sowe both hit double figures upfront, Lelan and Tanser were brilliant at full back and Boldewijn was sensational at setting up chances. The midfield 3 rotated well and were brilliant at controlling the games at that level. Josh Yowerth, the CB, won player of the season for the club again and forged a brilliant partnership with Connolly. I'll be needing to bring in about 6/7 players over the summer to strengthen the squad and replace the fringe players that are being released.

I'm releasing:

Mersin, Whitbread, Harold, Allassani, Hines, Watt, Kuhl, Bawling and Arthur.

I play a few varieties of 4-3-3 and here's the squad i'll be taking up with me:

Gk - Morris

Rb - Lelan
Cb - Yowerth, Mcnerny
Cb - Connolly, Oliver
Lb - Tanser

Bwm - Smith, Eastmond
Dlp - Evans, Dawson
Bbm - Adams

Amr - Boldewijn
Aml - Green, Roberts

St - Collins, Sowe

I'm giving all of these the chance to prove themselves in League 1. I do need to bring in depth at RB, LB, BBM, AMR and ST. The only first team player i'll definitely be searching for is at GK. I may also bring in 1 or 2 more to just add some extra depth to the squad.

We've got £119k and £13k available in the transfer and wage budgets respectively, so hopefully I can use that wisely to make sure I meet my aim of keeping Crawley in League 1. I have been loosely linked with the Charlton job, but i'll be turning down any approach unless it's from a team in the championship or above.

Wish me luck.
 

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Extremely into my save so forgot to do an update at the end of the season :lol: half way through the second season but I will update later tonight - going very well so far 

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Thanks guys, yeah it was disappointing to lose my chance like that but we weren't quite good enough and drew too many games, so it was ironic it ended that way.

I'm getting ready for pre-season and have released a few older players (Robinson and Bulman), and so far sold Barcham and Poleon (I quite like him but he left in real life so £300k was too good to turn down). I've extended the loans of right back Tennai Watson, winger Jack Harrison and ex-Dons academy striker Daniel Agyei as all three had done well for me since I signed them on loan in the winter window. I've added another goalkeeper (Rene Gilmartin on a free from Watford) to provide competition in goal, and I've also signed striker Ricky Miller on a free transfer after his Dover contract expired. I think he's a bit of an idiot, but he has scored well at Vanarama level and he's the kind of player that would have fitted in to the old Crazy Gang ethos. I'm looking to make a few more sales of fringe players, and hopefully can recruit another left-back, a right-sided central defender and possibly one more central midfielder. I like operating with smaller squads so any more new players will possibly depend on who else exits the club.

@smplfc123 That's a fantastic season at Crawley, congratulations. I hope you build them in to a decent League 1 team and get the players in that you're after. All the best.

@Catley94 That's nice to hear, and it will be good to read about your progress.

 

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Plymouth Argyle

 

          So after struggling to find a file I’ve wanted to stick with for more than 2 seasons for a long time I’ve ended up at Plymouth Argyle. I went on holiday for the first season to see what happened to teams as I find the first season is very repetitive (especially when you attempt as many saves as I have). Plymouth sparked my interest as I haven’t done a League 2 file since around FM14, and they missed out on promotion due to goal difference.

 First job was to sort out the squad, to my surprise they had a fairly big budget of around £2 million, and the standard of players I could attract was also fairly high.

image.thumb.png.103b408d9afd9e2060506878b394b1e6.png

 

I was extremely happy with the signing of Dominic Samuel, the previous season he managed 12 goals in the championship on loan at Ipswich – was hoping for big things from him. As a Norwich fan myself, I was also happy to bring in Toffolo and Maddison, with the aim to get Maddison permanently down the line. Some loans were brought in just to cover in case of horrific injuries or congested fixture, where other free’s were brought in to tutor some particularly good regens for Plymouth. All in all it was a good window for the first season, with the majority of these players most likely staying with me for a few more seasons.

 

With the additions we made, our media prediction was 1st, along with the boards expectation for us to win the league – this could be a quick save…

 

image.thumb.png.08e94e4173118c4d071ef1be42557cbe.png

 

Thankfully it wasn’t. We went top of the league after GW2 and never looked back, ran away with the league which was a massive relief after all the high profile singings we got in the summer. Started to slip away towards the end of the season but I tried to bring in the younger players as the league was already in our hands by mid-march pretty much. As well as the league, we swept up the main awards, with Samuel bagging 30 league goals and player of the season, whilst Mbabu and Toffolo topped the highest rating charts.

Cups weren’t our forte this season, which wasn’t too much of a worry since our main goal was the league. Knocked out of the FA cup and EFL cup in the second rounds was around what was expected for our side, our best run came in the Checkertrade trophy where we managed to reach the quarter finals, only to be knocked out by Arsenal’s U23’s.

 

Apart from this the season was fairly normal, no crazy long injuries and nothing too out of the ordinary. Apart from the youth intakes…

I don’t know what my HoYD is drinking but he has managed to find 2 worldies in the 2 seasons he’s been at the club. Meet Michael Jackson and Matthew Pryce!

 

image.thumb.png.244323a044df58f2ebf5a615a153f59b.png

Michael Jackson was here at the club when I first joined and I wish I had a screenshot of what he was like because he has come on leaps and bounds since I’ve been in charge. He didn’t seem anything special which is why I took it on myself as a project to see how far I could get him to go, spoiler alert in the current season I have been fending off bids from premier league clubs – he looks nothing like the player when I first had him.

 

image.thumb.png.32621837493f54e9fbe25a85bcecadf7.png

Matthew Pryce is also another unbelievable talent, already good enough for the first team I struggled to keep a hold of him in the summer after this season. Every premier league club came in with bids, the highest reaching £4.9 mill upfront from Liverpool, it looked like he was going to go. The board even accepted a measly £2 mill bid from Southampton but I stated I would leave my post if they didn’t reject the offer, to my amazement they did! Since then he has signed theoretically an 8 year deal, so those premier league clubs will have to wait. As with MJ, he is developing so fast in the current season I am in, hopefully I’ll be able to survive the transfer windows as well as I did in the summer.

 

That’s my update for the first season, I am currently in December of the second season so hopefully will be done with the second season soon!

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Hi, I am back with another Hartlepool Utd save, this time I restarted it so I am back in League Two. So far I only managed to play three friendlies before going to work, won all of them and I'm looking forward to start the season and hopefully learn more about tactics too.

Meanwhile I am looking at some loans but players don't want to join, any ideas if it's possible to convince them to join before deadline? I need some players badly, especially in key positions in my tactic and I identified some (Connor Roberts from Swansea and Greg Olley from Hull for example), but they keep rejecting me. 

 

@Catley94 Your pictures do not work for me, mate.

Edited by Armistice

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2 hours ago, nightwalker22 said:

Hi, I am back with another Hartlepool Utd save, this time I restarted it so I am back in League Two. So far I only managed to play three friendlies before going to work, won all of them and I'm looking forward to start the season and hopefully learn more about tactics too.

Meanwhile I am looking at some loans but players don't want to join, any ideas if it's possible to convince them to join before deadline? I need some players badly, especially in key positions in my tactic and I identified some (Connor Roberts from Swansea and Greg Olley from Hull for example), but they keep rejecting me. 

 

@Catley94 Your pictures do not work for me, mate.

Some suggestions:

DR:

Jamie Sterry of Newcastle

Jonjoe Kenny of Everton

RM:

Harry Charsley (Everton)

Sterling (Tottenham)

 

In addition, do you have a parent club in the PL or Championship?

 

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@Catley94 Well done on the promotion, unfortunately I can't see your images either.

@nightwalker22 Good luck with Hartlepool. You could also try Darcy Blake as a potential right-back, he might be tempted?

I've just started season 2 with AFC Wimbledon. I haven't spent a penny in my time there yet, but have considerably improved the squad, For this term, I renewed three loans from last season, although unfortunately had to terminate one of those after two impressive performances as he suffered a six month injury. I haven't yet replaced him but would like to do so if the right player becomes available as he was a major part of our attacking threat. I also snapped up four players on free transfers and acquired a very good new loanee for my defence. I've raised another £300k in player sales and as I'm also keeping a very tight wage budget we have almost £1m in the bank, with about £250k in transfer funds and a decent amount left in the wage budget after releasing quite a few.

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4 hours ago, inthisspace said:

Some suggestions:

DR:

Jamie Sterry of Newcastle

Jonjoe Kenny of Everton

RM:

Harry Charsley (Everton)

Sterling (Tottenham)

 

In addition, do you have a parent club in the PL or Championship?

 

I don't have any parent club, usually the board rejects my requests so I haven't asked them about this.

 

Extremely unlucky with the RBs, @Jogo Bonito's suggestion asks for massive wages (250k) so I cannot afford him and Sterry joined Exeter instead of us, and Kenny is not available for loan. I guess I'll have to stick with old Magnay then.

Edited by Armistice

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3 hours ago, nightwalker22 said:

I don't have any parent club, usually the board rejects my requests so I haven't asked them about this.

 

Extremely unlucky with the RBs, @Jogo Bonito's suggestion asks for massive wages (250k) so I cannot afford him and Sterry joined Exeter instead of us, and Kenny is not available for loan. I guess I'll have to stick with old Magnay then.

Kenny became available on loan later into the transfer window in my game, so it might be worth the wait. May I suggest a younger but more defensive free transfer in Will Packwood ? He is a CB by trade but does have some pace and crossing ability.

Actually, Everton has a number of good players to loan. Walsh and Dowell are the two which I have been continuously loaning up to my current season in the championship. 

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I've found it so much harder recruiting for League 1 than I did for League 2!

My aim is to survive this season. The board aren't expecting survival, just a fight, so being 18th after 9 games and on 9 points is a decent start. a 5-0 home win against Bolton to kick off the season was a bit of a false dawn. I promised the players who got me up I'd give them a chance and I have, choosing to strengthen the depth instead of the first team, however the difference in quality is showing in a lot of games. My 2 main signings coming on free's were Mitch Hancox at LB and Jayson Leutwiler in goals.

Hoping I can just dig in for this season and survive!

UPDATE:

I decided to adopt a more defensive approach and have come up with 3 massive wins on the bounce. 

First a 2-0 away win at 6th placed MK Dons, then a 2-1 home win over struggling Forest and then an amazing performace in a 1-0 win away at league leaders Sheff Utd!

Now up to 10th position on 18 points.
 

Edited by smplfc123

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@smplfc123 Nice going mate, you're doing well!

Things have started very well for me in season 2 at AFC Wimbledon. 

After winger Jack Harrison was ruled out for six months in his second appearance of the season, I had no option but to cancel his loan and send him back to New York. I tried desperately hard to find a like-for-like replacement but couldn't get the player I wanted, and although youngster David Fitzpatrick did ok for me, I really felt I needed something better on the left wing. It's not what I wanted ideally, but in the end I decided to bring in Graham Carey to play that side (there isn't any room for a central attacking midfielder in my formation). I also snapped up Lloyd Isgrove with 20 minutes of the window left, as he can provide an option on both flanks and, like Carey, should fit in with our style of play. I'm very happy with the squad strengthening this summer, which is summarised below...

59c59d2370ade_Transfers2.1.thumb.png.d44a3e78627c015f045197466fff0941.png

So, without spending any money at all, I think this looks like a strong 24-man squad for League 1. I'll be genuinely disappointed if this group doesn't mount a serious promotion challenge.

GK: James Shea, Rene Gilmartin (free), Joe McDonnell

RB: Tennai Watson (loan), Barry Fuller

LB: Brandon Mason (loan), Jon Meades

CB: Fikayo Tomori (loan), Darius Charles, Cheyenne Dunkley (free), Will Nightingale

MC: Dean Parrett, Jake Reeves, Liam Trotter (free), Tom Soares, Tom Beere

MR: George Francomb, David Fitzpatrick

ML: Graham Carey (free), Lloyd Isgrove (free)

ST: Lyle Taylor, Daniel Agyei (loan), Tom Elliott, Ricky Miller (free)

I play a standard and flat 442 with no tactical instructions or player instructions (standard/flexible). The advanced forward and target man combination works well, with one winger on the left and a wide midfielder on the right. In the middle, I have a deep lying playmaker and an automatic central midfielder, with two full backs on automatic and two central defenders on defend. As you can see, this team carries a serious attacking threat that even surprises me sometimes - but I'm happy defensively too. Since the regular season started, all goals conceded were late in the day, so with a little bit more concentration we might have had a 100% record so far!

59c59dc7d0da8_Results2.1.thumb.png.dbfc5a49a7522c43d9d85b647396c1ec.png

59c59de1b466d_Progress2.1.thumb.png.0c6be47e15a5af79fb0c1a49a75ff4ab.png

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Good start to the season there @Jogo Bonito hopefully you can keep that going.

I'm currently sat in 7th position on 41 points after 26 games. Although I'm a point off the play offs, I still think we'll fall away. I'm glad I stuck with most of the players that got me up and they are doing brilliantly, but we are missing that bit of creative quality in some games.

Collins has hardly played, it looks like League 2 was his limit. Sowe is my main striker for now.

Charlee Adams has been the star man so far. The box to box midfielder has scored 6 goals and assisted 6 more in 18 starts.

I'm hoping we can finish in the top half.

The big news is that I've not signed a new contract and I only have 5 months left. I'm not 100% sure it's what I want. I've had 4/5 offers from teams in league 2 and league 1 but I won't leave crawley unless a championship team comes in for me.

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@smplfc123 You're doing great there, you must be tempted to turn them in to a Championship team, even if takes a season or two to get there?

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@Jogo Bonito I'm torn I really am mate.

I think part of me is wanting a 'fallen giant' in the championship to come calling, part of me wants to see how far I can advance with Crawley.

I just don't feel it's right to commit just yet if my head isn't 100% in it.

I've literally just loaded up and have been offered an interview with manager less Barnsley who are sitting 8th in the championship....

I went for the interview and I feel they did me a favour of not having to make a ridiculously hard decision. They informed me they were happy with my interview, but that they felt the unemployed Mark Warburton was the right man to take them forward.

The same has just happened with Villa, with them choosing Claude Puel instead. I think this has made me decide that I'm going to stick it out with Crawley. I'm going to stay loyal to them. I will enter contract talks the next time they offer, if they do that is.

Edited by smplfc123

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I'm pleased to hear you're likely to stay at Crawley, and best of luck for the rest of the season.

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@Jogo Bonito unfortunately the season went as expected.

It's strange to say it was unfortunate, considering where we started and what was expected of us this season, but with us in an around the play off places with 36 games on the board, it's hard to not be really disappointed with finishing the season in 14th place with 66 points. Our collapse in the final 10 games due to lack of quality in depth at this level meant we finished 6 points off the play offs.

I still haven't signed a new contract, so this could be an interesting summer.

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@smplfc123 I can understand your disappointment, but still a very decent finish. I'll await your next update and hope to find out if you stay or move on...

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@Jogo Bonito I'm staying. I decided that the fact I had my eyes elsewhere with interviews at the likes of Barnsley and Villa cost me points, with no incomings in the January window which would have made a difference. This year I'm keeping my eye firmly on Crawley. So I have signed a 1 year extension.

McNerney, Smith and Collins have been let go on a free, meaning that once again, i'm sticking with the bulk of the squad. This time I'll only be looking to bring in 3/4 players. 

How is your Wimbledon save going mate?

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@smplfc123 Nice, a good decision I think.

I'll do another update at the end of November 2017. I lost a couple of games yesterday so need to get back on track. Going well though...

 

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I've slowly been tempted to join in the fun, need to do a scout around for a club - most likely a League 2 side. Personally a fan of Accrington, always like to check how they're doing but they aren't represented very well on FM, a lot of the ratings are a bit iffy I think. I'm thinking of trying to do Morecambe and attempting to survive within the division, putting beside our rivalry with them in the real world haha.

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So that's me 9 games in to my 3rd full season with Crawley and we sit 7th in League 1 with 3 wins, 5 draws and 1 defeat to begin the campaign.

In came the following to strengthen the first team squad:

L Morgan - LM - Free
C Kpekawa - CB - Free
L Ramsay - RB - Free
I Toney - ST - Free
B Hinchcliffe - ST - Free

David Brooks and Ben Rowthorn are 2 youngsters I brought in on a free with a view to loan them out and get experience and Andy Boyle, an experienced CB was also brought in on a free to act as a back up to my core of 1st choice centre backs.

What pleases me most is that despite taking over in December 16 with the club in the relegation zone in League 2, I still have Morris, Lelan, Yowerth, Connolly, Boldewijn and Roberts from that original squad and most of my starting line up are still the players who got me promoted 2 seasons ago. It's a young squad, with only 2 players 30 or over, both being my GK's. I plan to keep building this squad and as long as I keep on to my main players, I feel the next step will to be add 2/3 experienced players to take this team to the next level. My aim is a top half finish this season.
 

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@smplfc123 Nice update mate. A  solid start and obviously proving hard to beat. I like the young squad as I always aim for the same, and likewise admire your loyalty to the inherited players. I always have an eye on Ivan Toney so I hope he does well for you. I've also been tempted by David Brooks but he didn't really have the stats that his promise will no doubt earn him in FM18. Having said that, he wouldn't be available on a free in FM17 if he mirrored the real life version (he was fantastic in the Steel City derby at the weekend).

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I've reached January 2018 now, and currently sit in 4th place in League 1 with AFC Wimbledon.

Our blistering start to the second season was impossible to maintain, and the results have been a bit up and down since my last update. For most of that period we have remained in the top 4 though, so that's still very satisfying. And one other thing to add is that our GD has been the best in League 1 all season - I couldn't cope with another failure on that little technicality!

More worrying than our form or position is the fact that despite some decent runs in cup competitions, and being sensible with wages, we are now somehow losing £200k per month and suddenly have a negative balance. I know that competition payments will come in to clear the debt, but it's definitely halted any plans I had to strengthen the squad in the winter window. In fact,  can't even offer new contracts to some key players whose deals run out in the summer (the likes of top scorer Lyle Taylor, Jake Reeves, George Francomb, Darius Charles, Jon Meades, Tom Soares and Barry Fuller are all in this category, plus a handful of the better youngsters).

It's clearly the lack of attendances that we can accommodate at home that is holding us back - another massive reason to be very excited about the planned move to our new 10,000 capacity Plough Lane stadium in July 2019. I've just signed a new contract to 2020 and waived any pay increase to show my commitment as a host of other clubs including Charlton and Birmingham were chasing me. Next up is Bristol Rovers in the league, followed by a home tie with Fulham in Round 3 of the FA Cup.

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Edited by Jogo Bonito

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nice update @Jogo Bonito Glad to see you've signed a new contract and got a new stadium in the wings to help with those finances.

So after rejecting about 10 interviews at numerous clubs, I decided that an offer to take over on a 2 year contract at Middlesbrough FC was just too hard to turn down.

I'm happy that I left Crawley in such a better place than when I took over. I left with 57 points on the League 1 board with 40 games gone and the club sitting in 10th position, 9 points off the play offs. I showed faith in the young squad that got me there, but ultimately, the lack of experience and top quality in that division prevented us from getting in to play off contention. I made sure I renewed a lot of contracts before leaving so that they have a decent squad for the start of next season, Crawley will always have a place in my heart!

I've taken over at the Riverside with the club struggling in the championship for some time. I have 7 games to steer them to safety, with the club currently sitting in 18th position, 7 points clear of the drop. I aim to just see out these few games, hopefully picking up the 1 or 2 wins that should secure safety and then look to see what I can do with this club next season.

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Best of luck with Boro, A job well done with Crawley, and now you have a really good club to improve.

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I'm coming to end of my 2nd season at AFC Wimbledon and we're clinging on to a play-off spot in League 1, with just four games to go.

We're struggling to win away from home, and overall there have been too many draws (more draws than wins this season). I've emerged from a mini-injury crisis which saw two of my three normal centre-back options out injured at the same time, forcing me to recall Will Nightingale (my young fourth choice) from his loan at Exeter. He also got injured, so I then had to promote 18 year-old Toby Sibbick from the U21 squad to make his debut at 2nd-place Fleetwood. He performed well in a narrow defeat there, but even he was unfit by the next match, meaning out of favour right-back Barry Fuller had to come in and play out of position.

I've now got only one of those defenders out (Darius Charles was injured at the start of the year and probably won't play again this season), although international calls for Lyle Taylor and perennial bench-warmer Tom Soares will weaken us in the last few fixtures. I've cashed in some transfer clauses to try and balance the books, but there were no incomings or outgoings in the winter transfer window because of our financial position. We're currently only £2.2k per week under the wage limit required to comply with FFP, and I haven't been able to tie any of the players with expiring contracts down to new deals as there isn't an option to give even the slightest wage improvement.

On the positive side, we're still in the mix and the win against 4th-place Millwall in our last fixture was a fantastic comeback after being a goal down inside two minutes. I'm hoping the confidence from that result will push us on, and if we make the play-off target then we have as good a chance as the other teams.

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Edited by Jogo Bonito

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Well, season 2 with AFC Wimbledon is complete. I needed one point from my last two games to secure a play-off spot, and despite a disappointing loss in the penultimate match, a fine win on the last day saw us claim 4th place. Faced with a tricky tie with fellow London side Millwall, I decided to go ultra cautious in the first leg and wasn't too unhappy to come home with a narrow 1-0 loss. In the return, my players held their nerve - and finally emerged with a 3-0 victory to book a place at Wembley for the final against Burton Albion.

I had lost my regular keeper (James Shea) a few weeks earlier, and although I felt comfortable with the performances of Rene Gilmartin in the closing weeks, he had an absolute shocker recording a 4.6 rating when it mattered most. Taking an early lead, it had looked good for us at one stage, but we were turned over when our opponents struck twice in the second half to ruin our promotion dreams again.

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In terms of players, it was Lyle Taylor who stood out again. His goals were a major part of our season again, and his record over the last two terms has been outstanding. The four loan players all played their part, and most of the free transfer signings also performed admirably. The financial position had prevented any signings in the winter and had not allowed me to offer any new contracts even to those that deserved them. However, the club is now back on a decent footing after the competition bonuses arrived, and we've agreed some improved commercial deals. I've now got to June 2018, and luckily the budget for next season was generous enough to finally offer some few new contracts. Having said that, I'm releasing a few players to free up some opportunities to add a little more quality (probably on free transfers again), and 'm expecting to extend some of the loans. I've also just struck a deal to rake in some decent cash for one player sale. 

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This summer has seen the retirement of two popular club stalwarts, with chairman Erik Samuelson (icon) and director Dickie Guy (legend) both deciding to step away from their full time roles. Ged Taylor has arrived as the new chairman, with another director also joining the board. Luckily for me, they've decided to keep me and my staff in place, and hopefully I can build a squad capable of dragging us over the line next season. In some ways, that will be a perfect time to do it, as we move to the new 10,000 all-seater Plough Lane stadium next summer. I only hope that Erik and Dickie will be there to witness the opening, hopefully with us being a Championship team!

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As I promised, I restarted the career with Hartlepool. I don't have much time to play in during weekdays because of work, but still.

 

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First place look a bit out of reach, but top three is up for grabs.

Managed to knock Sheff Utd (0-5) and Bradford City (0-4) out in FA Cup before meeting Burnley in the 3rd Round. A 0-0 home tie was satisfying enough for me, but we lost 2-1 at Turf Moor so we got knocked out. In EFL Trophy, we're in the QF (vs Scunthorpe, we also met them in EFL Cup 1st Round and beat them 3-1).

Edited by Armistice

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@Jogo Bonito: Very unlucky there, hopefully you'll be able to kick on again next season under the eyes of the new chairman and win promotion as you mentioned. Lyle Taylor truly is a brilliant player and I can see him going far with you, that's if you manage to keep hold of him! 

@Armistice: Even if you were to miss out on that top three and remain where you are that's an incredible finish considering where Hartlepool are in real life/the quality of the squad in game. Good going against Burnley too, a real boost to the finances I'm sure, hopefully you can keep it up and end the season strongly.

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1 hour ago, DefinitelyTaylor said:

@Armistice: Even if you were to miss out on that top three and remain where you are that's an incredible finish considering where Hartlepool are in real life/the quality of the squad in game. Good going against Burnley too, a real boost to the finances I'm sure, hopefully you can keep it up and end the season strongly.

Yeah the Gate Receipt income tripled this month compared to last month. Hopefully I can push for some Facilities improvements.

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@DefinitelyTaylor Thanks, fingers crossed for 3rd time lucky! I've snapped up six players on free transfers and extended the loans of Agyei (a former Dons youth starlet), Tomori and Watson. That trio have already completed 1.5 seasons at the club with me, so I practically consider them my own players now! I've still not spent a penny on transfers since arriving, which is part of my challenge. It hasn't worked out so far but with the new stadium on the horizon, this would be the time to do it! I've now managed to extend the contract of Lyle Taylor, which is a real bonus. I'll do a transfer update before the season starts as I don't expect to be doing any more business now.

@Armistice I agree, you're off to a great start - perhaps you can send me your coaching manual?

 

Edited by Jogo Bonito

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I have reached the halfway point with Morecambe and it's fair to say that it has been a mixed start.

We started the season brilliantly with a win to newly promoted Grimsby, followed by points to Blackpool and Portsmouth. We found ourselves flying it's fair to say as we continued to enjoy a great spell, losing just once in eight games where we recorded wins over the likes of Doncaster and Crawley. Sadly for us, we knew this run wasn't going to continue as I couldn't really invest in the squad as the club currently have insecure finances and I am left really having to balance the books at the moment - we're at the point where if an offer was to come in for a player, no matter how valuable he may be, we would have to accept to push ourselves back into the black and out of the red.

The main objective at Morecambe is to survive and I had to remember that as it seemed like the slump was just going to continue until we finally scored another victory in a game against Wycombe, Consistency is a clear issue at the moment as we have failed to record back-to-back results since our stretch of form back in mid-October. However we do look to be playing better football once again after a poor month or so which is a real plus as the morale took a huge knock because of it. The one thing we definitely lack is a goalscorer and I think that's the one thing we need in our team to help bolster our chances of finishing mid-table, which definitely looks on the cards at this time. We brought in Bradley Fewster on loan from Middlesbrough but he's failed to really supply the goals (6, the highest goalscorer in the squad) and Paul Mullin, who has in fairness been much better since playing more regular football, has also failed to make an impact.

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James Tilley has been a key influence in the squad since joining from Brighton, frustratingly we're unable to retain his services for the rest of the season as his loan expires in early January and he refuses to rejoin. Koby Arthur was another face brought in on loan and he has provided another cheap rotational option but has rarely started. Luke Thomas and Kyle McAusland were both free signing gambles which sadly haven't really paid off, the latter has been injured for the majority of the season and so will most likely be leaving once his contract expires. 

I briefly mentioned our finances earlier and they don't exactly look great. Chairman Diego Lemos has 'no plans to leave the club' annoyingly whilst he juggles a debt of £1M at the moment - something not helped by our low attendances that range from 1.5k-2.5k tops so far this season.  We are making profits at the end of each month but it will take years for this debt to be paid off at the current rate we are going and so we will have to continue to monitor the budgets very carefully ahead of the January window - where business may be conducted. 

The only real piece of business out of the club was Alex Kenyon who doesn't fit into the system over Fleming and Rose leaving to National League side Tranmere on loan in mid-December. He will remain there until the end of the season and will probably be one of many to leave the club once his contract expires, it'll certainly be an interesting Summer that one, I can tell you that one.

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Edited by DefinitelyTaylor

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After a vital win against Portsmouth, we're close to overtake the joint leaders (ofc if things go our way). 

 

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Do you think if I achieve promotion I should ask the Board for better Facilities? I want to create a good Hartlepool Youth Academy in the near future.

Edited by Armistice

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@Armistice, definitely. From my experience so far, the board does not agree to your requests all the time. So grab the chance while your stock is high.

Small update from me as Wycombe (3rd season, championship). Sitting in first (!?) position after half the season. Never did expect it in my life. I really think I have a good chance of promotion, so I have took a big financial risk. I have gone ahead to purchase Kasey Palmer from Chelsea to bolster my attack. Defensively, my team is pretty sound, with my central defence partnership of Pierre and Perrington more than holding their own. I have also bought Ashley Fletcher to boost my attack and he has repaid with 18 goals (13 in the league so far). 

I noticed that the decisions attribute gets more important as one rises up the football ladder. In the past, I could get away with signing players with less than 10 for decisions. However, when I entered the championship, I realised that the errors these players make are too glaring and have cost me points. So now, I am paying far more attention on this attribute. 

I am now lacking in the goalkeeper department. But I fear that with the low reputation my club has and the refusal to expand or build a new stadium will be an issue if I get promoted. Has anyone been sacked for being relegated the season after being promoted? 

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It's nice to see how you guys are doing with Morecambe, Hartlepool and Wycombe. Best of luck to each of you.

I've now completed pre-season and am ready to start the third year with AFC Wimbledon in League 1. I've added seven new players for the new campaign, all on free transfers. Six of them arrived on the same day, but the seventh was a wildcard addition that might come back to haunt me. Ryan Jackson is a former player welcomed back to the club, Sam Walker should be content to play the deputy goalkeeper role, Hamidou Keyta is a rare overseas signing (one of my strategies on arrival was to try signing Londoners or players who have played in London wherever possible). I hope the young winger can be developed, and similarly Jamal Lowe. Angus MacDonald and Michael Doughty are expected to feature quite regularly for the first team (along with Jackson). Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was one that I hesitated on, but eventually I decided that coming back to London might bring out the best in this maverick talent. 

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I allowed five players to leave this summer, with four of those being released. Winger Lloyd Isgrove (picked up for free last year) hadn't set the world alight in his first season at the club, and his sale earned me a welcome £400k transfer fee. I might have kept Tom Soares for another year, but a lack of playing time for him and former club captain Barry Fuller ensured neither of them would enter contract talks anyway.

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Originally I extended three of my four loan player deals, but I've since decided to allow Tennai Watson to return back to his parent club in order to reduce my loan contingent and give more of my permanent players a chance to play regularly. There are now just two loan players in the squad, versatile defender Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea) and our former youth graduate striker Daniel Agyei (Burnley). I'm confident I have enough options in every position, with some versatile players covering the full-back positions and five or six decent home-grown youngsters waiting in the U23 squad for their chance. These are the players who have been allocated squad numbers (only 22 of them will be marked down to the first team group). I've also made Jake Reeves the new captain, hoping that the extra responsibility might encourage him to reduce his 20+ yellow cards from last season.

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I've culled some of the staff, even though I was sorry to see a few of them go. Unfortunately their stats didn't warrant new contracts and I've bought in better replacements. Amongst the new staff are former player and manager Neal Ardley (coach) and former fans favourite Chris Perry (U18 coach). They join ex-manager Terry Brown (DOF) who I had recruited quite a while ago. Andy Woodman has also arrived in the summer as our new GK coach.

Pre-season results have been solid enough, despite the injury absences of Lyle Taylor and Graham Carey. I've also decided to try a new 4-3-1-2 formation, putting the traditional 442 aside for the moment. Hopefully the two options I have for the role behind the striker (Carey and JET) will revel in the role, but if not I can go back to the old style or even implement a wing-back formation. 

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Edited by Jogo Bonito

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Good luck @Jogo Bonito, hopefully you will exceed your targets for this season.

 

I finished my season with Hartlepool. I went into the last game knowing that even a draw could win us the title if Portsmouth would lose at Crewe.

 

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So my main striker Rodney, who scored 20 league goals this season, was injured and I had to start with on-loan Kazaiah Sterling. Heading into the game, we missed our first CCC. Second. Third. No goal. Yeovil score from a corner. Portsmouth down 1-0 at Crewe. I go mad. I change my tactics a bit and we concede a second goal, a penalty. We lost 2-0, Portsmouth went menace and won 4-2 at Crewe with 10 men. :lol: Gutted, but we had the title in our hands and we let it slip.

 

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If we'd have won against Yeovil, we'd break the win record too. But we didn't.

 

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Edited by Armistice

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@Armistice Congratulations on your promotion, that's an excellent season even if you could have won the title! I'm pleased to hear Rodney did well, he looked a decent prospect at the end of last season. Good luck in League 1, just don't beat the Dons...

Edited by Jogo Bonito

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