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VillaSmith

FM17 - Uni is over, time for a gap year!

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With University over and the looming prospect of joining the real world on the horizon, what better thing to do than to run away from your responsibilities and explore the world? Well, I need to get a job so I can't afford the time or money to take a proper gap year, but I can do the next best thing, I can travel globe via the world of Football Manager 2017!

I've decided to try a Journeyman career again, starting from the bottom and seeing how far I can go.

Game Setup

Argentina - Primera B Nacional (Tier 2)

Austria - Sky Go Erste Liga (Tier 2)

Belgium -  Jupiler Pro League (Tier 1)

Brazil - Série B (Tier 2)

Bulgaria -  Vtora Ligha (Tier 2)

Croatia - Druga HNL (Tier 2)

Czech Republic - FNL (Tier 2)

Denmark -  2. Division (Tier 3)

England - Vanarama National League N/S (Tier 6)

France - National (Tier 3)

Germany -  2. Bundesliga (Tier 2)

Greece - Football League (Tier 2)

Ireland - Airtricity First Division (Tier 2)

Italy -  Serie B (Tier 2)

Netherlands - Jupiler League (Tier 2)

N. Ireland - Championship 2 (Tier 3)

Norway -  OBOS-ligaen (Tier 2)

Poland -  I Liga (Tier 2)

Portugal - Liga II (Tier 2)

Russia -  FNL (Tier 2)

Scotland - League Two (Tier 4)

Serbia - Prva Liga (Tier 2)

Slovakia - Fortuna Liga (Tier 1)

Slovenia - 2. Liga (Tier 2)

Spain -  La Liga 123 (Tier 2)

Sweden -  Superettan (Tier 2)

Switzerland -  Challenge League (Tier 2)

Turkey -  TFF 1. Lig (Tier 2)

USA - MLS (Tier 1)

Ukraine - Persha Liha (Tier 2)

Wales -  Premier League (Tier 1)

Mainly European Nations, but I might be adding more further along the line if I feel the need.

The Manager

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I will be starting as an unemployed 22-year-old, with only Sunday League experience and a National A Coaching badge.

Personal Rules

To help my career be as realistic as possible I have set myself some rules I will adhere to:

- If offered Aston Villa job I must take it, unless it is a major step down (i.e. Man Utd winning the league to relegated Villa is not on the table)

- I will not take jobs I would not take in real life (i.e. Birmingham, I wouldn't cross the city divide unless it was my only choice)

 If I take an International job I will resign from my club

 

Hopefully, you will all enjoy my career and I hope I can make it an interesting read!

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Posted (edited)
Year			|Club/Nation            		|Division		    	        |Position       |Notes
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2016-2017		|Eastleigh				|Vanarama National League		|1st		|Resigned at end of contract
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2017-2018		|Tranmere				|Vanarama National League		|N/A		|Joined 5/9/17 - Resigned 27/2/18
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2017-2018		|Oxford					|Sky Bet League 1			|13th		|Joined 6/3/18
2018-2019		|Oxford					|Sky Bet League 1			|1st		|EFL Cup Qtr finalist, FA Cup 5th Rnd, Resigned 15/6/19
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2019-2020		|Burnley				|Sky Bet Championship			|1st		|Joined 15/6/19, EFL Cup Semi Final
2020-2021		|Burnley				|English Premier League			|N/A		|Resigned 26/7/20
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2020			|England				|Euro. League Div A Group2		|1st		|World Ranking 9th
2021			|England				|World Cup Qualifiers			|2nd		|Euro. Int. League Winners, Failed to Qualify for WC2022, sacked 16/11/21
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2021-2022		|Schalke 04				|Bundesliga				|7th		|Joined 4/2/22, DFB-Pokal Semi Final, Europa League Qualification
2022-2023		|Schalke 04				|Bundesliga				|2nd		|DFB-Pokal Semi Final, Champions League Qualification
2023-2024		|Schalke 04				|Bundesliga				|1st		|DFL-Supercup Winners, DFB-Pokal Quarter Final
2024-2025		|Schalke 04				|Bundesliga				|1st		|DFL-Supercup Winners, DFB-Pokal Winners, Champions League Finalist
2025-2026		|Schalke 04				|Bundesliga				|1st		|DFL-Supercup Winners, DFB-Pokal Quarter Final, Resigned 19/07/26
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2026			|Brazil					|World Cup Qualifiers			|N/A		|Joined 19/07/26, Superclásico de las Américas winner, World Ranking: 1st
2027			|Brazil					|Copa América				|N/A		|Copa América Runners Up, Sacked 03/07/2027

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Honours

Club

Bundesliga (Schalke - 2023/24, 2024/25, 2025/26)

DFB-Pokal (Schalke - 2025)

DFL-Supercup (Schalke - 2023, 2024, 2025)

Sky Bet Championship (Burnley - 2019/20)

Sky Bet League One (Oxford - 2018/19)

Vanarama National League (Eastleigh - 2016/17)

International

European International League (England - 2021)

Copa América Runners Up (Brazil - 2027)

Personal

Manager of the Month:  Vanarama National League (Eastleigh - Nov, Dec 2016, Feb, Mar 2017), Sky Bet League One (Oxford - Oct 2018, Jan, Mar 2019), Sky Bet Championship (Burnley - Oct, Nov, Dec 2019, Feb, May 2020)

Manager of the Year: Sky Bet League One (Oxford 2018/19), Bundesliga (Schalke 2023/24)

Players' Manager of the Year: Bundesliga (Schalke 2023/24)

Edited by VillaSmith

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Posted (edited)

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2016-17 Season

My first job offer was from Eastleigh in early July, and I decided it was a decent place to start off my adventure. OK, it may not be the best place to go on a gap year, but it is 5 minutes from Southampton Airport so not a bad place to start. I Will update again when I finish August, and will probably update every 3 months from then onwards.

 

Club Details

Nation - England.

League - Vanarama National League 

Stadium - Silverlake Stadium

Capacity - 5,192 (2,660 seated)

Training Facilities - Below Average

Youth Facilities - Basic

Junior Coaching - Basic.

Youth Recruitment - Fairly Basic.

Media Prediction - 3rd

My expectation - Reach Playoffs

Transfer Budget - £55K

Wage Budget - £34,975 p/w

Current Wage Bill - £28,161 p/w

 

Squad

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Key Players

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Ryan Clarke - A Decent keeper who has spent much of his career in League 2, has been promoted from the division before and is the sort of experienced keeper you' want between the sticks at this level.

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Réda Johnson - A solid CB with some defensive stats that you'd like to see even at a Championship level, outside of the defensive stats show why he's this far down the leagues. Positioning and Pace could be higher, but still a good player to build my team upon.

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Tyler Garrett - On loan from Doncaster, a decent young LB with some good physical attributes for this level as well as some well-rounded mental attributes. It's starting to look like my defence could be key to my success at Eastleigh.

 

The board want me to play and attacking, possession style of football, which may not be the best suited to my team or the level, but it's certainly the style I usually try to play, so I think I can make it work. Now to start the season.

Edited by VillaSmith

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Good luck - and rest assured, it's never too late to run away from the real world :lol:

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Enjoy the gap between university and real life while you can. It will never happen again.

Real life is awesome though, especially when you have a wonderful wife and delightful daughter. :)

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Thanks for reminding me that it's been 7 years ;)

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Thanks for all the comments guys, I hope I can make an interesting update thread for you all :)

 

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July-August 2016 - Eastleigh FC

Vanarama National League

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A stuttering start that ended up being quite decent. Wrexham already seem to be pulling away from the pack, but I'm in the playoff spots and it's early days so who knows. The team is still adapting to my 433 so I hope that we can start putting teams to the sword more often when they've gotten used to the formation. I should have seen out the match against Tranmere, but still happy to have gotten a point against the team predicted to win the league. A disappointing loss to Wrexham prevented an unbeaten start that would have made me feel a lot better about the opening fixtures, losing to a 91st-minute penalty and also seeing my starting winger break his leg whilst jumping for a ball. Still, it's form I feel I can build upon and use to stick around the playoffs as long as possible.

 

Transfers

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I scoured Europe for any young player that might look half decent, with Svindland and Pickard looking as the only players that could get in the first team, plus bringing in Stewart on loan to replace my winger after he broke his leg. Kantoutsis and Porto look like they'd make a decent CB pairing, but nowhere near the quality of my current CBs so they'll have to settle for backup for now, but both are in their early 20s so could improve in the future. van Zweeden was brought in as I only had 1 RB in the squad, and he's a tidy backup, but not much more than that. Benchev is a decent AMC, but at 19 is not ready for the first team yet. Svindland is also an AMC, but even though he's younger than Benchev he's much more suited for the first team, I wouldn't be surprised to see him in a League 2 side, and he has slid straight into my first team. Pickard is a nippy young striker that again I wouldn't be surprised to see in League 2, and he gives me an option for my striker role, with my other striker being a target man, it allows me to switch up play if needed. Didn't sell anyone as the team was quite light and a lot of my signings are under 23.

 

A decent start, I hope I can l keep some sort of form to try and challenge Wrexham, but just staying in the playoffs will be enough for me.

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September-November 2016  -  Eastleigh FC

 

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A shock to look over at the finances near the end of the November after being told the club couldn't afford a coaching course for me :eek: Not sure how that's happened, I haven't spent a penny, and I'm beneath my wage budget, it looks like the club might be banking on promotion to stay afloat.

 

Vanarama National League

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A mixed start to September, but as Autumn wore on, the team got more comfortable with the tactic and really started picking teams apart, with the odd shoddy defensive display. As I reach the halfway point of the season, I'm now 13 games unbeaten, but that has only allowed me to close the gap on Wrexham to a single point, whilst Boreham Wood are still hot on my heels, making that loss to Wrexham look more and more like it might have been an early title decider. Notable games of this period have to be my 5-5 draw with real life FA Cup heroes Lincoln City, a great game for the neutral, a rage inducing game for me. I managed to blow a 3-0 inside the first half, and despite taking the lead again relatively quickly, a quick double by Lincoln left me relying on young Benchev to level the game late on. A fantastic attacking display with my front 5 picking up 8s+ but of my back 5, only my GK got as high as a 6.5. We bounced back fairly quickly though, thoroughly demolishing Torquay to show we still had it in us, which saw a much similar performance to the Lincoln game, but without the defensive errors. Pickard has been fantastic for me so far, having now scored 17 goals in 20 games, justifying my decision to stick with him over the experienced Darius Henderson.

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And it's always nice to get one of these, my first Manager of the Month award, and hopefully the first of many :D

 

FA Cup

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The greatest cup competition in the world, and I made it to the Cup Proper! Not only that, I'm into the second round to after a scintillating game away to title contenders Wrexham, a victory that was perhaps more of a moral victory for the league if anything. Notts County await in the Second Round, and hopefully, I can book a spot in the Third Round and get an away day to one of the big boys, if only to alleviate some financial worries.

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Was hoping to update this thread at least once a day until I went on holiday next week, but then my PC started having massive crashes. Luckily the one that happened whilst playing only lost me three games progress, unfortunately, that was three wins on the bounce, including a 6-2 win against Tranmere in which Pickard scored 5 goals with his final 3 goals being scored in the 53rd, 53rd and 55th minute :( What's worse, Wrexham had lost 3 in a row too.

Hopefully, I can still continue updating, but my PC is a bit on edge at all times right now, so I may not be as consistent as I'd like.

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On 13/06/2017 at 14:11, deltablue said:

Thanks for reminding me that it's been 7 years ;)

Is that all? I graduated 18 years ago.

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Posted (edited)

I'm back from my holiday and I've got a new graphics card, so it's time to boot this save up and get back to my gap year in FM!

 

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December 2016-February 2017 - Eastleigh FC

 

Vanarama National League

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An extremely poor January sandwiched by two perfect months in December and February. The team has really clicked over the past few months, and although January looks bad, most of the month was spent playing cup games and the form was actually quite good, it was just unfortunate that my losses during the period came in the league. Fortunately, Wrexham had a very poor few months, only winning 4 out of 12 games and racking up 6 draws, allowing me to carve out a 5 point lead with a game in hand just as we enter the business end of the season. A better January could have seen me pull even further ahead, but I'll take the cup progression as a consolation prize. January also proved difficult due to my star CB, Reda Johnson, being called up for the African Cup of Nations. I'd assumed that I'd avoid such difficulties at this level, but either I have a great CB on my hands, or Benin are really short on defenders. Luckily Benin crashed out in the group stage (I guess that's what you get when you're calling up National League players...) and Johnson was back by February. Kantoutsis proved an able deputy, but the defence was shaky throughout January. I managed to once again win the three games I had lost due to my PC crash, but unfortunately this time Pickard lost his shooting boots, and there was no 5 goal haul this time around, in fact, he hasn't scored in 11 hours of football which is worrying. Jordan Lyden was brought in on loan as DM cover, as well as a versatile bench player, a good player for this level, and has proved to be a perfectly able back up, but I think I prefer my regular starters in both DM and RB.

 

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My perfect months in December and February earned me two more MotM awards (forgot to screenshot December), hopefully, I can earn more in the run in, and maybe even the Manager of the Year...

 

FA Cup

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A fantastic showing in the FA Cup first brushing aside League 2 promotion chasers Notts Co, and not only brushing them aside but coming from behind to do so! We completely outplayed the Magpies and showed our capability against Football League opposition, a good omen for next season. Then an away draw to Championship side Preston, unfortunately, I couldn't snag one of the big boys (which would have undoubtedly eased my financial worries), but I again played fantastically. The game was even for most of the match, and it seemed my hopes had been dashed by Ben Pringle in the 91st-minute, only for Henderson to take it to the replay less than a minute later, and a dominant performance at the Silverlake saw me through to the 4th round, although an 89th-minute winner was required. MK Dons, however, proved a step too far in the 4th round, we were never really in the game and the League 1 side lead from the 1st minute and never looked like they'd give that lead up. I have been reliably informed by Wikipedia that this season's real life 3rd round tie for Eastleigh was the furthest the team had ever progressed in the FA Cup, so my 4th tie would be a record for the club. It's unfortunate I didn't get an away tie to Old Trafford or Anfield, but still, it was an admirable effort.

 

FA Trophy

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Whilst my FA Trophy has set to set the Eastleigh record, I have equalled it, with an opportunity to still make the Semi-Finals. I faced three promotion challengers from the National League in the FA Trophy and comfortably progressed past each, but was tripped up by an extra-time tie with Slough, which ended goalless with a very disappointing performance. March will kick off with the replay, and I'll be looking to book a place in the Semis against Guiseley or Woking, and maybe even then going on to win my first silverware!

Edited by VillaSmith

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March-May 2017/Season Review - Eastleigh FC

 

Vanarama National League

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Champions!!!

A strong finish to the season and a complete collapse by Wrexham saw me tie up the title with 4 games to spare. Maidstone ended up being my closest challenger but they never really got within 9 points of me, so they didn't pose much of a threat, to be honest. Pickard found his shooting boots again and Leacock-McLeod really found some form to finish off the season in style. Defensively a lot was left to be desired, but most games I easily outscored my opponent so it didn't matter too much. Winning the National League is Eastleigh's biggest honour and sees the club enter the Football League for the first time. I think the squad is capable of staying up in League 2, with the right couple of additions, it's just whether the clubs finances can hold up well enough. A cash injection of £120k and then a new sponsorship deal at £500k has eased the financial worries a bit, but the club is still running at a huge loss.

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Two of my players picked up awards at the end of the season, Pickard with the top goalscorer and Leacock-McLeod taking Player of the Season. Leacock-McLeod was fantastic this season, as his stats show. Played at AML as a Winger, he was a constant threat for a back post tap in, and would routinely run circles around defenders to create goals for himself or others, a truly deserved award and he will hopefully continue that form into League 2. As for Pickard, he had to be my signing of the season, a truly magnificent player for me, and easily won top goalscorer, despite an 11 hour stretch of goalless form. A quick striker with great dribbling ability was an option that none of my strikers offered at the start of the season, and Pickard used those abilities to skip past defenders and to be an important creative force, even from deep. He scored a couple of stunners too.

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:mad:

Ended up with 4 MotM awards, yet my Eastleigh record points haul, taking Eastleigh to the Football League as champions and easily ahead of my nearest challengers, wasn't deemed worthy of even being in the top three? Fuming. I even voted for the manager with the worst win% as to not give my rivals an extra vote, and I still didn't win. Oh well, there'll be other awards to win, and the most important thing was the league win after all. Still...

 

FA Trophy

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A comfortable win in the home replay against Slough to progress to the Semi-Final for the first time in Eastleigh's history, but unfortunately Guiseley were too much for me over the two legs and I couldn't reach the final. It would have been nice to make the final and get a trip to Wembley, but it wasn't to be, and there'll be other trophies to win in the future too.

Notable Players

Réda Johnson - A rock for me at the back and my joint second-best player in terms of Avg Rating. Composed at the back and always left me confident in my defence, he was sorely missed when he left for the AFCON and his importance was highlighted in his absence. His return brought back solidity at the back and helped me regain my form to see off my title bid.

Mekhi Leacock-McLeod - The League Player of the Season was easily my best player too, scoring 23 goals and bagging 22 assists he was a phenomenal player for me out on the left wing. He popped up at the right moments and always gave the opposition headaches. If he wasn't on form, then my front three all struggled.

Jake Pickard - My top goalscorer, but unfortunately he seemed to go missing in the cup competitions. However, Pickard was my signing of the season, a reliable striker for most of the season and a dynamic option through the middle of my front three. Pickard could easily make the step up to League 2 imo, let's just hope he does. With 11 assists to add to his 31 goals, he wasn't just a finisher but linked up well too.

Jordan Stewart - Signed as an emergency loan from Swindon when my starting AMR, Ross Stearn, broke his leg, and he ended up being a close contender for my signing of the season. The third man in my deadly front three, not as prolific as the other two, but 17 goals and 14 assists from AMR is still a good haul, and Stewart proved to be a good link between the midfield and front three. A nippy winger that always caused issues, and was only outshone by the brilliance of Leacock-McLeod and Pickard.

Remi Andre Svindland - The heartbeat of my midfield. Everything went through the young Norwegian, and he was another contender for signing of the season. The creative force in my midfield that fed the front three, and popped up with the occasional free-kick goal too. Svindland could easily be playing in League 1 imo, and his quality showed throughout the season, easily the best midfielder in the league.

 

A great league win and I'm looking forward to next season, but with the financial situation I'm not sure that I'll be renewing my contract, it may be time to move on, although the squad is ready for League 2 IMO.

Edited by VillaSmith

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I decided to end my reign at Eastleigh, I'm just not sure I can work with the financial problems Eastleigh have. I kept within both my wage and transfer budget without spending money on a single player, and yet the club was still losing money hand over fist. Maybe this is the wrong decision, but I want to be at a club where they can at least afford to allow me to take a coaching course to improve my attributes. We'll see if I can at least get a League 2 job, or where I end up.

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Not quite the direction I thought I'd go in, but Jamaica do have some decent players, and I was unsuccessful with a couple of the League 2 jobs I went for, perhaps a chance to build my reputation?

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Well done winning the National League there Smithy but surprised you left just because there is little or no money. There are very few clubs at that level that have enough never mind plenty.

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16 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Well done winning the National League there Smithy but surprised you left just because there is little or no money. There are very few clubs at that level that have enough never mind plenty.

Cheers :)

It wasn't so much that they had no money, it was the rate at which they were losing money that frustrated me. Most clubs around this level tend to get by with little money, but you can manage to keep them staying even if you operate within their budgets. Even after staying within my set budgets, a cash injection of £120k and a £500k sponsorship deal, the balance was still about -£500k, and the club was still losing money at a pretty rapid rate. I also mainly just wanted to be at a club where I could at least take a coaching course to improve my coaching attributes.

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Posted (edited)

I decided not to take the Jamaica job as I wanted to remain in club football for now. Plus I forgot that Wes Morgan had retired from international football, which threw a spanner in any plans I had for Jamaica's defence.

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Shortly after the season began, however, Dean Saunders was sacked and I successfully interviewed at Tranmere. Tranmere are one of the better sides in the National League and they should've finished much higher than mid-table last season, and I reckon I could guide them into League 2. Plus with a two-year contract this time, I'll feel more compelled to stay at the club if/when promoted. I did delay the job offer for a few weeks as I also interviewed at Sarpsborg in Norway and Helsingborgs in Sweden, and I wanted to see if I could move abroad, but Tranmere were no longer willing to wait about for me, so I took the job. Will post a quick summary soon.

Edited by VillaSmith

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2017-18 Season

 

Club Details

Nation - England.

League - Vanarama National League 

Stadium - Prenton Park

Capacity - 16,567 all-seater

Training Facilities - Adequate

Youth Facilities - Adequate

Junior Coaching - Adequate

Youth Recruitment - Fairly Basic

Media Prediction - 6th

My expectation - Reach Playoffs

Transfer Budget - £0

Wage Budget - £29,369 p/w

Current Wage Bill - £28,331 p/w

 

Current Situation

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The delay in making my decision to join seems to have cost Tranmere dearly, as they sacked Saunders after just one game, and they haven't recovered yet. Although it looks dire, there's a lot of games to go, and considering the amount of losses that some of the teams in the playoffs had last season, the playoffs are not out of the question, I just need to hit the ground running.

Squad

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A good squad, but it could use some defenders as it is light on the ground on that front, perhaps some loan signings and a cheeky look at if Eastleigh have listed any players may be in order.

Key Players

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Cole Stockton - A target man striker with good finishing, will be a good focal point for my team, and hopefully can bag himself a lot of goals if I can give him the service.

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James Wallace - A hard working CM with fairly well rounded mental and technical attributes. He will slip into the DLP role of my tactic quite well and provide a reliable option for recycling the ball in the middle of the park.

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Ben Tollitt - A fast winger with decent dribbling ability. Last season I saw what a good quality winger can bring to the team with Leacock-McLeod, if Tollitt can perform half as well, then I'll be shooting up the table in no time.

 

A tough job, but with the ability of Tranmere's squad, and the time left in the season, I'm confident I can turn it around. Will update again after my first month in charge.

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September 2017 - Tranmere Rovers

 

Vanarama National League

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I knew Tranmere had a good squad and it wouldn't take much to turn them around, but I couldn't have imagined my start with them would've been this good! My first game was an absolutely dominant performance that I wasn't expecting, I tore Bromley to shreds. The rest of the month saw similar performances with the exception of the Maidstone games, which was very disappointing. If it wasn't for my GK, Iain Turner, I could have seen a similar scoreline to the Bromley game, but in reverse, Maidstone absolutely dominated me and I created nothing. So despite the fantastic start, I clearly have a problem to iron out when playing the better teams in the division. Lifted up to lower mid-table and only 8 points of the playoffs with plenty of games to play, so promotion is still within reach.

 

Signings

Tom Davies - On loan from Portsmouth. The defence was very light in terms of both quality and numbers, and Davies is a good, quick CB that helped rectified both problems. According to my reports, he's a League 2 standard CB, and with his contract up at the end of the season, I'll be looking to sign him on a permanent deal for either pushing for promotion, or hopefully fighting to stay up in League 2.

Goncalo Porto - On loan from Eastleigh. Brought in for the same reason as Davies, and having signed him for Eastleigh, I know he's good enough for this league and has plenty of potential. Just like Davies, his contract is up in the summer, so hopefully it can become permanent.

Henrik Jensen - Free Transfer from Naesby. A bit of a risky signing, but looking through regens he looked fairly decent and his passing, first touch and vision looked like he'd make a decent playmaker in midfield, as well as being fairly versatile. Not quite good enough for me now, but a decent backup and maybe with a few loans he could fulfil his 5-star potential.

Rodrigo Marques - Free Transfer from Odivelas. Another risky regen signing, although he seems more well rounded and suited for first team football now, so will make a good backup for the time being. Hopefully he can also reach his 5-star potential.

Liam Grimshaw - On loan from Preston. Probably my best signing, can play multiple positions, is a probably a League 1 standard player, and has a 4.5-5 star rating in every position he can play. Good mental attributes and well-rounded physical attributes. His contract is also up in the summer, but it may be more of a struggle to convince him to join.

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October/November 2017 - Tranmere Rovers

 

Vanarama National League

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Slowly and steadily climbing up the table. A few disappointing results, but going very well and getting closer to those playoff places. Only 4 points from the playoffs and just 9 points from 1st, if I can keep up this form, I could be a late contender for the title, but for now, my sights are firmly on the playoffs. The Wrexham result was obviously a very disappointing result, losing to a rival and I was 3-2 with 15 minutes to play as well as taking the lead three times. Tollitt has been on fire for me, but he seems to be my major goal threat so far, with my strikers being nowhere near reliable enough, but Hines does pop up occasionally from the right wing and the midfielders have been chipping in with goals too, so not too much of a worry just yet.

 

FA Cup

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A hard fought comeback win against Gateshead got me into the FA Cup Proper, but unfortunately, League 1 Gillingham were way too strong for me. I took an early lead without registering a shot, however, Gillingham's strength soon showed as they made it 3-1 by the 11th minute. I just couldn't compete with their superior quality and went into half time 4-1 down, and a late Stephenson goal was a rare venture forward for me that was just a consolation. I couldn't repeat the feat of reaching the 3rd as I did with Eastleigh, although arguably I faced harder opposition.

 

Signings

Alex Bray - Free Signing. With only 3 available wingers after Louis Almond, my 4th choice winger, was banished to the U18s after a private chat went wrong. Quick and a good dribbler, probably better than Hines, but he hasn't had great form in his first 5 games, hopefully as he adapts to the team and tactics his quality can shine through.

Calum MacDonald - Free Signing. With only 1 natural LB, a back up was required. MacDonald isn't great, but he has good potential and is more than good enough to be a backup for now.

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December 2017-February 2018 - Tranmere Rovers

 

Vanarama National League

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A few stuttering months which has seen my climb to the playoffs slow down and one more game to go in February. I have flirted with them occasionally but a bad result against Sutton saw me drop back out of it. Unfortunately over the last few months not only have my strikers been very hit and miss and I've been unable to see games out, I've been battling a morale problem as the squad believe we are underachieving :rolleyes: Despite being in title winning form since I joined, my team have been unhappy that we haven't been in the playoff places all season and been underachieving, and unfortunately there was no option of saying "Well, if you hadn't f'ed up the first 7 games we'd be top!" in the team meeting about it. Still, there have been some good performances in their still, so hope for a playoff finish isn't all lost. I just need to get my strikers firing reliably. I miss Pickard...

 

FA Trophy

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Foiled again by Guiseley! Some dominant performances to get to the 4th Round, with an 87th-minute goal making the Torquay game look closer than it was. However, a red card and an injury after I'd made all three subs meant I faced the prospect of extra time with 9-men after a last minute equaliser, and that was a step too far for my squad.

 

Signings


Mikael Mandron - On Loan from Wigan. Signed as a solution to my striker issues, but with just 2 goals in 5 games, both in the same game, he hasn't quite made the impact I'd hoped for.

Marcel Schafer - Free Transfer from Minn. Utd Academy. Another risky regen signing, this time to help bolster my thin defence, and some good attributes for a CB, especially at this level, and with a 5-star potential, he could be a bit of a coup.

 

However, all of this may not matter as...

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An interesting offer to take a step up to League 1. Port Vale may not be the best team in League 1, but they currently sit in 16th, 9 points above the drop zone with an expectation to avoid relegation. They're also offering a Transfer Budget of £668k and a Wage Budget of £47.5k p/w on a one year contract. Although I've been at Tranmere less than a season, this was the kind of step up I envisioned I'd make after leaving Eastleigh and I'm not sure I can turn down an offer to make such a step up.

Edited by VillaSmith

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18 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

You're doing superbly well at Tranmere, why would you want to go to the Vile?

I want to make the step up the leagues to be in the Football League sooner rather than later, and I'm not massively confident I can get Tranmere into the playoffs due to this stuttering form. However, I'm probably not going to Port Vale, as Oxford have also offered me a contract, and they have a better squad. I know it's kind of ruthless leaving after only 6 months, but I'm not enjoying Tranmere that much.

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2017-18 Season

 

Club Details

Nation - England

League - Sky Bet League 1 

Stadium - Kassam Stadium

Capacity - 12,205 all-seater

Training Facilities - Below Average

Youth Facilities - Below Average

Junior Coaching - Adequate

Youth Recruitment - Average

Media Prediction - 10th

My expectation - Avoid Relegation

Transfer Budget - £0

Wage Budget - £65,830 p/w

Current Wage Bill - £49,420 p/w

 

Current Situation

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12 points above the relegation zone with 9 games to play, it shouldn't be too hard to keep Oxford up. The recent form has been okay too, so it won't take much to build some better form. I'll probably be looking to get a top half finish which is only 5 points away.

 

Current Squad

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A decent squad, although the defence is quite poor overall. Some good wide players with a good central midfield, which suits my 433 quite well. All the transfer windows are currently closed, so I'll have to make do with what I have for now, but the summer will need to see some improvements in defence as a priority.

 

Key Players

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Dessie Brennan - A regen CB on loan from Nottm Forest, and what a player he is! I noticed him when looking through regens before, and was extremely happy to see his name when assessing my new squad. Brennan is easily my best player and could be playing in the Championship, hell I wouldn't be too upset playing him at a lower Premier League side considering his age. He'll be the rock I'll build my defence upon. Also, he has bags of potential, he'll go far for sure.

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Rob Hall - A nippy and tricky winger, something which has worked well for me so far. Hopefully, I can get the same form out of him as I did Leacock-McLeod and Tollitt.

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Ryan Ledson - The former Everton youngster is a fantastic playmaker, especially for League 1. He can play AP and DLP equally well, but I'll probably slot him in as a DLP. He'll provide a good option to recycle possession and will probably prove integral to starting my attacking moves.

 

Should be easy enough to avoid relegation this season, and I reckon with this squad and some good additions I could challenge for the playoffs next season. Was tough to decide between Oxford and Port Vale, as Oxford's financial situation seems to be worse, but Oxford's better squad tipped the scales in favour of them. It may seem harsh to leave Tranmere so quickly, but the team was starting to frustrate me with the patchy form which made think I wouldn't make the playoffs.

Edited by VillaSmith

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March-May 2018 - Oxford United

 

Sky Bet League 1

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A decent run to start my stint at Oxford and to end the season. I couldn't quite get into the top half like I had hoped, the form to finish the season would see me into the playoffs over an entire season, which is a positive sign for next season. Didn't get off to the best start losing at home to Bury, but my first win was a really dominant performance against fellow strugglers Notts County. The rest of the season saw some good performances, only losing to Champions Cardiff and playoff finalists Birmingham, so the losses don't worry me too much, although the final game against Peterborough was a poor performance.

 

No season review, as I haven't been at Oxford long enough to really be able to say who my key players have been. I have plans for the summer on how to improve the squad and have a few free transfers lined up to boost my defence and strengthen my backups to the midfield. Finances are a bit tight so will probably have to rely on free transfers and loans. I'll also be looking to retain my current loanees for next season, especially with Mason Bennett's contract expiring soon, but I think I may lose out on Brennan as I think Forest want to play him in the first team next season.

 

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And perhaps I should have taken the Jamaica job after all, I think it may have raised my reputation just a little bit!

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June-August 2018 - Oxford United

 

Summer Transfers

Out

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A combination of a poor financial situation and a poor defence led to a bit of an exodus in the summer. Hemmings was probably my best striker, but I preferred Mason Bennett due to his better physical attributes, and since I extended his loan, I felt I may as well cash in whilst I could. Chris Maguire was a victim of the same rationale, he may have been one of my better players, but he found himself down the pecking order so I shifted his wages. Eddie Williams was a decent regen winger that I brought into the first team as a backup, and I couldn't find a place for him with my new additions. Originally he was going to Brentford on a structured deal for around £400k, and then Villa came in and offered £750k up-front with a sell on clause and I had to sell to them, and the fee seriously eased my financial situation.

 

In

Dean Marney - Free Transfer. With only 2 DMs in my squad, with one of them being Ledson who is more of a playmaker, I needed another DM to either replace Lundstram or rotate with him, and Marney was available as a free agent. Whilst some technical attributes are lacking, he has the perfect mental and physical attributes for a DM, as well as fantastic tackling. If I can retrain him to be natural at DM, I think he could be a superb addition to my squad.

Adryan - Free Transfer. Well known for being a former FM Wonderkid and that dive whilst playing for Leeds, he is the perfect addition to my midfield to play as an AP, with fantastic attributes for League 1. I expect Adryan will have a huge influence on my team going forward, and maybe he can use this move as a chance to prove himself after disappointing following his early potential.

Nick Hahn - On Loan from West Brom. Over the summer I convinced my board to find a senior affiliate, and I ended up with West Brom, which led me to loan this exciting regen to play LW. He has bags of pace, and bags of potential, which tends to work well in my LW position in my tactic. With great OTB and Vision too, he could be a real creative force out wide. However, he is still very young at 17, so it may be risky to rely on him too much, so he'll only consistently play if he proves vital to my team.

Vedran Gal - £6.25k from Varteks Varazdin. My first ever Transfer Fee spent! And it's on a risky Croatian CB regen. Gal looks decent, probably not good enough to start, maybe to get on the bench occasionally, but he's definitely one for the future. He has all the attributes needed for a CB, and with some training in "luxury" attributes, he could go on to be a top CB.

Jake Vokins - On Loan from Southampton. With Joe Skarz as my only LB, I needed a backup and with most of my wages being tied up trying to get other targets, a cheap loan option in Vokins seemed ideal. Good going forward but leaves a lot to be desired defensively, so will most likely only get outings against weaker opposition.

Shayon Harrison - Free Transfer. A quick winger from Tottenham's academy that can also play up front offering some versatility to my squad. Probably won't start, but will be a good option off the bench.

Regan Poole -  Free Transfer. A slight panic signing as I had only two senior CBs as I had missed out on Matthew Pennington to Birmingham and hadn't managed to land my other CB target yet. Not a bad signing, but will most likely be a backup. I might retrain him to play DM as well to give me another option there.

Iké Ugbo - On Loan from Chelsea. A fast striker with good finishing, if I can get the ball in behind defences, he should manage to bag himself some goals. Not sure if he'll start or Mason Bennett will, but his superior finishing probably tips the scale in his favour.

Toni Gorupec - Free Transfer. A free transfer I found whilst looking for defenders. Luke Burke, my RB from last season on loan from Wigan, was my only RB after extending his loan so I needed more numbers. Gorupec is probably better than Burke so I imagine he'll be my starting RB. Has great physical attributes and well rounded defensive attributes, perfect RB for League 1 and maybe even Championship standard.

Mateusz Kryczka - Free Transfer. With my backup GK being quite poor, I felt another option was needed in case Eastwood got injured. Kryczka will be a more than able back up.

Matt Mills - Free Transfer. The other CB target I was trying to sign when I signed Poole. Mills seems to me to be good enough for the Championship and a good leader for some of my younger CBs to learn from, but he took some convincing to join. In the end I had to promise him I'd strengthen the squad, but I'd used the rest of my budget on him, which leads me to the final three signings.

Jake Hesketh - On Loan from Southampton. A decent CM option, will likely not feature much as I can only use 5 loan players and I have already earmarked the players that will fill those spaces. Should be a good player to play in the Checkatrade Trophy to ease my potential fixture congestion.

Yangel Herrera - On Loan from Man City. Pretty much the same reasoning as Hesketh, but for DM.

Jerome Sinclair - On Loan from Watford. Similar situation to Herrera and Hesketh, though I may consider using him instead of Bennett.

 

Pre-Season Friendlies

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A mixture of some money spinner friendlies and some more winnable games. I did surprisingly well considering the fixtures I had, managing to get a win at home to West Brom and getting a draw against Southampton. the other games were fairly straight forward, and I feel the squad was playing quite well going into the start of the season.

 

Tactic

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Since I have referred to it a couple times, I thought I'd show my tactic I've been using so far. Based on a tactic I found in the tactics forum that aimed to replicate Pep's Barcelona, I modified this tactic in an Everton save of mine that produced amazing results, keeping possession and creating lots of chances, often utilising a dangerous front three to hit defences at speed. I've modified it further in this save to be less reliant on technical ability in the lower leagues, for instance dropping the Complete Forward role and simplifying the team instructions, and it's clearly worked well so far. The wide roles often shift between IF and Wingers depending on the players I have available and who I have up front

 

Sky Bet League 1

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Forgot to take screenshots at the end of August, so there's a game from September in his update too. A mixed bag to start the season, a disappointing opening game that would have been great for the neutral. A couple wins eased early concerns but failing to see out a lead against Peterborough and a late equaliser against Sheff Utd indicated that the team hadn't quite gelled yet. However, the signs were positive. I played some good football and have been scoring with ease, it's just the defensive efforts that needs work.

 

EFL Cup

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A frustrating first game against Cambridge, but a late comeback saw me come from behind to beat my University rivals and secure a place in the 2nd Round. I thought being drawn against Championship opposition could spell an early exit for my team from the competition, but I couldn't believe my eyes when I was 3-0 within 10 minutes, and 4-0 within 25 minutes. Assombalonga got a late consolation goal, but Bennett quickly cancelled it out to top off a really dominant performance in which I tore Nottm Forest's defence to shreds. Ex-Oxford CB Brennan was the best performing Forest defender, showing his quality, even in a game where his team was swept away by "inferior" opposition. I fear I may not get any further however as the 3rd Round sees me travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham. At least I should get a bit of a pay day.

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September - November 2018 | Oxford United

 

Sky Bet League 1

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A superb few months see me 4 points clear at the top of the table. September started off with what I'm sure was a bug, as Matt Mills got sent off for seemingly getting two yellow cards for the same foul, but I turned it around to win the game after Gillingham equalised from the resulting penalty. The team is starting to get used to the tactic and it is showing with some dominant performances, brushing aside most teams with relative ease, even if not every scoreline shows it. Overconfidence perhaps a slight issue that could crop up however after quickly letting an early lead against Exeter slip away, and going in 3-0 against Rotherham only to draw the match was incredibly frustrating. Losing to Fleetwood was also slightly worrying, as they were 2nd at the time and I couldn't handle the pressure of the game. I dominated the game, but couldn't create chances, and Fleetwood took advantage of my GK coming out for a free kick, with a Danny Rose v Arsenal type goal. It is my only loss of the last three months, so it's not too concerning, but something to watch for. Iké Ugbo and Nick Hahn have become a deadly partnership within my front three and my attack looks blunted without either in the team, whilst Adryan has been superb in midfield and is a clearly a cut above the other players in this division. Cheyenne Dunkley and Curtis Nelson have also proved to be a formidable partnership in defence and despite have players catching the eye going forward, the two CBs have been two of my best performing players so far this season. I thought Matt Mills would be a nailed on starter for me, but he's been awful for me and not been able to displace either Dunkley or Nelson.

 

Checkatrade Trophy

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I used to like this competition as it was an opportunity to win some silverware in the lower levels of the Football League, but since it's reform it's a bit of a farce of a competition. It's hard to win a competition when you have to face a Premier League sides "U23" team that always has some first team players sprinkled in, for instance, Charlie Austin got 2 goals and an assist against me, though in that instance that wasn't why I lost. At least I can use it to give some backup players some game time. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the competition I did get a couple of good wins, beating fellow promotion chasers Exeter in a convincing 3-1 away win and League 2 side Bristol Rovers handily at home, and those wins saw me through a tight group on goal difference. My only loss, and only at the Kassam so far, came at the hands of Southampton "U23s", which I would like to blame on the use of first teamers, however, I think the two red cards in the first 15 minutes may have had more to do with that. Down to nine men I decided I was best suited to taking out any starters to minimise any morale damage as soon as possible to avoid a crushing defeat affecting my league form. The score didn't get too embarrassing, but I unsurprisingly never got anywhere near being in the game and was happy to leave the game with a consolation goal and not too much of a battering. Birmingham City await in the 2nd round, a winnable game depending on if I choose to expend my efforts on this competition, but may focus may be elsewhere...

 

FA Cup

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Fleetwood seemed to be turning into my bogey team, frustrating me again, this time in the FA Cup. Fleetwood were much more in control in this game than the League tie, I just couldn't create chances again whilst Fleetwood were all over me. Fortunately for me, Fleetwood blew their best chance of the game by missing a penalty in the 51st minute. I saw out the game and took the game to a replay which I was dreading at first. Unlike the first two games, this game turned out to be a much more thrilling affair with both teams taking the lead at various points throughout the game, and a much more dominant performance from my team, creating many chances and more importantly finishing them. Hahn was superb in this game and was my most potent attacking threat and it was his shot that Pond failed to clear off the line to give me the win. Non-League Dorchester Town is who I'll face in the 2nd round, an opportunity to rest some players I think, and hopefully I'll secure a third round berth to hopefully face one of the big boys.

 

EFL Cup

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Two away trips to London which banked me around £500k-£750k due to both teams playing in 60k+ seater stadiums (although West Ham only got 20k attendance). I relished the opportunity to boost the bank balance with a trip to West Ham and was fully expecting to be knocked out convincingly, but a solid defensive performance and a little bit of luck saw me return to Oxford booked into the 4th Round! West Ham took an early lead, 10 minutes and they sliced my defence open with ease with the result Ayew shot resulting in summer signing Jonas Hofmann slotting the rebound home from an Eastwood save. It all looked doom and gloom for a while and then a poor Noble tackle was pounced on by Adryan, unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box to slot past Randolph at his near post to level the game. Shortly after half time, "Adryan" put me in the lead. Adryan hit a free kick from 30 yards out that was going miles wide, but it cannoned off of Upamecano to beat Randolph at his near post again. I couldn't quite believe, and whilst it wasn't West Ham's first team, it wasn't a typical EFL Cup team full of youngsters, it was quite strong. The win earned me a trip to the New White Hart Lane, which I felt was sure to be the round I left the competition. Despite Tottenham fielding a more typical EFL Cup side, there was still quality in the side and they took an early lead after 2 minutes through Reo Griffiths. Ugbo levelled before the half hour mark, and scored to take the lead just after half time. Spurs just couldn't deal with Ugbo's pace and movement on the counter. When Rose brought it back to 2-2 with 20 minutes to go I was sure Spurs would turn it around, but Ugbo was just sensational. He won header after header and turned the Spurs CBs with ease, scoring two goals in the final quarter of an hour to send me through to the quarters! Ugbo was unplayable, and practically dragged me through that game single handedly, I'm sure Chelsea may be considering renewing his expiring contract on that performance alone! Another away trip to a big stadium in the Quarters, this time up north to Newcastle, can I make it 4 scalps in a row? We'll wait and see.

 

 

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November saw the UK leave the EU, with what seems to be a fairly hard Brexit. Gibraltar have left the UK and the new work permit rules are the harshest I've seen playing the game so far, normally in my games, you can pretty much sign whoever you want after Brexit, you just have to have 8 homegrown players in your squad, it'll be much harder to sign foreign players under these rules.

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November also saw me claim Manager of the Month, something I'd already missed out on a few times, and had alluded me at Tranmere despite some very good form. It's always nice to get these, even if they don't mean too much. My hard work and good form didn't only get me a MotM award however...

 

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It also netted me a new contract! I was already planning on staying at Oxford a little more "long-term", so was happy to see the board wanted to give me a new contract, probably as bigger clubs seem to already be circling (I'm currently wanted by four Championship sides, one of which is close to promotion). But I was delighted to sign a one-year extension at Oxford, I'm really enjoying my time here, I hope I can take them to the Championship then fight to keep them there, or who knows, maybe even eye another promotion?

 

A bit of a long winded update this time, but with me fighting on four fronts and there being a bit going on off the field too, I couldn't really help it.

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Was going to update for February tonight too, but my PC crashed again :mad::seagull:  Luckily not quite as catastrophically as last time, and it seems to be a fairly common problem that is easily fixed so shouldn't be too much of an issue, just annoyed I've lost a few games progress :( Worst of all, the autosave was just after an important game that it would have been rather convenient to replay. Oh well.

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I was annoyed at losing just one game to a crash last week. It's a pain no matter how many are lost.

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December 2018 - February 2019 | Oxford United

 

Sky Bet League 1

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A fantastic few months that sees me steadily and surely pulling away at the top of the table. The performances have been very good, even if I haven't been putting teams to the sword as much as I would've liked, but the defensive side of my game has been great. My back four have been formidable, with Dunkley and Nelson continuing to look unbeatable at times. Eastwood was a rock behind them until he got injured the day before my Gillingham game which has seen me fielding Kryczka over the past month, who has been okay but is nowhere near as reliable as I would have liked. Whilst I did have a few games that I failed to see out to the end of the game, the only real downside to the past few months was the loss at Charlton which ended a 21 game unbeaten run in the league, and only my third in the league so far. I have turned the Kassam Stadium into a fortress in the league too, undefeated there so far and only drawing 5 games. Iké Ugbo has really kicked up a gear recently too, sitting comfortably at the top of the goalscorers list with 18 goals in the league. Whilst I'm not sure how he'd do in the Championship, he is making signing him as a free transfer looking all the more tempting. Hahn and Adryan have also been stand out performers too, Adryan so much so that he's attracted the attention of Deportivo la Coruna in La Liga 123, forcing Adryan to request I let him leave. He hasn't officially handed in a transfer request, so I should be able to keep him for a while and I have until January 2020 to fulfil my promise to him. Matt Mills also requested a transfer, albeit for lack of playing time instead of interest from clubs. I did accept an offer of £40k from Real Salt Lake, but that fell through for some reason, and I've been unable to shift him since, resulting in his placement in my U23 squad. I also terminated the loans of Hesketh and Sinclair due to their requests as they weren't playing and brought in Rekeem Harper as a backup in midfield.

 

Checkatrade Trophy

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A penalty loss to Birmingham ended my participation in the Checkatrade Trophy, but it's no big deal. A heavily rotated squad still managed to control much of the game, only conceding an equaliser with 20 minutes to go. Sure it was disappointing to go out on penalties, but as I said in my previous update, I don't particularly like this competition, so I prefer to focus on other competitions.

 

FA Cup

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A comfortable victory in the 2nd round for my backups against Dorchester Town sent me up north to face League 2 Hartlepool, who I comfortably brushed aside with a dominating performance, Ugbo once again shining for me. Kettering Town awaited me in the 4th round, and they threatened to be my undoing, as a weakened 11 was 2-0 down with the first 15 minutes. Half-time substitutions to bring on Hahn and Adryan were an impetus for an improved performance in the second half, but I couldn't quite earn the victory and was forced into a replay. Incidentally, this game resulted in my banishing Wes Thomas to my U23 squad as he expressed displeasure at my anger for not being able to beat a non-league side, and he was complaining to his team mates, so I thought he may as well complain to the youngsters that will never make my first team then. A stronger side faced Kettering in the replay at the Kassam, and it showed. A much more dominant performance, with my front three having stormers, picking apart the Kettering defence at will.  And in the 5th round, I landed one of the big boys! Unfortunately for my bank balance it was a home fixture, but a sellout should still bring in a fair bit of cash. I hoped to add Arsenal to the growing list of scalps I'd collected, but it wasn't to be. Arsenal took their time, but eventually took the lead in the 42nd minute. I had an opportunity to level just before half time, but Adryan missed a penalty in the 44th minute which could have been crucial (I think that's his 3rd this season). Arsenal came out for the second half much more lively than they did in the first quickly making it 3-0 by the 52nd minute. Ugbo struck back quickly to give hope to a comeback, and a late Dunkley header made me dare to dream, but it wasn't to be. No 6th round or replay at the Emirates. This was the game that I felt would be convenient to play again after my crash, but the given my luck in the game and the timing of the autosave, it clearly wasn't to be. It was a fun cup run though, I didn't expect to get this far and there's no shame losing to a team like Arsenal in such a close game.

 

EFL Cup

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Going into this game, my team was knackered. We'd been playing twice a week for almost two months, and it was starting to show. With Newcastle playing a strong side, and playing a 3 at the back formation that has given me problems on this save, I didn't really stand a chance. Newcastle put me to the sword, with my goals making it 3-1 and then 5-2, I was never in the game. They were simply too good and I couldn't get any sort of foothold in the game. A disappointing end to what was a fantastic cup run. I can be proud of this run, taking a few scalps and putting in some belting performances, but at least I could focus more on the league with the distractions of the EFL Cup and Checkatrade Trophy gone. 

 

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In January I also picked up another Manager of the Month award, my 6th personal award so far. Not that they matter too much, but it does bring a smile whenever I win one :D

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2 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

I was annoyed at losing just one game to a crash last week. It's a pain no matter how many are lost.

It is frustrating, luckily as I say it wasn't too bad, and I managed to win the three games anyway, so no harm done really :) 

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March - May 2019 / Season Review | Oxford United

 

Sky Bet League 1

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Another league title and with it, promotion to the Championship! A winning streak to kick off March and Wycombe entering poor form meant I wrapped up the title with a thrashing of Notts County, with seven games to go and a 22 point margin. The League was really competitive around the play-off places, with Portsmouth, Wycombe and Birmingham all taking the position of "challenger" at one point or another, and 2nd and 7th barely being separated on points until late March/early April. A couple more wins befitting the Champions, and I was sure I was on course to set the points record for League One. Then Easter happened. For the first time this season in the league, I was completely outclassed. Birmingham recently employed David Wagner, and handed my arse to me! My team was tired after the Portsmouth game, but that's no excuse for the performance. I was never in the game, I didn't create chances and defensively I was all over the place. I think getting to the 100 points mark put my team mentally on the beach, as we just weren't the same in the final three games. Still, 100 points is a massive achievement, although I'm slightly disappointed I didn't go unbeaten at home. Ended up winning the league by 18 points, which is still impressive since I lost my last three games. I have been given a transfer budget of £500k for next season, and £12k p/w extra in wages. It's going to be a tough ask to stay up I think with some star players wanting out, but not an unreasonable task. 

 

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Adryan deservedly picked up the Player of the Year award, notching 12 goals and 12 assists, which is fantastic considering he was playing in CM all season. He was always a threat from deep and the much needed creative spark to feed my front three. His performances have attracted attention from bigger clubs, and it's likely he'll be out of the door this summer, but I can't say it's too much of a surprise as he was way too good for this division. 

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Five players made the Team of the Year, and it's not surprising who. Adryan and Ugbo were fantastic in attack, and Dunkley and Nelson were by far and away the best CB partnership in the League. Eastwood had a good season too, although he was out injured for a bit. But I'm pleasantly and slightly surprised to see him here, I'd assume another GK was better, but then again he didn't concede many.

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My first Manager of the Year award, I would've been very annoyed if I hadn't been given it this time considering my points tally and how much I ran away with the title. Hopefully the first of many more.

 

Notable Players

Adryan - The League Player of the Year, and mine as well. And deservedly so. He was superb for me, defenders couldn't get near him most of the time, and he absolutely walked the league. He ended up with 17 goals and 12 assists from CM which is one of the best returns I've had from a midfielder.

Iké Ugbo - My Top Goalscorer, and third in the League, with 24 League goals and 33 total. He also managed to get 11 assists total, and he proved himself integral to my attack. We looked toothless without him and struggled to create chances, his pace and strength were vital to the way we played. I wanted to sign him at the end of his contract, but Chelsea renewed his deal, so I settled for a two year loan instead.

Curtis Nelson - Whilst I had concerns about his positioning and marking, he formed a formidable partnership with Dunkley in defence and was outstanding all season. It was obvious when he was out, most notably in the last few games of the season, he was a real rock for me.

Cheyenne Dunkley - The other rock in my defence. When I signed Matt Mills I assumed he'd be the first name on the team sheet, but he never got near it. I think the determination of my two CBs allowed them to form a partnership that never gave up, and that allowed my team to build on the solid base, and let me be a bit more attacking with my tactics than I'd usually be, as I was so confident in my defence.

Nick Hahn - With 18 goals and 17 assists, Hahn continued my tradition of having deadly left wingers that practically served as second strikers for me. Despite his poor technical attributes, his Pace, Off the Ball and Vision allowed him to rip League One defences apart at will, and he ran rings around most RBs in the division. West Brom have a real talent on their hands with this kid, it's a shame he didn't want to extend his loan.

 

A fantastic League win and some great cup runs, I've really enjoyed this season, which is no surprise considering how well I did. Next season will be a challenge, but with the right additions, survival should be comfortable. Having said that...

 

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Burnley failed to get promoted through the playoffs after a 3rd placed finish and they came to me to replace Shay Given (who left in January) and the current Interim manager. Whilst I said I wanted to stay at Oxford a while, and I don't want to be jumping around too much, I think I might take this. Burnley have a much better squad, have a £12m budget currently and a wage budget that's about 10x Oxford's, not to mention the better facilities. They probably should've gone up this season, and I reckon it won't take much to do so. Since I am treating this as a career save, I'm not sure I can pass up this chance, as it's definitely a move most managers would jump at. My major hesitation is that I do want to go abroad soon-ish on this save, I don't want it to simply be a case of jumping to the top of the Premier League as quickly as possible, I want to try some other nations out, but getting Burnley promoted could raise my stock so that decent teams abroad will take a chance on me.

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June - August 2019 | Burnley FC

 

Career So Far

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2019-20 Season

 

Club Details

Nation - England

League - Sky Bet Championship 

Stadium - Turf Moor

Capacity - 22,546 all-seater

Training Facilities - Impressive

Youth Facilities - Great

Junior Coaching - Average

Youth Recruitment - Average

Media Prediction - 3rd

My expectation - Promotion

Transfer Budget - £12.09m

Wage Budget - £718,869 p/w

Current Wage Bill - £674,5567 p/w

 

Summer Transfers

Out

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Whilst I didn't need to sell players, the squad was paper thin when I joined, especially in midfield and attack. A lot of the players were also on decent wages and a few valued quite highly, so it made sense to move them on. I was almost forced to sell two of my better CBs, Ben Mee and Taylor Moore, as they were attracting interest from Premier League clubs, but my high asking price (about £12m-15m each) seemed to scare off that interest, but their morale means they may not be in my first team for a little while.

 

In

My transfer policy was driven by my desire to try out a new tactic with Burnley, a 532 I thought would suit Burnley's good defence and the good strikers available this window. I have also tried to get some strikers and midfielders that can play out wide too, in case I need to fall back on my 433.

 

Tammy Abraham - £4m from Chelsea. I was suggested to scout Abraham by my staff, and when the report got back to me, it stated he'd be available for £4m-8m despite being worth £10m. A good striker for this level and a steal at that price. Could rise to £6m if he gets 50 appearances and 30 goals, which I think is worth the extra £2m. His availability was part of my reasoning to switch to a 532.

Mehmet Ekici - £6.25m from Norwich. Norwich were relegated from the Premier League, which left Ekici transfer listed and unhappy, and I was in need of a creative, attacking midfielder. What he lacks in mental attributes he makes up for in technical attributes, which are more than good enough for this level.

Emmanuel Benegas - £1m from Velez. I found Benegas whilst looking through the U20 World Cup squads and thought he looked decent, especially at that price. He can also vitally play WBL, which I need for my new formation, and have no current possible options there.

Pablo Iribarren - £32k from Athletic Bilbao. Recommended by my scout, and his contract was unprotected so I took a punt on him. He looks quite decent for his age, but he's definitely one for the future.

Alessandro Bastoni - Loan from Man City. As I needed more CBs for my new formation, Bastoni became available on the loan list, and after a failed attempt at signing Dessie Brennan from Forest, I thought Bastoni would make a good, cheap back up.

Michael Hefele - £2.8m from Huddersfield. After Huddersfield suffered successive relegations to League One, Hefele was looking to jump ship. A solid Championship CB and at a cheap price I couldn't give the opportunity up to sign him. Not too sure if he'll start, but he's a good rotation option.

Ashley Williams - Free Transfer. A slight panic signing after Mee and Moore asked to leave and I hadn't landed my top CB targets, I signed Williams as an option for my defence. I now have at least seven CBs and several players that can cover the position so Williams will likely not feature much, but he'll make a decent tutor.

Abderrahmane Lafri - Loan from Sassuolo. A decent regen that's already playing in the Algeria first team and has good potential. Signed as a backup and with a future fee of £6m, which I'll decide if he's worth it over the loan.

Trent Alexander-Arnold - Loan from Liverpool. With Matt Lowton as my only RWB available to me, I decided to get in Alexander-Arnold on loan to provide. He's probably better than Lowton however, which means I'll probably rotate this position a fair bit, with Lowton serving as the backup.

Nicola Murru - £500k from Cagliari. Murru can cover both WB positions, which made him a useful acquisition, but mainly he can play at LWB, which Benegas was my only option before I signed Murru. At £500k it's a cheap, fairly risk-free transfer too. If he makes 50 appearances for me, Cagliari will get an extra £50k.

Fede - Free Transfer. Another panic signing. I offered Fede a contract when I hadn't offered for Alexander-Arnold, and I had planned to retrain Fede to be my RWB backup. But as Fede took so long to accept a contract, I forgot I had tried to sign him when I signed Alexander-Arnold. I decided to keep him as he's only 20 and I can loan him out for now. If needs be he's decent back for several positions.

Adryan  - £3.2m from Oxford. Adryan was still transfer listed after I tried to fulfil my promise to him before I joined Burnley, and I needed a backup AMC, so thought he'd be perfect, especially so cheap. He was listed at £2.6m, but obviously there was an ex-manager tax that brought it up a bit :)

Vincent Janssen - £3.7m from Tottenham. Transfer listed and unhappy at Spurs, I thought Janssen would be a steal at that price, especially in the Championship, and it fit perfectly with my new tactic. With decent wages too, I can't really see a downside to this transfer.

Juan Manuel Martínez - £4.5m from Rosario Central. I found Martínez similarly to Benegas, and was another driving force behind my tactic switch. He has flaws, but he is clearly a special player with those attributes at just 18 and bags of potential. Considering fellow Rosarinos include Di Maria and Messi, it makes you wonder what they're putting in the water in Rosario. After 20 international appearances and 50 league appearances, the fee will rise to £7m, which they may not get as I reckon he'll attract interest fairly soon.

Vedran Gal - £4.5m from Oxford. I chased Gal all summer, he was interested in coming, but Oxford wouldn't sell, forcing Gal to ask to leave, which brought the fee right down. Eventually, Oxford agreed to let me have Gal at a reasonable price, which could rise to £9m depending on about 5 different clause of varying realisticness. Gal will probably be a backup for now, as he needs some improvement still, but I still think he has massive potential.

 

Squad

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Pre-Season Friendlies

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An okay pre-season, it helped me get used to the new tactic and work out some kinks, but there's still some work to be done.

 

Tactic

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I'm hoping to make use of my abundant CBs and quality strikers with this tactic, but also to create chances in a similar style as I had before with less reliance on wide players, which I don't have and weren't available in the summer window.

 

Sky Bet Championship

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A mixed start with the team still getting used to the tactic. I'm still also working out some kinks but have steadily improved my style of play. Leeds and Ipswich exploited defensive weakness, whilst Janssen and Martínez were out injured which hampered my defence. My first win funnily came at the Kassam Stadium, with two ex-Oxford players bagging their first goals for Burnley. Gal scored a 30-yard screamer early on, and Adryan scored a nice volley in the box to wrap the game up. Going on to lose to Villa was disappointing, but seeing them sitting pretty in 1st with 5 wins from 5 somewhat eases the disappointment. With Janssen and Martínez back as my strikeforce, my attack clicked against Wigan, and both players scored great goals to end the month on a decent note. The form isn't great, and I definitely need to improve quickly, or I may have another short stay at my club, only involuntarily this time :(

 

EFL Cup

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Facing lower league opposition I hoped would help me kick start some form, but both Doncaster and Sheff Utd gave me tough matches that I just about limped through. I was the better side in both games, but I failed to create good chances, and those I did weren't finished well enough. Sunderland await in the 3rd round, which is going to be tough considering both my form and the fact they're in the Premier League. 

Edited by VillaSmith

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September - November 2019 | Burnley FC

 

Sky Bet Championship

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A poor start to the month against Cardiff, not being able to hold on to a 1-0, 3-1 or 4-3 lead with a lot of shoddy defending. That result made me think I was in for a long season that would see me dangerously close to losing my jobs, but I turned it around over the next few games, which ended up with me putting Sheffield Wednesday to the sword. I came crashing back to earth after David Wagner once again got the better of me, and two late consolation goals from Martínez saved my blushes. But since then my form has been fantastic, now unbeaten in 9 league games, climbing from the edge of the playoffs to now just sneaking into the promotion places thanks to Villa's awful form recently. Martínez and Janssen have clicked almost instantly, and have become a formidable partnership up front. Martínez particularly has been in awesome form, but a couple injuries over the past month has had him playing more intermittently. With 3 injuries in 3 months, there's a slight worry that he could be injury prone which could hamper his development, but luckily they seem to be fairly unrelated to each other so maybe it's just bad luck. Oxford are still hanging around the playoff places too, with my replacement Marco Tábuas doing great. The Oxford fans would have been rather smug for most of the season so far as Oxford were above until around 4 games ago. It's nice to see them doing well, hopefully they can stick around this part of the table until the end of the season.

 

EFL Cup

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I thought my Sunderland tie would be difficult due to my struggles in the earlier rounds, so I was surprised to get past Sunderland with so much ease, especially since they were comfortably mid table at the time. We created loads of chances and pretty much every highlight from the game was me camped on the edge of their box, except when I gave away a penalty for their goal. The next round gave me an away trip to League One Coventry, which saw a return to my lacklustre cup form, with a late goal from Adryan helping me limp through to the Quarter Finals. West Ham are my Quarter Final opponents, and hopefully I can get one over them again like last season to get to the Semis.

 

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The good form over the last couple of months won me my first Championship Manager of the Month Awards, giving me two more for my personal trophy cabinet :D 

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23 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Great previous season Smithy.

Cheers :) Just a shame I couldn't keep it up and get the record, I think I was about 4 points off.

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December 2019 - February 2020 | Burnley FC

 

Sky Bet Championship

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A mediocre January sandwiched by a very good December and February. We played some fantastic football over these three months, getting some comfortable wins in the process. Janssen continued his fantastic form bagging 11 in the 15 league games he played, but Martínez went off the boil after his injury. He missed most of December and went 13 games without a goal until he scored against Millwall, and since then he's been great again, hopefully it's just the inconsistency of youth, and he's not going to be too inconsistent when he's older. The midfield regularly contributed with goals over this period, and I'm really happy with the way we've been playing, with a lot of my players getting the box for the WBs to aim at. Poor form from both the Second City teams has seen me pull away slightly, sitting 6 points ahead of Villa. I'm hoping that if either team continues to fight with me at the top it's Villa, as they are the better Second City team ;) Also because David Wagner likes to beat me, so I don't want him following me to the Premier League. Although I did manage to get one over him in February!

 

EFL Cup

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I continued my good form against higher opposition by playing West Ham off of Turf Moor with ease, and then taking the first leg lead in the Semi Final against Chelsea. My dream of Wembley wasn't to be however, as a full strength Chelsea side tore me to shreds in the second leg. Two goals each for Kanté and Draxler with Keane and Vietto both on the score sheet. I just couldn't compete. I did have the ball in the back of the net but Gray's effort was ruled out for "offside". It wasn't offside. At all. But I can't really complain too much, as that would have made it 6-1, so it wouldn't have made much of a difference. Maybe next year with some Premier League standard additions I can make it to the final.

 

FA Cup

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It's nice to go into the FA Cup in the third round, and avoid having all your players knackered by Christmas if you dare do well enough in the cups. It was a short run this year, with two lacklustre affairs against Title-Challengers Tottenham. Not much to note in the first game, but I took the lead in the Replay. Unfortunately, Moussa Dembélé (the Celtic one) kept getting away from Ben Mee to get in behind my defence, which he scored twice from to knock me out of the Cup.

 

Transfers

Out

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I didn't particularly want to get rid of many players, except the early transfers out, but Osborn, Mendy, Lowton and Hefele all demanded transfers. Osborn and Mendy for better competitions (Osborn stayed in the league, Mendy went to La Liga 123, a lower rep league :rolleyes:), whilst Lowton and Hefele wanted first team football. The only one I'm really frustrated with is Mendy, as he was a nailed on starter, and I had no real replacement, so a late transfer demand saw me scramble slightly to get someone in. Some decent fees in there, and I thought I had even made a profit from Hefele, despite signing him in the summer, but the £700k profit went directly to him through his 20% sell on fee.

 

In

Matija Muric  - £1.4m from Dinamo Zagreb. Whilst scouting the other leagues in Europe, I noticed this guy was top scorer in the Croatian league, despite only just turning 18. I scouted him and saw he had good potential, as well as Zagreb willing to let him go fairly cheaply, so I snapped him up. He was possibly going to be a backup this season, as Andre Gray wanted to leave, but as I couldn't sell Gray, I loaned Muric out to Cordoba to get some first team experience.

Freddie Woodman - £775k from Newcastle United. In the summer I loaned out my back up keeper, not realising that left me with just Heaton and the 18 year old regen I signed in the summer, Iribarren. This made me realise I was kind of screwed if Heaton was to get injured, so I snapped Woodman up from the transfer list. Woodman's a decent GK for this level, so will be more than an adequate backup, certainly for the price and wages at least, and maybe could even stay as second choice if I get promoted.

Kieran Tierney - £14.75m from Man City. A signing I made with one eye on next season. Tierney is a Premier League level LB and can easily slot into the WB position of my tactic and with Arsenal sniffing around I felt I had to snap him up quick. I perhaps over paid a little, but that was so that Man City would pay some of his £100k p/w wages, and it could rise to £18.25m if he makes 20 more international appearances, but I feel it's a good investment, especially as it's one less position to worry about in the summer window.

Isaac Hayden - £2.8m from Huddersfield. Signed as Mendy's replacement, and was cheap as he wanted to leave Huddersfield in League One. To be honest, despite my initial panicking when Mendy wanted to leave, I feel I came off quite well here. Hayden is very similar to Mendy, and not a whole lot worse, whilst bringing him in for a lot less than I got for Mendy. May need to replace him in the summer, but he's a capable stop gap.

 

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I reached my 200 game mark with my first leg against Chelsea. Now on to the next milestone, and padding out those achievement lists!

 

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And two more Manager of the Month awards to add to that list! I think I may stop adding these to my posts as they take up a bit of space and I just get so many  :brock:

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March - May 2020 / Season Review | Burnley FC

 

Sky Bet Championship

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Crowned as Champions to earn promotion to the Premier League with another tally of 100 points! Villa managed to put some form together to finish comfortably second, but they couldn't get enough wins to put up a real challenge for me and my other challengers Birmingham were close to missing out on the playoffs, eventually losing to Leeds in the final. We ended up romping to the title with some impressive wins, winning the title with a great 4-0 Home win v Hull. Despite a couple of on the beach performances against Wycombe and West Brom, I was very happy with the form to end the season, especially as Janssen missed the end of the season with a torn hamstring. Martínez was back to his best over the last couple of months, and Andre Gray stepped up to fill Janssen's role fantastically. The board have given me £22.86m to spend and wage budget of £1m p/w. I think the squad is good enough to stay up next year, and with a few additions, possibly mid table.

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Two thoroughly deserved awards for Martínez, he has been superb this season, and only just missed out on the Top Goalscorer gong as well, despite his poor form around December time. Martínez really is a special player, he's going to be a great player, it may be hard to hold on to him for too long. Janssen managed to get into third on the Top Goalscorer, even though he missed the last two months of the season. They formed an amazing partnership up front this season, I'm hoping they can be effective next season too.

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Eight players made the Team of the Year, four in the team and four on the bench. I'm slightly surprised Hendrick and Janssen didn't make the XI, but I can't really argue with Clough being included. Ekici, Heaton and Mee all had great seasons too, and were deserving inclusions.

 

Notable Players

1. Juan Manuel Martínez - Championship Player of the Season, Young Player of the Season, My Top Goalscorer, second Top Goalscorer in the league, and fans' Player of the Year, it would be odd for him to not have been the best player this season. Notching up 33 goals and 11 assists, he was fantastic. Luckily I didn't rely on him as heavily as I have relied on players at my previous clubs, but he was still massively important to me. I should struggle to keep him, but he hasn't attracted any interest yet so I hope I can keep him for the Premier League.

2. Vincent Janssen - At £3.7m, Janssen was an absolute steal. Second top scorer, and third in the league, Janssen showed Premier League quality throughout the season, he was arguably more important than Martínez to my team, as he linked up with the midfield and WBs more effectively. His injury seems to have hit him hard however, hopefully he can bounce back over the summer.

3. Isaac Hayden -  A bit of a last minute, panic replacement for Mendy, but he ended up being superb for me. He protected my back three and was a good link up player when building up attacks. He may be technically worse than Mendy, but his impact was much bigger and much more noticeable, and we were more solid in midfield after Hayden joined. He probably isn't good enough for the Premier League though, but will be a  fine back up.

4. Mehmet Ekici - Ekici was almost ever present for me, missing just two games, and he warranted it. He got the most assists for me, but was a way off of Apostolos Vellios' league tally of 22. He was integral to my attacking moves and a great free kick taker, I hope he can carry that form into next season.

5. Ben Mee / Reece Burke - I couldn't decide between the two for my fifth choice, so thought I should include them both as they were both part of my solid defence this season. I experimented with a 3 CB formation, and these two really helped make it work, and were rocks at the defence for me. They provided the solid foundation for my team and excelled all season.

 

Another fantastic League win and a Cup Semi Final this year, I can't wait to take Burnley into the Premier League, and luckily there are no teams sniffing around to poach this year, so I'll be staying for a second season, finally.

 

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Having added the finishing touches to my squad, and feeling prepared for the season, I was looking forward to my first season in the Premier League when suddenly...

 

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Southgate resigned after failing to get out of the groups in 2018 and his replacement, Claude Puel, has just resigned after reaching the Semi Final in Euro 2020. I'm really torn on whether to take this job, I do want to stay at Burnley and I was planning on staying until the 2022 World Cup before I moved again, but my rules state I'd have to resign if I took this job. However, this is a massive job that I'm not sure I can reasonably turn down. I do want to go into International management, whether it's a little too early for it though I'm not sure. England obviously have some great players, and they have a lot of good young players too, which makes the decision even harder. Also, if I'm playing this realistically, it comes with a £73k p/w wage, whilst I'm currently on £10.75k p/w, so I'd be in for a massive pay rise that I imagine most managers would jump at.

Edited by VillaSmith

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August - September 2020 | England

 

Career So Far

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Nation Details

Nation - England

League - European International League Division A Group 2 / UEFA World Cup Qualifiers Group 5

Stadium - Wembley

Capacity - 90,000 all-seater

My expectation - Not get outclassed in European International League

World Ranking - 8th

 

Key Players

Fraser Forster - Years of fighting with Jack Butland to be Joe Hart's understudy have left Forster woefully under-capped, but he is by far England's best option in goal, at least for now. Tottenham have a 20-year-old GK coming through right now called Andrew Steel, who'll most likely be England's future No.1, and may be first choice by Morocco 2022, but Forster will be the GK I build my defence on in the immediate future.

Dele - By far England's best player, and an integral part of the English midfield. Dele would have been considered as "England's Future" for the past few years, but with Morocco 2022 on the horizon, and Dele now 24, it's time for him to deliver on the international stage. I'll look to Dele to be my creative force from deep, and hopefully will chip in with goals too.

Harry Kane - Currently England's joint 6th top scorer with 30 goals, and at only 27 he's got enough time to catch Wayne Rooney's record. Kane is a top striker that is constantly challenging for the Top Goalscorer in the Premier League, and I hope he can transfer that form into international games.

 

European International League

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A good start to my international career, beating the World #2 managed by my predecessor, Claude Puel, and at the Stade de France too. We weren't really in the game first half, but second half we were camped outside the French box and just after the hour mark Oxlade-Chamberlain tapped in from close range after a neat cross from Reiss Nelson. A solid win to get the campaign off to a good start, and débuts for two Arsenal youngsters Reiss Nelson and Raheim Gilkes (newgen) off the bench. Bosnia and Herzegovina are the other team in my group, but I don't face them until the next International period in October.

 

Friendly

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A home friendly against Poland was my second game in charge, and I used as an opportunity to make changes to try out the backups. This game was much the same story as the France game, a poor first half in which Poland took the lead through a deflected free-kick. The second half began brightly with Callum Wilson taking advantage of a misplaced throw in, and later Raheim Gilkes got on the end of a nice little pass from Dele and scored a beautiful goal, placing the ball in the top corner to get his first goal on his full début. A quick counter attack then left Lewandowski with space in the box, and he doesn't miss many in that situation. Unfortunately we couldn't keep control of possession, and Dier's red card ended any chance of snatching a late winner, although with the introduction of Dele and Dier in the second half did help turn the tide of the game. Raheim Gilkes got his first England start and Liverpool's Kris Thompson, another newgen, was given a début in this game too.

 

Next month I face Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Euro International League, and then a trip to Israel for a friendly. It will be a chance to strengthen my position in the League and overtake France after their victory against Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then to get a proper look at some other fringe players again. I climbed to 7th after a decent start, an okay ranking, but I think the nation will be damanding higher.

Edited by VillaSmith

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October 2020 | England

 

European International League

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"England Expects" was the headline before this game, and I think I delivered in my first competitive game at Wembley. Kane opened the scoring with a smart finish from inside the box after a corner had been only as far as Nelson, who passed it back inside to Dier to get the assist. Kane turned provider for the second, receiving the ball from a throw in and then passing inside to Henderson, who finished the move off with a nice finish. Dier sent us in at 3-0 after a cross fell to him and the slammed home from the edge of the box. Kane doubled his tally just after the hour mark, another failed clearance from a corner fell to Kane, this time on the edge of the box, and he emphatically converted the opportunity. Thompson came off the bench to wrap up the game, running onto a pass into the box from Oxlade-Chamberlain to make it 5-0 with a tidy finish. We dominated this game, knocking at Bosnia and Herzegovina's door constantly and keeping possession well.  It could have been more, but we couldn't quite fashion chances in the box from the pressure, and the ones we did, we converted. This result leaves me in a commanding position level with France, but a much better Goal Difference, but they'll be looking to make that up in their home tie against BiH.

 

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Another chance to rotate the squad, and a much more commanding performance this time around. Thompson gave us an early lead, although he didn't know much about it! Gilkes cut the ball back after a run down the left, and Tawatha for Israel cleared the ball directly into Thompson, and the ball bounced past Kleyman for us to take the lead. That was the only interesting thing to happen in the first half and started the second with our tails up. A Flanagan cross was cleared only as far as Davies, who laid it off to Ward-Prowse to place the ball in the net from the edge of the box. Just before the hour mark, Ward-Prowse exploited Israel's high line by playing a ball over the top for Gilkes to chase on to. Gilkes got down the wing again and put a poor pass back into the box, but fortunately, it deflected into the path of Thompson, who tapped home from the six-yard box. A lapse of concentration in defence, however, allowed Israel to counter with a ball in behind for Zahavi, and he placed past Steel to give Israel a consolation goal. A good win, and another opportunity to see the fringe players in action. This game also saw recalls for Raheem Sterling and Danny Drinkwater in place of Callum Wilson and Lewis Cook. A good performance that gives me some food for thought in the World Cup Qualifiers next year.

 

I finish off the European International League in November, with both return fixtures still to play, and with me currently sitting in a commanding position. I fell in the rankings a few places to 10th after the South American countries all played and rose in the rankings together, hopefully, I can turn that around soon.

Edited by VillaSmith

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November 2020 | England

 

European International League

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A rampant victory to seal my place in the European International League Semi Final! We got off to a fantastic start with Nelson nodding in from close range after a Clyne cross from the right. Shortly after, an uncleared corner led to a shot from Kane inside the box, and Lafont could only turn the shot onto the post. France then failed to clear off the line and Oxlade-Chamberlain then pounced on the loose ball to make it 2-0. Nelson made it 3-0 with a first-time finish after getting on the end of a great pass by Oxlade-Chamberlain over the France defence to the six-yard box. France threatened to make a game of it after Griezmann finished off a quick counter attack from close range, but it wasn't to be. Oxlade-Chamberlain got on to the end of a long pass from Henderson just before the half hour and lifted a shot across Lafont into the top corner of the goal from just inside the box. After that, it was just a case of seeing out the game. It was France's last game, and anything less than a win would have sealed my place in the standings, so the onus was on them to get something, but they couldn't break down my defence. It was a great performance and a great way to seal my place in the Semis.

 

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As qualification was secured, I again rotated the team, and after a dull first half I felt I'd made a poor decision, so I brought on Kane and Henderson to freshen things up, and they made an instant impact to my performance. A Sterling cross was parried by Begovic and Kane charged into score from range, but all he did was force an own goal to take the lead. Ward-Prowse finished off a good move to make it 2-0, making a run from deep to tap in a Walker cross from a few yards out. Kane scored the third, finishing off a counter attack with a long range finish, and Nelson quickly made it 4-0. Sterling got on the end of a Henderson through ball and put a low ball in from the left for Nelson to tap in from the six-yard box. Kane then finished the scoring with a neat turn and finish inside the box, converting a nice pass from Nelson.

 

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A perfect record with some fantastic attacking football, and some formidable defensive performances. These games went much better than I was expecting, with France being the World #2 when I took the job, but the team took to my tactics instantly and played some great stuff, leaving me hopeful of the Semis and the World Cup Qualifiers.

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10th ranked Croatia await me in the Semi Final, with the other Semi seeing 7th ranked Spain face 15th ranked Germany, two good teams that performed poorly at Euro 2020. I'm hopeful, but there's tough opposition to get past.

 

World Cup Qualifiers

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A fairly tough group, with the prospect of facing two "subjects" :p Holland and Austria will pose difficult challenges, and the Auld Enemy won't be easy, but I'm fairly confident of qualifying from this group and securing my place in Morocco. I start off at home to Austria and then travel to Cyprus to follow.

 

A good month with a few more until International football starts up again, and I finish month one place higher in the rankings in 9th.

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March 2021 | England

 

World Cup Qualifiers

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A great start to the Qualifiers, beating Austria with ease. I'm pretty relieved with this result, as Austria presented a potential Banana skin for, resting in that bracket of International teams where they don't have many top class players, but have a lot of good players. We got off the mark quickly, with Henderson placing a shot in the top left corner after Nelson's low cross into the box after Austria failed to clear a corner. Kane was injured for this International period, and Thompson stepped up well to fill the void, making it 2-0 with a well-placed shot into the top corner from the edge of the box. Thompson turned creator just before the hour mark, slipping Oxlade-Chamberlain in behind the defence, who then fired past Stankovic from close range. A good win to kick off the campaign, which left me second behind Scotland, who beat Cyprus 4-0 in the opening fixture.

 

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Another quick start to this game as Dele nodded in a Nelson free kick after just 5 minutes. Cyprus once again failed to deal with a Nelson corner for my second goal, this time through a more typical scorer in Michael Keane. I kept up the pressure for much of the first half, with Nelson getting his assist hat trick after getting on the end of a Thompson through ball and crossing from the byline for the sub, Raheem Sterling, to nod into an open net. A loss of concentration before half time allowed Cyprus back into the game after a free kick was nodded across goal by Laifis for an unmarked Calo to tap in. We took our foot off the gas in the second and it took a while to get the fourth, but Thompson received a pass inside the box from Sterling, and with a smart finish he killed off the game.

 

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Scotland's second game was versus Gibraltar, so they keep hold of first place after the first month of games, but I face the Auld Enemy in the next game, so I could top the group before long. Plus, probably my biggest challenger, Holland, were held 1-1 by Austria, which allows me to open up an early but small lead on them. The European International League Semi Final closely follows my next two games, but luckily I face Gibraltar immediately before so I can rest a couple of players.

 

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I attended an interview with Man City recently too, to see what they were offering, and it's a fairly mouth-watering offer! They're currently 6th with 7 games to go, no hope of the title and 6 points behind the Champions League places. Whilst the £149m is tempting, I can't take it without resigning from England as per my rules, and I want to at least get past the 2022 World Cup with England, so I decided to pass this opportunity up.

 

We fell in the world rankings to 10th whilst not playing and after this month we reclaimed our 9th spot.

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June 2021 | England

 

World Cup Qualifiers

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This was the 115th time the Auld Enemy Derby was played, and we ran out deserved winners, restricting Scotland to one shot on target and slicing Scotland's defence apart with ease. The opener came from a Nelson free kick that Stones headed on to the bar, and the ball looped up in the only to fall to Oxlade-Chamberlain to tap into an empty net for a goal on his 60th Cap. Tom Davies made it 2-0 after pouncing onto a poor free kick from the Scotland GK, Jordan Archer, controlling the ball on the half way line and bringing it forward, to then shoot from 50 yards out into the abandoned goal. Just before half time, Scotland failed to clear a corner and allowed Nelson to cross back into the box, which Oxlade-Chamberlain controlled and laid off to Stones to place a shot past Archer from close range. The second half had little excitement as we saw the game out and cemented our place on the top of the pack.

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10 changes for this game in preparation for the upcoming European League Semi Final, and I couldn't have asked for a better performance! We got off to a roaring start, or should I say Kris Thompson got off to a roaring start! 45 seconds into the game and a shot from Will Hughes deflected into the path of Thompson, who converted from the edge of the six-yard box. Less than 4 minutes later, Thompson was the first to a poorly cleared corner and he fired home from the edge of the box to make it 2. Goal #3 came from some nice football on the edge of the Gibraltar box, with Thompson playing the ball out wide for Gilkes, who fired a low placed shot under Robba. Ward-Prowse made it 4-0 with a stunning 30-yard free kick into the top right-hand corner. Thompson got his hat-trick 10 minutes before half time as Walker got down the line and played a nice cross to the front post, which Thompson turned in with ease. We started the second half of a little slower, and the sixth goal came from a counter attack, with Thompson beating three players and then firing a shot from the edge of the box, which Robba could only turn into his own net. Gilkes was then brought down in the box with 15 minutes to go, and Thompson converted with a calm finish to the bottom right corner that left Robba motionless, making it 7-0 and taking Thompson's tally to 5, a joint England record! Thompson then broke the England "most goals in a game" record with a 25-yard free kick in the 91st minute, but to be fair to Robba, it was deflected which gave him no chance to reach the shot.

 

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Two great performances left me top of the group, with a substantial Goal Difference. Holland bucked their ideas up and are just two points behind, but with 5 points between me and third, it looks like I'm beginning to peel away from the pack. When the next season starts, I'll face Austria and Holland, which will be the toughest international break during these qualifiers, and a chance to really secure my place at the top. Next up, however, the European International League semis!

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