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mjaferrie

[FM17] Project Brave - Youth Only at Paradise

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Posted (edited)

Eh, so this OP became very, very long.  The short version is - I'm back at Celtic using a custom league set up.  Last time, I allowed myself to sign players born within 30 miles of Celtic Park - this time, we're only using players from our own youth academy.  The rest of this OP will go into some detail about the background and setup of this save, so if you're interested please keep reading!  If not, skip this first bit :D

Scotland_national_football_team_logo_2014.svg.thumb.png.619991ffd1d3d3dae7411471a34d466f.png

Project Brave...  If that doesn't make you cringe, I'm not sure what will.  For those of you who don't know, Project Brave is the latest 'radical solution' designed to save Scottish football from it's current state of pretty pish-ness.  It's been in the pipeline for over a year, instigated by former Manchester United forward and Director of Youth Academy, Brian McClair.  McClair left United to succeed Mark Wotte as National Performance Director for the SFA, but left the role in July 2016.

When it came to his replacement, well, the Scottish Football Association have truly outdone themselves - a perfect storm of nae'bdy wanting the job (Northern Ireland assistant Austin McPhee turned it down to join Ian Cathro's team at Hearts instead) and nae'bdy else willing to give him a job led to the appointment in December 2016 of...

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Ach well, at least he looks as bemused as the rest of us.  Let's.. eh... skip assessing his credentials for the role and instead look at what the proposals mean for Scottish football.  Among several other proposals, we've got:

- The reduction of the number of elite academies from the current 29 to a maximum of 16, earlier reported as 8.
- The possible introduction of SPFL colt teams into the pyramid system.
- Scrapping the current Development League (U20s) in favour of a Reserve League system.
- Relaxing the current rules to encourage the increased use of development loans for 17-21 year olds.

So!  For this save, I've set about putting in place some of these changes in the editor.

In terms of the reduction of academies, we have added the Forth Valley Football Academy and the Fife Elite Football Academy which IRL serve Falkirk, Stenhousemuir, Stirling Uni, East Stirlingshire (Forth Valley) and Cowdenbeath, East Fife, Dunfermline, Raith Rovers (Fife Elite).  These two teams have a maximum age of 18, and will participate in the U18s in place of their affiliates' youth teams.  The remaining 14 slots will be made up of remaining U18 teams from the Scottish Premiership, Championship and League One.  Rangers, Dumbarton, Brechin City, Peterhead, and Arbroath are however ineligible for the league.  Rangers have pulled out of next seasons Development League in favour of friendlies against top teams; Dumbarton have announced they are scrapping their youth academy; Brechin, Peterhead and Arbroath don't participate in the Development League.  Zero over-18 players are permitted to play in the U18s league.

8c28d71846e1ed3765f889df81698146.png 

This year, the SPFL clubs were allowed to submit proposals for entering colt teams into the Scottish pyramid system, and the likely contenders are of course the Old Firm with Hibernian and Aberdeen also reportedly seriously considering the plan.  While it would be open to all 42 clubs, the financial impact would mean that these 4 teams are likely to be the only clubs able to support 2 teams in the senior leagues.  The requirements mean that they would start at the Highland/Lowland leagues level, would not be able to rise higher than League One, and would not be able to participate in the Scottish Cup or League Cup.  They also have to compete at a stadium of minimum League Two Bronze standard - Celtic have reportedly already been in contact with Greenock Morton about the use of Cappielow.  Aberdeen's development squad have been using Brechin City's Glebe Park, while Hibernian have likewise been using Spartan's Ainslie Park.  Rangers, while mostly using Auchenhowie or Ibrox, have historically also used Broadwood Stadium in Cumbernauld for Reserve matches, and they'll play their home games there.  Teams would not be able to field more than two over-21 players.  In a nod to history, I've also given Celtic and Rangers' colt teams their historical names, and Rangers their historic reserve kit of black and red vertical stripes.  Therefore, we have:

Aberdeen Colts, Glebe Park - Highland Football League
Celtic Crusaders, Cappielow Park - Lowland Football League
Hibernian Colts, Ainslie Park - Lowland Football League
Rangers Swifts, Broadwood Stadium - Lowland Football League

In search of a way forward, we're going twenty years back (Brilliant! Where do they come up with this stuff!?) with the reintroduction of the Scottish Reserves League.  In the top tier we have Reserve teams from the Premiership and Championship, however the above Colt teams do not participate.  Annan and Stranraer Reserves who compete in the South of Scotland League, and Stirling University Reserves who compete in the East of Scotland League are also ineligible if they reach either of the top 2 divisions, along with Brechin, Dumbarton, Arbroath, East Fife, Montrose, Peterhead, and Stenhousemuir.  The rest of the Reserve Leagues are made of tiers 3-5 in regional divisions.  A maximum of five over-21 players can compete.

In terms of the loan rules, I've stuck with the loan rules already existing in Scotland in terms of numbers.  The difference is that while before there were limits on total players moving on loan at one time, in one season, those limits are now only for players aged over 21.  Clubs are not able to sign more than two over-23 players on loan from one club.

Phew... Almost there.

All League and Cup histories are as accurate as possible thanks to http://www.scottish-football-historical-archive.co.uk

LEAGUES
As we have Reserve teams competing in the Pyramid System, I've added the Highland and Lowland Leagues into the setup, and the East of Scotland and South of Scotland Leagues below that.  The pyramid system is exactly the same as in real life - so, we have the Premiership, Championship, Leagues One and Two.  From League Two there is no automatic relegation to the 5th tier, however the winners of the Highland and Lowland League compete in a playoff, with the winner then facing off against the team in last place in League Two in a promotion/relegation playoff.  Below the Lowland League, we have the East/South of Scotland Leagues and promotion/relegation follows this exact same system.  Annan, Stranraer and Stirling Uni Reserves are not permitted promotion from tier 6, while Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen and Hibs Reserves are not permitted promotion from tier 3.  Completing the Scottish senior setup is the North Caledonian League.  It sits under the Highland League, at the same level as the East/South Leagues, but there is no promotion or relegation at all from this division.  Golspie Sutherland however are full SFA members and therefore compete in the Scottish Cup.

CUPS
Scottish Cup - 92 teams made up of all 42 from the top 4 tiers + Banks O'Dee, Linlithgow Rose, Golspie Sutherland, Glasgow University, Girvan.  The remaining teams are taken from tiers five and six.
Scottish League Cup - All 42 SPFL teams + winners of tier 5.  Reserve teams are not permitted to compete (although lets see if that actually works out in my file - I'm not fussed if they end up competing in this competition).  
IRN-BRU Cup - All teams from Tiers 2-4 and four best teams from Highland/Lowland, twelve Reserve teams of the Scottish Premiership, two best teams from Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales. N.B. In the updated version, the teams from Ireland have been corrected so that it is the 5th and 6th place teams instead (i.e. teams not in Europe).
Highland, Lowland, East and South of Scotland League Cups - League Cups for their associated Leagues.
South Challenge Cup - All teams from Lowland, East and South of Scotland Football Leagues.
Southern Counties Cup - All South of Scotland teams + Queen of the South, Dalbeattie Star and Edusport Academy.
Southern Counties Alba Cup - Lochar Thistle, Mid Annandale, Creetown, Upper Annandale, Lochmaben, Heston Rovers, Bonnyton Thistle, Abbey Vale, Nithsdale Wanderers, Dumfries YMCA ONLY if these teams are in Tier 6.  Promotion excludes them from the competition.
Alex Jack Cup - Tweedmouth Rangers, Heriot-Watt Uni, Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, Ormiston, Tynecastle, Eyemouth United, Peebles Rovers, Leith Athletic ONLY if these teams are in Tier 6.  
South-East Scotland Cup-Winner's Shield - Super Cup for Winners of the Southern Counties Alba Cup and Alex Jack Cup.
North Caledonian Cup - Mainland teams from North Caledonian League + Nairn County U20s and Elgin City U20s.  I've decided to keep the U20s sides of these two teams as they only compete in North Caley FA Cup competitions.  Mainland teams only, so Orkney don't qualify.
Football Times Cup, and Jock Mackay Memorial Cup - North Caledonian League teams + Shetland, Lewis and Harris Select, Nairn U20 and Elgin U20.
Tommy Ross Memorial Cup - Mainland teams from the North Caledonian League only.
Tweedie, Potts, and Cree Lodge Cups - South of Scotland League teams only.
King Cup - All East of Scotland FA teams below the 4th tier.  Berwick Rangers, Edinburgh City, Hearts, Hibs and Livingston are all eligible if they fall below the 4th tier.  (Livingston have actually withdrawn from the EoSFA IRL, but I'm a sucker for history). 
East of Scotland Qualifying Cup - Again open to all EoSFA teams below the 4th tier.  Hearts, Hibs, Edinburgh City and Berwick Rangers are not eligible.
East of Scotland (City) Cup - Finalists from the EoS Qualifying Cup + Edinburgh City and Berwick Rangers.
North of Scotland Cup - Nairn, Brora, Clachnacuddin, Wick Academy, Invergordon, Golspie, Elgin, Forres Mechanics, Fort William, Lossiemouth, Rothes and Strathspey Thistle split East/West with the top 2 from each section qualifying for the Semi Final.
Aberdeenshire Cup and Shield - Aberdeen University (Shield only), Inverurie Locos, Turriff Utd, Formartine, Banks O'Dee, Cove Rangers, Deveronvale, Huntly, Fraserburgh, Keith and Buckie Thistle.

Last but not least, all transfers are accurate to the present day (26.7.17) and all clubs are in their correct divisions for the 2017/18 season.  Without further ado, let's get started!

Edited by mjaferrie

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11 minutes ago, BoxToBox said:

Very interesting stuff!

Thanks!  Let's see how we go, I'm interested to see how the colt teams will affect or otherwise the Youth Development side of things.

I forgot to mention - while I've built this file from scratch, a huge thanks should go to @Morrissey whose data on appropriate reputations for clubs below the fourth tier I used here.  Also, in testing, I grew a bit frustrated with the number of grey players or newgens from the start, as Celtic have released a large number of Development Squad players from last season.  Therefore, I've added in the players who according to the Celtic website have made the step up to the DS for 2017/18 - Ciaran Diver, Grant Savoury, Keiran Campbell, Max Potter, and Tommy Caffrey.  I've not inputted any of their stats, and their PA has been matched to existing Celtic academy players so as not to give any unwarranted advantage.  Midfielder Lewis Doherty also makes the step up, but I can't find if he is still actually at the club.  So I've given him a lower PA, he'll make up the numbers at this stage but won't feature for the First Team.  

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Posted (edited)

paradise-800x504.thumb.jpeg.e16d908ccaaf7aa13b8761c09e333ef4.jpeg

Let's Talk Tactics

Thanks to the ever brilliant spielverlagerung.de, and a fantastic analysis of the 2017 Scottish Cup Final between Celtic and Aberdeen, this is what I'm aiming for if I want to replicate how Celtic have been playing on the pitch under Brendan Rodgers.

CEL-v-ABE-Lineups.thumb.png.4f383f6344ea03c35b7f3ee35a61a265.png

Our line up remains much the same, albeit Paddy Roberts has returned to Manchester City from his loan spell at the club.  Jonny Hayes, seen here in Aberdeen colours, joined during the recent window which means that our options on the left and right flanks are prolific inside forward Scotty Sinclair, James Forrest on the right wing, and new boy Hayes who can deputise on either side.  Sinclair and Roberts operated much of last season cutting inside, but with Roberts leaving the team and James Forrest being more suited to wider play I'll be looking to play him as a winger instead on the RHS.  I'd like to see more of a creator than a finisher on the left hand side, however Sinclair's passing, vision and decision making leave a loooot to be desired.  I've got him training as an attacking playmaker with a focus on his passing stats so hopefully we can get those up a bit.

After the 3-5-2 days of Martin O'Neill, which saw a brief comeback early in Neil Lennon's tenure, Ronny Deila and Brendan Rodgers have spent much of the time playing a 4-2-3-1 at Celtic Park.  At the back, Kieran Tierney's workhorse runs up and down the left flank mean Scott Sinclair can come more central and get involved, creating a back 3 as Lustig often remains deeper.  Dedryck Boyata, or Erik Sviatchenko, have been the more 'no-nonsense' defenders when operating on the left of the two, however Boyata and 'no-nonsense' are a bit of an oxymoron.  Big Jozo on the right has more license to get involved while Brown and Lustig offer cover.  With Scott Brown dropping a bit deeper, the other two midfielders have also got license to get involved in the attack and Stuart Armstrong and Tom Rogic were both lethal last season.  With all that in mind, this is what I'm thinking:

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Attacking, Fluid.  Team Instructions: Shorter Passing, Play Out of Defence, Drop Deeper, Use Tighter Marking, Roam from Positions and Prevent Short GK Distribution.

Waaait, that's not a 4-2-3-1...?

Nope!  In the image above we have Scott Brown slightly deeper than KT on the left, and I'd like a bit more solidity defensively.  There is also more space for the AP and CMa to exploit with Brown in the DM strata.  At least, that's the theory, let's see how it plays out!  If I can get away with it, I'd like to offset the central three to get more of the shape shown in spielverlagerung's analysis - i.e. move the DLP right one place, and the CMa left one place.  Looking at it from an FM perspective though, I'm worried that with Tierney getting so high up the pitch I'd rather have the cover on that side, so I might look to swap the midfield three around.  Let's see how it plays out!

In terms of Player Instructions, I'm going for the following:

GK: Short to full backs.
LB: Nada.
CB (both): Pass it shorter.
RB: Dribble less, pass it shorter, fewer risky passes.
DM: Dribble less, more direct passes, more risky passes.
CMs: Shoot less often, dribble less, pass it shorter.
CMa: Shoot less often, dribble less, close down more, move into channels, more direct passes.
LW: Tackle Harder, more direct passes, sit narrower, close down much more.
RW: Close down much more.
ST: Close down much more.

Edited by mjaferrie

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Posted (edited)

First port of call, my backroom staff.  As this is going to be a youth only save, I need a solid Head of Youth Development who is going to give me the best chance of getting players in with a bit of grit.  If I want to to make any progress in Europe, we'll need players with strong mental stats coming through who are willing to fight, as technical ability is going to be a bit of a pipe dream north of the wall.  Ideally I'd like to get someone like Kristjaan Speakman into my coaching team as quickly as possible, but he's not willing to speak to us yet.  Phil Cannon is available, but his personality is not great, and in fairness Chris McCart is already a pretty decent HOYD: 

d427f0f0ed8e2e8bf34011d1ac5b20f8.png 

Determination is reasonable, I'd prefer to see it the other side of 15, and his working with youngsters is good, but the mental/technical stats are not doing it for me at all.  I don't know how important they are, if at all, in terms of bringing players in with a bit of quality in those areas already, but I'd rather not leave anything to chance so I start shopping around.  I've just offered this guy a contract for £2000 a week less than McCart is on:

a9c425a1e055358c8f9503669d3e79a7.png 

Exactly the same stats for Working with Youngsters and Determination, but so much better across the board.  Hopefully he'll agree to sign with us and in the future I can look to getting someone like Speakman in.

Meanwhile, my assistant manager is also dire.

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Sorry Chris!  Hopefully his stats are going to be a bit better in FM18 after the season Celtic just had.  Unfortunately there isn't really anyone available in the market who could come in and do a job, but we already have John Kennedy as a coach who has accepted a contract to become my new AssMan.  

3304882bbad2785b7c671ca04383120c.png 


Much better!  This will also free up a bit of space to get in a new coach as well, and the aforementioned Phil Cannon has accepted a contract.  Starting to make my own stamp on the team!

Edited by mjaferrie

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BoxToBox   

Before reading the end of the post, I was about to suggest trying to land Cannon as a coach.

Really like  Hwu Jennings as a HOYD too.

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FIRST TEAM

Goalkeepers


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I'd say looking at the squad that this area is the only one that seriously concerns me.  Both on the wrong side of 30, and we don't have younger options who have the potential to make it to the first team.  The silver lining is that they are both excellent tutors, so hopefully we can get a decent prospect in a youth intake asap.

Left Back

009dc2df5f543ffb47c16390f98dd78e.png 


Scottish football's hottest prospect, and our only left back.  Knowing that the big teams are going to be in for him soon, this area is also a bit of a worry but Daniel Church and Calvin Miller offer us potential in the youth setup.  Jonny Hayes can also deputise here.  

Right Back

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The Man, the Tache, the Legend.  The Swede is our first choice and ably deputised by the pacey Gamboa.

Centre Backs


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87fb01edb1a1c301f1b5c15e6b676916.png 

This is a reasonable area, all have their weaknesses but can hopefully balance each other out a bit.  No nonsense defending, will need to work on them a bit if I want anything resembling a ball playing defender.  I've also kept Kolo Toure on board, but with a view to him going into our backroom team as opposed to being a fixture on the park.

Defensive Midfield

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This is a really strong area.  Just look at Broony's mental stats!  Scott Brown will be our first choice in defensive midfield while Nir Bitton will be his more than able deputy.  Both can also play in CM though so we will likely see them in that position as well to maximise game time.  Kouassi Eboue is a very exciting prospect and already looks like a fantastic player for 18 years old.  Need to get his defensive stats up a bit if he's going to be the shield we want in front of the back four, he might have more of a future in central midfield.

Central Midfield

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This is certainly our area with the most depth, and gives us plenty of options.  We can throw someone up to the AM strata no problem, or play 3 in the centre etc.  Trying to keep them all happy will be difficult, but hopefully with the number of games we'll have to play and the possibility of the younger guys featuring for the Reserve team as well it should be okay.  I've also got Ajer training as a defender to fill the BPD role.

Left Wing

6efb137e308bd2dd3422e83cf62e226d.png 

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When he runs down the wing, he's as fast as lightning!  And not much else by the look of it.  Scotty Sinclair, oh he is not so wonderful in the world of FM.  Neither of these guys are getting me too excited about this position, Ryan Christie could play here but he's on loan at Aberdeen until 2018 so it's going to be a couple of years before he can make an impact.

Right Wing

53cbd6d260c0eb8efa201fac1960d4a6.png 

Keeping wee Jamesy fit is going to be a struggle, which means we will probably see a lot of Jonny Hayes on this flank.  It does give us a good opportunity though to get Jack Aitchison into the team.

Strikers

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Griffiths could be a fix for the left wing, I've started training him for that position.  Dembele is always going to be first choice up front, but he's not going to be around for long. 

All in all, if I can keep ahold of Ajer, Ntcham, Tierney, Dembele and Eboue for any length of time, we have the makings of a really good team!

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27 minutes ago, BoxToBox said:

Before reading the end of the post, I was about to suggest trying to land Cannon as a coach.

Really like  Hwu Jennings as a HOYD too.

Haven't accepted a contract offer yet (mostly because I haven't pressed continue yet...) but hopefully they'll both sign!

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ManUtd1   

Excellent start, and I love the setup!

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2 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

Excellent start, and I love the setup!

Thanks, and thanks for following!  Slow progress through pre-season at the moment as I want to try out some ideas with the tactic before the competitive games come around!

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Posted (edited)

Pre Season Tactical Observations

Jeezo!  I've been playing FM for almost 7 years and this is the first time I've invested in actually playing through every single preseason game without my assistant taking control.  It's a slow process.  I started out, as a reminder, with this:

f96c7e1fa799d4ee028de93668cb321d.png 

However, the positioning of the midfield three wasn't quite what I wanted.  So I've tried a few games like this:

d5cf24994c631677c0546125cce613e7.png  

With this, I'm getting some really interesting things happening in attack.  The AP sits narrower, and allows the CM on attack to surge past him into space.  Here, Rogic (the CMa) ends up getting crowded out, but runs from Dembele (9) and Sinclair (10) have meant that we have several players as passing options.  Rogic gets the ball back to Brown (8) who plays it wide for the overlapping Tierney (3) and Tierney's cross meets the boot of Hayes (11) to burst the back of the net.  Cracking stuff, and a great way to break down such a compact defence.  I'd have preferred Rogic to play the ball much sooner and not get himself into this kind of position,  but it's early days yet and the tactical familiarity is pretty poor.  Here we're set up in a kind of 4-4-2 diamond though which is nice!

61f9e1cbd91c4a4b5ec9bdc38d22d350.png 


I'm not finding Tierney (3) being a WB on attack to be too much of a problem defensively, as usually we have cover.  I tried out the midfield three as a mirror image of the above, to see how it would affect having Brown covering more on Tierney's side, but having the DLP and AP on the same side of the pitch led to a hell of a lot of nonsense passing between the two leading to nothing.  So I think from what I'm seeing, keeping Brown more to the right is the way to go, however there are a couple of things I'm not quite happy with.  Firstly, 9 times out of 10, our DLPd (here number 8) ends up playing further up the park in attack than our CMs (number 6).  That's okay, no problem.  But it's not really what I'm looking for, if the goal is to emulate the formation from Spielverlagerung's analysis above.  Secondly, if we think of the midfield three as a unit, this forces the DLP to play further right than the other two, which again if we look at the analysis wasn't exactly the case.  Sure, Brown played more to the right, but it wouldn't exactly be true to say he was the most right of the three, in fact he sits slightly inside McGregor in that example.  
Third time's the charm, and hopefully this will have what I'm looking for:


5533326326d820fe621d7353b03cf01f.png 

First test - our first competitive game of the season!  Welcome to the UEFA Champions League 2nd Qualifying Round as I make my managerial debut and hopefully guide the Bhoys to victory against Slovenian side NK Olimpija Ljubljana.

Edited by mjaferrie

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celtic_champions_league.thumb.jpg.a5935b69cd7b8d01a86311a48af91168.jpg

Champions League nights at Celtic Park!

The lineups are announced... Celtic line up in their "Excuse me sir, can you please walk in a straight line" formation, while the Slovenians exhibit a far more stubborn version of the classic.  Competitive debuts for Moussa Dembele, Scott Sinclair, Jonny Hayes, Olivier Ntcham in the Hoops, while Doris de Vries, Kristoffer Ajer and Kouassi Eboue could all make their bows from the bench.  We're underway at Paradise.

3f1336b11fded164bf62a7759f5eefef.png 64618a3f98d1d62ea23017f4191f5e7a.png 

Half time.  Nothing each.  ***** all round.  We've had fifteen shots to their two.  Four on target to their zero.  Pish.

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48th minute: Cretu brings down Kieran Tierney on the left, the yellow card is shown and the free kick awarded.  Tierney, also on a yellow, whips it into the box, BOYATA'S AT THE BACK POST!  Seliga plucks the ball from the air, but the ref judges that Boyata is fouled in the process!  Penalty kick!  Sinclair steps up... AND SCORES!!!  1-0 at Parkhead!

50th minute: Sinclair is brought down by a horrific challenge, but the ball reaches Dembele and the ref waves play on.  That is, until he too is brought down by an utter clown by the name of Ilic on the edge of the box.  Sinclair's going to take this one too... AND SCORES!  That takes a massive deflection off of Vukcevic but who cares, it's in the back of the net!

Thank Christ for that.  We're two to the good, and we're keeping the ball really well.  What is worrying is that because NK Olimpija can't get into the game, they're trying to hack my players to bits.. Might need to take a couple of key players off soon for some more expendable ones...

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7 hours ago, mjaferrie said:

IRN-BRU Cup - All teams from Championship, Leagues One and Two and winners of Highland/Lowland + 12 Reserve teams of the Scottish Premiership + 2 Best Teams from Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

I'm not sure what cave I have been living in, but just realised that this is a real thing and not a figment of your imagination. Love it! :applause:

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Jimbokav1971 said:

I'm not sure what cave I have been living in, but just realised that this is a real thing and not a figment of your imagination. Love it! :applause:

2016/17 saw the introduction of the U20 teams to the competition and the winners/runners up from Northern Ireland and Wales.  This season coming also includes the Irish counterparts!  Completely mental, it's great.

Edit:  I should add - all league and cup competitions are real and in their correct formats for 2017/18!  The only 'new' parts are what pertains to the Project Brave proposals. :)

Edited by mjaferrie

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71st minute: Ajer, Eboue and Griffiths on for Armstrong, Ntcham and Sinclair.

75th minute:  THAT IS AN ABSOLUTE SCREAMER!  Kristoffer Ajer with an unbelievable goal on his debut!  3-0, game over!

82nd minute:  This time Ajer gets the assist and Moussa Dembele makes it four!  He's been posted missing during this match but pops up in the closing stages to effectively seal Celtic's progress into the 3rd round.

FULL TIME

Celtic 4 - 0 NK Olimpija Ljubljana

After a dire first half we got our act together and hammered them in the end.  But how did the new formation play out?  I am really excited about the link up play between the DLP (Ajer after he came on) and the WB (Tierney).  This ultimately resulted in both the 3rd and 4th goals, as Ajer's balls out wide led to Tierney crosses into the middle.  In terms of creativity, the formation is exactly what I'm looking for!

Walking in a straight-ish line it is!  The 3rd Qualifying Round draw is in 2 days, after which I have a friendly with Wigan to attend to before the return leg in Slovenia in one week.

Hopefully Celtic's real life 0-0 draw with Rosenborg in Glasgow at the moment goes the same way...

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Our solid win in the first leg means that I head into the 2nd tie with the opportunity to field an entirely different starting XI.  Up front, Leigh Griffiths is in for Moussa Dembele while James Forrest takes the place of Jonny Hayes and Regan Hendry makes his Celtic debut in place of Scott Sinclair.  In midfield, Callum McGregor and Tom Rogic get the nod over Armstrong and Ntcham while Bitton takes Scott Brown's place in the holding position.  Across the back four we have debutants Calvin Miller, Jamie McCart and Anthony Ralston with Kristoffer Ajer being rewarded for his impressive display as a substitute in the first leg.  Leo Fasan comes in for Craig Gordon between the sticks.  The Slovenians are again being sober straight walking idiots.

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Griffiths and McGregor get the goals as we complete a 6-0 aggregate victory, which means we are heading for Lithuania and a 3rd Qualifying Round tie against Zalgiris Vilnius.  I'm really happy with that performance from a mixture of my 2nd XI and Reserve squad.  An important match for the youngsters especially to come into and hopefully we can do the same against the Lithuanians.

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1967   

Fantastic stuff, I'll be reading.

 

I also wouldn't mind a go with your set up if it's available to the public?

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11 hours ago, 1967 said:

Fantastic stuff, I'll be reading.

 

I also wouldn't mind a go with your set up if it's available to the public?

Absolutely! I'll upload it today when I get a minute. There are a couple of minor things I'd like to fix (Brechin and Dumbarton play in the reserves for example). Also, it's a bit Celtic biased in that I didn't invest the same amount of time in making sure the right staff were at every club, and with those academy graduates I mentioned further up. All of the managers are correct for the SPFL though. From your username I imagine that's not a problem :D but if anyone is wanting to manage somewhere else then you might want to double check the staffing and youngsters. 

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6ff04c1da25b0268082b07172fb024e0.png 

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This is not a good start to the season.

As you can see from the injury date, I'm almost at the end of the summer transfer window when an update will follow.  We have one qualifier left to play, we definitely have European football until Christmas but will it be Champions or Europa League?

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Summer Update

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After being rocked by the news that our captain Scott Brown will miss the group stage of whichever European competition we found ourselves in after the Champions League Playoff round, we set about a second leg in Denmark against a tricky FC København side.  After our, in the end, emphatic 6-0 victory over Olimpija Ljubljana in the 2nd Qualifying Round, Zalgiris Vilnius awaited us next.  A bore draw in the first leg gave us a bit of an ask as we headed to Lithuania needing at the very least a score draw to progress.  Thankfully, goals from Callum McGregor and Moussa Dembélé gave us a 2-0 win on the night, a 2-0 win on aggregate, and a Playoff tie against the Danes.  McGregor's early away goal meant Vilnius needed two, so I felt confident bringing on youngsters McCart, Henderson and Ajer on the night.

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The Champions Playoff First Leg would be held at Celtic Park, but before that there was the small matter of the domestic season kicking off.  With four qualifying games, and three domestic games under our belts, tactical familiarity is the right side of 50% and match fitness was high, so I felt confident heading into the first leg.  Unfortunately, James Forrest's goal was the only one on the night and we had to defend a slender advantage in the 2nd leg.  Again, that man McGregor put us up in the 2nd leg, just before half time, meaning København needed to score 3 in the second half to reach the group stages.  That should have been enough for us to relax a bit, but relax meant loss of focus as goals from Andreas Cornelius and Youssef Toutouh in the 50th and 77th minutes meant that we had a nervy closing stage to the match!  With 10 minutes to play another goal arrived, Moussa Dembélé putting the tie to bed and Celtic reach the Champions League group stages!

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£10m+ in the bank, and I set about putting that to good use...

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That softens the blow of losing Scott Brown to injury.  We have been drawn in Group E with Atletico Madrid, Olympique Lyonnais and Leicester City, so we'll need to get some good results at home if we want to have any chance of reaching 3rd place or, dare I dream, the knockout stages.

On the domestic front in August, we had three games in the Premiership and one in the League Cup.  No defeats yet, but we're not exactly in scintillating form.  I put that down to prioritising the Champions League and using mostly our second string in the domestic matches.  Here's how August looked:

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Our Reserve team, Celtic Crusaders, have been doing excellently in the Lowland League and top the table after seven games.  Unfortunately they're already out of the Petrofac Training Cup (That's the old name for the IRN-BRU Cup btw, I'm using an old name fix).  Hawick Royal Albert are the surprise package so far in the league, they beat us at home and are in 2nd place on goal difference.  The highlight though was the first Old Firm derby of the season where the Swifts were defeated on their own patch.  Hopefully we can do the same with the first team next month in the League Cup Quarter Final!

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We already had a look at the First Team Squad earlier in the thread, and the youngsters there who are highlights of the squad.  Kristoffer Ajer has started three matches so far this season, and has made substitute appearances in a further six, meaning he's only missed one game so far.  Kieran Tierney has got six apps under his belt, while Kouassi Eboue and Olivier Ntcham have made three and five respectively.  Despite being 20 years old, I almost don't count Moussa Dembélé as a youngster as he's our number one striker of choice, he's unsurprisingly made 8/10 possible appearances.

In terms of tutoring, the first round saw Kolo Toure link up with Jamie McCart.  His initial Determination stat has increased to 11 as a result, but unfortunately they've fallen out and that won't be continuing.  I'm hoping resolute 'keeper Dorus de Vries can have a positive impact on Leo Fasan, who has a measly 6 for determination, while Craig Gordon will need to have an effect on young Northern Irishman Conor Hazard.  Scott Brown is working with Kundai Benyu, the young Zimbabwean international recently signed from Ipswich Town.  Further pairings are Mikael Lustig/Daniel Church, Jonny Hayes/Regan Hendry, Dedryck Boyata/Calvin Miller and Leigh Griffiths/Tommy Caffrey.

A look at the Reserves...

So what do we have in store for the future of the team?  According to my Assistant Manager's opinion, these are the top 5 contenders for a First Team place.

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If you followed my previous thread, where I attempted to recreate the success of the Lisbon Lions, you may remember Daniel Church scored the first goal in a 3-0 victory over Dortmund in the Champions League final of 2026/27.  Ryan Christie started on the bench that night, and came on to be involved in the second or third goal.  Christie will be on loan at Aberdeen for two seasons, so not much I can do there as he'll be 23 when he returns.  Hopefully he will develop well and we still have a couple of years to mould him.  All five of these guys were key members of my previous thread, and I hope they'll develop as well this time around.  Other players to watch out for are Regan Hendry, Calvin Miller, Anthony Ralston and Kundai Benyu.  I'm not convinced many others will make the grade.

The under 18s at the moment are a bit of an unknown quantity, so far Tommy Caffrey has made his debut in the Hoops and I'll be looking for others to do likewise.

Of our Reserve and Youth players, Leo FasanAnthony RalstonJamie McCartCalvin MillerRegan HendryLiam HendersonTommy CaffreyDaniel Church, and Jack Aitchison have already made appearances for the first team this season.  

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On 26/07/2017 at 13:07, mjaferrie said:

Thanks!  Let's see how we go, I'm interested to see how the colt teams will affect or otherwise the Youth Development side of things.

I forgot to mention - while I've built this file from scratch, a huge thanks should go to @Morrissey whose data on appropriate reputations for clubs below the fourth tier I used here.  Also, in testing, I grew a bit frustrated with the number of grey players or newgens from the start, as Celtic have released a large number of Development Squad players from last season.  Therefore, I've added in the players who according to the Celtic website have made the step up to the DS for 2017/18 - Ciaran Diver, Grant Savoury, Keiran Campbell, Max Potter, and Tommy Caffrey.  I've not inputted any of their stats, and their PA has been matched to existing Celtic academy players so as not to give any unwarranted advantage.  Midfielder Lewis Doherty also makes the step up, but I can't find if he is still actually at the club.  So I've given him a lower PA, he'll make up the numbers at this stage but won't feature for the First Team.  

You have done some top, top work on the editor here bud. Great effort!

The only slight correction I'd make (might have just been a mis-type) is that in the brilliantly bonkers Irn-Bru Cup there are 4 Highland and 4 Lowland league sides, based on previous league finishes. For the RoI, it's the 5th and 6th place teams (ie best non-european qualifiers). Can't wait to see this year's iteration IRL.

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9 hours ago, Morrissey said:

You have done some top, top work on the editor here bud. Great effort!

The only slight correction I'd make (might have just been a mis-type) is that in the brilliantly bonkers Irn-Bru Cup there are 4 Highland and 4 Lowland league sides, based on previous league finishes. For the RoI, it's the 5th and 6th place teams (ie best non-european qualifiers). Can't wait to see this year's iteration IRL.

Thanks for that mate!  The Highland and Lowland leagues are actually correct, 4 from each.  I'll correct that in the OP.  I didn't know about the RoI though so I'll get that updated in the file as well, cheers!  

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Posted (edited)

September / October Update

Since the end of the summer transfer window, we've had five Premiership games.  We started off brightly with a 4-0 win over Kilmarnock at home, but since then we've struggled with profligacy in the final third.  Granted, we got four clean sheets out of five and our defence are looking solid on the home front, with so far only three goals being conceded in domestic competition since the start of the season.  A home loss to Aberdeen at the end of October was a sore one though, as former Celt Gary Mackay-Steven pounced on a mistake by deputy right back Cristian Gamboa to set up Adam Rooney for a cracking goal.

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In the League Cup, we haven't conceded a single goal!  Following up on our 1-0 victory over Queen of the South in August we brushed aside rivals Rangers 3-0, with Lee Wallace having an absolute shocker for the Ibrox men.  After bringing down Moussa Dembélé in the box, with Scott Sinclair converting the resulting penalty, he almost managed to do the same 20 minutes later.  The referee this time judged it to be just outside the box and Scott Sinclair again got involved, this time setting up Dedryck Boyata and we led 2-0 at the break.  Tom Rogic rounded off a perfect first Old Firm derby of the season, with youngsters Kristoffer Ajer, Kouassi Eboue and Calvin Miller all getting involved in the closing stages.

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In the Semi-Final a 2nd XI side took to the field against St. Johnstone, with Leo Fasan, Daniel Church, Kris Ajer, Olivier Ntcham, Jack Aitchison, and Kouassi Eboue all starting for the Bhoys.  Despite a 62nd minute sending off for Dedryck Boyata, Kristoffer Ajer's early goal was enough to see us through to the final.  We'll play Dingwall side Ross County at Hampden Park at the end of November for a chance at the first silverware of the save!  

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Europe

Well, they're certainly not making it easy for us.  We kicked off the Champions League group stages at Vicente Calderón and were toe to toe with Atletico Madrid for the first half, going into the break 0-0 and with a solid defensive performance all round.  I'll admit, I got cocky, and switched to a more attack minded system and we got punished for it.  Kevin Gameiro found space outside the box just 4 minutes into the second half, and Antoine Griezmann rounded off a 2-0 victory for the Spaniards.

Next up was a tie at Parkhead against French side Olympique Lyonnais.  Tom Rogic's 44th minute goal was cancelled out in the next move of the game, as Lacazette equalised what seemed like seconds later.  We went into half time at 1-1 and no more goals were to be had.  It was a game I felt we could win at home, but regardless we had our first point on the board.

The Battle of Britain.  Early signs were promising at the King Power Stadium as despite Jamie Vardy opening the scoring for Leicester in the 5th minute, Jonny Hayes brought the tie level in the 8th and we looked to have the game in control for the next 10-15 minutes.  Then it completely unravelled.  A quick change of shape for Leicester and by half time Vardy had completed his hat-trick with Riyad Mahrez joining the fun.  Leicester were rampant and Calvin Miller, in for the injured Kieran Tierney, was having an absolute shocker on the left flank with Marc Albrighton ripping him a new arsehole.  Miller was off at half time, with Jonny Hayes moving back into the LB position and after a bollocking we had the game under control again in the second half.  Moussa Dembélé's strike was no more than a consolation effort though, and the match finished 4-2.

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Coming up in November?  Two home matches against Leicester and Atletico, immediately followed by the League Cup Final and an Old Firm Match before the final Champions League group match in Lyon.  Nae bother...

Edited by mjaferrie

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Reserves / Youth Progress

Our reserve team are absolutely tearing it up in the Lowland League, with Nadir Çiftçi helping himself to 21 goals in thirteen games so far.  He'll be moved on in January as he's only managed two games for the first team and I'd much rather Aitchison or P.J. Crossan were getting the game time in the Lowland League.  However, his goals so far mean the Crusaders are increasingly likely to reach the promotion playoff, as they sit top of the table with 12 wins and 1 loss.  East Kilbride are keeping the pace, just 3 points behind, with Rangers Swifts, Stirling Uni and Hibernian Colts trailing.

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Across the board, here are our most promising players under the age of 21 along with their determination and personality at the start of the save.  Some of these may turn out to be duds, and there maybe some diamonds hidden amongst the others, but at this stage these guys look most likely to make it to the first team, if they aren't already.  We'll have a look again at the end of the season and see what kind of progress if any has been made. 

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25 minutes ago, BoxToBox said:

November, jesus....

You're telling me!  Can't face getting started to be honest :lol: 

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Vengeance is mine...

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Broony's first start since the injury lay-off.  That result leaves us.. eh... bottom of the group still.  Work to do!

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1967   

Great stuff so far keep it up! You've inspired me to start a similar game.

Thanks for the link to the file.

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21 hours ago, 1967 said:

Great stuff so far keep it up! You've inspired me to start a similar game.

Thanks for the link to the file.

Cheers mate, good luck with it!
 

November / December Update

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Hopefully we'll have some Spaniards on the way in the youth intakes!  On the park, Scott Brown's return from injury has inspired us to a run of incredible form, as we make easy work of what seemed like a daunting run of games in November.  We opened the month at home with that 4-1 victory over Leicester, and would have repeated the feat against Atletico Madrid were it not for Scott Sinclair missing a 53rd minute penalty.  Those 6 points put us up to 3rd in the table, behind top team Leicester and equal on points with Atletico in second.  We were in a curious position though; a loss against 4th placed Lyon in the final group game would mean we finish in last place, while a win would guarantee us the last 16.  A draw would secure the Europa League, but could be enough for a place in the last 16 if Leicester beat Atletico in their final game.  We managed a 0-0 draw in France but unfortunately Leicester and Atletico returned the same scoreline which means we drop into the Europa League after Christmas, where we'll face FC Basel in the First Knockout Round.

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On the domestic front, our first game was the League Cup final against Ross County.  I stuck with the 2nd XI side that had got us to the final, with Leo Fasan, Anthony Ralston, Kundai Benyu, Liam Henderson, Jack Aitchison, Kouassi Eboue and Calvin Miller all starting.  Leigh Griffiths opened our account on the 13th minute, but a Ryan Dow equaliser early in the second half meant we had to wait until the closing stages for a winner from defender Jozo Simunovic.  2-1 on the night means we claim our first silverware of the save!

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In the Premiership it was eight wins from nine with only two conceded in the process, with only St. Johnstone managing to take points off us.

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We're into the January transfer window so I get a chance to offload a couple of duds while making room for the youth intake in March!

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January Transfer Window

No players in of course, but a few move on from the east end of Glasgow.  Kolo Touré wouldn't accept a coaching role at the beginning of the season, and then when I finally got him to accept one towards the end of December he got refused a work permit.  I thought that was a bit weird, with all the years spent at Arsenal and Manchester City, so I had a look at his info screen and he had more than 5,000 days completed there... So I offered him out for a loan spell in January (wasn't using him in the first team anyway) and he'll be at Everton for the rest of the season.  His status has since changed to 'awaiting paperwork' so seems like the right decision!  Meanwhile, as expected, Nadir Çiftçi moves to Austrian side Sturm Graz for £1.9m and youngsters Ross McLaughlin, Ewan Henderson and Conor Hazard move on for nominal fees to Annan Athletic, Stenhousemuir and Portadown respectively.

Meanwhile, on the park, we extended our unbeaten run since the St. Johnstone game but it's been a bit of a frustrating one with draws against Aberdeen, Hamilton and Rangers.  Our 2nd XI kicked off the Scottish Cup in style though with a 3-1 win over Dunfermline in the 4th round.  

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The reserves have finally lost a game!  A 1-0 loss to former SPFL side East Stirlingshire was their first dropped points since August, but they sit top of the table comfortably ahead of Rangers Swifts, Stirling Uni and Hibernian Colts.  The promotion playoff looks set to be a clash between Aberdeen and Celtic's reserve sides as they look to reach the professional set up while at the bottom of League Two, Elgin City, Stenhousemuir, Edinburgh City and Berwick Rangers are fighting to avoid the drop.  Here are the Crusaders' results since October:

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Not too shabby!  There's only nine league games left for them before the playoffs begin.

All in all we're not doing badly for the first season but I'm really worried about the goalkeeper position.  Craig Gordon is already picking up a number of injuries and Dorus de Vries looks likely to call it a day either this season or next.  That leaves us with Leo Fasan who is seriously under-equipped for this level (I've given him all of the cup games but he's already 23 and not progressing much), or then Ross Doohan.  We need to get a 'keeper in during the next couple of intakes as it is likely they'll be our first team choice whether they're up to it or not... 

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Youth Intake Day!...

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Utter pish.  A couple of decent personalities so they might prove me wrong but this is pretty hopeless.

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February / March Update

Aside from the disappointing youth intake, we also had the First Knockout Round of the Europa League to look forward to and we kicked off with an impressive 4-0 victory over FC Basel on their own patch.  They turned up to the second leg at least, equalising in the 11th minute after Erik Sviatchenko's very early opener, but Scott Sinclair's strike made it 2-1 on the night, 6-1 on aggregate, and set up a Second Knockout Round tie against Spartak Moscow.  Celtic famously secured the last 16 of the Champions League in 2012 with a 2-1 win over the Russians, so I was hoping to repeat the feat here and clinch a Quarter Final place in the Europa League. A 1-1 draw in the home leg made things difficult for ourselves, and a 1-0 defeat in Moscow means we are out of European competition this season.

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The last 16 of the Europa League is not a bad result for our first season though!  Hopefully we can progress a bit further next season.

Back on home soil, our 2nd XI put two past Partick Thistle in the 5th round of the Scottish Cup to progress to the quarter finals where we were to face Ayr United at home.  The youngsters couldn't find the back of the net though, and a 0-0 draw meant the tie went to a replay a month later.  The reserves had just played in the league the day before, so Leo Fasan, Kristoffer Ajer, Kouassi Eboue and Olivier Ntcham were the only youngsters in a strong starting line up.  A brace from Leigh Griffiths and a fluke from Kieran Tierney set up a semi-final against Hearts which will be played in a week's time.  Rangers face Championship side Inverness in the other tie.

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In the league, apart from a 4-1 hammering at home to Aberdeen (I played the 2nd XI as it was right between the Spartak games), it has been business as usual with six wins, one draw and one loss from eight matches.  The highlight was back to back 4-0 wins over Kilmarnock and Ross County, with Leigh Griffiths netting four goals over the two games.  Moussa Dembélé has been out with injury but Griffiths has stepped up, scoring seven goals in eight games.

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Considering today's news IRL, it was pretty coincidental that Ian Cathro got the sack after that 4-1 defeat!

We've got three games to go before the split, with Hibernian and St. Johnstone equal on 44 points in 6th and 7th place.  Celtic, Aberdeen and Rangers have secured their place in the top 6, with Dundee all but.  Partick Thistle and Hibs could still drop into the bottom half, while Kilmarnock and Motherwell look certain to be the teams involved in either automatic relegation or the playoff. 

In other news, Kolo Touré has gained English citizenship since joining Everton on loan and I have offered him the same contract as a player/reserves coach, so hopefully he'll accept that and move into our backroom team for the coming season.  He's only made 4 appearances for us and 2 for Everton so retirement seems like a likely prospect.

Our U18s have won the league by seven points over Hearts and Fife Elite Academy with one game left to play, while the Crusaders also have one game left in the Lowland League.  They're only two points ahead of Rangers Swifts, so we're looking to get the three points against Edinburgh University in the final league game and move on to the promotion playoff against Aberdeen Colts.  The winner of that tie will play either Edinburgh City or Berwick Rangers, who are fighting to avoid the bottom spot in League Two.

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I briefly tried this, although didn't really get beyond the first season or so.  Think I relented and just tried to sign Scottish rather than solely on the youth academy.  Probably quite a tough test, despite what some might think, it's not just a case of throwing in any old players and Celtic dominating, and the youth academy is unlikely to generate gold each year.  Canny even get some good Catholic names in there :p

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11 minutes ago, forameuss said:

I briefly tried this, although didn't really get beyond the first season or so.  Think I relented and just tried to sign Scottish rather than solely on the youth academy.  Probably quite a tough test, despite what some might think, it's not just a case of throwing in any old players and Celtic dominating, and the youth academy is unlikely to generate gold each year.  Canny even get some good Catholic names in there :p

I'm expecting the first few seasons to be fairly routine - winning the domestic competitions easily etc.  But yeah, you're right, the youth intakes at Celtic are usually pretty bad at least from my experience, the last one I did was mostly reliant on the players I could bring in.  After a few seasons Tierney, Dembélé, Ntcham, Ajer and Eboue are likely to have moved on to bigger things which'll leave me with pretty much dross... 

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This is not going to help in the short term though.  It leaves me with a 34 year old Craig Gordon who will turn 35 in December, and a 23 year old Leo Fasan who impresses more with his beard growth than his goalkeeping...

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Don't discount handsome.  That's been Thistle's signing policy for a few years, hasn't done us any harm.

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Posted (edited)

Loving the thread and the write up so far. Very savvy with the Kolo Toure situation. Hopefully someone overachieves from the intake.

Edited by kidthekid

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SEASON REVIEW 2016/17

It's the end of the season, and we have a quintuple!  Of sorts...

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Amazingly, no teams are in for him at the beginning of the summer transfer window and I seriously hope it stays that way!  Nice, Marseille, Torino and Crystal Palace are in for Mikael Lustig but I've offered him a new contract to warn them off.  Liverpool and Manchester United are after Kieran Tierney (*cries inside*) and Fulham want Liam Henderson.  Other than those three, we might manage to survive the transfer window relatively intact.  I'm considering offering Tierney a new contract but I already did in January when Liverpool were after him then so it would be two wage leaps in a pretty short time... I'll see how long I can get away with it.

Edit - I couldn't get away with it before I even finished this post, Liverpool and United both submitted bids of around £8m so a new contract was offered and Tierney is now on £26k per week.  The North-West clubs have been sent packing for the time being.

On the park, it's been pretty good!  A 2-1 loss to Hibs our only defeat in the last couple of months, as we claim the domestic treble with a 2-1 win over Rangers in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park.

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A fairly routine season - only four losses in the league, a domestic treble and the Second Knockout Round of the Europa League, I'm happy with that!  Like I said, I'm expecting the real challenge to start once I start losing some key players.  In these early seasons I'll be judging our progress based on European progress and the number of youngsters I can blood into the team.  Let's have a look at that table from earlier in the season:

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As you would probably expect, there hasn't been any change in Determination or Personality for those players already in the first team, as their squad status means I can't tutor them.  To be fair, they're in pretty good shape already though and I can live with that!  We have some excellent tutors in Scott Brown, Kolo Touré, Craig Gordon and last season Dorus de Vries.  You can see the effect they are having on the young guys with increases almost across the board in determination.  Hopefully this is something that will continue to improve in the coming years.

The Crusaders finished the season with a 1-0 win over Edinburgh University which secured their place in the Promotion Playoffs.  A 5-0 aggregate win over Aberdeen Colts, followed by the same scoreline over Edinburgh City means they achieve promotion to the SPFL and Edinburgh City are relegated to the Lowland League after just one season in the senior set up.  I'm looking forward to seeing how they progress in League Two and hopefully they can achieve promotion twice in two years, as playing against better opposition will be much more beneficial in their development.

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Expectations for next season?  Winning the title and securing seven in a row is an absolute non-negotiable, but I can live with dropping out of the cup competitions as I'll look to play the youngsters in those games.  In Europe, I'd like to see us secure at least third place in the group stage again, hopefully reaching the last 8 of the Europa in the process, or then the last 16 of the Champions League.  If I can keep the team together this summer I don't see either of those as unrealistic targets, but it will all depend on how favourable the draw is!

Unfortunately (or well, it doesn't bother me at all) the League Cup didn't work out as I'd have liked, so Aberdeen Colts and Celtic Crusaders both enter the Group Stage this season thanks to winning the Highland and Lowland leagues.  Ideally, the reserve teams wouldn't be able to compete, but meh.  All the reserve teams also competed in the Lowland and Highland League Cups, which was an oversight on my part, I forgot to make that impossible in the editor.  Hibernian Colts won the Lowland League Cup, while Wick Academy beat Aberdeen Colts in the final of the Highland equivalent. 

Here we go into the summer transfer window!

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1 hour ago, kidthekid said:

Loving the thread and the write up so far. Very savvy with the Kolo Toure situation. Hopefully someone overachieves from the intake.

Thanks a lot for reading!  Toure doesn't look like retiring yet either which means I'll get another year at least of tutoring from him!

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Barcelona, PSG, Newcastle, Stoke, West Ham and Málaga are in for Olivier Ntcham; West Ham and Gladbach for Moussa Dembélé; Fiorentina for Sviatchenko; Valencia for Nir Bitton; Lyon, Köln and Málaga for Rogic; West Brom for Kristoffer Ajer...

It's going to be a long summer :(

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BoxToBox   

Shame about the first intake, and that brutal upcoming summer.

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Season Preview 2017/18

3 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Shame about the first intake, and that brutal upcoming summer.

We've more or less survived the summer transfer window.  Moussa Dembélé, Tom Rogic, Kieran Tierney, Kristoffer Ajer and Stuart Armstrong are all on new contracts to keep the big sides at bay for the next six months or so.  I'll probably have to do the same in January, but the lack of incoming transfers means there is more money to spend on bumper contracts.  Nobody in of course, but there have been a few departures this summer.  Dedryck Boyata signs for Stoke for £6.75m, there's no way in hell I was turning that down.  They offered £4.5m initially but I managed to negotiate up, and that means we can give Ajer and McCart more game time at CB.

Meanwhile, reserve team players Aidan Nesbitt, Stephen Welsh, Kerr McInroy and Lewis Doherty move on to Dunfermline, Ayr United, Berwick Rangers and Selkirk respectively, and Sam Wardrop, Colin McCabe, Kristi Marku, Wallace Duffy and Mikey Johnstone all leave at the end of their contracts.  Eight of the youth intake have gone out on loan so hopefully they'll develop a bit!

On the park, we kicked off the Champions League qualifiers against Finnish champions Rovaniemen Palloseura, winners of the top flight for the first time in their history.  A 4-0 opening game in Rovaniemi meant we could take it easy in the second leg, but the bhoys weren't having any of it.  10 goals on the night made it 14-0 on aggregate and we absolutely thumped them.

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That set up a 3rd Qualifying Round against FK Partizan, who were much sterner opposition.  Two first half goals at Celtic Park meant we looked to be cruising but they pulled one back in the second half, scoring an important away goal.  Leigh Griffiths 66th minute strike though meant we were through to the Playoff round.  In the Europa League, Rangers and Aberdeen both managed the same feat meaning we had a shot at three teams in European group stages!  Next up for us was Cypriot side APOEL, with the first leg to be played in Nicosia.  We took the lead twice only for them to peg us back within minutes, Dembélé's 10th minute strike cancelled out in the 12th and Olivier Ntcham's 69th minute effort met with a 76th minute equaliser from Pieros Sotiriou.  The winning goal came in stoppage time, Giorgos Efraim breaking Cypriot hearts with a disastrous own goal.  We didn't need it in the end though, as Scott Brown and Moussa Dembélé gave us an easy 2-0 victory in Glasgow and a 5-2 win on aggregate.  We are through to the group stages of the Champions League for the second consecutive year!

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In the Europa League, Rangers overcame Vitória de Guimarães 3-2 in the Playoffs but unfortunately Aberdeen lost 4-1 to Girondins de Bordeaux.  Nonetheless, we're only in our second season and we already have two Scottish teams back in the group stages of European competition!

In the group stages, we are in Group F with Leverkusen, SL Benfica and Dinamo Zagreb in a much easier draw than last year.  Hopefully we can get through to the last 16, or then make it to the Europa League again.

In domestic competition, we brushed aside Ross County in the 2nd round of the League Cup.  As I mentioned earlier, Celtic and Aberdeen's Reserve teams were drawn in the group stage as a result of winning the Lowland and Highland Leagues.  Aberdeen crashed and burned, coming bottom of their group with 0 points, but the Crusaders came 2nd with 9 points and were one of the four best 2nd placed teams, therefore qualifying for the 2nd Round as well.  They came up against Premiership side Partick Thistle in the 2nd Round and incredibly came away with a 2-1 victory in extra time, which means we both go into the draw for the quarter final.  We'll play Hamilton, while the 2nd string face Dundee.

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The downside of the Reserves playing in this competition is that players who have made an appearance for them in the Group Stage are then cup tied for us in the Second Round.  I'll need to be careful next season that I don't end up with no squad available for the knockout stages!

In the league we've had four wins and one loss from our 5 games so far, Hibernian came from a goal behind to put three past us in the second half despite naming a strong starting lineup.  Neil Lennon's side have brought in ten signings this summer, mostly loans from the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, plus the free signing of former Real Madrid youngster Javi Hernandez.  They look like ones to watch for the European places this season.

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Next up we'll have a look at the squad as we head into the second season!

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First Team Squad 2017/18

Goalkeepers

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No real need to go into this in depth again, we need a 'keeper and fast...

Full Backs

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We're grand here, with Anthony Ralston, Daniel Church and Calvin Miller as able backups.

Centre Back

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Kristoffer Ajer is more of a midfielder (and plays there more often) but with Dedryck Boyata leaving he'll get more chance here.

Defensive Midfield

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All these guys are comfortable further forward too so play regularly despite only one place in DM.

Central Midfield

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None of these guys can mark or tackle, and I'd prefer to have someone in the centre of the park who's willing to do a bit of dirty work as well.  Depending on how long I can keep Ntcham I might look to sell one of the others.

Wingers

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We're a bit thin on the ground here as Forrest is pretty injury prone, it gives Aitchison regular starts in the first team but I'd prefer him to be a fixture up front.  We've also got Regan Hendry and Calvin Miller who can play on the wings, but if we don't get some quality in the intakes it might be an idea to move to a wingerless formation.

Strikers

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We're grand here for as long as we can keep Dembélé, after that Aitchison will be straight into the first team.

No real change in terms of who I'm looking to in the Reserves from last season, the usual suspects will be filling in regularly.  Hopefully this gives us a chance in the intake next March:

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1967   
Posted (edited)

Oosh unlucky!!

 

Edit: You're not alone in the poor intakes, 1 3.5 star AM with a rubbish personality and no technical ability, a very mediocre 3 star CB, a 2.5 star GK and the rest <2 star. Proper rubbish! That's with an improvement to junior coaching too (I know that's CA not PA but still everyone was under 1 star CA).

Edit 2: One was called Phil McCracken though :D

Edited by 1967

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17 hours ago, kidthekid said:

yikes. And the reasons for the injuries are so bizarre

17 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

'kin hell, those injuries!

We've had to move away from our 4-3-2-1 at the moment as James Forrest is our only available winger.  I can play Griffiths on the LHS as well, but then we have no back up and if I'm going to play two strikers than why not play them in their most comfortable position?  So we've moved to a 5-3-2 of sorts, Sviatchenko, Simunovic and Lustig at the back with Tierney and Gamboa on the flanks.  Broony and Armstrong in midfield with big Tam Rogic in attacking midfield and Moussa/Griffiths up front.  I'll go into it in detail in a bit, busy day today!

11 hours ago, 1967 said:

Oosh unlucky!!

 

Edit: You're not alone in the poor intakes, 1 3.5 star AM with a rubbish personality and no technical ability, a very mediocre 3 star CB, a 2.5 star GK and the rest <2 star. Proper rubbish! That's with an improvement to junior coaching too (I know that's CA not PA but still everyone was under 1 star CA).

Edit 2: One was called Phil McCracken though :D

Keep an eye on the Forth Valley / Fife Elite Academies mate if you aren't doing a Youth Only challenge - both have produced a worldly already in my save!  (I'll post screenshots of them later too).

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wynter   

How's Rogic been coming along for you? getting much time or more of a rotation option? 

 

Unlucky with the first intake, hopefully the next brings some good news 

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