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mjaferrie

[FM17] Project Brave - Youth Only at Paradise

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38 minutes ago, wynter said:

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 

Eh, I'd say a mixture of the two really.  He's only got 8 for stamina and 12 for natural fitness so usually I have to take him off around 50-60 minutes and if he plays 90 he's not fit enough for the next game.  More of a rotation option by necessity than a lack of ability, he's been phenomenal in either CM roles.  38 games last season and 26 so far this season, so he's getting plenty of game time!

The youth intake was crap, and none of them look to have progressed much since although several have been playing a lot in League One/Two on loan this season. Let's see what happens!  Hopefully this year is better with the improvement in junior coaching.

In other news, I haven't had time for an update but I've had the game trundling along in the background.  Highlights of the season so far are every man and his dog getting injured, Kouassi Eboue demanding a new contract after getting sent off against Hearts leading to them equalising from the resulting free kick, losing home and away to Hibs and away to Rangers meaning we scrape into the January window at the top of the table by just 2 points.  Rangers are in 2nd and Hibs are just 1 point behind them so it's a close one!  I'll get a proper update done this afternoon!  Meanwhile, here are those incredible youngsters from the Fife/Forth Academies:

61cbe00e450dc03cf2f4e63b3d3eab1a.png 

£81k.  £81k!!! Damn you, youth only save!  Not bad for 16 years of age.

7a0809fc387e4aa854efd6af7a98bddd.png 

And Cardiff picked up this guy FOR FREE *dies inside* from Fife Elite.

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2 minutes ago, BoxToBox said:

Those two newgens! :eek:

Dundee United have just picked up Steven Mulraney for free in January.  ****ing youth save!  :lol:

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BoxToBox   

One of the worst things about youth saves, definitely!

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Autumn Update 2017/18

So we're about half a season on from the last update and things have been going reasonably well!  Injuries to Scott Sinclair and Jonny Hayes left us with only one recognised winger in James Forrest so we switched to a 5-3-2 that went something like this:

912ed1c05d104f6cbb25d68a9011b242.png 

I used this a lot in the latter stages of my previous save, it's a nod to the Martin O'Neill era at Celtic.  TI's are Shorting Passing, Pass into Space, Play out of Defence, Drop Deeper, Low Crosses, Prevent Short GK Distribution.  A little bit different to how our 4-3-2-1 plays out.  Since Sinclair and Hayes have come back from injury (and we lost Leigh Griffiths for 7-9 weeks) we've switched back to our old system.

As I explained previously, I couldn't use the reserve team in the League Cup as they were all cup tied from playing there themselves so we had a strong lineup for the whole competition this year.  With thirteen goals scored and only two conceded, we lifted the trophy in a tight final against Aberdeen.  At full time, the score was 0-0, but an extra time brace from Moussa Dembélé sealed the win.  Incredibly, our Reserve team made it all the way to the semi-final, only to be put out by the same Aberdeen team.  In the Scottish Cup, our first match will be against Old Firm rivals Rangers in the 4th Round in January.

16d884211a28ca7625e228c497760e97.png 

We're in pretty good form in the league despite our injury troubles.  Scott Sinclair spent three months out, before getting injured for another couple of weeks in his first game back.  Sviatchenko's spent three weeks out, while Kolo Touré missed four.  James Forrest has been our for five weeks, and is probably the most injury prone in our squad so we need to manage his game time carefully - since the start of this save he's been injured eight times and we're only 18 months in. Craig Gordon was out for four, Griffiths for six so far, Jonny Hayes for three months...  It's safe to say we're not doing too good on the availability side of things, but that means more than enough game time for the young players.

Hibernian have been a bit of a thorn in our side as Neil Lennon's men beat us home and away scoring 5 goals in the process.  Rangers have also beaten us at Ibrox, but we returned the favour at Celtic Park.  We're on a decent unbeaten run at the moment, but it always feels like we're just collapsing over the finish line rather than really putting teams to the sword.

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It's fair to say though that our shining moments this season have been on the European stage.  After opening with a 2-0 defeat to Leverkusen in Germany, we beat Benfica by the same scoreline at Celtic Park before putting 5 past Dinamo across the back-to-back games in the middle.  That put us comfortably in second place with 9 points after 4 games, with the return leg against Leverkusen up next.  Unfortunately, we'd just played in the league three days previously (that 0-0 draw against Kilmarnock) and three days later was the League Cup final against Aberdeen which I wanted a strong team available for.  I decided to take the risk and play our youngsters against the German side, in the knowledge that if we lost we could still clinch second place with a draw against Benfica in our final game and at the very least a Europa League place.  We absolutely blew them away, I couldn't believe it!  Celtic Reserves 5 - 1 Leverkusen:

e1617a469161f5e9c63bada59662e12a.png 

Okay, granted, Moussa Dembélé was the goalscoring hero on the night, but a team containing the likes of Ralston, McCart, Miller, Henderson, Benyu, Aitchison, Eboue and Hendry really shouldn't have beaten Leverkusen by this kind of scoreline!  And to top it off, Benfica's 1-1 draw in Croatia meant that we qualify for the last 16 regardless of our result against them in a couple of weeks!  I decided to reward the youngsters for their display with starts in Portugal as well, with Leo Fasan, Ralston, McCart, Daniel Church, Ajer, Henderson, Aitchison, Eboue, Tommy Caffrey and Hendry all in the starting line up.  Despite Ajer opening the scoring, Benfica pulled it back to win 2-1, but who cares!  We're through to the Champions League last 16 and our Reserve team got to shine on the big stage!

We're drawn against Monaco in the next round, realistically I can't see us progressing but I'm hoping for a good result at Celtic Park.  

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80f3ada03289e51740ded4b3a915ee20.png 

Hibs had most of the ball and plenty of opportunities to make it three from three in the second half.  Jaysis, I don't know what Neil Lennon's putting in the water in Edinburgh but we just can't beat them this season!  Or maybe it's just...

3ECF27AB00000578-4368566-image-m-112_1490971711827.thumb.jpg.c79778a4235d9c12472d8276862f56f8.jpg

Neil Lennon.  Like the Wolverine, but his bird's left him and he's no doing too good.

 

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3612e7b1a8c3fcd8c73bceaa3f63a84c.png 

662145e684a621313e446db0b017c8d1.png 

Argh!  This season!  We beat Monaco 1-0 at home, but the consequence is we are now strikerless... 

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1967   

Excellent progress just a shame about these injuries! Excellent results in Europe! How is the coefficient? Must be close to the next youth intake too?

There's massive pressure in a game like this at a club like Celtic. You are expected to win week in week out, title, cups, Europe and win well. You've managed to retain the core team a lot better than me but those injuries add another layer of pressure. Suddenly you need to keep winning with the young players because to not win is out of the question. The problem being that the young players you start with don't have the right attributes to excel from the start (and you don't have time to shape them) and a poor intake again ramps up the pressure, this time on keeping the top players at the club (and fit). Lose a player or two and the other players start to moan about depth - if they're not already moaning about playing time or new contracts. The you have a moaning (not quite unhappy) squad full of holes being plugged by inexperience with ever increasing expectations. It's tough! Excellent read though keep it up!

 

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2 hours ago, 1967 said:

Excellent progress just a shame about these injuries! Excellent results in Europe! How is the coefficient? Must be close to the next youth intake too?

There's massive pressure in a game like this at a club like Celtic. You are expected to win week in week out, title, cups, Europe and win well. You've managed to retain the core team a lot better than me but those injuries add another layer of pressure. Suddenly you need to keep winning with the young players because to not win is out of the question. The problem being that the young players you start with don't have the right attributes to excel from the start (and you don't have time to shape them) and a poor intake again ramps up the pressure, this time on keeping the top players at the club (and fit). Lose a player or two and the other players start to moan about depth - if they're not already moaning about playing time or new contracts. The you have a moaning (not quite unhappy) squad full of holes being plugged by inexperience with ever increasing expectations. It's tough! Excellent read though keep it up!

Thanks for reading @1967!  I have to say I expected the first few seasons to be a breeze but the injuries this season have just been ridiculous.  I've now lost Tierney, Rogic and Calvin Miller as well.  :seagull:  I'm not quite sure why, I've not been doing anything training-wise I don't normally do in FM anyway which hasn't been a problem before, and I've got a decent medical department.  Just bad luck this year I guess.

Re: the coefficient, I'm only half way through the second season so it's not had much change yet.  As it stands we're moving up to 16th place after two seasons, which puts us one place off having two teams in the UCL qualifiers.  Pretty decent progress!  The biggest help was that Rangers made it to the First Knockout Round of the Europa League while we did the same in the Champions League so we've got a decent (10.875) score so far this year.  

I've managed to keep the team together purely by offering players with a WNT sign a new contract just before the window opens.  It's kept teams away usually, and then it's a case of man management.  I rejected a bid from Sevilla for Dembélé and he's agreed to stay as long as we win some silverware this season (lol, that's cute :lol:). 

Speaking of which, I forgot to do a January Transfer Window Update!  I didn't sign anyone, obviously, but I sent Anthony Ralston and Regan Hendry to Greenock Morton until the end of the season.  They've been playing a lot for the reserves in League 2, but with the number of injuries we're getting they're going to have to be ready for the first team soon so I felt half a year in the Championship would be better for their development.  Meanwhile, Callum MacGregor has signed for Burnley for £4.6m - I'm not playing an attacking midfielder so I really don't need him, Armstrong, Ntcham and Rogic in the same team.  The others are much better and offer more in different areas too so MacGregor moves on.

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Youth Intake Day 2018!

PHEW, that's more like it.

7a8de60ffc1bd78f88ab26dcb8bdfed2.png 

b29cd02f6bae3613b3f560a363e75945.png 

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I would have tagged letter 'G' as well, but there's no ****ing way I'm having a centre back called Lee 'Elbows' McCulloch in my team.  FM be trollin'.  

Still no decent 'keeper prospect. :(

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Posted (edited)

Context:  So far this season I've lost to Hibs twice, Rangers once, Dundee once, but by far the most humiliating was my strongest team being annihilated 4-1 by 8th place St Johnstone a couple of weeks ago.  Basically, this season we've been dreadful by Celtic's standards.

8b4ca7b92f0c11058ac54492383c5ea3.png 

Holy ****ing **** Batman.  We're through to the Champions League Quarter Finals.  This was not supposed to happen, nor will it happen again for a few seasons... Wow!

Edit: Everyone go and buy Scott Brown and play him as a CM(a).  He's scored thirteen goals this season.  What the actual flip is going on.

Edited by mjaferrie

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66744455e95fc32c60939dcd1ac5ab75.png 

Crashing back down to earth.  Still, we took advantage of a favourable draw and reaching this stage of the competition is a serious accomplishment!

I can't honestly envisage this happening again soon in this save, Kolo Toure has announced he's going to retire in the summer and Craig Gordon won't be long after him.  The next tier are Broony, Hayes and Lustig who've probably got two or three more in them.  By this time in a couple of seasons, we could be 3-4 Key Players down...

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Kubson   
51 minutes ago, mjaferrie said:

Youth Intake Day 2018!

PHEW, that's more like it.

7a8de60ffc1bd78f88ab26dcb8bdfed2.png 

b29cd02f6bae3613b3f560a363e75945.png 

408e519df5d3e4378158a726c7707271.png 

27bf25edb0ff602abe035fa74f5ed0eb.png 

I would have tagged letter 'G' as well, but there's no ****ing way I'm having a centre back called Lee 'Elbows' McCulloch in my team.  FM be trollin'.  

Still no decent 'keeper prospect. :(

Andrew 165 cm 120 kg wtf :lol: 13 pace as well :D

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1 minute ago, Kubson said:

Andrew 165 cm 120 kg wtf :lol: 13 pace as well :D

:lol: Jesus, I somehow missed that!  Someone fire the dietician :D

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BoxToBox   
56 minutes ago, mjaferrie said:

Youth Intake Day 2018!

PHEW, that's more like it.

7a8de60ffc1bd78f88ab26dcb8bdfed2.png 

b29cd02f6bae3613b3f560a363e75945.png 

408e519df5d3e4378158a726c7707271.png 

27bf25edb0ff602abe035fa74f5ed0eb.png 

I would have tagged letter 'G' as well, but there's no ****ing way I'm having a centre back called Lee 'Elbows' McCulloch in my team.  FM be trollin'.  

Still no decent 'keeper prospect. :(

Now that's more like it! :thup: More lions in paradise.

37 minutes ago, mjaferrie said:

Context:  So far this season I've lost to Hibs twice, Rangers once, Dundee once, but by far the most humiliating was my strongest team being annihilated 4-1 by 8th place St Johnstone a couple of weeks ago.  Basically, this season we've been dreadful by Celtic's standards.

8b4ca7b92f0c11058ac54492383c5ea3.png 

Holy ****ing **** Batman.  We're through to the Champions League Quarter Finals.  This was not supposed to happen, nor will it happen again for a few seasons... Wow!

Edit: Everyone go and buy Scott Brown and play him as a CM(a).  He's scored thirteen goals this season.  What the actual flip is going on.

I adored Scott Brown the time I played with Celtic, was consistently a beast, never played him as a CM(a) mind! Think I had him partnered with Thomas Delaney in a nasty, none shall pass double pivot.

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8 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

I adored Scott Brown the time I played with Celtic, was consistently a beast, never played him as a CM(a) mind! Think I had him partnered with Thomas Delaney in a nasty, none shall pass double pivot.

I've been playing him either as a CMs or CMa all season with Nir Bitton and Kouassi Eboue occupying the DM role.  He's been incredible, 13 goals and 10 assists from a player who IRL does neither!

bce51f9391a2bb4c7999c133b73434af.png 

This should mean we're at or almost at the best possible level.

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Posted (edited)

Hibs are

my bogey team too. That 4321 they play angers me so much! I did manage a 5-2 over them end of my second season, but other than that I have to go into the match playing for a draw. I honestly don't get it.

edit: I've just let Browns contract expire. Kind of want to try him as CM(a) now lol

Edited by craiigman

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Great read! and a great intake to match, shame about the goalkeeper situation.. that could be a real problem if the next intake doesn't produce.

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BoxToBox   
4 hours ago, mjaferrie said:

I've been playing him either as a CMs or CMa all season with Nir Bitton and Kouassi Eboue occupying the DM role.  He's been incredible, 13 goals and 10 assists from a player who IRL does neither!

bce51f9391a2bb4c7999c133b73434af.png 

This should mean we're at or almost at the best possible level.

I had Bitton as a deep lying playmaker in the first season, but after that Chelsea came in for him and gave me a stack of cash.  It was strange, as "better" replacements never played as well, and I ended up switching tack to the double pivot.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, craiigman said:

Hibs are

my bogey team too. That 4321 they play angers me so much! I did manage a 5-2 over them end of my second season, but other than that I have to go into the match playing for a draw. I honestly don't get it.

edit: I've just let Browns contract expire. Kind of want to try him as CM(a) now lol

3 hours ago, Cardiovascular said:

Great read! and a great intake to match, shame about the goalkeeper situation.. that could be a real problem if the next intake doesn't produce.

Thanks for reading guys!  The Hibees do seem to be a fan of the 'Christmas Tree' in FM.  We played them four times this season, losing three and drawing one.  Pathetic!  Craig Gordon will be 36 halfway through the next season and once he's retired we're basically left with Leo Fasan and naeb'dy else.  That record against Hibs might not be changing soon :D

1 hour ago, BoxToBox said:

I had Bitton as a deep lying playmaker in the first season, but after that Chelsea came in for him and gave me a stack of cash.  It was strange, as "better" replacements never played as well, and I ended up switching tack to the double pivot.

Bitton has been quite easy to keep happy in mine, Valencia have always been a minor interest but not taken it further.  I've offered him a new contract umpteen times but he keeps getting refused a work permit which makes no sense.  Luckily he's only got 81 days before he can get Scottish 'citizenship'.

Edited by mjaferrie

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Season Review 2017-18!

Well, thank feck that's over.  It's been a season of ridiculous highs, and equally ridiculous lows, and we finish up with miraculously only one player crocked - Tierney's out for 3-4 months.

Our preseason hopes of qualifying for the Knockout Stages of European competition were met, and then exceeded by beating Monaco 3-1 on aggregate to reach the Champions League quarter finals in only our second season.  We progressed to what far more resembled reality in a 5-1 defeat to Arsenal, who in turn were put out in the semis 6-4 by Manchester United.  United will come up against another London side, Chelsea, in the final - a ten year anniversary of the same draw back in 2008 when the North-West side last lifted the trophy.

eedb1ee24cf7543ea62632771c03db18.png 

With the 'high' out of the way, let's turn our attention to domestic football.  Bleurgh.  A 43rd minute Michael O'Halloran strike was all it took as Rangers put us out of the Scottish Cup in the 4th Round - we lasted only one game in the competition.  Rangers went on to defeat Falkirk 3-0 in this years final, so no treble for us this year.

The closing stages of the Premiership was more of a collapse than a sprint finish, as we won only one out of six Championship group matches.  We could have won the title by beating Rangers at home, but the draw meant we needed at least a draw at Pittodrie to lift the Premiership.  Fortunately, we had draws aplenty!... - the title is ours!

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Seven in a row for the Scottish champions, but that's the worst points total of a title-winning team since Neil Lennon's Celtic lifted the League trophy with 79 points in 2012-13.  We need to improve, and fast, or Rangers and Hibs are going to catch us soon.

How has the squad development been going?  Well, Kristoffer Ajer, Kieran Tierney, Moussa Dembélé and Olivier Ntcham have secured their status as Key Players, Kouassi Eboue is still more of a rotation option but with Scott Brown heading towards retirement in the coming years he'll be pushing his way into the squad more often.  Matchtime for the Reserve squad has been much the same as last year, as I compensate for them not being able to play a part in the League Cup with Premiership and European games instead - a run in the Scottish Cup would have been ideal for them but it wasn't to be.  Here's the key stats at the end of the second season:

e48e3c1958c677b04701ceb0c1fd9c56.png 

Hopefully that is easy enough to read, I'm going to keep it as a two year comparison for players aged 21 only so that it doesn't end up getting out of control - so Dembélé, Ntcham and Henderson will drop off next season's edition.  No major changes, although the continuing development in Determination (with the exception of Joe Thomson) in the Reserves is good to see.

So we head into the summer window with PSG chasing Kristoffer Ajer (if they offer less than £200m I'm not picking up the phone ;)), West Brom chasing Dembélé (lol) and Hamilton Accies wanting Craig Gordon.  There's absolutely no way Gordon is leaving, I can't afford to lose a 'keeper, but I'm happy to entertain offers for players if it means I can promote some of our younger guys.  Let's see what happens, ideally we won't lose anyone as the Squad is a bit thin with the number of injuries we keep getting... 

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Reserves Update 2017-18

The Crusaders have done it again, winning the Scottish League Two in style by 21 points over Annan Athletic.  They achieve promotion to League One, which is their 'glass ceiling' - the Reserve side cannot be promoted to the Championship.  This means that in terms of player development, guys who are too good for this level, and in turn not developing, will be moved to the First Team squad to get game time in the Premiership.  If they're not up to that, they will be sold.

For next season, everyone who is 17+ (or with good potential) in the U18 squad has been promoted to the Crusaders.

f0b64e2d15e43341cc5ab1f3c8566538.png 

Below the senior setup, despite only losing one game of the season Rangers Swifts finished up only 1 point ahead of Hibernian Colts to secure a place in the promotion playoff.  East Kilbride were a long way off in 3rd, so it seems likely that Hibernian will sit top of the table this time next season.  The Swifts came up against Aberdeen's second string in the promotion playoff, winning 4-1 on aggregate and setting up a tie against League Two's bottom team Albion Rovers.  Rovers were never in the tie, as a 5-1 victory over the two legs sees Rangers Swifts promoted to League Two for next season!

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@Kubson - I have no idea what my U18's coaches have been doing to him, but in four months Andrew has gone from 120kg to 62kg?!

11a39ff15c28e06043ea6fc16fc720eb.png 

Get that perfect beach body with Ally Andrew!

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Kubson   
4 minutes ago, mjaferrie said:

@Kubson - I have no idea what my U18's coaches have been doing to him, but in four months Andrew has gone from 120kg to 62kg?!

11a39ff15c28e06043ea6fc16fc720eb.png 

Get that perfect beach body with Ally Andrew!

11a39ff15c28e06043ea6fc16fc720eb.thumb.png.4a004c3c3c882904b84c0a83a320d016.png

Weight loss experts hate him, he went from 120 to 63kg in 4 months :D 

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56 minutes ago, mjaferrie said:

@Kubson - I have no idea what my U18's coaches have been doing to him, but in four months Andrew has gone from 120kg to 62kg?!

11a39ff15c28e06043ea6fc16fc720eb.png 

Get that perfect beach body with Ally Andrew!

lol, whipping him into shape but now he is too frail

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ManUtd1   
On 8/4/2017 at 01:34, mjaferrie said:

Eh, I'd say a mixture of the two really.  He's only got 8 for stamina and 12 for natural fitness so usually I have to take him off around 50-60 minutes and if he plays 90 he's not fit enough for the next game.  More of a rotation option by necessity than a lack of ability, he's been phenomenal in either CM roles.  38 games last season and 26 so far this season, so he's getting plenty of game time!

The youth intake was crap, and none of them look to have progressed much since although several have been playing a lot in League One/Two on loan this season. Let's see what happens!  Hopefully this year is better with the improvement in junior coaching.

In other news, I haven't had time for an update but I've had the game trundling along in the background.  Highlights of the season so far are every man and his dog getting injured, Kouassi Eboue demanding a new contract after getting sent off against Hearts leading to them equalising from the resulting free kick, losing home and away to Hibs and away to Rangers meaning we scrape into the January window at the top of the table by just 2 points.  Rangers are in 2nd and Hibs are just 1 point behind them so it's a close one!  I'll get a proper update done this afternoon!  Meanwhile, here are those incredible youngsters from the Fife/Forth Academies:

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£81k.  £81k!!! Damn you, youth only save!  Not bad for 16 years of age.

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And Cardiff picked up this guy FOR FREE *dies inside* from Fife Elite.

Wow. Just, wow. Makes me long to pick up with Scotland again, or at least have a go on this file!

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3 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

Wow. Just, wow. Makes me long to pick up with Scotland again, or at least have a go on this file!

Scotland is a weird one in FM world, your average Joe is pretty much just that, but more or less every year there's a wonderkid or two popping up somewhere like Stenhousemuir...

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Glad he stayed on as staff.

175004769-900365d3-a46b-45bb-9bfa-faf4f94d286f-2.thumb.jpg.88cd6083bf1fed4031b5458191c0306c.jpg

So is he! :lol:

Summer Transfer Window Update

I had to table new contract offers for Moussa Dembélé, Leigh Griffiths, Olivier Ntcham, Kristoffer Ajer, Mikael Lustig and Kouassi Eboue in order to keep them at the club this summer.  PSG and West Brom seem to be after half my team between them!  It means I'm forking out close to £500k per week in wages (£8m per year more than Rangers) but with the lack of transfer activity in terms of incoming players I have plenty cash to spare.  We're spending £21.04m per year on salaries, while Dundee United in 3rd are paying £2.78m - if the title race is as close as it was last season then we have absolutely nowhere to hide.  

No major departures this summer but nonetheless a few players move on from Celtic Park.  Scott Allan returned from a two-year loan spell at Dundee and within a fortnight was off to Ross County for £100k, joined by Mark Hill who sealed a £42k transfer to the Dingwall side.  Broque Watson joins Falkirk in the Championship for £20k, while the first of our youth intake players, Joe Young YP1b, moves to Clyde for the same fee.  Lewis Bell has signed for Nottingham Forest for £43.5k with a 40% sell on clause attached, and Joe Thomson, Robbie Deas and Jamie Lindsay all leave for free at the end of their contracts.  Deas has since signed for Dunfermline, Lindsay for Dundee and Thomson is now plying his trade with Raith Rovers.

In terms of loan deals, Regan Hendry and Anthony Ralston were again sent out to Championship sides in a bid for first team football at a higher level than the Reserves are playing.  Hendry joins Raith Rovers, while Ralston joins recently relegated side Hamilton.  Both have been Key Players so far for their temporary clubs and will hopefully develop well as a result.  PJ Crossan has also gone to Morton until the end of next season.

EUROPE

We kicked off the Champions League with a 2nd Qualifying Round tie against Crusaders.  Despite naming a strong starting XI, the Northern Irish side put up a fight in the first leg, levelling the match after Daniel Church's early opener.  Two late goals from Scott Sinclair, one from a free kick and one from a penalty, gave us a strong advantage going into the second leg though, and at Celtic Park five goals from five different players sealed an easy tie against Austrian champions Admira Wacker Mödling.

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In the 3rd QR, we again headed for the away tie in the first leg and annihilated the Austrian side on their own patch.  After 63 minutes Dembélé, Ntcham and Sinclair were all on a hat trick, with Dembélé managing to net his third of the night seven minutes later and secure a 7-1 victory for the Hoops.  The strong showing meant I could field our reserve team in the second leg, and despite falling behind at Celtic Park we fought back to win 3-1 on the night and 10-2 on aggregate, steamrolling our way into the Playoffs.

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We faced a much trickier tie in the Playoff round as we were drawn against Belarusian team BATE Barysaw.  It was a tie we really should be winning but the first leg, again away from home, was a difficult one with only Olivier Ntcham's strike separating the teams heading back to Glasgow.  First half goals from Jonny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths though secured our passage into the Champions League group stage again this season.

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We've been rewarded with a difficult group containing Manchester City, Sporting CP and Feyenoord.  City are likely to storm the group, but there is very little separating ourselves and the Dutch and Portuguese champions.  Our European campaign this season really could go any way...

In the League we have a 100% record so far, albeit we're only 3 games deep.  We've also scraped our way past Championship side Motherwell in the League Cup, needing penalty kicks and three penalty saves from Craig Gordon to progress to face our nemesis Hibernian in the Quarter Final.  Hopefully our woes against them last season are well and truly over, or our hopes of winning the cup for a third season in a row will be in doubt.

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Edited by mjaferrie

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Squad Review 2018/19

Just before we get to the squad - I've played through a couple more games against Dundee United and Aberdeen, picking up 1-0 and 3-1 wins away from home which sits us nicely at the top of the table.  The real shock of the season so far though is Rangers' awful form, only picking up three wins so far in the Europa League and Scottish League Cup.  They're out of Europe before the group stages, and the current state of the league table is putting Pedro Caixinha under a bit of pressure:

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Hopefully they pick it up quickly as we need strong teams competing well in Europe to help the coefficient.

For the start of this season Liam Henderson has been promoted the first team to replace Callum McGregor who moved to Burnley in January, and Jamie McCart joins him to give us a bit of depth in the centre of defence.  Ryan Christie has returned from a two-year loan spell at Aberdeen and looks like the perfect fit for the attacking playmaker role we've been using on the left 'wing', he's already Accomplished in that position but I've got him training it as well to bump it up a notch.  Here's the squad for the new season:

Goalkeepers

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Just compare their stats and you can see why I have the fear with this position.  Hopefully Craig Gordon isn't going to look to retire soon as it's going to leave us seriously lacking in this department.

Full Backs

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No changes here, Tierney is currently out injured again so Jonny Hayes, Calvin Miller and Daniel Church have been filling in there.  All those red arrows for Lustig and Gamboa mean Anthony Ralston has a good shot of returning from his loan spell and heading straight into the first team for next year.

Centre Backs

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We are solid here for a good while, with Max Potter in the reserve team looking to get a shot at first team action in the cups this season.  Ajer is a regular for us all over the park.

Defensive Midfielders

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Kouassi Eboue is on a contract that doesn't reflect the amount of time he spends in the first team, as Bitton is our first shout here and Scott Brown also gets regular game time in this position.  With Eboue's potential though and the number of times PSG have been bidding for him, I wanted to secure his future here.

Central Midfield

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This is a really strong position for us and Kundai Benyu is going to be an able replacement as and when there's space for him in the squad.  I might look to move Stuart Armstrong on in January, he's not getting much game time and Bitton, Eboue, Ajer and Christie can all play in CM too if needed.

Wingers

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We've got depth in this area, with Aitchison, Griffiths, Calvin Miller and Regan Hendry all able to fill in.  Looking for a bit more quality though and hopefully Ryan Christie can develop into a strong left winger/playmaker.  James Forrest has been phenomenal so far this season, with seven goals and five assists in just eight games.  Hopefully he keeps it up and can avoid those niggling injuries.

Strikers

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These two are fantastic options up front.  I'm not sure how sustainable it's going to be having two £30k+ strikers when we only play with one up front, but for now we stay as we are.  Dembélé looks to have reached a rather underwhelming peak, given how he's developed in some other saves.  He's still more than excellent for us though and hopefully that means we'll be able to keep ahold of him for a while yet.

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Posted (edited)

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"We're live from Lennoxtown as Celtic's Under-18s prepare for their UEFA Youth League tie against Sporting CP this Wednesday, and we're here to catch up with our poster-boy Ally Andrew YP2a.  Andrew has recently declared his intentions to represent Ireland at international level over the country of his birth, but the big news today is that the former 120kg man has slashed his weight even further to 58kg, an incredible 48% of his starting weight!  What a huge inspiration for our hordes of couch potatoes looking to get off of Football Manager, and onto the pitch this year!  Andrew, do you have some words for us?"

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"It hurts us... precious..."

Edited by mjaferrie

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Bollocks.

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In other news:

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We put four past Sporting CP while Feyenoord did the same to Manchester City.  City then put four past us, while Sporting beat Feyenoord at home..  It's going to be a tight group...

It's not often you look forward to a double header against Old Firm rivals Rangers, but they are in horrendous form.  Caixinha's job security is still at 'stable' though... the fans at Ibrox have perhaps lowered their expectations a tad?

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Five points from eleven league games is just not good enough for the Ibrox men who sit bottom of the table, one point behind St. Johnstone.  We're at the beginning of December now so an Autumn update will follow soon, but for now the big news is that Brexit has hit.  It won't affect us too much, given that we're operating with our youth intakes only, but it may make contract renewals for existing players a bit trickier.  Most of the non-British players are within a year or two of gaining citizenship though so that should help but the likes of Ntcham and Dembélé, who are capped but aren't playing regularly for France, have a bit longer to go.  It's tempting to loan them out to England, given that they'd both get English citizenship much quicker than Scottish, but they're too valuable for us at the moment to consider it.

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BoxToBox   

Wow, the harshest of Brexits, usually you get an exemption for players currently at UK clubs.

Would Nitcham get one off the appeal points, surely his wage and transfer fees are high enough to clear 4 points?

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22 minutes ago, BoxToBox said:

Wow, the harshest of Brexits, usually you get an exemption for players currently at UK clubs.

Would Nitcham get one off the appeal points, surely his wage and transfer fees are high enough to clear 4 points?

Dembélé is our top earner and Ntcham is third, so hopefully that's good enough.  Dembélé wouldn't make the transfer fee requirements but Ntcham would count for that second one - if I was a clever cookie and spent the time inputting the transfer fee data in the editor.  Unfortunately I didn't, so there's no record of Ntcham's transfer fee to Celtic in game and I'm not sure how that'll work out in the end.  At least they'll both get three points for wages... 

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Autumn Update 2018/19

We may have scraped through every game rather unconvincingly, but nonetheless we have our first trophy of the season and that makes it three League Cups in a row for the Bhoys in Green.

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You might notice the absence of the Crusaders this time round - they came fourth in their group behind Queen of the South, Aberdeen and Dunfermline despite winning two of their matches.  Highland League winners Aberdeen Colts also came fourth in their group, while Rangers Swifts were third behind Livingston and Hamilton.  The highlight of the competition for me though was breaking our hoodoo with the Hibees, with our first victory over them for 16 months!

In the league, it's been a breeze despite a winless October.  We're top of the table by 6 points, with a game in hand, and look to be heading for our 3rd title under my tenure and 8 in a row.  

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As you can see, sacking Caixinha was the right decision for the Ibrox outfit as new manager Derek McInnes has overseen their climb up the table from 12th place. If they maintain their current form it's not unlikely for them to reach the top four and qualify for Europe.

And on to the main event!  The Champions League group stage saw us drawn against Manchester City, Sporting CP and Feyenoord, and it was an absolute rollercoaster.  On the opening day a Moussa Dembélé hat trick led us to a 4-2 victory over the Lisbon side at Celtic Park while Feyenoord secured the same scoreline over Manchester City in Rotterdam.  A 4-1 loss in Manchester followed by a 4-0 defeat by Feyenoord, compounded by the sending off of Olivier Ntcham, though meant that after 3 games we were bottom of the table with only 3 points on the board.

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Next up was the chance for revenge over the Dutch champions, and two goals from Dembélé and one from Sinclair secured a 3-0 win at Celtic Park and we moved up to the Europa League spot.  We followed up with a 2-1 win in Lisbon, which left us in a precarious position heading into our final game against Manchester City in Glasgow.  Win, and we would top the group.  Draw, we'd come second.  Lose, and we'd drop into the Europa League unless Sporting CP beat Feyenoord in Holland.  We reached half time with the score still at 0-0, and it was back to the wall stuff with a Manchester City side containing the likes of Isco, Christian Pulisic, Sergio Agüero, Gabriel Jesus, Kevin de Bruyne and Eric Dier launching wave after wave of attack.  A quick check of the Feyenoord/Sporting game told me that the Dutch were 5-0 up at half time, which meant that if we lose we'd be dropping into the second tier of European football, so it was time for a rally call and within one minute we'd taken the lead!  Olivier Ntcham with a wonderstrike, only to be cancelled out with 20 minutes left by Brazilian wonderkid Gabriel Jesus.  With the match petering out, we looked to be taking the 2nd place spot in the group, but three minutes from time Moussa Dembélé latched onto the end of a James Forrest cross to smash the ball into the back of the net and we took the three points!  Incredible scenes at Celtic Park as we top the group and progress to face Olympiakos in the first knockout round!

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Leo Fasan has started the last four Champions League games, and 15 games in total (apart from two League Cup games he was ineligible for due to playing for the Crusaders in the group stage).  He's doing an alright job, but in all those games we've kept only five clean sheets.  He's going to have to up his game massively if we don't get a 'keeper of any reasonable potential in the intake, as with Craig Gordon still 4 weeks away from a return to action (and featuring some hefty red arrows on the info screen...) we're struggling.

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BoxToBox   

Incredible results, especially with your keeper woes.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, BoxToBox said:

Incredible results, especially with your keeper woes.

I don't mind if we can't keep clean sheets anymore as long as we still score more goals :lol: 

We're only 2 and a half seasons into this save, but we have a serious contender for Most Bizarre Moment:

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Rodgers got hired as Southampton's manager after I took the Celtic job, but he got sacked back in December.

Edit: I also love how FM is trolling Craig Levein here - yep, Unknown basically is his role IRL...

Edited by mjaferrie

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BoxToBox   

Just need Delia at Patrick Thistle or something now, if Lennon is still at Hibs, have a big fatal fourway for the title.

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January Transfer Window Update

We have a couple of first team players leaving us this January which gives space for younger guys to move up to the first team.  Firstly, Austrian champions FC Admira Wacker Mödling (who we played against in the 3rd Qualifying Round of the Champions League this season) offered us £1.2m for Jonny Hayes.  I managed to negotiate that up to £2m, which is a pretty good fee for the 31 year old.  The other player to move on from Celtic Park this window is Cristian Gamboa, who seals a £2.6m move to Rayo Vallecano.  With Mikael Lustig out injured Scott Brown has been covering in the right back position, but Gamboa's move to Spain means I need cover in that position and as a result Anthony Ralston is recalled from his loan spell at Hamilton.  He's made 29 appearances so far this season, and there are green arrows aplenty as he looks to secure a first team berth.  Calvin Miller has also been moved to the first team squad to cover for Jonny Hayes in both the left back and left/right wing positions.

On the park, it's 5 wins from 5 as we consolidate a 15 point lead in the Premiership.

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Meanwhile, on the other side of Glasgow, Sevco have slipped into their old ways and are currently on a four game losing streak.  Derek McInnes' honeymoon period is well and truly over and the Ibrox men have serious work to do to avoid a relegation fight.  

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ManUtd1   

Tremendous stuff, man -- smashing the league, and a strong showing thus far in Europe!

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8 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

Tremendous stuff, man -- smashing the league, and a strong showing thus far in Europe!

Thanks!  Took advantage of an easy draw last year to reach the quarters, just lost 2-1 away to Olympiakos in the first leg but hopefully that away goal will help us get there again this season!  What a mental group though.

7 hours ago, kidthekid said:

Sporting must be really bad. Did they even gain a point in the group

4!  A win over Feyenoord and a draw against City, both at home.

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Youth Intake Day!

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Not the best intake unfortunately, but we have a goalkeeper!  Good handling and reflexes but not much else, he'll likely reach about the same level as Leo Fasan so at least we'll have a bit of depth if not quality.  I'm liking the look of that left back though, with Professional personality and 18 for Determination.  It's not a position we need numbers in, with Tierney and Miller just 21 years of age and Daniel Church 18, so I might retrain him.

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At least the goalkeeper looks decent enough. Hopefully he isn't injury prone. I feel like his mentals should improve to a reasonable enough level

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