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PaulHartman71

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35 minutes ago, theonets said:

Congrats, man, League 1 :)

 

Guessing this is where the real issue will come in, lots of foreign talent floating around League 1 and the Championship, and good English talent isn't cheap. How're the finances? Assuming pretty good, since you're not buying anyone?

 

Have around £4M in the bank but as I've got Branson as an Underwriter he pumps money in now and then. Started the save with £10/15M in the bank to try and keep it a bit realistic, as you'd probably start with that much then gradually pump more in as you go up the leagues. I don't think I'm going to buy anyone until the Championship, as in League 1 the difference in quality between players I'd pick up on freebies and players I'd pay decent League 1 money for isn't thaaaat high really. Not sure we'll go up first time, as we were lucky to go up from League 2 in the Playoffs, think our squad depth compared to other sides was what did it for us in the end. 

The Championship will be where it gets really interesting. However, Brexit is coming which could make things a bit weird. In the test run I did it made it so that there was a foreigner limit of 17 a squad, but in League 1/Championship it was more or less impossible to get a foreign player in on a free or normal transfer from a non-English team. So it will probably drive up both the demand and price of the best English talent. 

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Aaron Lennon and Scott Dann among Virgin Sports new signings ahead of their debut League 1 season

 

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VS Croydon have today announced that former England international, Aaron Lennon, has joined the club on a free transfer, with long-time Premier League defender, Scott Dann, also arriving at the club ahead of the new season. Lennon especially has been seen as a very handy pick-up, following his summer release from Premier League side Crystal Palace who he joined from Everton just 2 years ago. The winger, capped 21 times by England, may not be as pacey as he once was at 33 years old, but the experienced winger should do really well at League 1 level. 

Scott Dann, 32, was also released by Palace in the summer, despite barely featuring for the last few seasons, Dann's experience and defensive qualities will again, come in very handy for a side at this level, especially a newly promoted one. 7 other free signings were made by Phil Hart this summer, with the most notable being Martin Cranie, a defender who has played well for the likes of Huddersfield, Barnsley and Coventry in the Championship throughout the last 10 years. 

They will join a spine of English players that includes central midfielder Cassian Thomas, who at just 21 has played in more VS Croydon matches (152) than any other player in their short history, as well as goalkeeper Sam Slocombe, who joined last season and has been dubbed good enough to make the step-up to League 1 football. Jake Kenyon, 21, has been with the side since their Conference National stint and the left back looks set to be first choice again this season. It will be interesting to see if striker, Dayle Southwell can make the step-up, as his goals in both the Conference (22) and League 2 (23) have played a huge part in their continued success. It would be a real story if he could score 20+ goals in 3 different divisions in consecutive seasons. 

One player who won't feature for them next season is Kieran Richardson, who decided to retire from football just minutes after the Wembley success. He's elected to begin his coaching career at Virgin Sports, as from next season he will be the manager of their U23 side. Matty Taylor, former Portsmouth, West Ham and Bolton player, has joined the club as Richardson's assistant.

The full list of signings made by VS Croydon can be found below: 

Martin Cranie (Oldham) 
Scott Dann (Crystal Palace)
Matty Done (Rochdale)
Jack Dunn (Oxford)
Tyler Forbes (Bradford City)
Matt Godden (Stevenage)
Alex Kiwomya (Doncaster)
Aaron Lennon (Crystal Palace)
Louis Reed (Bradford City)

Edited by PaulHartman71

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VS Croydon bring in Cameron Jerome to increase bid for promotion

 

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By all accounts, VS Croydon's maiden season in League 1 has gone fairly well - in mid-January they currently sit in 6th place, with the prospect of a spot in the Playoffs looking like it could happen. However, that hasn't stopped Phil Hart from bringing in a reinforcement in this winter window - Cameron Jerome, now 34, has been a meddling Premier League and Championship striker for the last decade, turning out for the likes of Birmingham, Stoke and Norwich City, before he was released in the summer. He's been without a club since then, but he's finally found a suitor in League 1's Virgin Sports side. 

Jerome brings with him a wealth of experience and should be a real threat at League 1 level, with 4 months of the season to go, his goal threat could be the crucial difference in whether David James can bring an unprecedented 4th consecutive promotion, which would see the Croydon-based side compete in the Championship from next season. The VS faithful will be looking forward to seeing star winger, Aaron Lennon, crossing in balls to Jerome, as the winger they signed in the summer has been producing the goods in a big way, quickly becoming a favorite with the 2,000 or so home fans that turn up on a regular basis. 

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Aaron Lennon cross turned in by Yeovil defender sends Virgin Sports to Championship promise land!

 

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Yeovil's dream of a return to the Championship for the first time in 7 years were thwarted at Wembley this evening, as Aaron Lennon set-up the only goal of the game. He put in a hopeful cross in the 65th minute and young 18 year old Nathan Hartley's clumsy trailing leg put it past his own keeper. This secured a 4th consecutive promotion for David James and VS Croydon, following a 8-5 aggregate victory in an eventful set of Semi Finals with Oxford United. 

Many fans have heralded Phil Hart's move to bring in Cameron Jerome on a free transfer in January as being a move which inspired the side to go up, as the 34 year old target man finished with 10 goals in 18 appearances in League 1 - some of them proving critical in securing the London outfit's spot in the Playoffs. Aaron Lennon and Matty Done, the team's two wide men were also fantastic for the club this season, despite some critics claiming that Matty Done was more Welsh than English, although the former Rochdale and Sheffield United man was born in England and has never represented either Wales or England at international level. Cassian Thomas again impressed this season, with the central midfielder now having been a key squad member in 4 different divisions for his team. 

Statistical information for Virgin Sports' season in League 1 can be found below: 

 

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BREAKING NEWS: David James has left his role as Head Coach to become the new Manager at League 1 side Walsall 

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In a move that has taken many people by surprise, Virgin Sports Croydon have announced today that their Head Coach, David James, has decided to part with the club following their promotion to the Championship to take over as full-time manager of Walsall. Walsall's long running manager, Jon Whitney, resigned from his post this summer which left a vacancy at the League 1 team. A source close to David James has said although he thoroughly enjoyed his 4 year stint at VS Sports, he found the pressure and lack of control of signings "exhausting" and that he was delighted at the prospect of being able to take full control of a club himself. 

David James was very quick to thank everyone at VS Sports for the "incredible and life-changing" opportunity, which gave him managerial experience that he couldn't have got anywhere else. He described his time at the club as "extremely positive" and said he would be forever grateful to both the backroom staff as well as all the players that have turned out for him over the years. It's also been reported that when the offer from Walsall came in, Richard Branson personally signed off the move, stating that David James deserved to do best by him, considering his "invaluable" contributions to the club's early history. 

Bookies have been speculating as to who James' replacement will be, with the club set to begin it's first ever season in the Championship, you would expect them to hire a manager with experience in the division - but it's also been speculated that many managers are "put off" by the hierarchy in place at the club. In what would be a truly sensational appointment, Alan Curbishley, currently Director of Football at League 2's Forest Green Rovers, has emerged as a front runner for the job, with Sky Bet placing him as a 2/1 favorite - amid rumored sightings of him in Croydon. 

Others believe that VS Croydon could look to an internal solution, with David James' number 2, Tony Adams, looking like a possible candidate. Kieran Richardson, who joined the U18 coaching set-up following his retirement could also be in with a chance of landing the job, as many at Virgin have dubbed him to have "a huge future" in coaching, but at just 37 he may have to wait a few years before they give the big job to him. 

Another position that will need replacing this summer will be the role of Director, as Terry Butcher, who has been in the role since the club's initial Conference South days, has this week announced that he will be retiring in the next few weeks. It is thought that Ray Wilkins, current first-team coach at the club, could end up filling this role. 

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BREAKING NEWS: Sol Campbell is shock choice for new Head Coach at Virgin Sports

 

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In an incredible move that has left pundits and bookies alike in utter shock, Virgin Sports have decided to hire Sol Campbell as their replacement for David James. The former England international and 2-time Premier League winner with Arsenal, has put pen to paper on a deal that will see initially see him take the reigns for 2 years. Tony Adams, who Sol once played alongside with at Highbury, will remain as the club's Assistant and is rumoured to be delighted to work alongside his former team-mate. Much like his predecessor, Sol has very little experience in coaching and management, with only a 4 year spell as Assistant Manager for Trinidad & Tobago to Dennis Lawrence on his CV. But this hasn't stopped Virgin bosses from thinking he's the right man for the job, with higher ups reportedly very impressed with his interview. 

Alan Curbishley, who many speculated would take the Head Coach role himself, has been hired as the new Director to replace the outgoing Terry Butcher. A whole host of other staff changes have been made this summer, with Kieran Richardson being promoted to manager of the U23 side, with recently retired Fabian Delph being appointed U18 manager. Joe Cole, Jason Puncheon and Stephen Warnock have also joined the backroom staff with varying roles in the U23 and U18 setup. 

No incoming signings have been made yet, but Phil Hart, Head of Recruitment, is said to be keen to add some Championship experience to their midfield, with the London-based team so far having been linked to Derby's Tom Huddlestone, Sheffield United's Mark Noble and Wolves' Henri Lansbury. 

Edited by PaulHartman71

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:thdn::thdn::thdn:

 

but yeah get Huddlestone.                               not Noble though.

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Tom Huddlestone and James Wilson among summer signings at VS Sports

 

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Virgin Sports have made a number of summer signings ahead of their maiden season in the English 2nd flight, with the most noteworthy being the £250K signing of experienced defensive midfielder, Tom Huddlestone. They've also taken a chance on striker James Wilson, formerly of Man United, he was released by fellow Championship side QPR, after a fairly unimpressive 2 year spell of just 5 goals in 34 games. He has the opportunity to rejuvenate his career at Virgin Sports, who will be hoping he can reach the potential he was once expected to achieve when he was coming through at United. 

Their most expensive transfer of the summer was the £1M move to bring in Ainsley Maitland-Niles, the 24 year old midfielder has spent the last few years in the Championship for Ipswich, but following their relegation to League 1 he was keen to move on.  The other "big money" deal was the £575K transfer to bring in Matthew Connolly from Cardiff City, the defender may be past his best but he will still surely do a decent job for a side desperate to make a good first impression in the division. They secured some more Championship experience by paying £210K for Bristol City's Frank Fielding, with around 10 years of experience in the sticks in the Championship, he should be a great pick-up. 

The full list of signings made by VS Sports this summer can be found below: 

 

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David James sacked by Walsall 

 

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Many were tipping David James for a successful career in management after 4 consecutive promotions as Head Coach of VS Croydon took them to the Championship, but it looks like James' choice to jump ship to League 1 Walsall has backfired massively. Just a week before Christmas, the West Midlands-based side have sacked him for poor league performance. It looks like the grass wasn't greener after all. 

 

 

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Sol's side stays up!

 

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Many pundits had predicted that Virgin Sports may get themselves relegated under Sol Campbel''s stewardship this season, but the former England defender proved them wrong, guiding VS Sports to 18th in his first season as a manager. Whether or not this is an acceptable outcome for Virgin is another matter, but you would assume that having only invested around £2M in transfers this summer that they didn't expect promotion. They didn't particularly delve into the January market, with just a £250K punt on Hull's former Man United midfielder, Nick Powell. 

Perhaps the best signing they made this summer was the free transfer pick-up of James Wilson, with the 26 year old striker ending the season with 26 goals in 39 Championship appearances, a record only Michele Sego of Leeds managed to top. This was given as a key example of why having an "English-Bilbao" type side at the top level is fantastic, as it has given the likes of James Wilson a way to revitalize his career. Liam Mandeville, Matty Done and Ainsley Maitland-Niles also had decent seasons, but nobody really reached the levels of Wilson.

The season started reasonably well for VS Sports, with 5 wins from their first 6 games making people think they could do the unthinkable and go up at first attempt. But a few defeats gave them a reality check, with their form especially towards the end of the season being very bad and eventually dragging them into a relegation battle. They lost 8 of their last 10 league games, winning just 2 games after February, but thankfully for Sol Campbell they secured enough points to stay up. 

Their attendances averaged at around 8,220, which isn't too bad for a club who were only formed a few years ago, especially since this wasn't even the worst in the division, with relegated Burton Albion only attracting on average around 7,150 fans each match. 

It remains to be seen how much investment will come from Virgin in the summer, with some speculating they may pump more money in to attempt to gain promotion to the Premier League soon rather than later. Some replacements will need to be made in any case though, with all 3 of Scott Dann, Cameron Jerome and Aaron Lennon set to retire. 

Some more statistical information for VS Sports' season can be found below:  

 

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Edited by PaulHartman71

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£8M spent as Virgin look to improve on last season's Championship performance

 

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Branson has backed his man, Sol Campbell, as he's let Phil Hart spend some serious money for a Championship side this summer. 9 new signings, including 3 loans, have joined the Croydon-based outfit, with perhaps the biggest name being former Premier League midfielder, Matty James, from Swansea. The most expensive deal saw Alfie Jones of Ipswich join for £3.1M, in a move that exemplified their transfer strategy of buying experienced Championship players to improve their fortunes. 

They're still perhaps not attracting the best English talent around, but one would imagine they'd have to at least prove themselves as a consistent Championship side before some agents will let their players move to them. Richard Branson said that now more than ever it was important to give English players a chance, as England under Gareth Southgate once again went out at the Quarter Final stage of the World Cup this summer, making it 3 QF exits from 3 for Southgate, who the FA have backed going into the 2024 Euros. 

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Sol's sacked! 

 

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In sensational breaking news, Virgin Sports Croydon have officially announced that they've sacked Sol Campbell, effective immediately. The former Head Coach of VS Sports had got off to a terrible start this season, with the London-based side finding themselves with just 1 point from their first 6 games, having lost 5 of them. It might only be the first week of September, but clearly Richard Branson had seen enough. Campbell had guided the side to the 3rd Round of the League Cup with victories over Ebbsfleet and even an away win at Premier League side Swansea, but it's thought his results in the league, including a 6-1 horror show at Birmingham, were what triggered it into motion. 

The sacking comes amid rumours that VS Croydon have got a former Premier League manager lined up to replace the former Gunners man... 

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Paul Clement is the new Head Coach at VS Sports!

 

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In what is widely being received as a positive move for the club, Virgin Sports Croydon have hired Paul Clement to replace Sol Campbell. Clement, 50, has been without a job for just under 2 years after his 3 year stint at Swansea came to an end in 2020, but for a Championship club he could still be considered a bit of a coup. Clement takes over from Campbell who only managed 1 win in his first 6 league games of the season, with his first match at home to Barnsley, he will be hoping that star striker James Wilson, who last season scored 26 goals in the Championship, can start scoring regularly again, as this season he's managed just 1 from 6 starts. 

Tony Adams remains as #2 at VS Croydon, with the former Arsenal captain now set to be working under his 3rd boss since first taking the role under David James in 2017 in the Conference South. David James was of course sacked by League 1 Walsall last season, but after a few months unemployed he managed to find a new job and a second chance at League 2's Blackpool in the summer. 

 

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Clement's men climb Championship table as Virgin Sports bring in Milner and Deeney  

 

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VS Croydon were rock bottom of the Championship table when Sol Campbell was sacked as Head Coach in October, with Paul Clement brought in to add experience and get them playing well again. That's since proved to be an inspired move by the Virgin board, as their side have now risen up the table to 14th and at present are just over 10 points clear of the drop as we enter the new year. A Playoff campaign can't be ruled out, but it would require good form for the remaining 5 months of the season.

To try and get the side into the Playoffs and hopefully the Premier League, Phil Hart has acted by further strengthening the side, as today they announced the signings on free transfers of both James Milner and Troy Deeney. Milner, 36, who was capped 61 times for England, is understood to have been brought in as a Player/Coach, with more emphasis on the coaching side, with the intention for him to only be a back-up player at best. Deeney, 32, however, is said to have been brought in to play up-front alongside James Wilson. Deeney of course famously was part of Gareth Southgate's failed 2018 World Cup campaign, with Deeney himself taking some flack for a poor performance against Spain in the Quarter Final in which England were knocked out. 

Edited by PaulHartman71

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Sol Campbell on struggling to find work following VS Croydon sacking

 

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Sol Campbell has been unemployed since being sacked by VS Croydon in October at the start of this season, now in April he has been unemployed for over 6 months and is becoming increasingly frustrated. 

"It's ridiculous. It's not like I haven't got any experience. I lead Virgin Sports to avoid relegation in their first ever Championship season and I laid the groundwork for what Paul Clement has done there. He's got them in the Playoffs, but I would have done the same, if not better. We did start poor, but it took the players a while to jel and there were injuries and what not. I'm being wasted at the moment, I've applied for numerous jobs and everybody has stayed away. I can't believe some people. I'm one of the greatest minds in football and it's like they're scared to hire me! 

 

 

:brock:

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Troy Deeney winner at Vicarage Road sends Virgin Sports to Wembley at Watford's expense!

 

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Watford fans couldn't believe what they were seeing as former captain and loyal servant of over a decade, Troy Deeney, scored the goal that ended their Wembley dream to get back in the Premier League. Deeney had already scored a brace in a 3-3 draw at Virgin Sports Arena in the first leg of the Championship Playoff Semi Final, but he was back again to score the sole goal in a 1-0 win to set-up a match with Birmingham next week at Wembley. 

Deeney was released by Watford in the summer by manager Alan Pardew who clearly felt that Deeney was no longer good enough to lead the line for London-based club, with many pundits agreeing with him since nobody would take a chance on him in the summer even on a free transfer. But VS Sport gave him a lifeline in January when they took him on and he did not let them down, the winner against Watford being his 17th goal in 24 games since he joined, with 11 of them coming in the Championship itself. Troy is said to be looking forward to the Wembley showdown and is hoping he can guide his team up so he can play Premier League football once more. 

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VS Croydon sink Birmingham at Wembley to make Premier League!

 

A historic day at Wembley for Virgin Sports Croydon today, as Paul Clement's side beat Birmingham 3-1 to get promoted to the top flight for the first time in their history. Troy Deeney, James Wilson and Matty James were all among the scoresheet in what was ultimately a quite comfortable win for the Londoners. Phil Hart's decision to bring in Deeney in January was an inspired move as it was his goals late on in the season and in the Playoffs that elevated them from being a good side to a great side. 

It should be interesting to see what Virgin Sports do with the additional money that comes with being a Premier League club, as talk of youth investment was always said to be waiting on Premier League TV money. Now that they have that TV money they may well go about bringing that to the table. One thing is certainly for sure next season though, they will become the first top flight side in English football in at least the last decade to have an all-English team - which can only be good news for the National Team!

More statistical information on VS Croydon's season can be found below: 

 

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Sol sacked and struggling, my heart bleeds for him in this game just as much as irl.

Well done on promotion to PL. :thup:

Edited by Maw74

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How are you actually handling the Manager and signings in game, are you manager to complete the signings and the 'head coach' is your assistant?

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6 hours ago, jim owen said:

How are you actually handling the Manager and signings in game, are you manager to complete the signings and the 'head coach' is your assistant?

Yeah I sign the players and they pick the team, play the games etc. Interesting dynamic I’d been looking at doing for a while as I usually watch and play all the matches myself. 

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6 hours ago, Mattphillips said:

Unfortunately not :(

 

Guessing I might have to upload the editor data file. Should be able to get that up at some point tomorrow so if game file doesn’t work then that should work itself. 

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have just read this thread this morning.  Really interesting and enjoyable read.  Looking forward to seeing how you get on in the Premier League next season. :thup:

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Sancho and Pickford pick of the bunch for VS Croydon

 

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It's a big season ahead for Paul Clement's Virgin Sports Croydon side in their debut effort in the PL. It seemed almost inevitable that reinforcements would arrive this summer and Phil Hart has made a splash, bringing in no less than 7 players. It's been rumoured that a new kit deal with Nike has helped offset some of the costs of the extra wages and transfer fees they've forked out in the last few weeks. The most high profile arrival is Jordan Pickford, who joins for £10.75M from Everton. Pickford, 29, had been at Everton for 6 years, but Eddie Howe seemed more than happy to let him go this summer after their promotion, which is Virgin Sports' gain. 

Another arrival is the loan signing of Borussia Dortmund's 23 year old midfielder, Jadon Sancho. Sancho excited fans by making the unusual move to Dortmund at a young age, but he's failed himself on the sidelines and turning out for Dortmund's B team for much of his time there - he did spend the season on loan at Championship side Nottingham Forest last season, but he was distinctively average throughout the loan spell. He'll be hoping to impress in his debut Premier League season and get his career back on track. 

Jacob Murphy, who spent last season on loan at VS Croydon from Milwall, has become an official member of the Virgin Sports side, after they paid £1.3M for him. Another loan signing that Virgin Sports has made is the addition of former Arsenal prospect, Eddie Nketiah, the 24 year old moved to Huddersfield Town for £6.25M just two years ago after a string of impressive Championship loan spells at Reading and Burnley in 2019-2021, but after just 5 goals in 17 games last season, Huddersfield seem happy to let him go out on loan as they chase a Champions League spot. 

The rest of Virgin Sports' summer signings can be found below: 

 

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Congrats on your promotion mate! Pickford is a great signing as he is good enough to be the number 1 for a premier league winning side :thup:

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Having real issues trying to find a free site to upload the editor data/save game file to. Swear back in the old days you used to be spoilt for choice :D If anyone who wants the editor data or a save game file either posts in here or DMs me their email address I should be able to send you the goods the old fashioned way. 

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Zidane's Arsenal deny Virgin Sports in League Cup Semi

 

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A brace from Andre Silva and a goal from Reiss Nelson in a 3-1 win at The Emirates was enough for Arsenal to comfortably book their place in the League Cup final. Paul Clement's Virgin Sports side put up a good fight in the first leg, as they secured a 2-2 draw at home thanks to a goal from James Wilson and ex-Arsenal man Eddie Nketiah. Wilson got another goal in the return leg, but it wasn't enough as his side crashed out 5-3 on aggregate. Their fantastic run in the League Cup has distracted some from their fairly uninspiring league form, which sees them just 4 points off of the relegation zone in 17th place. Although it could be argued that merely staying up altogether could represent a success this season.

A win for Arsenal represents a rare positive in what has been an absolute disaster of a season so far in the league, with the Gunners currently sitting in 11th place - a disappointment which saw Jurgen Klopp sacked in early December, with Zidane opting to take over following his sabbatical since resigning from Real Madrid at the end of the 2021/22 season. Zidane's arrival has gone down well with the Arsenal fans, as they've beaten Man United 1-0 at home and 4 days ago won 3-1 away to Zizou's former team as a player, Juventus, in the Champions League. The Gooners fans will be hoping Zidane can do big things with them in the Champions League, as despite winning the Europa League twice with Arsene Wenger's replacement, Julen Lopetegui, they've become restless in recent years after winning nothing under Jurgen Klopp in his two year tenure, especially after his controversial appointment following his sacking from Liverpool for the same failings. 

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Nketiah winner books Virgin Sports ticket in FA Cup final!

 

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A dramatic FA Cup Semi Final between VS Croydon and Southampton went the distance tonight, with the two teams unable to be separated at 0-0 in regulation time. The Saints took the lead in the 95th minute through Jesse Lingard, but Virgin Sports showed great character to come from behind - with Jacob Murphy equalising almost instantly, before Eddie Nketiah's 111th minute strike put his side ahead for the first time in the match. This now sets up a final with either top of the table Manchester United, or Arsenal, who of course knocked VS Sports out of the League Cup at the Semi Final stage earlier in the season. 

It's been a great week for Paul Clement's side, who secured safety with 4 games still to play after a fantastic last-gasp win at Anfield, which saw James Wilson score the game's only goal in the 89th minute. This now leaves a 13 point gap between 17th place VS Croydon and 18th place Hull, which The Tigers mathematically cannot make up with just 4 matches left.

David Moyes, who joined struggling Hull in January following Stevie Crawford's sacking, was said to be disappointed not to keep his side up, which is understandable given it's his first stint back in the Premier League after 3 seasons managing Preston North End in the Championship following West Ham booting him out in 2017. Some Hull fans believe Gary Neville, who was Caretaker manager following Crawford's sacking and stayed on to be Assistant to Moyes, should have been given a go instead of Moyes in the first place, but the Hull board are said to be happy with Moyes and will be sticking with him in the hope he can get straight back up next season. 

Hull are joined in the drop by West Brom, who started the season with much optimism under former France, Juventus and Marseille manager, Didier Deschamps, as well as bottom place Brighton, who are said to be set to sack Carsten Jancker as soon as the season is officially over. 

Edited by PaulHartman71

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Kingsley Coman brace secures famous double for Man United!

 

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It was a wet afternoon at Wembley and Man United rained on Virgin Sports' parade to prevent them getting a historic first trophy. It was a strange case of history somewhat repeating itself, as the Croydon-based team lined up with the first all-English FA Cup final team since local rivals, Crystal Palace, lost in both matches in their 1990 final with Manchester United over 30 years ago. The neutral was well in favour of Branson's brainchild, with a lot of people pointing out that Mourinho's starting XI was entirely made up of foreign players, with England international defender, Axel Tuanzebe, named among the substitutes, the only man in the 18 strong squad who was born in Britain. 

Mourinho dismissed critics in the pre-match press conference and in an angry rant stated: 

 "When Arsene Wenger was doing this 20 years ago, I did not hear complaints, I did not see people say this is bad. I pick strongest team that I can. This strongest team. Tell me. Look at my team. David De Gea in goal. Look at the midfield. Marco Verratti, Paul Pogba, Christian Eriksen, Marco Asensio, Kingsley Coman and Dybala up top. You tell me. If these players are English, do they not start for England too? Who in the England team would play instead? Dele Ali he is at Tottenham. Harry Kane, also Tottenham. Sterling, he is at City. John Stones, City. Eric Dier, Tottenham. These clubs they do not want to sell to Man United. There is also Reiss Nelson, he is at Arsenal, when Mister Wenger was manager there, for sure, we could buy him, he sell to us, but now, no, they won't sell to us because we are champions. We have here for many years, Marcus Rashford. But, he wants to leave for game time, so we let him to go to Leicester. Jesse Lingard, we have him too, but he wants game time, so he goes to Southampton. I think that many people, they want to point the finger at me. They say it is my fault, or it is Manchester City's fault, or Chelsea's fault that England national team is not performing. But I think, look, maybe you have to say the FA, is not ambitious enough. Since 2018 - World Cup, out at Quarter Final. European Championship, out at Quarter Final. World Cup, out at Quarter Final. Yet still Gareth Southgate, he is manager. Has he done bad? No. I don't think so. I think you have to say, at least 7 out of 10, maybe more, maybe 8 out of 10 because he has won the UEFA Nations League twice, but this is not surprise because England always play well when there is not pressure. But I think if you want to try to do better at World Cup, at European Championship, you have to maybe try somebody else. But me? Please, do not blame me, I am not the one who you can blame for this". 

United do possess a deadly midfield and attack, with De Gea in goal too, you have to say Virgin Sports did well to keep it at just 2-0. An assist each from Paul Pogba and Marco Asensio put goals on a plate for Kingsley Coman, who made no mistake. Jordan Pickford also made top saves from several Paulo Dybala strikes, as well as a fantastic free-kick from 2nd half substitute, Christian Eriksen. The best chance for VS Croydon probably came to Eddie Nketiah, with the on-loan striker being set up by a decent ball from strike partner and former United graduate, James Wilson. Nketiah fluffed his lines though, in which could be his last performance in a Virgin shirt, as his loan spell is set to expire at the end of the season. 

Despite the loss, it's still been a pretty good maiden season in the Premier League for Paul Clement's men, with the side surviving relegation and having two strong cup wins, with a League Cup semi and of course the final today. For more information about their season, see below: 

 

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Football stat geeks on Twitter were loving Paul Clement on the last day of the season, as he brought on Cassian Thomas to help set several records that will surely never be broken in the history of English football. The 25 year old became the first player in English football history to not just consecutively play in the top 7 tiers of English football, but to also do it whilst playing for the same club: 

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Southgate sacked as England crash out of Euros to Holland

 

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It was a tournament that many in the media had got England fans excited and hopeful for. Kane, Sterling, Deli Ali, Stones, Lingard - all in their prime, perhaps 32 year old Kane's last chance at a major international trophy. An FA that had stuck with Southgate after 3 consecutive Quarter Final exits, even amidst growing discontent from the England supporters, with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho even suggesting a new man should come in before the tournament - although that was attributed more to the two's lengthy feud, sparked by Southgate insisting the likes of Lingard, Rashford and Axel Tuanzebe should be playing regular football at club level, which at least with the first two lead to them refusing contract extensions at Old Trafford. Southgate went into Germany stating that he believed "this is the tournament where we go one better than the Quarter Final stage", so it seemed only natural that his head should go on the chopping board when his team fell not at the Semi Final stage, or even the Quarter Final stage, but at the Round of 16. 

England got off to a brilliant start in their opening match, as they came from behind to beat Wales 3-1 thanks in part to a brace from Harry Kane, which delighted the nation especially given Ryan Giggs' extreme confidence in his side beating the English before the tournament. Harry Kane was on hand again in the 2nd group game, which saw goals for him and Raheem Sterling in a fairly routine 2-0 victory against Ukraine. However, even the most confident of England supporters would've struggled to see Southgate's side reach the Semi Final stage after their final group game, which saw France run riot at the Allianz Arena, with Griezzman, Pogba, Fekir and Mbappe all get on the score-sheet in an embarrassing 4-0 loss.

Holland were perhaps one of the weaker sides on offer to a 2nd place finishing side, as the Dutch haven't even qualified for the last 2 World Cups, although they did each the Semi Final in the last European Championship in 2020. Gio van Bronckhorst's team were keen to prove themselves, as a fair few talented young players have come through in the last few years and are now reaching their early to mid 20's and they dominated possession against the more experienced England team. It seemed fairly ironic that the goal which ultimately sealed Southgate's fate fell to a Manchester United player, with full back Kenny Tete popping up in the box to give the game it's only goal. 

It still remains unclear as to who Gareth Southgate's replacement will be, despite his critics he has to be commended as he's the longest serving England manager since Bobby Robson's tenure. The man that the press have been calling to take the job is Jose Mourinho, although the Man United manager has laughed off any possibility of it happening. Long time Atletico Madrid manager, Carlo Ancelotti, is also said to have been asked, but he too has turned down the chance to take the job. Pep Guardiola, who of course rejuvenated his career and reputation following his Manchester City failure at Juventus, by winning three straight domestic triples, was heavily linked with the position, but in a shocking move was instead announced as the returning Manchester City manager just last week, after Unai Emery left to take on the Barcelona job.  The two most popular English candidates are long-time Burnley boss, Sean Dyche and current Everton manager, Eddie Howe. Virgin Sports' Head Coach, Paul Clement, is also said to be of interest to The FA. Chris Wilder, of Wolves, is reportedly on standby if the other candidates do not want the job. 

 

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Virgin Sports raid relegated Brighton

 

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Virgin Sports today announced the signing of 3 players from Brighton & Hove Albion, for a combined fee of £62M, they have signed James Ward-Prowse, Luke Shaw and Nathaniel Clyne, who all incidentally are former Southampton players too. 

James Ward-Prowse, signed for £29M, with potential future add-on fees of up to £20M based on achievements like winning the FA Cup, Qualifying for the Europa League as well as additional England caps, is without a doubt the biggest "statement" of the 3 - with clubs like Leicester, Wolves and his former side, Southampton, all expressing great interest in him too. At 29, this will probably be his last big move and his last chance to help add to his 19 England caps, it is thought that new England boss, Sean Dyche, is said to be open to the idea of picking players "no matter what club they're playing for" rather than favouring the players from the bigger clubs who don't play. Ward-Prowse signed for Brighton in 2019 after playing a bit-part role in Southampton's previous season, with Gareth Southgate keen to have him playing regular football if he was to be considered for England. Nobody could argue that he didn't give his all for the seaside-based club and despite being vice-captain and an integral part of their midfield, he could do nothing to prevent them finishing rock bottom this season. Despite his club's poor league position this season, he's still managed 7 caps for England this season, playing a decent role in Qualifying and starting 2 games at this summer's European Championship in Germany. He is without doubt the most high profile player VS Croydon have signed thus far and they'll be hoping he can play a big role in pushing them away from the bottom of the table this year. 

Luke Shaw also signed for £29M, although there are no add-on fees with his deal. Shaw put in a fine shift at Brighton last season, despite their relegation he, like Ward-Prowse, was considered one of their better players which nobody could've expected at the start of the season. Many look back on his decision to move to Manchester United as a poor one, he picked up a big injury and took a back-seat under Mourinho for many years, eventually running down his contract and joining Brighton 2 seasons ago on a free. This move to VS Croydon, sort of like with JWP, is a last chance for Shaw to put himself in the England set-up, as he's largely been ignored for the last 5 years. 

Nathaniel Clyne also joins at a much more modest fee of £2.3M, at 33 this will probably be the last decent contract he gets and some were surprised that VS Croydon went for him, as many were critical of his often inconsistent performances for Brighton. VS Croydon also forked out £15.75M on Jack Grealish, who has been turning out for Championship Brentford in the last few seasons. Some believe the fee to be a bit too high for someone of Grealish's calibre, but he will certainly add something to their wide department. Jordan Ibe also joins for the bargain fee of just £2.6M, with the former Liverpool and Bournemouth winger finding himself surplus to requirements at Newcastle who finished as high as 6th last season. VS Croydon also picked up Sam Johnstone for £2.7M from League 1 Burton, it's believed he has been signed to be a 2nd choice keeper this season. 

 

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Edited by PaulHartman71

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Wilson's goals guide VS Sports to mid-table finish!

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Paul Clement's 2nd season in the Premier League for Virgin Sports has been a pretty good one, as whilst they've not had nearly as impressive a run in either cup, they've ended up 11th in the table - not bad work for a club newly promoted last season. James Wilson's attacking threat has been a crucial part of it, with the 29 year old striker ending the season with 12 goals and 10 assists in the league. For the first half of the season some were questioning his strike partnership with Liam Mandeville due to Mandeville being deemed a "Championship player at best", but Phil Hart somewhat rectified this by bringing in Dominic Calvert-Lewin for £2M in January. DCL rounded off the season with 9 goals and 4 assists in 18 PL games, so it was certainly money well spent! 

James Tarkowski and Jadon Sancho also both joined the Virgin set-up in January on full time deals, with 25 year old Sancho's addition especially exciting fans after his loan spell last season. Tarkowski even at 32 has been considered "finished" by some Burnley fans for a while, so that was perhaps an odd move, but he's still a decent player for a side who only wants to sign English players, perhaps a younger player could've been a better long term fix though. 

More information about VS Croydon's season can be found below:   

 

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Moving in the right direction! Have you had the England team call up any of your players yet? I'm assuming that's one of the main goals of bringing in English-only players.

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21 hours ago, cerud said:

Moving in the right direction! Have you had the England team call up any of your players yet? I'm assuming that's one of the main goals of bringing in English-only players.

 

Pickford and Ward-Prowse have been making the squads but neither managed to get a game this season. Pickford's behind Butland and a regen, with Ward-Prowse behind the likes of Dele Ali, Lewis Cook, Eric Dier and a regen. 

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Virgin Sports snap up Leicester duo

 

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Last season was one of much improvement for Virgin Sports Croydon and they're hoping next year will be more of the same, as Phil Hart brings in established England internationals in Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire as their marquee signings this summer.

Rashford joins for just £9M from Leicester, with the 27 year old available at a cut price rate due to having just 1 year left on his contract. Rashford's had a reasonable 3 years at at middling Leicester after joining on a bosman from United, but he's often ended up out wide rather than in his favoured position up-front. He's scored just 25 goals in 100 Premier League appearances for The Foxes, although from out wide that isn't a terrible figure and he did get 11 of those in 30 last season, representing his best season to date, which meant Rafa Benitez would've still been quite frustrated to lose him this summer. The former United player has managed 30 caps for England although he's never established himself as a regular, with almost all of his caps being substitute appearances or starts in meaningless friendlies - he'll be hoping he can really establish himself at Virgin Sports and possibly change that in what will be a World Cup year.   

Harry Maguire, 32, has spent the last 9 seasons at Leicester and is considered something of an iconic figure by Foxes fans, especially having been club captain for the last 3 years. During that time he's drifted in and out of the England team, with 29 caps to his name, although he hasn't made a squad in 2 seasons now. The Leicester captain also had 1 year left on his contract and he reportedly pleaded with Rafa Benitez to let him have one last shot at the big time, with Leicester lingering above the relegation zone in recent times, a move to Virgin Sports certainly represents an upgrade as the Branson-backed outfit look to push on and reach Europe this season. 

Another former England international joined the club this summer in what was their most expensive transfer of the window, as 30 year old Rob Holding signed from relegated Bournemouth. Holding had been at Bournemouth for 6 seasons after leaving Arsenal in 2019 and was appointed club captain just last season. Holding, despite only registering 8 England caps, did not wish to ruin any possible chance of a World Cup call-up by playing Championship football this season. With 3 years left on his contract it did take £17.5M to convince Bournemouth to part with him, with the deal possibly increasing by £10M if Holding is capped for England, wins an FA Cup or helps VS Croydon qualify for Europe. 

Finally, Phil Foden joins on a free transfer in what is arguably the most interesting transfer of them all. Foden burst on the scene in 2017 as he won the Golden Ball at the 2017 U17 World Cup, which England won, which also lead to him winning the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. Foden went on to captain his country as they won the U19 European Championship two years later, so many in the game had high hopes for him to if not break into the Manchester City team, at least establish himself at another top half team and become an England international proper. But Foden has spent the last 6 years on the outskirts of Man City, with just 20 Premier League appearances in that time, many have been critical of Foden for being happy to stay at City on big money and not go out on loan or move to a mid-table side where he would get regular football. City and Foden mutually parted ways this summer as he left on a free transfer and despite his lack of first team football, a whole host of sides were in for him, with the likes of Southampton, Wolves, Newcastle, Liverpool and Celtic all offering him good deals - but it was Virgin Sports who gave him the best deal, he will reportedly earn £72K a week there with the club also promising him to start every week. At 25, his career is not over yet, but time is running out if ever wants to achieve anywhere near what he did at youth level for England in the first team set-up. 

 

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Berahino bags shop window loan move to high flying Virgin Sports

 

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Saido Berahino has had a very sad career at Stoke in recent times, with just 11 goals in 56 games in the last 4 seasons. He's struggled to get into Marco Silva's team and with his contract expiring at the end of the season, at 32 years old many would've written Berahino off at this level. But the 5 time capped English player has been offered a huge lifeline, as Virgin Sports have taken him on loan until the end of the season as a result of James Wilson's horrific cruciate ligament injury which has put him out for the rest of the season.

Wilson had been in fine form, with 11 goals and 7 assists in 15 Premier League games, but on Boxing Day a collision at Stamford Bridge with Gabriel Barbosa put an end to that form and to his season. It is believed that Berahino will come in to be 3rd choice striker, with Marcus Rashford and Dominic Calvert-Lewin the preferred starters in Wilson's absence - even in coming off of the bench, this gives Berahino a great chance to make an impact as a sub and put himself in the window for when his contract expires in the summer. It is believed that Virgin Sports are not particularly interested in taking him on a full time deal, as the club who currently sit in 5th place are hoping to qualify for at least the Europa League and attract a better striker in the summer. If not at Virgin Sports, he could still get perform well enough for a mid-table or relegation battling side to take a chance on him though, which perhaps again is another example of how the Virgin project has helped English players - even if it perhaps hasn't had the impact at the National Team level just yet. 

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Clement's Croydon qualify for Europe!

 

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In what is being considered a ground-breaking achievement, Virgin Sports have finished 6th place this season, thus ensuring Europa League football for next season. The Virgin hierarchy spoke of their ambitions to do just that at the start of the season, with the acquisitions of Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford, Rob Holding and Harry Maguire they showed they'd walk the walk and not just talk the talk. The signings of Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford proved to be the most pivotal, with Rashford finishing the season with with 14 goals and 10 assists in 35 Premier League games - whilst Phil Foden's was so impressive alongside James Ward-Prowse in midfield that he's finally become part of the England set-up that has eluded him for his entire career. It remains to be seen what other Virgin Sports players will make Sean Dyche's squad for the World Cup in the USA this summer. 

More statistical information about VS Croydon's season can be found below: 

 

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Sterling and Keane join VS Sports, as Phil Foden finds Champions League football with Newcastle

 

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It was an eventful summer for Virgin Sports ahead of their first foray in European competition this season, with no less than 8 players coming through the doors. Newcastle United, who will be in the Champions League this summer, came in early for new England international Phil Foden, with the former Manchester City player joining the Toon for £28M just days after England were knocked out of the World Cup in America. 

It had been a reasonably promising tournament for Sean Dyche's side, they eased through a group of South Korea, Cameroon and Portugal, before getting some revenge on the team who knocked them out of the last European Championship, with Dyche's side winning 3-1 in extra-time, Foden even getting one of the goals. It was all set for a clear path to the Semi Final stage when England wound up against Croatia, but Ivan Gudelj's men held firm to deny the English and reach their first World Cup Semi Final since 1998 - they were of course knocked out by Brazil, who were then sensationally beat in the final, by an underdog Uruguay side who won their first World Cup for 76 years. 

4 of the players who were in that World Cup squad; Raheem Sterling, Michael Keane, Jack Butland and Reece Oxford - were signed up by Virgin Sports this summer, coming in a combined fee of £53M. Sterling joined on a bosman ruling after his 10 years at Manchester City came to an end, with the 31 year old winger struggling to get in the side last season. Michael Keane, leave Manchester United after an 8 year spell, he lifted the Premier League last season but struggled to get into the team, at 33 years old he's believed to have left for a new challenge and first team football. Jose Mourinho was also said to have fallen out with him, which could have played a part in the move too. Jack Butland joins for £20M from Stoke City, he's said to have joined after Jordan Pickford picked up an injury at the tail end of last season which seems to have left him half the player he was before. Reece Oxford, finally gets a move to a bigger club after spending the best part of 12 years at West Ham, he'd been tipped to moves to some of the other big sides over the last few years but none of them fancied taking a chance on him even in-spite of his regular England appearances. It's said that his high wage demands might also have played a part. 

VS Sports have also taken a chance on Ryan Sessegnon, at 26, he's failed to live up to the massive amounts of hype that surrounded him as a teenager, having been floating around various yo-yo clubs like Stoke and West Brom, it's VS Croydon who are now giving him a shot at the big time. For £13M, it seems a risk worth taking. Callum Chambers has also been signed at the bargain price of just £3M, with just 1 year left on his contract it seemed Reading had little choice but to let him go even at the cut price rate, with other clubs refusing to go for him given his high wage demands for a player who hasn't done all that much in his career. Tammy Abraham is the final man who Croydon have signed, another player who was once tipped for great things, he's moved around the likes of Wolves, Brentford and Millwall in recent times, he only managed 15 goals in 43 Championship games for Milwall, so it seems odd that Virgin Sports would go for him. Some have said they see him as the ideal man to partner Marcus Rashford up-front, although others reason he was simply the best English player they could get their hands on. 

The window also saw Rob Holding leave for Liverpool in a £27M deal, with Luke Shaw joining Reading for £11M. 

 

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Edited by PaulHartman71

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Rashford sinks Rosenborg to help VS Croydon top Europa League group 

 

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Marcus Rashford's excellent brace against Norwegian champions Rosenborg sealed VS Croydon's group win in the Europa League. They were not dealt a particularly easy group with Lazio and Rapid Wien also to deal with, but they fought hard and got what they deserved. Marcus Rashford ended the group stage with 6 goals in 6 games, excellent form which he has been showing in  the Premier League too, as going into Christmas he has 30 goals from 30 games in all competitions. 

 

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