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Initial squad and tactical analysis

Ok, so I lied when I said the next update would be after a few games into the season; realised when looking at my squad that there are so many unfamiliar names and faces again that it's back to full note taking so made sense to jot some of this down here too!

Before I even look at my squad, tactics have been largely on my mind. I usually go with the time honoured FM approach of deciding how I want to play and recruiting to fit that rough template - obviously in an academy challenge that's a little trickier so I'm going to try and leave the comfort zone, flip that idea on it's head and fit the formation to the guys available. One bug bear for me is the 442 - often seen as synonymous with the English lower tier, I want to avoid playing to that stereotype, particularly as it seems to be an especially strong formation this year. I'm not sure with the quality of players at my disposal I want to go 'full Cleon' and try a 'W-M' as I did with my FC United guys but - as player availability/quality allows - I'd like to at least play a little more adventurously.

In my previous career, I got a lot of lower league success utilising a flat 4411 to great success, but noticed that it struggled a little more as I climbed the divisions and my reputation rose - teams were more frequently deploying DM's which seemed to counter the AMC a little too much, so my strategy evolved until in the Premier League I was rocking an array of situational alternatives, all following the methodology as defined in my 'Mentality Matters' approach. Whilst I believe that roles are useful for helping highlight to players what attributes to focus on or help them blend a team together, I'm not ultimately a fan of them and pay little attention to the games assessment of how well they may play in that position - as proven time and again, if a player has the right attributes, he can perform in a role he's 'red rated' for perfectly well (although it's at least worth considering the ratings when first setting up - if you have a team with only Inside Forwards, is it better to create a winger focused tactic or play to the strengths already at your disposal?). Along with my expansive 451/433, I also used a 4141 for game control and management, and a few other 'out of the box' creations in order to overcome some of the incredibly defensive sides my all conquering side were starting to come up against (all of these were actual tactics used in-game successfully!) so it's my hope at least to have something a little creative to keep me entertained - it may be a little harder to experiment like this in the lower leagues but I reckon it's far from impossible;

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Anyone taking part in the beta may have spotted me highlighting an array of (perceived) issues with the attacking wingers in this year's edition, so I'm tempted to actually make a concerted effort to use them here in order to prove that they can actually be effective, but there seems to something of a mild stigma about the 4321 (which would be the most logical setup with wingers) and it's apparent ability to exploit the Match Engine? Not sure where that's come from, but I know it's not an opinion shared by the download tactic guru's - irrespective, I could debate what could and couldn't work all day, the only way to find out is to see what my guys are actually capable of and take it from there!

 

Let's meet our contestants...!

Ok so I know already that my coaches opinions are next to useless based on their attributes so anything they say may be taken in evidence must be taken with a huge pinch of salt;

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With that being said, a quick look at our team report shows that the situation isn't terrible;

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Again, this is the coaches ratings so it's likely far from truly accurate, but there are still more 'Great' options than I was expecting. My general rule of thumb in FM19 has been that if you've got 7-8 'Great' players that are consistent, with good mental stats & that you can keep fit, you'll usually be up near the top of the division. We're not at that stage yet, but we've definitely got a few decent players judging by this first screen at least, with my key positions of GK, DC & MC looking well catered for. The left side is a little worrying and the striker situation clearly needs some improvement, but at first glance it could be much worse, but let's go a little bit deeper and take a proper look!

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Sadly, running these guys under my Excel-powered microscope has revealed the ugly truth, with just over half (13/24) of my team being rated as inconsistent, with some very average values for important stats such as Determination and Bravery too. I do have a few professional players (combination of calculated through combination of coach report, media handling style & personality) who may be useful as mentors, but otherwise the majority of the squad are 'balanced' in terms of personality which doesn't bode well (basically a 'catch-all') but unlike my usual saves where most of these guys wouldn't even make it on the pitch, I've not got a lot of choice here - it's cross my fingers time and wait for the youth-based cavalry!

 

What's in a formation?

Well so much for my grand plans earlier with all that talk of wingers and my daydreaming about expansive or creative asymmetric systems - looking at the positional capabilities of my guys I'm going to be pretty restricted;

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 Ignoring attributes or quality, we're well covered in central defence and midfield, but away from there we're just about covered for a bog standard 442 or other similar (read: boring) formations. Someone did mention an old classic in the 442 wide diamond the other day and it brought back great memories of CM3 and I'd put it on the list for consideration, but the lack of bodies who can play in AMC rules that out. I've already earmarked a few players for retraining positionally, but that's more for cover than to give us any great tactical edge. Looking at the numbers - specifically the midfield options - one formation stands out above all others, especially given my previous experience/knowledge of it's pros and cons & consequent success on the back of it, and that's the 4-1-4-1. Defensively sound and perfectly capable in an attacking sense, whilst it may not excite me, it seems silly at such a level to fight against it and try to conjure something from nothing just for the sake of it; creativity is a good thing, but knowing when to stop can be equally important - who after all wants to name their tactic set 'The Homer'? We've naturally got some friendlies on the horizon so i'll do a bit of playing around, with the number of DC's I did consider a 352 variant of some kind, but with the fixtures almost non-stop at this level I worry about fatigue in the WB's so may at least test it a little for now and save it for special occasions! Hopefully we'll get to play our first game soon - next update will come some time after that!

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Posted (edited)

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So the pre-season is over and I've got a little better understanding of my squad and who I maybe can - and can't - rely on. Results were very impressive, and I actually found I needed to increase team mentality a little from the overly conservative approach I'd started with, to emphatic effect;

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Naturally we need to take a long hard swig from the reality chalice before getting carried away, pre-season results in real life are dodgy, let alone those found in the realm of FM - whilst the Dundee result was certainly impressive, the other sides (with all due respect, naturally) are nothing to write home about! Overall the goal haul was impressive, but alarm bells are lightly ringing at the relatively low return from my lone frontman; whoever was in the role did ok and they did chip in with a few goals and play well overall, but if we're under the hammer quite a bit this year I'm not expecting we'll get a tremendous amount of chances so their low conversion rate may become an issue. I did tweak the CM's to be more attacking roles/duties to great effect midway through pre-season, but that may be something I can't afford to do in every game.

I'd got my First XI roughly drafted out based on my own eyes and the spectacularly inaccurate view of my coaches, a few tweaks here and there over pre-season was inevitable, sadly the highest 'coach rated' player on my team (McCombe) is just too slow now for me, which at 34 isn't a huge surprise. He still has good quality, but we'd need to sit incredibly deep as a team I think in order to protect him (remember John Terry when Andre Vilas Boas tried to get Chelsea playing a high line?) which is a concession I'm not prepared to make - I may have to at some point with only 4 players currently capable of playing DC, but that's a bridge to be crossed on another day. I always fill in the positions on my 'teamsheet' that aren't part of my regular formation(s) on the off-chance I need to get creative mid-season and can see at a glance my teams ability to change shape etc;

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With pre-season out of the way, I managed to tick off a few other outstanding tasks; I ended up replacing my entire backroom staff, swapping a general coach for a specific fitness one - something I think will pay dividends as a part-time team - as well as bringing in a decent HOYD; a sky high Determination stat as well as decent HOYD stats for this level has me optimistic (or naive) that he may pass on this steely drive to our next few crops of youngsters!

With the season now about to start, talk of expectations was inevitable; the squad got pretty upset when I exclaimed that I thought "we had enough to beat the drop", thinking I was overestimating our chances - sadly there wasn't an option to say "we have to stay up or I'll get the sack you useless deadbeats, the world doesn't revolve around you so we all need to work hard & pull together to make that happen!" else that may have been my response of choice! It seems the media strongly agreed with my players, as too did the board with them all tipping us to be wooden spoon chasing, second only to Halesowen;

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Hard to say at this point what I seriously think we could achieve, it's a squad full of players that I'd class as 'not my type' with low mental stats being a particular concern - we're going into the season with decent morale and on the back of a good run of form, but the league will be a completely different Kettering of Fish and I'm uncertain how well we'll be able to bounce back from going even a goal behind, let alone lose a few games on the bounce. I'm confident that tactically/game management wise that we can overachieve to a certain extent, but how far that way we can go is going to have to be something we discover as even ignoring the questionable attitude of some of my guys I'd put us in the lowest quarter percentile group ability wise too so it'll be... fun?

43 points was the 'safety mark' last season which despite the large number of league games still sounds an awful lot when you compare it to the 34-38 points often needed in the Premier League; Bradford PA actually won 11 games last season and still got relegated so our work is certainly cut out for us;

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Like most newly promoted teams we'll be banking on a good start and making our tiny ground into a fortress, I'll write back once we're a little way into the season to try and gauge a little more how I see the season unfolding, right now if someone offered me 12-14th place I'd snap their hand off in the hope that come recruitment day reinforcements arrive and in numbers!

Edited by optimusprimal82

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It's still very early days but what a start we've made, certainly better than anything I ever dreamed of and will be interesting to see how long it lasts! Sticking with the same 'fortune favours the brave' philosophy I've adopted throughout my 20+ year FM career, I stuck with the more attack-orientated approach I'd gone with in pre-season and so far we've reaped the benefits. Anyone who's read a few of my lengthy posts should/will/may know I'm a staunch advocate for clean sheets and given the AI's propensity for comebacks in this years edition I adopt a 'safety first'approach (which you can read about more in my 'Mentality Masterplan' thread if so desired!) and it's also paying off with us being joint 2nd for fewest goals against;

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Now obviously I'm ecstatic with how things are going so far, but there are a few warning signs as we've raced to the top, namely in the shape of our scorers; as mentioned in my last post, our strikers are of dubious quality and squander a lot of chances as evidenced by their combined return of 2 (out of 15 total scored). Whilst we are pretty free scoring at the moment, 6 of the goals have come from the MCL position, in which my 1st choice (Morgan James) has 6 already, enough to win him the player of the month award. Whilst his role specifically is expected to get forward and support the attack (as an attack duty Mezzala), he's pretty young at 20 and noted by the coaches to be pretty inconsistent so my worry is that if his goals dry up we could suddenly be in trouble - I'll keep a smile on whilst the suns shining though! More pleasing is the spread of assists, with the whole team chipping in pretty much;

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Given my team is comparatively quite short, I've tried to take the focus off crossing (obviously easier said than done this year) which shows in our assists, with short passes & through balls being our most likely source of chances. The location from which our goals are scored is another big red flag that the MCL may just have had a great month as 6 goals from 13 games in his area outside of the penalty area doesn't seem sustainable, especially if teams begin to close him down if seen as a danger man - I don't actually believe all 6 were scored by him to be fair, nor do I remember scoring anywhere near that many long shots so might be dodgy statistics or - more likely - my dodgy memory!

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Considering at the start of the season I'd predicted that 12 wins should be enough to keep us up and set that as our primary target then obviously we're already halfway to achieving that target with less than a quarter of the season gone. It's too early to get carried away just yet with talk of promotions and such, but obviously we're over-achieving right now so will be interesting to see if'we're just in a great run/on a morale high or if it's down to our tactics; as mentioned way back in my posts, I know already that the 4141 is an extremely solid tactic, just not sure how much is down to it or the players - if we are tactically overachieving though, naturally that will only get us so far, with an inability to buy players we have a ceiling set by the quality of our youth intake of course!

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Stats wise, all looking pretty good except obviously our heading as mentioned earlier which I suspect is the core reason for our crossing stats also being abysmal - a 190cm+ Striker in next years intake would be lovely (if you're listening oh FM gods!)

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Posted (edited)

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Wow, what a few in-game weeks it's been since my last update - so much has happened it's (almost) scary! Some good, some bad, some of it yet to be fully assessed for overall impact but I'll try and break it down! Following the initial run of 6 wins from 6, our amazing form carried on into the next three games which - Solihull game aside - we pretty comfortable;

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I'd mentioned above that at some point I expected things may get a little hairy and sure enough, the FM gods decided they'd seen enough from plucky Hyde and it was time to act...!

 

The 'Knock-on' effect...

Nope,  don't worry, I haven't decided to give up football for 'Egg Chasing'; knock-ons here are a reference to how one seemingly insignificant event in the world of FM can have the potential to wreak havoc if you're not careful! It all started with John McCombe coming to see me to ask why he hasn't started more games; you may (or may not) remember me mentioning that - on paper and in my staff's eyes at least - he's the best player at the club in terms of ability so is quite entitled to ask the question, but you may also recall I had some serious reservations;

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At the age of 34, sadly his physical stats have declined to such a point that I'd consider him a liability in most games due to the oppositions love of a quick and direct counter with a ball over the top of our defence, and I don't want to change my entire tactical philosophy to accommodate a single player, especially when he'll likely be retiring in the near future (if he was a young lad with huge potential I may be more willing). I managed to talk him down more by luck than judgement as he rejected my initial suggestion that the guy playing in his place was in good form (averaging 7.18 rating at the time);

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Thankfully he backed down after that and decided that as an influential player I'd at least better try and keep him onside so saw the forthcoming cup game against lower league opposition as a good chance to give him some minutes and see how he fared. Naturally this decision backfired with a very defence minded Marine team showing up at Ewen Fields with a young pacy 21 year old striker in their starting XI who'd go on to pick up the PotM award. A quick glance at the high level stats suggests we were the (slightly more) dominant side;

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But as ever with these things, scratch beneath the surface and you'll likely find a different tale;

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Yes 20 shots looks fancy but we've all been playing the game long enough now to know that a goal kick that goes too long may be tacked onto that quite meaningless of stats! More importantly is the low percentage we got on target which illustrates how we struggled for penetration. We did (frustratingly) hit the post twice (which seems to be an FA cup habit if my teams) but take a quick squizz at the oppositions CCC count and you can see quite why overall I was a little relieved to get through the game; all three chances came in McCombe's area of the pitch (hard to say he was completely at fault for all but the goal) but it was clear he was a weak link in an incredibly shaky backline so I was left with little option but to sub him off, after which our performance stabilised and we restricted them to very few shots after that.

I was a bit torn heading into this game as to whether I should even bother with the cup or if it was just better to field an entirely second string and relieve the fixture list a little - games come thick and fast down in this division and realistically what could we possibly hope for? I decided to still field a strong team with memories of a decent cup run in my FC United save affording us an away trip to Man City (I have a magnet for City in the cups on FM19 for some reason); we were still in the Vanarama at the time - same as now with Hyde - but we managed to pocket 1.5 million in gate receipts which was monumental at the time. It's an absolute long shot that we make it through to the premier league rounds and get one of the big dogs but any potential windfall/chance to improve facilities has to be considered when looking at the current state of our facilities? In the end my indecision had a big impact as my 50-50 team could only get a 50-50 result and we drew 1-1;

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The draw meant that we were still in the cup, but also that we were now at the mercy of the ' FM scheduling computer' which - let's face it - has been in need of an upgrade for a fair while now? We'd played the FA cup fixture on the Saturday and had league fixtures scheduled for Monday and then Saturday again, with a free week following afterwards. Naturally common sense was ignored and the replay was scheduled for the Thursday between the Tuesday/Saturday fixture;

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This had the effect of (finally) forcing me to make a decision & prioritise - the league is 100% more important so I knew full well that the Marine game would have to be played by an entirely second string XI, what I'd forgotten to take into consideration was the lack of match sharpness, potential for injury and the subsequent chain of events that would unfold! With 65 minutes of the replay gone we were winning 2-1 but starting to look very tired so I made a couple of substitutions to try and shore things up - these worked to great effect as we added a third shortly after with an injury time 4th a fair reflection of our overall dominance - sadly the joy and pats on the back evaporated after the game as fairly serious injuries to both Sutherland (MR) & Daly (MC) weakened our First XI considerably;

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Ordinarily Daly doesn't make the first XI, however he is first change for our regular MC's along with Platt, but Platt prioritises DMC first so Daly is first reserve in all but name. Where this becomes an issue is the fact that the other guy injured is Sutherland and we struggle with any sort of depth out side;

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With Sutherland out for a while I either need to play Harrison - my first choice RB who can only play there in a pinch and has very young/average understudies unless I steal Fagbola from DC (which means playing McCombe) - or Roberts, who is my standout player overall and is not easily replaced. We have the bodies to cover their loss, but the drop off ability wise is significant and it costs us, going out of the very cup that I let get us into this mess and then losing at home to a poor Warrington team that got promoted this year alongside Hyde and who just came to defend; all of a sudden we lack creativity and were content to take poor long shots or hit hopeful crosses (which our strikers are not genetically blessed enough to take advantage of!), something I was/we were able to rectify in our next game out against Nuneaton;

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So October hasn't got off to the best of starts, but hopefully that last win has injected some much needed morale and life back into the guys and we can pick up a few more points before we play our closest challengers next month (had to be FC United didn't it?!), sadly we have the small matter of both first choice MC's (or first choice MR whilst Roberts deputises for Sutherland) being banned for the same game for 5 yellow cards;

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Still. to be in the position we're in after 13 games and have a six point lead, I probably should stop complaining and enjoy it all a little more! :D

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Wipe that mud from your eyes...!

As mentioned previously I've been swapping out some staff members where possible to good effect, the best news being that I've managed to (significantly) improve my judging CA/PA stats overall which should help going forward - after re-analysing my guys it seems that the left side of midfield and strikers are indeed the areas most in need of an ability injection come the youth intake!

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You don't know what you're doing...!

I'm sure a lot of you do this too; when first starting out at a new team I'll often use the Ass Man for team selection just as a rough guide to who he picks each game, often overruling him as I go. What I hadn't really witnessed prior to this save is how frequently (and determinedly) he'll swap sides of my MC's & DC's - for certain games he insists in playing them in the opposite configuration to my norm and I've determined it's not a random thing and is being done specifically, so can only make assumptions as to what he's basing that on, namely opposition lineup and CA/speed matchups?

 

Be the best you that you can be...?

We're not the most gifted team in the world financially (which worries me in terms of getting facility improvements) but the board did acquiesce to my request for a coaching course - I'd already learnt to dial back my team talks a little from my last save, realising that whilst my current squads poor mental stats likely aren't helping, neither is my abysmal reputation/overall manager stats considering I started the game as a - presumably poor seeing as I've gone into management at 25* - Sunday League manager?

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(NB: Sadly not my real age or birthday)

 

Dirty Trainers...

No doubt we've all got these in our squad, the guys who regularly sit 'in the red' each week on the training report? Having been in charge of my guys for a long time last save out, I'd managed to shape them into an ultra professional, ultra determined bunch in which poor training scores were incredibly rare - not so with this bunch of jokers with the 'wooden training spoon' maybe having some financial incentive the way in which they all jostle for it! One thing that struck me as odd was the fact that Nicky Platt regularly seems to be 'the worst of the worst';

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Now ignoring the fact that criticising/kicking him up the arse does precisely nothing (and he's 31 anyway so even if these 'productive' chats could make a change there'd be little point);

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What piqued my interest is that looking at my initial squad analysis I'd marked him down as being 'Professional';

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Now obviously I have no visibility of his actual stat, but whilst his personality type is just Balanced, his Media handling style is Level Headed which suggests he should at least have a reasonable level of professionalism;

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It's long been my understanding - mostly through experience but obviously some of this is also 'forum hearsay' so you have to take with a pinch of salt - that both Determination & Professionalism are key for players developing well and reaching PA, but I was - apparently foolishly - led to believe that it was Professionalism that had the biggest impact on training performance which doesn't seem to be the case here at all, his abysmal '2' for Determination going some way to back that up.

If we contrast it to Grant Doran - our trainer of the week who also (quite helpfully) has the same media handling type - who I've also listed as professional but has an excellent Determination score of 18 then I think that goes some way to proving that it's still definitely a combination of the two that will help these kids become the next Carlton Palmer Leo Messi!

NB: I've got a soft spot for Doran due to his excellent mental stats and see him as a potential first teamer/captain of the side if we don't get promoted past his level. Since getting better staff, his PA has actually increased slightly to 4 stars; he's still considered a long way off first team readiness but I'll be playing him as often as possible as I doubt he'll improve much otherwise due to our appalling training facilities!

 

A 1-man team...?

I highlighted in a previous update how important midfielder Morgan James had been to our early season form (with 6 goals in 6 games) so it should be no surprise that coincidentally as our form took a wobble, so did his goalscoring, failing to find the net in his next 4 appearances. He did score in our last outing, netting the fifth in a landslide so let's hope that spurs him on for the next few games - but this is a worry that I expect to return over the season given his highlighted inconsistency and relatively young age (20).

 

9 points from safety...?

With 34 points from 13 games it'd take a drop off of miraculous proportions now for us to get relegated I think - pre-season predictions I made were ~43 points for safety and we're just 9 away so I think it's safe to say we're safe, just don't tell my guys yet! Definitely going to be interesting to see how we go from here - will our form pick back up and let us go on another great run, or will the wobble continue with a bit of see-sawing results wise? What this little patch has definitely proved is that the coaches are at least right about one thing, that our ability levels drop significantly outside of our first 11 so we're in definite need of quality fresh blood...

Edited by optimusprimal82

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As I said in the other thread, I really enjoy this take at things. I have the similar outlook on managing teams, but it's nice to see another take on it, as it give me some insights or new ways to look at things. I'll follow this and read the mad ramblings every time they get posted! ;)

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Posted (edited)

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I left my last update with a hint of uncertainty in the air - we'd made a blistering start to the season, but with fixtures and injuries taking their toll there were one or two doubts creeping in as to whether we'd be able to maintain the momentum or if the media were right and we'd start to slide down to our 'rightful place'....

 

Riding high...

I'm delighted to report that the Nuneaton game I mentioned was indeed a catalyst for us to go on a great unbeaten (at least in the league) run throughout the rest of October, November and almost December!

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It wasn't all plain sailing, with a frustrating draw at home to Brackley an example of our occasional profligacy in front of goal - I say occasional because we're top scorers in the league, yet there are games where we really struggle to put the ball into the net and it costs us points; both the draw against Blyth & loss to Warrington were as a result of us performing to an abject level in the final third. Obviously given our position I can't be too hard on the guys, but it's a pattern that I'd like to eradicate - just not sure with so many players labelled inconsistent and the already noted average ability level of my strikers if it's something we'll be able to do short term. I did make some slight tactical adjustments in an attacking sense to try and help, but the knock-on to that has been we're been struggling to keep clean sheets (something I normally pride myself on/aim for) and occasionally making life difficult for ourselves. I thought I may have solved the scoring issue - Heresford are 3rd so a draw there was perfectly acceptable - but the Leamington result brought us crashing back to earth as we bossed the game but spurned chance after chance, ultimately conceding two long range strikes from which we couldn't recover.

The other disturbing trend that has emerged during this run is our yellow cards have rocketed to the point that we now lead the league for most cards; I find counter-pressing is a huge culprit for conceding fouls but have been using it quite a lot this year to hurry opposition who inevitably have poor passing stats (one thing my team has is relatively good fitness and teamwork); needless to say that having received two fines in December I've had to swap it out and tone down tackling a touch - we're yet to receive a red card but with ~4 cards per game it's not a risk I want to take, especially if promotion is on the line!

We were knocked out of the FA Trophy by Tranmere in a very one-sided game which I can't preted I'm not happy about; all I care about this year is promotion and the possible improvements it may bring - in saying that, I'm all too aware that with our ageing squad and terrible facilities I may be signing my own P45 as we'd likely struggle next year, but I'd rather go out like that than spend 10 years playing in the basement!

One highlight of November was the superb result against FC United; I've obviously got a huge soft spot for them but they were second in the table and I'm afraid that we had to be professional - that result started something of a decline for them though sadly and they now find themselves in 4th, 12 points behind us. York have risen to be our closest challengers now and are on a great run, just in time for my visit to their ground (yikes!).

 

It's like watching Brazil...? Well, a bit.

Someone asked me yesterday (Discord) why it is I choose to watch/play my games rather than speed through on 'Instant Result'? As - like most of us - I don't have as much time as I did back when I first started my CM/FM obsession, the thought of using the 'win/lose' button does hold some mild appeal, but as I'm not having to do transfers it would - I suspect - make me question the point as am I actually playing anything other than the 'press continue' game? I get why in these first few seasons it may definitely be an attractive proposition - so please don't be offended if that is your preferred way to play as I'm not questioning you, just suggesting it's not for me - but aside from enjoyment, the other main reason is the ability to affect the game & avoid an otherwise inevitable result! Despite my lukewarm feelings for this years match engine, I seem to have a knack for reading it and reacting and making successful changes (built up from playing the game far too much over the years I suspect!); it's one of the things that helped me feel even slightly qualified enough to write the Mentality Masterplan but more importantly, it's helped me pull my guys back from the jaws of abject defeat on numerous occasions. I don't always get it right - who does? - but like a good goalkeeper saves a certain number of points over a season, I believe that being hands on gives an equally important benefit (NB: I don't watch the whole game unless I'm building a tactic/analysing poor form/watching is play awfully etc - key highlights are sufficient when grinding through games). There have already been a few such examples this season - all with a sprinkle of good fortune - but these three I'll highlight here alone have turned 0-1 points into 7 which obviously has made a huge difference;

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I knew this game would be tough heading into it - Solihull were 3rd in the table and I'd already spotted that they were first in the league for both passing completion and possession - this suggested to me that they were unlikely to be playing too direct or too attacking so I went with a cautious/balanced approach and my favoured 4141. One long shot from their left back later & at half time we were struggling to make any real impact with no-one really playing too badly and there didn't seem to be too much wrong from a stats point of view. The trend continued into the second half, but watching full now I could see the same trap we were playing into, building up nicely before hoisting hopeful balls into the box. As mentioned before, I tell my guys to cross as little as possible due to the makeup of the side but obviously this was a by-product of something else. I don't generally play with 'pass into space' turned on with this side due to very average pace across the board (my best striker for instance is 9 for both pace and acceleration which means there's not many guys he's leaving behind when chasing a through ball), however in this game I noticed that they were pushing up quite a bit to harass us off the ball which meant there was space available if I could exploit it; my sub striker is 31 now and not tremendously quick either, but at 12 & 11 for pace/acc he did have a couple of points on their CB's so I made the change in the hope he could get in behind and inspire something. Naturally whilst I waited for the change to take effect, they went up the other end and their left back again smacked one in from 30 yards which - I've gotta admit - left me fuming, regardless, I changed us up to a positive mentality, increased the tempo, width & directness slightly & told them to play through the middle and sure enough we finally started to make some headway. A hint of fortune with the penalty for sure, but overall - with 3 CCC's to their none - I feel it was a result we well and truly deserved (even their manager acknowledged we deserved the late winner after the game!).

The other two games I referenced followed similar patterns; I won't bore you with a full history of those as well, but needless to say, in all three games we were staring down the barrel at one time or another;

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The cupboard continues to be bare...

Keeping well within my wage budget we're actually doing ok each month in terms of not losing money, but a loss is a loss is a loss; we've gone from 60k down to 48 in the first half of the season which admittedly could be worse, but also has me questioning when we may ever be in a position to upgrade any of our youth facilities should we fail to get promotion. I did ask the board for an increase to the junior coaching budget or to improve out youth scouting network but they declined both due to finances which is obviously sad but pretty understandable. On a more positive note, I completed the National C training course and they accepted when I asked if I could immediately start working towards the B - it may not help all that much, but if at some point it makes some unseen difference then it was still worth it!

 

Hero turned contract rebel turned hero...

This season is turning into the 'ballad of Morgan James' - I've written previously of my disdain for players with low Determination, and with a stat of just 2 then this lad definitely falls into that category. Coupled with being labelled inconsistent it seemed he was everything I dislike and usually avoid in an FM player but maybe - just maybe - he's showing me that my way isn't the only way? I noted previously how his form had tailed off, well since then he's gotten well and truly back into the groove and has now hit 14 goals in 19 games (with 3 sub appearances), not to mention 6 assists, 5 player of the match awards and 2 player of the months. It was no real surprise to see the 'wnt' appear next to his name and two rejected contracts later I began to worry as we were moving through December - I hadn't tied him down earlier in the season like some other players due to my uncertainty whether I'd want to keep him next year with those aforementioned stats so naturally this decision was coming back to bite me - in the end I got him to sign, but at 525p/w, he is now my highest paid player which sticks in my throat a little, but I do have an optional extension to cover myself which likely made him ask for a little more too;

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Contracts on the whole are a bit of a gamble for me right now - I'm hoping to get promoted which means a lot of these players won't be good enough next year, but as I can't replace them with anything but youth lads then it's a little up in the air as to whether to keep them or not. I'm using the optional extension wherever I can to cover myself a little as it may be a case of worrying about numbers rather than ability as we have quite a few players late 20's/early thirties and there are already a few noises about squad depth

 

Ass Man Mentoring (just don't).

I'm torn on the new mentoring this year; I definitely think it's an improvement on the old style and far more realistic, I just worry that it holds a little too much sway and can be kind of tricky when we can't see the majority of the stats affected. Given what I expect will be a high turnover of players for the next few years I was wondering whether to even bother, but with a few of the older lads leaving us soon I thought I should at least give it a go - I'd never asked the Ass Man to take care of it before so thought I'd give it a whirl and immediately put a stop to it when he put my favourite young player (Doran, who has a Determination of 18) in a group with 3 other guys who's highest Determination is 11 - just no!

 

Transfer offers make me almost as sad as my players...

A sad by-product of us doing well is that the vultures inevitably come sniffing around - it particularly gets my goat when we're sitting top of the table yet my guys get upset that I reject an offer from a team near the bottom but such is the world! With me being unable to replace players, the pitiful amounts being offered had to be rejected out of hand which sadly means I have a few sad guys taking the field but it's something I'll have to live with as we don't have an awful lot of wiggle room right now and the two guys being courted are worth way way more to me than the combined 6k that selling them would fetch!

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Booooooo for Brexit...!

No such thing as a good Brexit in my book, but for this save we're getting what I consider the 'worst FM kind' with the ultra irritating foreign player limit. Due to the nature of this challenge, luckily it shouldn't have too much of an impact, but it will - if it follows the same trend as my last save that had the same type - push the value of English players way up (good news for me) and make them far more in demand to satisfy home grown quotas etc (bad for me).

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What a difference a coach makes...

I wote yesterday about the huge improvement I'd managed to make in my coaching team, well that coupled with development so far this season paints a much much rosier picture of my squads ability levels and maybe explains why we're in the position we are.

If we look back at the coaches star rating at the start of the season we look decent but decidedly average overall (3's with a sprinkling of 4's);

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However, after upgrading our best judge from '5' to '13' and playing half a season this is the current assessment;

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That now means that every one of my preferred XI - aside from the DR & STC - are 3.5+ stars, with my midfield trio being an amazing 4, 4 & 4.5 which goes some way to explaining how we're dominating games as well as we are. Obviously we all know that good coaches make a big difference but even then I'm still shocked by how bit that difference is!

 

The race for promotion...

We're obviously well past the halfway stage now, next game against 2nd is crucial but there's plenty of time left yet so it's still all to play for - catch you all soon!

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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Love Your reports, keep going and good luck!

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On 11/03/2019 at 23:14, XaW said:

As I said in the other thread, I really enjoy this take at things. I have the similar outlook on managing teams, but it's nice to see another take on it, as it give me some insights or new ways to look at things. I'll follow this and read the mad ramblings every time they get posted! ;)

 

On 13/03/2019 at 02:42, tomay said:

Love Your reports, keep going and good luck!

Thanks both - appreciated! I'd be quite happy just to trundle along with the save talking to myself, but it's even more rewarding knowing others can enjoy a chuckle along with me and my merry band of pretend footballers! :) 

Should get some more time to play today - may not quite get this far but I'm irrationally excited about my first youth intake, cannot wait to see just how disappointed I am by the inevitable levels of mediocrity my 'basic' facilities produce!!

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As for the crossing problem....try Low crosses combined with Early Crosses it seems to work wonders when my Strikers aren't winning headers.

Enjoying your verbosity!

Especially interested in your tactical ideas some of those formations look fun!

I am 4-2-3-1 Wide and 4-3-3 Wide with gengenpressing Trogdylyte. 

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Posted (edited)

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A quiet couple of days as that 'life' thing got in the way, all the more frustrating as I signed off last time with a bizarre, uncharacteristic and undeserved loss! Obviously on the back of that result you're looking to get a response in the next game and what we need is a nice home fixture against someone lurking in the bottom half with little to play for; a quick glance at our fixtures reveals we....... Ah. Cack....

 

Mission Impossible...?

It may be the 11th day of Christmas (depending on how you count them!) but it's safe to say that we're on the wrong side of Santa's naughty list looking at who we have next;

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Yep, our next game see's us travel away to our closest challengers which makes for a formidable challenge with our energy/morale depleted squad, but luckily we have enough of a cushion that even if we lose, so long as we get back to winning ways quickly we should be ok...? We did beat York at home 2-0 earlier in the season, the fact that I don't remember the game suggests it was pretty comfortable; looking back at it I notice that it was during our initial opening unbeaten blitz when I was still trying to decide on a starting 11 - the fact neither of my first choice MC's were playing is of particular interest.

The media have given us a chance somewhere between 'little' and 'none' which I've often found misleading - I'd get the same sort of prediction if playing away with my current squad to Man City, yet within my own division I've found that I've quite often been able to 'Benitez' my way to a result; just have to ascertain how safe to play this one and try to grind out a result through attrition, or try to overwhelm, score first and then defend from there - I've found the latter approach works pretty well on the whole in 19 (and it suits my 'entertainment comes first' philosophy on football too!) and it's often necessary given the AI's ability/penchant for late goals! We're both very similar form wise but Just realised that York are a full-time club too - not sure how much impact it will have on this one game, but worth noting for the rest of the season as they will undoubtedly have the edge fitness/rotation wise - man do I hate single automatic promotion spot leagues!! Referee seems a bit card happy too (65 yellows in 12 games!?) so given my teams propensity for them just now I may have to make some adjustments!

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Mission Unbelievable...!

Wow, what a game! it was tense in those last ten minutes as York threw everything at us to try and get back in the game! It should have been much more comfortable than it was but my goalkeeper obviously forgot his proper gloves and was wearing his wooly mittens, failing to hold onto the ball twice before their striker made sure;

 

Irrespective, despite far too many yellow cards (again - and despite me turning things down having noticed the card-happy ref!) we managed to come away with an amazing result and to be honest - until we made life difficult for ourselves near the end - we were well worth the lead;

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How to solve a problem like a non-scoring striker...?

I've mentioned a few times now that the Strikers are the weak link in my squad; I have three, two of which are over 30 and another who needs far too many chances to put the ball away. The younger of the three (Tom Pratt) is the pick of the bunch & my first choice; he's definitely improved as the season has gone on but his CA rating of 3 stars is the lowest of my starting 11 and he's not exactly blessed in the physical department, being only 178cm and neither great in the air nor particularly quick - not a great combination!

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He does work hard (good work rate and teamwork) which means he's very useful when we are pressing from the front so no complaints there, and he has still chipped in with a reasonable 11 goals overall - it's just that he tends to get the 2nd/3rd/4th rather than the 1st and only goal? Morgan James is still our top scorer overall with 14 from 24 games from his MC attacking Mezzala role, but as I highlighted previously, if he's not scoring then the team tends to struggle a little more. To try and alleviate this, I have been working on the roles/PI's setup of my wide players - I believe this years ME has a propensity for players crossing a little too often and that, coupled with the fact we're not particularly blessed in the passing/vision department got me thinking that rather than fight against it, why not try and use it, just in a slightly different way?

Rather than repeatedly crossing to my STC as was happening earlier in the season to disappointing effect, I've changed cross type to whipped & aim for both wide players to back post (playing on another common ME pattern I noticed  in my beta testing - that crosses seem to naturally gravitate towards the back stick and opposite wide player) and also changed the duty of the better finisher/attacker (the ML Porritt) to attack and so far it's yielded great results, with both goals in the York game coming from MR to ML cross/finish! As a result both players output has improved dramatically with our ML (Porritt) now third highest scorer (12 from 28 with 3 assists) and our MR (Sutherland) racking up the assists (4 goals from 19 games, but now on 9 assists), the knock-on is that our crossing stats as a team have also improved dramatically with us moving up from 13th (last time I checked) to 5th in crosses completed and also 5th for completion ratio (remember we were 20th for that earlier in the season!); still room for improvement but the trend is very encouraging!

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The Porritt conundrum...

I mentioned Nicky Platt in a previous post with regard to being a perennially poor trainer and whilst he's only a rotation/backup player, my first choice ML and currently form player is his regular partner in crime when it comes to the 'who's trained like an idiot' report;

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With an unknown level of Professionalism and Determination stat of 1 (yes, 1!) then it's no real surprise, but his form certainly is - irrespective, I HATE playing someone in my team who regularly trains so badly but with me being forced to recruit from within there's not a lot I can do right now as the backup options are my left back or nothing;

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Striker is my first choice for 'best in class prospect' from this years intake, but ML has to be next on the list to try and get people like this out of my team!

 

It's the little things in life...

I think it's a long time since anyone at the club was worried about relegation this season given our superb form, but it was nice to make mathematically certain so early in the season - especially with all of the riches it entailed!

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Such an achievement also seemed to catch the attention of the award givers as I picked up my second MotM of the season - I care little but interesting that it's only the second considering we're tipped for relegation and we've been top since August?

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Just taking note of the table at this point, my 'avoid relegation' target of 43 points looks mighty high right now, with the team in 19th (first non-relegation place) on just 20 points from 28 games!

 

York continue their charge... Then don't... Then do again.

I was hopeful that the loss they suffered to me might contribute to a downturn in form same as happened to FC United earlier in the season, sadly that doesn't seem to be the case with them bouncing back to winning ways immediately. If ignoring the cup fixtures, it's easy to see how the Minstermen have risen up the table to become our closest challengers with them unbeaten in the league to all but us & Leamington (who you may remember dispatched us too!) since November - luckily the very next fixture eased any concerns as they unexpectedly dropped points to Boston;

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Reassuringly they too seem to have a dud result in them which we'll need to capitalise on in the last few months of the season. With a 9 point lead and 13 games left we're in a great position, especially considering our form throughout the season as a whole, I am conscious of the pressure getting to them as we get closer to clinching the title though, especially if fitness comes into it against a professional outfit. I think we'll do it, but all it takes is a few dud results and we could suddenly lose the momentum so we need to be mindful and try to cut out the silly draws at home to teams battling relegation as it's been our serial weakness all year and it'd be heartbreaking if it came back to bite us come season end!

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NB: Have no idea why the video keeps aligning left - I know that it's annoying me greatly but haven't the time to sort it right now! :) 

Edited by optimusprimal82

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11 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

As for the crossing problem....try Low crosses combined with Early Crosses it seems to work wonders when my Strikers aren't winning headers.

Enjoying your verbosity!

Especially interested in your tactical ideas some of those formations look fun!

I am 4-2-3-1 Wide and 4-3-3 Wide with gengenpressing Trogdylyte. 

 

10 hours ago, SunDevil said:

Really enjoying reading this.

 

Thanks both - hopefully the 'chapters' don't wear out their welcome! :) 

Thanks for the crossing tip; I play almost exclusively with low crosses but tend not to try early ones for fear of what better alternative I may have passed up just hurling it in, but perhaps it will yield better results whilst I'm down in the doldrums? Found a crossing solution that seems to be paying off for now at least (details in that update up there!) but will keep the 'early' in mind if and when I change it up!

Would love to get back to some far out & fun tactical creations but so so difficult with this team at present as I can't buy to fill positions - no doubt when the 4141/442 fatigue sets in i'll be back tinkering though, mark my words! ;) 

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Optimus_Hyde.thumb.png.3bbb762e0b481b13781d67ea0c8d40c0.png

So February is almost at an end and what a month it's been performance wise - don't want to speak too soon as there's still one game left to play (damn you leap year!) but something more important has come up which means I need to delay that fixture for a bit (more on that in a second).

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Yep, that's pretty badass form for this year - we lost the very last game of 2019 so that's as far back as our run goes but long may it continue! York dropped more points so we're in an even better position now at 12 points clear with 10 games to go - surely (surely!?) we can't mess it up from here!?

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It's the most wonderful time of the year...!

Nope, I'm not talking Christmas - it's finally Youth Intake day! I'm not going to go into details here just yet as I've literally only just laid eyes on them - I'll be doing some in-depth 'umm-ing and ah-ing' before I make any sort of decision on who to sign and who not to - one common thing is a lot of the players seem to have an 'unambitious' personality type which I assume I have my HOYD to thank for (his personality is decent so other stats should be good). Got to be honest, ambition is one of the hidden stats I know least about, specifically with regard to how it affects development; my belief was that it was mainly tied to how likely a player would be to want to move to a bigger club (maybe that's just loyalty though?) or kick up a fuss if the squad isn't competitive, but the more i think about it, the more it may play a part in how well a player develops? Determination and Professionalism are great, but with no specific goal they can be rendered less efficient? I know I struggle to train myself when I don't have a specific role/game/race planned?

Irrespective, my HOYD seems pretty excited about the group;

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And this is the high-level view;

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Current ability;

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Potential ability:

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As I say, early days; my gut feeling is to sign them all, but every penny spent at the moment is a penny that won't be going towards facility improvements - whilst there are some decent looking prospects here let's be realistic, if we do get promoted next year, how likely is it that they'll still be considered to have 'Great' potential relative to the higher standard? Also need to bear in mind that whilst my best coaches judging ability/potential stat is high for this level (13 & 12 respectively) they're still only 'above average' with plenty of room for error? On a more positive note, more options up front are very welcome, as are reinforcements for the wide positions (just wish we could have had a higher quality ML but guess I can't be too greedy!). Obviously those 'Greats' are just potential so the likelihood of them all reaching that level is 0, but that's what the next job is, going through each of them to try and get an idea of their mentals to see if they've got even the remotest chance of making it!

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

surely (surely!?) we can't mess it up from here!?

*Sniff sniff* This smells like the intro of an epic bottle job! ;)

In regards to the youths, based solely on the stars I would sign everyone from the top down to Jason Charles, and even a couple of the ones below if they have a decent determination and/or personality. Of course, this is based solely on the star rating and that depends on how good your assistant is and how much you trust the judgement.

I had a real awakening on personality of youths back in FM17. So I will always sign youngster with good personality, just in case.

Edited by XaW

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, XaW said:

*Sniff sniff* This smells like the intro of an epic bottle job! ;)

In regards to the youths, based solely on the stars I would sign everyone from the top down to Jason Charles, and even a couple of the ones below if they have a decent determination and/or personality. Of course, this is based solely on the star rating and that depends on how good your assistant is and how much you trust the judgement.

I had a real awakening on personality of youths back in FM17. So I will always sign youngster with good personality, just in case.

If they drop the ball from here I may sell the entire first team and just keep/play the kids!

100% absolutely on the personality front - I will often buy a player with better mentals vs higher ability/PA (obviously within reason) when I'm in a save where I can go shopping so no way on earth i'd do it differently with my youngsters, especially when - as I'll explain in more detail shortly - I wouldn't trust my Ass Man's judgement as far as I can throw him! I think we've all (or I hope we've all) had that "Whoa, where did he come from?" moment at some point in our saves and it's a real eye opener when it hits! Same as when you get that striker who just always scores yet looking at attributes you can't put your finger on why, especially when compared to the apparently much better option you have who misses 4/5 chances! I think I may actually keep all of these guys but I'll leave the final decision (and more importantly, my reasoning) until the next monolithic instalment!! :D 

 

13 hours ago, David Corperial said:

This has been a great read so far, excited to see more.

Thank you, very much appreciated - certainly so far, so good! Let's hope I can still be as upbeat & positive next season when the 'For and Against' values are likely to be mirrored! :) 

Edited by optimusprimal82

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Posted (edited)

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Only 1 match played since my last update, a 5-0 home win against Nuneaton Boro which saw my fourth player reach double figures for goals this season (My MR) which is testament to how we've reduced the goalscoring burden on my MC Mezzala - the fact my ML is now only 1 goal behind said top scorer providing further evidence! There's now 9 games to go and we still hold a 12 point lead over second place with a playoff place confirmed so it's looking (very) good;

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Analysing the analysis...

So obviously I gave a quick overview of the youth intake last time out, since then I've gone a little more in-depth on them and put each of them under the proverbial microscope; the sad conclusion is that ordinarily I wouldn't sign any of these guys as they all have at least one flaw that would fail my (probably unnecessary) recruitment checklist. The closest to making the cut under said guidelines would be Ian Burns (20D) who - bravery aside - ticked all of my other boxes until I read his medical report which sadly shows he's quite liable to an injury (or ten);

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Does this mean I won't sign him? Absolutely not! This is my first academy challenge so I'm forcing myself to step a little out of my comfort zone - I literally cannot afford to overlook anyone at this stage anyway such is our need for bodies with an ageing squad and a promotion on the horizon. I have serious, serious concerns about one or two with poor personalities and such but as has been proven this year with people like Morgan James (our current top scorer), it doesn't mean they can't perform, just that perhaps that they're a little more volatile and form may fluctuate a little more - if I could go out and buy new players obviously my opinion would be different but I can't so I have to force myself to like these guys. Except the Mercenary (Neil Gibbons) - he's really going to have to impress to get anything more than the default fiver a week youth contract!

Now the eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that I've already added these guys to my main player spreadsheet? Whilst that alone is the opposite of interesting, the reasons do extend beyond my desire to keep a record of my yearly intakes going forward, namely that the CA/PA stars on the squad screen seem to be inconsistent (NB:  thought I'd read/seen somewhere that you could specifically define this somewhere but can't find it now). I'm not sure exactly what causes it to update (whether it's always your Ass Man and his opinion changes or if it's using another coach - regardless I couldn't definitely confirm how it works) but as a quick basic example;

Screen of the top 3 players when we first received the intake;

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Screen now  - note the difference in Thomson/Adkins;

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Using Thomson as an example, note the changes as I shift between three of my coaches, starting with my worst judge to my best;

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Interesting to note that the worst judge of CA rates him the same as the best, yet the man in the middle - my Ass Man - see's it differently? That's what lends me to think that maybe the stars on the squad screen maybe are the AM's opinion and his just changed after the initial youth vs U18 game? That's something I'll come to in more detail shortly, but long story short, I'm just not comfortable trusting the squad screen stars for now and have drilled down to make sure my best man (or woman) is the one doing the judging!

 

Judging the judges...

Now is this next bit necessary? Absolutely, one hundred percent not. But in the whole spirit of this being my first academy run and taking things far (far) too seriously, let's run with it! Whilst obviously in other saves I've given my youth team a good look and kept the few guys I thought had a chance, this time out I realise a fair few of these lads may have to play now and then whether I want them to or not. Now I'm really hopeful that this intake will only be 1-2 season placeholders as we'll hopefully improve/get promoted further and our future intakes will render them obsolete, but on the off-chance we get decimated next year and mainly because we can, I thought i'd look at the staff stats just a little more whilst we're in the doldrums because after all, I've only known them for 6 months so can I really trust them?

So my best coach has a 'Judging Potential' stat of 12 which isn't to be sneezed at down at this level, but whilst it's obviously a relative high number, it's still only 60% of the maximum value. Now i don't think that this is how the game calculates the star ratings at all, but given how often the coaches/scouts can (and do!) get their ratings wrong, I wanted to at least apply a little 'logical failsafe' to ensure I don't keep every player every year out of fear of missing out, and I at least have some way - albeit only very approximate (and likely incorrect) - of guesstimating the variance in coach calculations. Going forward this is the sort of thing I'll be using when assessing my coach ratings;

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Now obviously as I get promoted I'll hopefully be able to improve on my current guys, but until then this is what I've got and using this (incredibly simple) calc it basically suggests that my coaches ratings are a good guideline, but the potential for error is large enough that discarding a 2 star prospect could be altogether foolish. My golden rule would be ordinarily anyone with <3 stars is expendable/not worth signing, but with a potential 2 start variance I'm making 1 star my current cut-off which naturally opens the door up to (almost) anyone!! Naturally this 2 star swing works both ways and could mean my top rated prospect is actually my worst, but it's only a potential maximum margin of error (and again, this likely isn't how the game calculates this, just my theory based on absolutely NO factual data), with the likely amount varying to whatever degree in-between. One other thing I'll be curious about going forward will be whether coaches judging accuracy is affected not just by their own stats but also things such as how far a player is from their potential maximum, as in the greater the gap, the greater the inaccuracy? Far too early/difficult to say now, but interesting nonetheless - would be interested to hear other peoples ideas on this too of course!

 

New Kids On The (Chopping) Block...

So as mentioned, overall I'm a teeny bit disappointed with some of the stats of my guys, bravery in particular is dreadful across the board and not what I was looking for with relegation battles likely to be a part of our future but alas, I'll have to work with what I've got. I'm not sure if bravery can increase by much - it's a stat I would expect to be largely static as it's not exactly something you can truly teach (I'll avoid anyone with a low bravery stat for most positions when buying etc as an example). Work rate is disappointing too, don't know if that's linked in any way to the ambition score but that's something I'll monitor going forward, as with my other staff, the hope is as we move up the divisions, we can improve on our HOYD (I'm happy with our guy for this level as proven by the high level of professionalism with these guys, but obviously we can improve on the ambition part).

All rated, sorted, tagged and character-assassinated, this is how they're looking;

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Doing the math, to sign all these guys is only £80 p/w which will be covered alone by one retiree in the summer so I've decided to go for it. There are definite question marks (not least over Kelner (20N), Gibbons (20M), Cookson (20P) & Wilson (20H - 3 Determination coupled with 3 for Bravery and 1 for work rate has me crying inside), but they'll all be easily discarded from Youth contracts so it's far from binding and more importantly, I'd like to see - if we do get promoted - if I can bring in a better judge quickly to assess them at the higher level and maybe make a better, more informed cut from there.

Phew! With all that being sorted, I reckon it's time to get back to playing some actual games! :) 

Edited by optimusprimal82

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Should have spotted the in-game date before I posted - very next 'continue' we pick up the MotM & PotM awards!

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The improvement in both of my wide players since I made the adjustments mentioned a few posts ago has been incredible - long may it continue! :) 

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You are much more in depth with your scouting of youth. I usually give contracts to any three stars or above PA and at least Balanced Personality.

I also ALWAYS use my best judge of CA and PA for my star reports.

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I think that in the squad view you will always get your assistants assessments of the players, that's why I often try to have good judging stats for my assistant.

Even though you might cry about certain parts of the players you get through, you should take into consideration what level you are playing on. Slightly more positives than negatives are pretty good at that level.

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7 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

You are much more in depth with your scouting of youth. I usually give contracts to any three stars or above PA and at least Balanced Personality.

I also ALWAYS use my best judge of CA and PA for my star reports.

I've never gone into this level of detail before but I guess this is kind of replacing the usual scouting/recruitment part of the game for me whilst I can't do them - they're probably my favourite parts of the game after seeing youth players come through/make it big so guess this obsessive and (frankly) over the top analysis will be my comfort blanket throughout the challenge! I'll stress again that in no way do i tihnk this level of detail is required or even necessary, but whereas on a regular save I guess i'd get to see them develop over 3-4 years before making decisions, here I'm actually needing to potentially use them straight away so any extra information or insight is super helpful when comparing two very average looking players! :) 

6 hours ago, XaW said:

I think that in the squad view you will always get your assistants assessments of the players, that's why I often try to have good judging stats for my assistant.

Even though you might cry about certain parts of the players you get through, you should take into consideration what level you are playing on. Slightly more positives than negatives are pretty good at that level.

It definitely looks 'Ass Man'-y in the squad view, it was just with the way the ratings changed in the space of 3 in-game days that threw me - but that may well be because the first shot was taken before the intake vs U18 game and the further analysis was done after; the reason for that is that the coach reports before the game were very light on detail and I was curious (and correct in this one instance) that they'd be far more complete after the game. Still need more time in the squad it seems to get information on things like consistency and important matches as none of that is as yet mentioned - or it's the coincidence of all time and they're all middle of the road for both! :D 

The stats are what they are, crying is about all I can do without being able to buy anyone, but don't worry, any tears are firmly with my tongue firmly in cheek! Technical stats at this level I largely don't care about anyway - I mean what is really the difference between a 3 and a 6 in passing!? - but as I learnt many many years back, rubbish players can still run and think, so I expect good physical and mentals from my players at least!

Obviously good is both subjective and relative, someone made an awesome spreadsheet way way back (the first version I saw was earlier than 14) which unfortunately I cannot find/no-one seems to have any more but I do have this one screen of the lower league levels I largely pay attention to;

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From that year onwards I created my own version for each release (which given my unnecessary spreadsheeting I'm sure surprises no-one) and 19 is no exception;

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With the corresponding adjustment values;

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It largely stays the same each year but certain stats do become more prominent as the game changes or I learn new things/adapt - someone told me just a few days back on Discord that I was unnecessarily fussy with my criteria but to each their own - all these numbers are to me are selection criteria/a base that helps me compare two players etc. Determination was the big stat way back in FM05-06 that I started to pay attention too, then bravery and teamwork became more of a thing for me, with work rate coming on board (and now vital in the time of counter-pressing) and now composure taking on huge importance in more recent releases (surprising number of roles listing it as a key/secondary stat which a lot of people don't/still haven't noticed). Naturally these attributes are my vision of the ideal player so I never expect to ever find someone who meets them all (and they're likely at odds with other people's opinions) but i filter down from there (and am a lot less stringent in the lower leagues due to scarcity of good technical stats and attribute masking/awful scouting!). It's doing me a the world of good having to settle for less than the best in any case and has given me a new lease of life!

No doubt you guys all have your own ideas on this stuff, if i were to guess I'd say that they're likely 80-90% similar with subtle differences and it's those differences I find so interesting from reading the other career threads :) 

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The title run-in...

With just 9 games to go and with us in great form with 8 wins from 9 and being unbeaten in the calendar year, momentum was definitely on our side as we entered the business end of the season. Three further wins in March brought us to a potential title decider with us only needing to equal (or better) York's result away to Spennymoor to clinch the cup and sole automatic promotion place! My guys were nervy throughout and they couldn't do what their old manager had done many (many) years ago and score at Aggborough - yes, in a nice little twist, we were playing away to Kidderminster, a ground I have fond memories of irl having scored a cup final goal there a long long time ago - resulting in a scoreless final result. I was pretty relaxed having spotted that York were trailing 2-0 at half time in their game but despite their valiant comeback to 2-2 it wasn't enough and we were duly crowned division champions with 5 games to go...!

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Naturally the fans and board spoke of their 'delight' but I've been around the scene long enough to recognise the plastic smiles and am all too ready for them to turn to snarls next season when we're going to face a much bigger challenge with our current squad and no ability to strengthen!

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This little run was enough to ensure another MotM award was added to my collection making 4 for the season/overall;

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Giving youth a chance...

With the league wrapped up and thoughts turning to next season it seemed prudent to cast a glance at some of the fringe and youth players in the squad - even if they're not quite ready to make the step-up to the first XI, we've got 6 players the wrong side of 30 (4 of which are over 32) and with a couple of retirements to come & the way in which players fade in FM in general we may be struggling for squad depth if the other guys aren't ready to step up!

I'd previously mentioned Grant Doran and Elijah Gabriel; they were the two best rated youth prospects in the side when I first took over and I'd been giving them time on the pitch wherever possible throughout the year but we were still short elsewhere so I dipped into the new recruits and handed debuts/gametime to Stephen Wells (20A - Striker), Ian Burns (20D - Full back), Lloyd Adkins (20F - DC) & Dan McWilliams (20O - ML) across the remaining fixtures and Wells in particular did well, scoring 2 goals from 4 appearances (3 starts) with one PoM award enough to get him in the team of the week;

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The Invincible's...?

Sadly our 2020 unbeaten run wasn't to be although we gave ourselves a great chance - with my rotation and throwing kids into the mix, results were a little bit more mixed but we had enough to win or draw all of our fixtures until the final game of the season where a bizarrely toothless performance - very reminiscent of our game against Leamington - saw us go down 2-0 despite having what appeared to be the better of the game. Hereford had just 4 shots, 3 of which were on target, but alarmingly from such few chances, 2 of them were clear cut which gave them the edge;

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They were using a 4141 identical to mine - in formation at least - and it nullified our attacking threat considerably. I don't expect to be playing against teams defending like that next year but it's something to keep in mind that on occasion we struggle with a ' plan B', especially with few game changing options off the bench (if Wells - 20A develops ok then we may at least be able to field 2 strikers more consistently in future, although whether we'll get the chance at the higher level remains to be seen).

 

Having their wing's clipped...?

I mentioned in one of my very first threads how wingers are my favourite position on a football field, whether playing/watching the game for real or when playing FM - as highlighted previously, I think 19 has some issues with wide play which I largely try and circumvent with the 'wide midfielder' role or by using attacking wingers more like forwards. Interestingly, whilst there've been no updates to the Match Engine that I'm aware of since 19.3.0, I - and some others over on the Discord group I'm active on - have spotted the AI rocking some new and varied formations since (we think) 19.3.3 hit last week. Not saying for a minute that no teams/managers used these previously, but in the many (many) hours I've spent on the game so far, I'd certainly never come across these two prior - notable for their complete lack of wingers altogether;

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Selling my soul...

Unsurprisingly the board approached me with a new contract offer - I tried the time tested trick of forcing a youth upgrade but given we're now in the red (albeit only slightly) they were less than forthcoming - it means we'll be staying as-is for another year and with no sign of any cash injection on the horizon (no one is signing anyone from this team for hundreds of thousands for a long time!) it may stay that way for a while yet! I did consider reducing my wage request to the minimum allowed as it would have effectively save us £500p/w - one thing stopping me was my concern about how it might encourage them to dispense with me more easily next season - when I seriously do expect a struggle - if push comes to shove. Even at the wage offered it's not exactly great security but as every little helps I went ahead and signed on the line!

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Player of the season... 

Whilst the main award is a week or so away with the playoffs ongoing, the voting has taken place and Hyde were incredibly well represented with 7 players nominated;

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Naturally I couldn't vote for any of my guys but I did what surely any decent manager would and voted for the guy with the worst overall rating/numbers with the thinking that less people are likely to vote for him, consequently giving my guys less competition?

My striker finished the season with 17 goals (16 in the league) but the fact he didn't make the cut shows how his form fluctuated quite consistently throughout the season. It's really tough for me to pick from my guys if I was allowed to vote for them - Morgan James pretty much carried us through the first quarter of a season, winning games almost single handedly, but he was ably supported by his more unsung midfield partner Grant Roberts who had much less of a license/more defensive responsibility yet still chipped in with some useful goals/assists? Platt and Porritt both post good numbers, but the fact I had to kick them up the bum so often for dodgy training means there's no way they'd ever get my vote.

 

One for the record books...?

Sadly no league records this year, but I'll be honest and admit that whilst I may normally keep one eye on the history books I seriously gave less than zero plops this year and would have settled for scraping in via the playoffs with 1-0 wins all the way! The fact it's been (much) easier than expected is certainly welcome, but I'm conscious it may be instilling a false confidence and reckon next year could be a serious reality check; my 'quick-click analysis' suggests serious strengthening will be needed to climb out of the next division but whilst my first XI will definitely start next season stronger than they did this, they're obviously playing at a higher level and I actually think with ageing and a couple of departures that the squad will be - albeit only slightly - weaker for at least the first half of the season? I don't think we'll be in any position to improve our facilities so my hope is that we can do enough to stay up (4 teams get relegated though) and maybe playing at the higher level will allow me to attract better staff & entice some slightly better youngsters into the club? I'm not saying that the ones we got in this year aren't good enough/won't make it, but after doing the thorough sanity check above, the best potentially rated player is still only 3 stars at our current level, so variance/inaccuracy aside, it's still likely that the new players will be average even if they reach their peak.

End of season review coming up shortly...!

Edited by optimusprimal82

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5 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

it was just with the way the ratings changed in the space of 3 in-game days that threw me

While not in the space of 3 days, the coaches do change their assessment of the players after a while. After all, what we see from the reports aren't star-based PA/CA but rather PPA/PCA. Perceived potential and perceived ability respectively. And the perceived one will increase as the coaches work with the players longer. Now, you could say they had worked together for a while with the players coming through the youth system, but for game purposes I'd say it's reasonable.

2 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

I did consider reducing my wage request to the minimum allowed as it would have effectively save us £500p/w

I did that once, got fired with the first hint of problems. Even though it isn't much, having some incentives to be kept is nice should you struggle with the bigger teams.

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21 minutes ago, XaW said:

While not in the space of 3 days, the coaches do change their assessment of the players after a while. After all, what we see from the reports aren't star-based PA/CA but rather PPA/PCA. Perceived potential and perceived ability respectively. And the perceived one will increase as the coaches work with the players longer. Now, you could say they had worked together for a while with the players coming through the youth system, but for game purposes I'd say it's reasonable.

Oh yeah for sure; the missing consistency and important matches ratings I expect will appear in due course once they know the players better - only natural and far more realistic that way!

I'll have to keep an eye out next year for why the ratings changed in squad view quite so quickly (within the 3 days) - two schools of thought i have are;

  • Both are the Ass Man's ratings, but the second one is taken after the initial youth vs U18 game he attends on my behalf so he effectively scouts all the players (thus increasing his rating accuracy)

or

  • I'm wondering if when still in the separated 'youth' group (can't remember what they call it, but when you get the youth prospects in the left sidebar under the U18's etc) it's the view of the HOYD and then when they're added to the main U18 group it's the Ass Man?

Doesn't really matter all that much, but to see the ratings change so quickly was just a tiny bit disconcerting at first, but fine now I know to watch out for it etc;

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31 minutes ago, XaW said:

I did that once, got fired with the first hint of problems. Even though it isn't much, having some incentives to be kept is nice should you struggle with the bigger teams.

Geezus - thank goodness I didn't do that then!! :D 

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Posted (edited)

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Season 1 - End of Year Review - 2019/20

Competitions

Vanarama National League North | Board Expectation - Avoid Relegation | Media Prediction: 22/22 | Actual Finish: 1/22

What was expected to be a tough season became one of the more straightforward seasons you're likely to enjoy as - a few wobbles aside - the team raced to the top of the division after the 3rd game and never looked back from there, losing just 3 games in total across the 42 game schedule. Some mid-game tinkering definitely saved our bacon on occasion and there were certainly games that ability wise we should have lost too, but overall we were largely in control for the majority, finishing the season with no one standout player and illustrating what a team effort it was overall.

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English FA Trophy | Board Expectation - First Round | Achieved: First Round Exit (Tranmere Rovers)

I'd be lying if I said I cared even a little bit about this ten pence trophy and was delighted to be knocked out to reduce fixture congestion and keep my players healthy. One thing definitely at the back of my mind (and swiftly moving forward) is just how easily Tranmere were able to dispatch us in this match; they finished 3rd in the division we're moving up to which doesn't bode particularly well for the coming season!

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English FA Cup | Board Expectation - Fourth Qualifying Round | Achieved: Third Qualifying Round Exit (Chester City)

The scene of maybe my biggest mistake this season, fielding half a side instead of either playing my first XI or rotating completely - it left us with a replay that was scheduled for the most ridiculous date and the knock-on ran rampant with fatigue and injuries causing an early season blip that I was incredibly grateful to recover from! I was pretty irritated to be knocked out by Chester in the end and looking back we should have gone further with the hope of landing a potentially lucrative tie, but at the time I was just relieved to be out of all the cups and able to focus solely on the league

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Youth Intake 2020

Described by my HoyD as 'wonderfully talented' with 'the makings of a potential golden generation', my own analysis would be better headlined as 'Solid but unspectacular'. Obviously it's early days, but whilst there is definitely something to work with, there isn't anyone from the group who really stands out as exceptional. Stephen Wells (20A) is our brightest prospect at 3 (+1 black) stars potential and he did manage to help himself to a couple of goal from his 3 performances towards season end. He is much quicker than my main option up front but similarly lacks both strength and physical presence, not to mention bravery, work rate & teamwork which I'd consider pretty important for a Pressing Forward & would have been a help at this level. Not writing him off yet of course but it'll definitely be interesting to see how he gets on.

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There are another three that round out the highest rated (3+ star) group, for my money Ian Burns is the pick of the bunch; his injury susceptibility isn't ideal but it may still be something we can manage going forward.

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Transfers

Somewhat unsurprisingly there wasn't much (read: any) movement on this front. We did have a couple of offers around December but I don't feel in a position to sell anyone right now and - so far at least - there don't seem to be any vultures circling. We do have 6 players over 30 now, two of which are retiring, with another who's considering it. Of the other 3, two are my backup strikers of which I'd like to keep one for cover, with another set to go on a free - I won't be looking to move anyone on otherwise for at least the next season whilst I try and bridge the PA gap with some of the younger players.

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Squad Statistics

Top Scorer - Morgan James (20) | Most Assists - Morgan James, Kyle Harrison, Chris Sutherland, Keenan Quansah, Kyle Brownhill (9) | Top Rating - Morgan James (7.43)

A successful season overall means that naturally all of our numbers are pretty impressive. Most encouraging was the way we managed to share both the goalscoring & assist burden around the team having relied on Morgan James for much of the early campaign. Having five different players with 9 assists from all over the park is incredibly satisfying, particularly with the other two midfielders just one behind on 8 each and the MC backups just behind again. 

My strikers managed 25 goals between them plus 4 assists which certainly isn't a bad return at face value; already identified as the weak link in my starting XI though I'll be looking for Wells (20A) to give Pratt a run for his money and maybe help spread those numbers out a little more consistently as opposed to the bunches they tended to arrive in this season. Naturally I expect we'll be scoring a lot less overall next season, but i'd trade the 2-3 goal hauls in place of a few solitary & clinical strikes as that's something we were definitely missing this year which ultimately contributed to a lot of our drawn games.

Vanarama National League North Player of The Season: Morgan James

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Vanarama National League North Top Goalscorer: Morgan James (20 goals)

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Vanarama National League North Manager of The Season: Optimus Prime

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Hyde United FC Awards Night:

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Managers Player of The Season: Grant Roberts

Overlooked by everyone mainly because the awards are all tied to ratings, but the first name on my teamsheet as Mr Consistency; his rating may be the lowest of the starting 5 midfielders but he has by far the most restricted role so it's no real surprise that his rating doesn't get as much of a 'goals inflation'. As the guy tasked with getting around the field and linking defence, midfield and attack he also finished 6th in the league overall for chances created is something I'd be happy with from my playmaker, let alone a Carrilero whose main focus is defending if not supplying the nails for the Mezzalas hammer - just a shame someone didn't tell the trophy makers that there's already one like that out in the world kicking around somewhere!

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In other news

Premier League Winners: Manchester United

FA cup Winners: Bournemouth

League Cup Winners: Manchester City

Champions League Winners: Manchester City

Europa League Winners: Schalke

La Liga Winners: Barcelona

Bundesliga Winners: Bayern Munich

Serie A Winners: Juventus

Vanarama National League North Playoff Winner: Blyth Spartans (finished 16 points behind York, the team they beat in the final)

 

Final Thoughts

Obviously a great first season in the sense that we got promoted when everyone and his dog suggested we'd do well to even stay in the division! Next year will be tough, not least considering that our youth intake has seemingly added numbers as opposed to any quality. With the number of old players and retirees that's not the end of the world and I'm confident that we can do enough to avoid the drop, but with no money in the bank and little in the way of value it's hard to see where facility improvements will come from so we're relying on our HoyD to at least find a few Zirconias next year!

We're set to lose maybe 4 players over the summer and naturally I'll promote a few up from the youth squad; there is a CA gap that needs bridging between the young lads and the first team and I expect the gap to the next divisions first teams to be even bigger still so it may be a baptism of fire for the young lads at certain points, but hopefully playing at the higher level will help them develop a little more quickly.

Predictions for next season: Narrowly avoid relegation whilst enjoying dreadful cup runs/early exits

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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Season 2 Preview

So we're deep into pre-season now, the players have (hopefully) enjoyed a well-deserved rest and we're up and running with a few friendlies (P2 W2 so far!). Normally pre-season is my slowest period of playing the game as I love the squad building part and spend a long long time scouting and whatnot, safe to say it's gone through a fair bit quicker on this save, but that doesn't mean that there hasn't been a lot of things happening still!

 

Bored of the board...

It must be difficult to run a (very) low league football club, but considering I'm not asking for transfer funds or anything of that ilk you'd have hoped my board would be a little more accommodating? With finances moving back into black following a new kit deal and our yearly season ticket cash (I'd mention the TV money buuuuut... it's gone!) I'd hoped I may be able to persuade them into spending a little on something but sadly they were unwilling to improve any of our facilities, nor would they agree to us turning professional. The one concession I did get our of them is that they did agree to fund another training course for yours truly which is my third now so before long I should have my National A License!

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Scratching under the surface...

So last year I'd say pretty much everyone - me included - underestimated our guys and it's a mistake I'm determined not to repeat. I've mentioned a few times with tongue in cheek that I expect us to struggle this year, as most people logically would, yet when re-assessing the squad I've actually raised me expectations above what I previously assumed would be a relegation battle. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we'll go and win the league again, but assessing my guys and comparing to other teams in the division I actually think we compare pretty well and should be able to hold our own, certainly to the tune of mid-table - so long as we stay injury free! Like last year we have a solid first team, but our second XI sadly doesn't hold up to anywhere near the same level, but if we can keep the majority of our first team fresh and still give some of the youngsters a game here and there I reckon we can certainly surprise a few teams, especially if we can get a good run going (morale being so important in the world of FM of course!). 

There have been a couple of outgoing this year with both McCombe (DC) and Wright (ML) retiring - neither of who played much last year - and I also released our third choice STC David Brown who at 31 had already played his best games. To cover these departures I've promoted Lloyd Adkins (20F - DC), Gavin Thomson (20C - MC/DMC) & Stephen Wells (20A - STC/AML) into the first team squad. None of the other youngsters were really ready for the step up yet which is unfortunate given our lack of cover in the wide midfield roles but we should manage through all but the worst injury crisis.

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Due to the better quality coaches and the fact we're a division higher, naturally the star levels have dropped quite considerably from the first season across the board, it's far from all doom and gloom however with the step up between the Vanarama divisions obviously not being all that great. Casting my mind back to my FC United save, the Vanarama National was my easiest season overall thinking about it - whilst there were one or two other quality sides, the rest of the league was distinctly average and I'd strengthened well so we stormed the league;

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I'm not for a minute suggesting we're going to do as well as that, this team isn't in the same quality league as that one was, but I've renewed confidence that we can finish at least mid-table? Based off the opinion of my best CA judge, in our 23 man squad we have;

2 players rated 4 or higher

3 players rated at 3.5

4 players rated at 3

12 players rated at 2 stars or less

A lot of the 2-3 star players still have space in their potential pool looking at the coaches opinion, so it's not entirely unreasonable to assume that come season end we have a full 11 rated at 3-3.5 or above which I think gives us a great chance of having a good season and perhaps - with luck on our side - a cheeky outside chance of sneaking into the playoffs? I suggested mid-table to my guys as they came back from pre-season, seems i'm the only one riding the optimistic wave at Hyde right now but this is written here now so let's see what happens in a week or so! :) 

Tactically I'm afraid there's not much room for manoeuvre right now and it certainly doesn't appear to be broken so why fix it? I'll start as I finished last season, obviously with my trigger finger itching and raring to make changes if my bullish optimism is completely unfounded and we do indeed need to batten down the hatches!

 

Points win prizes...?

Looking back at the Vanarama National over the last two seasons, the league has been won with 88 & 94 points respectively, with 46 points being the safety margin for avoiding relegation. It seems 15 wins is enough to stop you from looking over your shoulder whilst 25 will get you well into the reckoning for the automatic spot - there's 24 teams in the league so 23 Home games, I'm not for a minute saying we can win them all, but (cliché warning) if we can make our own ground a fortress then who knows where it could take us?

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Know your enemy...

Ignoring the oft-terrible media predictions, Billericay seem to have a pretty decent squad from a casual observation, but it's the newly relegated teams I'll be keeping a wary eye on; Port Vale & Macclesfield have come down and they've certainly got a few players between them that could cause serious damage in this division. Attribute masking means I can't get a complete picture and I'm loathe to get more than one scout/data analyst (for opposition reports) at present to save as much as is humanly possible towards better facilities, but people like this guy (Port Vale forward) show the gulf in class we'll have to hope my game management can mitigate;

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My best striker for comparison (in-game comparison isn't a great help when the player is unscouted)

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Yikes!

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Written off before a ball has been kicked...

Well I expect it from the media really, but surprised that my own board are being as pessimistic as they are? Great news for me though as it's effectively a "can't lose" job remit for the season, especially as if we do as well as I expect/hope then they should be loving me (and if we can find money from someone/somewhere it may lead to much needed improvements!)!

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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So happy as I type this that if anyone could see me they'd likely think me daft, such is the childish and cheesy grin spread across my face - but what a start!

 

Trying not to get carried away...

We blitzed pre-season as usual and started the season with morale flying high, storming through our first game at home to Aldershot 3-1, with Stephen Wells (20A) coming off the bench to score his first of the season, if the season could have ended there, naturally I'd have taken it;

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Next up we had Tranmere, the guys who knocked us out of the cup last year. We'd been badly outplayed that day so I was unsure quite how to play it; last time i'd gone defensively and it hadn't worked so I stuck true to my usual ethos and it just worked, with Tranmere missing a penalty in the 90th minute (phew!);

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A convincing win against Bromley next up had me in dreamland before we all came back to earth with a mighty thump away to Blyth Spartans. You may (or may not) recall that Blyth got promoted from the same division as we did last year, albeit through the playoffs? Last season we won the home game comfortably and got a 2-2 draw on their patch so whilst I wasn't expecting a 5-0 win I also wasn't expecting a result like this. As it happened, Blyth took the lead and then immediately sat back - what should have made things easier actually hindered our situation as they had a man sent off and thus retreated so far back we couldn't work any sort of opening and ended up dominating a game we never looked like scoring in. A disappointing draw at home to Harrogate followed a similar script (albeit without the red card) before we found a bit of form (and more importantly, the net) away to Oxford City and back at the 'Fields for Eastleigh (which was a lucky result as you'll soon see). As far as a first month in a higher division goes, have to say we were all super happy with the outcome so far, admittedly with a small niggling feeling of 'what might have been' given the Blyth game, regardless, if I'd been 16 points from 21 before the season started I'd definitely have taken them!

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As far as other teams, ourselves, Dover & Wrexham were making the most of the early running, one team stood above us all however and - damn my predictions - it's Billericay. Yes, it just had to be a team I hold a serious grudge against (in FM19 for their treatment of two of my loan players in a previous save); whilst our form has been really good, their's has been amazing, dropping just 2 points so far in an away draw at Boreham Wood (who always have a conveyor belt of good youngsters because of their incredible youth setup). I'd highlighted them before the season because they just have a few players that look way beyond mine and most of the division and at this level, a fast and prolific striker can make the world of difference (what I wouldn't give to have one!!).

 

September comes bearing grudges...

September got off to an irritating start with this little nugget from my assistant;

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Now normally I'm super keen to get all of my guys on courses and help make them better, but let's not kid ourselves, I'm as likely to keep the coaches I hired last season for more than 3-4 years as I am to win the champions league with the team as it is now, so spending 3k on a course for an easily disposed of Ass Man is a nonsense and I wish I'd been consulted - the decision plunged us back into the red too balance-wise which had me more than rolling my eyes!

It went from bad off the pitch to worse on it; I've always had a soft spot for Crewe as they were one of the few lower division teams bringing young players through properly long before it became popular, they can jog right on after this game though. It wasn't quite as one sided as the score (3-1 for them) suggests - they added a third as I rolled the dice late on - but if anyone deserved to win it was them, you could tell we were a little short both physically and ability wise. Since then I made a few changes to try and freshen the team up and it's paid dividends with 3 wins from the next 3 games. I stopped there to write this because as I looked at the table and then on to my schedule the fixture leapt off the page;

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Yes that's right, next up we have the league leaders and there couldn't be more riding on it for me; the chance to avenge my previous team and the 'double prizes' thought of knocking them off the top perch!

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Putting emotion to one side, whilst I could quote Keegan here and tell you how much I'd love to beat them, the fact is it's still way too early in the season to go all-in, but at least as it's at our ground we should have a great chance of taking all 3 points!

 

Reading between the lines...

Whilst the results have naturally been incredible for our first season in this division, there are one or two alarm bells ringing; our inability to finish Blyth off was worrying, as was the way we huffed and puffed against Eastleigh, winning it in the 92nd minute courtesy of a penalty. Factor in the missed Tranmere Penalty too and with a little less luck things would still have been good, just not quite as jaw droppingly so. Naturally I'm enjoying the run, I guess my point is that ordinarily I'd project this out across the season now which is really exciting (and scary as I've seriously no idea how we'll cope in League 2 with this side) but if we (as we're likely to) get a few injuries, a few heads drop or the luck turns then the wheels could come off quickly so whilst I was downplaying our chances more in disbelief last season, overall we were often pretty even if not on top in the games which isn't the case so much this year. Naturally we're performing well, but the quality of some of the sides is definitely noticeable and may come back to bite us later in the season or my guys could rise to the challenge, improve themselves and get us within touching distance of the promised land... If I was offered a playoff final penalty shoot-out right now i'd take it - I was expecting this season to be a relatively laid back year of consolidation but just 11 games in it feels like the pressure is already well and truly on! :) 

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Big game preview | 1st vs 2nd | Hyde United vs Billericay Town

Heading into the weekend with the big game on everyone's mind, Billericay scored an early mental blow when they announced the signing of a promising young right back. Prevented from signing anyone by strange unseen forces known only as 'The FM Gods', Hyde had nonetheless scouted this guy anyway, if only to see what they were missing out on - turns out, quite a lot!

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A little disappointing I can't see more of his attributes given that he's been scouted, but even with the mask still firmly in place it's enough to see that he's comfortably better than our (or indeed their) current first choice so he'll almost certainly be playing, fitness aside.

Shortly after this little bombshell, the scout reports started to come in and I was happy to see that Billericay normally play a 442;

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Now some people would actually construe this as potentially bad news given the 442's perceived strength in this years game, but I think people tend to get too fixated on base formation rather than the underlying instructions - I've got three variants now of a 4141 in this save alone and each of them performs very differently to fit the need at the time as an easy example. What I like to look at - and obviously none of this is exact - is how my formation/tactics fare against opposition formations in general. Now the game gives us some tools to do this (under Tactics - Analysis - Formations) but the advice there can be somewhat misleading/contradictory.

According to the reports, 442 is actually the worst formation for us to face given the amount of chances created against us, but taking that at face value can be misleading as it ignores some crucial context and favours other formations we've barely played (but done very well) against; let's face it, we're always going to concede chances at some point whether a relegation battler or a top team, it's restricting that number whilst making chances at the other end that is the main objective. Our overall ratio shows that despite our incredible form we're not that strong overall chance vs chance which highlights how close a lot of the games have been. Likewise, the ratio against a 442 isn't our best, nor as good as I'd like, but looking at it positively, we do make chances against it which has been our struggle this year against other formations (for example, we struggle greatly against any side using the same formation as us, but luckily we don't encounter it all that often).

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Now I don't believe it's always necessary to go into this much depth when playing the game, but if you do give it a quick glance, you can sometimes avoid - or at least predict - some of the non-performances that people have termed as too 'video game-y'. Now I'll be the first to state that I believe there are many improvements that can be made to the current ME, but there are also improvements we ourselves can make to how we approach games - the ME has become increasingly complex over the last 10 years but many of us have been playing the game for so long that we sometimes forget to notice that we play it the same (or almost the same) today as we did when the 'F' was a 'C'!

Going back to my previous save again (I always like to use current version examples for comparison as most relevant), my eyes were opened heading into an otherwise meaningless Premier League away game against Newcastle; they were lower-mid table with little to play for and I had no feelings either negative or positive (other than I expected us to win) about them either way. What stopped me in my tracks was the pre-match preview where I noticed their recent record against me and it woke me right up - posting this more or less straight away on the Discord channel I contribute to;

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I changed things up that game, playing far more cautiously than normal and whilst I can't remember exactly how the game went now, I remember that we won it and did so again for the next few games - it woke me up to paying attention to this stuff, especially as it only takes an extra minute to check. Finding your way around it might take a little longer but it's always worth having a plan B up your sleeve for such an occasion!

Media aside, the other analysis came in, highlighting that they have a weakness for conceding goals just outside the penalty area, music to 'Sir Long-shots' himself - Mr Morgan James' - ears! I was unlikely to rotate in this game given the importance, but noticing they favour attacks down their right hammered home not to play the younger/less experienced LB I've been giving minutes too in this game!

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Fast forward a few days and in general I was quite upbeat given the fixture was at our ground, but the media (unsurprisingly) were not so, heavily favouring Billericay;

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No problem for us, everyone loves an underdog, except maybe for the referee who's dished out 8 yellows and 1 red in just two games!!

 

Game day...

So the match starts - both teams lining up predictably as the scouts had suggested (and with Billericay's new signing somehow fully fit and present) - and any pre-match nerves are swiftly pushed to one side as our ML scores after just 4 minutes from a corner of all things! Last year we had an absolutely terrible record from corners, scoring from just 3 all season, this year we have 2 (including this one) from 12 games! What followed was 70 of the most torturous, drawn out minutes imaginable as a stodgy, midfield dominated game trundled on with little in the way of chances for either side. Sometimes as  manager you get it right, others you don't and I had to wear this one as a move to a more defensive approach in the 72nd minute (70 minutes being one of my key 'assessment' zones) backfired almost immediately - from a simple throw-in, nobody closed down the taker who on receiving the ball back launched a cross from deep that only their striker - who we'd left free at the throw for whatever reason - reacted to; our GK managed to save his initial effort, but despite our DC's having finally woken up, he was still alert enough to get to the rebound and tie the game up at 1-1.

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Needless to say I'll be looking at our defensive throw-in settings shortly!

Gutted at losing the lead so late on, I decided to throw all caution to the wind and changed to my most attacking variant (no crazy formation changes, just higher mentality/more attacking/creative roles) and luckily it paid off as they seemingly lacked concentration following their equaliser and a glorious (read: hopeful) punt upfield was tucked away by our previously low-scoring striker! This spurred Billericay (much the same as their equaliser had us) and they started to pour forward, even getting the ball in the net (much to my dismay) on 81 minutes, only for the referee to - quite rightly - disallow it, continuing our current run of luck! With them pushing hard, I changed down to my 'close out the game' strategy and we were much more comfortable, even adding a third as Town gave Morgan James - as the scout reports suggested they might - far too much time outside their area which he duly took advantage of, ripping one into the net from 20 yards!

A close game that could have gone either way, but final score - and a result that puts us top of the table - is 3-1 to Hyde United FC! :) 

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A solid October, but it could have been so much more; a great start lost a little of it's shine towards the end of the month with an unexpected loss and another toothless home game where we didn't ever look capable of scoring...

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Jekyll or Hyde...?

Most of the games this month were decided by very fine margins, albeit with two exceptions being the Macclesfield game which was pretty routine and the Boston game which saw a few young players step up to the plate; a goal from Stephen Wells (20A) saw his decent form continue, but more impressive was Gavin Thomson (20C), scoring 2 on his full debut and taking home the Pom award.

Aside from that, we just about held off Concord and scored a late second against Ebbsfleet to make it seem more comfortable than it was; Wrexham was an incredibly frustrating game in which we had two goals ruled out for offside before conceding a 93rd minute equaliser, and Dover was a nothing game with no clear cut chances and only one half-chance (for us annoyingly!). The home game to Halifax concerned me going into it as I'd started to notice that although we're scoring well on the road, we're definitely struggling at home. We drew a fair few games at home last year too, with our strikers long since identified as a weak link within the team. That trend has sadly continued this year, with obviously the better defences making life even harder for our guy up front (Wells - 20A - is a good prospect with a few goals but he's still down CA wise at present but I'm giving him as much time as I can to speed his development along). As the Halifax game wore on I started making a few tweaks tactically (nothing unusual there) but I've started toying with the formation a little; problem I have of course is that we are where we are in the league due to tactics more than player ability (I think) so I don't want to change the attacking balance too much and have the opposite effect. The obvious answer is to move the DMC up to AMC/STC, but I have no one who can really play AMC and I'm not sure how comfortable I feel without a DMC given that my DC's are not the quickest guys around. For this game I moved one of the MC's up top (so it was a strange kind of 4132) but it came to nothing and my concern is that the MC mezzala top scored last year and changing that pairing might actually reduce goals. I'll keep playing around and see if I can striker a good balance, but it's a problem we do need to solve as the 6 point lead we pulled out has already been cut back to 2 (Billericay won their last game 7-2 so we may have made them angry!)

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The magic of the FA cup...

After smashing Boston we were hoping for an easy tie to maybe help us get a bit further and snatch a lucrative away game, sadly the draw had other ideas, drawing us away - as always seems to be the case (see below) - to a Coventry team having a good season in League 2, safe to say I wasn't delighted. Come the game, the media gave us no chance, calling it Mission Impossible; 

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Seems that the Coventry lads may have been watching the film rather than training for the game though as they were dreadful, rolling out a 433 with 3 strikers which my scout definitely hadn't seen coming. Needless to say that after a cagey opening 15 minutes I decided to push just a little further forward and open up the counter attack and it worked brilliantly, seeing us take the lead in the 28th minute. I worried that our old friends 'profligacy' and 'lack of composure' had come to visit again as we missed chance after chance as we moved past half time, but fortunately my heart got a rest in the 76th as we added a quickfire double to make the result safe and send Coventry packing. I did a quick check after the game to see if they'd fielded a changed side but sure enough it was their usual first XI, not sure if it was down to poor tactics or complacency but I didn't really care at that point, we're in the hat and the 18k prize money will (laughably) make a big difference (sadly the attendance wasn't enough to see us get any sort of windfall)

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So much for predictions...

Whilst obviously my pre-season suggestion that Billericay would do well was well founded, my other assertions that Port Vale will & Macclesfield may do have proven to be completely off target; Vale have just sacked their manager whilst languishing in 19th (3pts above the drop zone) and Macclesfield are faring marginally better in 17th - looking at their players they're definitely underperforming but I've no idea why (maybe morale is still rock bottom after the drop?)

 

Shut up and do your job...

Ok, so that isn't quite what they said but it was the overriding message from the board as I tried to force an upgrade or two during contract negotiations. They've handed me a 2 year deal this time which with hindsight I should have made a 1 so we could have a similarly fruitless conversation next year!

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Perception vs reality...

I'm pretty sure every FM manager has thought about this at some point, but how many times do you feel that the cup draws are out to get you? In my last save it felt like we were destined to draw Man City in every competition & as early as possible (starting whilst we were still in the Vanarama), but whilst that could be irritating, what made it worse is that it felt like 75-90% of the time we were drawn to play away? Now I haven't been playing this save for long but I've caught myself thinking along similar lines already so I've decided that's it, I'm actually going to document it and keep a running total, to prove to myself that it's not fixed (if nothing else!)

2019-20

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3 away games but one was a replay so we won't count that; all fair and even at 2 home, 2 away.

Looking at this season, it's early days but it's been all away days thus far, I'll keep an eye on it though, you mark my words! :) 

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That last post got me thinking actually, I haven't checked the Home/Away tables in a good while and sure enough, the results back up my suggestion that we're struggling at home. Away from Ewen Fields we're on fire with the best record in the league, presumably because everyone thinks they can beat us and plays open, attacking football;

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At home, it's a slightly different story - whilst no means bad form, it's quite a noticeable difference;

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The goals scored may not look all that different, but what I wouldn't have given for a few extra in those home games when we couldn't seem to buy one! Interesting to note who's top of the Home table, our most comprehensive defeat this year was to them so I'm glad to see we weren't the only ones!

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Another month down and we're out of the FA cup and have just lost top spot in the league too - fixture congestion and the fact we're still only part-time is decimating the team, with 6 first teamers now 'jaded and in need of a rest', not what I wanted to hear with us just moving into December! I'll do a proper update tomorrow, but wanted to quickly add these to the scoreboard whilst fresh in my mind;

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Still too early to draw conclusions but the scoreboard ticks on, fuelling my paranoia that the game is out to get me!

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And another - starting to become mildly ridiculous... Has anyone else ever tallied this? I ask you all too from now on just to see if I am the unluckiest manager in the FM world or if the odds are stacked!

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Great thread @optimusprimal82, I've enjoyed reading it the past few days since I stumbled upon it and I'm looking forward to more updates, especially when you get a better youth intake at some point!

Btw, is this formation + squad overview your custom creation or there's some website/tool that you used for it? I really like it but I couldn't find anything similar, all that google comes up with are sites with starting 11 only and at best one substitute spot, but I like your version with 3 extra spots for each position.

On 09/03/2019 at 15:06, optimusprimal82 said:

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Posted (edited)

Optimus_Hyde.thumb.png.f99f54626b58ba1111c8e2af13343c12.png

Suspected I was starting to get a little too frequent with the updates when I realised I'm spending more time writing than actually playing so decided to tone them down a tiny bit, consequently a lot has happened since my last update, with both surges and drops in form and the season is now tentatively poised as we head into the business end...

 

Riding the rollercoaster...

Whilst the trend in form is still overwhelmingly positive, it's been a case of two steps forward and one back as we struggle with fatigue, injuries and suspensions, probably as a result of our decent run in the cups. Whilst the FA cup/trophy runs brought in some very welcome funds,I had to again make the call and sacrifice them for the sake of our league campaign - if we had better quality outside of our First XI i'd maybe have decided otherwise, but for now promotion - and the chance to turn professional - holds far more appeal than an extra 20k that will likely be spent/absorbed by the board on something frivolous. The plus point of the fatigue is that a number of youth players got a run out with notable victories against Boreham Wood and Halifax being highlights.

With regard to the league itself, seems that the luck I was mentioning a few posts back finally started to run out, with a 26th minute red card costing us against Tranmere and two penalties - the second of which arriving in the 95th minute - resulting in an incredibly disappointing home defeat to Blyth. It's hard to be too critical as I still believe we're performing above our level, but the inconsistency between performances has been tricky to contend with, not least with my strikers who continue to struggle for both form and goals (16 combined in all comps). The step up in class has certainly affected our goal difference; again, it's hard to be too critical, but we're conceding more and scoring less so we're bound to feel the pinch in the closer games, nonetheless we again find ourselves top of the pile although it's incredibly close to call with Billericay - not to mention Dover & Leyton Orient - on incredible runs.

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Morgan James hasn't been quite as prolific this year, but he's still finding himself on the scoresheet regularly enough to pick up the December young player of the month award - I'm actually surprised given his form that no-one has come sniffing around yet but let's hope it stays that way!

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We're struggling a little right now - hence the two defeats in the last 3 games - as all 3 of my first choice midfielders are unavailable, two with 5 & 9 week injuries respectively and the other facing a two match suspension for 10 yellow cards. Hopefully we can get them back on the field quickly before our league challenge suffers further, we have key games coming up against big sides so we need them fit and fighting!

 

Shouldering the burden...

My strikers are clearly feeling the heat through their respective dry spells; both my first choice and two reserves went through considerable dry spells with them all citing the issue as a negative in their happiness - thankfully 2/3 have since scored, but their form is still incredibly sporadic which isn't a huge surprise as the best of the three is rated as a 'backup player' by my best coach - youth intake day can't come soon enough!!

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Bored of the board - Part 2

The aforementioned cup runs managed to swell the club coffers into six figure territory, but yet again I was met by a wall of ridicule from the board when begging for improvements. I figured that 100k wasn't enough to get us any sort of youth upgrade, but I was really hoping they'd see the value in going Professional, especially as we're one of only five teams (Maidenhead, Sutton, Oxford, St Albans & Concord) still stuck at Semi-Pro in the division. Sadly it wasn't to be;

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They did grant yet another coaching course request which means I'm now studying for a continental C license (which feels impressive so soon) but it's difficult trying not to let my impatience get the better of me! It might be the qualifications that have boosted my reputation sufficiently that I'm now being linked to jobs all over the place, with Walsall, Oldham, Carlisle, Bradford & Fylde just some of the teams interested that I can remember. I've done the decent thing and dismissed the links in the media in the hope it'd make the chairman like me more/accept my requests but so far to no avail; my only hope is that he gets bored of tormenting me and sells up/leaves in the near future as it appears he's not one of those owners in love with the club;

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Any other business...?

  • My Ass Man was approached by Alfreton with regard to becoming their new manager; despite agreeing terms on a new contract to convince him to stay, he turned me down and headed off on a new challenge. We replaced him, however we've downgraded slightly - seems he really was the best man for the job so pretty sad he's left us

 

  • Some bizarre transfer activity in the league this year, Aldershot and Tranmere seem to have forggoten they can only play 11 guys at once?

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  • Janni Lipka has agreed a free transfer away from us when his contract expires this summer - he's 30 now and is third change in midfield so I didn't try to keep him. He was useful last year, playing 15 games but has only played 3 games so far this season with some of the younger guys getting the nod ahead of him.

 

  • You may have spotted that Bromley knocked us out of the FA Trophy, you may also have noticed it was another away tie so onto the board it goes;

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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1 hour ago, optimusprimal82 said:

Suspected I was starting to get a little too frequent with the updates when I realised I'm spending more time writing than actually playing

I enjoy reading it, so for my part you can keep posting.

For this being your first season in the VNL you are doing a great job, especially since you are semi-pro competing against professional teams. I really struggled in this league and had 2 very close calls to relegation. I think I stayed here for 5 or 6 seasons before I got out of this meat grinder.

1 hour ago, optimusprimal82 said:

yet again I was met by a wall of ridicule from the board when begging for improvements.

For board requests, I've noticed that you are much more likely to get approvals if you ask when you are on a great run of form. So if you can ask, wait until you have 3-4 wins in a row, then ask. Doesn't always work, but when you see the message "We are delighted to agree due to our great form (..)" it really feels rewarding.

I would advise you to ask for increased youth coaching though, as I feel that have the greatest impact on youth player CA.

If you haven't seen this post, I'm quoting it here, it's very nice to have as a reference to know how and what to ask for improvements of.

On 01/09/2017 at 17:17, Seb Wassell said:

Training Facilities
The training facilities available for all visible players at the Club, senior and youth. The quality directly impacts upon player progression and training injuries.
Youth Recruitment
The Club’s recruiting of Juniors, those of home and foreign origin. Impacts upon newgen quality.
Youth Facilities
The facilities available for Juniors only. Impacts upon newgen quality.
Junior Coaching
The quality and quantity of Junior Coaches at the Club. Impacts upon newgen quality.

"Impact upon newgen quality" = both CA and PA.

"Juniors" = invisible pre-newgen aged players.

It's worth noting that "youth facilities" does nothing for your U19s, but rather the "future newgens"...

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Incredible start with Hyde and a great in-depth analysis - something I'm far too lazy to ever do myself but have thought about. Keep it up and don't take any Hydings!

1 hour ago, XaW said:

Training Facilities
The training facilities available for all visible players at the Club, senior and youth. The quality directly impacts upon player progression and training injuries.
Youth Recruitment
The Club’s recruiting of Juniors, those of home and foreign origin. Impacts upon newgen quality.
Youth Facilities
The facilities available for Juniors only. Impacts upon newgen quality.
Junior Coaching
The quality and quantity of Junior Coaches at the Club. Impacts upon newgen quality.

The youth facilities part is very interesting - until recently I always thought it was for the u18/19s.

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1 minute ago, smp20 said:

The youth facilities part is very interesting - until recently I always thought it was for the u18/19s.

Yeah, surprised me as well, when I read it for the first time, but that info is straight from SI, so unless they have changed it, it should still be correct.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, XaW said:

I enjoy reading it, so for my part you can keep posting.

For this being your first season in the VNL you are doing a great job, especially since you are semi-pro competing against professional teams. I really struggled in this league and had 2 very close calls to relegation. I think I stayed here for 5 or 6 seasons before I got out of this meat grinder.

 

2 hours ago, smp20 said:

Incredible start with Hyde and a great in-depth analysis - something I'm far too lazy to ever do myself but have thought about. Keep it up and don't take any Hydings!

The youth facilities part is very interesting - until recently I always thought it was for the u18/19s.

Thank you! I'm only considering cutting back a little so I can play the save more - having to find the right balance - when you write as much as I do it takes a fair while! I never thought I'd ever write one of these threads either if i'm honest despite having enjoyed reading them for years, with the tales from the weird and wonderful leagues inspiring some of my favourite saves! Actually enjoying sharing it with others though for once, but maybe that's because - up until the last few games at least - I've mostly been winning? :D 

Unfortunately I seem to have hit the SI boards curse - remember last season I tempted fate by asking whether it was possible we could bottle it? Well we're certainly giving it a good go this year, our form is currently relegation material (and far more like what i expected earlier in the season - yikes!) - dropped down to 4th now, 4 points behind Crewe who are unbeaten in 11 and are admittedly the best team we've played this year (they've beaten me twice);

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4 hours ago, XaW said:

If you haven't seen this post, I'm quoting it here, it's very nice to have as a reference to know how and what to ask for improvements of.

It's worth noting that "youth facilities" does nothing for your U19s, but rather the "future newgens"...

I did see Seb's post yes, but thanks for re-posting it, always handy to have it around as a reminder as I know it gets confusing and I know a lot of people - myself included - mix up which bit does which! Also the more people who see it, the better! I'm always torn when asking for upgrades whether to target PA or CA first; it's annoying when you get low CA players because you have to wait 2-3 (and maybe more with my facilities) before they can play effectively, but if their PA is low then you never improve? :D 

I've just literally had my youth intake now and initial signs are... promising? With regard to one guy at least! Naturally I'll look in more detail then write fifteen paragraphs about it here!

 

6 hours ago, Tgwri1s said:

Great thread @optimusprimal82, I've enjoyed reading it the past few days since I stumbled upon it and I'm looking forward to more updates, especially when you get a better youth intake at some point!

Btw, is this formation + squad overview your custom creation or there's some website/tool that you used for it? I really like it but I couldn't find anything similar, all that google comes up with are sites with starting 11 only and at best one substitute spot, but I like your version with 3 extra spots for each position.

Thank you! Hopefully the better youth intake has just landed but guess we'll see!

Yep, it's something I created in my first season to easily illustrate to people how I play/what my lineup is so they can see 'at a glance' when I'm referring to my lads. It's actually a bit of a pain to update if im honest so have gone back to the old notebook and pen (gotta love the digital age with dinosaurs like me around!); it's not really in a format I can share too easily, but if it's something that would help then if I get chance I'll maybe see if I can set it up better say in a PDF form version? May even encourage me to use it more and save some trees!

Edited by optimusprimal82

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Just found this thread - fantastic stuff! Keep it up :thup:

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Optimus_Hyde.thumb.png.a2c3d534b3986c3257da48d69e363177.png

Youth Intake 2021

Putting our horrific, horrific form to one side for a minute, we've had our second youth intake and our HoyD is excited if nothing else!

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Digging into the stats as is my norm, it seems that there was good reason to be at least a little excited, with Fraser Meaney (21A) standing out potential wise. The main issue with him is his natural position being an AMC. I don't play AMC's at present (despite my love of them) so it'll be hard to give him much needed minutes there, however he is competent as a Striker (which we're badly in need of) although his acceleration and physical stats aren't particularly special. At 2 stars ability already he may well be in a position to feature straight away so I'll try him out in a few places and see where he plays best, but lord knows our forward line needs all the help it can get, and the only fully fledged striker in the group (Jamie Parr - 21H) doesn't look like he'll be ready for a while if ever at all!

Some other decent looking prospects in the group; Ged O'Neill looking like a potential backup/replacement should Morgan James get injured/lured away and Sam Guest maybe freeing Quansah up a little.

Mental stats are a little up and down as always, but whilst I'd like 4-5 players a year, let's face it, even with the best facilities I'd be being very optimistic, let alone with the sheds we use as changing rooms!

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@optimusprimal82

Just wanted to let you know that I purchased FM19 because of this thread and the other ones you have created over the last couple of months.  

Also, @XaW also really enjoyed your posts with Kettering Town

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2 minutes ago, SunDevil said:

@optimusprimal82

Just wanted to let you know that I purchased FM19 because of this thread and the other ones you have created over the last couple of months.  

Also, @XaW also really enjoyed your posts with Kettering Town

Thank you - appreciated; Look forward to seeing you forge your own career!

I hope you enjoy FM19 , and if you do I will happily take the credit, if you don't then naturally it was all XaW's fault and you should blame him...! :D 

 

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Posted (edited)

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Squeaky bum time...

An absolutely dreadful run through February and March sees us enter the last few weeks of the season needing other teams to do us a favour.

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I mentioned back in my 'Rollercoaster' update that Crewe and Leyton Orient were on decent runs and holy heck did that turn out to be the case, with Orient winning 12/15 and Crewe not far behind.

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Our season has sadly been ravaged by fixture pileups and injuries mounting up all at once, robbing us of the little quality we have in our squad. We have managed to steady the ship a little since then, but the damage was done when losing at home to teams such as Ebbsfleet & Maidenhead (19th & 21st respectively).

There's 4 games to go so we have an outside chance, but neither Orient nor Crewe's fixtures look particularly taxing and on current form I'm not sure I'd fancy us in the playoffs, especially if we have to face Crewe at any point given the way they've beaten us twice already!

EDIT: HA! Two continues after posting this I get the following land in my inbox - what's that saying about pictures and words? :D 

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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1 hour ago, optimusprimal82 said:

Fraser Meaney (21A) standing out potential wise

Any possibility of seeing his attributes?

44 minutes ago, optimusprimal82 said:

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Squeaky bum time! Hope you get out of the meat grinder!

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7 hours ago, XaW said:

Any possibility of seeing his attributes?

Squeaky bum time! Hope you get out of the meat grinder!

Certainly can sir - apologies, didn't even cross my mind to post them up! :) 

Fraser Meaney - 21A

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Fraser is the pick of the bunch, currently deciding whether to fully train him as a striker or a midfielder; I actually think he'd be better as an MC, but our needs up front are pretty desperate with most of the team now complaining about a lack of depth in attack; the only two other viable striker options in this years intake are very similar quality wise to what we already have

 

Ged O'Neill - 21B

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The fact we got two decent AMC's this year has me pondering whether to make a change tactically going into next year (if they're ready) with one able to backup the other; my concern is that I'm then by default playing a more attacking setup and i don't have too much room to lower mentality at the moment so backup plan is to train Ged for MC and Fraser for STC and maybe as they improve and the team strengthens overall, I can consider moving them back to their natural position.

 

Sam Guest - 21C

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Was very excited when I saw Sam, but his personality (Temperamental) and media-handling style (volatile & confrontational) suggest he may be more trouble than he's worth with this years fragile dynamics. To follow the theme of this challenge - me not writing players off at first look - I've kept him and will let him develop in the U18's for a couple of years to see how he goes, as naturally the personality can develop as well as technical/physical skills

 

Jon Forrest - 21D

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Like the look of this guy, very solid base from a defensive point of view but his attacking stats - even at this level - leave a lot to be desired, not to mention his lack of natural fitness/pace is a concern for a full back in my team - he's got lots of growing to do though so time is on his side and he could well come good; he's certainly better at quick glance than last years highest RB prospect (Ian Burns - 20D) so will be interesting to see how they develop!

 

The other guys...

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I actually think the depth of this years intake is less than last year, but the quality at the top end is higher? If im honest I'd much rather it that way around, as mentioned above, I think it wholly unrealistic to expect 4-5 players each year that are good enough to improve the team so I'd be delighted to go forward with 1-2 potential first teamers +1-2 backups each year; obviously that's best case, I expect some years i'll get a whole big boat full of nothing which admittedly will hurt like heck, especially if we go up a level when we'll need quality like all heck!!

I got an extra coach in this year who improves on potential judging by a single point, so my best CA/PA judges are 13 for both stats - I switch between them when assessing to get the final scores, especially important as things like consistency don't always show up under one coach, suspect it comes down to the coaches other stats/inclination (defending/mental etc). Values below are adjusted from the coaches opinion rather than the squad screens 'ass man' view (note I only mildly pay attention to the black stars as - seeing them as no more than a 'maybe, maybe not').

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Posted (edited)

Optimus_Hyde.thumb.png.39a7d659b0f4fa4d35e09a18822c09c8.png

With just 4 games left of the season and the top 4 so close points wise it's all to play for; with Leyton Orient on the form run of a life time it'll take a miracle for either Crew or Hyde to catch them, but Djimi Traore won a champions league medal so we know for sure that miracles can happen! Rather than playing all of the games in a month/group/selection at a time and then writing them up, I'll add to this post after each game so you get the 'real' reaction, naturally I'll try and prevent any expletives making their way in, but given my form of late that may be harder than beating Man City away! :)

The 2021 title run in...

Game #1

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Well cack. Coming into this game we had fitness issues everywhere - normally I like to rotate my team with a fixture pileup but every game is a cup final at the moment so it's pretty difficult given the ability drop off outside our first XI; this sort of thing has defined the second half of our season though, no idea why the fixtures have been scheduled like this - and to be fair it's the same for all teams - as we're not on TV but it's caused us no end of problems with us still being semi-pro & the amount of games with just a 3 day turnaround;

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I picked Vale out at the start of this season as having players of a higher level to most other teams; quite why they've struggled is a mystery because pretty much their entire team would improve mine - the pre-match tactical screen lighting up like a Christmas tree with my ass man all too keen to tell me how my players were inferior. It was a close scrappy game overall that they shaded possession wise and we maybe scraped in terms of chances but for the longest time it made little difference as it looked like it wasn't going to be our day with our ML (Porritt) missing our one CCC of the game in the 85th minute. The fact we kept going until the end is super encouraging and should feel like a point earned instead of 2 dropped buuuut;

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Yup, we missed our chance to pull points back on Crewe, but more importantly, Orient extended their lead. Rubbish.

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This is Leyton Orients form since December - hard to see them slipping up now & even more difficult to argue against them being worthy winners. That sort of form seems a tad unrealistic for this level if i'm being picky, but is it any more unrealistic than a newly promoted Hyde side finding themselves 1st for the majority of the year with a bang average squad? :D 

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Game #2

They do say that 'hope' is a killer, and holy heck has matchday 44 given us at least a fool's hope! Crewe played earlier than the rest of the league, picking up a pretty routine/comfortable victory against a soon to be (back to back) relegated Macclesfield side;

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With a fully fit side we were much, much stronger and it showed as we swept aside a Gateshead team with nothing but pride to play for:

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The best part of the day was post match (I'm forcing myself to ignore other results mid-game) at the results screen when Tranmere did the unthinkable and left the door ever so slightly ajar!

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Now obviously I need to temper expectations here, there's just two games to go and whilst both of Orients are away, should they slip up then Crewe are still best placed to take advantage and have a big GD advantage to make matters worse. We've just got to win our last two fixtures which with plenty of rest in between is very do-able (and holy heck does that Port Vale result look even worse now!) and keep everything crossed as one decent win for Orient effectively rules out our chances - as I said, a fool's hope! :) 

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Game #3

Geezus... This is why we play this amazing, stupid, incredible, awful, mesmerising, infuriating thing of a game - plain sailing for half a season, it proceeds to whack me around for a few months before dangling a delicious promotion flavoured pizza from the end of it's spiteful fishing rod! We scraped through the most one-sided of games, taking an early lead before seeing shot after shot repelled until the 87th minute when our opponents woke up and had 2 decent chances in quick succession to leave me breathless & hoping to all goodness that my guys could do something we've struggled with a lot this year & hold out! I should have had more faith as despite the initial scare we managed to shore up (a 'demand more' shout seemed to work wonders) and we managed to avoid snatching a draw;

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Big decision coming soon; Nicky Platt is 33 and out of contract in the summer - I'd decided already to let him go, but he has scored some crucial goals for us during the second half, his 10 for free kicks and 12 for long shots obviously standouts at this level. I don't tend to keep players over 30 much at all (except for maybe mentoring - you may notice anyone over 30 gets a 'red mark' next to them in my team spreadsheet) but the small, neglected, often unused 'nice' part of my FM brain is thinking he's done enough to earn at least another year? I must be going soft in my advancing years! The one obvious downside is that Tom Pratt's (first choice STC) season is over, with a groin injury ruling him out for 7-8 weeks... He's not great but the best of a bad bunch right now but seriously, after what we saw next, even that news isn't enough to dampen my spirits!

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Unbelievable! I couldn't see Orient dropping any points yet they've thrown 4 in the last two games down the drain - can only assume it's the pressure getting to their guys (which is maybe what got to mine with that abysmal run?) as they should be beating Maidenhead whether home, away or on the moon! Crewe's result means that with one game to go, I don't have to worry about them any more in the league (but I am worrying about them a lot with one eye on the playoffs!), only ourselves and Orient who.... are away to the (awful) bottom side! :(

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Yes, with just 13 points all season, St Albans are the team in which I must place all of my automatic promotion hopes. Poo. I knew they were away final game but hadn't realised who the game was against, that news has brought me crashing back to earth - think i'd rather have lost the last 3 games now than get so close and have it likely snatched away! I'll keep my fingers crossed, after all, a draw for them is still enough if we can win, but it is something of a body blow confidence wise, especially seeing that they destroyed them in the reverse fixture earlier this year;

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If I was looking at anything this year that explains the difference (professional status aside) it's been their main guy up front Macauley Bonne who now has 35 goals in 37 appearances. Goals wise we don't compare too badly but we still have that patchy habit of scoring goals in gluts which means we've dropped easy points at times - not so for these guys - although not sure why it took them quite so long to get their act together in the league (just glad that it did else we'd have had no chance!)

Ok, enough talk and procrastination - I can tell I'm putting off the final game for fear of the inevitable disappointment! :) 

(just quickly following this game, I completed the Continental C course I was doing and the board straight away let me go for the Continental B - think it took me 5-6 season to get that far on my last save?)

 

Game #4

Naturally the media get it spot on before the game;

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Yes, that's right - all eyes will be on Crewe. Who are 3rd.

I also managed to annoy my guys in a pre-match team meeting that I wish I'd ignored; telling them to focus on our game seemed to convince them I was putting way too much pressure on them? Regardless, I'm now expecting a slight dip in performance so our job becomes just that little bit harder - but let's face it, we could win 10-0 and it probably won't make any difference (attention FM gods; please note attempted and very amateur reverse psychology in use there!)

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Here we go then....!

What was looking to be a pretty routine victory naturally got transformed into a drama as Nicky Platt (who you might remember I was considering giving a contract to about 2 paragraphs ago?) scored a penalty before launching into the most 'ridiculous when you're already on a yellow card' diving tackle you're likely to see. With 40 minutes to go with ten men, I was not optimistic and felt a sense of dread growing having check the Orient score at HT and noticing it was still 0-0!

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Luckily we held out! It was a real backs to the wall effort and there were some scary moments in the final ten minutes (again!) but we did our part at least! The post-match screen beckons aaaaaand...

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Plop. The fairy tale is over, but I guess it was always unlikely... After coming so close with that insane comeback it of course hurts just a little more! The playoffs it is for us then, time to dust ourselves/myself down and get ready for whatever may come at us (please not Crewe!). I need a small break to catch a breath after that end to the season but rest assured I'll be back - refreshed and relaxed - to try and make up for the bitter disappointment!

League positional changes for anyone interested, Orient really did go on an insane title charge (and having checked, yes it did coincide with a managerial change)!

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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On 08/03/2019 at 03:13, optimusprimal82 said:

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Hey @optimusprimal82

First of all apologies. I used to get round all of the Youth Development threads pretty regularly but it seems I don't even have time for reading anymore. 

I loved your opening post. :applause:

The 1 bit of feedback I would give you is about the above though. 

I don't really agree with your conclusions regarding the different types of personality, but I think you touch on it in the description under "average" - "may be significantly flawed". If they are significantly flawed, then I'm sure you would agree that they are in the avoid bracket rather than the average bracket. 

I also don't agree with some of the descriptions you suggest are "highly desirable" and that you would "sign without worry". I fear you may have to change your thinking somewhat with regards to this type of challenge. If you are doing the Youth Challenge properly, (and I have no reason to doubt that), then there is absolutely no question of not signing your highest potential player from an intake just because he has a poor personality, (even an awful personality). You don't have the ability to get players from elsewhere so your hands are tied. You need to suck it up and hope beyond hope that on Youth Intake Day each season you don't see the words Casual, or Slack beside your best players. 

I'm not going to go through all the personalities one by one, but the one I often talk about is "Balanced". People class it as a middle of the road, average, middling, standard personality simply because of the name. In fact it's nothing of the sort. It's a negative personality, (in my opinion). Forget about the name and look at what actually makes a personality as in the building blocks that re the hidden attributes? The truth is we don't know. (At least we don't know exactly what they are now, but we do know what they used to be and this acts at least as a guide). 

Balanced Pro 1-14, Det 1-14, Amb 1-14, Loy & Spo 1-14

I look at the above as a description, (ignore the word balanced), and I don't think that's average or middling at all. I think that's pretty rubbish. Forget Loyalty and Sportsmanship for a minute and even let's put Ambition to one side. Just concentrate on Pro and Det. We know that they absolutely cannot, under any circumstances be higher than  14, (remember we are assuming that the old values are still accurate here), and they could in fact be as low as 1. So the range is 1-14 which gives you an average attribute of 7-8. If you look at a player and are told that he has Pro and Det values of 7-8, (and we are calling that as an average here), then is that a "middling", "average", "standard" or "medium" personality? My personal opinion is that it absolutely isn't, it's a negative one, but you will have to make your own mind up about that. What I would say however is that things in FM are not always absolute and what I mean by that is that despite my negative opinion on the "Balanced" personality, it's possible that a player will have Pro of 14 and Det of 14 and even Amb of 14 and this would be a far more attractive proposition.

I guess what I'm saying is that you shouldn't get caught up in the names of the personalities. They can be misleading. 

It works the other way too though. You have classed "Very Ambitious" as a "highly desirable" personality and I'm wondering why? 

Very Ambitious Amb 20, Loy 1-9, Det 1-17

While "Very Ambitious" sounds good, what does it actually mean? Well, (again, using the old values which are slightly out of date). what it actually means is above. We know the Amb value, (20), and we also know that the Loyalty will be low, (but not how low), but with regards to Det for example, we don't really know much of anything. 1-17 is quite a big range and while 1 would be rubbish, 17 would be great, so it's a label that can be misleading. When I see templates like this, I wonder what the personality is that it would "pop" to if the player was Very Ambitious but his Det increased from 17, (within range), to 18, (outside range). I also wonder what would happen if the Amb value was only 19 for example or the Loyalty value was 10. 

1. If the Det value pops to 18 then Very Ambitious becomes Driven. This old template suggests that Driven is only triggered with Det of level 20, (but we know it's out of date). This also states that Amb has to be 10-20 and in this case it's just under at 9 and it's still triggering the Driven template. 

Driven Det 20, Amb 10-20

2. If the Loyalty value pops to 10 then Very Ambitious becomes Fairly Determined. (If we look at this though, there are other "triggers" here though that won't be met in all cases. The F.Det template also requires that the Sportsmanship and Pressure attributes are at certain values.  

Fairly Determined Det 15-20, Pro 1-14, Spo 5-20, Pre 1-16

3. If the Amb value drops to 19 then Very Ambitious becomes Ambitious.

Amibitous Amb 16-19, Loy 1-9, Det 1-17

In previous issues of the game, Tutoring was easy and I have had whole squads literally full of Model Pro and Resolute players. The new Mentoring system is far harder to manipulate though. I think that's more realistic though and a significant improvement. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, (much as it pains me), we need to relax a little about player personalities and to a certain degree except the players, "warts n all", for what they are. We are never going to see a whole squad full of M.Pro players again like I have had in the past, but what you can do is maybe take the really rough edge off a player just by rounding it just a little bit. 

The other thing to consider of course, (and this will be my last comment because I know I'm waffling on), is that while Ambition may be a trait that you want to see in a player, what does a high Ambition attribute actually do in the game? One of the things it does it drive the player to better himself, so if he comes through at a piddly little club such as...... Hyde Utd for example, then he might go to some lengths to get a move to a bigger club at a higher level. He will put himself before the club, (obviously depending on his Pro value). This might be fine in a normal save, but you aren't playing a normal save anymore. You are playing a Youth Only save and you can't just go out and sign a replacement. If a 1st choice player leaves because he is ambitious and wants to play at a higher level, then it is likely to leave a gaping chasm in your squad that is not easy to fill. 

Where as Ambition was previously good, maybe loyal is more what you are looking for now. 

Anyway, apologies for writing so much in response. Hope you are loving the save and good luck. :thup:

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6 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

Fraser Meaney - 21A

For me, his future would be as a midfielder. I don't see him as a striker because of the low finishing and not much of neither pace nor jumping.

6 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

Ged O'Neill - 21B

Also a good midfielder, and getting two players such as those, I would at least see if a tactic with an AM is something that could be done with the rest of the squad.

3 hours ago, optimusprimal82 said:

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Very close league! Good luck in the playoffs!

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