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2 hours ago, XaW said:

I also enjoy things like this. I always tag each and everyone of my youth players. Suddenly I see them in the team I'm playing against, and get a sense of pride in that even though he got sold/released from my club after a while, he still fought on and make a career. Kind of a fatherly pride to see the young'un have made it on his own.

A great season for you, and with another year of development you should see the benefits soon. The trick is always giving the youngsters enough gametime, but not too much. I've always had the mentality of "good enough is old enough" so I'm usually blooding them way too soon and way to often.

Good luck next season, I think you'll en up just below the playoffs, and then get promoted the season after next. No pressure! ;)

Yeah it's cool seeing them become successful, love seeing those little stories play out! I always like seeing my loan players help get their team promoted and all that stupid sort of stuff. The only time I weirdly drop all sentimentality out of the window is when they hit 30 and I can't get them out of the team fast enough - I'll keep them around for mentoring or whatnot but despite being fiercely loyal for most of their career it appears - in FM at least - that I am supremely ageist! Thankfully my employer does not subscribe to this same theory else I would have been out on my bottom a long time ago! :D 

Do you find that 19 (and maybe 18?) are far harsher when it comes to rotating? I am also a stickler for throwing kids at the team (and you mentioning that has inspired my next post!) as soon as I can but in recent versions have found that the game - quite rightly imo - has gotten the balance between tactics and player ability down much better? Not saying it's perfect - I still think I've overachieved with these guys for example - but I found I could rotate the kids in with much less risk say in FM12/13/14? All conjecture and opinion, but just a constant thought I've had whilst playing through 19!

Ha, thanks... I think? :) 

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Good Job at staying up! After your early season form and once the point total became about 40...I was pretty sure you were safe.

I almost think Morgan James will have to be "pacified" for another year and then let him go rot in some "Bigger" clubs under-23's

As for "youth" playing well in first team this year. I have to agree 18-19 yo's with right stats do fine as starters if necessary.  

Unlike you I like to keep an old "codger" around if He is a team leader and has the "right" personality.

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5 minutes ago, optimusprimal82 said:

The only time I weirdly drop all sentimentality out of the window is when they hit 30 and I can't get them out of the team fast enough - I'll keep them around for mentoring or whatnot but despite being fiercely loyal for most of their career it appears - in FM at least - that I am supremely ageist!

We are once again in agreement. I prefer a younger team, and only keep tutors after 30. Though with a few exceptions of course. 

8 minutes ago, optimusprimal82 said:

Do you find that 19 (and maybe 18?) are far harsher when it comes to rotating?

Yes and no. I'm often throwing youngster into the frey, but I try to not be bothered if we lose when I do this. If I play in a cup I don't care about I often play with almost only 16 year olds if the first team needs a rest. Hell, in my Kettering game my backup goalkeeper were always 16-20 years old. Because if the first choice gets injured he gets his chance no matter his skill level!

I mostly did this because playing matches is pretty much the only way to develop the attributes with poor facilities. If they don't play, then they won't improve. So I threw in players with horrible CA, but had loads of potential (according to the assistant). It was hit and miss, but at least I gave them their chance to shine.

14 minutes ago, optimusprimal82 said:

but in recent versions have found that the game - quite rightly imo - has gotten the balance between tactics and player ability down much better? Not saying it's perfect

I really agree here as well. There needs to be a balance act going on, and I think it's a really tough one. Player quality needs to be very important, but so does tactics, in addition there needs to be a small element of randomness in there. After all Newcastle beat Man City this season and neither player quality nor tactics were the key to that result.

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Taking their chance...

One of the things that compelled me to start this career/take on the Academy challenge is - pretty unsurprisingly - my love of bringing kids through from the youth team and watching them turn into (ahem) world beaters - thing is, they can only do that if you're actually prepared to play them? Prompted by @XaW's post above, it got me wondering just how much game time have I given my young 'uns in this save? It's only now - in my third season, that my first XI has changed at all since I settled on it in my very first pre-season! Obviously with injuries, fitness and suspensions you'll never play just the same 11 so I thought it'd be interesting to see just how many times I've turned to the kids and more importantly, how many took their chance and have stayed around?

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Pretty interesting seeing it laid out like this, I think as a club we can be pretty happy with the utilisation of the youth team - and wouldn't it be awesome if in future games the board were aware of this sort of thing and say "hey, we were going to put x into this but we see you're utilising our youth players well, what say we throw 'many pounds' into it and make it a club philosophy" instead of some of the seemingly arbitrary thins they do now? I'm not going to dig too heavily into the numbers right now, but I think it'll be interesting to look again in a years time and see if the trend of me picking them a lot more as they mature continues? I expect appearances for maybe some of the older intakes to drop off as the newer ones will likely be better quality but interesting to see that migration, especially as the existing squad are phased out!

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1 hour ago, Hootieleece said:

Good Job at staying up! After your early season form and once the point total became about 40...I was pretty sure you were safe.

I almost think Morgan James will have to be "pacified" for another year and then let him go rot in some "Bigger" clubs under-23's

As for "youth" playing well in first team this year. I have to agree 18-19 yo's with right stats do fine as starters if necessary.  

Unlike you I like to keep an old "codger" around if He is a team leader and has the "right" personality.

Thank you! Yes I was reasonably confident, but that 8 game wobble had started to give me second thoughts!

I actually managed to pacify Morgan by telling him it was academic as no-one was in for him and to my utter surprise/amazement he just backed down without a fuss. I expect it'll crop up shortly but the good thing is that now with Meaney (21A) & Skelton (22A) I reckon we can cope with his loss (although naturally that depends on them staying too!)

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Good job mate! And what a great read is this. Love the details and the depth. Good luck next season!

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2 hours ago, Winski said:

Good job mate! And what a great read is this. Love the details and the depth. Good luck next season!

Thank you sir! Hopefully we won’t need quite as much luck this year, but then knowing our love of doing things the hard way it may be exactly what we need! :) 

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Season 4 Preview

So the players are back from holiday, most of the friendlies are done and dusted and the opening weekend is fast approaching - best get thinking about what our plans are for this year then I guess?

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Quantity over quality? At least for now...!

At 27 players, the squad's a little bigger overall than my usual 24-5 comfort zone, but it's mainly down to my desire to have my 4 'blunderkids' (I can't exactly call them wonderkids now can I?) with the seniors so I can keep an eye on them, play them in the U18's still but also throw them some minutes as subs as and when I'm able to help speed along what I suspect would otherwise be snail like progression. IF these kids are as good as the coaches think they are I need them up to speed as soon as possible if we want to compete at a decent level in this league.

Fraser Meaney (21A) went on to make 45 appearances in his first full season last year but - with the possible exception of Lewis Brown (22D) - I don't think any of the fab four (Micheal Skelton - 22A, Joe Nolan - 22B & Owen Willis - 22C) are yet ready to play all that often but hopefully that changes as the season wears on. Other changes see Luke Westley drop down and onto the transfer list (he was marked for 'exile' during my purge) and I've also promoted Alan Cahill (22E) to see how he develops; he's 190cm tall and height is something our team is sorely lacking - he's not ready for the first team yet either and is noted as being slow (and he is) but I've got him on a specific (and likely useless) speed training plan and will give him minutes too when possible (looking at you Checkatrade Trophy) to see how he develops.

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In terms of squad composition, the old guard are still hanging on in there with 15 originals still in the squad vs 12 intakes; only one intake currently holds a place in the starting 11 (and I'm sure you can all guess who that is seeing as I'm sick of typing his name!) but I certainly expect that to change within the next 12-24 months.

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Tactically I'm not planning much different this year as my first 11 has barely changed since I started the save so I'll continue to play to their strengths, what is interesting though is looking across our first team squad as a whole now, positionally we have a lot more variation/backup as a whole which means that in a year or two as the team strengthens, we can start to get a little bit more creative - if necessary - with attacking wide players/midfielders coming into play which pleases the naturally attacking part of me greatly!

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The only real blip on the radar is that Morgan James (PotY for the past 3 years) has reported back for pre-season with what is apparently a recurring abdominal injury and is thus now rated as highly susceptible to injury. I can't see any option to send him to a specialist (doubt my board would approve it regardless!) to try and get it rectified so am at a bit of a loss as to exactly what I can do about it unless I cash in as his contract is coming to an end? Considering he went missing for the first half of last season and we struggled a fair bit, the thought of him missing a 'Chris Sutherland amount of games' doesn't exactly give a warm and fuzzy feeling.

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The more things change...

I could maybe be forgiven for being more upbeat about this season given the influx of talented youngsters and the investments the board have (begrudgingly) made, yet whilst it's easy to get carried away, it's very important that we - and particularly me - remember the very real difference between ability and potential. Potentially we may have a shot at challenging the teams at the top, but right now it's clear that it's very much 'as you were' with our team comparatively looking possibly/slightly weaker overall than last year if anything? I'm not too worried as we have a lot of growing to do this season and I'm certain one or two players will surprise me/emerge faster than I was expecting, but it's a welcome reality check that we are still up against it, especially when considering the calibre of promoted/relegated teams coming into the league this year.

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Some could point a finger and ask why so negative on the eve of a new season but I'd explain I'm anything but, just trying to sprinkle a liberal helping of realism onto my usual tasty bowl of optimism - as examples such as this further illustrates;

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Competition for places is a good thing...

I've spoken a few times about our problems out on the right wing; it's our joint weakest position ability wise along with DR (obviously STC causes me a different type of headache) & first choice MR Chris Sutherland missed over half of last season through injury. Grant Roberts (MC) & Kyle Harrison (DR) did a decent job backing up, but Grant is 31 now and slowing down and Kyle is only a stop-gap himself until something better comes along. We haven't had a huge amount of luck so far with wingers in our intakes; obviously we got Joe Nolan (22B) this year and it looks like he will be our long term solution but is currently ranked way off first team level. My hopes had been that young Emeka Jibrin (20B) would step up as he's got decent potential, but despite spending all of last season with the first team he's barely improved and had been pencilled in to face the drop later this year; now I don't know exactly what causes these events to happen - whether they're coded to be completely random or if other events trigger them - but not two weeks after promoting Joe Nolan (22B) into the first team squad, my HoyD sends me this mail;

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A determination jump from 5 to 15 in a player I would really like to see develop this year? Oh yes please! The two events may be completely unrelated, but my side of the story is that seeing another (possibly more) talented young kid come into the squad that plays in his position has kicked him up the bum sufficiently to start knuckling down! This could be the catalyst for him laying claim to the position and I certainly won't be complaining if I have two quality options out wide come the end of the season!

 

Aiming high...?

Thankfully not! Despite being penny pinching bum-holes our board seem to understand that Man City we are not with them setting very modest (and very welcome) expectations for the season ahead;

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Interestingly they haven't set any expectations for the Checkatrade Trophy, nor does it appear under competitions - it mentions the draw will take place in August so I assume we'll be in it and it's just a blip? I can't say I'm bothered if there's been a clinical error and someone forgot to enter us into it, however it is an opportunity to give a full run out to a number of my youth players with no pressure on them for results (not from me anyway!); will keep an eye on what happens with it.

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Yep, the media have given the promoted teams better odds of staying up than us, ignoring the fact that y'know, we've done it once already? Will just make our league win all the sweeter I guess! >ahem<

 

Edited by optimusprimal82

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Raising the bar...

Last season I set a safety target of 42 points based on the average totals from seasons prior; as it turned out, we smashed it yet had we settled for 42 we would have found ourselves relying on goal difference in order to stay up;

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I'm setting what may be considered a conservative target, but I said at the end of last season that this year I'd settle for 18th place and I stand by that; progress is progress and whilst naturally I'll be aiming a little higher (and if going on gut feeling I think we'll finish higher), let's walk before we can run!

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The luck of the draw...?

A home draw to kick off this seasons cup draw chart, but sadly it could have been a little kinder, pitting us against League One's Bradford City; naturally we'll give it a go - if we can hold Man City at the mighty 'Fields then who knows what could happen!?

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Taking the handbrake off...

Let's just say that if the season carries on like it's started then hand on heart I'm not sure if we'll finish last or first (NB: It won't be first). The fixture computer did us a 'not-solid' by pitching us away to league favourites Doncaster for the opening game, before a home tie against Wycombe (currently 2nd) and then a trip to the seaside to tackle newly relegated Blackpool. Safe to say that we were in all 3 games, but more from a 'catch-up' point of view than a position of control.

The changes in CA ratings made for some interesting decisions early on; I've mentioned before that i'll often 'quick pick' before deciding on my lineup as the 'picker of choice' will sometimes make a selection that hints at an underlying tactical thing (such as when he might swap the position of your DC's); for the start of the season he was making some really strange choices, the most notable/one I still can't quite understand being his insistence on leaving out our usual starting ML Porritt (rated 2.5 stars CA) in favour of young Stephen Dawson (21E - rated at 1.5 stars) when both are rated the same for the role? The other changes were due largely as a result of Sutherland & Fagbola's rating dropping in relation to others in the squad; it meant that he was chopping and changing all over the place and whilst I largely ignore(d) him, I believe I rotated more often than I normally would as a result of second guessing myself on the back of his suggestions - with consistency in games suffering a touch I shored things up and went back to my usual XI, the knock-on being at least a little stabilisation in our play.

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Unfortunately our inability to score consistently was still hindering us - the story of the save so far - creating and missing chances in all of our opening games with a glut against both Northampton & Southend providing small respite before a return to normal service soon after. Taking those two freak games out of the equation, we'd scored just 6 goals in the other 9 fixtures (although the Port Vale Trophy game saw us field a complete second string), all of them coming after having gone behind (the two big scores coming in games where we'd taken the lead) which got me wondering about our current tactical setup; we've been running a 4141 since the start of the save, albeit with 4 main variants which dictate our focus on attack, defence or somewhere in-between.

Whilst in the lower divisions I'd mainly play with variants 1-2 (1 being the most attacking, 4 being the least), yet I noticed that over time last season - quite logically - I had started playing more and more defensively, to the point that maybe I was doing it now out of habit rather than to give me a tactical edge? Obviously player abilities and form are fluid within the game so I think as managers we can all too easily fall into a comfort zone with our tactics/approach - it worked before, so it should work now etc?

The foundation that my Mentality Masterplan methodology is built upon revolves around taking control of the game, scoring first and then neutering the opponent, such that they can't come back at you. With any team it's not always going to work and with this lot that's even truer (Scunthorpe scoring a 92nd minute equaliser being proof); what hit me when looking though is the consistent pattern that losses - despite supposedly looking to control the game - were always as a result of conceding first, whereas the draws/wins all saw us take the lead, thus making the first goal absolutely paramount? We have had some notable comeback wins over the seasons and I assume we'll have some again this year, but they are definitely the exception as opposed to the rule so not something we should be relying on. 

Now I realise that some of this isn't exactly rocket science - suggesting that the team scoring first has a better chance of winning is not about to see me carried upon a throne by the supporting masses and declared a prophet - but you can become so comfortable/overconfident, that you do things that actually go against what you're trying to achieve? On the back of some horrific results I'd gone more defensive, yet not so defensive as to really stop teams scoring, but defensive enough that I'd perhaps neutered our attacking threat, such that we're rarely likely to score first - kind of an ineffective halfway? Now we often point to our tactics and say that they need changing, in this instance I think the tactics/variants are still sound, I think it's me that was at fault by choosing the wrong approach at the wrong time?

Now deciding to take the handbrake off and play a little more attacking is an easy thing to suggest, but there are hundreds if not thousands of ways of doing that... Do I go for a 424 and then change back to a 4141 when we take the lead? Well, no. I still have to pay attention to the relative quality of my players and suggesting that we go to the majority of teams in this division and try to dictate play with an expansive and ultra-attacking setup would be a mistake courting both naivety and arrogance. As much as we may not like it, we are often at both a technical and physical disadvantage heading into games so we can't afford to be too expansive/aggressive.

What's been clear for a long time is that our strikers just aren't up to the job; Fraser Meaney (21A) is clearly the best we've got but as more of a link striker it's a little unrealistic to expect him to get 20+ goals when playing as a lone frontman, and whilst Tom Pratt can do a job, he's never really shone since we left the Vanarama North (decent goal tallies, but sporadic scoring patterns) . Bearing in mind that we struggle for clean sheets even when 'playing defensively' I decided to experiment with a 442, sacrificing the DM and moving him up top, the idea being to get a 1-2 goal lead and then change back to hold onto what we have. It's only been 3 games with this approach but so far - so excellent! Tom Pratt has grabbed a haul of 4 goals plus an assist, with Fraser Meaney (21A) contributing 3 goals & 1 assist - it's (very) early days but their DLF/AF combo seems to have started well so it's something I'm going to continue with - it may lose us some games, but we were losing games anyway, if this help us win a few more then so be it - the only fly in the ointment being an 8 week injury picked up by Pratt in his last outing;

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There's no guarantee that our new approach will pay off in the long run but it's certainly given us a short goal/performance boost and whilst the clean sheet loving part of me is upset by the goals we're leaking, we were conceding 1-2 a game before anyway so - at least for now - I feel that we're fighting fire with fire and it's certainly not done our league position any harm either (far cry from where we were - interesting to note who's top of the table now too!);

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Trouble's brewing...

He's still got another year on his contract after this one but not awesome...

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Morgan James is being a pain with his renewal by demanding almost double wages (which may cause a ripple if we give in) but at least he's open to - albeit very strict - negotiation? I'm already listed in Fraser's favoured staff but going to continue to give him minutes and be super nice to him (praise his training/form/performances as appropriate) in the hope we can get him to at least talk to us at some point - his value is only £27.5k so in the unlikely event we can get double that it's still relative peanuts. If we can't get him to sign - and we still have a long way to go - we may just have to chalk it up to experience as him being too much, too soon for us, and at the very least maybe he can help us gain promotion/get close before he goes?

 

We need how many...!?

Following the Wycombe game, our Ass Man was questioned (can't stand the press conferences) as to what he thought was a reasonable points target to achieve safety; now whilst he calmly played each question with a straight bat, the media seemed to think that 50 was the 'magic number' needed which makes our target look slightly modest now in comparison? Whilst there's still a long way to go we're well ahead of target right now though so it shouldn't hopefully be an issue, just interesting nonetheless - reckon the next 5-6 games (and our form within them) should give us a good idea of realistically where we may end up - we were as high as a playoff place last season (albeit for just a week) so this could be a false position or equally, a sign of good things to come!

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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Putting the handbrake back on...

Well this season is just the gift that keeps on giving! Following on from my last post, I carried on confidently with my new 442 tucked enthusiastically under my arm, buoyed further by wins in our next two games! I know all good things must come to an end but sometimes I wish they would last just a little longer, sadly it wasn't to be and three consecutive defeats (and a fair bit of tweaking, prodding and probing) revealed that with our current squad perhaps we were being just a bit too ambitious. Sensing a switch back to my favoured 4141 may be best in the short term I decided to go with it but also tweak a few roles and mentalities to try and find a happy medium between attack and defence; my attacking 4141 variant is too attacking, as were my 442 attempts, but the 4141's we were rocking earlier in the season were a step too far the other way. Through a little bit of trial, error and a lot of watching, tweaking and analysing (read: obsessing) it seems we've found a happy medium and - despite the odd dodgy result here and there - have been on a great run that has seen us fly up the table!

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Will we stay there? Hard to say, as you can see from the graph we're riding the rollercoaster right now and it's all too apparent when we come up against sides better than us - of which there are far too many for my liking - that we're not cut out for promotion or even the playoffs just yet.

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The eagle eyed amongst you will spot that we're now actually the highest scoring team in the division which admittedly has me scratching my head, but then for the first time in the save we're somehow also the team that's created the most chances. Factor in that we're also not far from the top of the table for most goals conceded and this is where statistics struggle to tell the whole story and also highlights my general 'boom' or 'bust' approach this year? Anyone seeing those two stats and seeing that we've lost a fair few games might reasonably expect that we're playing in too attacking a manner; certainly during the 442 experiment I think that would be a sound observation, but go back earlier than that and you'll recall that the whole reason I started with those changes is the manner of our goalscoring - if we can score first, we can score lots, if we can't, we usually can't score at all etc. Whilst aggressive and attacking by nature I also prize a clean sheet very highly (3-0 is much better than a 7-1 to me!) so these numbers do bother me, but with the guys at my disposal I don't think there's a great deal of leeway right now, the alternative is to go back to how we were before or go completely defensive and try to 1-0/0-0 our way through the season which just doesn't appeal - as I said in a previous post, this is high risk, high reward football but when it works, it really works! (NB: Obviously for certain games I still adapt - f i'd gone and attacked Leyton Orient in our recent game I expect the game wouldn't have been anywhere near as close, as it is they were somewhat fortunate to beat us!)

Seems a bit pointless to put this here now as surely (surely!?) to goodness it's a moot point, but I guess if anything life has taught me not to count chickens etc and we've proven we're more than capable of 'going on a Wigan'!

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Help the strikers or help the team...?

The best part of playing the 442 was seeing my guys up front respond. Tom Pratt had been brought back to life before his injury, but in his absence Stephen Wells (20A) finally broke ended his goalscoring drought and then added a few more for good measure! Young Tom Skelton (22A) also got in on the action, becoming Hyde's youngest ever scorer in the process!

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Since we've gone back to a 4141, the goals for my forwards have sadly dried up again, coming more from my wide players and attacking CM. It's not life ending, especially as results in general are very good (better than I'd expect) right now, but it is demoralising seeing them missing chances and getting low ratings as a result with few goals and assists between them, they just sadly aren't the right sort of forwards - or maybe don't have the requisite quality - to play in a lone role? Sadly it's a team game and we'll have to stick as is for now - the hope is we either improve to the point where we can play a system that suits them or - more likely - as soon as we get a more suitable front man he'll come into the side.

 

Playing Favourites...

Winning managers PotY twice in a row, it's safe to say I quite like Grant Roberts as a player. At 31 he's coming towards the end of his career - mainly because of my FM-based ageism - but I was pretty sad when he got a serious injury. Ordinarily at this level I have to think long and hard before sanctioning specialist treatment (estimated at £4k in this instance) as obviously that's a fair bit of cash for a small club like Hyde. We do still have money left over from our cup run, but as you'll soon see that's fast disappearing so we can't afford to be reckless. Regardless, seeing what he's given for the team it was a no-brainer and we sent him off and took the hit

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The first of many...?

We got our first youth based international recognition this season with Gavin Thomson (20C) being called up to the Scotland U19 squad. I'm not sure that he's ever going to develop into anything more than a backup even at this level but whether he does or not he's got his place in history here amongst my keyboard powered diarrhoea!

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Hunted by Magpies...

I've had quite a few interview offers during the save, mainly I suspect due to a decent reputation from completing so many training courses. IT turns out they're in the championship now but even I was a little surprised to be approached by Newcastle - I turned the interview down and of course there'no saying I'd have got the job, but if this had been a journeyman save then it would have been quite the opportunity so soon!

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The 'Magic but almost Tragic' of the FA Cup...!

Quite predictably I've prioritised the FA cup again this year with promotion unlikely and the amount of good our windfall did last year! Seems the FM gods are angered by me keeping a log of the draws they're handing me so have sought to punish me with consecutive away draws so far this year. Now on paper the first two look pretty routine with both opponents from the lower divisions, yet in both games - which goes some way to showing just how poor overall my squad is in terms of quality and reputation - we were classed as the underdogs (yes, even against Darlington who are in the Vanarama North). If I needed proof of why that was it came during the game with Stevenage; we dispatched Darlington with relative ease but we just could not get on top of 'Boro with them probably deserving to go through on the balance of it; sadly for them our GK is a bit of a hero at penalties (no doubt his powers will disappear should we need them say in a playoff final?) and we went through. With the big teams in the draw I kept my fingers crossed but we were handed a very rough tie away to Preston; we should make a fair bit of cash but nothing like what we could have done and I'll be surprised - unless they rotate (which would be stupid) - if we get through to the next round. Poo. The draws are fixed I tell you, fixed!

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Hoping the board don't notice the hole in their bucket...

So I noticed last month that our finances seem to have taken something of a hit; finishing last season around the 1 million mark I spotted we were now in the 500k department!? Now our wages have increased a little bit, but we're talking maybe 1k p/m extra total? Needless to say I went digging and the one thing I did spot that had increased dramatically this year is;

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Ah yes, got to hold my hands up for that one - guilty as charged! It doesn't explain quite where the rest of the cash has gone but it does partially illustrate why even with a ridiculously low wage budget for the division we're still making a pretty big loss (£30-40k) each month. Let's hope we can get some more coin in the coffers so they don't start making cuts/selling players (although as mentioned, our best player is only worth £30k so would be foolish if we did!)

 

From the ridiculous to the sublime...

Only £247 million? Poor United...

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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Your financial problems are almost as bad as Lower Leagues in Italy. I have to sell my most promising prospects each season to remain $1 million in the red. Because NO prize money except for win or promotion.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Your financial problems are almost as bad as Lower Leagues in Italy. I have to sell my most promising prospects each season to remain $1 million in the red. Because NO prize money except for win or promotion.

Yeesh - I hope we don't ever reach the levels where we have to sell someone... Are the player values at least a little higher? There's no prize money in League Two which surprised me, but they do give us a decent 'solidarity payment' towards the end of the season which helps out. Right now I could sell my entire team and it'd only last 2-3 months with their abysmal value?

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For comparisons sake, these are the values of the Leyton Orient & Doncaster sides (currently 1st & 2nd) - I know how player values are calculated isn't an exact science we have full knowledge of, but it definitely goes some way to illustrating just how far behind teams like this we are right now (I say this fresh off the back of a Doncaster beating);

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I guess in League Two the good thing is I don't have to finish above them to gain promotion, three auto-quali spots is super generous so I can aim for third and progress - just grinds against every part of my "2nd place is the first loser' mentality instilled into me from my own playing days! :D 

Edited by optimusprimal82

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Optimus_Hyde.thumb.png.55902e56a731388c5ae06c5b0c094fcc.png

Battle to beat the drop...?

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Yes, that's right; whilst not mathematically certain (just yet) I think it's safe to call it; not even the most pessimistic of fans would expect us to lose the next 12 games whilst second bottom almost double their tally, especially with our decent form which has seen us (finally) secure our first unbeaten month in this division!

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The painful part is that naturally the playoffs - and even the automatic spots - are actually within touching distance, but every time we move up we drop points either to a team we can't quite compete with yet or - like in our last game - we just have a complete no show, with us squandering a 9 game unbeaten run somehow at home to bottom side and rivals Salford (yeah, I know!). I've written about this before, how no team would turn down promotion and now we're so close then naturally I'm getting giddy, but hand totally on heart, whilst I know the additional finances would speed some things up and maybe improve our intake, for a solid few years we we would seriously struggle. Thankfully I believe and contemplation/consideration/conjecture will be rendered moot by our patchy form but I really do think it will be a blessing in disguise if we stay down for at least another year as we transition across from what was our core side. Yes it might mean we lose out best player but he's unlikely to be with us the whole journey anyway and the silver lining is it means I won't have to type his name any more and you fine people won't have to read about him!

Obviously 9 games unbeaten is nothing to be sniffed at but as you can see, a lot of those games were draws? Now don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not complaining - last year and even earlier this season, the majority of those draws would likely have been losses, but I think we're safer/better in this division developing as we are until such a time we can turn at least 3/4 of those draws into wins (which might be next year, might be the year after).

A few odd games along the way such as this monster at Wycombe;

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One of those games where the match ends and you have to double check the score to see if you're remembering correctly - the review screen missing off our disallowed goal on 88 minutes of course! That & the Salford game aside the games have largely followed a similar pattern. We're definitely becoming stronger in games now but still get against stronger sides (we were pretty lucky against Blackpool for instance) which again highlights the difficulties we'd face if moving up too early - not scared of the challenge (and in some ways it could be fun!) but I'd at least like a fighting chance!

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Looking towards next month, if you take positions into account then we should have a good chance to put solid points on the board but I never find it's quite as simple as that with many of those teams in false positions ability wise. Notts County are something of a bogey side for us right now and we really struggle to play them as the post-it near my mouse mat is reminding me (so will don my scouting hat for that one), and MK Dons, Port Vale and Colchester similarly make it difficult, leaving just Colchester who are in the playoff places soooo hard to get a definitive read on how next month will go!

 

 

Nary a bang in sight...

Sadly our cup run this year ended with a predictable whimper as a meagre 7000 turned up to see Preston record what was a pretty routine victory. We tried to channel the memory of last years heroics but playing away to a Championship side was always going to be tough and it certainly proved to be the case. We pocketed around £85k which isn't too shabby - and yes I make myself sad focusing on the money rather than the football - but worlds away from last years riches, but I guess asking to win the lottery twice is a little bit greedy? We'll just have to do the rest the hard way which should make it that much sweeter!

 

 

'That guy'...

Yeah I know, I'd almost gone an entire update without referencing Fraser Meaney (21A) by name, but he's our best player so I guess it's only natural, much the same way that Morgan James was the golden boy in seasons prior? Regular readers may remember he's got 1.5 years left on his contract and he's not in the slightest bit interested in renewing despite my best efforts? Well the hope is that the players around him improve to the point he's convinced we can at least try to match his ambitions but  - and this isn't really a complete surprise - we might not get the chance. Yes the flip side of having a star player earning 7-8+ ratings most weeks is that very quickly they attract interest and sure enough, those three little letters appeared next to his name just as the transfer window came into focus. As it turns out, an injury three weeks in seemed to stop bids from escalating and tempting our money loving board, but Sheffield Wednesday still tested the water a few times, even making a cheeky trial offer - sorry guys, but Fraser doesn't do auditions!

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Replacing him will be tough, but despite the fact he's a great player for this division, the other reason I'll be sad to see the back of him is his incredibly solid mental stats; upset that I rejected the Wednesday offer he (predictably) came to see me, but whereas I expect Morgan James may have started throwing coffee cups (if he tried kicking them he'd likely miss!), this lad was almost annoyingly reasonable which for real life footballers seems to be increasingly rare, let alone in FM!

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Spain win the World Cup in dramatic penalty shootout victory against...

England. Hands up all those who saw that coming? Whilst England being in the final is surprising, the manner of their defeat is considerably less so with their old curse coming back to haunt them. Harry Winks maybe cost them as he was sent off, but hopefully he won't have to endure any ridiculous Daily Mirror front page shenanigans! Ross Barkley and Eric Dier were the unlucky takers but it was Spains night ultimately, with Argentina finishing 3rd and Switzerland a very credible 4th.

 

 

Reducing the wage bill...?

Absolutely not in any way a complaint but a strange situation at the end of December; with those contracts expiring about to enter the '6-months remaining' I set about the arduous task of renewing them all yet to my utter amazement the trend across the board seemed to be a reduction in expected salary!? Naturally not everyone was towing that line, key player Keenan Quansah was at the front of the queue asking for a raise, but even he only wanted an extra £150p/w? As a couple of the guys are older that naturally accounts for their diminished requests but it's definitely interesting with some of the other squad players - as was explained to me in GD earlier this year, there's a hidden value of the players own 'perceived squad status' that directly impacts things such as complaining about game time and contract requests so my assumption is that these guys are aware that the new guys coming through are maybe of a higher overall ability level and are cutting their cloth accordingly? Doesn't fit the pattern I've had on any other FM save ever but hey, I renewed 13 contracts and paid just £4k to agents and increased the bill by just £300p/w which is an absolutely massive win overall, especially considering our increasingly gloomy finances (down to £330k now)!

 

Looking at the in-game date I suspect the next update will be the big one - yes it's nearly intake day!

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Posted (edited)

Optimus_Hyde.thumb.png.3669832b7e6c8baa52d8381ef145bd65.png

Youth Intake 2023

Yes it's that time of year once again - the time that we place all of our hopes and dreams on the heads of 16 young lads as we hope they'll be the ones to lead us to riches and glory, yes it's intake day!

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 Once agains our HoyD throws around the term 'Golden Generation' far too easily - he didn't say that last year with what was easily our best intake of the save so far so let's see how this years guys stack up and how many of them have got the talent to earn a contract at Hyde United!

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From a high level the potential looks good - naturally we know by now not to trust these star ratings though and it's only fair that - like all the youth players who've come before - they're put through the 'spreadsheet mixer' to assess whether they've truly got what it takes!

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That makes things a bit clearer! As we initially thought, lots of potential in the group which is great to see, but what's even better is that it's spread quite diversely across a number of positions and particularly in areas we could do with a few reinforcements, namely MR/MC/DMC & STC - yes that's right, we actually have a couple of strikers in the group this year which we've needed for a while - they may not be the truly top level, 30 goal a season type we've been desperate for, but if they develop well they may be an upgrade over our current options. As our Hoyd suggests, Colin Turnbull looks like a good MC prospect but it's perhaps John Jeffs who's caught my eye most from this years intake as perhaps a natural successor to the ageing and soon to be retiring Grant Roberts. Personalities overall are ok without being too spectacular - a couple classed as 'Fickle' which naturally I can't stand but we'll see how they develop

Given the high potential overall, I'll be keeping all but 3 from this years crop; Aaron Bertie, Luke Madden & Adrian Milner sadly missing out (sadly because that's both of the ML prospects torpedo'd already!). There's no-one in the group at the level of Fraser Meaney (21A) or Lewis Brown (22D), at least not yet, not in my opinion so I'll hold off on screens until someone steps up and makes me take notice. Solid but unspectacular is the rating again for this year, I think a lot of these guys may fill in the squad gaps for a while without ever maybe being truly standout? - we go again next year!!

 

Edited by optimusprimal82

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Posted (edited)

Optimus_Hyde.thumb.png.1d74b92e72390eed53f050ce0b518fcc.png

Title Run In 2023

I told myself I wouldn't write anything like this until we had a solidly decent chance of getting promoted - gut feeling was that it won't be this season yet looking at the table, there just 8 games to go and only 6 points separating us and the final promotion spot (with one  of our games being against 2nd place!). Difficult? Absolutely! Likely? Not at all! Possible? Hell yeah!

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Put simply, if we go up I think we'll get smashed six ways form Sunday, but other than half of our games next season, what have we got to lose by going for it? It's a long shot anyway so there's no real down side - just a little bit of luck and a lot of goals is all we need! The Port Vale, Leyton Orient & Rochdale games stand out as toughies already!

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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Looks like a very promising intake. Any chance of a screenshot of Allinson? High determination and 2 star PCA is promising when you need a striker.

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, XaW said:

Looks like a very promising intake. Any chance of a screenshot of Allinson? High determination and 2 star PCA is promising when you need a striker.

Very promising certainly but just without the 'headline attraction'of a Meaney or a Brown/Skelton it feels slightly underwhelming - appreciate that sounds somewhat ungrateful/entitled after the last three years have all been decent intakes but guess I'm nervy that we'll likely be in this division for another year so worry we may lose a couple before we go up! The good thing is the HoyD is clearly working as the MC's all seem to be skilled in the Mezzala/Carrilero roles that we primarily use so means integration should be easier too! 

Here's a few screens of the top candidates;

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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5 minutes ago, optimusprimal82 said:

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I think he looks quite good. Decent fininshing, very pacey and good movement. If you sometimes play hoofball he should net you quite some goals. Just pump it over the defence and let the lad run and shoot. Turnbull also looks good as a playmaker, but you don't need to show him twice! ;)

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, XaW said:

I think he looks quite good. Decent fininshing, very pacey and good movement. If you sometimes play hoofball he should net you quite some goals. Just pump it over the defence and let the lad run and shoot. Turnbull also looks good as a playmaker, but you don't need to show him twice! ;)

Yeah I'm pretty happy with the both of them tbh - not quite as good as Jimbo's recent superstar striker prospect but good enough for us right now!

In other news;

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Must be after midnight here now I guess! :rolleyes:

 

Edited by optimusprimal82

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8 minutes ago, optimusprimal82 said:

In other news;

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Must be after midnight here now I guess! :rolleyes:

Ah yes, I'm waiting for someone to start an angry rant about this in General discussion! Someone does that pretty much every year... I'm still a few hours away, though I might not see it since I'm just about to pass the date in my game...

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, optimusprimal82 said:

Optimus_Hyde.thumb.png.1d74b92e72390eed53f050ce0b518fcc.png

Title Run In 2023

I told myself I wouldn't write anything like this until we had a solidly decent chance of getting promoted - gut feeling was that it won't be this season yet looking at the table, there just 8 games to go and only 6 points separating us and the final promotion spot (with one  of our games being against 2nd place!). Difficult? Absolutely! Likely? Not at all! Possible? Hell yeah!

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Put simply, if we go up I think we'll get smashed six ways form Sunday, but other than half of our games next season, what have we got to lose by going for it? It's a long shot anyway so there's no real down side - just a little bit of luck and a lot of goals is all we need! The Port Vale, Leyton Orient & Rochdale games stand out as toughies already!

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One game to go & despite a decent run we've not moved up too much - although we are now in the playoffs; a tough final game at home to 2nd place Rochdale stands in our way - win that (or at least avoid defeat) and who knows what we can achieve!

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Playoffs HERE WE COME!! :D 

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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Posted (edited)

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Two close (but relatively straightforward) games against Crawley and we're into the final where either Doncaster (who we haven't beaten all season) or Wycombe await!

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Morgan James got a three week injury just before the first leg so really hoping he's back for the final!

Edited by optimusprimal82

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Not the best build up to the game;

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And it seems we have a somewhat strange system to overcome;

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It's not something we've never played against, but it's certainly not a setup we've come across too often in this league which makes choosing our own formation a little precarious. I'm actually tempted to play with an AML/AMR for this game but it's tricky if i do as there's only 7 days to go and if I create something too strange there won't be much time for familiarity etc (so i'll need to keep the majority of the instructions/temp/pressing etc the same). Might be risky changing at all. but Doncaster are man for man a better side and beat us both Home and Away so we definitely need to maximise any advantage we can get (not having our star goalkeeper who's amazing at saving penalties isn't a great start!)

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Posted (edited)

Optimus_Hyde.thumb.png.a292334875c5da24728627ea8eeec411.png

We're going up...!

In what felt like the longest game of the season we took the lead through a dubious penalty before being pegged back shortly after Half Time! Morgan James - only playing after passing a late fitness test - came to our rescue once more, curling home from 25 yards before Joe Nolan (20A) continued his great form over the second half of the season, smashing home from the edge of the area on his weaker foot! The rest of the game was typically nervy but Doncaster never really came at us like I was expecting despite the odd chance. Overall the statistics suggest we were slightly fortunate but I'll take it! :) 

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I'm off to see what upgrades I can coax out of the board on the back of this, see you all soon for the end of season review!

Edited by optimusprimal82

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3 minutes ago, optimusprimal82 said:

I'm off to see what upgrades I can coax out of the board on the back of this, see you all soon for the end of season review!

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Jackpot! Not sure how we're going to afford it yet - especially the youth facilities - but hopefully the increased revenue in the next division will cover it! Weirdly I'm not allowed to make any more board requests now as the entire button is disabled!

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Congrats on the promotion!

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Nice!! Congrats with the promotion!

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10 hours ago, XaW said:

Congrats on the promotion!

 

6 hours ago, Winski said:

Nice!! Congrats with the promotion!

Thanks gents, much appreciated! Will be honest and admit that I didn't see it coming this season and worry that we may be 1-2 seasons too early going up - but if we can survive (name of the game again next year) then with our facility improvements I reckon we should be able to stabilise pretty quickly and kick-on from there!

This is the second time we've been promoted what I'd class as prematurely which is nice, but also something I want to avoid when we get to the Championship and we're looking to go into the premier league; it's impossible to properly plan this stuff out but i'd like 3-4 years in the championship and go up into the Pl with a settled squad rather than taking this type of approach where I feel like we're playing catch-up from the start!

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Posted (edited)

silver_Hyde.thumb.png.b9a985f497c11ec5a1b933d5a33f74fd.png

Season 4 - End of Year Review - 2022/23

Competitions

Sky Bet League Two | Board Expectation - Fight Relegation | Media Prediction: 24/24 | Actual Finish: 5/24 (Promoted via playoffs)

Rewind 11 months and you'd be forgiven for fearing the worst heading into this season; losing our opening two fixtures and thne crahsing straight our of the Carabao cup wasn't the confidence-inspiring start we were looking for - but it mattered little in the end as a superb run in the second half of the campaign saw us surge up the table and - given the generous promotion options in this league - into the playoffs where we ultimately prevailed! Coming into the season I was cautiously optimistic - aware that we'd had a great intake last year I was conscious that if they developed as we hoped that we had a real chance of the squad improving by a good margin however at this level that's far from a guarantee with progression in the U18 teams being ponderously slow with our current facilities.

Around Christmas time, sensing that we'd done enough to be safe I started handing out more first team chances to player such as Joe Nolan (22B) - guys who our coaches are adamant are the future of our team (according to team report 'potential' but who were scratching around the fringes of the team, not quite looking ready to step up but obviously too good for reserve football. Against better judgment I played both Joe and Owen WIllis (22C) down the right flank for the rest of the season (fitness & injuries permitting) and whilst their response and improvement is undoubtedly difficult to gauge, their performance improvement (most notable in match ratings) was awesome to see and considering they're both listed to have plenty more room to grow I'm excited to see exactly how much better they can get! I don't normally/wouldn't advocate taking this sort of risk, but with our safety mostly assured I felt we had little to lose and everything to gain with both of these guys rated as 4*+ potential and only 0.5 star CA I wanted to see if I could push us along a little bit quicker and to my mind, the best way for players to develop is if they play - essentially I wanted to turn this;

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into this!

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The gamble paid off this year but naturally if we had been staring relegation in the face I may have been a little more circumspect! The good thing is that as well as these two individuals we still have plenty more in the squad with a lot of growing to do; we currently have no strikers listed as being of 'great' quality, yet there are 7 on our books if the coaches are to be believed which when coupled with the potential across other positions in the team is very encouraging - the difficult part is obviously extracting it with our poor Training facilities and few number of coaches (it is imo, incredibly noticeable how much slower players develop at low level teams as opposed to big clubs - which plays a bigger part out of the coaches or facilities I'm not entirely sure but what I'm in absolutely no doubt about is that game time is th best way to get them to improve, certainly in their late teens/early 20's. I'm normally loathe to loan anyone around 18-20 out in FM as I'm often concentrating on tutoring/mentoring but for this save I'm less focused on that os I may see if I can get some our other high potential kids out playing football next season to get them making the same sort of strides forward to speed up our charge to the Championship!

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The table tells a very interesting story - the graph in particular charting our up and downs as our form fluctuated so rapidly. In a bid to overcome a long term weakness, my move to be more attacking this year paid off on the one hand as we finished as top scorers, but we also shipped a lot more goals which upsets the perfectionist part of me and is something that going forward I won't be able to accept - whilst we're still developing and adapting to the league it's something I can handle but longer term I very much want to see the goals again column reading '0' more often than not! Next year will obviously be difficult at both ends of the field as our inexperienced -and probably still weakest area of the team overall - attack will come up against better defenders, and the inverse will be true for youngsters such as Owen Willis (22C) and Lew Brown (22D) who've been so vital this season.

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Checkatrade Trophy | Board Expectation - Group Stage | Achieved: Group Stage Exit

I feel like I could cut & paste this straight from last year - a nothing competition (tell Portsmouth fans that right now?!) that I'm delighted to get out of as soon as we can - this season being absolutely no exception!

"A cup I absolutely could care less about, whatever genius decided having a midweek competition with groups and associated fixtures needs their head examined - how clubs at this level can fulfil all their obligations is beyond me, the amount of fixtures would have a premier league manager crying! For some reason the board expectations for this competition have disappeared from my competitions/confidence screens but I recall that they expected us to go out in the group stages and I was more than happy to oblige, playing kids in every game."

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English FA Cup | Board Expectation - Reach First Round | Achieved: Third Round Exit (Preston NE)

After last years heroics, this season was always likely to be a little anti-climatic and so it was as we were handed uninspiring away draws all the way to the third round where  a much superior Preston outfit ended our charge with little fuss. We got nowhere near the same level of cash injection as a result but it's be a fools game to rely on that sort of windfall every year and instead I prefer to focus on keeping our costs (youth facilities aside) as low as possible to ensure we try and remain profitable and self sufficient - as our player values increase and teams start sniffing around this will inevitably become easier although offset by the increased wages I expect we'll have to pay in the higher divisions where having such a large overall squad may prove to be very detrimental to a club of our size.

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Carabao Cup | Board Expectation - Reach First Round | Achieved: First Round Exit (Scunthorpe)

Not sure why we haven't enjoyed anywhere near the same level of success in the League cup, but may be something to do with how early in the season it crops up, usually when I'm still settling on a formation/best 11 and still experimenting with a few of the youngsters to see if they're ready to step up to the first team? A tough away draw first up is also never going to really help us and sure enough Bradford did their job and killed what futile hopes we may have had in the competition off immediately

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The 'Cup Draw' Table

A season of 'away-only' fixtures in the FA cup alone ensured the gap here went one way - be interesting to see how much this changes as we improve as a team and become more of a force in the cups/enter more rounds;

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Youth Intake 2023

No one player truly stands out this year, especially when compared to the last few intakes which yielded Meaney (21A) & Brown (22D). The biggest plus point this year was the depth and diversity of the potential with it spreading across a number of positions as opposed to being handed to one or two super gifted individuals - it bring su s to the jack of all trades/master of none argument, but with players ageing we maybe needed this sort of 'unsung' year to give us a few backup options when we face injuries - a lot of these guys may never be full starters but hopefully they'll be there to fill in the gaps during times of need!

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Transfers

We're facing a struggle to keep hold of Fraser Meaney (21A) as we head into the summer window. He's entering the final year of his contract and has no interest in signing a new one, declaring that he wants to join a bigger club (the promotion doing little to satisfy him; with 18 goals, 12 assists and a rating of 7.28 he was comfortably our best play this year so if we are going to lose him I can only hope those numbers push his value beyond the meagre 47k it is right now (and moving into the higher division should help with that too). If - as expected - we do lose him, obviously it will be a blot but Michael Skelton (22A) is a very similar type of player (albeit with a potentially lower ceiling?) who is just a bit behind Fraser in terms of development - this may be the opportunity he needs to really kick on?

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Squad Statistics

Top Scorer - Fraser Meaney 21A (18) | Most Assists - Fraser Meaney/Luke Porritt (12) | Top Rating - Fraser Meaney (7.28)

Better numbers this year undoubtedly as a result of our more attacking approach. It's the first time Morgan James hasn't made the 'top' lists in the save but rest assured he wasn't far off with 12 goals and a 7.21 rating - his assists uncharacteristically low at just 3 this year. Luke Porritt again excelled as a creative force at ML but his lack of a consistent wing partner on the right hand side means there's no real point of comparison - Chris Sutherland started the season in the position but seemed to decline in both performances & quality in a bizaree fashion, such that the coaches now deem him surprlus to requirements and recommend I transfer list him! Emeka Jibrin (20B) had a good run towards the end of the first half of the season at MR but was solid rather than spectacular with 3 goals and a solitary assist encouraging me to give highly rated Joe Nolan (20B) a run in the side. Although his performance ratings were highewr overall, Joe's number's were also a little lacking compared to the left wing output finishing with just a single goal (and WHAT a goal it was in the playoff final!) and five assists from 27 games. The MR position is still very much up for grab s heading into next year with both Jibrin and Nolan having plenty of potential to play with it seems!

In terms of goals, Fraser MEaney obviously had a good season despite never really making a specific position his own - he regularly moved between STC and MCL/MCR with me never being fully convinced as to where (and what role) actually suited him best? When paying in a pair during my brief dalliance with a 442 he played possibly the best he has in a Hyde shirt but given the defensive issues playing without a DMC caused us I doubt that'll be something we can try again this year so it'll be interesting to see how he goes. Stephen Wells (20A) had his best ever goal return this year with 14, rewarding the additional starts afforded to him and maybe highlighting the benefits of fitting a role to a player as he finally came to life when played as a Pressing Forward as opposed to the Advanced forward his pace encouraged a test with - let's hope the step up in class isn't too big for him!

 

Sky Bet League 2 Player of The Season: Fraser Meaney (21A)

A well earned reward for our standout player - remains to be seen if he'll wear a Hyde shirt again with teams sniffing around and his contract coming to an end but he gave it his all this year so we can ask no more of him really

 

Sky Bet League Two Top Goalscorer: Ali Al-Hamadi (Southend - 25 goals)

Didn't really see or hear a lot of this guy over the season but he obviously had a good one which is all the more surprising seeing as Southend finished in 13th overall.

 

Sky Bet League 2 Manager of The Season: Jos Luhukay (Rochdale)

Beginning to sense some bias in these awards, they obviously have something against managers in red glasses!

Sky Bet League 2 Team of the year;

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A team absolutely dominated by Rochdale but our man Fraser still managed to sneak in!

 

Hyde United FC Awards Night: 

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No real surprise to see the winner from the night, but a kick in the ego for Morgan James as he left empty handed for the first time in my tenure - suspect that the quality of opposition might be getting on top of him for the first time as he's generally been much quieter overall this year which doesn't bode well for next season!

 

Managers Player of The Season: Fraser Meaney

Regular readers will know I'm not easily swayed by goals or 'PotM' awards - I find that FM's rating system is far too skewed in favour of goals and my tactics demand very specific thing sof players so the goalscorers will always be more prevalent. A great year again for our GK with no mistakes that I can recall (sad that's how i measure our GK's performances year in, year out) but even bearing in mind my obstinate appreciation of goalscoring I can't look past Fraser Meaney; time and again he was the match winner and shining light during games that I couldn't see how we may score, let alone steal a victory! His passing and general ball retention is also excellent and his 12 assists were almost as important as his goals as one of the few in my side capable of unlocking packed defences - keeping him may be a real struggle but we'd never have got promoted this year without him so can still be grateful!

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In other news

Premier League Winners: Manchester United (4th year in a row)

FA cup Winners: Liverpool

League Cup Winners: Manchester United

Champions League Winners: Real Madrid

Europa League Winners: Chelsea

La Liga Winners: Real Madrid

Bundesliga Winners: Bayern Munich

Serie A Winners: Napoli

 

Board room updates

Having gain an unlikely promotion I thought it only prudent to push my luck with a few boardroom requests and much to my surprise and delight, they acquiesced, granting us improvements across the board (no pun intended - roll on next years intake)!

 

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The board are - somewhat unsurprisingly - delighted with how everything is going otherwise!

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Final Thoughts

Obviously I've written a few times now how much of a surprise this season has been - I didn't expect to be sitting here writing this with a promotion to plan for. Such is the amount of improvement needed to compete at the next level I'm grateful in a lot of ways that I can't recruit as I'd likely otherwise spend what could only be described as an 'obsessive' amount of time scouting and scouring the market, whereas this way my hands are tied and I'll deal with whatever the FM gods throw at us. It'll be tough - and no doubt we'll score less and concede more - but I believe our experiences over the last couple of years - not to mention my tactical learnings from playing against superior opposition consistently - should stand us in great stead!?

 

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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Who's feeeding who?

Of course they couldn't announce it whilst I was writing my last post, waiting instead until the very next continue but such is the board of Hyde! Yes without any prompting from me they just announced a partnership with Stoke City that will see the usual affiliate obligations/perks such as them giving us money each year and us hosting a friendly. I'm not upset that they've announced this, the money will of course be useful and I have a huge soft spot for Stoke in real life due to family but under the rules of the academy challenge I don't believe I'm allowed to play anyone they may send on loan so the usefulness is pretty limited. It had crossed my mind to ask for an affiliate in the near future, but more the other way around with a view to us being able to send our players on loan. It's not world ending in any case, unless they start trying to bully us to sell them players on the cheap, then we might need to have a different conversation!

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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Season 5 Preview

It's that time of year again with the players back now from their holidays with complaints the only thing they brought me as a souvenir!

Yes the new season is just days away and I'm sure it will surprise absolutely no-one that everyone has written little Hyde United off before a ball has even been kicked yet again - seems people in the FM world have incredibly short memories so once again we'll be looking to make a mockery of these so-called experts and ensure they're presenting in their pants/eating their hat/whatever other ridiculous & hyperbolic promise they made on the off-chance we should avoid relegation!

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We're going through changes...

I started to get a little bit frustrated with my squad over pre-season, feeling it had become bloated and a little stagnant with a few prospects not developing efficiently enough or maybe even lacking now the requisite potential - with one eye on the future, not to mention the need to make some room for some of our newer kids to grow into! We've yet to actually sell anyone but so far I've trimmed from the first team squad;

 

James Hodges (Starting Yth contract) - GK

Lloyd Adkins (20F) - DC

Stephen Dawson (21E) - (A)ML

Gavin Thomson (20C) - DMC

Alhaji Salgado (Starting Yth contract) - DMC/MC

Ian Burns (20D) - DR/MC

Chris Sutherland - MR

Ged O'Neill (21B) - MC

 

I hate giving up on the youth players, but some of them have had plenty of years (and chances) to develop so at some point you've got to draw a line. Ged O'Neill is perhaps the biggest disappointment from this group - coming through in the same group as Fraser Meaney (21A) he actually looked as though he'd be every bit as good but hasn't turned into even half the player I thought he might. It's not the last chance for any of them just yet - I'll monitor them over the season whilst they're in the U18 team although sadly most of them won't be able to play as a result of being too old (this is where a U23 team would be super handy!).

With space free'd up in the squad it's only fair that I promoted what will hopefully be our next batch of first teamers so joining the squad this year are Ian Pollock (22F - GK), Charlie Lenehan (23K - DLC), David Sorvel (23F - DL), John Jeffs (23D - DMC), Steve Robinson (23C - MC), Colin Turnbull (23B - MC), Luke Madden (23L - ML), Gary Allinson (23A - STC) - overall putting us on a supposedly much better footing potential wise;

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Be sure to read the small print...

I was resigned to losing Fraser Meaney (21A) this transfer window with him wanting a move and his contract having just a year left to run. Nothing is certain but a great little bonus I hadn't realised is that I'd managed to include a two year optional extension clause in his contract so he's tied to us now until 2026 (unless the board 'do a stupid' which let's face it, is always likely!). Although far more careful as a smaller club where contract durations can make & break you financially, I try to put such a clause into every young players contract to save having to renegotiate quite so often and pay their grubby little agents undeserved signing on fee's! Doesn't always work and if you're not careful can actually push their basic wage so high as to make it not worth it but it's a feature I like and use a lot!

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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Life in the big leagues...

Whisper it quietly but it's been a case of "so far, so good" with regard to our first season in the division! It's noticeable that teams are more clinical but otherwise we're largely competing in the majority of games and more importantly,, we're scoring plenty of goals which was my biggest concern having moved up! Ideally we'll start turning some of these draws into wins, but a point is better than no points so overall there's few complaints from me, especially as out star player i unhappy (wanting to move to a bigger club) and just isn't performing!

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Obviously not wise to read too much into the table just yet but it shows that we've started well. I'd prefer to be a few points further away from the drop zone but I'm not unduly worried at this point.

I realised that I forgot to do a points prediction in the season preview - based on previous seasons in the division, 48 seems to be the magic number so I've set us a target of 50 points for safety this year just to be sure - no small feat with a team still featuring players that were starters in the Vanarama North but having seen us over the first few games I think it's very do-able!

 

A tactical twist...

Having moved a fair number of players around in the summer it was only right that I reassess our tactical suitability. If we get in trouble we're more than covered for our 'safety first 4141' but given the success of the 4231 I trialled in the playoff final I've been testing it all through pre-season to great success and we've rolled it into the first few games of the season and we're looking good using it for now so we'll definitely continue! I still think there are some tweaks to be made which I'll be focusing on but so far so good - the amount of quality players we've had coming through who can play AMC only encourages it further too!

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So far we're second for goals scored which is impressive, although we're clearly letting too many in at the other end hence the tweaks I mentioned - might be that I move the MC's (or perhaps just one) back to DM for better protection?

 

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Good Job making it to League One!  I find it is the same as League Two but the chances of getting promoted are smaller and the prize money isn't much better. You will find that the AI teams abuse the loan market for clinical finishers and set piece specialists that your hard working boys might not match. 

That being said a hard working team that is sound defensively CAN make a run for the title and promotion. 

Your best bet is to aim for mid-table until your academy produces a few more stars.

It's like my currents save in Italy...Hard work and luck got my Serie C team to Serie A in 4 years but we aren't ready for the gulf in class. (Cristiano Ronaldo at 37 makes 7X my entire wage bill and more than Juventus's share of TV money in Serie A)

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Absolutely loving this story! I started a game a few weeks back unemployed nothing but my Sunday league experience by October got offered lowly Brackley in the conference north, I was enjoying it until I read your story, and now want to start over again, so thanks for that lol.

I’ve won promotion via the playoffs and was tempted to try the academy challenge all be it a season late but once players retired, returned to loan clubs my squad is too depleted to even consider it sadly. Too many positions missing and the youth just simply aren’t good enough!

so I think Brackley may be put on the shelf and I may give the academy challenge a go this evening! Wish me luck, hopefully I’ll get a player like Meaney! 

Keep up the amazing work cos this is really a great little story

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5 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Good Job making it to League One!  I find it is the same as League Two but the chances of getting promoted are smaller and the prize money isn't much better. You will find that the AI teams abuse the loan market for clinical finishers and set piece specialists that your hard working boys might not match. 

That being said a hard working team that is sound defensively CAN make a run for the title and promotion. 

Your best bet is to aim for mid-table until your academy produces a few more stars.

It's like my currents save in Italy...Hard work and luck got my Serie C team to Serie A in 4 years but we aren't ready for the gulf in class. (Cristiano Ronaldo at 37 makes 7X my entire wage bill and more than Juventus's share of TV money in Serie A)

Thank you sir - hoping it's only a fleeting visit to League One if I'm honest - the positive signs being that we're not being overawed like we were when first promoted to League One and more encouragingly, we seem to be able to score for fun so maybe won't need the same amount of time to adjust!? IF we work out how to keep scoring and close out the other end (football's greatest mystery of course!) then we should be laughing - but i think that whilst we're definitely down on quality, the gap perhaps isn't as big this time. Although Fraser Meaney is still only worth £90k and Bristol Rovers (our next game) best player is worth £2.9million so perhaps I've misjudged that a little! And absolutely - survival is the only goal we're interested in this year and probably next too - fortunately we're well versed in defensive play after the last couple of years - something we may have to embrace as we're being caught out too much with my more attacking winger-based setup! I also think that when last years intake mature we'll have a very solid squad - there were no standouts but looking at the potential ratings now they seem to have flown very much under the radar

5 hours ago, samboing said:

Absolutely loving this story! I started a game a few weeks back unemployed nothing but my Sunday league experience by October got offered lowly Brackley in the conference north, I was enjoying it until I read your story, and now want to start over again, so thanks for that lol.

I’ve won promotion via the playoffs and was tempted to try the academy challenge all be it a season late but once players retired, returned to loan clubs my squad is too depleted to even consider it sadly. Too many positions missing and the youth just simply aren’t good enough!

so I think Brackley may be put on the shelf and I may give the academy challenge a go this evening! Wish me luck, hopefully I’ll get a player like Meaney! 

Keep up the amazing work cos this is really a great little story

Thank you - always great to get feedback like this - it takes a fair while to write all this stuff out in such nerdily-obsessive detail and I'd be lying if I said doubts don't creep in now and then as to why I'm doing it (and i suspect the same may be a true of a lot of the other career writing folk!) - if even one person is enjoying the read/it's helping even one person then I'm more than happy to keep going and sharing as it makes it all worth it - luckily I've had a few regular supporters stop by to cheer us on/point and laugh which is all the motivation we need to dust ourselves down after the latest defeat and kick start another unbeaten run - that's the Hyde United way of saying thanks everyone for your feedback throughout this little journey - I assure you it's massively appreciated! :) 

Sorry to hear about the save - I know that feeling well - when I was finally winning the Champions League with my FC United team (that I'd dragged from the doldrums) I had my head turned by a few people mentioning an academy challenge - given my love of scouting/the xfer market I was put off for a while, but given my propensity for buying/training young players anyway it was a no brainer in the end and it's paid off big time so far. I'd like a few more Meaney's obviously but have to appreciate that our facilities were little more than a 20 year old garden shed when I joined so patience is the key - we're not far off having all the mod-cons now so the quality should go up which I'm very excited about!

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Turning those draws into defeats...

We struggled last month with turning close games into victories but the pendulum has swung back the other way this month and we just can't seem to keep the ball out of our own net. Obviously looking at the teams we played we need to place the results in context - to play so many teams around the top of the table in succession is yet another example of the awful luck thrown our way by the scheduling computer, but it also shows we're not on a level playing field with the top teams just yet so need to play a little more accordingly perhaps? We're not doing terribly - three league wins in a month (especially with those fixtures) isn't too shabby, but aware that morale is on the wobble I'll be honest and admit that I'm incredibly close to abandoning our 4231 experiment for a season or two and revert back to my 4141 comfort blanket - we've always been a side that give the opposition chances, but at this level they invariably score them whilst we still need 2-3 shots to get a goal in reply so we're losing games we shouldn't be and the numbers in the 'against' column have now reached unacceptable levels with us having the leakiest defence in the competition; I want to play a more attacking game but we need to earn the right to do that so it's something we'll have to revisit in a year or two - ego can play a huge part and knowing when to swallow your pride can be the difference between survival and relegation - we're still in a good position to stay up so now's the time to arrest our form and stop the slide, hopefully picking up a few much needed victories over the next few months!

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Reckon it's as good a time as any to drag our old friend out of retirement - we're well on track but this should hopefully focus my mind and get me to forget about systems, at least for a season or two!

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Edited by optimusprimal82

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Small matter of a contract to renew first but after the extension we've got time - the best bit is he'll at least talk to us now! >phew<

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That 4-2-3-1 Wide was a little to attacking for me.

I would change the Careilo to a DLP-D or BWM-D to protect the back four. The Mezzala would become the Careilo to further the defensive efforts.

A defensive 4-2-3-1 Wide can work...so don't throw the baby out with the bath water per se!

Fraser Meaney would make a great Shadow Striker or F9 to top the formation...

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5 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

That 4-2-3-1 Wide was a little to attacking for me.

I would change the Careilo to a DLP-D or BWM-D to protect the back four. The Mezzala would become the Careilo to further the defensive efforts.

A defensive 4-2-3-1 Wide can work...so don't throw the baby out with the bath water per se!

Fraser Meaney would make a great Shadow Striker or F9 to top the formation...

It's more 'on ice' than thrown away for now... We were actually playing some good stuff with it but yes, far too attacking overall, especially away from home!

Some good suggestions (thank you!), I've gone back to the 4141 for a bit right now to get some points on the board and play it a little safe but i'll definitely be returning to the 4231 so will bear in mind the changes you've mentioned - and yes, Fraser was indeed doing very well in the AMC role (had him as an attacking midfielder and Treq and he was doing well as both)! :D

I think once the main bulk of our squad are on par ability wise with other teams in the league we can try it again, the amount of goals scored make it too good not to revisit! Part of the problem might be I changed the squad too much over the summer, I'm not even sure I know my best team right now with me playing players based more on potential than current ability - that's the issue sometimes when you've got so many decent youngsters i guess? Could maybe do with another training facility upgrade (or two) so they develop a bit quicker, not ideal fielding a player who overall will strengthen eventually but is a liability until then! Tried to send a few on loan but only got a couple of offers to take the young un's as 'backups' which is no use - they can not play here just as easily!

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Better the devil you know...?

I noted way way way back on page 1 that my chairman's opinion on the club is a little less than effusive and the day may come when he decides to move on;

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Seems that day may have come sooner than I was expecting;

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It's been a long time since I've gone through an FM takeover so I could be mistaken at feeling mildly indifferent? My expectation is that anyone taking over will likely clear the clubs debts but little above that save for perhaps a few annoying club philosophies (such as score from set pieces) that I'll have to blackmail talk them out of at the first opportunity!

Back on the pitch, our form has been somewhat better over the last month, although cup games feel more like a hinderance than a help right now - can only hope a big payday comes later as compensation! A few more clean sheets have been very welcome, but we're struggling a little with fitness - three of our first choice back line are jaded so I've had to give them all a rest which has seen us concede a few more goals again. Overall I'm a bit happier with the balance this month - having moved the AMC back to DMC tactically we're still looking potent goal wise but a little more solid defensively than we were! Our little run has propelled us up the table to the point we're now in playoff contention - it'd be a long shot to suggest we're capable of going up again, but the league is so compact that if we can stay unbeaten for another month (or even two) there's every chance!

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Cup draw table is beginning to look pretty one-sided again - seems my calls for assistance in tracking this over in GD fell on deaf ears so I may just have to step up my game! :) 

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Surviving the window - Round 1!

If ever a football fan was curious as to why managers get so upset during the transfer window as they fight off bids for their unsettled stars, a season or two in charge of a minnow club should go a long way to helping you empathise with just what they go through - this is a just a video game yet the impact a bid you don't want an have can be dramatic and how you navigate around it can make a big difference as to whether or not one of your (likely) star players will be with you for the rest of the season (in mind if not body). 

Now Fraser Meaney (21A) is the obvious choice for the vultures to gather around once again; 18 years old, good stats (112 games, 34 goals, 21 assists, 13 PoM awards and 7.21 overall rating) and solid personality etc. No whisper it quietly, but as good as he's been for us, if I was one of the vultures I think i'd actually take my money elsewhere as attribute wise I class him as very decent but  not exactly a true standout (outside of my team) - I don't think he'll ever be a true premier league force for example (and I suspect the vultures would be fatter, greedier & far more persistent if he were); irrespective I certainly don't want to lose him, not yet, not whilst his value is so tragically low (96k at time of writing).

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Now last season we had to fend off a few bids, notably from Sheffield Wednesday, but thankfully (this sounds horrible) he picked up an injury which meant teams stopped pursuing him with 2-3 weeks of the window left - this year, we're only on the 4th day and the drama has started!

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"Now hang on a minute" you may ask, "didn't that useless lump of a chairman announce he was leaving yesterday?"... Well yes, he did, but seems he's got a touch of the Mike Ashley's in more than one department;

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Now as luck would have it, I'd been reading Jimbo's quite fantastic thread (well worth a read/catchup if you haven't already) not long before playing and anyone up to date will know he's also been fending off bids from teams trying to steal his best young talent; I've protested transfers before but haven't - as far as I can remember - ever successfully talked my board out of selling someone. Already partially resigned to the fact Fraser would be leaving though, I spotted the tact Jimbo had used with one of his guys - specifcally explaining how it'd weaken the team (not the line I normally/would normally use) if we lost him and to my utter disbelief/relief they agreed and cancelled the transfer;

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thanks @Jimbokav1971, obviously got to be careful I don't overplay my hand though in this respect as there are 3 weeks still to go, but for now... 

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14 minutes ago, optimusprimal82 said:

I'd been reading Jimbo's quite fantastic thread (well worth a read/catchup if you haven't already)

I did start that, but the missus walked by while I happened to be scrolling past vast amount of lingerie, so now I have to go shopping for something like that for her, lest she starts to suspect I'm having an affair. I doubt "No, no honey! I was just reading about some guys Football Manager career, honest!" will be accepted as an alternative explanation. I wanted to try to avoid this in the future, but hiding away the screen when she walks by isn't much better...

Anyway, I hope you keep Meaney, but I would take a shot at him as a decent Championship team, at least if the scout would rate his potential. A bit of work on his technical skills and he would be gold. If you sell, I hope you at least get crazy money and remember to put in a "50% of next sale" clause. It gave me £15M for one player in my youth game when I were in the Championship (I think).

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Round 2 - Bring on the takeover...

So the window has finally closed but it's left a trail of destruction in it's wake that will likely take a while to recover from. We managed to keep Fraser Meaney (21A) however he's now very unhappy and is complaining to anyone that will listen that he wants to leave the club; we all know how important morale is to performances so it's a safe bet he'll be playing terribly for a while, as will any sympathisers.

More annoyingly, whilst I could protest the sale of Fraser, I wasn't even given the option when it came to holding on to Lewis Brown (22D) - yes, my best defensive prospect has been sold from under me and it's safe to say I'm pretty gutted as he was a rock in our defence and was just coming to what I hoped were the height of his powers. The money will be useful, but this is what annoys me with the board in a contextual sense (and i know some boards are like this in real life); we stood/stand to make so much more if we'd kept him and gained promotion, as it this is the offer they accepted - not the worst I've seen but obviously some questionable clauses too;

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What I'm susprised at is reading that it looks like we should get 145K up front, yet so far we've only received 85k - not sure how that's been calculated exactly, but it means our financial situation is still precarious!

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I won't lie and say I'm not irritated, who wouldn't be? It's tough in this sort of challenge because I rely on the luck of the draw so to speak with regard to replacements and we'll do very well to get someone who can fill the void left, but at the same time, with all the improvements made over the last few years we could even get someone better so it pays off to stay optimistic in this situation - not sure i'd be able to say the same if we'd lost both Brown AND Meaney though! :) 

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3 hours ago, XaW said:

I did start that, but the missus walked by while I happened to be scrolling past vast amount of lingerie, so now I have to go shopping for something like that for her, lest she starts to suspect I'm having an affair. I doubt "No, no honey! I was just reading about some guys Football Manager career, honest!" will be accepted as an alternative explanation. I wanted to try to avoid this in the future, but hiding away the screen when she walks by isn't much better...

Anyway, I hope you keep Meaney, but I would take a shot at him as a decent Championship team, at least if the scout would rate his potential. A bit of work on his technical skills and he would be gold. If you sell, I hope you at least get crazy money and remember to put in a "50% of next sale" clause. It gave me £15M for one player in my youth game when I were in the Championship (I think).

If it makes any difference to you, (and the Mrs), I thought about the "Not safe for work" aspect of some of the lingerie shots and decided that i would "hide" future such posts so that the reader could decide if he wanted it on view or not. 😉

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1 minute ago, Jimbokav1971 said:

If it makes any difference to you, (and the Mrs), I thought about the "Not safe for work" aspect of some of the lingerie shots and decided that i would "hide" future such posts so that the reader could decide if he wanted it on view or not. 😉

No worries, it was a bit tongue in cheek there, and the missus did accept the explanation, albeit with a bit of head shaking and mutterings of " something something crazy". I've started reading it and are enjoying it so far.

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I'm glad my tactic worked. 👍

What I would say though, (my window has closed), is that when the window opens again, the desire for the board to accept the next similar deal will still be there and 2nd time usually doesn't work quite so well, so I try and be proactive by generating money elsewhere so that they think again about the deal. You can't just protest without reason. You can protest a young starlet, but you can't protest 2 successfully. I think that's right too. Try and put yourself in Chairman's shoes and think about the debt or dwindling finances. 

Good luck. Will catch up later/tomorrow.

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9 hours ago, Jimbokav1971 said:

I'm glad my tactic worked. 👍

What I would say though, (my window has closed), is that when the window opens again, the desire for the board to accept the next similar deal will still be there and 2nd time usually doesn't work quite so well, so I try and be proactive by generating money elsewhere so that they think again about the deal. You can't just protest without reason. You can protest a young starlet, but you can't protest 2 successfully. I think that's right too. Try and put yourself in Chairman's shoes and think about the debt or dwindling finances. 

Good luck. Will catch up later/tomorrow.

Yep, very grateful as - like mentioned - I hadn't tried that response before so forewarned was very much forearmed! The window is shut now but it certainly had a sting in the tail as we ended up losing our best defensive prospect instead - funny how the 'FM-Karma' gets you like that as - given a choice - I'd have preferred to sell the guy I protested as I think we're better covered/more likely to get a good replacement as decent AMC/STC's seem to be far more prevalent than good quality DC's but there's little I can do about it now.

Unfortunately the money we got for our young DC has barely made a dent in our financial situation - we're far from terminal as we're still in the black but it's the amount we're losing each month that makes me question the amounts they accept - when we're losing 20-50kp/m is selling one of our best prospects (with a relatively low wage) for 150k really solving the issue or just papering over cracks? That's the problem in this division I guess, the value's are so low and the AI teams will never go to the same stupid 'what a prospect!' levels of over-paying a human player might/would /does, just have to rely on the '50% of next sale' clause and hope the guy plays a game or two! It'd be cool if when in dodgy financial straits if the board sometimes approached the manager and said we need to be 'pro-active' and offload a few guys, and maybe you could highlight a few potential money-spinners and they handle it like a DoF normally would - surely that interaction must take place at some clubs? The impact on the team/manager would be far less if you knew in advance and could prepare? But then is that just another 'manager friendly' feature that'd make the game easier? I don't think any of us manage down in these leagues because we want an easy experience?

With my investigation glasses on, it's only fair I suffer a little, we're only in Feb yet have made an 850k loss so far this season which is ridiculous and unsustainable for a club of our size - the two big culprits being ground maintenance and youth setup, both of which were at my demand/request so only fair the board recoup a bit of that I guess? We're out of the FA cup now too - the earliest we have been for the past few seasons which has seriously affected our incoming gate receipts - strongly suspect they've projected/agreed to spend based on our artificially inflated earnings and that's why we're facing a slightly dicey few months (and why I suspect the owner now has itchy feet!)... We're actually out of all cup competitions now so there's only the league TV revenue and potential solidarity payment to come (not sure if we get that in this division) this year so may well be that we need to sell another player come summer, fingers crossed our intake is of sufficient quality to cover it off as out little dalliance with the playoff positions has come to an abrupt end over the last few weeks - we're only a point behind, but it would take a serious leap of imagination to think we're capable (or indeed worthy) of going up from here with the way we're playing and the amount of players now unhappy.

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You might want to Hold a team meeting or sprinkle in some Team Bonding sessions in your training.

I have found that team bonding sessions help to mitigate unhappiness in my current save (Monopli in Serie A) because I've been in a relegation battle and needed some way to combat morale drops.

(I think of it as the manager buying the boy's a beers at the local pub)

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