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FM20: The English Football League thread

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There are some really unbalanced squads on the new database, how do these clubs end up in a mess like this.

Blackpool have three left-backs and one centre back who can play there. Cheltenham have no wide players and  something like 13,600 strikers. Doncaster have only three central defenders, and Plymouth only have 3.5 for the same position. Quite a few clubs have more than five loan players too.

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38 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

how do these clubs end up in a mess like this

I've said it before but the complaints on the forums about poor AI squad building and management are laughable when you look at what clubs do in the real world :idiot:

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@goonergez Strong first half, no room for complacency, finish the job :thup:

@Nodge Amazing season, and some amazing results! That tactic doesn't often struggle for goals.

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11 hours ago, goonergez said:

@CityAndColour your efforts with Tonbridge always impress me! To have even put the team anywhere near the top of the league is impressive. You always seem to do well with that side, but hopefully this will be your year this time! How’s Burgess doing?

He's been pretty special tbh. 16 assists in 22 matches and an average rating of just under 7.8 so far, plus got his first international cap for Bermuda. It's a joy to watch him dictate games in the 3D... he is the perfect DLP in that he is always available for the pass, always recycles possessiom effectively and finds the killer ball when it's available.

Impressive efforts with Maidstone too. I suspect you will be in the Football League before I make it out of the Conference South, although I do play a lot slower than you.

Ayunga is someone I've wanted to manage too, especially as the AI never seems to get the best out of him.

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Brentford: Season 1, November

Brentford are something of a forum favourite at the moment, so here's my take...

Squad isn't bad, and there a lot of young prospects but few of them are ready for prime time, leaving a number of holes: no quality backups at LB or RB, short of strong rotation option at CB, only one natural striker but more AMs than you can shake a stick at. After playing through most of pre-season, I decided that Roerslev and Racic could do a job as backups for RB and CB, respectively, and that we could probably manage the striker issue between the available players. But Dominic Thompson wasn't going to cut it at LB, so my only signing was to plug that gap: Jonathan Augustinsson, younger brother of the better-known Ludwig:

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We got off to a good start to the season, although a series of early draws allowed Fulham, Leeds and Bristol City to open up a gap ahead of us in the table. Gradually we've managed to cut that back, although Fulham - as they often seem to this year - just keep on winning. Only the away draw at struggling Barnsley rankles - we just didn't turn up and were lucky to salvage a point with an 87th minute equaliser. We also enjoyed a decent run in the Carabao Cup, beating the board requirement by reaching the 4th round where we came up against a superior Leicester side, but at least that tie netted us a decent payday.

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Going into the arduous winter period we remain undefeated in the league, but that is only good enough to secure us 3nd place behind Fulham and Birstol City, those early draws costing us important points.

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Brian Mbeuno leads the scoring chart with 6 in 6(5) appearances, followed by CBs Pontus Jansson and Julian Jeanvier, which underscores the prevalence of set-piece goals in this ME. Providing the most assists have been Joel Valencia playing as W-a at AMR, and Mathias Jensen as Mez-A at CML. Biggest disappointment has been Ollie Watkins who has failed to impress as either an AM or striker, providing just 2 assists in 9 starts for an average rating of 6.6.

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1575484496_Maidstonebadge.gif.bee9275409e7060bc8a08e2923ebea22.gif

Maidstone United: 2022/23 Season Review

I left you with my squad sat comfortably on route to clinch a play-off spot, and at least have the opportunity to compete for a spot at promotion back to the Football League. That is my sole goal with this club, and bring this club back up for the first time in over thirty years. The fanbase has been through a lot over the years, and I am absolutely determined to put some smiles back on their faces. If we could go on to achieve promotion this season then it really would've been a dream come true.

Before a ball had even been kicked in the new year though, we brought a new player onto our books. I had grown frustrated with the consistently average performances of youngster Ken Hammond, and decided it was enough for him to prove his worth. His contract is up at the end of this season, and he will be leaving the football club. In came 23-year old Tom Scully on a free transfer, after he impressed me during a trial with the club. He was released by Norwich City in the summer, and went on to be a regular and fairly consistent performer for us.

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On the pitch we started the new year off really well, picking up four wins and suffering just one defeat, to high flying Dulwich Hamlet. That was as good as this calendar year has been for us though. Any slim thoughts of winning the league title soon disappeared, and we went on to win just five more matches until the end of the season. Two of those victories ended up being our final two matches as well, which we simply had to win to stand any chance of qualifying for the play-offs. All our hard work very nearly became worthless, and it was very disappointing to watch it unfold. Our talisman Jonah Ayunga picking up a long-term injury certainly didn't help, and that was proven as his return coincided with our last two matches. One of those victories seeing him score a superb hat-trick.

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Having scrambled into the play-off places, we would travel to play Kettering Town in the First Round of them. A team we had beaten 3-1 on the final day of the league season, although that was at the Gallagher Stadium. Things started perfectly for us, as Jonah Ayunga pounced to give us the lead with just two minutes on the clock. The early goal sprung our opposition into life though, and a pattern of them attacking versus us defending soon took shape. We clung on for the majority of the first half, before allowing an equaliser just before the half time whistle blew.

The second half produced few chances, although we were on the back foot throughout. In the 82nd minute we produced a moment of brilliance though, as a Joe Foley-Tyler cross was superbly put in by right winger Jay Fitzmartin at the far post. We didn't deserve the lead, but desperately tried to cling on to it. Unfortunately we couldn't manage it though, and an 89th minute goal ensured the match went into extra-time. The extra period passed with minimal activity though, and the tie would be decided by the lottery of a penalty shoot out. It looked as though Hubert Graczyk was playing our hero role, but Mark Byrne missed our last kick, meaning sudden death. After our opposition scored there kick, it was Theo Vassell who summed up his season by drilling his kick wide of the post. A disappointing end to the campaign as we lost out 4-5 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

The FA Trophy returned in January, where we produced possibly our performance of the season at home to Barnet. Two goals from Brandon Goodship helped us into a three goal lead inside the opening twelve minutes of the game. We took our foot off of the gas, but won 3-1 to reach the Third Round of the competition. That's where our journey ended though, at home to Nuneaton Borough. We dominated the game but couldn't score, and lost 0-1 to an 85th minute strike.

Unsurprisingly Jonah Ayunga finished with our highest goal tally, ending up with 17. A pretty good return from him considering he missed over three months of the campaign with injury. On the wings summer arrivals Jay Fitzmartin and Joe Foley-Tyler both impressed, grabbing 9 an 6 goals respectively. For me our best performer was probably central midfielder Harrison Biggins though. He was a rock all season, and will go on to be a key component in our side. Defensively we continued to be impressive, and Harry Clarke had a superb debut campaign for us. In goal Hubert Graczyk kept 16 clean sheets, and conceded just 46 goals in his 44 appearances. Hopefully we don't start to pick up any interest in his services.

Our issues lie with the quality in our squad depth. I'm confident that our strongest side is capable of competing with anybody, but injuries and suspensions hurt us. Summer signing Theo Vassell was the prime example, consistently performing badly wherever he played. He summed it up by being the man to miss his penalty and ensure our season ending earlier than we had hoped. I signed a number of players last summer to help with our depth, but in all honesty none of them impressed. I'll be looking to improve that this time around.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Maidstone United Honours

Conference South: Play-off winners 2019/20

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48 minutes ago, goonergez said:

Having scrambled into the play-off places

I had a very bad feeling when I read that. Not a bad season but a heartbreaker at the finish. Hopefully you can find some better players for depth and push on next time.

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Quick mini update whilst I’m at work. First “season” with Preston was an a bit of a nightmare. After managing teams like Juve Lyon and Dortmund it’s safe to say I didn’t adapt very well to the mid table championship battle, and mid table would’ve been great! We only managed to confirm safety on the final day of the season, after a torrid run of form in the second part of the season. Couldn’t decide on a tactical shape or XI which didn’t help things out. A little surge at the end of the season kept us up (and kept me my job). 
The summer rebuild has been going great, and will do a full report on the eve of the first league game. The board want us to avoid a relegation battle, but with the squad I have built I’m aiming for a top half finish. 

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55 minutes ago, Catley94 said:

After managing teams like Juve Lyon and Dortmund it’s safe to say I didn’t adapt very well to the mid table championship battle

Can be a shock to the system :lol:. But survival is never to be sniffed at. I'm sure you'll be able to push on next time.

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409246513_Maidstonebadge.gif.67f03f12f43e31875f762b30a4704d51.gif

Maidstone United: 2023/24 Preview

Last season ended up being a truly gutting experience, as my side lost out in the play-offs to condemn us to another season within the Conference National. Having had some time to reflect though, i'm delighted that we managed to get as far as we did last time around. We've got such a low wage budget compared to a large number of the sides in this division, and to be able to compete with them is truly a testament to how well we've performed on a consistent basis.

Promotion is starting to become more of a necessity now though, as this will be our fourth season in this division. The financial situation at the club is starting to deteriorate too, even with our small wage budget. For the first time since I've been at the helm the finances are now in the red, and we're losing about £500,000 per season. That's despite the big money sale of Nathaneal Ogbeta last summer for £300,000 to Rotherham United. It means that I am in a situation where I feel that we have to be willing to let players leave the club if we receive significant offers for them. We've also had a more ambitious turn from the board, after achieving much more than they had hoped last season. They now expect us to make the play-offs, although there are no expectations for the club to get promoted

The summer started with an emotional goodbye, as 37-year old Jake Cole decided enough was enough and retired from playing. We also waved goodbye to veteran midfielder Mark Byrne, who left to join Bohemians at the end of his deal here. Winger Justin Amaluzor joined Morecambe, and Brandon Goodship was allowed to join Dover Athletic, both on free transfers. Contract expiration day also saw a number of faces leave. Midfielder Ken Hammond did indeed depart, as did a couple of squad regulars. Kieren Phillips and former key man Dan Wishart were both allowed to leave the club.

I also looked to clear out some of the disappointing performers from last season, and we managed to bring in some funds in the process. Left back Ali Koiki joined us last summer, but never impressed. He was playing regularly due to a lack of options, but was packed away this summer. Last season's play-off winners Dulwich Hamlet paid us £22,000, which I was delighted to bring in for a player who hadn't won me over. Full back slash winger Theo Archibald was another far from one season wonder. We managed to rake in £15,000 from Raith Rovers for his services. His sale upset a number of players, but I wasn't remotely worried about our abilities to cope without him. Perhaps harshly I had kind of victimised Theo Vassell last season, but simply put he disappointed me hugely. His versatility should've helped us with defensive cover, yet whenever and wherever he played he was a constant disappointment. I decided to cut my losses, and we sold him to York City in a £15,000 deal.

As I said previously, this summer was mainly about adding some quality to the depth of our squad. After Jake Cole retired we needed a new backup goalkeeper though, and in came 20-year old Liam Isherwood on a free transfer from Guiseley. 

Our defence proved pretty strong las year, but I was left unimpressed by the performances of a few of our players. For that reason I moved to bring in 17-year old centre back Aaron Moore after his release by Tottenham Hotspurs. He will mainly be used as cover but looks very promising for the future. We also brought Rio Adebisi back to the club, although this time on a permanent deal. He had three solid seasons on loan with us, and joined after he opted to leave Crewe Alexandra. Now 22-years of age I am confident he will perform better than Koiki and Vassell managed at left back last season. The departures of Mark Byrne and Ken Hammond also left a hole within our midfield, and we made a move to replace them. 21-year old Harry Pinchard joined the club on a free transfer from welsh side Connah's Quay. He lacks the quality of our other option but will offer us some depth, and was available with very cheap wages.

18-year old Martin Alderton joined us from Tottenham, and is a very promising and exciting young striker. He will be backup to Jonah Ayunga, as I was disappointed with both Luca Navarro and the departed Brandon Goodship last season. Those two can play wide though, so I felt we needed options for the flanks too. 22-year old Dan Cashman was picked up from Brighton & Hove Albion for cover, but our most exciting arrival came from Birmingham. After a successful loan with league winners Wrexham last season, we moved quickly to sign Emmanuel Longelo as his contract expired. He was received brilliantly by the fans and his arrival prompted the media to dramatically improve our predicted finish.

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I'm happy with the balance of the squad, and the business we have conducted. We've raked in some funds, but in my eyes we've strengthened our squad. We had some players on big deals here, and they didn't perform particularly well for us throughout. The likes of Vassell and Archibald looked promising upon arrival but never truly delivered. I feel like we've really strengthened, yet we've managed to trim our wage bull in the process.

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The added expectation makes me feel a bit of pressure this time around. People are expecting us to do well, and play-offs this season certainly couldn't be considered an over achievement. I'm confident that we can do it, and hopefully we can avoid the three month struggle we faced towards the end of last season. I'm hoping that the disappointment of losing out in the play-offs last time around will spur the players on, to ensure we don't end this season in disappointment. Here's to hoping.

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Maidstone United Honours

Conference South: Play-off winners 2019/20

 

Edited by goonergez

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Great updates as usual @goonergez and hopefully this year you will take that last step. You're building steadily and I'm confident you will go close or make it this time. Best of luck.

@warlock A really impressive start at Brentford, although somewhat surprised to see you 3rd despite being unbeaten. Averaging over two points per game should see you right in the shake up.

Edited by Jogo Bonito

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2 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

somewhat surprised to see you 3rd despite being unbeaten

Yeah... Fulham seem to be a monster after recent updates (seemed to be Leeds in saves before Christmas). I'll have an update tomorrow, I think, as I'm just coming to the end of the January window. But we've now played 28 league games, and we're still unbeaten, and we're still behind Fulham :onmehead:They've only lost one game this season - to Brentford :D - but we still can't catch them, although I've managed to trim their lead to just one point. Leeds are in 3rd just a point behind us. It's all rather exciting. And tense.

What are you up to? Mostly in Warsaw or still dipping a toe by the Thames?

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This will likely be my last post on this thread because my save has moved away from the lower leagues now that Cambridge have been promoted to the premier league. Gone are the days of free agents, loan signings and poor attendances and it's hello to worldwide scouting, big money and wonderkids. I've been incredibly surprised by Cambridge's transformation, spending just one season in L2, 2 in L1 and 2 in the Championship. I've certainly found it easier smoother and faster due to playing the Touch version of the game but it has wetted my appetite for the full version - just need to buy a computer now!

Season 6 - 2024-25 - Cambridge United Premier League

I knew my squad needed strengthening in almost every area aside from CB, RW and in midfield, but even then reinforcements were needed. Luckily, the board armed us with a 400k wage budget and a £29m war chest in addition to upgraded facilities and a new stadium on its way as our previous one only had 8000 capacity. Whilst our 16000 seater theatre of dreams was being built we moved into Vicarage Road for the season. 

Out went Robbie Gotts, Brandon Comley and Nathan Holland for a combined 13m and in came numerous faces, including some regens (most for the future or playing bit parts). Ethan Laird and Brandon Williams came for cheap at the end of their contracts, whilst Schubert, Van den Berg and Fin Robertson came in each for around a million. I was determined to pay max £25k in wages per week but broke that in January when i splashed out on 3 regens for a combined £40m (the board gave me an extra 20m when asked!). James McMahon was somehow back at the U's for the 3rd season in a row on loan and that has to be our biggest signing as he scored 38 last season in the champ. I have no idea how he came back on loan or why Arsenal let him go but i'll take it!

What i thought would be a very difficult season ( i lost 7-0 to Liverpool last season in the 3rd round) was in fact far easier than expected with the U's absolutely flying. I changed the tactic from a positive possession based one to a counter attacking tactic that was defensively solid. Surprise wins against Man City were incredible and i'm now hoping for a mid table finish with an outside shot at the Europa League - far beyond my wildest imagination. I'm sure the second half of the season will be more difficult now i am no longer a surprise quantity. My ambition is to one day win the league with Cambridge although i'm sure it will take a long time to crack the big teams who have such a wealth of players and money. There's a few screenshots down the bottom to take a look at if interested. Good luck to all!

 

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Edited by Nodge
Pics

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1 hour ago, warlock said:

Yeah... Fulham seem to be a monster after recent updates (seemed to be Leeds in saves before Christmas). I'll have an update tomorrow, I think, as I'm just coming to the end of the January window. But we've now played 28 league games, and we're still unbeaten, and we're still behind Fulham :onmehead:They've only lost one game this season - to Brentford :D - but we still can't catch them, although I've managed to trim their lead to just one point. Leeds are in 3rd just a point behind us. It's all rather exciting. And tense.

What are you up to? Mostly in Warsaw or still dipping a toe by the Thames?

Unbeaten after 28 games, wow. And still behind Fulham :eek: Next you'll be telling me that QPR are just a point behind as West London conquers all...:lol:

I managed to assemble a really strong Legia side and I've been doing terribly. It's fun though, I made a squad of Polish & Spanish-speaking South Americans (plus two French guys that were there already). I'm about 6th in the league and was knocked out of Europe, I'm ashamed of my performance but it's nice not to have easy challenges.

I've not really progressed Brentford much but hopefully will do. And I also fancy a few sides on the new database. So far I've been close to taking on (amongst others) Reading, Blackpool, Shrewsbury, Doncaster, Sunderland (hate saying that), Plymouth, Swindon, Cheltenham, Crawley and even York - but always find a reason not to do anything about it. Might have to end up on create a club mode again in order to make the tweaks I want and end the dithering, unless I go with Reading.

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1 hour ago, Jogo Bonito said:

you'll be telling me that QPR are just a point behind

Sadly not - they're down in 9th but still in with a shout of the playoffs.

1 hour ago, Jogo Bonito said:

I made a squad of Polish & Spanish-speaking South Americans (plus two French guys that were there already)

Must be doing your team cohesion a world of good :lol:. Glad you're enjoying it, though.

1 hour ago, Jogo Bonito said:

unless I go with Reading

Seems like you've been talking about that for ages, but plenty of time remains - 9 months 'til FM21 :)

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Brentford: Season 1, january

Having reached the end of October without losing in the league - although dropping a few too many points in draws - could we keep that form going into the new year?

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Well, yes. The team still has the capacity to annoy me - the draws against Huddersfield and Wednesday were games we really should have won - but the only real blot on our record was that defeat to L1 Ipswich in the FA Cup. Otherwise, our remarkable season continues. Despite which I felt we needed a tactical changeup. While we might have been undefeated, we were living on our defence and in the early part of the season there were too many 1-0 wins for comfort. So I switched to a base 442 system, often pushing one or both wide midfielders up to the AM line for a 424 or something in between. The change paid immediate dividends with a 5-0 demolition of Reading, and it has continued to generate a better scoring rate ever since.

(I was originally disdainful of the 424 because it seemed a bit exploity, but the AI Bielsa at Leeds uses it a lot - with an attacking mentality, to boot - and eventually I realised it isn't much different to a 4231 so I put aside my reservations.)

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And yet, despite our unbeaten record, and having beaten them 2-0 in December, we still haven't been able to dislodge Fulham from top spot. Annoyingly, we haven't been able to shake off the challenge of Leeds either.

The main beneficiary of the twin-striker system has been Ollie Watkins. Having failed to score through the beginning of November, he suddenly came alive and now has 10 goals in his last 12 games. One of the pleasing aspects of the season has been that we're scoring from everywhere - of all outfield players who have featured this season, only the FBs and defensive midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo have failed to find the net. Special mention also for our defensive unit. CBs Jansson, Jeanvier and Pinnock, playing in constant rotation, have been solid at the back while contributing 12 goals between them. And GK David Raya has 19 clean sheets in 29 games.

Finally, the January window saw two new faces join the club. First in was Monaco's Pietro Pellegri on a six-month loan. Despite the improved production from the strike unit, youngster Marcus Forss and experienced striker Nikos Karelis had struggled and I wanted a better option if one was available. Pellegri was listed for loan and the deal was done. Second was a move I didn't really want to make at this point but my hand was forced. I had been tracking young Scandinavian LB Fredrik Andre Bjorkan with a view to a summer signing as a long-term replacement for Rico Henry, but in the meantime we had loan signing Augustinsson as backup. But he had suffered a lower-back fracture in November, missed two months, and was struggling for form after he returned. And as the transfer window drew to a close there was a sudden flurry of offers for Bjorkan from the likes of Southampton, Rangers and Porto. While those bigger clubs were making penny-pinching bids, I steamed in with an initial £1m offer and Bjorkan was on his way to Griffin Park while Augustinsson heads back to Fiorentina (saving us a few thousand a week in wages into the bargain).

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1 hour ago, CityAndColour said:

We just amassed 97 points and finished third

Well, that would tick you off :lol:

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Tonbridge Angels - 2021/22

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Another season, another haul of 90+ points...

Transfers:

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The board gave me a decent budget and I was able to spend it on probably our two most consistent performers in Fox and Burgess. The only other real signing of note was Wabo, who was initially signed to back-up Williams but ended up with 23 goals (to his compatriot's two). Mostly however I stuck with the same crew who had gotten us to the playoff final last season.

Season Review:

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We burst out of the blocks once again and sustained it, finding our way to the top of the table and effectively staying there. Led by the briliance of Burgess in midfield, we hit the holiday period with a lead of eight points. Even with a little blip and with Dulwich starting their insane run, we still managed to stick around, and on matchday 39 we took advantage of a rare Dulwich draw to go top by a point, with a 27-9-3 record. We also got ourselves to the second round proper of the FA Cup, where Wimbledon proved too strong.

Then of course, we collapsed, losing four out of five to fall right off the pace, culminating in a 1-4 loss to Wealdstone where they could have scored ten. Infuriating really, but perhaps the perils of a young XI. We got out of the funk with back to back home wins against lowly Hendon and Kingstonian, however neither was convincing, and finished the season proper in 3rd. 97 points would win the title most years but we were 13 (!) off the title.

This brought about a week off before a home semi against Concord, who had beaten us twice already. We absolutely destroyed them in the first half (67% possession, 11 shots to two, four clear cut chances) to go in 2-0, and despite conceding a late goal, held on.

The final brought about a trip to Maidenhead, who had matched our 97 points but pipped us on goal difference. We were the better team throughout however in the 89th minute, their centre half played a long ball forward and my centre half for some reason launched himself forward and under the ball, allowing it to float over the back to be put away. Buggy and frustrating.

(In reality, when I actually assess the squad, we had no right to be as high as we were. Half of my team is still rated by my coaches as being regional players, and we played a raw 18-year-old in the heart of defence all season too. I'm too addicted to newgens and developing youth to change my ways though!)

Performances:

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It was Rico's season. From his first game he was a complete cut above, running matches by himself from midfield. He led the league in average rating and assists, while he had 141 key passes, some 41 better than the next player. He also picked up three senior caps for Barbados. Inevitably it led to this...

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Right now Barnsley, Luton, QPR and Rotherham are all sniffing around, so it will be a fight to keep him this summer.

As for the rest, Roberts scored 12 but had a wretched second half of the season. Fox was very solid at the back before his mistake gifted Maidenhead the playoff final and Hyde was a serviceable, if somewhat streaky, midfield partner to the star man. We were however by all accounts a one man team.

Next season:

Who knows? We will fight to keep hold of Burgess, and with 271 points accumulated over three seasons and no promotion to show for it, nothing seems guaranteed. Especially with us still being a low reputational club and running the third lowest wage bill.

I await the next 100-point AI team with earnest.

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@CityAndColour That cranks the frustration all the way up to 11! I admire your fortitude in finding the heart to go again :thup:

I still can't make my mind up about playoffs. I can see the advantage of a big finale to the season, but it seems to me a denial of natural justice that a team who finished second are often denied their promotion by the results of two extra games.

Good luck next time!

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@CityAndColour that’s absolutely savage from the game! I could only dream of a 97 point season, with any club let alone Tonbridge! Hopefully you’ll keep hold of Burgess and he can fire you to promotion! It would be hugely deserved.

 

My Maidstone season hasn’t gone well. We’re far too inconsistent and we are off the pace of what I was hoping for. I’m stuck in mid table at the midway point, and even the play off spots seem a long way off. Hopefully we can string some form together but I haven’t really got much confidence in that happening!

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@CityAndColour Great update and very unlucky to do so well and still not make it. Hopefully you will get a lucky break in the next season.

@warlock Still going very well and way better than I was doing with Brentford.

@goonergez Good job that you are the king of perseverance, and it wouldn't surprise me if you get a PO spot again. Not that it means promotion is a formality even if you do...

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Maidstone United: The End of the Road

Well with all the success going on in here, I thought I would come in and play down the positive mood within this thread. A season which promised so much, has ended bfore it has even ended. I couldn't get the side going, and we just couldn't string any consistency together. We won as many as welost, but couldn't put form together. As February hit I was given a points target by the board, but fell short with a game still to run and they unsurprisingly relieved me of my duties. 

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I can't say I am surprised, as form simply wasn't good enough to match up with the season targets laid out. I felt we were much better than we were playing, and I sort of kept going, waiting for us to find consistency. Jonah Ayunga stopped scoring for us, and defensively we started to let in more goals too. Hubert Graczyk let his performance levels dip in goal, and some of the errors he made were truly embarrassing. I'm gutted that its over, and now look on for my next challenge. I'm thinking Tonbridge, but don't particularly want to intrude on @CityAndColour. Especially as I will never match his levels of success either, which will just shame me.

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We weren't a million miles away from where we wanted to be, but far enough for it to be irreparable. I'm gutted, and yet again finish with myself feeling like unfinished business. Onwards and upwards though eh?

Edited by goonergez

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5 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Good job that you are the king of perseverance, and it wouldn't surprise me if you get a PO spot again. Not that it means promotion is a formality even if you do...

Well @goonergez I am so pleased my confident words helped you. Very unlucky with the sacking. You're like the modern-day Alan Curbishley when at Charlton. I feel the Maidstone fans and board will regret the decision to dismiss you. Good luck on your next adventure. But please don't take York ;)

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I’m thinking my business down here isn’t done yet, and my hometown club of Tonbridge is a challenge I definitely want to take on. I don’t want to tread on any bodies toes though, so may just avoid posting about it for now. I have appreciated everyone’s support though, I just can’t quite deliver. I feel like I’m due success at some point.

ive holidayed the rest of the season just to see how Maidstone would get on in my absence. I’ll update when the season draws to a close.

Edited by goonergez

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Maybe Tonbridge competition will inspire you both to get them promoted. It might take 100+ seasons each, but... :lol:

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43 minutes ago, goonergez said:

Onwards and upwards though eh?

Quite so. Commiserations for your current plight, but there's plenty of new challenges :)

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I had a bad feeling when this popped up in my inbox:

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Our next game was against mid-table Blackburn Rovers, at home.

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We were attacking from a free kick, Blackburn hoofed it to Adam Armstrong lurking on the halfway line, and off he went like a rat up a drainpipe, before slotting it past Raya. We threw everything at them, played most of the second half on attacking, set a wider and deeper attack to open them up without success, switched to very attacking for the last 10 minutes. We were repelled. I was appalled. 1-0 to Rovers :(

In a strange way, I'm glad. The pressure of maintaining that run was starting to get to me. As someone said just recently... onwards and upwards!

Edited by warlock

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You should absolutely take on Tonbridge @goonergez... I'd love to compare notes and see how you get on. It's a challenging but very fun save

However, they are on a little run in real life which should see them clear of relegation so may be an option for you next year too.

Honestly though, go for it 👍

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@warlockYou've been FM'd my friend. 33 games unbeaten is quite an amazing achievement, even the record-breaking Reading side only made 33 in the Championship.

Edited by Jogo Bonito

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Season 3. Massive changes in the squad, I had originally renewed Alena's loan for another season, but there was a weird issue/bug/thing in that he joined on loan without a permit (I was confused). I sent him back, and upon rejoining Barcelona he was transfer listed for £3.5 million what I thought was a bargin. Otherwise I strengthened/suplemented most positions in the squad. Salcedo is Forestieri's natural successor, Smith-Rowe and Trincao (who was still at Braga) added depth to the wings after selling Reach and Harris, and Henrichs was my marquee signing, he was the best RB I could find (rated 90 by scouts) who would join.

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But can I buy a win? Nope! My computer died on the fulham match after losing 1 nil, after I plug in I play the same game and lose... 1 nil. I've had the 4th worse possession in the league and scored the 2nd least so far. My next 'easy' game is in November, so if I'm sacked, SWFC it's been a pleasure.

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50 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

You've been FM'd my friend

Yup. And not for the first time (or the last, I imagine) :lol:

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12 hours ago, jonathan44 said:

Season 3. Massive changes in the squad, I had originally renewed Alena's loan for another season, but there was a weird issue/bug/thing in that he joined on loan without a permit (I was confused). I sent him back, and upon rejoining Barcelona he was transfer listed for £3.5 million what I thought was a bargin. Otherwise I strengthened/suplemented most positions in the squad. Salcedo is Forestieri's natural successor, Smith-Rowe and Trincao (who was still at Braga) added depth to the wings after selling Reach and Harris, and Henrichs was my marquee signing, he was the best RB I could find (rated 90 by scouts) who would join.

image.thumb.png.6c58bc54173d0afacb51b38b12875d44.png

But can I buy a win? Nope! My computer died on the fulham match after losing 1 nil, after I plug in I play the same game and lose... 1 nil. I've had the 4th worse possession in the league and scored the 2nd least so far. My next 'easy' game is in November, so if I'm sacked, SWFC it's been a pleasure.

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Jee, you`ve spent quite a bit, GL

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Hopefully the guy to fire us to promotion...

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A ridiculous signing for this level, after being released by Chelsea's youth team. He has the lot - height, great physicals, high work rate and teamwork, dead ball ability, a great personality, great PKMs for a lone striker and versatility. Not to mention I use a pressing forward, an inside forward on the right wing and an AMC, all of which he can play.

Had to offer a ton of clauses and bonuses to get the cotract over the line, and it's only a 12-month deal (although will be extended if we are promoted). Should be fun to watch though.

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9 hours ago, nextqprmanager said:

Jee, you`ve spent quite a bit, GL

I kinda thought the same at one stage (while buying Mensah) but I'm not sure I have, QPR and Burnley have a siimilar net spend to me this season (£25 and £30 million), but spent fairly big in the previous season in the championship . My spend over 3 years (two championship, one premier league) is 8 million a year. I still have 9 million in the kitty, but have no idea what to do with it. One thing I'm sure of is that I think Sergio Gomez will be leaving in January, Man City's enquiry was rejected and I managed to convince Gomez that he's worth his release clause of £48 million.

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Tonbridge Angels: Initial Takeover

So after the disappointing end to my Maidstone United save I have decided to stick it out, and again begin in the Conference South. This time it is my hometown club of Tonbridge though, as I look to do something special with my most local team. This is a team I have wanted to do since the game came out, but now seems the perfect time as I definitely have unfinished business at this level. I've been put off so far due to the media prediction of rock bottom, and the fact that in real life the finances are very much run down. Anything that will be achieved here will take plenty of effort and graft.

Upon taking over at the club, the magnitude of the task ahead suddenly hits head on. It is an absolute testament to @CityAndColour that he has got so close to getting this team promoted, as it really is not a very strong group of players. I was presented with a weekly wage budget of £3,000, and ambitions from the board of avoiding the drop straight back down. One of the clubs visions for me was to make sure we worked within our weekly wage budget, which is something that I am very much keen to do. I will need to look after the clubs finances if this is to go on to be a long term project for me.

I began my reign by replacing the entire back room here, and bringing in my own brand new team of staff. Former Nottingham Forest man Lewis McGugan has arrived as my new assistant, and Darren Bent is one of two new coaches on our books. We also attempted to gain a senior affiliated club, but the board here were unable to find a club that was a fit and so it never came to fruition. A shame as the limited money for wages means that some free loans would have been helpful to improve our squad. Tactically I decided to set up very similarly to how I have done with both Coventry City and Maidstone United. An emphasis on counter attacking quickly from a solid defensive base. I want us to be as solid as possible at the back, whilst still providing enough creativity to create goal scoring opportunities.

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Having assessed the squad it was very clear that a large number of changes needed to be made. Unfortunately the limited funds would mean that I would place an emphasis on bringing in younger players, as wage demands would be lower. It'll be my job to try and develop young players quickly in order to have them playing well as quickly as possible for us. We looked weak in a number of positions, but goalkeeper would be my priority. I also wanted to bring in a more creative midfield player as well as a couple of new defenders. We looked weakest in defence, minus the long time servant Sonny Miles who I decided to make new club captain. Christ Junior-Tiehi on loan from Woking looks like our strongest player, and will slot perfectly into the defensive midfield position. The aforementioned Sonny Miles looks good for this level, and is also versatile enough to play anywhere across the back line. Up front Jason Williams looks good, which meant I could bring in a young prospect as understudy and ship Tim Derry off to free up some wage room. I also allowed goalkeeper Jonathan Henley and left back Jack Parter leave for exactly the same reason.

Those departures left enough room in our budget to bring in some replacements, and in total I moved to bring nine new players into the club. Of those, the stand out new man is probably 19-year old winger Jesus Cruz. He looks very bright indeed, and joins after his release from Premier League side Watford. Another 19-year old in Alex Crean is also exciting, the goalkeeper coming in to be number one. He was once on the books at Arsenal, and looks ten times better than the departed Henley. Perhaps our most recognisable new face is perennial Conference South player Pierre Joseph-Dubois though. He's had spells in this league with the likes of Weymouth, Bromley Town and Welling United and should be a positive signing for us. he 30-year old can play on either flank, and should be a decent goal scoring threat too.

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We ended the summer period fractionally over our weekly wage budget, although I am not at all worried by that. There were a couple more players I wanted to depart, but due to recent arrivals (before I took charge) were unwilling to move. I'm confident that as the season wears on we will find it easier to get rid of them.

The fans and board at the Longmead Stadium are both fearful, believing us to be fighting in a relegation scrap. I'm confident that we can do a bit more than that though, and will be looking for us to avoid being anywhere near a relegation battle. We've got a much stronger squad now I have managed to put my stamp on it, and I would be pleased with a mid-table finish. I'm under no illusions as to how long term this project could be, and aware its going to take a few seasons to look at getting this side out of this league in a positive way. Hopefully when I return it will be to report of a very solid start to my reign with this club.

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@goonergez looking forward to following your progress... I spent the first season quite a way over the wage budget, but the board doubled it from season two onwards.

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Brentford, season 1, complete

As shown in my last mini-update, we finally lost our unbeaten record - the question was, did it mark a dramatic downturn in our season or was it just a speed bump en route to glory?

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Early signs suggested speed bump. We recovered with two wins, including an impressive 5-0 dismantling of Cardiff away. But wait...

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March arrived and things took a turn for the ugly with just one win in four games. We had excuses in the shape of injuries to star midfielders Mathias Jensen and Shandon Baptiste, our forwards forgot how to put the ball in the net, and Said Benrhama simply forgot how to play football. It wasn't all doom - the narrow defeat to Fulham was understandable, and a narrow win against West Brom suggested that we might have steadied the ship. Then came the low-point, an abysmal home loss to Wigan. I called a team meeting with the intention of telling the players what a shower of embarrassment they were, but unfortunately FM doesn't give you that option. I had to settle for telling them we had the quality to turn things around. And lo, they did turn things around, although a tactical switch back to the 433 may have helped. A good win away at Derby put us back on the path of righteousness.

But while we were navigating this minor crisis, what of events down the road at Fulham? Well, they were in full-blown meltdown:

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That string of results saw them surrender top spot to us around late February, and we never slipped back. And with Leeds doing little better, we clinched automatic promotion with two games to go. FM refused to award us the title until the last game of the season, a nit-picking decision since we had a 3pt lead over Fulham, and unless we lost and they won by a margin of 18 goals they had no chance. In the event we played out a scruffy 0-0 draw with Barnsley as Fulham lost and the title was ours.

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Olly Watkins was the star of the forward line, whether at AML or CF, providing 14 goals and 8 assists in all competitions. Not a huge total, but as I said earlier, we were getting goals from almost every position and we had 9 players who scored 5 or more. We were the highest-scoring team in the league. Valencia at AMR provided the bulk of the assists, ably support by Jensen with 10. GK David Raya set a new club record with 28 clean sheets.

Looking ahead to next season I have a number of decisions to make - AMs Benrhama and Sergi Canos did not greatly impress, while new signing Tarique Fosu struggled all year and the PL seems beyond him. Easier decisions include moving on backup keeper Luke Daniels, DM Kamohelo Mokotjo (who joins FC Dallas in July) and RB Henrik Dalsgaard, who started well but has declined rapidly. We also have a number of youngsters who were pushing for first-team places this year but don't look ready for regular starts in the premiership, including striker Marcus Forss, CM Dru Yearwood, and CB Luca Racic. Time to overwork my scouting team.

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Tonbridge Angels: 2019/20 Review

After an exciting but busy pre-season, all eyes at the Longmead Stadium were on our new and relatively unknown squad of players. We'd brought in a fair few younger prospects over the summer, and I definitely felt that i'd managed to do a good job of improving the playing squad without breaking the club financially. We weren't expected to cause to many shockwaves near the top of the league table, but we were no longer considered to be one of the favourites for relegation down from this league. It was a bit of a free pass of a season for me really, as job security wouldn't be an issue as long as we were not dragged down towards the foot of the table. I was confident that wouldn't be happening and was hoping to push for a solid mid-table finish.

In the early days of the season my confidence in the side proved very well placed. Pierre Joseph-Dubois was the hero for us on the opening day, bagging a brace as we breezed to a comfortable 4-2 victory at home to Eastbourne Borough. Three days later we won again, besting Hemel Hempstead 2-0 away from home. A brilliant 3-3 draw with much fancied Havant & Waterlooville followed, before a sublime 2-0 away victory over title favourites Dulwich Hamlet. We suffered our first league defeat of the season in the fifth match, producing a woeful display in a 0-4 demolition at home to Bath City. A disappointing 1-2 defeat away at Chippenham Town followed, and as August drew to a close we sat just inside the play-off positions in the league table.

We kept ourselves in or around the play-off places throughout September and October, as inconsistency started to take over our campaign. We were conceding too many goals, although thankfully we were scoring plenty too. 16-year old summer arrival Jobe Wakeling had really hit the ground running up top, and winger Jesus Cruz was also impressing. Although we were inconsistent, I was pleased that we were competitive in all matches, even when tasting defeat. November was a difficult month for us, as four matches passed without us tasting victory once. December saw us bounce back though, as we won our first two matches, and suffered just a solitary defeat, against high-flying Havant & Waterlooville on boxing day. The amount of goals conceded were bugging me though, and I started to hunt around for a new goalkeeper to bring in. 20-year old Charlie Freeman ended up arriving, initially on trial. He impressed over a couple of weeks with us, and joined us on a non-contract deal to replace Alex Crean. He didn't go straight into our side after his arrival, but as the new year hit he was given his chance.

The change between the sticks seemed to work, and as of January our season changed in a positive manner. We picked up eight victories in our first ten matches of the year, and thrust ourselves into a season high position in the table of 5th. This all happening despite the disruption of backup striker Jason Walker deciding to walk away from the club due to a lack of playing opportunities. 19-year old Reece Miller came in on loan from Aldershot Town to replace him, although he went on to make only two substitute appearances for us. March saw the goals dry up for Jobe Wakeling, although we still picked up impressive 1-1 draws with play-off rivals Braintree Town and Billericay. Disappointing defeats to Wealdstone and Concord Rangers ended the month, meaning we sat just outside the play-off positions with just four games remaining. 

Needing victories we started April perfectly, comfortably defeating Dorking Wanderers 3-0 at the Longmead Stadium. We followed that with an impressive 1-0 win away at Weymouth, before losing out 1-2 to St Albans in our penultimate game. We went into the final game at home to Oxford City, knowing that a win would give us a play-off spot in the final table. For much of the game it looked as if we were going to miss out though, and Havant & Waterlooville would beat Billericay to leapfrog them and us. We were awarded a 92nd minute penalty though, and Joe Turner gave us the 1-0 win to clinch 7th spot by just a single point.

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We would travel to Concord Rangers in the First Round of the play-offs, and put in a very good performance indeed. Tom Beere scored an 8th minute goal for us, and we managed the match perfectly to win 1-0. Defensively we were brilliant, and we booked a semi-final away against local rivals Maidstone United. The game was tough, and we found ourselves on the back foot throughout the first half. Somehow we went in goalless though, and things looked up for us when our hosts had centre back Luke Pennell sent off right on the hour mark. We started to gain a foothold in the game, but were wasteful in front of goal and after 90 minutes we were still locked at 0-0. The first half of extra time came and went with little activity, before disaster struck us. A poor challenge gave Maidstone a penalty which was duly converted, and with a little over ten minutes remaining we found ourselves 0-1 behind. We fought valiantly and threw everything at them, but we couldn't find the net and lost the game. A disappointing way to end a fantastic campaign. Maidstone United went on to lose 0-1 to a penalty of their own against Bath City in the final.

The cup competitions weren't really very important to me, and we crashed out of both of them fairly early. In the FA Cup we saw off Margate 2-1 in the Second Qualifying Round, before comfortable beating Hampton & Richmond Borough in the next. That gave us an exciting tie at home to Aldershot Town of the National League in the final qualifying round. We were absolutely dominated in the game, but an injury time goal from Jobe Wakeling gave us a 1-1 draw and a replay at home. We weren't as impressive in the replay though, and lost out 1-2 to exit the competition. In the FA Trophy we drew 0-0 at home to Havant & Waterlooville, before losing 0-1 to them in the replay.

Simply put I am absolutely delighted with how my first season in charge of this club has gone. I never expected us to make it into the play-offs, and to be honest it was nothing short of what we deserved. We were competitive in pretty much every game we played, and its pleasing to have laid such a marker for my time here. Hopefully we can do even better next time around. There will be changes this summer for sure, although we've managed to tie down Harry Philby, Mylo Hall and Jobe Wakeling to new contracts here. Worryingly goalkeeper Charlie Freeman is attracting interest from League Two sides, and he's on a non-contract deal with us and can walk away if he pleases. Hopefully nothing materialises from it. He made 22 appearances for us in the end, keeping 11 clean sheets and conceding just 15 times. I don't really want to have to replace him.

20-year old Mylo Hall was probably our best player throughout this season, after joining us shortly after my arrival. He was consistent in midfield, and also popped up with a couple of long range wonder goals. I convinced him to sign a new contract, and will be looking to keep him as a solid performer in our midfield. We've also signed centre back Harry Philby to a new contract here. He popped up with 5 goals from central defence, and performed so well and consistently all season.

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I'm excited to get back to the drawing board, looking for new faces to help improve the team. Our wage budget has been doubled for next season, although I will be looking to keep well below it. Financially the club looked to be losing money for most of the season, although things are looking better now. The solid performances on the field saw bigger attendances, bringing in more funds to the club coffers. We're projected to stay in the black for the next couple of years, which will only get better I would imagine. I'll be looking for another play-off appearance next season, and i'll return once the pre-season has drawn to a close.

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Tonbridge Angels: 2020/21 Season Preview

With the success of my first campaign still ringing clear, it was time to look to the summer in order to strengthen our squad for another crack. Last season we performed well above expectations, finishing in a club record high of 7th in the Conference South. I'm hoping for more of the same this time around, and would love another crack of at least reaching the play-offs again. The board doubled our weekly wage budget at the end of last season, meaning that there was plenty of room available to bring in new faces. Even more so by the time we had allowed a number of players to depart the club at the expiration of their contracts with us.

We tried and failed to keep defensive midfielder Christ Junior-Tiehi at the club for another season, after the hugely successful loan he had with us last season. Unfortunately Woking are planning to use him within their first team plans this time around, and we were unable to negotiate a deal to bring him back. We also released fringe players Alex Bentley and D'Sean Theobalds at the end of their deals here. Youngster Joshua Stirman also left, as did winger Pierre Joseph-Dubois. He featured regularly for us last season until he damaged his achilles tendon and missed the last two months of the season. Club captain Sonny Miles left, along with Chinedu McKenzie and Khale da Costa. None of them had featured regularly anyways. Young goalkeeper Alex Crean was allowed to leave for Airdrie United in Scotland on a free transfer. I signed him last summer with high hopes, but he was ousted from the starting line up midway through the season, and I was more than happy to get his wages off of our books.

With a large number of players departing the club, I anticipated a lot of activity in regards to bringing in new faces. In the end we didn't actually conduct that many. I felt there was a distinct lack of quality on offer, and too often I felt that we were being held to ransom over player wages. For that reason I opted for quality over quantity as we looked to strengthen. In all honesty I didn't feel that we were particularly weak across any position, making bringing in some depth the most important thing. Financially we weren't sitting too pretty, but we had room in our budget to bring a few in as long as we didn't go crazy. I didn't think that was needed anyways, and only a handful of players came in. I was chasing a new striker as a priority, as last season I was worried by just how much we were reliant upon 17-year old Jobe Wakeling to score goals.

It quickly became apparent that signing young prospects on cheaper wages was going to be the way forwards. Having extensively checked around for potential loan dealings I couldn't find enough quality, especially with the amount it would've cost us in wage contributions. Finding a striker therefore proved rather difficult, with a number of different players coming and going on trial dealings. In the end I found my man though, and its a very exciting deal indeed. 19-year old Jaden Thompson-Brissett was released by Brentford in the summer, and has also spent time on the books at Norwich City. We fought off a lot of competition for his services, handing him a £400 per week deal on a one year contract. It's big money for us, but I have high hopes that he will go on to be a star player for us this season.

On the defensive side of things I felt that we needed a couple of new additions, and we did exactly that. First in was a central defender from Tottenham Hotspurs, in Luis Binks. The 19-year old looks a promising talent, and will slot straight into our defensive line alongside Harry Philby. We also brought in 19-year old Reece Hannam after he was released by West Ham. He's a left back, and will compete for a starting spot along with youngster Richard Poole (the 17-year old was signed by me last summer and was an ever present at left back). We picked up another player after he was released by West Ham too, as 18-year old Ghanaian Keenan Appiah-Forson joined us on a two year deal. The youngster is a straight replacement for Christ Junior-Tiehi in holding midfield.

Initially I wasn't too worried about the departure of Alex Crean, but as the summer wore on my doubts in Charlie Freeman started to grow. I managed to convince him to put pen to paper on a one year contract with the club, but I still felt that we needed a stronger option to play in goal for us. He had a great season last year, but in all honesty he hadn't developed very much despite all of the game time that he got. For that reason I moved to bring in Polish stopper Kacper Kurylowicz on a free transfer after his release from Tottenham. The 18-year old looks unbelievably promising, and I have really high hopes for him here with us. We have him on a two year contract, and he will be our new number one for sure.

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I'm actually really pleased with our summers activity, and delighted that we didn't go crazy with bringing new players into the club. It would've been really easy to clear out and basically replace the whole squad, but it wasn't really necessary. I didn't want to make wholesale changes, as most of the players here last season deserved the opportunity to have another go. We've managed to bring in some rea quality though, and still have an extremely young squad of players.

We're predicted to do a lot better than we were at the beginning of last season, with our efforts clearly not going unnoticed. The board are still only asking for a mid-table finish , but we're fancied to do much better than that. We can be found at 4-1 to win the league title, and are actually predicted to finish the season in 7th place. If that were offered to me right now, I would be biting peoples hands off for it. There are some big sides within this division, and its going to be a very long and tough campaign. I can't wait to get stuck into it though, and myself turned down two approaches for my services over the summer. Firstly Gateshead of the Conference North offered me and interview, and then came a surprising one. I won't lie, I did find it difficult to turn down an approach from League One play-off winners Blackpool, but I did reject the offer. I'm not ready to leave the Longmead Stadium yet, and am looking forward to seeing how we can get on this season.

 

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A great start @goonergez - I had Mylo Hall as well in the first season but sold him to Chesterfield. Thompson-Brissett has gone to Wealdstone on both of my Tonbridge saves and done very well, he's a great signing for that level.

You will likely need a bigger squad for the second season though, as the division expands to 24 teams and you end up playing Tues-Sat for the first ten weeks of the season.

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Tonbridge Angels: 2020/21 Mid-Season Report

A busy pre-season came and went quickly, and it was time for my Angels team to kick off the league campaign. Hopes were high for a positive campaign, and everybody was excited to see if we could replicate the fine efforts of last season. It would be a long campaign for sure, but an exciting one for all of us at the Longmead Stadium. We've reached the turn of the year, and the mid-point of the season.

The opening day gave us an extremely tough fixture, as we played host to well fancied Billericay Town. Debutant Jaden Thompson-Brissett looked as though he would be our hero though, scoring a first half double to give us a surprising but comfortable lead. The second half was a completely different story though, and defensively we succumbed to the pressure. A last minute goal denying us all three points as we had to settle for a 2-2 draw. Happy with the result there though, we showed much more composure on matchday two. Another brace, this time from winger Nosa Iyamu, gave us a comfortable 2-0 victory away against newly promoted Kingstonian. Hoping to use that as the springboard for our season we disappointed next time up, losing 0-1 to Concord Rangers in a game we never really got going in. We ended the opening month of the season in much better form though. We picked up victories over Dartford, Bognor Regis, St Albans and Salisbury, the latter being a thrilling and exciting 6-2 win that saw us take the gloss off only by conceding two late goals.

We opened September up with a disappointing 0-1 loss away to Dorking Wanderers, before bouncing back in style. Four wins in our next five matches propelled us to the top of the table, and the run included a couple of stunning results. A Jaden Thompson-Brissett goal on the half hour saw us gain a 1-0 victory at home to title favourites Aldershot Town, and a Joe Turner penalty saw us beat our biggest rivals Maidstone United 1-0 away from home. That victory being the first we picked up against them since I took charge of the club. It also gained us a little revenge from losing to them in the play-off semi-final's last season. October saw us carry on our fine form, as we dropped points in just the one game. A disappointing and unexpected 1-1 draw away against newly promoted Cheshunt Town.

Newly promoted Truro City were next up, and they were thumped 4-1 away to kick off November. Disappointingly we then dropped points against another of the newly promoted sides, drawing 0-0 against Kings Langley. We sat second in the table, ending the month being leapfrogged at the top by Hemel Hempstead. We went down 0-1 to them at the Longmead Stadium, dropping to second place. It was disappointing, and signalled an end to an 11 match unbeaten run we had strung together. 

December looked a really tough month for us, with fixtures against a number of the stronger sides in this division. Havant & Waterlooville and Maidstone United both play-off candidates, and Chelmsford City flying high near the top of the table. We started by disappointingly throwing away a two goal lead to draw 2-2 away at Havant & Waterlooville, in a game we really should've won. Four days later we picked up a truly massive win though, Thompson-Brissett scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory at home to Chelmsford. Our next game was postponed, before a penalty from that man again, saw us repeat our early season result and beat Maidstone United 1-0. A waterlogged pitch at the Longmead Stadium saw our last game of the calendar year postponed but we end the year in good shape and with games in hand on some of our rivals.

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The cup competitions aren't a priority of mine at the moment, and its a good opportunity to give a rest to some of our key players. Saying that a few victories will bring in some prize money, funds which will definitely help to improve the financial side at this club. The FA Cup started promisingly enough, as a much changed side ran riot away against Basildon Town. Joe Turner scored a hat-trick for us as we comfortably dispatched them with a 4-0 score line. The Third Qualifying Round gave us another winnable tie, but my team messed it up completely. We lost 2-3 at home to Haringey Borough to crash out before even reaching the proper stages of the competition. We entered the FA Trophy in the final qualifying round, and despite making changes comfortably progressed into the proper rounds. A 4-0 victory away at Cheshunt Town saw us through, where we would play Hampton & Richmond Borough. We made fewer changes to the side for that game due to tougher opposition, and despite it going to extra-time we managed to progress. A goal from Jesus Cruz proving enough in a 1-0 victory. We've got a tricky draw in the Second Round though, and will play at home against Conference North side Kettering Town.

It's been a simply stunning first half of the season, and now we just have to hope that we don't fade away and fall off the pace. Defensively we've been superb, and teams are finding it extremely difficult to score goals past us. Summer arrival Kacper Kurylowicz has been incredible in goal, and Luis Binks has slotted seamlessly into our back line as I had expected. Up top goals have come regularly for Jaden Thompson-Brissett. He's managed 14 so far, and his backup Jobe Wakeling has also managed 5, despite most of his appearances coming from the bench. In midfield Jesus Cruz, Nosa Iyamu and Joe Turner have rotated and all performed well on the flanks. Mylo Hall has had a much quieter season so far, but Tommie Hession-Harris has been simply superb. He's really taking the mantle as our star midfielder, and as also managed to pop up with a couple of goals too.

I've signed a new two year contract to remain in charge of this club, although I haven't received any offers since Blackpool approached me in the summer. I have no intentions of walking way yet anyway, as I feel we could be about to achieve something really special. It's going to prove difficult though, as this league is extremely competitive. Chelmsford and Hemel Hempstead both look good, and Aldershot Town have climbed quickly after a slow start to the season. There are no intentions of disrupting the squad with new arrivals, and I don't want anybody to depart the club either. I'm really proud of what we've done so far and I am just praying that we can keep the surprises coming, and keep our form up until the end of the campaign.

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December 2021:

This season isn't going well, I applaud anyone who gets promoted and does well, whether my summer transfers were not good enough or not, the top 10-14 teams are incredibly good. After a record of played 16, won 1, drawn 7 and lost 8, I was pulled into a board meeting and they reluctantly allowed me to stay in charge for a few more weeks. Injuries have been bad, but I feel having draw nearly half the games it showed we weren't far away from winning some more games.

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Afterwards, I played Leicester (7th) and managed to squeeze a 1 nil victory which leaves me in 17th. Liverpool are in unbeaten, whilst Norwich, Newcastle and Aston Villa have fired there managers. I normally comment on my best/worst player, so far they've all been bang average and no-one has stood out.

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18 hours ago, jonathan44 said:

December 2021:

This season isn't going well, I applaud anyone who gets promoted and does well, whether my summer transfers were not good enough or not, the top 10-14 teams are incredibly good. After a record of played 16, won 1, drawn 7 and lost 8, I was pulled into a board meeting and they reluctantly allowed me to stay in charge for a few more weeks. Injuries have been bad, but I feel having draw nearly half the games it showed we weren't far away from winning some more games.

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Afterwards, I played Leicester (7th) and managed to squeeze a 1 nil victory which leaves me in 17th. Liverpool are in unbeaten, whilst Norwich, Newcastle and Aston Villa have fired there managers. I normally comment on my best/worst player, so far they've all been bang average and no-one has stood out.

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It is tough in the Prem [ so I hear ! ], Maybe change tactics / players` ?. Trincao & Alena are meant to be good?. Spending £35m does bring pressure though. GL.

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Nice progress @goonergez and great updates as usual. Good luck with the rest of your season.

@warlock Many congratulations on a fine season and title. I hope your second season will be as enjoyable.

Speaking of PL football @jonathan44 that's not a bad effort so far, survival is achievable and that's quite an accomplishment for a promoted side.

Meanwhile, I've not been able to play anything recently as other stuff has taken over. I decided that Grimsby with a new board and unlikely promotion to League 1 wasn't likely to keep my interest up (really wanted the old board and several seasons of League 2). I've not progressed with Brentford (my fault, put it down for too long and the momentum was lost a little bit) although i may go back there and pick it up again some time as the data update hasn't really affected the squad I had.

I loaded up a new League 1 create a club game on the new update (this set up takes hours) only to discover that the squad rules had changed and all the hidden loan players remained there after you first save the game. Previously the players on loan disappeared when you finish making your squad, and this now means I have too many players and quite a number that are not needed.

Whilst SI or the GD forum have not been able to say if this is intentional or a bug (or even an option somehow) I am searching around for new team to take on. Current contenders are Reading (regular or minor tweaks on create a club), Doncaster (minor tweaks on create a club), Plymouth (create a club) or Crawley (regular). Donny are not much more than a couple of central midfielders away from having a balanced squad that should perform better than predicted. Argyle would need a bit of a re-build as their strikers are awful (except young Luke), their central defenders are way too slow (except on-loan Grant), and their attacking midfielders aren't my cup of tea (except Mayor), but I like them as a club and the winter expanded stadium appeals. I've never managed Crawley but surprisingly they are literally just a couple of players away from having a decent League 2 squad, one that I think i could achieve on regular mode in the first window.

Blackpool and Sunderland are also being considered for differing reasons, but are both probably on the B-List. The former I quite like as a club post-Oyston, i like some of their staff, they are without a manager (until today), and their kits should look good in the 3D match engine. The latter I have an irrational dislike for and that would have to be just because of their resources, facilities, fan base etc. I'd have to do create a club mode on them and remove the majority of their players and staff in order to do begin - which possibly takes them too far way from being Sunderland and might quash my enthusiasm. 

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20 hours ago, jonathan44 said:

This season isn't going well, I applaud anyone who gets promoted and does well

I remember one save last year where I got promoted to the PL and did well, but it stands out as a unique achievement :). First season up is usually a miserable grind. Good luck with the rest of the season!

15 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

I am searching around for new team to take on

Seems like you're spoilt for choice :lol:. Looking forward to your next venture, wherever it may be.

 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, nextqprmanager said:

It is tough in the Prem [ so I hear ! ], Maybe change tactics / players` ?. Trincao & Alena are meant to be good?. Spending £35m does bring pressure though. GL.

I don't think the money thing is getting to me, with a net spend of -£1.5 million over 2 years prior to the premier league the squad was very much on barebones and when I was promoted, I only had 13 players after contracts/loans finishing. I would've spent less, but the loan system in the premier league really doesn't allow much wiggle room. Forestieri broke his leg in October so my final 5 million is going to be spent on a new striker. Nketiah isn't scoring and playing badly so I've been overly reliant on a 20 year old Eddie Calcedo who at least plays ok whilst not scoring :). I've been unimpressed with how inconsistent Trincao is, but Alena has been one of the better players in a bad season.

 

@Jogo Bonito & @warlock thanks for the kind words, the Leicester win was followed by another win at Newcastle and a draw at Burnley so upto 15th. I've changed formation a few times, but this later iteration of a high press 42121 with 2 CDMs, 1 CM and RW/LW seems to bring more of a balance than a traditional 41221 or 4231.

@Jogo Bonito haven't seen much out of those teams apart from Reading, they seem to be the most consistently promoted team with the AI I've ever seen!

Edited by jonathan44

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2 hours ago, jonathan44 said:

 

@Jogo Bonito& @warlock thanks for the kind words, the Leicester win was followed by another win at Newcastle and a draw at Burnley so upto 15th. I've changed formation a few times, but this later iteration of a high press 42121 with 2 CDMs, 1 CM and RW/LW seems to bring more of a balance than a traditional 41221 or 4231.

@Jogo Bonito haven't seen much out of those teams apart from Reading, they seem to be the most consistently promoted team with the AI I've ever seen!

Good to see your form pick up - that seems like quite a sensible tactic for a promoted team.

Reading do have better players than their league form would suggest, and some great youngsters coming through like Olise and McIntyre in particular. But they only have one decent striker (injured  on New Years Day in real life, which has seen good form go to pot),  and quite a few players that need to be moved on. The raw ingredients are there for sure if they can do the dirty side as well as they can move the ball around.

@warlock There are always too many options, but I've done well to narrow it down to these four of Reading, Doncaster, Crawley and Plymouth! If I was really ambitious, I would take them all on...

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Tonbridge Angels: 2020/21 Review

I left you at the turn of the year, midway through the campaign. We sat in a very solid position, with another crack for promotion looking possible. We were in the play-off spots and more likely to compete for the title than miss out on the play-offs. Saying that we had a very good go at it, attempting to throw away the solid foundation that we'd laid. We put in an awful second half of the season, and started dropping quickly off of the pace rapidly. Inconsistency hit, and injuries thwarted our progress. After scoring plenty of goals for the first half of the season, we struggled to find the net as the season drew to a close. A three month lay off for Jaden Thompson-Brissett certainly didn't help us, and we ended the season well off the pace of Aldershot Town and having to settle for a spot within the play-offs.

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We would play Hemel Hempstead in the First Round, a side who had recovered and climbed up the table as our own season capitulated. We fell behind in the first half and struggled to gain any control in the contest. The second half saw us turn the game around though, scoring twice in quick succession to take the lead. As the 90th minute hit the board was raised showing four added minutes. As the clock ticked past ninety five and a half minutes we were undone by a fabulous long range strike to tie the game 2-2 and ensure an extra half hour. Extra time came and went and in the end we lost out on the lottery of a penalty shoot out. Absolutely gutting, but unsurprising considering our huge drop in form.

In the FA trophy we got all the way through to the Fourth Round, before losing a tight game 0-1 at home to Dover Athletic of the division above. To make it one round short of the semi-finals was very pleasing, and I was extremely proud of our efforts.

A really disappointing end to the season, one which should have been much better than it was. For half of the season we were arguably the strongest team in the league, scoring plenty and defending solidly. Goalkeeper Kacper Kurylowicz was superb in his debut season, justifying my decision to bring him in as our new number one. He kept 19 clean sheets and conceded just 32 goals all season in the league. A phenomenal effort from the 18-year old, helped with the solid central defensive partnership of Harry Philps and new boy Luis Binks. Up top Jaden Thompson-Brissett was superb up until his injury, leading the top scorer ranks in the league until he missed three months of the season. Upon his return he went goalless, but still managed an impressive 19 league goals.

As the summer hits I am not quite sure where our issues lie. Up top we could do with a real out and out goal scorer, but we also don't have lots of money to throw around. Jobe Wakeling managed just 10 league goals for us, and didn't step up well at the end of the season when Jaden Thompson-Brissett went injured. I'll be looking for a striker, and also feel we could do with a creative winger and a more impressive central midfielder. Mylo Hall had a rather average campaign this time around, and although I don't ant to sell him I feel we could do with another option. I really want to get out of this division, and its already been extremely tough on us.

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