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FM20: The English Football League thread

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Their current star striker was also rejected by Reading as a youth player and then came through non-league football (Charlie Austin).

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2 hours ago, tom_b said:

 

Six games in and things are going well. I've only managed to make one signing, James Bailey, who is already our best player. An 18 year old on loan from Colchester, Noah Chilvers, was here when I arrived and also looks decent.  Other than that, everyone looks OK for this level, but no real stand outs. 

 

Tom Smith is always a lower league player I covet, due to his work rate, ability to score wonder goals and "model citizen" personality.

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Jogo, Top `fun` post - oh I wanted to explain !, boo hoo. I rememember this Team well, especially Regis [ since Hayes is just down the road to me ] ; & Cunningham who was a talent with a sad ending. Without Bomber Brown, we may have not had Bryan Robson?. Ron Atkinson, who went onto Man Utd & took Robson, killed his Career in one fail swoop.

I just thought ( wrongly ), that West Brom may not be a challenge to you?.

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Bolton update

I had a `tense` time last night, finished 2.20am, but relieved to announce, we "Bolton", got Promoted to the Premier League !!, via the Play-Offs, for the second Season running. Wow, just wow, I still can`t believe it, I am floating. I don`t know what to do?.

When on my laptop later, I can post, if anyone is interested?, I might even do a video??.

Hopefully suffice to say, atm, I beat Palace Away, then Home 1-0, & also Sheff Utd in the Final 1-0.

aaarrgghhh ....... & rest

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26 minutes ago, CityAndColour said:

Their current star striker was also rejected by Reading as a youth player and then came through non-league football (Charlie Austin).

Indeed he was! There are a few they allowed to slip through the net (Shandon Baptiste is another recent one they will regret), but most clubs would be like that probably.

I've been ruthless in clearing out most of the highest paid players ahead of my League 1 campaign, and Austin was one of those sacrificed even though he kept my promoted Fulham side up in a rare PL adventure a few years back.

21 minutes ago, nextqprmanager said:

Jogo, Top `fun` post - oh I wanted to explain !, boo hoo. I rememember this Team well, especially Regis [ since Hayes is just down the road to me ] ; & Cunningham who was a talent with a sad ending. Without Bomber Brown, we may have not had Bryan Robson?. Ron Atkinson, who went onto Man Utd & took Robson, killed his Career in one fail swoop.

I just thought ( wrongly ), that West Brom may not be a challenge to you?.

Ah, sorry Stan, I've stitched you up again!

I agree that Bomber was the type of player that Robson became, then the likes of Lampard etc. I've been to a pre-season friendly at Hayes many years ago, Regis was an awesome player, and yes Laurie was tragically taken from us before his time too.

I never managed West Brom before, but with their home grown youngsters still there after a season of game play, the chance to do so in League 1 couldn't be ignored. At least I know I could get two seasons out of this one!

Congrats on getting Bolton over the line. Yes it must have been tense, but you deserved that!

Edited by Jogo Bonito

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1009822879_Vintage2.thumb.jpg.7882171ed87f04103642ba61f0e2f407.jpg

So, having seen that West Bromwich Albion (along with Derby) were somehow relegated in the 2019/20 season which saw my Reading side promoted, I started to consider whether that would be the right team to take on next. West Brom and Derby in League 1 both presented good opportunities as the pair have some exciting young players that could shape the team for the years ahead. Derby had Bogle (since sold), Lowe, Buchanan, Bird, Sibley, Knight and Whittaker - but also had Rooney and I didn't want that. Albion had Ferguson, Field, Harper, Edwards and Leko (plus Sawyers) and also had better kits and colours. Then I stumbled on the fact that 2020 was the 100th year anniversary of Albion's one and only top flight title win, which added  to their appeal.

Having looked at transfer activity during their poor 2019/20 season, I saw that none of the  younger players I wanted to keep had been moved on, and several of the older ones were going to be out of contract and/or retiring. Others that were older and on higher wages would probably be keen to leave rather than play in the third tier, so I thought that with a ruthless approach to squad-trimming, I could get a lean but strong group together in order to meet the board expectations of winning the league in my first year. Here is the club history and kits. My eyes literally light up when I see this away kit, it looks great on the pitch and really takes me back to the glory years of the late 1970's when they wear it.

895073336_WestBromwichAlbion_Profile.thumb.png.253458d5bb7892301501ed7036e329dc.png

655095301_Stadiumandbadge.thumb.png.a149dcb4e22e1d4f990ab2c1ec5cb308.png

Upon accepting the challenge, the first task was to trim the squad size and reduce the wage bill. I knew that these decisions had to be fairly callous, but also knew that with the incoming money from player sales I should be able to attract good players based on the reputation of the club. An added help was that parachute payments were still being received, something that Derby didn't have the luxury of.

The exodus included the retiring Gareth Barry (kept on as a youth coach) and Chris Brunt (sadly without any attributes that made it possible to keep him on the staff). Lee Peltier and Jonathan Bond were amongst those released, whilst all sales were without an obligation to pay any share of the wages, as I absolutely hate that notion. Those major sales are as shown below:

  • Kenneth Zohore (£725,000) and Charlie Austin (£3,000,000) both to Swansea
  • Ahmed Hagazi to Shabab Al-Ahli for £1,700,000
  • Mario Vuskovic (a defender signed in the first season) to Burnley for £2,500,000
  • Diogo Amado (a midfielder signed in the first season) to Inter Miami for £2,300,000
  • Kyle Bartley to Minnesota for £875,000 (rising to £950,000)
  • Jake Livermore to Portsmouth for £3,600,000
  • Caleb Taylor to Nottingham Forest for £325,000 (rising to £625,000)
  • Oliver Burke to Norwich for £5,500,000
  • Kamil Grosicki on loan to Sheffield Wednesday with them paying 100% of his wages and £150,000 per month for the privilege

Of course, this meant that there was much activity on incoming players too. This was far more than I would like during one window in usual circumstances, but it had to be done to re-shape the squad ahead of a campaign that would come with lots of pressure and expectation. The incoming deals saw the arrival of loan recruits Jayson Molumby (Brighton), Ben Osborn (Sheffield United), Eric Garcia (Man City) and Conor Gallagher (Chelsea) in addition to the following permanent deals. I'd have loved to get a Cyrille Regis clone to lead my attack, but couldn't really get the replica that I would have preferred:

  • Experienced central defender Marc Roberts from Birmingham for £1,900,000 as the club lacked team leaders and experience - he was appointed new vice captain
  • Attacking midfielder Chuks Aneke from Charlton for £450,000 as a bench option - albeit that he came with an injury and hasn't even set foot on the training ground yet
  • Striker Dwight Gayle from Newcastle for £1,300,000 - again he arrived with an injury but he should be dynamite at this level in his second spell at The Hawthorns
  • Fellow striker Scott Hogan from Aston Villa for £3,900,000 - with Gayle injured I knew I needed goals in order to make a strong start to the season 
  • A back-up goalkeeper in the form of Connal Trueman from Birmingham for a bargain £52,000
  • Midfielder George Thorne on a free transfer - the former Academy graduate's promising career stalled due to injuries but he may prove his fitness with the U23 squad
  • Striker Aboubakar Kamara from Fulham for a bargain £1,900,000 - a move I pondered over for some time before deciding that a third striker like AK47 might be needed 
  • The completion of a pre-agreed £8,500,000 deal to sign on-loan attacking midfielder Matheus Pereira from Sporting Lisbon

This left the club with the following 24-man squad, with some capable back-up options in the U23 team such as Alex Palmer (GK), Kane Wilson (DR), Jack Fitzwater (DC), Dara O'Shea (DC), and forward Rayhaan Tulloch. It looks like I only have one right-back, but Nathan Ferguson is perfectly able to play there and will be battling with Darnell Furlong for that shirt. I'd have liked to off-load one of the left-backs (ideally Kieran Gibbs due to age and wage) and had planned to use Ben Osborn in that role but may not need to now. I didn't want to have four loan players and have numerous times agreed a £2,000,000 fee with Sheffield United for Osborn, only for him to spurn every chance to commence contact talks. I've no doubt that if promotion is secured (and they won't retain me if it isn't) he will be willing to join on a permanent basis, and so I will keep trying. George Thorne is included here but will be afforded the whole of the first season to prove his fitness in the U23 squad.

1586443282_WestBromwichAlbion_Players.thumb.png.f12bcea37443ee164410cef1244106e5.png

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Pre-season went fairly well despite several key injuries. That has seen Gayle and Aneke missing from action, but more importantly goalkeeper Sam Johnstone also sustained sprained knee ligaments in training on 20th July. That injury has ruled him out for a period of six weeks, leaving Connal Trueman to take the gloves and burden of early-season expectation. 

1244547981_WestBromwichAlbion_Fixtures1.0.thumb.png.a2926cadd229ad458b3882d52fbffd64.png

As this isn't starting up in season 2019/20 it's necessary to show who The Baggies will be competing against this year in League 1. As you can see from the fixture list for the opening day of the season, relegated Derby and Luton are here, along with Ipswich, Coventry, Oxford and Peterborough. This reveals that Portsmouth and Sunderland escaped along with Rotherham.

1695810918_SkyBetLeagueOneFixtures.thumb.png.354cce87729c1589f159b2c8a6faa51d.png

So now it's time to get this show on the road. It's 3.00 pm and it's Saturday afternoon, and newly-promoted Swindon Town are the visitors to The Hawthorns in the season opener. Every game is likely to be a cup final for my opponents, so the fans will need to get this place rocking. Every away game is going to be the same, with our rivals likely to get a full-house against us most weeks too. A slow start is going to see massive pressure heaped on me, and this adventure could be ended before it even starts. I hope that's not the case but time will tell. Boing Boing!

1614687985_Vintage1.thumb.jpg.aba68778eb93a50eff5ff89f9537ad13.jpg

Edited by Jogo Bonito

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Love reading about a squad rebuild @Jogo Bonito - Sounds like a fun challenge! I had Leko in League One with Charlton on my long-term FM19 career and I recall he was terrific. The likes of Pereira, Phillips and Gayle should also thrive at this level.

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29 minutes ago, Dong21 said:

Love reading about a squad rebuild @Jogo Bonito - Sounds like a fun challenge! I had Leko in League One with Charlton on my long-term FM19 career and I recall he was terrific. The likes of Pereira, Phillips and Gayle should also thrive at this level.

Cheers. Perhaps for a challenge I should have not taken the four loan players which would have given even more starts to the likes of O'Shea, Fitzwater, Field, Harper & even Thorne. I probably could have used Palmer as back-up goalkeeper instead of Trueman, perhaps used Tulloch/Soule as my third choice striker option instead of Kamara, and perhaps I could have avoided signing Aneke altogether. Gayle, Hogan and Roberts were necessary and important signings anyway, but it took quite a lot to get to this stage in October and I'm not starting again! 

I thought more people would be trying to fill the boredom with FM20 but it seems a little quiet at the moment. Hope everyone is safe and well.

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Still some good stuff going on in here, and it's great to keep track of it all. I've benched my Dulwich Hamlet save for now to take on the daFuge challenge. I'll return at some point but for now I won't be inundating you with updates.

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57 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

I thought more people would be trying to fill the boredom with FM20 but it seems a little quiet at the moment.

Yeah I thought this Forum would be swamped in updates, all things considered. I’ve gone on a run of defeats with Bolton which means mid-table is now the best I can hope for. Just need to find the motivation to finish the season, get to the transfer window and then give it another crack. 

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32 minutes ago, goonergez said:

Still some good stuff going on in here, and it's great to keep track of it all. I've benched my Dulwich Hamlet save for now to take on the daFuge challenge. I'll return at some point but for now I won't be inundating you with updates.

Hope to see you back soon, always great following your stories.

2 minutes ago, Dong21 said:

Yeah I thought this Forum would be swamped in updates, all things considered. I’ve gone on a run of defeats with Bolton which means mid-table is now the best I can hope for. Just need to find the motivation to finish the season, get to the transfer window and then give it another crack. 

Mid-table is decent, I look forward to reading your update when you're done.

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Grimsby Town FC 20/21 Season (January):

After getting promotion, I have been set the task of "Fighting Bravely Against Relegation", something I felt I could do following last season. I didn't want to make many transfers going in or out, only replacing those loanees, or those that weren't good enough.

Transfers Out:

Harry Cardwell - Free - TNS - Didn't play for me as I didn't really rate him. Went out on loan last season to Wrexham and didn't really prove himself in the Conference.

Matt Green - Free - TNS - I wanted him off the wage bill to try and bring in someone better. 

Ahkeem Rose - Loan - Kidderminster - Originally he was going to be around the first team, but I felt he would be better getting a full season out on loan in the Conference.

Josh Benson - returned to Burnley.

Anthony Glennon - returned to Burnley.

Ethan Galbraith - returned to Man Utd.

Oliver Casey - returned to Leeds.

Sam Russell - retired.

Jordan Cook - released - didn't play when out on loan at Southend.

Brandon Buckley - released - youngster not good enough.

Jock Curran - released - youngster not good enough.

Elliot Whitehouse - released - allowed me to bring in better midfielders.

Scott Read - released - allowed me to reinvest in my keepers.

Transfers In:

Dane Massey - Dundalk - 28.5k - will challenge at left back.

James Wilson - Ipswich - 43.5k - needed some experience at centre half from League 1.

Jack Rose - Southampton - free - new back up goalkeeper.

Sam Mantom - Southend - free - new midfielder to challenge the position.

Liam Sercombe - Bristol Rovers - free - new midfielder to challenge the position again.

Amadou Bakayoko - Coventry - free - new target man to challenge with Hanson.

Ethan Galbraith - Man Utd - free - was impressed with him last season, and when the opportunity came up, I snatched it.

Thierry Nevers - Reading - loan - I felt that I needed a versatile winger just to improve the team.

Season so far:

The season started really well, winning two out the first three games, the other being a draw. However, we soon turned to where I felt we would be and currently, we are 15th in the league. So far, we have played 25 league games, only winning 6 of those. Amazingly, we have only lost 6 games too, meaning 13 draws. I feel that we just need to get a few more goals to turn those draws into wins. Still enjoying the save too, which I think is because of not making mass changes.

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

Grimsby Town FC Honours

2019/20 League Two Champions

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1 hour ago, andy_gtfc said:

Grimsby Town FC 20/21 Season (January):

After getting promotion, I have been set the task of "Fighting Bravely Against Relegation", something I felt I could do following last season. I didn't want to make many transfers going in or out, only replacing those loanees, or those that weren't good enough.

The season started really well, winning two out the first three games, the other being a draw. However, we soon turned to where I felt we would be and currently, we are 15th in the league. So far, we have played 25 league games, only winning 6 of those. Amazingly, we have only lost 6 games too, meaning 13 draws. I feel that we just need to get a few more goals to turn those draws into wins. Still enjoying the save too, which I think is because of not making mass changes.

Solid stuff, a season to consolidate is a good thing and you look on track to do that. Who has been the main goal scorer for you?

I had Ogbu doing it for me (as a shadow striker) as it was on the previous database. He got 14 whilst Anene (from Crewe) was my lone striker and got 13. There weren't too many goals in my side despite winning promotion from League 2.

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Just now, Jogo Bonito said:

Solid stuff, a season to consolidate is a good thing and you look on track to do that. Who has been the main goal scorer for you?

I had Ogbu doing it for me (as a shadow striker) as it was on the previous database. He got 14 whilst Anene (from Crewe) was my lone striker and got 13. There weren't too many goals in my side despite winning promotion from League 2.

I think I will have a few seasons of consolidation if I am honest, whilst it builds the finances. Amadou Bakayoko has 6 in 21(9), then Max Wright 29(3), James Hanson 13(13), Thierry Nevers 13(8), Elliot Grandin 11(8), Billy Clarke 18(12) all have 4 goals so the goals certainly are spread just we don't have enough. We have scored 30 in 27 league games.

However, my vision for the club is "Fight bravely against relegation" this season, before trying to become an establish League 1 team by the end of 2023/24, so I do have a few seasons yet.

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1 minute ago, andy_gtfc said:

I think I will have a few seasons of consolidation if I am honest, whilst it builds the finances. Amadou Bakayoko has 6 in 21(9), then Max Wright 29(3), James Hanson 13(13), Thierry Nevers 13(8), Elliot Grandin 11(8), Billy Clarke 18(12) all have 4 goals so the goals certainly are spread just we don't have enough. We have scored 30 in 27 league games.

However, my vision for the club is "Fight bravely against relegation" this season, before trying to become an establish League 1 team by the end of 2023/24, so I do have a few seasons yet.

Yeah, understood. Nevers from Reading is a good prospect, so I'm pleased to see him featuring for you. FWIW in my promotion season we scored just 52 in 46 league games (conceding only 36) so I think a strong defence and hardworking midfield is the right way to go with them.

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3 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Yeah, understood. Nevers from Reading is a good prospect, so I'm pleased to see him featuring for you. FWIW in my promotion season we scored just 52 in 46 league games (conceding only 36) so I think a strong defence and hardworking midfield is the right way to go with them.

He hasn't been featuring as much as I would have hoped. I think we have a strong defence and midfield, despite it being, in the main, what I had in League 2. It's mainly been Hendrie, Waterfall, Pollock, Garmston, Hessenthaler and Clifton. I've tweaked the formation though, instead of having a flat 3 midfield which worked well last season, changing it to 2 CM and an AM. I had hopes of Wilson and Pollock being my centre halfs at the start of the season, but Wilson picked up an injury ruling him out for a couple of months, so Waterfall slotted back in. I am already thinking about next season and it'll probably be one of Wilson or Waterfall, with the other one leaving. Ludvig Ohman too, is already going to leave so it might give me a chance to overhaul my defence a little, especially as Hewitt and Massey are also out of contract.

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