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FM20: The English Football League thread

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On 15/12/2019 at 22:57, robterrace said:

The beginning of the transfer window always sees a team I'm in charge of make some moves, and, that was the case this time.

My Scandinavian scout, who had come with me from Cambridge, had earmarked a couple of youngsters who had the potential to fit into the Preston side, and possibly straight away. One was available immediately, as his contract was ending at his current club.

Enter, Noah Solskjaer. At 21 years old, he fits the profile of players the board want me to buy, and, he knows the game in England, as his father is Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Norwegian U21 joins on a 3 year deal, and slots straight into the side in the centre of midfield.

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The second signing comes from a little bit closer to home. with Polish U21, Lukasz Bejger joining for £300k from Manchester United. He'd been at the Premier League club since 2018, after leaving his homeland and Poznan, to move to Old Trafford.

He came highly rated by scouts, having initially been a target of mine at Cambridge, however, he didn't want to move to League One at the time. Convincing him to move for Championship football was easier, and the rangy centre back, who has been likened to former Poland captain Tomasz Waldoch, arrives on a 2 and a half year deal.

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Also coming in, from Inter, is 22 year old goalkeeper, Vladan Dekic. He'll backup Hladky this season, as he needs some work on his physical attributes, and hopefully get a few games under his belt, before I try and move him into the team next season.

Someone with that free kick rating as well.. I'm seriously tempted. :)

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Joining for £90k from Bayern Munchen, is Swedish U21, Alex Timossi Andersson. Definitely one for the future, he can also offer something now, although, he will need to work on his crossing a bit.

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The other side of Manchester also gets raided, with Spanish/Senegalese full back, Alpha Dionkou joining for £275k from Manchester City.

The 20 year old has made a handful of cup appearances for the club, however, he was deemed surplus to requirements. He has the pace and stamina to go up and down the wing all day, and, if Andersson is in the side, will provide some potent pace down the right flank.

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We go back across Manchester for the next signing, as young left winger, Anthony Elanga joins from United. Again, he is very quick, and will offer something down the left flank. Hes not got a fantastic deal of experience, but, on a 3 year contract at Deepdale, he'll get it here.

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The last player to join us, also comes via Old Trafford, although, he has spent this season on loan at Charlton already.

Reece Devine, a 20 year old left back, who again, is blessed with pace, but also has the determination to succeed. He'll slot into the first team straight away.

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The loan deals for Ganea and Diaz have been terminated, as the money spent on the wages for those two (£25k p/w) would cover most of the incoming signings, and Troy Parrott has also returned to Spurs after a serious knee injury finished his season.

Theres still some spaces in the squad, but, for the moment, I don't want to create too much turmoil by buying any more.

The youth intake also looks interesting.

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how do you find foreign talent? foreign scout? do you have to have the European package? And those leagues loaded? Database etc?

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2 hours ago, Dong21 said:

Great season that Jogo, finished it off in style!

I have had a bad experience with Brewster, he underperformed whilst on loan in my first season. But his stats and potential are undeniable. In my save he is established in the first team for Liverpool... When you are used to lower league management it always seems a tough decision whether to spend large sums of money! 

Whatever you decide, I look forward to hearing about your summer business in your next update.

Thanks for that. I had Brewster at Hull on loan (possibly another reason why I was trying to recruit somebody different) and he was good enough if I used him properly.

I've finished pre-season now, and my summer business has been concluded. I think I have done OK in an understated way, but you guys may think differently considering I had £40 million to spend in this window and probably ended up recouping as much as I spent :lol:

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Started playing during the free fortnight as I suddenly had a lot more time on my hand (being unable to visit girlfriend or go out with anyone aha) and had some decent saves on old versions of FM with Norwich and Huddersfield bringing them up from Championship/League 1 so decided to go for that again to start with.

Went with Millwall as they’re my dads team and seem like a decent challenge. Currently sat in 13th of season 1 after 20 games. Been very up and down, almost every time a win a match or win well we then go away from home and perform awfully. Was doing a little better earlier in the season until Alex Pearce kicked up a fuss cos he wasn’t playing enough then hit a bit of bad form.

Hoping to be able to stick around mid table and maybe get up to just outside play offs by the end of the season. Definitely do not want promotion as the team is nowhere near good enough (which makes the whole promotion thing kind of a moot point). Only signing over summer was James Garner who has been great, going to try and offload Matt Smith and maybe Bodvarsson in January and then reevaluate in the summer. About to go up against top of the table Bristol City away from home so expecting to get absolutely trounced!

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Posted (edited)

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Blackpool - 20/21 Season

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After finishing League 1 as clear champions, we entered the Championship with a 20th place prediction and the joint lowest wage budget in the division. What followed was a great campaign that I am pretty satisfied with, finishing in the top half comfortably. Rhian Brewester was the star of our season, grabbing the golden boot on the final day of the season (after suffering a goal drought for months). Teddy Howe is now the highest valued (non-loan) player in our team easily, and I look forward to the profit I will receive on him. Our finances have now moved to "Secure" for the first time under my management, something that the club desperately needs. Unfortunately, McDonald hasn't developed as much as hoped this season, still rated as a League 1 player despite 15 goal contributions in 45 games. My squad was also painfully low on quality and value and too reliant on loan players. I made moves in the transfer market to rectify this, though the team still needs work imo.

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I'm fairly satisfied with my transfer business, now being able to unleash a strikeforce of Parrot and Brewster (extended loan) which looks fantastic. Oscar is a quality signing who I found when going through Madrid U-23s, and will be an upgrade on the outgoing Connor Renan. Very pleased with the Clarke-Salter signing, I was tracking him for over a year and I'm super pleased to be able to add him to the team.  He's a quality defender who can only get better. Matt Smith is a useful option and will start for us, valued at 3.6 million already! 

Overall I'm enjoying my first dip down to the lower leagues, managing your budget and finding clever signings two key factors in succeeding. I'm not sure what to expect from the squad this year, a run for the playoffs would be great but probably too ambitious, another year of solid midtable is probably the ideal situation for now. After all, we do still have the lowest wage budget in the division. 

Edited by FlairRA

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Posted (edited)

@Rysen Welcome, it's good to see you take on Millwall and for the reasons you chose to do so. Molumby should be a good asset in the first year if his form for me is anything to go by, and I would imagine Cooper and Wallace should also be useful. The Lions are one of those sides where a strong defence and some midfield aggression can make a very hard to beat outfit. They might be a bit light in attack, but If FM could somehow benefit you with that boisterous crowd, you could be decent in that league.

@FlairRA A good finish back in the second tier. That's quite a young striker pairing you have, but it looks like you have done some sensible business there. Smith is somebody I considered signing for West Brom on a free transfer this summer (2021) as he has HGC status with Albion. i wasn't convinced he would be right for me at this time though, so decided not to do the deal in the end.

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Having taken over relegated West Brom in League 1 ahead of the 2020/2021 campaign, I was able to bring them back to Championship level at the first attempt as all challengers were brushed aside with ease. That was just as well, because the board would not have tolerated anything other than winning the title. Due to trimming the wage bill massively ahead of last season, I had around £30 million in unused transfer budget by the end of my first term in charge, and the board have put that up to £42 million for the coming season. That sounds great, but their minimum expectation is to win the title in our first year back, and so the pressure is really on me to deliver in a competitive league including the likes of Watford, Crystal Palace, Leeds and Brentford.

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I took a fairly pragmatic approach to transfers, despite the fantastic budget they had provided for me. Having released two left-backs in Gibbs and Townsend, I was keen to get better options in that position and that was my priority. I'd used midfielder Ben Osborn there primarily last season, and after extensive experience in the role he was now natural in that position, and so I converted his loan deal in to a permanent move as soon as I could.

My second pick to provide support there was harder, but in the end I plumped for a 19 year old Frenchman in the form of Arthur Zagre from AS Monaco. He has some good potential but should already be capable at this level. My only reservations are his height at 5'7" and his modest strength attributes, but he is good on the ball and going forward. He also seems determined, so hopefully will make good progress with the right kind of training. 

The final permanent transfer was one I kept hesitating on, but in the end I felt I needed to keep the board happy on their desire to sign younger players for the first team. As a result, striker Rhian Brewster was signed from Liverpool to lead the attack this season. I will expect his pace and power to equate to goals, and it seems to be a fairly modest deal for one of England's top young talents.

The final signings were the loan deals, the first one surrounding my talented young defender Nathan Ferguson, who was unhappy when I kept rejecting bids for him from numerous top flight clubs. In the end, I negotiated with promoted Fulham to pay us £8.25 million upfront with a further £1.5 million after 50 appearances, but only on the proviso that we included a year-long loan back to me. The second loan deal was an extension for Jayson Molumby, who had performed superbly for me in midfield last season. Brighton were demanding around £50 million for him, but a seasonal loan on 40% of his modest wages was too good for me to turn down.

The final deal was completed only once I had decided to cash in on striking pair Hogan and Kamara. Hogan had been superb for me last season and was my top scorer, but at 29 this was a chance to build for the future by letting him move on. Kamara was a useful player to have in the squad too, but I felt he was disposable. and when an offer of more than what I paid for him was received, it seemed logical to sanction his sale. With those deals done, I only needed somebody to fill in behind Brewster and Dwight Gayle as and when necessary, and who better to do that than Albion graduate Morgan Rogers, who  had joined Manchester City from us in 2019. He has some good potential, and it was good to bring another familiar face back in to the fold, even if his high wages were a bit of a concern.

In addition to Gibbs and Townsend, I released Grosicki and didn't renew the loans of Garcia and Gallagher from last year. Phillips was in the last year of his contract, but as he was on a high wage no club wanted to sign him permanently. In the end, I was delighted when Dundee agreed to pay 100% of his wages and £20,000 per month to take him to Scotland until his contract here expires. The final sale was my second choice goalkeeper Connal Trueman. He had been a good understudy last season and was well worth his place in the squad, but he was two years older than Alex Palmer who was in my Under 23 squad last year, and I felt my own man deserved the chance to cover Sam Johnstone this year. Below are the details behind the main deals we did this summer, although there was another one which saw a change of Assistant Manager with Chris Davies joining the club when Derek Fazackerley announced his retirement. 

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The three cash purchases

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Nathan Ferguson sold to Fulham with 12 months loan-back

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Jayson Molumby loan extension

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Morgan Rogers returns on loan

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I've had a look at some more former Academy graduates this summer, with Izzy Brown being one that was given a trial. He wasn't taken in the end as his squad status and wage demands were way above the limits I would go to. The other contenders on this front were midfielder Matt Smith (I elected not to sign him despite being a free agent) and young forward Louie Barry at Aston Villa. Unfortunately he wasn't reachable due to the price tag on his head, but he is one I will keep monitoring. 

By the time the season was beginning, we had a squad of 21 players for the first team squad, which included Palmer and Dara O'Shea being promoted from the reserves. There is further quality to call on from there with Rayhaan Tulloch, Kane Wilson and Jack Fitzwater all capable of helping out the first team if they are needed at any stage too. Beyond that trio, there are some other youngsters really developing at pace, so I was comfortable going with a smaller squad than last season (especially now that all international breaks would see our club not playing a fixture). The squad for the 2021/2022 season is therefore shown below, and I'm proud of the number of players in the squad that have come through the ranks.

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Pre-season was largely successful and some heavy wins against some local non-league sides were backed up by good wins over Hertha Berlin and Getafe. Sheffield United were perhaps a surprise choice of opponent given the Battle of Bramall Lane in the past, but I guess they were feeling smug when they scored a late equaliser and 94th minute winner just 16 seconds from time to send us in to the season on a more cautious note.

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Edited by Jogo Bonito

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47 minutes ago, oakesypvfc said:

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Bye bye David :(

Looks like he was some player for League Two, but when did David Luiz become a no-nonsense centre back?! :D

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Grimsby Town FC 21/22 Season:

Well that's another season complete! Despite it being another tough season, we started fantastically, even at one point we hit top. However, I soon knew we would hit a rough patch, and we did, but we finished 5th and faced Charlton in the play-offs. One pleasing aspect was we only conceded 31 goals in our 46 games, which resulted in only 9 defeats. We did have 16 draws though. We lost in the play-offs semi-final, 3-1 on aggregate, which was slightly disappointing as we was the better team in the home-leg. The defeat will give us chance to rebuild next season.

Goalkeepers:

James McKeown. Played 50. Conceded 39. Clean Sheets 22. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Mr Dependable again. Will be first choice again next season.

Jack Rose. Played 3. Conceded 6. Clean Sheets 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2022.

Will be leaving at the end of the season. Has spent a couple of seasons as back up, but will be moved on.

Jakub Ojrzynski. Played 1. Conceded 0. Clean Sheets 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Signed from Liverpool to compete for second spot. Cheltenham offered him a loan till the end of the season, which I agreed to and has impressed there so will be coming back at the end of the season as second choice.

Defenders

Luke Hendrie. Played 47. Goals 2. Assists 5. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Another solid season for Luke. Has pretty much made right back his own.

Bradley Halliday. Played 8(5). Goals 0. Assists 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2022.

Will be leaving at the end of the season. Seemed to take a step backwards when he played.

Charlie Wiggett. Played 42. Goals 1. Assists 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Came in on a free from Chelsea, but started as back-up. When Waterfall got injured, he had his chance and I didn't look back.

Mattie Pollock. Played 47. Goals 1. Assists 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Another great season from Pollock. Becoming better and better too, which is only pleasing.

Luke Waterfall. Played 8(2). Goals 1. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2022.

Another one who has been dependable for us, but will sadly be leaving at the end of the season.

Will Fish. Played 2. Goals 0. Assists 0. Loan Expires 30/6/2022.

Came in as back up and did his job.

Bradley GarmstonPlayed 38(1). Goals 0. Assists 7. Contract Expires 30/6/2022.

Has been my first choice left back throughout. Will see if he accepts being back up next season. On slightly high wages, so will hopefully reduce those.

Barry Douglas. Played 8(4). Goals 0. Assists 0. Loan Expires 30/6/2022.

Will be going back to Hull. Came in for cover, but hasn't impressed.

Dane Massey. Played 10. Goals 0. Assists 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2022.

Is already retiring at the end of the season, but was an okay back up for us. His wages will be reinvested into better.

Midfielders

Ethan Galbraith. Played 7(26). Goals 3. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Didn't play much, mainly from the bench but was dependable.

Jake Hessenthaler. Played 51(3). Goals 0. Assists 6. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Another solid season from Hess. Potentially won't play as much next season though.

Harry Clifton. Played 49(3). Goals 3. Assists 3. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

A good season from Clifton in midfield. Hasn't quite reached his potential yet either.

Liam Sercombe. Played 3(5). Goals 0. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2022.

One that will definitely be leaving at the end of the season. Has been okay for me though.

Brennan Dickinson. Played 5(23). Goals 3. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2022.

Came in as back up, and hasn't complained. Been solid enough and given me an option from the bench at either left back, or left wing. Haven't decided if he will be here next season.

Max Wright. Played 48(4). Goals 10. Assists 10. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Came through our youth system, and is still impressing. Managed to bag double figures in both, and hasn't reached his potential yet.

Ronan Darcy. Played 44(2). Goals 2. Assists 9. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

One of the stars of the transfer window. Had a decent season, but hopefully he will get double figures in assists next season.

Sammy Ameobi. Played 50(2). Goals 16. Assists 5. Loan Expires 30/6/2022.

My signing of the season. I was expecting him to be good, but not quite that good. Is out of contract with Forest, so I will explore the possibility of signing him permanently.

James Tilley. Played 15(31). Goals 4. Assists 2. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Makes an impact from the bench. Isn't the best, but hasn't reached his potential and is versatile which is always a bonus.

Charles Vernam. Played 3(12). Goals 1. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2022.

Out of contract at the end of the season, and will move on. Has been a good servant for us, but hasn't reached his potential, and I can do with better.

Strikers:

Josh Koroma. Played 12(33). Goals 5. Assists 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Came in as back up, and was okay for me. Gives me a different option up top.

Amadou Bakayoko. Played 43(6). Goals 11. Assists 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2022.

Is out of contract at the end of the season, but I haven't decided on him. Has scored 26 goals in 70(16) games for us.

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@Jogo Bonito yeah Wallace and Cooper are definitely two of the better players to start with. Wallace in particular has been very impressive, pretty much everything good we’re doing goes through him. Bradshaw and O’brien are decent up front in moments but not as consistently. Molumby has been pretty good so far for me, although I’ve maybe not used him as much as I should. Starting to look at who might be available for free during the summer as don’t anticipate having much of a transfer budget but can shave a bit off the wage with loans expiring and clearing some of the weaker or unhappy players out. Terminated Steele’s loan and had an offer for Leonard who has hardly played which is worth around £800k overall which I’m more than happy to take and run to the bank with!

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@andy_gtfc An unlucky end to an excellent season. It will be interesting to see what moves you make in the summer, you're definitely getting closer to that next promotion.

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39 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

@andy_gtfc An unlucky end to an excellent season. It will be interesting to see what moves you make in the summer, you're definitely getting closer to that next promotion.

I'm pretty close to making my final signings.

My team would be as follows:

GK: James McKeown

RB: Luke Hendrie

CB: Mattie Pollock

CB: Charlie Wiggett

LB: Brandon Mason (New Signing)

CM: Jake Hessenthaler

CM: Harry Clifton

RW: Max Wright

ACM: Ronan Darcy

LW: Sammy Ameobi (converted into a permanent)

ST: Charlie Wyke (new signing)

 

My second team:

GK: Jakub Ojrzynski

RB: Jordan Brown (loan from Derby)

CB: Angus MacDonald (new signing)

CB:

LB: Nick Anderton (new signing)

CM: Ethan Galbraith

CM: Chay Cooper (new signing)

RW: Chiedozie Ogbene (new signing)

ACM: James Tilley

LW:

ST: Josh Koroma

 

A couple more signings still to come.

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19 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

 

@FlairRA A good finish back in the second tier. That's quite a young striker pairing you have, but it looks like you have done some sensible business there. Smith is somebody I considered signing for West Brom on a free transfer this summer (2021) as he has HGC status with Albion. i wasn't convinced he would be right for me at this time though, so decided not to do the deal in the end.

Thank you, unfortunately not doing so well on my second crack at the Championship, sitting in 20th after 15 games. Conceding goals to long shots and set pieces is becoming very frustrating, unfortunately. Now debating whether to start a new save, especially now that I'm more well versed on how to play the lower leagues. 

That's a very solid squad you've got there at West Brom, Brewester at 8.5 mllion is a real bargain! 

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So,

I'm back after a while away. Work and illness took effect for a bit.

Doing a save with Forest for a bit.

Few incomings, with the larger fees being spread over 3 or 4 seasons.

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Zaper heads back to Osijek for the season, and will eventually replace Ben Watson. Dorsch and Kishna both come for first team football, and Connolly as a replacement option from the bench while I develop the youngsters.

4 loans heading out, with Dekel-Daks and En-Nayeh getting a season of experience, before being sent either to league clubs on loan, or, being used in the cup runs.

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Couple of future deals also agreed, with Yohan Benalouane leaving, which will free £30k p/w up, and Branimir Kalaica coming from Benfica, who will be the eventual long term replacement for Michael Dawson in my side.

The forward line of Kishna, Lolley, Grabban and Connolly are scoring plenty of goals, and, after a few early SNAFU, the defence is beginning to do its bit as well, with the centre backs chipping in with a couple of goals each as well. (Lolley has 16 goal contributions, 9 goal, 7 assists, in 20 games, and Kishna 12 in the same)

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Leeds have just lost Bielsa, who has gone to Spain, and been replaced by Sam Allardyce.

Most important for me, was my last result :D

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I'll put an update up as soon as I get to January.

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4 hours ago, FlairRA said:

Thank you, unfortunately not doing so well on my second crack at the Championship, sitting in 20th after 15 games. Conceding goals to long shots and set pieces is becoming very frustrating, unfortunately. Now debating whether to start a new save, especially now that I'm more well versed on how to play the lower leagues. 

That's a very solid squad you've got there at West Brom, Brewester at 8.5 mllion is a real bargain! 

Thanks. Hang in there and you'll feel lots of satisfaction for riding it out and then making progress, even if next season.

@robterrace Welcome back and I hope you are feeling better now.

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image.thumb.png.d7864058f576d09f094d012f6348ff9f.png

More than twice the value of my next highest valued player... :seagull: :lol:

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5 hours ago, FlairRA said:

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More than twice the value of my next highest valued player... :seagull: :lol:

Who made that deal anyways :D

 

It wasn't you, no?

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Posted (edited)

Crewe - Season 3
For a side that was predicted to be in the middle of the relegation battle, I'd say we did pretty well. Had the smallest wage budget in the Championship and it got worse when the new owners decided to cut my wage budget, sell two of my best prospects and was thinking about selling the club (yay :().
Headlining the transfer windows was the signing of Spurs reject John Bostock, former Chile international Mati Fernandez, the return of Charlie Kirk, George Cooper, and Chuks Aneke and also a hidden gem in the making in Stephy Mavididi (who came from Juve on a free). Cooper and Aneke didn't make much of an impact so I sold them in the winter. Mika was whining about playing time so I sold him too. I got a new Busqets in the making with former La Masia graduate Ferran and Taylor Harwood-Bellis was the CB we need to shore up the backline.
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Here is the tactic. I couldn't really get a consistent tactic in so I settled  for a bit of defensive solidarity with an extra CB
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And the results
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And now the players
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Top goalscorer but he was ineffective upfront. Not bringing him back anytime soon.

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Most consistent player in the side. Glad to snap him up on a free when nobody else wanted him

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Hiddem gem found once again. Homegrown and can play anywhere I want him to.

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What a player. Scored a lot of goals for a defender

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Needed a goalie to replace Will and he did pretty well

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Busquets 2.0

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Still a good CB. Glad I renewed him on the cheap

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Deadball specialist strikes again. Look at those stats :o

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He was inconsistent as a LB and I hope to sell him on

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He may not be up to scratch for this division. At least not as a defender

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Another flop. Didn't do too well anywhere I put him. I'm happy to say I let him go after the season

And everything else
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Edited by Jean0987654321

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12 hours ago, Jean0987654321 said:

Who made that deal anyways :D

 

It wasn't you, no?

No, the board before me. Great work at Crewe!

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Season 20/21 - Review

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An incredibly disappointing season, after finishing 9th last time. My tactics weren't good enough and I paid the price for poor squad building, shown by only using 20 players across the whole season, which isn't enough in a league like the Championship. We also displayed a terrible tendency to concede goals from set pieces or long shots throughout the season, which was very frustrating. Nonetheless I've enjoyed my time here and my first dip into the lower leagues, I think I'll move on (despite the board allowing me another season) and dip into League 2!

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@Jean0987654321 A very good season with Crewe, nice update.

@FlairRA That was a tough season but glad you enjoyed Blackpool despite the relegation. Good luck at your new club in League 2.

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Hey guys! Coming back here after a fairly long hiatus. My country is in a complete lock down as well just like most other parts of the world so seemed a good time to pick up FM again :)

Caught up on everyone else's games over the last couple of days and there's some great reads in here. Shout outs to Blackpool, Grimsby, Albion, Crewe!

@Jogo Bonito I am continually impressed by your ability to switch clubs as soon as you get promoted to the EPL 😂

As for me, after watching the new season of the Sunderland documentary I have been inspired to give it another shot up in Wearside. I took over at the turn of the year with the club outside the playoff positions. Only played a couple of months but so far its already been very enjoyable. 

This is my first game on the new update which means there are some changes in the squad. One thing of note is that Will Grigg seems to have been nerfed so he is now way off quality but on high big wages. The squad needs a fair bit of work just as in real life. 

I want to keenly watch the financial situation as well and make sure we are making money again inspired by the documentary. So far the only transfer of note has been Tarique Fosu on loan and bringing back Aiden McGeady, while we have really beefed up the back room staff including a return for Kevin Phillips!

Midway through March we have climbed up to 3rd place in the league just a point off Rotherham but having played a game more and only 6 league games to go. So the end of the season should be interesting, playoffs for sure with a slim shot at automatic promotion! 

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7 minutes ago, karanhsingh said:

As for me, after watching the new season of the Sunderland documentary I have been inspired to give it another shot up in Wearside. I took over at the turn of the year with the club outside the playoff positions. Only played a couple of months but so far its already been very enjoyable. 

Midway through March we have climbed up to 3rd place in the league just a point off Rotherham but having played a game more and only 6 league games to go. So the end of the season should be interesting, playoffs for sure with a slim shot at automatic promotion! 

Thanks, and yes, the PL usually isn't for me! 

Welcome back with Sunderland (and the same to Kevin Phillips), it should be an intriguing finish to the season.

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Posted (edited)

Lots of interesting updates on here recently, clearly lock-down combined with the Easter Bank Holiday weekend is  a recipe for good FM career progress!

So a brief update from The University of Bolton Stadium (well... brief for my standards!)

Bolton Wanderers - Season 4 - Part 2

When I last reported on our progress we were in the relegation zone and things weren't looking all that positive for The Trotters. I did, however, have some hope as we had switched to a 4-1-2-2-1 (wide) formation in the final game of my last update and we had played very well in a drawing effort against Fulham.

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We began the month with a trip to the King Power Stadium, a fixture I had identified before the season started as likely our toughest fixture of the campaign. They still have Youri Tielemans! We lost the game, but played pretty well and I even went away feeling a little hard done by that we didn't get a draw, as their goal was a soft set piece. The rest of the fixtures in September were against teams also in the bottom half of the table, so I knew this would be make or break for us.

We began against QPR and put in a shift to get a well deserved victory. The winner was scored by MOTM Doyle-Hayes who is operating in a box-to-box midfielder role alongside Brownhill. With Garner sitting behind them as a deep lying playmaker with defensive duties, the team was looking well balanced. I was feeling fairly confident of securing a win leading up to our next game against Hull, but could not predict our margin of victory. 5-0 is my biggest result in four seasons as Bolton manager, in a competitive fixture. Lemperle was the star of this result, playing on the right wing and cutting in to score a hat-trick on his left. Stuparevic ended a barren spell to score, and even now-squad player Streete got on the scoresheet, coming on late in the game to cover at right back, a position not even familiar to him. Next up were Middlesborough. We looked comfortable at 1-0 until an 82nd minute red card for Brownhill made things nervy. We hung on and secured the three points. Finally, Bristol Rovers. This fixture had banana skin written all over it, but thanks to an own goal (the ball was going in anyway) we secured a victory here too.

What a difference a month makes. I'd gone from contemplating starting a new save to falling back in love with my squad again.

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October was a tougher month, but I still have maintained a lot of the positivity from the month before. We lost away at Sheffield United, a victory firmly in the category of 'games we expect to lose'. We got back to winning ways though with a victory over Birmingham. 1-0 has quickly become our favourite scoreline and Mbenza had developed into a key player after a slow start. These narrow victories highlight that we are playing well but struggling to score goals. We create tonnes of chances each game but my forwards aren't putting them away.

We didn't win in our last five games before the pre-World Cup winter break, which sounds bad on paper but we actually secured some good results. Score draws away at Elland Road and Hillsborough are good results in anyone's books. Barnsley were 5th and Wigan were 3rd when I took them on, so both were having great seasons and performing well above expectations. These were extremely frustrating fixtures as we were much the better side in both games but only came away with 0-0 draws. We had far more shots and possession, for instance in the Wigan game we had 22 shots and 60% possession.

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At the half-way point of the season we sit 16th in the league, not too far off the board's expected finish of mid-table and surpassing the medias expectation of a relegation dog fight. We play good football and on the whole have decent players, the big issue though is a lack of goal scoring. Stuparevic bagged 17 league goals last season but has only mustered two this season. Brown has been presented more chances to play this season than the one prior, but has only repaid my faith with one goal. Our top scorer at this point is Mbenza, who only has four. If one of my forwards can kick into gear and start scoring then we could see ourselves in a secure league position.

Star performers have been my midfield trio of Garner, Brownhill and Doyle-Hayes. I wish I had moved Garner into his deeper position in my prior three seasons managing him, as this appears to be where he is most effective, with space to spray the ball around the pitch.

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I constructed a mini pre-season prior to the league restarting on Boxing Day after the 2022 World Cup to keep the players match fit and build up some form. I was worried that I had picked too strong an opposition when we were pumped 4-0 by Southampton, but my faith was restored when we beat another Premier League side, Watford, 3-1 a few days later. Next up was a set of Ligue 1 opposition; Guingamp and Montpellier. I thought these were going to be tough games but they turned out to both be very comfortable victories. We finished the period with two morale boosting wins over non-league opposition. I feel like we are raring to go, so fingers crossed for a strong second half of the Championship season.

Edited by Dong21

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@Dong21 Excellent update as usual, and great to see things have improved again for you at Bolton. I have to agree about your need for a more reliable goal scorer, but on the whole it's a good season.

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Looks like you have the same issue I did @Dong21. When your strikers aren't hitting the barn door then you're screwed :(

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I'm not sure whether I should be a little excited about this.

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25 minutes ago, robterrace said:

I'm not sure whether I should be a little excited about this.

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I would rather wait it out than to get set up for disappointment

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I finished my first season with Notts County, comfortably top of the league. I haven't managed at this level for years, so I wasn't sure if I should adapt from my usual possession based style. I stuck to what I knew best, and despite some early doubts, it worked very well.

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Enzio Boldewijn was the star player, as expected, with 16 goals from the right wing. Plenty of interest in him, but no bids ever came in.

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Ricardo Campos was probably the pick of the signings in the first season, along with Issam Ben Khemis, who I've now sold to Southend. Campos is proving a steady back-up for a few positions in League Two.

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I've had a clear out out in the summer, in preparation for League Two - accepted any reasonable bids that came in, and released all that were out of contract. I've mainly tried to sign players under 25, with the odd exceptions, to sell on for a profit in future. With the exception of Jordan Boon (£90k from Bolton) all my signings have been free transfers or loans.

I brought in Alex Jakubiak on a free transfer. He's been on fire with 12 goals in the first 15 league games, but he's just picked up a bit of injury. Not convinced his understudy will be good enough to carry on that form, but hopefully he'll be back for a second half of the season promotion push.

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The board want us to avoid a relegation battle, but I fancy our chances of a play-off finish. We're certainly strong enough..

 

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(not sure why Boldewijn appears again down here)

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Another signing incoming, £750k over 3 years.

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Posted (edited)

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Millwall Football Club - Season One + Season Two

You're not dreaming. I am actually posting an update from a save I've had with a club in the English Football League. Me and two friends have been using this quarantine period to really nail down an online save we have started in the last few weeks. We enjoyed a similar save last year with clubs in the Championship and played two full seasons, they chose the clubs they support, Birmingham and Wigan, whilst I took one of the teams closest to me geographically - Blackburn (I refused to be Preston because... bad memories, I digress). During that save, I won promotion via the play-offs and accompanied Birmingham into the Premier League before going on to record a top-half finish in my first season back in the top-flight. I was outdone as Birmingham went onto finish inside the top four and Wigan eventually joined us after winning the Championship. The save was played towards the back-end of the FM cycle so we never got to continue which was a shame. 

So, we decided we would do the same thing once again. Those two took the same teams and I decided I would take a team with a similar media prediction and quality of squad. I didn't want to be Blackburn again and fancied a new challenge which eventually led me to take on Millwall and replace Gary Rowett at The Den. The squad inherited at Millwall is somewhat decent. There are areas of concern and not exactly a great budget to rectify them so the loan market became my best friend. I signed Neil Taylor (Aston Villa) and Gaizka Larrazabal (Athletic Bilbao) on loan for the season as well as completing a cheap £500,000 deal for winger Cristian Cedres from Las Palmas. 

Results were extremely patchy and I looked set to be confined to a mid-table finish. If I could push for the top-half, that would have been fantastic come the start of January. Our main issue was consistency and in particular consistency when it came to home and away games. We were able to extract decent results at home but failed to do so away from home. In fact, I only managed to record two victories away from home in the entirety of the first-half of the season against struggling Stoke and Luton. However, a change in system eventually began to change our fortunes as we began to get more of a tune out of striker Tom Bradshaw who had been rather average at this point and suddenly began to pick up impressive results both home and away.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson would leave the club in February to head to the MLS which left us rather bereft of striking options aside from Bradshaw. It didn't matter however as Matt Smith was never really called upon due to Bradshaw's blistering form which would leave him as the top goalscorer at the end of the season and a place in Wales's EURO 2020 squad in the summer. At the other end of the pitch, Bartosz Bialkowski would go on to record the most clean-sheets in the league. Consequently our improvement led us to snatching a play-off place on the last day. We looked set to concede our position on the final day as we trailed 3-0 at Blackburn, but we stormed back in the second-half to record a 3-3 draw that just about saw us over the line. 

Birmingham went on to win the division and would be welcoming Premier League football next season whilst Wigan were confined to a 19th place finish after a season largely consisting of struggle and a lack of consistency which we seemed to get over whilst they failed to. Unsurprisingly, Luton and Charlton were relegated after horrific seasons and they were accompanied by Stoke who absolutely flopped.

In the play-offs we welcomed the task of Reading who finished third and narrowly missed out on automatic promotion at the expense of Brentford. We were held to a 1-1 draw at The Den before we took an early lead in the reverse game. We would be pegged back to take the game to extra-time where neither side managed to get the upper-hand and score a decisive goal to snatch the tie. Penalties were required which had my nerves jangling to say the very least. It would be Millwall who would triumph though and set-up a play-off final tie against West Brom. Could I be about to do the same thing I did last save with Blackburn? The answer... no. West Brom would beat us 2-1 after extra-time after a goalless ninety minutes. A late consolation from Aidan O'Brian wasn't enough to provoke a late fightback and the Baggies celebrated promotion back to the Premiership. Heartbreaking stuff.

Season two promised a lot for Millwall after a promising start but ultimately ended with a horrific run of games that saw us endure a run of twelve games without a win and surrender our position in the play-offs with ease. I gloss over the season because there was very little to discuss in the end. A tenth place finish saw us consigned to yet another season in the second-tier alongside Wigan who finished in eighth but never quite had enough to challenge the top six who absolutely dominated the division. Bournemouth would amass over 100 points to seal the title and they were joined by Crystal Palace. Both sides retained their star players (Wilson, Zaha and the like). Watford would do the same but failed to win promotion via the play-offs with Leeds defeating Fulham on penalties in the play-off final. Reading would once again suffer a defeat in the semi-finals. Birmingham finished fifteenth in their return to the Premier League, eleven points clear of Brentford who went down with Southampton and West Brom.

One of the biggest issues was the approach I took to the season I believe. Last season, Tom Bradshaw was left with very little competition and consequently had no decent option to replace him if he was to get injured or simply have a poor run of games. We were fortunate this didn't occur too much last campaign. I signed Eddie Nketiah on loan from Arsenal and quickly learnt that having too first-team strikers wasn't going to work.

We sold on: Cristian Cedres (Derby, £1.1M), Matt Smith (Kilmarnock, £250,000), Jiri Skalak (Caen, £210,000), Frank Fielding (Rochdale, £155,000), Alex Pearce (£1.3M, Swansea), Ryan Leonard (£400,000, Charlton)

Ladislav Krejci (signed on a free from Bologna) would be the ultimate reflection of our season. He was the man to rely on in the opening fifteen games or so and then failed to record over a 6.5 rating after that. Jed Wallace was injured for most of the season but Connor Mahoney somehow ended up recording the most assists in the entire division whilst Bialkowski once again managed to amass within the top three in the clean-sheet department. James Garner was one of the player's of the season on loan from Manchester United whilst Jayson Molumby (Brighton) was inconsistent after being brought back for another season. Jarrad Branthwaite proved to be a decent option when called upon (Everton, loan) as was Rene Krhin (free transfer from Nantes) in midfield. Harry Toffolo (on loan from Huddersfield) never really impressed after returning to the club. Francisco Sierralta (£850,000 from Udinese) a 23-year-old central defender showed great promise and was a mainstay in our defence but similarly to most in the squad showed real lapses at times. Jordan Archer returned to the club on a free as a back-up keeper but never played. Issues regarding players head's being turned like Mahlon Romeo were unable to be resolved as no decent transfer offer came in and when it did (£6,000,000 from Crystal Palace) it was rejected by the board who wanted an extra million on top of that to which the Eagles refused. These issues seemed to add-up and perhaps caused the sudden slip in results (who knows?) so the idea was to rectify this in the upcoming transfer window ahead of our third season in charge.

Except something unexpected happened... just before the final game of the season, there was a board takeover. There were three separate interested parties at one time and the one which did take over was voted as the least popular amongst the fans in a poll which I did find quite amusing. They were keen on replacing me with Alex Neil who had been sacked by Preston and were also lining up two transfer options (a defender from Spezia and a midfielder from Real Valladolid) that they would go on to sign. I would retain my job but was left with absolutely no money and the transfer revenue was stuck at 30% which wasn't enough to bring in replacements for players I looked to sell such as Romeo who departed to Brentford for £7.25M and Mattia Sprocati (a panic-buy to replace Jed Wallace who was out for four months made by the previous board for £2M and did very little) for £2.7M. They were unwilling to budge and I was questioning whether I was happy to continue in my role. I had been fairly successful and was five years ahead of the club vision... the treatment from the new board was unacceptable. I noticed the vacancy at Fulham was available after their defeat in the play-off final and I jumped at it. After over a month of waiting, I finally heard back from Shahid Khan and was offered an interview in which I promised I could deliver promotion. I owed Millwall nothing at this point, I thought. Sure enough, I was handed the job but not before realising the Millwall board had suddenly decided to inject some cash into the transfer and wage budget seemingly to keep me there. I wasn't for turning and decided to accept Khan's offer to head to Craven Cottage. A controversial move? Maybe.

I did make one notable signing before departing The Den. Dzenis Burnic was signed on a free from Borussia Dortmund after making a solitary appearance last season in the Bundesliga and impressing for second-tier side Dynamo Dresden. He came to the club valued at over £9M and subsequently became our highest valued asset. He has since been misused by Neil Harris who made a return to his old stomping ground and I'm disgusted to be honest with you. He has single-handedly undone all my work in a matter of months playing players in their wrong positions etc. they now loom towards the bottom-end of the table halfway through the season and he has just been sacked. Good. Alex Neil is still unemployed so maybe he will be next in the hot-seat after their previous interest. I'm glad to see their disloyalty/lack of support towards me has worked out.

So a new chapter awaits at Fulham for me. I will update you in a separate update as we are now partway through the season and I'll detail everything up to this point. Let me tell you though, it feels good to have money to spend!

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Edited by DefinitelyTaylor

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So, into January, season 1.

We find ourselves sat in 3rd place in the Championship, having turned out some remarkable attacking performances along the way.

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An expected slow start to the season turned out well, as a good run of results saw us make ground on the top end of the table going through September and October

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The only real disappointment was a poor performance against Bristol City in the league, and one against Sheffield Wednesday the week before Christmas.

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In terms of player performances, Lewis Grabban (13 goals in 24 league), Ricardo Kishna (7 goals and 3 assists in 25 league games) and Joe Lolley (8 goals, 4 assists in 25 league games) are standouts, with Joao Carvalho turning out some amazing performances as a supplier of chances. Ben Watson has belied his advancing years, and has been the metronome at the base of midfield, with Niklas Dorsch, Alfa Semedo and Tiago Silva providing the running in front of him. Watson is out of contract at the end of the season, and is considering retirement.

In terms of recruitment, the previously mentioned signing of Marko Bulat happens at the beginning of the month. Also due to depart, was Yohan Benalouane, the defender heading to Denmark, and taking his large £30k p/w wages with him, which would more than help us in terms of FFP.

 

I can't forsee there being much business to do, but, a lot will depend on outgoings, if any happen.

 

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First season with Millwall finished, and it was very up and down. Started the season fairly well, albeit slightly inconsistently but would have been more than possible to get into the top half and that's what I was hoping for at that stage.

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And then everything just fell apart. I'm really not sure why but it did. I guess looking back it had started to go a bit sour into October and November but we were still playing reasonably well in matches, just struggling to get over the line or having someone sent off stupidly and then not being able to recover. But December it got worse and January was awful. The Luton game we battered them just couldn't get the ball in the net and everything after that seems pretty self explanatory. Was genuinely worried at that point the slide would continue until the end of the season. Fortunately managed to pick up a few hard fought wins and then turned it round a bit. Ended up in 13th which was fine considering what happened in January/February!

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James Garner was fantastic on loan and I'd love to bring him back in again. Jed Wallace was also very good and was pretty happy with Tom Bradshaw in the end as well. A few more goals would have been nice but that's probably more down to me being not great at building a tactic or system given I haven't played for ages. 

Transfer wise I brought in Pedro Chirivella on loan from Liverpool in January to add another body with Ryan Leonard departing to the MLS for around £800k. It was also a slightly sneaky move as I'd been looking in January at who would be available on a free come summer as I wasn't expecting much of a budget for transfers so thought I could have a look at him and maybe convince him to stay on. Agreed a deal to sign Alex Carbonell on a free from Valencia as he seemed worth a punt.

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Finally managed to offload Jiri Skalak to Rotherham for around £400k (contributing to his wages still but less than half of his previous £16k per week!) and Smith will be leaving too, potentially just on loan but gets some money off the wage bill. Max Kilman and Chirivella will be joining on free transfers from Wolves and Liverpool and will hopefully add some higher quality while in possession, particularly for coming out from the back. Expected most of my dealings from then to be loans or more frees but then Villa came in for Thompson and I was able to get £10 million for him. Would have liked to keep him but felt he'd cause a fuss if I rejected and £10 million is a lot of money (record transfer). Now trying to weigh up what I do with that money. Definitely need another midfielder or two but will try for Garner on loan again. Left wing is lacking in quality so that would be my ideal area to strengthen but not sure on who just yet. Would also love to bring in another striker to compete with Bradshaw. Would love to bring in Nketiah or Brewster on loan but Brewster isn't even showing up on my player search so assume he would have no interest or is unavailable and Arsenal want me to contribute more of Nketiah's wages than the board will allow so it's back to the drawing board. On nights for the next 3 nights so plenty of time for me to think about who/what I want haha

 

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On 14/04/2020 at 19:16, DefinitelyTaylor said:

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Millwall Football Club - Season One + Season Two

You're not dreaming. I am actually posting an update from a save I've had with a club in the English Football League.

Troubling times. How do we report that somebody has hacked in to your dormant account?!? Welcome back with Millwall.

 

On 14/04/2020 at 19:16, DefinitelyTaylor said:

 

So a new chapter awaits at Fulham for me. I will update you in a separate update as we are now partway through the season and I'll detail everything up to this point. Let me tell you though, it feels good to have money to spend!

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And welcome back with Fulham :lol:

@Rysen Also, a decent season with Millwall despite your horrific run in those few months. Good luck with your plans for the second season.

 

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I recently started a save with Salford, managed to get promoted in the first season through the Playoffs but finding the build for League One football some what of a challenge.

Really fun save though.

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On 15/04/2020 at 20:59, Jogo Bonito said:

Troubling times. How do we report that somebody has hacked in to your dormant account?!?

:lol: It's good to be back. 

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So, my second season at West Brom, their third in game. After winning the League 1 title at a canter last term, it was time to see how my purposefully small squad would cope with the board expectation of a second successive promotion. I'd chosen not to spend the majority of my budget and was keen to put my faith in the group that had come through the ranks at the club.

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Pre-season had gone well, and it was off to Vicarage Road for the opener right at the end of July. A first half lead courtesy of Kyle Edwards put us in the driving seat, but we managed to concede an equaliser in the final quarter and then a 94th minute winner to come away shell-shocked and empty handed. It was undoubtedly a journey of discovery in August, where three wins were mixed with a home draw with Crystal Palace and a home loss to Brentford, both of whom were in the top three at the time. Worse than that, a very average Charlton side managed to dump us out of the Carabao Cup in Round 1 on penalties. At least the away form was good, and that extended in to September where a third straight win on the road  kicked off the month in style. The remaining three fixtures saw us go unbeaten too, and at this stage my side was in and around the all-important top six. 

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October was a good month to be an Albion fan, and four straight victories included wins over Leeds, Blackburn (4th) and Reading (3rd) before succumbing to a Middlesbrough side in and around the top six in the final outing of the month, as our nine match unbeaten run came to an abrupt end. November saw us put another run together, but truth be told three draws and one win against much friendlier opposition was nothing to be too impressed by. However, as December came along, my apprehension took a back seat as we struck up four straight wins which took us to the top of the table. The month (and year) finished with dropped points against both Blackburn (3rd) and Middlesbrough (2nd), but given their lofty positions these were both decent results I felt.

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As the league table below shows, my side are currently top of the tree after 25 games. It's quite tight though, with only four points separating the top five teams - and several other sides are very close to the pack that are on my heels. The graph shows an always satisfying upward trajectory, and as you can see, my sensible financial management has us in a very healthy position for what lies ahead.

It looks like being an intriguing battle to the end of the season now, with a play-off spot (let alone automatic promotion) by no means a foregone conclusion. I've made one transfer in advance of the winter transfer window opening, with one of my summer transfer targets now available to land on a permanent basis for a modest fee. He is a player that fits my signing profile to a tee, although that does mean I may need to move on one of the players occupying that position at the moment. I doubt if there will be much other (if any) business conducted in or out, but with the whole window ahead of me I won't make an absolute promise on that at this stage.  

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Great start to the season @Jogo Bonito, although I wouldn't expect anything less. Particularly impressive considering how frugal you were with your large budget.

I'm actually considering taking Morgan Rogers on loan, to try and tackle my goal scoring issue.

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38 minutes ago, Dong21 said:

Great start to the season @Jogo Bonito, although I wouldn't expect anything less. Particularly impressive considering how frugal you were with your large budget.

I'm actually considering taking Morgan Rogers on loan, to try and tackle my goal scoring issue.

Thanks Dong. He started on the bench and scored a couple of important goals early on for me, but hasn't added too much since then. Here is an image of how he looks right now. You could definitely do worse, if you don't have to pay his full wage like I am.

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Right, hopefully time to get back into my Grimsby save... still looking for that left winger and centre half to make my team complete for the season ahead.

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Quick update, showing a few future incoming signings. as I get to the tail end of the season

 

As well as Kalaica, who is coming from Benfica, Argentine/Spanish winger, Fran Feuillassier comes in on a free from Real Madrid, with the intention of pushing Kishna and Lolley.

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Joining from Estoril on a free, is Marcos Valente. At 26, hes slightly older than my usual player signings, but, he'll fill a role in the back 4.

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Back to Croatia for the next signing, with Croatia U21 international, Nediljko Labrovic joining from Sibinek

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The last signing coming in, at the moment, is Chumi, joining for £375k from Barcelona.

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Some good signings there @robterrace!

I have my back up left winger, Otis Khan, he can cover multiple positions, but also signed my back up centre half, Ben Richards-Everton, released by Bradford.

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Season 2 with Millwall has begun following the end of my night shifts. Pre-season and the transfer window was spent revamping the staff at all levels and trying to upgrade the squad. On the staff front, coaching levels are now either the highest average or close to across the league which I'm happy with. The number of coaches and scouts allowed by the board increased over the summer which was a nice surprise as during the previous season they had reduced the number of coaches and physios.

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Transfers shown above. Pretty happy with my business. Selling Thompson for £10 million feels like a better bit of business now than it did at the time as Villa have already transfer listed him for less than they paid me for him! May keep an eye on it and try for a cheeky loan offer in January. Signing Brewster on loan allowed me to offload Bodvarsson who barely played last season. Very happy with bringing in Emile Smith Rowe as AML was a position that needed more quality and his versatility will be a big help. Really wanted to bring Garner back but apparently I'm an adversary of Solskjaer so United wouldn't even consider it so Molumby was brought back on loan and Palmeiro was added late in the window to improve depth in midfield. Had to adjust my transfer budget to allow for more wages but still a few million left if something is needed in January.

3 league matches played and one in the Carabao cup. We've started very well which I'm hopeful we can continue a bit longer this season than last. The one disappointment so far has been losing to Cardiff despite absolutely dominating from start to finish. Should really have one by 3 goals but just couldn't finish. Trying not to throw too many new signings in at once to begin with so it's mostly been the same players as last year with Smith Rowe and Kilman the regular starters but trying to get Carbonell and Brewster into the first 11 over the next few weeks.

Hoping for a good season this year, would be nice to challenge for the play-offs and at the minimum be secure in the top half. As long as we avoid our dreadful run from January of last season I think we should be able to manage it!

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Secured back-to-back promotions with Notts County, after winning the league again. We're now into League One, which I'm expecting to be a lot tougher than the past two seasons.

I received a healthy transfer budget of around £1M, but I've mainly opted for free transfers. The pick of the bunch being Matt Smith and Josh Knight who took some persuading (and relatively low release clauses).

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We've started the season well - currently sat 6th in the table. Also pulled of an upset by beating Everton in the Carabao Cup, and we now have a favourable home tie against Portsmouth in the fourth round.

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Finally managed to get the board to part with some cash to upgrade the woeful training facilities.

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Despite the awful youth facilities, we've produced a bit of a gem. Impressive beard for 17 too,

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So it's been a while :onmehead:To paraphrase Hamlet's famous musings: Life, meh!

But things here are slowly returning to what passes for normal in these strange days and I've found a little more time for FM. Good to see some old familiar faces also returning to the thread, and some good success stories too :thup:.

My save with Rotherham has easily been the slowest season I've ever played, but grabbing an hour here and there means the finish line is in sight. Update incoming...

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Afternoon ladies and gents of the Football League thread. I hope you've all been keeping safe in these uncertain times.

I've managed to begin life in the working world at home on my computer all day, do spreadsheets so that's fun. But anyway my return I return to the EFL thread and see as I've been spending so much time at home, I thought it would be fitting to be with my home town team Barnsley. I did this earlier in the season with an interesting season I'll call it. 

But in classic Barnsley fashion the squad has changed dramatically over the last 6 months, since also dramatically changing over the summer as well :rolleyes:.  Despite my disconsolation about the way the club is heading we'll call it, I've dedided to give it another crack.

So I'll be trialling a diamond or something without wingers, something I actually think is a myth on FM. Like I fail to see how I could ever really be successful with one. But here goes anyway :lol:

 

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Rotherham, L1, season 1

It's so long ago now that I can't actually remember how I ended up here. Factors certainly included wanting a club outside the Championship, a decent playing squad, and a team I've never managed in FM - Rotherham ticked all of those boxes. I also wanted to play a 442 and they're in pretty good shape for that after a busy summer - before my arrival - that saw 10 new signings. We start with an excellent GK in Daniel Iversen (on loan from Leicester), two good FBs in Matt Olusunde and Joe Mattock, strong CBs, what looked like a good midfield group, and four strikers, with Freddie Ladapo and Michael Smith the pick of the latter bunch. Importantly, we had decent-to-good backups across the pitch.

The sole issue of concern was on the left. There's only one natural LW in Trevor Clarke, but he was also the backup for Mattock at LB. With a surplus of CMs, I decided I could use young prospect Ben Wiles as a wide playmaker on the left, but there was no-one else who could rotate in that role. There was a little money in the transfer budget but not enough for a decent solution at LB, but poring over the scouting pages I spotted youngster Callum Nicell, recently released from Leeds. Naturally a DLP in central midfield, he looked more than capable of picking up the WP role so he was signed on a free as Wiles's backup with Clarke rotating with Mattock at LB. Job done!

Unfortunately, we'd barely got the season underway when Clarke suffered a broken foot and was out for a minimum 3 months. Brentford's young LB Dominic Thompson was available for loan and having managed him in my Brentford save I was happy that he could play at L1 level, so he joined on a season loan for a bargain £1500 a week.

Early form

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After the usual pre-season procession of comfortable victories, it came as no surprise when we failed to turn up for our opening competitive game, losing 1-0 to a mediocre Wimbledon side. We did better at home to beat Lincoln by the same score, but then made an early exit from the Carabao Cup against the Imps the following week. But we finished August with three consecutive victories. That run ended in September with two away defeats, although they came against the early league leaders in Doncaster and Sunderland. A couple of minor tactical tweaks produced a stunning result as we then took off on an unbeaten run in the league that would stretch all the way to the end of February. We also enjoyed a mini-run in the FA Cup, seeing off Sunderland and MK Dons as well as a brilliant 3-0 win over Championship Brentford before we eventually succumbed to a narrow 3-2 loss away to Swansea.

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January window

By the time the winter transfer window opened, things were looking very rosy indeed at the New York Stadium. We were top of the league, and by a comfortable margin. Everyone was happy and I had only one small stone in my shoe: the abysmal performances of on-loan striker Josh Koroma. The Huddersfield youngster had bagged his only goal in the Leasing.com trophy against lowly Macclesfield but other wise produced nothing in 5 months. Norwich's Adam Idah was available for loan and willing to join, so Koroma was sent packing. With that minor problem solves, it was onwards and upwards. Ah, but...

Experienced FM hands will know that it is at times like these that your game is about to go a bit Pete Tong. The name of my nemesis is Atlanta. The MLS outfit was obviously in need of defenders because they launched a series of bids for all of my CBs, none of whom was interested in a move so all bids were rejected. Then the first player and his agent arrived at my door.

Them: "In the light of Atlanta's bid, we'd like to discuss a new contract."

Me: Sorry, no money, but I'll be happy to discuss it at the end of the season.

Them: "Not good enough - here's a formal transfer request."

And so it went, one after the other, until I had three of my four CBs hating me. Worse, the rebellion spread with several other players supporting the malcontents. By this point the window had closed, so FM delivered the final blow: star GK Iversen tore his ligaments in a training session and would miss the rest of the season. So we would see out the remaining games with backup 'keeper, 35-year-old Lewis Price, and third-choice Laurence Bilboe who my coaches rate as a leading GK in the VNL/VNS, playing behind a defence riven by unhappiness. And then - of course! - all my strikers forgot how to score. Idah who made a flying start to his time here scored 5 in his first 8 games, and then went another 8 games without finding the net before injuring himself. Top scorer Ladapo started to struggle in early February, scored his last towards the end of the month and has been goalless since. Smith has gone 9 games without a goal, and Kyle Vassell - never the most consistent - hasn't scored at all in 2020.

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Miraculously, these problems didn't show on the pitch until the very last day of February when we surrendered our unbeaten streak to MK Dons. In March we played 4 games and won only one, with a draw and two losses. But while our one-time 14pt lead over 2nd placed Blackpool crumbled, we somehow managed to scrabble enough points together to secure promotion. With three games remaining in the season, we have a 4pt lead over 2nd, but critically a 12pt lead over 3rd placed Doncaster. Given our troubles off the pitch and poor form on it, I have little expectation that we'll win the title. However, we have racked up some positives: best offence and defence, best pass completion percentage, and most clean sheets. Putting the last month aside, we've been brilliant. Now for the Championship.

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9 minutes ago, Jamesbfc1887 said:

I've dedided to give it another crack

Good man :thup:

As for the tactic, I had great success with Ipswich, Plymouth and Stoke playing a 4132, using a Mez and a Car as the outermost of the 3 CMs to compensate for the lack of width. Worked brilliantly, if I say so myself :cool:

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Posted (edited)

Nice to see the updates and other plans that some have. Especially pleased to read the long-awaited Rotherham effort from you (and nice to see you back) @warlock 

That's a good squad there but you had to overcome some typical FM drama to make it, so well done indeed. As Paul Warne has found (on more than one occasion) keeping them in the 2nd tier will be a challenge, especially if half of them are still upset with you.

 

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The last update from The Hawthorns saw my side sitting top of the Championship table after 25 games of the 2021/22 season, but with a clutch of clubs tucked in behind us and capable of pushing past us. The January transfer window was about to open, but I didn't anticipate doing much in the transfer market. So let's see what has happened in the two months that followed.

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The New Year started with an FA Cup tie at home to promotion rivals Brentford (4th), and even I was surprised at the 3-0 beating I gave them. Next up was Leeds in the league, meandering in 10th. But they did to us what I had done to Brentford, and a humbling 3-0 thumping was handed out to us. The rest of the month couldn't have gone better though, with five wins on the trot and goals galore for my side. This sequence included a 5-1 win at Hull and then a 4-1 spanking of Premier League side Aston Villa in the 4th Round of the FA Cup. The final fixture of the month saw me head to Brentford for a league game, and again we outclassed them to claim a 3-0 win (all of the goals within 22 minutes). More of The Bees later.

February was also a good month, with five wins out of six (all in the league) enabling us to establish quite a gap at the summit. Highlights of the month saw wins over Crystal Palace (3rd) and Derby in my 100th game in charge of Albion. A disappointing defeat at Preston took some gloss off our results, and I have to be honest and admit that only strong words at half-time enabled us to overturn a 2-0 deficit at Wigan (23rd) to win 3-2, with all of our goals coming after 75 minutes. 

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The table below shows our comfortable lead after 36 games, and it's very unlikely that the promotion expected by the board will not now come to fruition. I've also got an FA Cup 5th Round tie at Barnsley to come soon, and although not complacent by any means, that would seem to be a very winnable fixture for my in-form boys.

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You'll remember I said Brentford (4th at the turn of the year) would be mentioned again? Well as you can see, they are no longer in the top half. I couldn't believe how that was possible, even allowing for the two 3-0 defeats I handed them, and wanted to see what was going on with them. Well, as you can see below, they had embarked on a  truly horrific run of form and any promotion hopes they had are now well and truly over when you see the run of results they have recorded.

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The transfer window was very quiet again for me, with just one new arrival for the main squad in the form of left-back Sam McCallum from Norwich. I'd tried to sign him in the summer but was not able to, and ended up signing Arthur Zagre instead. With a good deal now possible, I took the chance to bring him in on 1st January, even if it seems I have too many options for that role with Ben Osborn also a natural there now. However, midfielder Sam Field refuses to sign a new contract due to being a rotation option, and with him and George Thorne (injured for nine months) likely to be gone in the summer, my plans for Osborn probably sees him moving back in to midfield. I also made two signings for the Under 23 squad, with central defenders Dion Sanderson (who Wolves had let move to Cardiff) and Teden Mengi (Manchester United) both joining our Development side.

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It should be mentioned that our fine run of results had been achieved even without the injured and influential winger Matheus Pereira (out since mid-December) and in his absence I promoted young forward Rayhaan Tulloch to the main group. He has done OK in his appearances so far, even grabbing a goal, but my Under 23 side were storming towards their second title in succession so I knew I had talent down there. I turned down £1.3 million from Watford for forward Jovan Malcolm, but did take the good sum offered by Fulham (amongst others) for young midfielder Jamie Andrews, who i was unsure about.

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However, the biggest talent from the group appears to be forward Finley Thorndike, who I have been keeping an eye on for some time now. You will see the deadline day offer made by Burnley was quite staggering, but I didn't need the cash and rejected it rather than try to negotiate them up. I felt that was a tremendous offer for a player that hadn't even made it to my first team squad, but I did subsequently promote him and will give him some minutes towards the end of the campaign.

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Edited by Jogo Bonito

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1 hour ago, Jogo Bonito said:

As Paul Warne has found (on more than one occasion) keeping them in the 2nd tier will be a challenge, especially if half of them are still upset with you.

Don't believe Paul ever resorted to assassination, but I'm not ruling it out :D

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It sounds like you may need AK47 - we could have done a deal! I mean Kamara, who I sold to Blackburn, and who is currently second in the assists chart, which surprised me somewhat.

My latest Albion update edited in above.

 

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6 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

My latest Albion update edited in above

Looking good there... very good, in fact. Comfortable at the top, money in the bank... what could possibly go wrong? :lol: 

Seriously - keep up the good work. Knowing you as I do, where will you go when promotion is achieved? Time for that York save you've been talking about for months, or will you go for the Derby option you mentioned in another thread? I must admit, on the basis of that thread, I've got a mind to give Derby a proper go. I've dabbled with a couple of half-hearted saves so far this year but I feel there's a good two-year 'project' to be had with Derby and it might (possibly, perhaps) induce me to a promotion year in the PL. On the other hand, there's Rooney!?! As a lifelong United fan I used to love the guy, but ended up disliking him intensely so now he's a major obstacle I'd have to overcome. And on that subject, this is the first FM year where I've never played a United save :eek:.

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