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FM20: The English Football League thread

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I took a break from FM for a few months after guiding my Plymouth Argyle team (my hometown) to the Championship and reaching the "I've taken this team as far as I can" stage after a 4th successive season not getting through the playoffs. Those exploits are a few pages back in this thread.

I have returned to take on Bradford City.  In real life, a foreign chairman showing no interest in the club, several managers coming and going between Stuart McCall's tenures, each signing up another couple of average players or high wage loaners, and the best strikers being loaned out (Doyle then Vaughan).  

In FM terms, this means a bloated squad with on too high wages that in season 1, you can't get rid of as most of them have just been signed.

Season 19/20:

With high expectations but a mess of a squad, and it being a money losing machine, it's quite a challenge getting promotion in the first season.

After an up and down start, a poor run followed by brilliant run finishing on another poor run, we got into the last playoff place but after a promising 1-0 away win against Crew, threw it away with a 1-3 loss in the 2nd leg.

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My tactic was to try to use the loan wingers, who are quite decent to maximise a wing play tactic, crossing into either Target Man Donaldson (not very good, only just signed but a major personality in the squad hierarchy immediately), or Guthrie.

Games usually went along the lines of fairly equal on chances but us losing out the possession while we focused on getting crosses in.

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I'd usually post a screenie of the transfers, but adopting the local thriftiness, the only movement was young Mottley-Henry going on loan to Chorley.

Reaching the playoffs placated the board to avoid getting the sack, and I was on a two year contract, so it's onto to try to slim down and rebuild the squad in the next season.

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2 hours ago, Parmie said:

I took a break from FM for a few months after guiding my Plymouth Argyle team (my hometown) to the Championship and reaching the "I've taken this team as far as I can" stage after a 4th successive season not getting through the playoffs. Those exploits are a few pages back in this thread.

I have returned to take on Bradford City.  In real life, a foreign chairman showing no interest in the club, several managers coming and going between Stuart McCall's tenures, each signing up another couple of average players or high wage loaners, and the best strikers being loaned out (Doyle then Vaughan).  

In FM terms, this means a bloated squad with on too high wages that in season 1, you can't get rid of as most of them have just been signed.

Season 19/20:

With high expectations but a mess of a squad, and it being a money losing machine, it's quite a challenge getting promotion in the first season.

After an up and down start, a poor run followed by brilliant run finishing on another poor run, we got into the last playoff place but after a promising 1-0 away win against Crew, threw it away with a 1-3 loss in the 2nd leg.

Reaching the playoffs placated the board to avoid getting the sack, and I was on a two year contract, so it's onto to try to slim down and rebuild the squad in the next season.

Welcome back with The Bantams. A decent first season, good to know you kept your job and can have a second crack at it. It's a club with massive potential and should be at least a Championship side.

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Season 20/21:

Lets start with the squad surgery required in the close season.

We had 5 loanees in and around the first team, left winger Middleton, right winger Connolly, goalie McGee, playmakers Drevitt and Cooke. McGee, reaching the end of his Portsmouth contract, accepted a permanent contract offer to stay.

5 more players were released, not quite having the quality needed against those who had to remain. Taylor technically went on a free transfer just before contract expiry, Novak didn't have the aerial ability (or movement ability for low crosses) to fit tactically and with another glut of fullbacks still at the club, Longridge could go as well.

In total, that's 13 departures from the first team squad. Vaughan comes back from his loan so the only problem areas where I was short was the wings, and I improved the central midfield positions. With just 3 new additions and a loan, we're ready to go using the same wing play tactic as the first season.

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I've continued building relationships with the remaining players where I have strong support across the whole team, so the league campaign runs much more consistently, other than over Christmas and early January where we go 5 games without a win, theres the occasional loss but nothing dents the morale and we're hovering around the top of the table throughout.

Newport County have spent more time at the top of the table than us, we are 2nd and they are top going into the last game of the season, but as the fickle FM gods dictate, it's a title decider at Rodney Parade.

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We're helped by a County player rashly being sent off early in the game and go on to dominate, winning promotion as Champions.

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We're still £500k overdrawn, and occasionally someone threatens to try a takeover, but chairman Rupp has fallen in love with the club following our success and rebuffs any interest. With a new contract signed up to, I start to think about how to consolidate into League One next season.

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Posted (edited)

I have to recommend Maximus Tainio to those of you that are managing teams in National or League Two. He has followed me on my save since National League and we are now fighting for promotion in Championship. Been absolutely insane in the regista role!

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Edited by Bergbatov

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@Bergbatov Very impressive stats. He is due to be out of contract at the end of the first season but I think I have enough midfielders without him - even if they don't do as well as he has for you!

@Parmie Great stuff and what a perfect way to seal the title - best of luck in League 1.

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Grimsby Town FC 22/23 Season:

Following on from the disappointment of the play-offs, we go again. A slight new team meant potentially time for players to gel, but we currently find ourselves within the play-offs come January.

Goalkeepers:

James McKeown. Played 29. Conceded 28. Clean Sheets 10. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

A real joy to manage, even at 33 year old. I've already given him a new deal till 2024, meaning by the end of his deal, he will have been at Grimsby for 13 years, something you don't see very often now-a-days.

Jakub Ojrzynski. Played 2. Conceded 6. Clean Sheets 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Happy as second choice, playing in the trophy games. Hasn't impressed so far, but hopefully he picks up a little.

David Stockdale. Played 1. Conceded 0. Clean Sheets 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Signed as emergency cover, after Jakub picked up an injury. Solid third choice keeper, but at 37, he will be leaving at the end of the season.

Defenders

Luke Hendrie. Played 28. Goals 1. Assists 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Still my first choice right back. Hitting an average rating of 6.95, he's become very dependable for us. Regardless of the division, I will be looking to extend his deal next season I think.

Jordan Brown. Played 5(3). Goals 0. Assists 0. Loan Expires 30/6/2023.

The versatile defender, joined from Derby for the season, and takes up one of the places on the bench. Can cover all across defence and midfield for me.

Charlie Wiggett. Played 29. Goals 0. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Established himself as one of the centre backs, and at only 20 years old, he's surely going to improve too. Has already hit 10 yellows this season, meaning a double suspension, but one of my first choices.

Mattie Pollock. Played 28. Goals 5. Assists 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Still hard to believe he's only 21 and has played nearly 150 games for us already. It's looking like another good season for him.

Ben Richards-Everton. Played 4(1). Goals 0. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Came in as back up to Wiggett and Pollock, but has been complaining of lack of playing time. Should be moving on in this window.

Angus MacDonald. Played 3. Goals 0. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Came in as back up and another one who has been complaining of lack of playing time. Will be moving on at the end of the season too.

Brandon Mason. Played 28. Goals 0. Assists 13. Contract Expires 30/6/2025.

What a signing he has been. 13 assists already, and could quite easily hit 20 before the end of the season I feel. Hard to believe he didn't cost me a penny.

Nick Anderton. Played 3. Goals 0. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Joined from Carlisle after their relegation back to League 2, playing most of their games. Good enough back up to Mason.

Midfielders

Ethan Galbraith. Played 2(2). Goals 0. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Again, hasn't played much for me so far this season, so will probably move on at the end of the season. Doesn't complain when not getting played though.

Jake Hessenthaler. Played 29. Goals 1. Assists 4. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Solid midfielder for me and has just hit 200 games with the club. Averaging 7.10 so far this season.

Harry Clifton. Played 17(12). Goals 0. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Hasn't played as much this season, but is always in the squad due to home-grown club status. Will probably look at renewing his contract as he still has potential.

Max Wright. Played 15(12). Goals 0. Assists 4. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Hasn't quite hit the same stats as he did last season due to form of other players.

Chay Cooper. Played 16(11). Goals 1. Assists 2. Contract Expires 30/6/2025.

Joined on a free from Spurs, with plenty of potential. Played ok so far, but will improve with match games.

Ronan Darcy. Played 28(2). Goals 1. Assists 2. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Had high hopes for him when he joined us, but I feel he hasn't quite hit those. At 22, he will still improve.

Sammy Ameobi. Played 27(3). Goals 6. Assists 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Signed permanently after an amazing season last season, where he hit 16 goals. Carried it on to this season, and will hopefully reach double figures by the end.

Otis Khan. Played 3(1). Goals 0. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Joined as squad cover, due to his versatility, but hasn't really played.

James Tilley. Played 2(17). Goals 0. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

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

Chiedozie Ogbene. Played 20(11). Goals 10. Assists 2. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Signed from Rotherham, mainly to be back up to Max Wright, but has forced himself into the attacking right midfield position, and contributed with 10 goals so far. So far, he's one of my signings of the season, and I'm already looking at giving him a new deal.

Strikers:

Josh Koroma. Played 5(14). Goals 3. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Still providing me with back up. Hasn't quite reached his potential so far.

Charlie Wyke. Played 28(1). Goals 12. Assists 2. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Joined on a free from Sunderland, and came straight into the first team. Given us 12 goals so far, and hopefully will send us into the play-offs.

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Posted (edited)

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I've completed a great first season with Dulwich Hamlet having replaced club legend Gavin Rose at the helm. Such is my respect for the ousted man that I have operated the entire first season without an Assistant Manager, with the hope that I can lure him back to the club as soon as he is ready to return. The inherited squad was clearly capable of meeting the board expectations of fighting for a Vanarama South play-off spot, but I didn't want to languish at this level for too long and wanted to make my own moves in the transfer market.

As a community club, I wanted to build on the ethos of 'local' and decided that every signing would have London connections or at the very least have history from a neighbouring county such as Surrey, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire etc. Where possible, most of the signings would be young and hungry, rather than journeymen who were coming to the end of their careers.

With nearly all of the squad on non-contract terms (paid on appearances) I also needed to work towards a plan that would see me retain my best assets. Their contract terms meant that they could be poached at any time (no transfer windows at this level), so I needed to find a way to keep my best players in the first season. The intention would be to offer part-time contracts to protect the club better going forward.  

I'd already decided on certain players that would fit the bill in terms of recruitment, but was disappointed to see that the majority of them would not enter talks as they had only just joined their new sides. These were all players available for free and, I seem to recall, at league levels of equal or lower than my side. But patience would, I felt, pay dividends and I kept these players in my thoughts until they felt 'ready' for my project.

The critical part towards my season 1 plans was to be sustainable. And this was achieved courtesy of a £20,000 fee paid by Billericay for a 30-something left-back in the form of Nathan Smith. He was only going to be a back-up and his departure could fund an entire season, topped up with competition money if I could win some Cup games. There were quite a few other players I was willing to move on, but apart from Lionel Ainsworth going on a free transfer to Dagenham & Rebridge in November, the release of Aryan Tajbakhsh and Lewis White and the termination of Jesse Debrah's loan from Millwall, I wasn't able to clear out anyone else in the first season.

Incoming was a different matter, and due to the funds from Smith's sale, I was able to do quite a bit of business. The first of three July arrivals was young right-back Dwight Pascal (young enough to earn HGC status if he remained with the club for three years) who had been released from Barnet. Next in was former Crystal Palace striker Victor Fundi, and the final arrival was left-back Reiss Awuah, who had one been on the books of Chelsea as a youth player.

Playing 442, early analysis showed that my central midfield partner for Ben Chapman was not meeting the standards I expected. At the start of September, I took steps to change that with a move for an experienced central midfielder in the form of one-time Tottenham youth player Stuart Lewis. His arrival saw a noticeable improvement, and I was also able to add two of my original summer transfer targets to the mix on 30th September when central defender Callum Ellesley and striker Daniel Akindayini finally agreed to walk away from their non-contract deals at Enfield Town and Haringey Borough respectively.

The pair had previously been on the books of Norwich and Tottenham respectively, but although obviously not good enough for clubs like those, they were both crucial to my plans. With them on board, I knew I had enough to achieve my first season goals - even though both had been playing at a level below ours recently. In truth, they took some time to settle and start performing, but in the end proved to be excellent signings for the club.

I supplemented the group further in October with the final two signings of the first season. Ex-Southampton winger Omar Rowe had once been tipped for big things but his career had never got going and he was released by them before a spell in Cyprus from 2016-2019. The Londoner returned to Hayes & Yeading this year and started to become coveted by Championship and League 1 clubs. His form here supported a possible career resurrection, so I felt it was a gamble worth making when I took advantage of his non-contract status to swoop for him. The final arrival came at the end of October as ex-Reading goalkeeper George Legg came in to take over the No. 1 shirt. He was a free agent but had been on loan at several Conference clubs in the area before, and looked to be a slight upgrade on what I had until that point.

As you can see below, a good start was tempered slightly by a poor run from mid-October to mid-January, but the quality of my squad was able to see me put together some great runs of form, and I was usually able to find somebody in the squad to stand up and make a difference.

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As the final table shows, the first season ended with a comfortable lead at the top, but for quite a while I was trailing Chelmsford (at one point by about eight points) before they imploded. Kent sides Dartford and Maidstone were always right behind, as were Bath, so it was far from a procession until the later months. As you can see, Bath eventually took the second promotion slot after overcoming Dartford in the Play-Off Final.  

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The player stats are as shown below, with the omission (due to some image-capturing problems) of goalkeeper Preston Edwards (who started the first 20-odd games before losing his place to Legg in late October), plus French central defender Yannis Ambroisine and central midfielder Christian Smith (who both played less than 10 matches each). All three of those have now been released, along with seven others.

The best performers last year were original trio Danny Mills, Jarvis Edobor and Chapman, plus a rapidly improving Akindayini who came good after a slow start to his Hamlet career. However, if you snooze you lose, so there has been a great deal of improvement to the playing squad ahead of the second season. This is two-fold, and I have actually done better than I expected in the market during the summer transfer window. The other element is asset protection, and the majority of my squad is now on part-time contracts which means I have more ability to resist efforts to swipe them away (case in point being Edobor, who has had interest from League 1 clubs this summer which I was able to reject).

As these images were taken just before season two training starts, the contracts are the new ones rather than what applied for the majority of the first season. You can tell which players have remained on non-contract terms, with these not likely to be key players in the second season. Those with contracts ending on 30th June are all being released.

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With promotion comes certain stadium upgrade requirements, but the club is comfortable financially and can absorb this. Despite being tipped for mid-table, the squad was concerned about their ability to avoid relegation. But with the signings made (more of that later) I feel confident of having another good season at Champion Hill. The board presented me with a second affiliate club in the summer, with West Ham apparently seeing benefits of a link to Dulwich. Their deal pays no money but allows players to join on loan (Nathan Holland for free was going to be a major loan, until he rejected the move). The inherited link with Crystal Palace will also be continuing, and theirs provides no loan options or fee, but does guarantee a friendly each year and the funds from that were about £35,000 last year.

I've not been able to entice Gavin Rose back yet as my right-hand man, but hope he might relent soon. In my first season I added Danny Gabbidon and Jonathan Duckett as coaches (the latter doing fitness and scouting too), Stuart Searle as Goalkeeper Coach, and Luther Blissett as my Head of Youth Development. All four of these have extended their deals for another year, and this summer I have also appointed Jamie Victory as Under 18 manager and recruited Greg Reid and Deanne Goring as Physios.

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Edited by Jogo Bonito

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58 minutes ago, andy_gtfc said:

Congratulations on the promotion @Jogo Bonito

Thanks Andy. Good post from you above too, excited to see what you can do with The Mariners!

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Another signing coming this January for me, as I've signed the player I hope will replace Grabban.

£7m over 3 years.

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Bradford City Season 21/22:

With the mass exodus last season, there is a much smaller amount of change, but now I'm looking at improvement with better youngsters released from bigger teams. We're still light on the wings, and following the Riley release and Henley sale, we actually need cover at left back. Barry from Villa can play up front or on the right, so helps cover Vaughan and Stobbs. Jasper from Fulham isn't that good, but I really need someone on the left wing as Pritchard is quite injury prone, this is proven by Jasper ending up on over 30 appearances. 

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As our first season in League One, I'm pleasantly surprised that our form has us in the playoffs for the majority of the season, but despite team meetings, sympathetic comments to losses that everyone likes, and praise for training and individual performances, our form tanks badly and we slip down to mid-table obscurity, but that's still success for this team.

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Finances are helped by getting to the 3rd round of the FA Cup and drawing Chelsea at home, where we bravely go out 0-1. We even get approval on improving the data analysis facilities twice and I squeezed out an agreement to increase youth recruitment.

I can't help myself signing up former famous players I know for my staff. Nick Barmby was an U18 coach before being appointed Carlisle manager, his replacement is Gareth Barry. I'm hoping Ged McNamee can do something with the youth setup. Former Argyle player Reda Johnson becomes my assistant manager, his stats look good and he does a matrix like ingest of coaching courses to qualify from nothing to Continental C in one season.

The Roles/Mourgos central midfield, backed up by Rea in the half back position, makes me realise I am now far stronger through the middle than I am down the wings, so I need a tactical rethink to improve for next season.

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Excellent updates from Bradford city, Dulwich and Grimsby! 

Bradford is a club I have had my eye on managing for a long time, maybe when I'm done in the north east! 

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Right,

New Year, 2021.

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As you can see, the season is going OK. Defensively solid, and scoring a few goals up front :D

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Goals are coming from everywhere, with Jota and Lombardi chipping in, as well as Chumi with 7.

As previously mentioned, Bartol Barisic arrives on January 1st to be the long term replacement for Lewis Grabban, as well as a couple of young midfielders joining from Belgium and Spain.

First is French/Italian midfielder Luca Fierro

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He has a bit of the midfield nutter look about him, but, will need some work on his strength to make him what I want him to be.

Also coming in, is young Andorran attacking midfielder, Rodrigo Madureira. He lacks a bit technically, but, has the potential to do well with some work.

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Theres also a bit of interest in Joe Worrall, and a couple of other players, so, making a preemptive move, an offer has been made for young Porto centre back Tiago Matos. The offer of around £3.7m, if successful, will see him come in on a 5 year deal, and I'd look to develop him as a ball carrying defender.

In other news, Dan Brodie left on deadline day to Everton for a fee going up to £6.25m.

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I've just finished my season. Fairly happy with the outcome, but you'll have to wait till tomorrow for the report of where we finished.

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Had taken a break from EFL teams the last few FM's but thought with all the spare time at present id try to get back into the swing of the lower leagues. Spent the last few days reading the EFL thread and must say every entertaining  :applause:

Anyway to get back into EFL I decided to holiday 200 days into the season an take the most interesting job that appeared in the Job Centre at this point...

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As seen above my choices where thread bare. League One sides Accrington & Sunderland the only positions available. Surprisingly Sunderland where languishing in 15th with Accrington somehow in 9th 5 points off the playoffs :eek: 

The lure of a play-off hunt in the running up proved to much so I packed my bags and headed for the Wham Stadium. Upon arrival and looking at the squad I was scratching my head as to how John Coleman had quite managed to turn this bunch of players from relegation candidates to play-off chasers. Quite the achievement and it was no surprise he was snapped up by championship outfit Hull City. 

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 7 games to go... 5 points behind Blackpool in 6th spot! 

Certainly makes for an interesting start to life in the Accrington hot seat. As the saying goes if its not broke don't fix it so I certainly wont be differing to much from the 442 John Coleman had this squad playing. 

More updates to follow....

Anyway good to be back posting again and excited about an EFL challenge. 

 

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Nice work @Jogo Bonito! Have you had a season on FM20 that hasn't ended in promotion yet?

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Grimsby Town FC 22/23 Season:

Last season, we had the disappointment of losing in the play-offs. With 5 games to go, we was 4 points off the play-offs, and a slim chance of getting through. However, 4 wins and a draw saw us overtake MK Dons, who occupied the last play-off spot, and also Mansfield to finish 5th in the league. This meant we faced a tough Rochdale team, who had only lost 8 games all season. Going into the match, the head-to-head didn't really separate the teams either, playing 7 times and 2 wins a piece. The first leg, was a typical 0-0, neither team wanting to break the shackles, and much of the second leg followed, until Charlie Wyke hit the back of the net, providing the only goal in both legs. This meant we faced Hull City, who overcame Mansfield 1-0 in the final. Things couldn't have started better for us after we had a penalty in just the 8th minute, allowing Wyke to step up and score his 18th goal of the season. Ogbene followed with his 15th goal of the season in the 60th minute, and with Hull attacking, we hit them on the counter twice more with Wyke getting his 19th and 20th goals of the season, resulting in a 4-0 thrashing of our rivals just over the river.

The Championship will be very tough for me, the board have hardly given me a transfer budget (378k) and there isn't much in the wage budget either.

Goalkeepers:

James McKeown. Played 53. Conceded 48. Clean Sheets 23. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Another great season for Macca, getting over 20 clean sheets again.

Jakub Ojrzynski. Played 2. Conceded 6. Clean Sheets 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Still has a bit of potential, but the Championship may be a step too far for him. Will compete for second or third choice next season.

David Stockdale. Played 1. Conceded 0. Clean Sheets 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Was signed for emergency cover, and is retiring, allowing me to bring in a new face in goalie corner.

Defenders

Luke Hendrie. Played 50. Goals 2. Assists 4. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

I was looking to extend his deal in January and was able to. Had another solid season for us.

Jordan Brown. Played 7(7). Goals 0. Assists 0. Loan Expires 30/6/2023.

Joined us because of his versatility. Had a solid enough season for us. Will be looking to improve on him though for the Championship.

Charlie Wiggett. Played 44. Goals 2. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

One of my first choices in the first 11. Had a fantastic season, and our results at the end of the season turned better when he was back in the team.

Mattie Pollock. Played 52. Goals 6. Assists 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Another fantastic season from Pollock, finishing with an average of 7.08.

Ben Richards-Everton. Played 4(1). Goals 0. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Complained due to lack of playing time in January, so I moved him on to Port Vale, who paid his full wages and gave me 15k to turn it into a permanent deal.

Angus MacDonald. Played 12. Goals 0. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Back-up defender, who only played when Wiggett or Pollock was injured. 

Camron Gbadebo. Played 0. Goals 0. Assists 0. Loan Expires 30/6/2023.

4th choice defender, who replaced Ben Richards-Everton. Didn't play though, due to the form of other defenders.

Brandon Mason. Played 45(1). Goals 0. Assists 17. Contract Expires 30/6/2025.

One of my signings of the season. Only disappointment from me was that he didn't hit 20 assists, mainly due to an injury that ruled him out for a month.

Nick Anderton. Played 10. Goals 0. Assists 3. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Came in as back up and provided that for me when Mason was injured. Will be moving on though at the end of the season.

Midfielders

Ethan Galbraith. Played 2(2). Goals 0. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Didn't get a game from January, so will be moving on at the end of the season. Does still have potential though, which I will consider.

Jake Hessenthaler. Played 53. Goals 2. Assists 6. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Hess had a fantastic season in midfield, finishing with an average of 7.04.

Harry Clifton. Played 31(21). Goals 0. Assists 1. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Renewed his deal in January, on less wages. Homegrown and gives me back up for next season.

Max Wright. Played 20(27). Goals 0. Assists 4. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Didn't hit the heights of last season, but didn't have the same opportunities. Training him to cover left wing too.

Chay Cooper. Played 26(22). Goals 1. Assists 3. Contract Expires 30/6/2025.

Had an ok season for me, but dropping him to the bench was one of the reasons towards the end of the season why I was getting better results.

Ronan Darcy. Played 51(3). Goals 7. Assists 3. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Finally started to find the back of the net! Now I need to work on him to provide more assists. Nevertheless, had a good season.

Sammy Ameobi. Played 46(5). Goals 8. Assists 2. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Voted signing of the season by fans, he had another good season for me. His experience in the Championship will be very useful for me.

Otis Khan. Played 3(8). Goals 2. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Ended up coming off the bench a few times and scoring some vital goals to kill games off. Will sadly be leaving though.

James Tilley. Played 6(31). Goals 1. Assists 3. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

The player I have used most from the bench. Still has potential, but I need better in the Championship.

Chiedozie Ogbene. Played 41(11). Goals 15. Assists 3. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Forced himself into my squad, and haven't really looked back. Already been given a new deal for next season.

Strikers:

Josh Koroma. Played 6(20). Goals 4. Assists 0. Contract Expires 30/6/2023.

Joined the club to be a back up, and thats where he played. Will leave at the end of the season.

Charlie Wyke. Played 51(2). Goals 20. Assists 6. Contract Expires 30/6/2024.

Joined from Sunderland, and I wasn't quite expecting him to hit 20 goals in the season and become top-scorer in the League. Very happy with this signing.

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Bradford City 22/23:

The assessment of our performance and results, with who we have in the squad makes me move away from the 4-1-4-1 DM wing play tactic to a control possession style in the same formation. 

 

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Without major changes to the playing staff, I'm comfortable that the squad meets the tactic, the only exception is our centre backs can't fulfill a ball playing defender role. No one seems available to fulfill that role for me so I make do with the O'Connors.

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Moulden was signed to cover for and eventually replace McGee, but I hadn't anticipated Brighton coming in with a release clause offer, so Moulden unexpectedly became first choice keeper. I don't usually like playing fees for loans but Granja, who is a newgen that Villa picked up from Portugal had impressive mental and physical attributes for this level and I thought he might be the difference maker on the left wing.

Mitch Clark always seems to get released at about this time and is a top player for League One, being able to play left back if needed too.

James Vaughan started to regress due to age and along with Jermaine Anderson, was released.

The season was much improved on the previous one, the change in tactic was paying dividends with significant unbeaten runs, although we drew too many games to be a threat to automatic promotion, we remained in the playoffs for most of the season and finished in 4th.

Ennis was an effective front man for the new tactic, bagging 23 league goals, Granja, although good, wasn't the force I expected, getting 6 goals, 3 of which were in one game and only 4 assists. Dobbin on the right was a significant contributor with 11 goals and 5 assists.

Our semi-final opponents - Hull City.

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We got hammered in the 1st leg, Hull had Kyle Conway, a Spurs newgen wonderkid in their AMC position (Spurs are our parent club) who bossed the game. Pride was restored in the 2nd leg but it was too much to come back from.

Although disappointing, it was a season of progression with a new style that over achieved expectations. My focus for the season ahead is trying to improve the squad to go a step further.

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Well done on the promotion @Jogo Bonito!

So I genuinely was enjoying the challenge at QPR. Due to injuries, I was forced in to playing multiple youth players in Innocent, Bettache and Owens and we were sat comfortably in 14th come the end of October, exactly where I was aiming for. Apart from not being able to get a goal out of Hugill as @RageMaster suggested would be the case, there was nothing about the save I didn't like. 

It dawned on me as I looked through the leagues, that my initial request for help in choosing a team was still lingering. I want a save where I can progress either with a club or personally up the divisons. Like a couple on here, I don't really like to continue if I reach the prem and starting in the Championship is just too close to that level to begin with. I've kept my QPR save for when I'm feeling that level again. but for now, i've loaded up a save with a League 2 club I've flirted with for years. A club that has yoyo'd between Leagues 1 and 2 for numerous years in an area of the country I love. Whilst some will probably be able to guess who, I wont reveal the club until my first update, just so I don't jinx the good feeling I have for this save.  

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@smplfc123  Good luck with your next challenge and hope to see you back at QPR at some point down the line. They would be a fun challenge if you holidayed for a season to see if they got relegated to League One even and I have seen this on a couple of previous saves. 

@Parmie A good start to life at Bradford, unlucky with the playoff defeat but you'll be back stronger for the experience. 

@Jogo Bonito Congrats on the Title win

@robterrace Cracking signings and hope to see you go up as Champions! 

@andy_gtfc Good luck in the Championship

@flase9 Best of luck with Accrington and hope to see you do well with them

 

Back to my own game, I've played 2 seasons since my last update. To recap I finished 14th in my first season in the PL after spending 2 seasons in the Championship. In the last 2 seasons I've finished in 9th and now 6th place meaning we have qualified for the Europa League. I also got to the FA Cup final but lost to Chelsea. I have a new stadium on the way (25,000 capacity, bit low for my liking) opening in 2 years time. The only player I still have from when I started is Eze although I have thought about upgrading him but he will stay for this season unless I get a decent bid. Oh and I did buy Harry Pickering in the 1st season and he's still performing well! 

Wages and Bonuses are becoming a problem as I don't want to lose my best players so having to offer more than i'd like to pay and the ground is simply too small and our lack of European football (in previous seasons) and Sponsorship money is hurting us financially. We are heavily relying on the TV money to stay financially healthy. I am starting to find fruition to my plans though in that I like to sign free transfers and sell them on, or sign cheap to develop and sell high. We've made profit in all of our seasons in the Premier League so far though. 

Here is how my squad is looking currently, some are regens. Missing at the top is Goalkeeper Nathan Baxter. 

LIrnCBo.jpg

 

And some of my regens:

Sonny Linssen: (£28m from FC Twente)

Spoiler

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Luanzinho: (£17.5m from Flamengo)

Spoiler

jIgSwO8.jpg

Velibor Bubalo: (free from FK Vojvodina)

Spoiler

jpCbFxZ.jpg

Guilherme: (free from Mallorca)

Spoiler

1QfVFLp.jpg

Previously the Board didn't have too many expectations from me in the club vision but this season they've demanded a Top Half finish which could be a challenge with the added European games. Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd are far too good currently and then Arsenal, Tottenham and Man City spending big so it will be a challenge to improve on last seasons 6th place. I am starting to get the squad the way I want and I'm hoping to really push on next summer where I am hoping to mount an assault on the Champions League places then. 

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Well I have my team ready for next season. We will be having a slightly different formation, but finances are crippling us. I'm bottom of the list with only 84k a week to spend. In comparison, Sunderland are the team directly above us and they have 200k a week to spend, but at the other end Brighton have 825k a week to spend, so we will definitely have a challenge on our hands.

I've made a raft of changes too, to hopefully give us a chance of staying up. John O'Brien (regen from Crusaders), Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (Loan from Aston Villa), James Shea (free), Nathan Baker (free), Kyle Bartley (free), Sam Clucas (free), Kgiso Nthle (free), Kieran Wallace (free) and Joe Dodoo (free) all join the club.

Ben Richards-Everton (Port Vale, 15k), David Stockdale (retired), Angus MacDonald (released), Otis Khan (released), James Tilley (released), Nick Anderton (released), Ethan Galbraith (released) and Josh Koroma (released) have all left the club.

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Accrington Stanley 2019/2020 - The Run In

Last Update I has taken charge at Accrington Stanley with 7 games to go with the dream of a late play-off push. Sadly this dream was over pretty quickly as we failed to win in our first 4 games and ended the season with a bit of a whimper.

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We finished the season in 10th and looking at the entire season surely would be classed as a major success for a relegation candidate but given the position the club was when we arrived it was a rather disappointing finish. 

There looks to be a a good opportunity in the summer with with 15 first team players out of contract. So looking forward to a bit of wheeling and dealing. I have also decided to impose a bit of a Home Nations rules where basically we can only sign players from the Home Nations. Also during a season review I noticed we actually also have the smallest wage budget in the league which really does emphasize how much John Coleman had this team punching above their weight. 

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Looking forward to next season where  I imagine the boards expectation would be high. We have been given a 500k Transfer Budget but the wage budget has actually been reduced by 5k lol!

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Incredible job @RageMaster good to see Pickering and Eze are still there from season 1.

And who knows, maybe QPR will get relegated in my new save and it'll be a club I end up at further down the line. Depends how well I do with my mystery club ;)

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, CityAndColour said:

Nice work @Jogo Bonito! Have you had a season on FM20 that hasn't ended in promotion yet?

I don't think I have. But far from being something to brag about, that's what made me give up so soon on clubs I really wanted to manage for several seasons (Hull, Reading, Bristol Rovers and Grimsby being the ones most easily remembered). Hopefully season 2 with Dulwich will be much harder, but I think the squad I have assembled is easily capable of going straight through. 

Nice catching up on all your posts. Great to hear of a fine promotion with Grimsby and a very impressive effort with Bradford (interesting to see you both facing Hull in your play-off matches), good work at QPR and Forest, and a chance for a re-group and fresh attempt with Accrington. Good luck with your next League 2 adventure @smplfc123 although that was a curve ball given how much you were liking QPR. 

I've signed a couple of young players from QPR ahead of my second season at Dulwich (one of which was mentioned on these pages) along with some other players released from London clubs who are probably far too good to be at Vanarama National level. It wasn't Eze by the way, a player I really like, and who I discovered this week passed through several clubs including Fulham (age 13-16) then Reading (six months at age 16) and Millwall (two year scholarship) before joining QPR. I bet all three regret that now.

Edited by Jogo Bonito

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Posted (edited)

Bradford City 23/24:

So, as I tell myself to strengthen the squad ready for another promotion push from League One, Sunderland come in for Jack Roles. I negotiate the fee and payments up to £1m and to my surprise they find the money. It's too much to turn down, so for the first time since I took the job, we've got a healthy balance.

I continue with my ruthlessness on releases, last season's hopeful signing of Malachi Walcott doesn't seem to be developing, Kelvin Mellor, as much as I like him at right back, is aging, Devine, Pritchard and Richards-Everton are not to the League One standard, so leave us as well.

I look at the team sheet and realise that I've only got Reeves, Rea and Mourgos in central midfield now, no cover at right back for Clark, nor for Ennis up front and no one at all for the left wing. I'm actually in trouble if I can't recruit quality bodies quickly.

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There is some bleed into the next season from that screen, but Lewis, Titov and Graham are panic buys just to boost numbers and probably not improvements on what we have released. Nicholas Tie was a planned signing to provide a first choice keeper with Moulden reverting to cup games.

This still left me desperate so I looked to loans and was able to bring in some top quality premiership youngsters.

Claudio Gomes had been signed by Man City and filled the deep lying playmaker role perfectly:

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Jardel is a Brazillian newgen that Man Utd had picked up and although not his natural position, had the attributes for the left wing:

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I still needed a ball playing defender, and Man City provided this French newgen gem, Djodo Diallo

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After a gap of a season, Louie Barry signed again on loan, intended for the right wing, but between him and Jardel, we had cover for the main striker as well. With c£30m of loan value sitting in the squad now, we looked a completely different proposition for the coming season.

Gomes, unsurprisingly dominated League One. Finishing as top key pass maker with 146, and highest total passes made at 4.496 (90% success), highest accuracy for the season actually went to Rea, whose sole job going forward was to pass to Gomes. 

Ennis broke a forearm in January and despite 'playing' through it, barely appeared for 2 months because his conditioning was below 80%, Barry and Jardel swapped in and out and between them smashed in the goals. Ennis - 19, Barry - 14, Jardel - 11. An overlapping left wing-back crossing to the far post for Barry to isolate the opposition's left back seemed a favoured move by the team.

Valley Parade (The Utilita Energy Stadium as it's famously now known as), became a frightening place for Premiership teams to come in the Carabao Cup. After seeing off Grimsby away in the first round, we claimed 3 scalps.

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The problem this run created, with so many early season games between the league and Leasing.com Trophy as well, was that the best players were constantly jaded and in need of rest. For the Arsenal game I decided I had to prioritise the league, and rested Gomes et al, maybe we still would've gone out but I couldn't risk league games.

With the cups out of the way, we remained in an automatic promotion place throughout, in the end, securing promotion quite comfortably. Plymouth were the early rivals, replaced by Portsmouth mid-season and Crew made a late run at the end.

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Although it wasn't a Crewe v Bradford finale as I had in League Two, the championship still came down to the last game of the season, I forgot to check who didn't like big games and we were dross, luckily Crewe slipped up and we finished one point ahead.

The cup gate receipts as well as the money from the Roles deal convinced the club to approve a training ground improvement I asked for in November, but as the money bled away before work commenced, we're back to no money and the improvement cancelled. Although the board have granted a £1m transfer kitty with £105k p/w wage budget for the Championship campaign ahead.

Edited by Parmie

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Congratulations @Parmie on winning League 1. Interesting to see Crewe and Walsall 2nd & 3rd, with all three of you starting 19/20 in League 2.

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Couple of additions coming in before the end of the transfer window.

Firstly, Italian U20 goalkeeper, Stefano Turati joins on a free (£800k compensation) from Sassuolo in Serie A. He comes in pretty well rounded in the areas I want him to be, but, with a little bit of work, his passing will improve, and he'll turn into the distributor I want. At the moment, he'll be 3rd choice, but, theres interest being shown in Samba (who is away on international duty with Congo), and I may look to cash in at the end of the season, especially with a 3rd decent keeper on the books now.

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Also coming in, is Curtis Jones from Liverpool, who can play either on the left, or behind the striker, which is where I'd see him playing.

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We also lost, however, another member of our U18s team to Everton, with fullback Lee Haynes heading to Merseyside in a deal that would end up being near £4m. Tiago Silva also departed, this time to QPR for £5m, of which most gets put straight back into the transfer fund.

Lastly, a bit of deadline day shopping in Germany provides this..

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image.thumb.png.f985a0a0221c67122c23f0e3fb756850.png

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Posted (edited)

Accrington Stanley 19/20

download.png.d5b27775109255c37612e450ec29f991.png

Fancied a new fresh, challenge on FM20 after guiding my home town team, Wigan to Europe in the Premier League after 6 seasons. Plucked with Accrington Stanley due to their club size, relegation candidates and little money, plus the fact they've never been higher than League One. 

 

Transfer Business

Got to work quickly, and realised they had a decent basis to work with, especially with Clark and McConville on the flanks offering decent service. They just needed a little squad depth adding to it, and was really pleased to get the likes of Curtis Jones and Beni Baningime on loan, who were massive during the year, the latter especially. Set out all transfer window looking for a hidden gem goalkepeer and failed until a couple of days before the season started in Tomasz Kuszczak, who finally had some interest in joining, and he was colossal too. 14/15 clean sheets (IIRC) over the year. Here's how my dealings panned out:

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I had to add a special note to Gary Roberts for anyone looking for a cheap but quality option for League One/League Two level first year. His legs might not be there, but my god he was brilliant as an Advanced Playmaker on the left wing, forcing McConville to the bench for most of the season, which I hadn't forseen. 7 goals, 16 assists in all competitions was unbelievable for what was an initial stop-gap loan signing until January.

1216640162_Screenshot2020-05-04at15_29_31.thumb.png.efe4fe44dd88d3407a2c0199810c6527.png

 

Team/Tactics

405105720_Screenshot2020-05-04at15_38_01.thumb.png.cd6cf03b893e9a2461a4930549ad659b.png2123416771_Screenshot2020-05-04at15_21_09.thumb.png.7de428b11155cad8059848adfe6850f7.png

Forgot to screenshot at the time the actual tactics screen from 19/20, but will show current side further down as it's basically the same tactic, but with a Cautious approach rather than balanced as you see there. I knew the team had the capabilities to keep the ball on the deck, so that's what I wanted to do with the tactic, and Callum Johnson and Andrew Taylor were vital cogs as wing-backs to get up and down and provide constant options. Seamus Conneely, like Roberts, is perfect to act as a deep-lying playmaker, with Baningime acting almost as a third centre back as a Half Back to allow the wing backs to wander. 

Fixtures/League Table

Started really well, and knew at least the play-offs could be possible. Christmas/New Year proved to be our downfall in the end, as injuries and fitness problems meant my squad was super thin due to having a small squad already. Luckily managed to pick some sort of form towards the end of the year. 

1021147030_Screenshot2020-05-04at15_36_02.thumb.png.1e18426defad8c778ac21b09dba9c8bc.png

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1292681731_Screenshot2020-05-04at15_36_38.thumb.png.b1a27c26743e8fbd5ebc89d7fa98f1af.png

 

So, after all that, this happened...PROMOTED!!

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That dip over Christmas/New Year really killed our automatic chances, and we were miles better than the 5th place showed, but hey ho!

Play-Offs

Drew Ipswich in the semis, which of all the teams involved, I didn't want to come up against, but our draw on the final day meant we had them. Kuszczak did his ligaments in the second to last game of the season, so it made me even less confident with Evtimov, who is erratic at best, in goal. We drew 1-1 at home despite dominating, which had me worried, but we somehow scraped through the away 2nd leg 1-0 with a Gary Roberts wonder goal...

 2041185979_Screenshot2020-05-04at15_37_01.thumb.png.3c0cb48778e944171bc3f921f1d14835.png

Faced Blackpool in the final, got completely outplayed from minute one, but somehow Curtis Jones came up with the goods and we held out...

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An unexpected promotion, with a squad not capable of competing at Championship level...:lol: Long summer ahead!

 

Accrington Stanley 20/21 

Was given a budget of 500k for transfers and £24,000 free wages to play with, which I felt with the overhaul I probably needed to do, wasn't enough. Managed to manoeuvre the transfer budget around to give me more wages to give myself half a chance.

Transfer Business

Been promoted a few times on FM, but never had the slog I did during this pre-season in trying to recruit players, or even make players consider joining. Despite the fact we were in the Championship, it was impossible to almost attract any players from the same league of any quality, and took a lot of convincing and incentives! In the end, I  wanted to try and give as many players as I could who got us promoted to be given a chance, and I was pretty happy with what we did...

Managed to retain Curtis Jones & Beni Baningime on year long loans again days after promotion, (and thankfully small wage contributions), which eased my worries slightly. The rest was hard, but Barrie McKay and Dominic Samuel coming on deadline day were just what we needed...

902933656_Screenshot2020-05-04at15_16_48.thumb.png.d291a02167953435459f704aaa36cdb0.png

1213843464_Screenshot2020-05-04at16_03_16.thumb.png.02dd99360a3ff2c66784a6c1478d46e5.png

Just wanted to upload the above to show the struggle we're up against. Even the likes of Oxford & Bristol Rovers, who came up with me, have a massive spending prowess above me. Top is Palace on 46 million a year...

 

Tactics

Like I said, this is primarily the exact same tactic I used in League One, with a change of mentality from Balanced to caution (I realise this is set to balanced but take my word for it! :lol:).

1421188043_Screenshot2020-05-04at15_26_38.thumb.png.ddf03e82f7c4b65d8e07caa9a9cab836.png

 

Fixtures/League Table

Had Palace away first game, who still had Zaha, Milivojevic, Cahill etc in their team so feared the worst. Almost changed it up and went 5-3-2, but wanted to see how this tactic would work at this level against better teams, but act on the counter more. Pleasantly surprised myself, as we went down 3-2 to a Zaha screamer in the last minute, which made me realise this tactic was worth sticking with. Only 14 games in, but still thought to give you an update...

1237251148_Screenshot2020-05-04at15_49_49.thumb.png.c3ec4fa69fddd679cfc5e585cc435e88.png

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To say I'm over the moon would be an understatement ha! :lol: Took us a few games to get our eye in for our first win, but after that, we've been flying! Hope to god this squad can continue this to keep us away from the bottom three, but also away from the play offs, as we're not at all ready for that!!

 

Hope you enjoyed the read, with further updates to follow in coming days!

Edited by Ytee18
Spelling error

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3 hours ago, Ytee18 said:

An unexpected promotion, with a squad not capable of competing at Championship level...:lol: Long summer ahead!

A surprising promotion but well done and a very respectable start to life with Accrington at Championship level. Good luck for the rest of the 2nd season.

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Bradford City 24/25:

Our first season in the Championship was as much about fighting the expectation of losing every game as it was the opposition. It did make post loss match team talks predictable with the 'we were unlucky' option.

I wasn't sure what I could do with the transfer budget coupled with the low wage budget, after spending relatively big on a left back, I adjusted the budgets to maximise it to wages and again looked at the loan market and free transfers. In the last season's update I hadn't mentioned Paudie O'Connor being bought for his release clause in January, so I had a few gaps in the team again.

Having done an OK job, David Titov was released at the end of his 1 season deal, and although he's done a great job throughout League One, Stobbs's mental attributes aren't strong enough for the Championship with Barry ahead of him, so leaves us too.

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Thinking I know what they can do, Barry, Dallio and Gomes come back on loan as clearly have the quality needed. Charlie Wiggett seems a bargain and even when signed seems undervalued at £450k. Kennett is a decent newgen for the left wing. I intended to keep Jake Reeves as a club stalwart but he asked to leave to pursue a new challenge. I consider us in good shape for the season ahead.

We did have an exciting prospect emerge from the academy in 2023 (while we were in League One) who the staff think has the potential to play in the Premiership. A local lad from Bradford too.

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I keep with the control possession style and 4-1-4-1 formation, which keeps us in control of a lot of games. We have two sticky patches in October and April of 4 losses in a row each, but otherwise steadily clock up the points well away from relegation.

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The highlight of the season came against Wednesday, although only 5 goals in a game is still short of the 7 scored against Tranmere in 1929 by Albert Whitehurst. Although we didn't score in the next game, Ennis put another 4 past Boro in the game after that.

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Our cup form is very good, reaching the quarter finals in both cups. Losing 0-3 away to Wolves in the League Cup and 0-2 away to Man City, where both Gomes and Dallio are loaned from and can't play.

This season the money doesn't totally bleed away, and for the first time, we end the season not overdrawn. Although somewhat annoyingly, the board are very cautious about approving any facility improvements despite it being obviously relegation has been avoided.

With the team becoming a known force, it feels like theres a flock of scouts circling over every game. By the end of the season, Wiggett and Tie are being tracked by a number of teams. I negotiate Payne's contract twice to fend of interest in him, turning down multiple bids throughout January, the highest of which was £6m.

Another season beckons although for the first time, the scouts haven't given me any clear targets to go for on contract expiry, That said, from my significant shortlist of anyone they say has the potential to play in the Premiership, there is an Austrian playing at Salzburg who agrees a January offer to join in the summer. Perhaps I need to start looking abroad.

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So, winding the way through the second half of the 20/21 season, shopping of new players for the coming seasons has already begun, with a big target over South America for dual nationality players (it helps having staff with knowledge of that area :))

Focus has been on the coming seasons, with targets for next season beginning once we know what division we are in next season.

Firstly, coming in to play the shielding role in front of the back 4 in a couple of seasons, Matías Bargagna, who I spotted in the Argentinian U20 setup.

At 19 years old, hes slightly older than the rest of my targets, but, I was more surprised he'd not been picked up by a big club.

For £1.4m up front, and another £2.6m over 3 seasons, he comes in on a 4 year contract.

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Next, is left back, Gonzalo Perea. Mentally hes developing well, and with a season on loan and a bit of work, he'll be OK, he arrives in January 2022, once he is 18.

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Next up, is another of the Argentine U20 setup, Independiente youngster, Matías Marinelli.

Well rounded mentally, and a physical specimen with some work to do strength wise, he is a bit of a dead ball expert.

Another £5m staggered over 4 seasons sees him on his way to NG2.

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Next in, from Legia Warsaw, is Brazilian/Polish Edu Fubá.

The young midfielder is also capable of dropping into the back 4, not fantastically fast, he will run all day, a bit reminiscent of former Forest midfielder Ben Osborn.

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There will be more to come, especially when the end of the season comes.

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How do you accomodate all these players? Some of them look great though. But if you don't give them game time it would be difficult to have them develop 

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Congratulations @Ytee18 on the job with Accrington!

How come that it takes me ages to get a save going and then when I finally do, I have 3 or 4 I just want to start!?!

So having parked my save at Loftus Road to move up North logistically and down in to League 2, I found myself browsing the forums and acidentally spending hours thoroughly enjoying @Tee2 's excellent blog. I can't recommend it enough. I have noticed that @Jogo Bonito has read it (or at least some) too.

I enjoyed it so much, it's convinced me to start a save with Derby (Sorry @robterrace).

At least i've done the ground work on the other 2 saves, so if my time at Pride Park doesn't work out, I have a choice of 2 other saves to go straight back in to!

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Posted (edited)

Bolton Wanderers - Season 5 - Part 1

As expected it was a summer of much comings and goings at Bolton Wanderers.

Transfers Out

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The transfer window had only been open a short while when a £20m bid came in from, now established Premier League side, Huddersfield Town for my centre-back Bella-Kotchap. I didn't particularly want to sell the highly rated Germany under-21 player and I had thought that if he was to go it would be to a top side. I replied to the offer stating I would only accept his contracted minimum release fee of £36.5m and to my surprise they came back and agreed the fee right away. I was quite shocked, but he is a young player with bags of potential and this transfer is indicative of the levels of finance that clubs in the Premier League possess. I had been going into the transfer window full of excitement as for the first time in this career I had a budget, thanks to player sales in previous seasons. This was a complete game changer though as my budget rocketed from £2.5m to £25m. It took me a little while to acclimatise as I have spent my whole time on FM20 to date searching in the bargain basement.

The other notable sale was of a 16 year old CM who had literally just arrived in my latest crop of youth recruits. He looks quite the talent, already rated 2 star with 5 star potential. Spurs came in with good money for him and although I'd love to do some player development, I decided not to stand in his way. Luckily I still have a young squad overall to focus on developing.

Transfer In

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Having lost first choice stopper Maric to a pre-contract agreement, signing a goalkeeper was a necessity. I signed Pontus Dahlberg from Watford for what I think was a bargain fee of £300k. He is already a very good player for this level and his age means he has plenty of years ahead of him to get even better. I also signed Aussie regen 'keeper Ryan Ryan who I have sent out to AaB for experience. He has a lot of potential, but more importantly has an amazing name.

I signed young Northern Irish regen Mark Donnelly with the view that he would be my first choice right back for the upcoming season. Late in the window I decided that his current ability probably isn't quite there yet and, not wanting to have any weak spots, I decided to once again loan Ethan Laird from Man Utd. Lowton was shipped out to the MLS and Donnelly assumed the roll of deputy. I decided that I was happy with my two left backs from last season, but centre back needed some work after the departure of Bella-Kotchap.

With an abundance of funds that I was somewhat reluctant to spend I decided to make a marquee signing in the form of experienced centre-back Darragh Lenihan for £3.4m from Norwich. The view was that he would add real leadership along with some class. I brought in Sepp van den Berg on loan from Liverpool to partner Lenihan at the back. This is perhaps harsh on club captain Lockyer who has performed well in previous seasons and will likely lose his starting role, but I can't pass up the opportunity to upgrade. I rejected a £3m bid for him on deadline day as I want to keep him for now at least as an option. I also recruited Ezri Konsa which may look like a coup as he'd previously gone to Aston Villa for £12m but injuries have downgraded his stats slightly. At 26 he still is a good squad player.

Centre-midfield was the area I was most happy with last season. Retaining the trio of Garner, Brownhill and Doyle-Hayes would have been good enough business here for me. Right at the end of the prior season Dina Ebimbe got an injury that would rule him out for 6 months but I also had cover from young Assarsson who was returning from loan. Plans changed though when I noticed that a player of the quality of Conor Gallagher was available to loan, and the Chelsea man was brought in swiftly.

Talented wingers are key to my formation, so once again this was an area I looked to enhance. Despite having a large budget, Carlo Holse was one of only three players I paid a fee for. The Dortmunder is a rarity as a left footed wing option in my squad. I also brought in experienced Andre Schurrle who I have a fondness for as I seem to end up managing him or signing him on every iteration of Football Manager. I have always found him to be predictably German in his reliability. Finally I also signed Felix Correia on loan from City, so we are well and truly stocked on the wings.

A lack of goalscorers was definitely my team's downfall last season, so I was determined to add this to my team this time around. I believe I have found a real gem hidden in the Serbian league - I shall share a screenshot below of Slobodan Tedic below  (along with a few other key players), and hopefully you all agree. Also joining on a free, Tyreece John-Jules is a young pacey forward who has spent his career at Arsenal prior to release. The final signing to report on is particularly exciting. I spotted that Spurs had a wonderkid forward with electric pace available for loan. They wanted all his wages covered and they are a hefty £44k per week. I pondered raising the wage bill long and hard, as a keen focus of mine in this save has been financial stability. In the end though, I decided that there would still be tonnes of cash left available after I completed the deal and Jimmy Hirst could be a real game changer, so I went for it and completed the signing.

Pontus Dahlberg:

Spoiler

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Darragh Lenihan:

Spoiler

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James Garner:

Spoiler

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Slobodan Tedic:

Spoiler

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Jimmy Hirst:

Spoiler

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Season 2023-24 Squad:

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The transfer window closed with £17m and £100k per week for wages still sitting in the pot unused. This may seem wasteful but I am happy with my squad and excited for the season ahead. Hopefully the years of slogging away with this club pay off with a fun season finally.

Edited by Dong21

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@Dong21 It must be nice to be a little more liberal in the market. Your two strikers from Serbia & Tottenham look to be exciting, and plenty of others should help take you to the next level. A great update as always.

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Bradford City 25/26:

As time ticks away through June, I am targeting some depth in midfield and central defence. Loans are great but it leaves us exposed. Sidnei Tavares is running down is contract and accepts an offer to give us some cover. I still can't find suitable permanent recruits on the cheap, so we're back to loans. 

Liverpool provide a central defender able to pass and dribble. Gomes and Diallo join yet again and by the end of the season they are both over 120 league appareances for us. With my Austrian striker arriving who is a 22 year strong prospect, I can't do any more on the wage limitations.

Relative disaster then strikes with Burnley coming in with a contract releasing bid for Charlie Wiggett. It was one thing to sign up a player on a free who looked good, it's something else to have a full season, know he's your only permanently signed first team central defender that you were counting on. 

The money gives me some wiggle room though, another long time loanee, Louie Barry has finally been listed by Villa, Ryan Astley is comparable to Wiggett for current ability but doesn't show the same promise. However, he's listed by Everton and relatively cheap. I also draft in yet another loanee centre back.

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I refuse more bids for Tie, as no one quite meets his release, when the window closes, I sign him up to a new contract with extensive haggling over what his new release value will be - £12.5m. 

We make a storming start to the league, going 11 unbeaten. A few losses here and there isn't enough to stop us staying permanently in the automatic promotion slots. We go out of the Carabao Cup early, drawing our pseudo parent club Man City in the 3rd round. We hold Everton at home in the FA cup 3rd round to lose on the replay. It's an old cliché, but fewer games helps everyone stay fit.

Promotion is confirmed with 4 games to go, leaving just a battle with Bournemouth for the championship. Again it comes down to the last game of the season, but we're ahead and just need to match their result. We get a 2-1 win at Ipswich to clinch it.

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A moment to be proud of, I don't think I've ever got into the prem other than through playoffs. I already decide that I can't gut the team and go for high potential youths, I tried that before and ruined a save. So it's going to be about having trust in these players and trying to build up again, taking account for we don't own several of them.

Glenn Payne continues impressive development in mental and physical attributes, if not technical ones. The youth academy has reported a golden generation, although I think that's relative to what has graduated before with the exception of Payne, however, Bigger Kabeya does look good if we can improve his finishing.

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I am elevated to club icon!

 

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So, the season comes to an end, I'm a bit disappointed that we fell away a bit after the end of the transfer window, but, losing 2 or 3 players to suspension at the same time, when I'm trying to keep a small squad, doesn't help.

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Tadeo Ortiz contributed 26 of the goals, with Daniel Braganca and Chumi the next highest scorers, with 11 each, the Portuguese midfielder also chipping in with 14 assists. Loan signing, Curtis Jones also contributed 8 goals and 3 assists in his 16 games, forming a formidable supply line for the strikers. Only 2 outfield players, Max Kilman and Niklas Dorsch failed to score.

Brice Samba was the best keeper in the division, with 24 clean sheets, in a season that only saw us concede 29 goals. A big part of that was the partnership of Chumi and Joe Worrall in front of him, who were at the top end of the leagues average ratings.

Next up, preparations for Premiership survival.

 

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First signing for the 2021/22 season in the Premier League confirmed, 

Joining for an overall fee of £6,5m over 4 years, attacking full back Domagoj Bradaric is an upgrade on Heritier Deyonge, and at 21, has plenty of development potential.

Having only made 2 appearances for Lille and spent a season on loan at Oostende in Belgium since moving to France for £5.5m in 2019, its a safe move.

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We also concluded 2 deals for young Scottish full backs, Scott McKenna and Ryan McGregor, who will join from Bristol City and Hibernian respectively. At 17 and 15, they are both talents for the future, and will go into Michel Troins U18 squad to develop.

Next signing, a player returning to England, after a not all that successful spell in Germany, young Welsh winger, Rabbi Matondo.

He needs some work technically, but, presents a lot of the right attributes for where we want him to play, on the right side of midfield. For £3.8m, he is a low risk option.

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Another 'returnee', this time coming back from Scotland, is 24 year old Jordan Rossiter. The Liverpudlian hasn't played any minutes at Ibrox in 2020/21, and moves for £77000 on a 2 year deal. He'll be on the fringes of the first team setup, and maybe get some cup time.

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23 year old Spanish midfielder, Genaro, joins, from Sevilla. He needs plenty of work to make it, however, he will probably go out on loan for the season.

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In need of some depth alongside Matondo on the flank, another former Premier League starlet, whose experience in Germany went slightly different to Matondo.

Having seen his Hamburg side relegated, Xavier Amaechi returns to English football for a fee of £2.1m.

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The next signing required the fee for an incoming transfer to be broken, but, I feel the player involved is worth it.

Another South American, Lúcio has been on my scouts radar all season, and was the one player that was earmarked as being something special, especially if we could sneak under the big clubs and get him.

For £15m, he has a hell of a lot of potential, but, he may also create a hell of a lot of goals.

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For the second time in as many days, the club saw its record transfer fee broken, this time paying KRC Genk a fee that would go up to £25m for their young Swedish #10, Benjamin Nygren. Well rounded at a young age, and a key part of the team that qualified for Europa League football, he can play many positions across the attacking line.

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The next deal was a continuation of a loan, we couldn't get Braganca or Curtis Jones for another season, but Bayern were willing to let us have Oliver Batista Meier for another year.

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Normally, I don't buy players over the age of 25 for my teams, but, we need some experience in the middle of the team to guide some of the youngsters around, and, on the expiring contacts list, 2 names cropped up. One, Nemanja Matic, was unable to be negotiated with, due to the time of the season, the other, and coming on a 1 year, £3.5m deal, is Javi Martinez. At 32, he is well above my usual age limit, but, with over 300 appearances in top flight football through his career, as well as Champions League experience, he fits the bill perfectly.

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The last signing coming in, to play as 3rd striker, and replace the departing Tyler Walker, is Portuguese frontman, Fabio Silva. It took a fee of £6m to capture the 18 year old from Porto, but, he has a lot of potential to fill, and hopefully, his appearances from the bench will allow him to develop well.

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

With all the incomings, there are player departures, the first of these, sees me double my money on a player brought last season, with Jota leaving for Aston Villa for £16.5m. Young winger Alex Mighten, is the next to depart, having not really recovered from a broken foot sustained in August. Everton paying a fee that will go up to £5.5m for him. 

After the departure of the two wingers, Heritier Deyonge departs, heading back to France, where Nantes have paid £4.5m for him, a £1.5m profit in less than a year is good work, especially when he hasn't come on as much as I hoped in that time. Francisco Geraldes leaves to Valencia on loan for the season, and, at the time of writing, Ricardo Kishna was in Mexico negotiating a £6.75m move.

 

 

 

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Just caught up, so many updates on this thread!! This truly is the Golden FM period indeed :D

@robterrace - congratulations on the promotion, and some cracking transfers. Fabio Silva is god-like in my game and just moved to Man City for 65 million! So that should be a steal for you. And the Brazilian newgen looks out of this world. BTW, where did you get these faces from?

@Parmie - amazing work at Bradford City, love a long-term project and the determination to see it out! I have never become a club icon before but also aiming for the same on my save now :cool:. Similar to you I try to keep faith with most of the squad on promotion to the Premier League and I have found this to be good for consolidation, rather than making too many changes quickly.

@Dong21 - it looks like you have definitely filled the coffers at Bolton! Maybe invest a bit more in the squad now to make that push? Or was it a conscious decision not to? BTW I had managed Kotchap on my last game and can confirm he turns into a beastly defender!

@Ytee18 - great stuff too at Accrington, promotion through play-offs is almost the most fun, and it seems like you are more than holding your own in the Championship.

@RageMaster - that looks like a very solid and well balanced squad. How is Bellingham doing for you, as he's been a bit disappointing for me so far. Have you managed to expand the stadium as well?

Apologies if I missed out on anyone else, but great updates all around! 

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SUNDERLAND 2021-22 SEASON REVIEW

So it was our first season back in the Premier league, and here is how we ended up! We somehow surpassed even the wildest expectations that I had from this squad, and pipped both Man City & Chelsea to the 4th and final CL spot. City not managing to beat us in the penultimate game of the season also led to Pep being sacked the next morning which was a nice bonus :D

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That said though, result of the season for me was this: 

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We got a bit battered but somehow held on for a famous win, completing the double over United!

Also reached the quarters of the FA Cup but went down 0-1 at home to a strong Arsenal side so no trip to Wembley this year. Speaking of Arsenal, have no idea how they won the league given Liverpool were easily the best team in the country (look at that GD!)

While this squad has really surprised me, I have no false hopes about the fact that next season will be far tougher. We got many surprise results in the first half of the season with teams under-estimating us, which will not happen anymore. However for now, we enjoy the success! Here are the player stats:

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Player of the season award has to go to Danny Loader. This guy is a star in the making, and we just got him to renew his contract increasing the minimum fee release clause to 80 million. Look at those stats! He is developing into a beast.

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I must say I love this bit about FM - how players develop differently on each save. I have seen saves where Loader looks nothing like this, and now on my save he has gone through the roof whereas his compatriot Bellingham has sadly stalled a bit. He was the biggest disappointment of the season for me. 

From the rest of the squad, Pickering kept up his form and was a huge creative force for us. Tosin Adarabioyo was a rock at the back and the bargain of the season surely! Scowen & Dobson both very solid in midfield and popped up with some vital goals. Gooch & Fosu also made the step up very well with the former going on a crazy scoring run at the end of the season. Finally up front Eisa contributed well with 15 goals but we may need an upgrade on him.

Off the pitch as well there is good progress being made, we now have over 80 million in the bank, facilities being upgraded and most importantly got planning permission to expand the Stadium of Light to 55k seats which will take a year to complete.

Bring on the Champions League!! 

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While I am here, will also give a quick summer update to bring us to the start of the 2022-23 season

First, the transfers. We didn't need major surgery, just upgrades in a few positions and replacing departing players.

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Apart from what is shown, we also let go of Charlie Wyke, Chris Maguire, Jon McLaughlin and Jon Flanagan who all wound up their contracts. The transfers in are all players I haven't managed before so should be interesting. 

Scott McKenna comes in to be our left-footed CB and compete with Willis for the right to partner Tosin at CB. Young American Gianluca Busio comes in as we met his release clause, he is rated as a wonderkid and a player I have tracked for a few saves now. With him & Gooch in the side hopefully our profile state-side will also improve! Up front we needed a new striker to compete with Eisa, and the man chosen is Aleksandar Mitrovic who finished top scorer in the Championship for the second season running. He gives us a totally different option, and also there is something satisfying about a former Newcastle cult hero leading the line for us :D

That being said, the transfer I am most excited about is the below new-gen goalkeeper of dual English-Australian nationality, found in the England U21 squad and snapped up for a real bargain fee. He replaces the outgoing McLaughlin and is the new #1 at the Stadium of Light.

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And so, here is our squad for our second season in the Premier league, and first in Europe: 20 players only as I like it, to be able to give everyone enough game time.

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It's early days but we have already seen that this season will be harder than the last, we got embarrassed 4-1 by Everton on opening day. Fortunately since then we have remained unbeaten and are slowly improving. 

Our CL group has been drawn and we have Valencia, RB Liepzig and Porto, so no massive team but at the same time all evenly matched teams which will make qualifying a huge challenge. I would actually be totally fine to finish 3rd and drop into Europa as well, long as we don't bomb it altogether.

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@karanhsingh  A great season and excellent achievement. Your new GK does look impressive and both Mitrovic and McKenna are very good buys too. You're lucky you have the FM version of Danny Loader, he really isn't anything special (Michael Olise is far more likely to make a name for himself) and was one of the players I happily off-loaded at Reading. However, this is a game and funny things can happen (like him being better than Bellingham), none more so than a manager claiming to need an upgrade on Mo Eisa :lol:

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20 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

@Dong21 It must be nice to be a little more liberal in the market. Your two strikers from Serbia & Tottenham look to be exciting, and plenty of others should help take you to the next level. A great update as always.

Thanks. It certainly does @Jogo Bonito! Much more satisfying than starting a fresh save with a club with money I think.

7 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

@Dong21 - it looks like you have definitely filled the coffers at Bolton! Maybe invest a bit more in the squad now to make that push? Or was it a conscious decision not to? BTW I had managed Kotchap on my last game and can confirm he turns into a beastly defender!

I decided that I was happy with my squad and recruits so didn’t feel the need to spend more. Hopefully I don’t live to regret that, but so far so good! An update on how the season has gone so far will follow shortly.

You’re doing terrifically with Sunderland, keep up the good work 👏🏼

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Last signing for the season coming in to bolster the defence, Japhet Tanganga arrives for £7m from Tottenham.

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We also lost young Irish full back, Mark McSweeney, a product of our academy, who went to West Ham for £5m, a fee that I feel they overpaid massively, but, they paid it all the same. Also departing was Fran Feuillassier, the Argentine heading to Wolfsburg for £6m.

So, the 2021/22 Forest Squad for the Premier League looks like this.

Goalkeeper

30  - Brice Samba [DRC] - The French Congo keeper kept 24 clean sheets last season, and has 45 in 89 in a Forest shirt.

1 -  Nediljko Labrovic [CRO] - Backup to Samba, dependable, and for his size, quite mobile. Croatian U21 International,

13 - Stefano Turati [ITA] - 3rd choice keeper, will get development time with the U23s, and may see some cup matches.

 

Centre Back

5 - Joe Worrall [ENG] - The club captain has been somewhat of a rock over the last 2 seasons, chipping in with his fair share of goals, and being part of a very dependable partnership at the back.

15 - Chumi [SPA] - The product of La Masia was Worralls defensive partner in the Championships best defense, and, has been rewarded with a new contract over the summer. 

22 - Branimir Kalaica [CRO] - Was more than dependable in the matches he played last season, can play either side of the pairing.

12 - Japhet Tanganga [ENG] - New signing from Spurs, will be part of the rotation alongside Kalaica.

25 - Tiago Matos [POR] - At 20, hes still getting used to the English game, will see some action in the cups.

 

Full Backs

35 - Matthias Bader [GER] - The German right wing back was a stand out for us last season after arriving from Darmstadt, popping up in the attacking third and providing an outlet for the midfield during buildup.

3 - Domagoj Bradaric [CRO] - Another one of the Croatian element at Forest, the 21 year old wing back replaces Heritier Deyonge on the left flank, and will be as vital as Bader was to provide during the build up.

14 - Max Kilman [ENG] - A natural centre back, Kilman filled in on the left side of defence on several occasions last season, providing a lively link from the defence.

8 - Cristiano Lombardi [ITA] - Has played on the right side effectively for us, usually further forward, however, he filled in at full back on the occasions Bader was missing, and was more than capable. Given the signings in midfield, he will drop into the rotation for full back.

 

Wingers

6 - Rabbi Matondo [WAL] - New signing from Schalke, will be backup to fellow new arrival, Xavier Amaechi. Lot to learn, however, has impressed in preseason.

7 - Xavier Amaechi [ENG] - Somewhat of a steal for £2.1m, quick, and likes to cut in from the right flank. At 20, still very young, however, will be first choice.

10 - Oliver Batista Meier [GER] - The 20 year old wunderkind arrives for a second period on loan at Forest. His spell last season was one of the catalysts of the run to promotion.

There are other alternatives who can drop onto the wings, including most of the strikers and attacking midfielders.

 

Defensive Midfielders

24 - Javi Martinez [ESP] - At 32, the oldest player in the squad, however, he also has the most experience at the top level, and will be essential in bringing along the other players in the squad.

21 - Niklas Dorsch [GER] - Played second fiddle to Daniel Braganca last season, as the young Portuguese ran the side, he'll be in the squad as a quicker option than Martinez when needed.

23 - Marko Bulat [CRO] - Spent a large portion of 2020 on loan in the US, before coming back and tearing his groin. Can play in front of the back 4, and also behind the striker. At 19, he will be blooded when needed.

32 - Edu Fubá [BRA] - Signed in the summer from Legia Warszawa, and comes with a high expectation. At 18, he is the youngest of the midfield, but also, the most promising.

 

Attacking Midfielders

16 - Benjamin Nygren [SWE] - Club record signing. Has shown what he has to offer with several high energy performances in the friendlies on the French tour. Can play anywhere across the front, and will appear there.

17 - Lúcio -[BRA] - Young attacking midfielder, who enjoys having the ball at his feet. At times in preseason, it has been like watching a young Messi with some of his dribbling.

40 - Brennan Johnson [WAL] - Club academy product, and has appeared consistently through the last couple of seasons. Probably get moved on as he doesn't appear to be good enough.

 

Strikers

18 - Fabio Silva [POR] - Young Portuguese striker, arrived from Porto in the summer. Has a lot of potential to fulfil.

20 - Bartol Barisic [CRO] - Poacher who joined halfway through last season. Still finding his feet in England.

11 - Tadeo Ortiz [ARG] - Top scorer last season with 28 goals, will be an integral part of any survival.

 

Finally...

 

Oh.

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Posted (edited)

Bolton Wanderers - Season 5 - Part 2

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Pre-season went very well with many of my new signings building momentum by getting on the scoresheet. We also conceded quite a few early doors, but that was mainly before my new centre back signings had arrived at the club. We didn't play any particularly big clubs as I prefer to build morale and fitness over glamour ties, for example against Premier League opposition.

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During the course of pre-season I made a tactical change that would stick going into the new season. Last season we had operated with a 4-1-2-2-1 formation with a midfield trio anchored by Garner, an inside forward on the left and a lone central forward. I decided to change things up though after signing Hirst and Tadic. Both strikers seemed too good not to start. This switch was potentially harsh on one of my centre mids Brownhill who will now get less games and perhaps means less goals from the wingers, but these were sacrifices I'm willing to take. You will see from the image I have been playing Holse and Wallem in positions they are uncomfortable in - both are more used to playing further forward and on the opposite flanks, but I decided I wanted the option for more crosses with their natural feet with two capable forwards to feed in the middle.

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The fixture list was kind with four seemingly winnable league fixtures to start the season. We won three of these, with the other a frustrating loss against Luton when we'd had 28 shots at their goal. We ended the month with a respectable draw at Sheffield United. A good start to the season, but I expected this to drop off slightly once we took on tougher opposition. I gave my squad players an opportunity in the League Cup. We ended up losing on penalties in the end but the match itself was an exhilarating experience.  We took a 2-0 lead and looked comfortable, Blackpool roared back into a surprising 3-2 lead, before we scored a goal in stoppage time to take it to pens.

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I was feeling positive about this season, but was has happened next has shocked even me. We have beaten a series of top half Championship sides, embarking on a terrific run of form. In the prior season our top goalscorer got 6 goals all season whereas, as you can see above,  Jimmy Hirst delivered 8 goals in 6 games at one point! Hirst has rightly been getting the headlines but his strike partner Tedic has repeatedly put in strong performances, acting as the perfect foil. James Garner has been top class in the centre of the pitch - negating my fear that we may fall short without a third centre midfielder. We have conceded the second fewest amount of goals in the league, with new signings Dahlberg and Lenihan showing their worth.

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Our current league position is well above expectation (we were predicted to come 12th), so don't be surprised if we drop off at some point. I am loving this season though thus far. Still a long way to go, but returning Bolton to the Premier League in 5 seasons would be a proud achievement. Fingers crossed.

Edited by Dong21

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Posted (edited)

Bradford City 26/27:

First season in the Premiership budgets are announced by the board, I have £32m to spend and a wage budget I can't possibly get close to with the current wages and that relatively small war chest.

While thanking them for that, I'm also asking for every infrastructure and financial improvement I possibly can. We're in the honeymoon period of promotion so everything gets the rubber stamp and off we go. I'm guessing it's a premier league requirement to avoid postponed games so they also spend £2m on undersoil heating.

For my part, I full intend on spending every penny but on quality.

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Jardel, one of my former loaners, is available for a relatively low price given Cardiff's relegation. I still can't resist another loan of Diallo, whom I moved forward slightly into the half-back role.

Douglas was transfer listed by Barcelona at nearly half his valuation, he's on a pretty huge appearance bonus on top of his £48k a week, his main downside is that he's not accomplished at AMR, where I will need to play him:

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If you want a captain, go for Captain America, Norman had a £6m clause and the current left back options weren't going to be good enough for the long term.

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Greg Garcia bought himself out of his MLS contract and was available on a free, the problem was he couldn't qualify for a work permit like Norman, I signed him anyway and put him out to Angers SCO, where they generously granted him 5 substitute appearances. I'll have to try another loan next season and he'll hopefully start winning some caps.

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I'm still scrabbling around for centre backs, Montero is a loan from Barcelona, not great but I think will do. And Moulin is a Mezzala wonderkid from Chelsea that they know I'll give plenty of games to.

We're quite erratic at the start of the season, I keep a steady balanced mentality home and away, which I start to adjust to cautious away and things stabilise, we're not doing anything spectacular, but we're floating around lower mid table clear of the relegation zone.

Running up to January, we're doing fine and I particular enjoy this 1-1 draw away to Man City, parking the bus as Mourinho, the current City Manager, would say after Jardel is sent off for two yellows before half time, after which Louie Barry pops up and bags a goal from our only shot. Not long after the restart, Mourgos lunges in and gets a straight red. Antony equalises in the 76th minute but somehow we see it out.

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Nicholas Tie's heroics in the game herald his departure for another African Nations Cup. My only cover is still Moulden, rated as a decent league one keeper. Our form tanks through January and although we have games in hand because of the cups, which we also crash out of in Tie's absence, we slip into the relegation zone.

Tie returns in February, Ivory Coast having been knocked out in the quarter finals. He sures us up, we recover some form and finish the season strongly.

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Bigger Kabeya, my youth prospect from the previous youth intake, starts being touted as the next Michael Owen. I'm giving him appearances off the bench regularly to help bring him on. 

I stay busy thoughout the season trying to recruit/improve on the staff. Notably, Eddie Howe as the U23 Manager and Aitor Karanka 1st team coach. As we'll know in this thread, for the newly promoted, the U23s without any players to fill it is a bit weird for a while.

Heading off for the summer break, my priorities never seem to have changed, centre backs and central midfield are still problem areas.

Edited by Parmie

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Great updates from Forest, Bradford and Bolton. I've not had a chance to play any FM this week but that should change over the next few days.

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14 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

@karanhsingh  A great season and excellent achievement. Your new GK does look impressive and both Mitrovic and McKenna are very good buys too. You're lucky you have the FM version of Danny Loader, he really isn't anything special (Michael Olise is far more likely to make a name for himself) and was one of the players I happily off-loaded at Reading. However, this is a game and funny things can happen (like him being better than Bellingham), none more so than a manager claiming to need an upgrade on Mo Eisa :lol:

Haha yes indeed. Although Loader has been good on FM for quite some time now. But this is indeed the best I've seen from him. 

Mo Eisa is still holding his own, sharing game time with the big Serb! Thanks for your message and looking forward to your next update as well 

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12 hours ago, Dong21 said:

Thanks. It certainly does @Jogo Bonito! Much more satisfying than starting a fresh save with a club with money I think.

I decided that I was happy with my squad and recruits so didn’t feel the need to spend more. Hopefully I don’t live to regret that, but so far so good! An update on how the season has gone so far will follow shortly.

You’re doing terrifically with Sunderland, keep up the good work 👏🏼

Thanks! Great update from your end too, hope you can keep the form going. The formation switched seems to be working well so far! Are you playing a more direct game now as well? 

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Thanks @karanhsingh. I’m still favouring a more fluid approach, rather than direct as I like to play possession based football. We are set up to counter attack primarily though, playing to the pace of Hirst.

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