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[FMT20] Journey to the top of Europe

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First of all, I want to apologize to all people who waited for updates in my Novosibirsk career, but unfortunately it’s unlikely to be continued. The inevitable slowing down of game processing ruined all the fun playing full FM20 (it’s really sad, I remember all previous versions worked much smoother even after 10-15 seasons played). So, I decided to try FMT. I always was very doubtful about this version with all its microtransactions and limited functionality, but it’s surely better than what I thought. Inability to use custom data files and load players from specific countries and leagues is still a big downside, but I surely don’t miss tons of pointless press conferences and player interactions with the same 2-3 options working all the time, as well as new ‘realistic’ scouting and training :D 

For this career I decided to become a journeyman, starting unemployed and aiming to win all the top divisions in Europe. I loaded three lowest rated leagues from the default database (Northern Ireland, Wales and Iceland), and the rule is simple – once I win the top division in the first country, I’ll move to the next one and also add the league which will be the lowest rated at the moment.

Knockbreda

So, I’m going to start my journey from Belfast with Knockbreda FC, who approached me first after the save started. The club plays in the second tier, Bluefin Sport Championship, and is predicted 9th out of 12 teams. The task is to avoid relegation, and hopefully it won’t be hard. I only added two players to the default squad – striker Timmy Browne for free and midfielder Sean Gallagher on loan from Glentoran, and we are ready to start!

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Knockbreda

Season 2019/20 – part 1

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A mixed start in August, we played decent games against the division favorites Newry City and a Premiership side Institute in the cup (despite losing both) but were quite unimpressive against weaker teams. And a game against PSNI featured that bizarre goal by Browne, a reminder of the level where we currently are :D 

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Surprisingly we played our best game against the current league leaders Dundela. In two other successful games we were worse statistically, especially against Loughgall where we did exactly what your opponents in FM usually do, scoring with the only shot on target :D And the decision to give match practice to our backup goalkeeper in the cup was a mistake, he conceded three before 15th minute. 

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The game against Portadown surely stands out in October. We had a disastrous first half, losing 0-4 and being reduced to ten men, but fought till the end! Two draws against leading teams left us on 7th place in the table, though only three points behind playoff spots. Alex Pomeroy is currently leading the goalscorers table with 8 goals.

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Three wins in a row lifted us to the playoffs zone, but Queens University managed to beat us and took 3rd place on the last matchday. Still it’s very early to make any predictions, all teams down to 7th place can be considered promotion contenders.

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December was a perfect month apart from losing to the league leaders. We advanced in the cup (so matched the board expectations) and finished the year on the 3rd place. With the only game remaining at the first stage, that means we are going to play in the top six and have officially avoided the relegation battle! Would be very surprised to see us eventually promoted though. Pomeroy is still the league's scoring leader with 14 goals.

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Good luck :cool: 

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Knockbreda

Season 2019/20 – part 2

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The cup wasn’t our priority but still losing to a lower division side was disappointing. Portadown needed a win to qualify for the promotion group, we couldn’t cope with them so will start the second stage from 4th place. 

The transfer deadline day was quite mad (as most players here have amateur or part-time contracts), but luckily we haven’t lost anyone except a backup striker Burns and replaced him with Paul Smith, who previously played for Dergview and already scored 5 goals this season.

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I have to admit that games at this level are full of total randomness, because most of the players are equally useless. So… that 0-3 loss against H&W Welders was probably our best game in this month, if we speak about quality of play :D However, good results against other teams let us move up to 3rd place, overtaking Welders on goal difference with five games to go.

Also we got a first youth intake preview, labeled as a golden generation (yes, that basically means nothing at this level) with a goalkeeper as the most promising player. That’s encouraging, because our current first choice keeper is loaned.

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Yes, that was the only competitive game In March. Queens University lost all five games after the league split and had a player sent off on 12th minute, so actually it was quite easy for us. Meanwhile Welders lost their match, so we are now three points ahead!

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A win over Welders could have secured our playoff spot, but instead we let them equalize, lost the next game and needed a miracle on the last matchday… which almost happened! Welders were losing to Queens University, when we equalized and overtook them on goal difference… only to know that they scored on 90+3’ and returned to 3rd place. Have to say it’s a fair outcome, we played against them five times and couldn’t win a single game.

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Squad stats

Alex Pomeroy won the local golden boot with 20 league goals, and of course was selected as MVP by our fans. Other notable players were Jonathan Smith (except Pomeroy, he was the only player who reached 10 goals mark and had an average rating over 7) and Kai Wardlow (this young left-back became our best assistant, not a big surprise though as we played without wingers). 

And I decided to accept a contract extension with Knockbreda, will try to get the promotion next season!

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Pre-season 2020/21

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Predicted 7th this time, and the odds are much better now!

Youth intake

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 That’s what I also like in FMT – newgens come with season update, like they did in older versions. Coulter really looks promising and will be a backup goalkeeper this season. 

Transfers

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We lost our starting right-back Hamill who opted for a guaranteed wage in Premiership (can’t blame him of course).

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Some of those arrivals will be just backup players or future prospects, but there are some nice improvements for the first team as well:  

Jack Boggs – the best option in goal that we could afford.

Adam Wright – Welders were our nightmare last season, so poaching this center-back from them was quite pleasing :D 

Dale Adair – a great finding by our scouts, he’s only 16 but already can be a first team choice for us! We even had to pay money for him :D 

Michael Kerr – a replacement for Hamill, and actually he looks much better.

Issa Embalo – our first foreign player who will be the starting DM.

Cormac Lawlor and Diarmuid Lavery – two very similar central midfielders, our Xavi and Iniesta (both with flair 1 :D ) for this season. 

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Knockbreda

Season 2020/21 – part 1

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After saving a draw on 96th minute we won all the remaining games in August and took the lead! Warrenpoint poached Timmy Browne, our best goalscorer at the moment, just before the game against us, bu I decided not to sign another striker and altered our formation from narrow diamond to 4-1-3-2 with Jonathan Smith as a deep lying forward. So far it worked :) 

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Perfect at home (we even managed to beat Welders for the first time, and the score was 5-0 at one point!), poor on the road. Not too disappointed with a cup loss, but both Portadown and Loughgall are now ahead in the table.

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Nothing special, just our left-back with finishing 1 became the team’s best goalscorer :D (he’s the best penalty taker among the starting eleven, but still it’s weird)! We finished the month second in the league, five points behind leading Portadown, and had a good run in the League Cup, defeating a Premiership side Glenavon at home before losing to Ballymena in quarter-final.

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A draw against league leaders is usually a decent result, but not when you concede on 87th minute after a poor pass from your keeper while having a man advantage. Still we retained our place in playoffs zone and there is time to improve.

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After losing to Welders I decided to sign a better defensive midfielder, as Embalo clearly looked like a weak link in our formation. And I found that Joe Crowe, who could join us in summer but demanded a very high appearance fee, was still a free agent and now agreed to sign for just 150 euros per game (though he’s still the highest paid player in our team). Can’t say that it worked from the start, but that's surely an excellent signing for our level.

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Well, the top six tournament is going to be very tight and unpredictable, hope we’ll do better than last season. Also Brexit happened and didn’t make any changes to the work permit system (not so important at the moment but I’m going to spend more time in British leagues so it’s worth noticing).

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quite the roller coaster of a season...

Make sure P.S.N.I. get relegated if you can....just because

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Knockbreda

Season 2020/21 – part 2

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Cathal Farren joined us on loan and scored two on his debut (though it was only a non-league team in the cup, he wasn’t so good against better opponents).  Also we were a lot more solid defensively, conceded the only goal (from our former player Timmy Browne, of course) when the score already was 4-0.

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I expected that February would be tough for us with three away games in the league, but surprisingly we won all of them, overtook Portadown, and even despite losing to Ards (they scored from a free kick on 6th minute and parked the bus) are leading with 4 points gap! Farren finally found a way to goal in the league, helping us win two very important games. And the cup fixture against Cliftonville set the club records in attendance (2279 from 2500-seated stadium) and gate receipts (13k). 

The new youth intake won’t be a golden generation, but probably will bring us a promising striker.

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Again it was the only game in March, and… no words. That’s where I really missed player interactions from full FM. :seagull:

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The final game against Portadown was the decisive one. We were one point ahead so could play for a draw, but actually tried to control the game, taking the lead twice. They managed to equalize both times but not more, and that result meant that we won the league and promoted!

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Squad stats

Jonathan Smith was leading the team this season, but I’m still impressed with Kai Wardlow. Even the most attack-minded full-backs never scored so many goals for me, even including penalties. Dale Adair became the first-choice defender, really improved during the season and attracted some Premiership clubs (so we would probably lose him for free, but after promotion I was able to give him a part-time contract). 

Just hope we won’t be too bad in Premiership now :D 

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2 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Make sure P.S.N.I. get relegated if you can....just because

They were close, but managed to survive in playoffs against Tobermore Utd (BTW that's the 3rd tier table, never seen such a small gap between top and bottom teams).

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Congrats on your League Win!

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Knockbreda

Pre-season 2021/22

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We have the same odds with Institute, and I guess overtaking them should be our main goal for this season. Surprised to see Larne predicted first, they are quite strong (2nd and 4th in previous seasons) but never won the title before.

Youth intake

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For some reasons there were two intakes within two days! The first was a previewed one, with striker David Hynds already having 1.5* CA, and the second gave us potentially a 5* keeper Aidan Curran.

Transfers

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We only lost a backup left defender and two youngsters without any big potential.

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Only five players joined us this summer, and one of them is Lavery who isn’t actually new.

Tiernan Parker – our new first choice goalkeeper, he came through Luton Town academy but haven’t played any game for them.

Paddy McLaughlin – yes, both our starting center-backs are just 17 years old. It’s a big risk, but there was no better option.

Caolin Coyle – a rotation option for both wings.

Joshua Gibson – a young striker who already looks like a decent alternative for Pomeroy!

We also signed another youngster, central midfielder Craig Edgar who will join us in January (actually there was an option to buy him immediately but that hilarious message appeared :D

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And the Premiership debut really encouraged the fans! :D 

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2 additional fans...a real upsurge. Better not spend all that extra ticket money at the local pub! Even though I'm not sure it would by a round of drinks for the lads!

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Knockbreda

Season 2021/22 – part 1

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We started with probably the most important fixture, and despite Institute has converted almost all chances they had to goals, managed to clinch the win! And actually it was quite a strong start for a debut, we defeated Dungannon and could get at least a draw at Ballymena, but conceded on 93rd minute.

On the deadline day I decided to strengthen our midfield a bit and loaned Ryan McClelland from Coleraine. He’s currently injured and will miss next two weeks, but hopefully will help us later (especially with set pieces).

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September was marked with some important late goals, we equalized against Bangor in the cup (don’t pay much attention to secondary cups here but still wouldn’t like losing at home to a 3rd tier side) and Larne, the predicted champions, in the league (after we were 0-2 behind on 10th minute). And Pomeroy’s winning goal at Glenavon is so far keeping us clear from the relegation zone.

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Some more impressive comebacks in October! We equalized from 1-3 against Crusaders and got a revenge over Ballymena, exactly in the same way as they defeated us in the first game with the winning goal in stoppage time.

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Only two official games with three weeks gap between them, we beat Institute once again and weren’t hopeless against league leaders Linfield. Certainly on course to avoid the relegation battle now!

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December schedule was a lot more packed, though most of the games were really boring to watch. We obviously could do better at home, but secured some important results in away games against Larne and especially Crusaders, the defending champions! So, we finished the year in the mid-table group, leaving the dangerous 11th place nine points behind.

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In other news, our best goalscorer Joshua Gibson was signed by a League Two side Stevenage, but will join them only in 2023 (no idea why :D

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Posted (edited)

Joshua Gibson is under 18 and must be at least 18 years old to play on a work permit. Also he is probably considered a foreigner depending on the Brexit scenario.

Edited by Hootieleece

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10 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Joshua Gibson is under 18 and must be at least 18 years old to play on a work permit. Also he is probably considered a foreigner depending on the Brexit scenario.

I thought about it, but he's English so it's strange anyway.

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Knockbreda

Season 2021/22 – part 2

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Another eventful month, and we did well with four league wins which moved us up to 4th place (however, top three are quite far away, and the mid-table group is very tight with 10th place only six points behind us). Also we managed to defeat Glenavon in the cup and will now play against Cliftonville on the same stage where they knocked us out last season.

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Tiernan Parker won the second shootout for us, saving three penalties from Cliftonville players, and we were drawn against a third tier side Newington in quarter-final! That can be our chance for this season, especially as we are not involved in battles for European places or relegation.

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Someone could predict an easy win for us, but instead it was a very tough battle. Newington scored first, equalized on 90th minute and took the lead in extra time before Kai Wardlow recalled the last season memories and saved us on 120th! And then Parker won his third shootout in a row, saving a shot from opponents’ goalkeeper. We’ll play Coleraine in semi-final, a chance to get revenge for that 0-4 loss in our last meeting.

Speaking of the league, we finished the first stage on 6th place, so will play in the top group. Don’t think that we can climb higher, but at least relegation is officially impossible now!

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We could finish 5th, but that loss on the final matchday left us bottom of the championship group. What’s more important, we beat Coleraine with the only goal from a corner and reached the cup final! Ballymena will be our opposition, and they are certainly a cup team in this career (won the trophy two years ago and lost in the final last year).

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Well, predictions didn’t lie – Larne secured their first ever title. Ballinamallard and Portadown promoted, and there should have been European places playoffs (for teams from 4th to 7th places) but for some reason it didn’t happen (maybe it somehow depends on the cup final).

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We took the game to the extra time even despite Wardlow’s red card, but couldn’t hold them longer. However, there is still a chance to qualify for Europe, the playoffs were scheduled after the cup final as I supposed, and we will play against Crusaders in semi-final.

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And now the season is over. We couldn’t take our chances in second half and went out. Crusaders then lost to Linfield in the final.

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At least the league acknowledged our overachievement, and I hope this award will boost my reputation and attract bigger clubs’ attention (though so far there are no insecure jobs in NI Premiership, and only Crusaders manager has a contract expiring after this season).

 

Squad stats

Dale Adair was our only player with average rating over 7, and that’s fair – he’s a real star for this level, but unfortunately has absolutely no interest to stay at Knockbreda. But who knows, maybe our paths will cross somewhere else later.

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Good season in the top Tier. Are you looking for jobs further than N. Ireland?

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4 minutes ago, Hootieleece said:

Good season in the top Tier. Are you looking for jobs further than N. Ireland?

Not yet, I want to win the league here first.

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A new job!

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I kept track of Crusaders whose manager Paul Millar had an expiring contract and left in the end of May, and a few days later they approached me. Quite ironically, I played my last game as Knockbreda manager on their stadium :D 

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The club is professional (one of three in Northern Ireland, together with Linfield and Larne) and has 3.5 million euros in the bank (thanks to the last European campaign when they reached Conference League group stage)! The squad quality is also a huge step forward comparing to Knockbreda. Even though the highest rated player, striker Neil Blake, already agreed to join Norwich, there are still a lot of quality footballers (like winger Ross Clarke and central midfielder Rory Hale) and promising youngsters (Barry McMullan is the best so far).

And before leaving Knockbreda I made a farewell gift, signing a center-back from... Manchester United! Joe Graham looks great and obviously would have become a starter in Crusaders, but I decided to help my former team to keep going strong :) 

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Good luck with this historical club!

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Crusaders

Pre-season 2022/23

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 Predicted third and expected to be title challengers.

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Our squad lacked quality in defense, so improving it was the main goal of transfer window (and of course, I tried to sign Dale Adair first but he chose Glentoran). And after all signings we had a completely new starting back four: SteeleWaybornLaveryLecky (he didn’t have a right-back position, but these attributes are really good so I’m retraining him now).

Other signings included Croatian defensive midfielder Plum, who spent three previous seasons in Glentoran and Linfield, loaned attacking midfielder Urban (looking really great at this level!) and striker Quinn from Arsenal academy (unfortunately he suffered an injury in training and won’t be available in first league games).

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Season 2022/23 – part 1

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A perfect start! We travelled to Linfield on the opening matchday, and that obviously was a special game for the club (as they left Crusaders without European football this season). The only goal came from a corner, and actually set pieces played a big role in our success this month (it’s not a very usual thing when a center-back is your best goalscorer so far :D

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Dropped first points against defending champions, but avoided a loss after a great long shot from Rene Urban. Jack Quinn finally scored his first goal for us in the next game, and this goal brought us three points and a clear first place in the table! September also featured that incredible game (who could expect Linfield giving away a five-goal advantage against the last placed team?)

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I could expect this after such a strong start, Ballymena simply scored with every chance they had. However, it was just a single failure and not a sign of incoming crisis, after two games against Glentoran in secondary cups (played mostly with a backup squad) we got two confident wins in the league, including my first visit to Breda Park since leaving them in summer.

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37 (17) – 4 (2) on shots, and we only managed to save a draw against the 12th placed team. Later we reached the Antrim Shield final, scoring two goals in extra time while being reduced to ten players! Also Kyle Steele got his first senior cap for Northern Ireland :thup:

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8 games in 21 days after almost a month of rest, this scheduling is insane. However, due to AI teams being extremely poor in squad management it became our big advantage, and we recorded a perfect month which included destroying Linfield 6-1 and a comeback from 0-2 in a derby against Cliftonville.

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And that winning streak let us finish the year with 13 points advantage! Hope we’ll keep this form till the end. Knockbreda faced relegation battle after my departure, but so far keeps going above the dangerous places.

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Great to see an FMT career. Tremendous start in the league, you should be able to hold on.

NI has always been a weird yet fun place to play. Not much gulf in quality between the divisions apart from maybe the top 3-4 teams and so many cups!

How are your staff members and is your scout finding good players?

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51 minutes ago, rafaelbenitez said:

How are your staff members and is your scout finding good players?

These are my current staff. Scouts are quite good, especially when finding local talents (like Adair in Knockbreda or Lecky here). Can't say much about foreign findings as we are restricted to only UK so far.

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Quite the start...are you secretly leading a "Crusade for European Glory" :cool:

I think that 66 points will win you the title if memory serves.

But by all means win every remaining game and set a record!

 

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Crusaders

Season 2022/23 – part 2

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Really disappointed to lose the Antrim Shield final, especially because we dominated the game as much as the previous one that we won 5-0! But this time we couldn’t take our chances and they got two lucky shots. Speaking of the league, our win streak reached fourteen games! Now I’ll pay more attention to the main cup, obviously want to win the double this year.

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Two goalless draws didn’t influence our position much, the title should be a matter of a few next games. Also we reached the cup quarter-final and will play Larne here.

The youth intake preview promised us a golden generation, will be quite interesting if I decide to stay here for one more season.

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Rene Urban’s free kick sent us to the cup semi-final against Linfield, a good chance to get revenge for the Antrim Shield game. And a few days later we were officially crowned as champions after defeating Ballinamallard with six games to go. So, the double is my goal now, and maybe also reaching 100 points and 100 goals in the league (we have 88 and 92 currently).

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Despite losing second game in the league we reached both 100 points and 100 goals marks. And what’s more important, Urban scored another winning goal and brought us to the cup final! With 10th placed Newry City as our opposition, that’s a great chance for the double.

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Glad to see Knockbreda finishing clear from relegation. Ballinamallard finish run is also worth noticing, they were about 10 points behind Portadown once but overtook them and eventually avoided relegation in playoffs!

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We actually secured the result with first two shots on goal. Another trophy is ours!

 

Squad stats

Five players managed to score 10 or more goals, that’s really a good teamwork. And it’s interesting that Jamie McGonigle, who wasn’t in my provisional starting 11 before the season, became our best goalscorer playing mostly on the left wing (he was our first choice on penalties though). Rene Urban was truly the best player both in our squad and whole league, collected a bunch of individual prizes, and I’m very happy that I could sign him on a full contract from next season!

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Now I can leave Northern Ireland for the next country (Wales is currently lowest rated from available leagues), but I want to stay for one more season and see how this Crusaders squad will do in Europe.

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Congratulations!:applause:  and have fun in Europe.

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Crusaders

Pre-season 2023/24

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No surprises in these odds, I even expected them to be shorter after previous season.

Youth intake

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Not really a golden generation, I’d say. Goalkeeper Anderson looks the most promising player, and striker Keogh is the best right now.

Transfers 

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Urban doesn’t need extra introduction, and we also loaned Steele for one more season.

Nicky Finch – Arsenal prospect will be our first choice in goal.

Dominic Revan – I signed him during previous season and now think that I overpaid, because…

Eoin Toal – an almost equal alternative with a lot lower wage. Well, anyway we will need more depth playing in Europe.

Oli Walker – an improvement for our wings, loaned from Chelsea.

Paul Smyth – a player with EPL experience (even if it’s only 15 games for QPR in 2020/21 with average rating 6.41) was a real star for Larne in last two seasons before leaving on free transfer.

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Crusaders

Season 2023/24 – part 1

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An earlier start with European football. We headed to Hungary first and confidently won an away game, but became too complacent at home allowing them to equalize on aggregate. However, we scored two more goals and advanced to face BATE. Started with an away game again and conceded on 1st minute, but managed to return home with a win.

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After defeating BATE and Maribor we faced Kobenhavn in the final qualifying stage. And actually I can’t say that they were unbeatable, we had enough chances to score (especially in Denmark, after their player was sent off with 20 minutes to go) but couldn’t take them. So, it’s only Europa League group for us with Tottenham, Real Sociedad and Dynamo Kyiv. I think, third place can be achieved there. 

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That was a good start in the group despite the result. We managed to equalize from 0-2, but a defensive mistake allowed Bergwijn to score the winning goal. And the schedule is going to be tough, as after a European game on Thursday we played in the league on Saturday and that will repeat several times in future (don’t know if it’s FMT special issue or fixture moving simply doesn’t exist in Northern Ireland as no one here could expect a team advancing so far in Europe :D

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Despite losing our best center-back Lavery for 3 months we secured a very important away win over Dynamo! That gives us a good chance to finish third and continue the season in Conference League. Overtaking Real Sociedad was also possible as we were close even to win this game… but conceded twice in stoppage time :( 

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Paul Smyth’s quick double against his former club finally made us top of the league. We are also still in contention for minor local cups (even though most of their fixtures overlap with international breaks and we had to play with very experimental lineups) and won the first trophy this season against Irish champions Dundalk (never heard about this cup before but nice to get it)! Speaking of Europa League, we now certainly won’t be in top two but will finish third if get at least a point against Dynamo at home.

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Actually even 0-1 loss would have left us third in the group but we managed to equalize after conceding from Aubameyang (he’s 34 and much slower now but still a star comparing to our level), so there was no need to count tiebreakers. We will continue the season in Conference League, playing against Betis in the first round. Not the best draw of course, but we played quite decently against another Spanish team so will try our best there.

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With all extra games in Europe we are not as dominant in the league as last season, but still at the top with only Larne keeping our pace. Knockbreda finished the year on 4th place, my former assistant Colm Kearney surely deserves the credit :applause:

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Crusaders

Season 2023/24 – part 2

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This late comeback against Larne marked the start of their decline, by the end of January they were twelve points behind us! And the Antrim Shield final was quite one-sided, bringing us the second trophy of the season. Three to go, let’s see if we could win them all.

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February featured three meetings with my former team in three different tournaments, and the last one brought us another trophy, thanks to Paul Smyth who already scored over 30 goals during this season! That number also included his goal against Betis that gave us the lead for half an hour before they equalized and later destroyed us in Spain. Still it was a remarkable campaign.

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A boring draw against Larne mathematically secured our league title, the fourth trophy of the season. Only two cup games stand between us and a perfect domestic year.

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An easy win in the cup semi-final, and we are going to face Glentoran in my last game as a Crusaders manager.

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Glentoran immediately injured our right winger Walker, but his substitute Ross Clarke eventually assisted Smyth for the only goal in this game. So, we made the quintuple winning all the domestic trophies, what a way to finish my Northern Irish adventures!

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Paul Smyth has won the best player and best goalscorer (with 21 goals) awards, and Keith Lavery became the best youngster (with Walker and Urban completed the top three). The manager award went to Colm Kearney, and that’s fair – despite losing to Linfield in European playoffs, Knockbreda’s 4th place is a great overachievement.

 

Squad stats

Fans selected Walker as the best player, though my choice is clear – Paul Smyth was really incredible with 34 goals, including some very important ones.

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On course to Wales now! Finland is also added as the next lowest rated playable league.

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Where to next?

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46 minutes ago, Hootieleece said:

Where to next?

Wales, though my reputation is already high enough to attract offers from teams like Lens and Lokomotiv Moscow. But I'm going to complete lowest rated leagues first :) 

 

 

Pre-season 2024/25 

There were no available jobs in Wales immediately, so I had to wait until the end of June when the contracts expired. Meanwhile Crusaders hired Danny Lennon who spent his entire playing and coaching career in Scotland, and Betis won the Conference League so we only lost to the eventual winners.

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So, four jobs became available. They all are semi-pro (the only professional club there is TNS), and Bala had the best prediction (4th place) so that was my choice.  

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The squad is quite young and promising. The best player is central midfielder Matt Johnson, but he’s out of contract and wants to play on a higher level. Defenders Rassel-Edwards, Thomas and striker Evans are other local stars.

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I signed three youngsters who were released from English clubs and can immediately play in the first team here – striker Deakin, center-back Rees and wing-back (potentially) Fischer, and also loaned central midfielder Newsome from Linfield.  And so we are ready to start.

 

Also I noticed one interesting appointment – the legend is back to Arsenal… oh wait :D 

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Have fun in Wales!

Arsenal Tula is the True Arsenal!

 

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22 hours ago, Koetzer said:

Also I noticed one interesting appointment – the legend is back to Arsenal… oh wait :D 

2B8gomW.png

:lol::lol:

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Bala

Season 2024/25 – part 1

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We are good in creating chances but sometimes much worse in using them. Had 12 (!) clear cut chances against Haverfordwest but only managed to get a narrow win, and in the next game Barry scored with the only shot on target.

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I never played with three center-backs in FM20 but this squad leaves no other choices, so I’m trying to make this formation more balanced and effective, with mixed outcome so far. At least our pair of strikers have a good understanding between each other and already scored 15 goals together.

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It seems like I found a good counter-attacking option. We didn’t have many chances against Bangor City and TNS, but used them perfectly. And of course, that win over the “Welsh PSG” in my first game against them, and especially scoring three (a penalty and two free kicks from Johnson) wasn’t expected at all! After these results we finished the month as joint leaders (though TNS have two games in hand and most likely will win both).

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Our second game against TNS was not so successful :D However, we won all other matches and retained second place. So far it’s the best position we can hope for. 

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Seriously, the first cup round for us with a lot of lower league teams still in play, and we got TNS :seagull:  So, keeping the second place should be our main goal for the rest of the season. And it seems quite realistic.

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In other news, Crusaders sold Gareth Lecky to Milan (for 27k euros, what a shame) and he already played 15 games for their first team!

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On 08/07/2020 at 21:24, Koetzer said:

 

Also I noticed one interesting appointment – the legend is back to Arsenal… oh wait :D 

2B8gomW.png

Looks like Thierry is embarking on an FM style challenge. Win the domestic league with all clubs that are named Arsenal.

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Bala

Season 2024/25 – part 2

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Like in Northern Ireland, the league here splits into two groups of six teams. With ten games to go we’ll try to keep our six points advantage over 3rd place. And we managed to reach the League Cup final, but once again had no chances against TNS.

TNS also poached our best player Johnson… well, that should have happened at some point and at least we got a compensation. I signed two players to the midfield – Dean Hewitt on free transfer and Gavin Jones on loan, and also made an improvement in goal loaning Anthony Burton.

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The game against Llanelli (3rd in the table) was probably the most important at this stage of season. They scored first but soon had a player sent off, and we could use this advantage after the half time. I also changed the team formation to narrow 4-1-3-2 (actually the same I played in Knockbreda) and most likely will keep it in future games.

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With three games to go we secured second place which means a Conference League spot. Also I arranged a friendly with a random lower reputation club not understanding that it was the mighty eU9bdZi.png :D 

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It could be a draw-only month, but we conceded from TNS in stoppage time.

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A good debut year in Bala, we will get European football next season though overtaking TNS can take a lot of time (especially considering their professional status).

Squad stats

That interesting, only two our starting strikers and their backup Esney reached the average rating of 7. 

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Good Season. Did you beat TNS for their only loss? Either way I will be a slog to beat them unless you become "Professional" also.

 

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2 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Did you beat TNS for their only loss?

Yes, it was in our first game against them. At least I can hope that their manager will be offered a job somewhere else :D 

 

Bala

Pre-season 2025/26

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Predicted to repeat our last season result, so far we can only dream of the title.

Youth intake

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Pritchard is really promising, but these physical attributes…

Transfers

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Burton joins us on a permanent basis after half a season on loan, and also I extended Gavin Jones’ deal for one more year.

Joe Lewis – former Swansea player with 10 games in Championship. Can’t say that we needed another center-back, but he’s really good for our level.

Diarmuid Lavery – good old friend from Knockbreda. I hope he will help us here, especially as I’m playing with the same formation.

John McEvoy – we needed a better defensive midfielder, and this former West Ham player was the best option.

Goalkeeper Hartland, midfielder Morris and striker Hillman were all signed as future prospects, and what’s amazing – despite being raised in English clubs they all were ready to play here for free!

 

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And European football ended very quickly :(  Had some chances to score, but Hungarians were too strong for us.

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Bala

Season 2025/26 – part 1

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Conceding on the last minute against Airbus UK was actually a lot more disappointing than another loss to TNS. On the deadline day I loaned two English players – right-back Brandon Kemp and central midfielder Rod Maguire, hopefully they will help us to do better against these local giants.

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Kevin Deakin had an incredible month, scoring ten times in six games! A backup striker Hillman’s achievement is also notable – scoring five even against a lower league team isn’t something you see every day. However the team performance wasn't flawless, we dropped points at home against Barry and Connah’s Quay, and that left us only on 3rd place so far.

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Another unexpected loss. It seems like despite improving the squad we are not anywhere closer to TNS, and even reaching 2nd place won’t be easy.

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Finally we climbed to second place after getting revenge over Barry, but TNS are already 14 points ahead. And our best left-back Russell-Edwards broke his leg and is out for the rest of season :( 

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I clearly overestimated the ability of our backup squad, and we almost were knocked out from the cup by a lower league side. Also, as we can sign free agents outside transfer window, I found a new left back – Ben Williams who was released by TNS in summer and still didn’t find a new club.

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One draw in twenty games, I have no idea what can stop them. We can only hope for some sort of miracle in the cup (of course if we don't lose before meeting them :D )

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Bala

Season 2025/26 – part 2

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This late goal against Llanelli can be very important in the battle for second place, as we now are eight points ahead of them. And the cup game against a lower league side again wasn’t easy but we advanced to quarter-final in extra time. Also I sold defender Christian Fischer to Venezia (currently bottom of Serie A) for 5000 euros + 50% of next sale (maybe that clause will help the club in future) and signed Rarmani Edmonds-Green on free transfer as his replacement.

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With winning all the games this month we almost secured the silver medals and advanced to the cup semifinal. Llanelli Town will be our opponents there, so we avoided TNS until the final. Just need to get there ourselves :D 

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We made TNS drop points for the second time in the season, even despite Hewitt was sent off with 20 minutes to go. Actually it wasn’t the best month for us with only 2 points got from 3 games, but our position in the league isn’t under any threat so we can concentrate on the cup.

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A confident win over Llanelli led us to the final, where we will face… Connah’s Quay! Somehow they beat TNS in the other semi-final, and of course it won’t be an easy game but at least this is a real chance for us.

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Same 59 points as last season, but TNS became even stronger and finished unbeaten. Kevin Deakin won the best goalscorer award with 25 goals, it's a great achievement when you have a team that scores almost twice more than yours.

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And here’s my first trophy in Wales! We were better during whole game and finally could break through their defense in the end, winning a penalty after corner kick and then scoring the second goal in a counter. Connah's Quay should be very disappointed, they defeated TNS in the cup, drew twice against them in the league and still we did better in both competitions.

Squad stats

Unfortunately, Kemp and Maguire both have their contracts expiring (so we can’t extend loans) and don’t want to join us. So we’ll need to find replacements on these positions, and of course improve others as well.

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Bala

Pre-season 2026/27

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No surprises, still predicted second.

Youth intake

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I only signed Ethan Harris, he can develop into a decent defender for the Welsh league.

Transfers

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Well, that should be a big improvement. Some of these players are just future prospects who agreed to play almost for free (6 euros per week without any bonuses :D ), but others who started their careers in big English clubs can make us much stronger and probably challenge TNS. 

Paul Chapman replaced Kemp as right-back, Ross Jones, Ceri Williams and Thomas Hermann were signed to improve our midfield, and Grenadian international Will Morgan will pair up with Deakin at front. Also there is one more agreed signing – center-back Max Sailor will join us in August after turning 18.

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And of course, some players had to leave as were no more good enough for the first team.

Conference League

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We got one of the strongest teams at this stage, started very well at home, were 2-0 and 3-1 ahead but couldn’t keep the lead conceding a penalty on 94th minute. And the game in Norway was one-sided without any chances for us.

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Bala

Season 2026/27 – part 1

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Of course, all these new signings need time to blend into the squad, and some disappointing results have to happen. But even two draws can cost us a lot in the end.

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That’s much better, we won all the games in September and eventually took the lead in the table (though TNS have three games in hand and can overtake us).

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We are still doing very good in the league, though TNS won all their games as well and are ten points behind with four games in hand. So… we obviously will need to get advantage in head-to-head games, which won’t be easy considering the cup result.

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Two defeats in a row, that’s a serious problem. TNS already took the lead and still have two games in hand, they only had one draw in 15 matches with 52-2 goal difference… :seagull:

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This draw, saved on the last seconds with Morgan’s strike, actually means nothing. We dropped too many points before and can’t hope for a better position anymore (except winning all three remaining games against TNS which is too unrealistic).

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Have you been asking the board about becoming a professional side? That was the only way I can see you toppling their dominance.

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On 17/07/2020 at 23:46, Motlhen said:

Have you been asking the board about becoming a professional side? That was the only way I can see you toppling their dominance.

As I remember from previous versions, the club should have several millions on balance to turn professional, and the only way we can achieve this is to qualify for EC2 group stage. But actually I feel that signing youngsters released from EPL clubs can eventually make our squad as strong as TNS even with a semi-pro status.

 

Bala

Season 2026/27 – part 2

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We really did better than last season, but the progress wasn’t as fast as I hoped. Still more than 20 points between us and TNS, and that win in our very first meeting still remains the only one.

 

Squad stats 

I signed striker Kieran Reid on free transfer in January, he started well but soon suffered an injury and missed most of the fixtures in spring. Morgan became league’s top goalscorer and our best player this season. Could do even better if his international duties in Grenada weren’t interfering with some league games :D 

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Bala

Pre-season 2027/28

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Our odds are now much closer to TNS, that can be a good sign!

Youth intake

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 Another below average intake, only Ian Carr looks relatively promising. 

Transfers

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Three players - center-back Quaye, midflelders Brady and Henriksen will go straight to the first team, others will provide backup and probably help us in future. Also it’s a very interesting bunch of nationalities, we even got a player from British Virgin Islands! Morgan won’t fly all the way to Caribbean alone now :D 

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And a lot of players had to leave. I hope these loans to Welsh clubs will help them getting some points from TNS. 

Conference League

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Finally we got an easy European draw and scored fifteen goals against Maltese team! Levski awaited us in the next round, and we managed to hold a narrow win at home despite playing the whole second half with ten men. The return leg in Bulgaria wasn’t easier, but Morgan scored in a counter, Burton made some important saves and we’re through! Norrkoping will be our opponents in the 3rd round, probably we have some chances against them, but in order to reach the group stage we’ll also need to defeat Athletic Bilbao (well that’s very unlikely to happen :D

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Bala

Season 2027/28 – part 1

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Norrkoping didn’t leave us any chances, so we could concentrate on the league but already dropped points with an own goal on 97th minute. It will be hard to contest the title if we continue slipping like that.

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A perfect month with several impressive results, but TNS aren’t going to do any favors and still haven’t dropped any point in the league. Our first head-to-head game was scheduled in September too but already postponed to November due to international call-ups.

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The race continues, we won all the games in October while TNS surprisingly lost to Llanelli a home so we are now leading with four points advantage (played one more game though). And one of Llanelli’s goals was scored by a player we sent there on loan, nice to see this plan working.

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A boring game, but TNS actually scored with their first shot on target and held the lead. We're not hopeless but still not good enough to beat them.

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Well… not this season. Scored first but they replied soon, and after second goal I had to go all out attack. Theoretically the title is ours if we win all the remaining games (including both against TNS on second stage) but I don’t think it can happen now. Though I definitely see the progress, we just need some more time.

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Bala

Season 2027/28 – part 2

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I decided to change our first choice goalkeeper after 1-4 loss, Burton wasn’t really good, had an expiring contract and demanded almost maximum wage we could afford. So, he moved to Fleetwood for free and future sale clause, and we signed Ronaldo Houston who arrived a day before the cup semi-final and immediately recorded a clean sheet! Could that be a glimmer of hope for our league chances?

And there came the League Cup final which we won but Kieran Ried, who had an exceptional season with 32 goals scored, suffered an injury and now will be out for more than a month. I had to loan Zurab Shengelia as his replacement, and so far he started well, scoring in both games against Barry. And that also wasn’t the final change, another long-term injury (backup right defender Humphries) and another loan signing Luke Cunningham who can cover both wings.

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I’m proud of our performance against TNS, but the referee did everything to secure their win – awarded them a penalty, sent off Chapman in the first half and then disallowed Sailor’s goal. Can’t even find his name in FMT :mad:

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Should have been three league games in March, but the last meeting with TNS was postponed. It’s unlikely that they can lose the eight points advantage in four remaining games, but would be nice to defeat them anyway. And also we have a good chance to meet again in the cup final.

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Finally we managed to defeat TNS in the league, and on the next matchday they drew with Airbus but still were three points ahead and had better goal difference, so the last game (where we both dropped points) couldn’t change anything.

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And we beat them once again in the cup final! An equal game where TNS had better start but we came back. Foul against Henriksen in the box, second yellow card for their player and a penalty converted by Reid (his 40th goal of the season) took the game to extra time. And there Kieran struck again, scoring his 41st and final goal. It’s a cup double for us!

 

Squad stats

Great season for Reid and Henriksen, they beat the club records in goals, assists and average rating. I already extended both winter loans and think this squad can really challenge for the title next season.

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Bala

Pre-season 2028/29

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Wait a minute… Even FM now thinks that it can be our season.

Transfers

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Three players arrived to improve our starting eleven – center-back Michael Smith and midfielder Cordell Williams joined us on loan, and Dave Westwood (previously at Swansea) was signed for free. Rick Joseph and Eric Sepp can be useful backup options right now, others will mostly play for reserves.

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Thomas Hermann was a good player for us, but didn’t develop and asked for a too high wage. I received two offers, from TNS and Saudi club, the choice was obvious :D And he’s now rated 1.1 million, that could be important as I sold him with 50% next sale clause. 

 

Conference League

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Well, two big wins over a Montenegrin team were predictable, but 8-0 against Hibernian… That’s really hard to explain, their squad wasn’t much weaker than ours, and eventually they defeated our backup players in the return leg! We’ll face Shamrock Rovers next, they are definitely beatable but the next opponents are Saint Etienne so the group stage is unlikely to happen for us.

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Bala

Season 2028/29 – part 1

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Confident start in the league and quite good performance in Europe. We were statistically better than Saint Etienne, but their finishing was clinical (in the second game they had only three shots on target and scored with each of them).

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First league draw, that could be expected somewhere. TNS so far haven’t dropped points and can overtake us with winning postponed games.

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October started with a typical FM game, two goals from two shots and immediate kick-off equalizer :seagull:  TNS gained potential four points advantage and were heading to a game against us… without a manager as Scott Ruscoe was appointed to the Welsh national team! We simply couldn’t miss this chance and dominated the game despite Cunningham’s stupid red card just few minutes after coming as a substitute. And then TNS offered me a contract… I guess even a season ago I would have accepted it, but now – no way!

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Now it’s time when a draw against TNS is already felt like two points dropped and not one earned. We were better, but they scored with two first shots and retained the leading spot one point ahead us.

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Another impressive month, but TNS also won all their games and stayed on top. Still we have two more head-to-head games that can decide everything.

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Kieran Reid won the Welsh player of the year award, and it’s the first time ever when this prize goes to a player from domestic league!

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