Football Manager Series Catch-All

Congrats on the cup win and good luck on the bid for promotion in the upcoming season!

I've been rejecting job offers out of hand now, as I want to see where this goes for a while with Telford. I hope to resume playing this weekend. It's been a busy week, but the weekend looks pretty good!

A little over a month until release day (less if you're a Beta-player), and early word about FM 18 is trickling out.


Promotion! We did it Keegan-style, by utilizing a brand-new striker and AMC who combined to score 55 goals for us this season, helping us overcome the utterly infurating uselessness of every single back four combination I tried. We were, unquestionably, The Entertainers: 88 goals scored, 54 conceded, in a season that included a 5-4 victory over Chorley that literally had me tearing my freaking hair out. (We went up 1-0, then behind 3-1, then went up 4-3, then it went to 4-4, and won it in the 89th minute when their goalkeeper mishandled a cross so badly I wanted there to be a match-fixing investigation, which allowed my big, tall, lummox 2nd striker to thwack the ball into the net).

Non-league football is... sheesh.

Whatever. On to the Vanarama National League!

That's awesome, congrats! How are your finances? Can you get new players? Maybe some defenders?

In order:

Trash. Yes, a few, thank God. Yes, we'll see if they're any better than the morons we had last year.

The biggest thing working in my favor at this point are Premier League academy dropouts looking for a new place to ply their trade. A kid who wasn't good enough for Everton (or even Cardiff) might be just the kind of thing we need in non-league (plus, their wages are usually within the realm of possibility).

Yippee! I got back to this tonight...

Season 3: AFC Telford November 2018

November starts out as October ends, with a frustrating 0-1 loss to York. We outshoot them 19-7 but can't find the back of the net. After going undefeated in our first 13 games, it's our fourth consecutive shutout defeat. We drop to 8th place and morale sinks with it.

Fortunately our next match is an easy draw in the first round of the FA Cup and that helps us get our offense going. We roll 3-0 and the win sparks our confidence. Things pick up from there. James Murphy, our playmaking midfielder, returns from injury, and with it comes our ability to score in league play. We pick up two wins in our next three matches, sandwiching 2-1 victories around yet another frustrating 0-1 shutout. Our two wins and two losses sees us end the month in 6th place, right where we started, and 4 points outside of the playoff zone.

I hesitate to say that we're out of the woods, however. Our two league wins come against clubs well entrenched in the relegation zone, and we're seemingly at a loss to score against average or good opposition. Mid-month, I decide to take steps, and we ink Reece Grego-Cox, a promising 22-year-old striker, to a two-year deal. This will create a logjam at striker, as we've got five strikers now and won't be able to keep all of them happy. Still, Grego-Cox looks to be a significant improvement across the board, and at 30k per year is a relatively cheap signing for us at that position.

December should prove to be a telling test, as we've got eight progressively more challenging matches in a busy month. Our last match of the month is against first place Stevenage. By then I hope we're ready to give them a battle.

Did anyone take up the pre order offers that were going around for 2018? I totally forgot, I'll probably bite the weekend it comes out, but I'm just not as excited as I used to be. The dynamic dressing room feature sounds cool, but I think it'll just end up like other mechanics in the game like press conferences - fun for the first hour or two, a nuisance that you skip over after that.

I didn't see the offers, actually. I'm probably going to just stay with '17 for a while. I'm enjoying my current game and want to keep going with it.

I imagine I'll pick up '18 when/if it goes on sale at some point in a few months.

Season 3: AFC Telford December 2018

December turns out to be arguably our best month so far, as we rumble to five wins and one loss in league play. Kasheme Walton, our leading goal scoring in each of our first two seasons, puts the team on his back in the first half of the month with a frenetic stretch of four games where he scores nine goals. He calms down in the back half of the month, but the team keeps scoring 2-3 goals per game. We end the month in 4th place on the Vanarama National League table, nine points back of first and a scant two points above the playoff line.

In FA Cup play we come two minutes from knocking off a Sky Bet League Two team on the road. A late goal ends the first match in a draw, but we get buried 3-0 in the rematch. We advance in the easier FA Trophy Cup with a convincing 2-0 win over Kiddermeister.

Particularly memorable were our 2-1 win over 8th place Boston United, despite losing a midfielder to a red card early in the game, and our month-ending 3-0 demolition of first place Stevenage.

On a more concerning note, James Murphy, our star midfielder, broke his toe mid month. Our two losses in the month came immediately after he went down, but reassuringly our offense sparked back to life in the last two games of the month. He'll be out until mid-February, so we'll be without his services for about 12 games in all. It's hard to imagine his absence not costing us points in the table.

Still, with 15 out of a possible 18 league points in the bank for December, team morale is high as we head into 2019.

Clusks wrote:

Did anyone take up the pre order offers that were going around for 2018? I totally forgot, I'll probably bite the weekend it comes out, but I'm just not as excited as I used to be. The dynamic dressing room feature sounds cool, but I think it'll just end up like other mechanics in the game like press conferences - fun for the first hour or two, a nuisance that you skip over after that.

I'm reasonably excited. I think what helps me is that I've totally adjusted my standards for most sports games. I can't yell and scream about how the changes in the games each year are minor, because I know enough about video game development at this point to understand that, given the timeframe they're usually working in, minor-to-moderate updates is pretty great!

Basically, I need to see that enough interesting new stuff is in FM 18, and so far they've mostly got me on that. Considering I get an obscene amount of game time from each iteration each year, I think putting out $50 for a minor-to-moderate game update is reasonable.

Do wish I'd done the pre-order though.

I know in the upper leagues this isn't much, but for the Vanarama National level of play, this is a sweet 23-yard strike. Our new striker is finding his legs. It might be the best shot I've seen our team have in three seasons...

It was the sole goal in a 1-0 away victory over 6th place Grimsby.

Strike and a half, that one.

New job offer!

I'd meant this as a LLM "Journeyman" game, where I start from as low as I can get hired in-game, and work my way up. As such, after the FA Trophy win, I was putting out applications literally everywhere, to try and score a more prestigious gig, but no-one bit.

This season, however, we've been a well sight better. It's March, and we're comfortably 4th (playoff position), back in the FA Trophy semi-finals, and we got to the FA Cup 2nd round this time, before getting bounced by Birmingham City (grumble, grumble).

I guess that was good enough to attract the attentions of Korona Kielce, a Ekstraklasa club in Poland. Well, not "attract" the attentions, they're currently 16th in the league, and I had applied literally EVERYWHERE.

Now, this isn't exactly super-realistic. We're still a semi-professional club at the moment, and Kielce could, ostensibly, play in European competition. Worse, they're not out of the woods yet, the bottom 8 teams in Poland compete to see who gets relegated at the end of the season, and they're note exactly looking like a team that will stay up.

But y'know what? The new FM is out in three weeks, and it's not like I'm going to be playing this game for another several years, might as well just take a chance, right?

Go for it!

I've gotten several rumors about me taking over teams in the relegation zone mid-season. I've never tried to take one of those challenges on, but it'd be interesting to try. Especially if the team has financial constraints too. That could be super rewarding to pull off.

I wonder, though, if I'd feel like my hands were tied in some ways. It's tricky to unload some of the dead weight and subsequently tricky to pick up players if you need to dump some salary before you can add players.

Season 3: AFC Telford January 2019

With Midfielder James Murphy hurt, we need some players to step up during the month. Our defense rises to the occasion, not letting up a goal in our four of our five games in January. If not for an inexplicable drop off in our last game of the month, we could have had clean slates in all of our matches.

As it is, we end up winning two and drawing two in league play, and rolling over a weaker opponent in FA Trophy Cup play. The eight points nudge us up to third place, seven points behind the two teams in front of us and three points into the playoff zone.

Our defense rises mainly on the shoulders of two players: central defender Harvey Rodgers and keeper Peter Crook. Rodgers is that crazy signing I did a couple of months ago, and our board heavily criticized me for. But now that he's learned our system he's been a missing link in our back line. Crook has the keeper role to himself after sharing it for the first half of the season. He made some impressive saves to keep us in some big games.

February promises to be a big month. There are a cluster of red hot teams right on our backs outside the playoff zone. A few slips in performance and we'll drop right out. With only sixteen matches left, things are getting short and every point is important. Not only that, but we'll start out the month with an away match against first place Wrexham. Onward!

Season 3: AFC Telford February 2019

February was an aggravating pile of football mediocrity. Nothing sums this month up better than the fact that in one of our games we outshot our opposition 39-7, yet tied 0-0. Overall we win one, lose one, and draw three. We end the month in fourth place, now tightly embedded in a bundle of clubs fighting over three of the four playoff spots.

If there is any consolation in our mediocre results, it's that we've been playing some of the league's toughest opposition. We've got another stretch of tough games to open up next month as well, but then the last seven games of the season are all against teams currently in the bottom half of the table. If we can stay in the hunt during March, we might be able to gather a string of positive results in April that could get us one of those playoffs spots.

Honestly, though, I'm starting to feel like promotion might be a curse rather than a blessing. I wonder if another year to mature in the Vanarama National League might be best. The core of our team is a group of players with two-star ability and four-star potential. With rare exception, I could see them struggling at the Sky Bet League Two level next year, but thriving at the National level. Also, most of our contracts expire at the end of next year. If we go this year, it's going to be more challenging to clear out the players I don't think can handle a tougher league. If we were to advance next year, our young players would have a year's maturity and we'd have an easier time reworking our roster.

In any case, I'm not playing to lose, so off we go to March! Two months to go and we're right in the smack middle of a promotion hunt.

Season 3: AFC Telford March 2019
On to Wembley!

With nine matches in the month, March tests our squad depth to the limits. We end up playing four cup matches in addition to our five scheduled league matches, pretty much two matches per week for the entire month.

Our best successes come in FA Trophy Cup play. We draw Boston United in the quarter finals of the cup, and play them to a 1-1 away draw that forces a home replay for us a few days later. At home, we barely squeak by with a 2-1 victory. That win sends us to a semi-final home-away series against Stevenage, who sit in second place in our league. In the away portion of the series, we get fairly well outplayed, but produce some efficient finishing and frantic second half defense to pull out a huge 2-1 win. At home, we cruise to a 2-0 victory that has us bound for Wembly for the FA Trophy Cup final against Ebbsfleet at the end of May! Woot!

In league play, we take a step up from our lukewarm performance of February, as we win three, lose one, and draw one. This is fairly strong play for us, as we were matched up with a number of difficult away matches in this stretch. Our sole loss is an inexplicable 3-0 away embarrassment to last place Macclesfield. Go figure.

As we head into our last 6 league matches, we sit in 4th place in the league. We're a reasonable six points out of first, but with three teams in front of us it would take a red hot finish to even get a sniff of a championship. On the other hand, we're now 6 points and a game in hand ahead of the 6th place team, who would have to pass us to take our playoff spot away. Knocking on wood, but we're more and more looking like we'll be playing playoff football in early May.

Season 3: AFC Telford April 2019
War Weary Bucks Limp into the Playoffs

What a nail-biting, aggravating adventure April turned out to be. Things started off with back to back losses that saw our playoff spot margin drop to a mere two points. We then bounced back for two big away wins that lifted us to second place in the standings, four points out of first place and six points clear of sixth place. With two easy games left on the schedule, against the 22nd and 24th place teams, things looked great for our playoff chances. If things went our way perhaps we could even snare the title.

But the gods of football struck us down with a vengeance. We got crushed on the road, 3-0, in a game that saw James Murphy, our star midfielder, pick up a red card and a subsequent one-game suspension. Adding insult to injury, we lost a midfielder and a striker to injury as well.

Going into our last game, we were three points clear of the sixth place team, with a 5-goal goal differential as well. But our depleted squad once again pooped our pants, losing at home to the last place team 1-0 in an effort where we outshot them by a factor of three but just couldn't find the net. York, the sixth place team, went on to win 2-0, which allowed us to hold onto 5th place by a mere two goals over the course of the season. Wow! Playoffs, but by the slimmest of margins!

I wish I could be excited about our playoff chances, but there are a lot of dark clouds in the locker room. We've got three strikers in horrendous slumps. Two of our four midfielders and a striker are hurt. Team morale is in the tank after our last two matches. Red hot Boston United comes in for the first match of a home-away series in three days. There isn't much we can do accept suck it up and hope for the best.

Onward! I think...

Update from Poland!

So I took the Korona Kielce job. They BARELY avoided relegation last year, but they've got a solid stadium (15,500), reliable fans, and a pretty good wage budget for the new season ($3.5M, of which they're only spending $2M).

Now, there's a fair amount of dead weight to get rid of, including my personal in-game pet peeve, Low Determination players (which, for me, is anyone under 10). I've had too many negative experiences with players who, through a combination f that and what I'm sure is an inability to handle pressure, have gone up 2-0, seen the other team score a single goal, and immediately shat their pants.

That said, I feel very positive about the new season! There's been another mass culling at the biggest clubs around Europe, which means there's a pretty good number of low-reputation/decent skill players floating around that I might be able to make use of. All I have to worry about are the Ekstraklasa squad rules: 8 players trained at a club in Poland, 3 players trained at our club, and no more than 2 non-EU players in the team.

That last one is most interesting, because they don't mean "No more than 2 non-EU players in the registered squad". They mean no more than 2 non-EU players can be on the field at once, ever.

All of this is a bit complicated, because I need my team to have a Polish backbone, and all the best Polish talent is already playing for Legia Warsaw et al. So the gameplan is to try to put together a team that fits all the requisite squad registration rules, but my best players are almost certainly going to be foreigners.

At least the season will be easy on the legs though. The Ekstraklasa's season is only 30 games long, with a MASSIVE winter break. After 30 games, the Top 8 teams qualify for the Championship Round and the bottom 8 qualify for the Relegation Round. In each, the teams get I believe 50% of their points earned thus far in the campaign, and then plays the other 7 teams once, to determine who gets promoted/relegated. So in total, a 37-game season.

It's a bit weird, and I'm a little concerned about rotating the squad enough to keep everyone happy, if I get in some of the players I'm already aiming for, but whatever, its' a new challenge!

Good luck! My only experience in playing with an Eastern European league was many years ago, when I think I tried a Yugoslavian club. The problem then was that the game's name generation system was fairly limited, so all the regens had similar names, with a good number of duplicates. It all got quite confusing. I really should have used Bismark's nicknaming system to solve the problem.

And that's interesting you mentioned low determination. I generally avoid it was well, especially for defenders, but a really promising (albeit somewhat injury prone) striker came up on the free transfer market just a couple of months ago. His talent level is a league or two above ours, and he accepted what I thought was a cheap offer from us. His determination is only a 3, and that coupled with his long injury history kept me on the fence for a couple of weeks. Finally I pulled the trigger for a deal through the end of next season, figuring that I could probably sell him if things didn't turn out well.

He's our most valuable player at 210k. (Most of our guys are in the 10k - 30k range for value.) So the guy definitely has talent.

Things haven't started out well for him. He scored something like 8 goals in three games playing his way into shape on our U23 squad, then I brought him up to the senior squad. In his second game playing as a sub he messed up his ankle or something like that and went down for two weeks. That'll pretty much take him out for the rest of the season. So we'll have him next year, and I'm curious to see how it all works out.

Season 3: AFC Telford May 2019
Sky Bet League Two Promotion and FA Trophy Cup Glory!

Wow! What a month! We managed to win the playoff competition and will advance to the Sky Bet Two League next year. We followed that a week later with an FA Trophy Cup win.

In the playoffs, I reverted to the lineup and tactics that had worked best for us all season, and that I started to drift from at the end of the year. It paid solid dividends, as we rolled to a 4-1 win in the home leg of the home-away series against Boston United. In the away match, we scored 20 seconds in and from there we went mainly on cruise control. We ended up losing the match 3-2 but winning the series 6:4 on aggregate.

The final against Grimsby was a bit anticlimactic, but fun to play in Wembley Stadium with almost 40k people in attendance. This was quite a bit larger than our average attendance of about 2,000. Once again, we went with our tried and true 3-1-4-2 DM formation and rolled to a strong 3-0 win. With the win, we secured our promotion to the Sky Bet 2 League!

A week later our long season finally drew to a close with the final of the FA Trophy Cup. We fell behind midway through the first half and went into the locker room down 1-0, although our possession and chances were good. We caught a break in the second half with a questionable foul inside the eighteen and converted on the penalty to tie the game at one. Regulation ended that way, but we drove home a free kick 9 minutes into extra time then nursed that to Telford's first ever FA Trophy Cup win!

But now comes the hard part. I took a look at the average Sky Bet League 2 salaries and our roughly 1.2 million will be one of the lowest in the league. Also at question is our team status. We're currently semi-professional, but every other team in the league is Professional. At one point this season I asked the board to go professional, but the request got turned down. (The option to make this type of board request now seems to be unavailable.) Now I feel like going professional is necessary, but I'm concerned what that will do to all our current contracts. Will we burn up all our money just reworking current contracts? If we don't go professional can we even compete? Do I wait to get word on our professional status before signing players and staff? So many questions, so few answers.

No matter the outcome, I think this upcoming season will be our most challenging to date. If we can just avoid relegation I'd be thrilled.

EDIT: I did some poking about, and it appears that our club must go professional, as the National League is the highest level of semi-professional football. So I think I'll start scouting and then wait for word on how this will work out with part-time/full-time contract changes.

Season 3: AFC Telford June 2019
Summer Chaos

With competitive matches done for the year, we start to gear up for our 4th season. This is looking to be our most challenging transition yet, as many of our younger players are signed through the end of the upcoming season but aren't ready for tougher Sky Bet League Two competition. On top of that, the board informs me that we're transitioning from a semi-professional team to a professional team. The end result is that June is a hectic blur of scouting for transfer targets and loan targets, renegotiating part-time contracts to full-time contracts, expanding staff, trying to sell unwanted players, and evaluating our depth chart.

Unfortunately, I have a general sense that I've kind of mucked everything up so far. In the entire month of June I am able to only bring one new player in. I'm unable to get rid of any player contracted through next year. I aim for a number of loan targets that look promising, but all except one turn us down out of hand. The lone player I do land for a loan is hardly the most promising of the lot. I haven't spotted anything worth signing on the free agent market yet.

A lot of our players had 30% salary increases for promotion, so I spend a fair amount of time trying to renegotiate the contracts of our more talented players from part-time to full-time contracts at less than that 30% increase. This goes fairly well. Although we do end up adding about 100k to our budget, it's much less of a hit than if I had simply let the contracts trigger a 30% pay increase. I did manage to tick off one defender and one of our promising strikers is still ticked about not getting much playing time last year, but on the whole things go decently. As the month turns over to July, the promotion clauses and pay raises for many of our remaining part-time and youth players add another 100k hit to our budget.

The challenge of this all is that I don't think our existing crop of players can hold their own at our new level. Judging by the fact that most asked for "backup" roles with their new contract requests, I think they'd agree with me. We desperately need better players. I've identified unmet needs at every position on the team, and with a mere two weeks before our first friendly in mid-July, we have a lot of work to do. Making the challenge even greater, our existing players are eating up 800k out of a 1.2m budget. I'm not sure how much I can do with 400k, which means I'll have to find someone to take some of our dead weight.

Dispatches from Southeast Poland:

So I had to do a bit of rejiggering of Kielce's squad, relying heavily on Free Transfers. I'd never heard of Clément Diop until now, but thank God he got released because we really needed a new starting GK. He, along with several other players and a few players from the youth ranks that deserved a shot made up our new squad, which I'm not thrilled about, but I think can be better than relegation fodder.

The season started with a game against Wisla Krakow, which went better than I'd assumed. A 2-2 draw on the road to start off our season, with both goals from a striker my predecessor had signed.

We crashed back to earth at home in game 2, losing 3-0, but then ripped off a unbeaten 5-game stretch (including a Polish Cup win) that left us pleasantly 7th in the league at the time.

The transfer window was actually quite interesting since teams must have at least 8 players trained by a club in Poland in their 25, which meant that teams put a HUGE premium on signing Polish talent. I had to fend off quite a few queries about my players, selling a few, including a Canadian DM who I had absolutely no use for. I was most surprised to see Bologna and Sampdoria coming in for a U-18s CB we have who apparently has pretty decent potential, offering as much as $500K for his services, what would've been a transfer record for the club. But, I figure I'll be here for a bit (i.e. - until FM 2018 drops and I start a new game), and the kid's barely even begun plying his trade professionally, so I decided to reject them and hang on to him.

The best game of our season came early however, as we visited Jagiellonia Białystok. We completely crapped the bed early, giving up 2 goals in the first 20 minutes (and it could've been 3 or 4). We managed to get one back, when they scored a third 5 minutes before the half. As you do, I lit into the team at half time, and we actually started somewhat positively in the 2nd half, as a comically horriffic own goal made it 3-2 after just 48 minutes.

Then, Jagiellonia's DM managed to get himself sent off after 60 minutes, and we threw ourselves forward. We got the equalizer on a fantastic counter, and then got the W on 89 minutes with a perfectly struck 25-yard shot into the bottom corner. Three more points, and suddenly, we're 4th in the table, 7 points off the top.

I don't think we'll win the league, obviously, and I'm not convinced of our consistency yet, but this is a quite nice development. Everything's not gravy quite yet, we went down 3-1 because I gave our backups a burn and they were a good deal less than convincing. But if this team can finish top half? Oooh, that's a success.

I just want to say I'm really enjoying these AARs.

Glad to hear it!

I like writing them, I'm just iffy about exactly how much detail to put in, since you don't want to spoil LLM games by being like "SIGN THIS GUY" because, for me, that can make the game boring if everyone's signing the same players and using the same tactics.

Prederick wrote:

I'm just iffy about exactly how much detail to put in, since you don't want to spoil LLM games by being like "SIGN THIS GUY" because, for me, that can make the game boring if everyone's signing the same players and using the same tactics.

This is why nicknaming is a thing.

Yes, thanks Roke! Much appreciated. Writing them up helps me to reflect and enjoy the journey, but I'm often unsure whether they are annoying or enjoyable to others.

I hadn't considered that mentioning names gives away tips to others about players to sign. I don't look up "players to sign" info anywhere and haven't really thought of any of my players as upcoming stars, so I think what I've done so far hasn't given anything away. I'll be careful of that going forward, though.

I have a quick question for more experienced players...

I have a parent club that promises a home friendly where I get all the proceeds, and I've just sold a keeper where part of the deal was a friendly where I also get to keep the proceeds. I thought these would just get automatically arranged, but I realize now that they don't. Do I just arrange a friendly with those teams and all the details get worked out, or is there some other way to do this within game?

EDIT: I figured out the answer to my question. You just arrange the friendly manually and the game works out the financial details.

And Prederick, nice work in Poland! It sounds like you're doing a great job there. You're in the second Polish league, right? So you can get promoted?

Season 4: AFC Telford July 2019
Roster Churning 101

After stressing out about so little roster movement in June, July turned out to be a beast of a completely different nature. 14 players exit our club, most of them to free releases and expired contracts. As part of that, we also manage to sell our first player, getting rid of one of our two keepers from last year for 6k. That's our first ever sale, woohoo! To replace the departed, we bolster our roster with 11 new players, 5 on loan and 6 through transfer acquisitions.

My goal throughout the month was frugality, so that we'll have some money left to reinforce our roster with a handful of signings as the season progresses. 5 of our 6 signings were free transfers, and we only spent 9k as a compensation cost for the 6th signing. All our 5 incoming loan players have the parent club bearing 100% of the wage costs. To bring on these 11 players we spent about 200k of our 400k available, which leaves us with a nice 200k wiggle room as the season starts.

The downside of this cheapness, however, is that we really aren't able to bring in any notable signings. All of the players we sign are young players of borderline League Two ability with some potential to develop. As we're most certainly faced with a battle against relegation, I've emphasized adding players with good stamina, work rate, and determination. We need a resilient bunch, as we'll be starting the season with more than half of our players evaluated by our coaches as "good players for the league below us". Our loan players are a step above that in quality, but outside of one strong midfielder, we really didn't add much impressive talent to the team through loans either. I'm still working on our roster, as there are a few players I'd like to sell on, and I'm trying to clean out some useless youth contracts that are eating up some funds as well. But for the most part, this is what we'll go with for now.


All things considered, I'm super happy that we've at least got some passable bodies stuffing the gaps we had on defense and in the midfield. I'm sure we won't be a good team, but I'm hopeful that we'll be able to avoid relegation. Speaking of which, the media, who predicted we'd finish 22nd at the beginning of July, now predict that we'll finish 17th. Improvement!

As our first games are set to begin, the rough plan is to see how this group works out and replace parts that don't work. I'm hopeful that I can make a couple of key signings as the year progresses, to replace our most glaring weaknesses, and that our young players can improve quickly so that the back half of the season creates a bit of distance from the relegation zone.

It's also clear that this will be a long road for AFC Telford from a club standpoint, as we don't have the infrastructure to support a team at this level. Our stadium is too small and our facilities too decrepit. Our board voted to improve our youth facilities, and that's a step in the right direction, but it ate up more than half of our 1m surplus from the previous three seasons. We need cold hard cash and lots of it to make some of the bigger changes.

Off we go to Season 4!

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

And Prederick, nice work in Poland! It sounds like you're doing a great job there. You're in the second Polish league, right? So you can get promoted?

4th, and it's, early doors yet. I played one more game after writing that against Legia Warsaw and we got obliterated 4-0.

So now we're in 7th, but remember the weirdness of the Polish league. After 30 games, the Top 8 teams go into a Championship Group, the bottom 8 go into a Relegation Group. Everybody gets 50% of their points from the season thus far, and you play everybody else in your group once, to decide who wins/gets european qualification/gets relegated.

So while it's probably unlikely, if we finish 8th, we could technically still win the title.

Season 4: AFC Telford August 2019
Of Things Wonderful and Painful

Beyond any expectation, we go undefeated in league play in the first month of the season. Playing in posh stadiums in front of audiences much larger than we've ever seen in league play before this year, we start out with three hard fought ties, then finish the month with a solid 2-0 win and a wild 4-3 victory over promotion candidate Exeter. It would seem that determination in players pays off, as in many of the matches we claw back from deficits to grab points. We end the month in 3rd place, 1 point off the league leader.

Even more oddly, we manage this in a month where five first team players, including our best striker, are lost to moderate multi-week injuries. It's probably the worst month we've had for injuries in four seasons, but our squad depth is keeping things afloat for the time being.

On an interesting player-related note, with our best striker hurt for about two months, I decided to go with one of our young, promising strikers, a 19-year-old player who is so upset with me for not playing him last season that he's refused to sign a new contract. I figure if I started him some games, maybe he'd cool off to the point where he'll want to stick around for another year or two. I honestly didn't expect much from him, but instead he lights up teams for five goals in five starts. The guy simply can't miss. He now sits second in the league in goals scored, and earned himself the Young Player of the Month Award for August. He's a big reason we've had this early success. He still hates me, though, and won't sign a new contract.

I know there is no way we keep up this sort of play, but this is a fun, determined bunch of players to watch. We're clearly up against better opposition in most cases, but they just keep digging and working until something good happens. As we head to September, we've got 9 points in the bank out of an estimated 50 points we'll need to stay safe in the league, morale is good, and our pack of injured players are steadily getting healthy.