Devotion to Promotion [A Football Manager 2020 Career]

Club
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Season 2: February 2022
Still a Two-Horse Race

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Manager Notes
We continue our strong play, picking up 4 wins against just 1 draw during the month. Despite our success, South Shields wins all their matches and actually close on us. With 8 matches left for each of us, we hold a 7-point edge. The pressure is starting to mount, and we can feel South Shields right on our heels, just waiting for us to slip up.

We also have good success in the FA Trophy Cup, picking up a strong 3-0 win over National League opponent Yeovil Town, then pulling away from 4th-place Alfreton town with 3 goals in extra time to win 5-2 in a wild match. The wins see us through to the semi-final, against Braintree (National South) next month. A win in the two-legged playoff would get us a trip to Wembley for the final.

Looking ahead, it looks as if we can’t afford to drop points if we’re going to keep South Shields away from us. The only loss they have since January is against us last month, and they are blowing opponents off the pitch. Onward!

Get a peek at March in our Double Header episode: Season 2 Episode 8

Club
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Season 2: March 2022
On the Cusp of a Championship

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Manager Notes
We slip off our pace, as we draw two league matches in the first half of the month that we should have won. Lucky us, though, as South Shield has a worse month. They even lose a match, only their second loss in 2022. Our two wins and two losses stretch with South Shields’ mortality stretches our lead to 10 points. It’d take an epic fail to blow this now, as all we have to do is win one of our last 4 matches. We stand on the doorstep of the title!

In other unexpected and good news, we beat Braintree in both legs of the FA Trophy Cup Semi-Final as well, so we’re heading to Wembley in mid-May to play in the final against Halifax Town!

All in all, March is simply a fantastic month! Now to April to try to wrap this up…

First April Match is up on YouTube

Club
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Season 2: April 2022
Championes!

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Manager Notes
Chester rudely delays our championship celebration by crushing us 3-0 at home to start the month. I’m starting to get nervous that we’ll bottle this by losing our last four matches, but we rebound for a convincing 2-0 win against Bradford PA to clinch the Vanarama National North title. Champions! Woot!

We ride that high to two more wins to end the month, and end the season in first place by 12 points. We’re going up!

We still have a bit of work left to do this season, as we’ll prepare for the FA Trophy Cup Final next month against Halifax Town. Then it’ll be all hands on deck as we prepare this ship to sail up a league. Really excited for the next season!

For more...
Championship Clincher Episode
FA Trophy Cup Episode

Wait, you don't treat all the cup competitions as glorified friendlies? In fact, you actually do well in them?

You're a much better manager than I am.

Roke wrote:

Wait, you don't treat all the cup competitions as glorified friendlies? In fact, you actually do well in them?

You're a much better manager than I am.

Ha! I do think that the National League teams we played sat a lot of their better players in the early rounds, but yeah, I went for it this year once we won the first couple of matches. We need the money.

Club
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Season 2 Summary 2021-22
Season Review | Table | Manager Profile

Season Notes
Nuneaton Town’s board challenged the team to make the playoffs, but the team exceeded expectations in every way. New signings blended well with returning players, and victories came in bunches. In the second month, Nuneaton reached first place, which it held for the remainder of the campaign. By the end, the team set league records for wins and points, and topped the campaign off with a surprising FA Trophy Cup win to earn the double.

Now new challenges await, as the club must navigate the tricky waters of promotion, and will go from big fish in a little pond to little fish in a big pond. Onward to Season 3!

Career Overview
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Season Wrap Up Episode

Club
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Season 3: Summer Preseason 2022
Big Fish to Little Fish

Because of our participation in the FA Trophy Cup Final in mid-May, we get a late start on our offseason, and with promotion right in front of us, the offseason is doubly challenging. We have a lot of work to do to make the jump to the next level.

As a general thought, we’re hoping to re-sign the top half of our team and not carry the bottom half of the team with us. We did well enough in the FA Trophy Cup against National League teams that it makes me think our better players can play up a level. If we can surround them with some improvements, I’m hopeful that we’ll have enough about us to stay up next year. The board lets us know that the expectations are to stay up and no more.

It’s not until mid-June that things start to take shape. We manager to re-sign most of our targets, but we lose our promising right back to a team from Ghana. By the time we hit the end of June, we’ve got most of a team together. In late June and July we add a dozen or so free agents, a few of them Premier League washouts. By the time we get to the start of the season, we’re largely in good shape.

We could use improvements at left back, keeper, central defender, and striker, but we’ve got enough about us as is that the media rankings at the start of the year have us listed as contenders for first place, which makes me wonder what kind of drugs the media take. It’s with decided confusion that we enter the season with a media prediction of first and board expectations of avoiding last. We’ll see where this goes!

Season 3 Opening Episode is Up!

Club
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Season 3: August 2022
A Red Hot Start

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Manager Notes
After an initial speed bump, we roar out of the gate in our inaugural season in the National League. We end the month with six wins and a draw, good enough to see us top of the table. Things are clicking at both ends of the pitch. On offense, our #1 striker, Yassine En-Nayeh, racks up 8 goals in the 7 matches. On defense, we shut teams down once we switch in our new keeper; he picks up four clean sheets over the time span. The results are good enough that I pick up the Manager of the Month award as well.

Acquisition-wise, we spend the month combing the loan market and pick up a half dozen players who should help fill positions of relative weakness. To prevent the team from falling into rebellion, we loan out a half dozen of our weaker players to offset the additions.

I must admit, I’m somewhat at a loss to explain our form, as a good portion of our team is the same from our previous year in the National North. The additions we’ve brought in are surely helping, but maybe there just isn’t that much of a difference between the National North and the National League?

In any case, we’ll enjoy the ride while it lasts!

Season 3 Episode 2 is up on YouTube.

So... invincables?

Roke wrote:

:shock:

So... invincables?

Oops! I have to post an update or two today. I'm a bit beyond that point now...

Club
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Season 3: September 2022
Still Smoldering

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Manager Notes
The football gods are still shining on us, as we complete consecutive months with nothing but wins. Our lead stretches to 9 points at the top of the table, and the victories lead to another Manager of the Month award.

Despite all the good news, I feel a bit nervous about what lies ahead. We struggled in our final two matches of the month, squeaking by Wrexham more on luck than skill, needing two late goals to beat Swindon Town, and miraculously coming from behind with 10-men against Halifax Town. In short, we’re no longer brushing aside opponents, and things appear to be tightening up. With second-place York City on form as well, a bad run from us could see our lead vanish fairly quickly.

But it’d be silly not to enjoy the moment. The football world is full of difficult stretches, and you’ve got to enjoy the good runs while they last! Onward!

Season 3 Episode 3 is up on YouTube.

Club
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Season 3: October 2022
Shaken but Not Stirred

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Manager Notes
We start out the month with a draw, then pick up 2 league wins and a FA Cup win to set us back on track. But the back half of the month is a series of stumbles as we pile up three successive draws. We end the month with 2 wins and 4 draws, a big drop from our earlier form.

On a good note, York City stumbles even more than us. Despite our weak performance, we add 3 points to our lead, and end the month in first place by 11 points. It’s a solid lead, but with two thirds of the season left, we’ll need to figure out how to regain our winning form or this won’t last.

And on one other positive note, we still haven’t lost! 18 matches in, we’re still undefeated.

Season 3 Episode 4 is up on YouTube.

Club
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Season 3: November 2022
Invincibility Lost

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Manager Notes
We lose our unbeaten streak at 21 matches, as we fall to a strong Billericay team 2-1 in the middle of the month. So much for that Invincibles achievement! The rest is all good, though, as we pick up 2 FA Cup wins and 3 league wins. The good month sees just shy of the halfway mark in the season with a 9-point lead and a match in hand on 2nd-place Billericay Town.

Interestingly, we’ve made it to the 3rd round of the FA Cup, and now the big boys join the fray. We’ve drawn the Wolves, who sit 10th in the Premier League, for an away match next month. They are three and a half leagues above us, and we will have little chance. But it’ll be great fun to travel there and see how things shake out! We are so going to get killed!

Financially, we’ve picked up a good chunk of change from the FA Cup run. We now have over £300k in the bank. I approached our board to request a number of club improvements, but Chairman Jimmy isn’t having any of it. He simply tells me that we don’t have enough money and that’s that. Cheap bastard.

Going forward, I’m hopeful we can keep up our current pace. It’s starting to more and more look like we’ll be contending for the title.

Season 3 Episode 5, Nuneaton vs. Wolves, up on YouTube.

Club
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Season 3: December 2022
We are Meh

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Manager Notes
Our December form in league is decidedly bland. We win one and draw two, and it starts to look like our magic is gone. Fortunately, the teams around us in the standings struggle as well, with the exception of the latest contender to rise to second place: Aldershot Town. They win consistently, and by the end of the month only sit 5 points back of us, although we have a match in hand.

In cup play, we make it out of the FA Trophy Cup 1st Round with relative ease, but get demolished 5-0 against the Wolves in FA Cup play. Still, the match against a Premier League club nets us £150k, which pushes our bank balance to nearly a half million pounds. Chairman Jimmy still won’t spend any of it, but it’s nice to know that we’re heading in the right direction.

Looking ahead, we head into 2023 in first place, but we’ll need to sharpen up our play if we’re going to hang on to our lead!

Season 3 Episode 6, Nuneaton vs. Chester, up on YouTube.

Club
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Season 3: January 2023
Shots Taken

21W-7D-3L (1st in Vanarama National)

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Manager Notes
We play well at the beginning and end of the month, but Maidenhead United whips us badly 4-1 mid-month, and we follow that with a 3-2 loss to Fylde where we give up a lead in the last 7 minutes of the match. At that point, a red-hot Aldershot Town closes to within 4 points of us, but they stumble with successive draws at the end of the month to see us end the month with an 8-point lead over them in the standings.

The turn of form mid-month is concerning, as neither Fylde nor Maidenhead are playing well, and we have the hard part of the second half of the schedule coming up. Aldershot Town continues to bring the heat, as they have not lost in the league since October 9. I fear there is little room for us to stumble with them so determined to overtake us.

Season 3 Episode 7, Nuneaton vs. 4th-Place York City, up on YouTube.

Club
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Season 3: February 2023
Cautiously Optimistic

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Manager Notes
We start out the month by embarrassing ourselves twice against mid-table National North club Altrincham in the FA Trophy Cup. We draw away against them, then lost 2-1 in a home rematch, even though they lost a man to a red card in the 39th minute. We did outshoot them 60-20 over the two matches, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Fortunately, our results in the league were much better, as we collected wins in all five of our matches, many of them against top of the table clubs. Second-place Aldershot Town keeps winning for the most part as well, so we’re only able to gain 2 points in the table over that span. With 10 matches to go, we’re up by 10 points. If we can keep up our form, we might be going up!

Season 3 Episode 8, Nuneaton vs. 3rd-Place Barrow, up on YouTube.

On track for back-to-back promotions to get into the Football League is really impressive Godzilla Blitz. I don't think I've ever come close to managing that, even with punting cups.

Shame about getting Jussi Jääskeläinen'd in the FA Trophy though.

Roke wrote:

On track for back-to-back promotions to get into the Football League is really impressive Godzilla Blitz. I don't think I've ever come close to managing that, even with punting cups.

Shame about getting Jussi Jääskeläinen'd in the FA Trophy though.

Thanks! I think I've only done back-to-back promotions once before, with AFC Telford a few years ago. By far, though, this has been the best back-to-back seasons I've had with the game ever. It's been really fun.

Losing the FA Trophy Cup was a bummer, especially in that fashion, but I'd definitely rather take a hit there than in league play.

Club
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Season 3: March 2023
On the Doorstep...

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Manager Notes
We find our form as the season draws short. We win five of six matches, with only a 0-0 draw against Billericay Town to tarnish our month. Aldershot Town stumbles just a bit, and with 4 matches left we have a 15-point lead, although they have a match in hand. All we need is a single point to clinch. It’s all but mathematically over at this point, as we have a significant goal differential in our favor as well.

Getting promoted would be a huge step forward for the club. We’d turn pro to play in League 2, and that would bring with it full-time training, more time to develop youth, and a host of other fun challenges.

One more point to go!

Season 3 Episode 9, Nuneaton vs. Macclesfield Town, up on YouTube.

Club
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Season 3: April 2023
Woot!

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Manager Notes
We draw against Macclesfield Town 1-1 in our first match of the month, and that’s enough to clinch the title! We’re going up, going pro, and welcome to the football league! Our form on the month sees us win 2, draw 1, and lose our last match.

We end up setting a league record for goals, but miss out on the league record for points and wins by losing our last match to Aldershot Town. A touch of a bitter ending, but it’d be hard to tarnish the glow from the season.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do as a professional club. But this summer will have lots of work. Contracts to be redone, more players to bring in, and tough decisions on our roster. And we are still well short of our final goal: the Premier League! Much work to be done.

Season 3 Wrap is up on YouTube.

Club
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Season 3 Summary 2022-23
Table | Manager Profile

Season Notes
Consecutive championships, woot! Although our Cup success was off from the previous year, we can only be thrilled with gaining promotion to League 2 and to be going professional.

We picked up a number of awards in the post-season. I received the National League Manager of the Year award, which added a bit of gold to my reputation stars. Yassine En-Nayeh picked up National League Player of the Year. Jack Bearne also got National League Goal of the Season (for a goal that really didn’t strike me as being all that exceptional).

But there is hardly a day of rest of us, as the day after our clinching match against Macclesfield Town, the board approached me about going professional, which will officially take place on June 12. We’ll have a lot of work to do in the off season. We’ll need to switch everyone over to full-time contracts, find new and improved players for League 2, expand our stadium seating, and hopefully pry some money out of Chairman Jimmy’s hands for an increased wage budget. Initial projections for a player wages would put us second to last in wages in the National League, which would make for a huge challenge in trying to stay up.

It promises to be a busy summer!

Career Overview
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Season Wrap Episode

At this rate, you'll be in the Premier League by Memorial Day!

Stewards at League Two grounds around the country receive their annual briefing, this time updated to reflect the visit of Nuneaton.

"Be on the lookout for this sort of behaviour."

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"And do not, I repeat DO NOT mention Tokyo or nuclear weapons, at all. Right, any questions ?"

Haha! Freeze ray for the win!

It's been a crazy two seasons, for sure! I'm pretty sure I've never had two first place finishes in a row in Football Manager—ever. I know I've gotten consecutive promotions a couple of times, but that's usually been via playoffs or something where four teams get promoted and we managed to get an automatic spot by finishing second or third.

I'm pretty sure it won't happen again, though. Our wage budget for the upcoming second is only higher than Bolton's in League 2, so it's been a struggle to bring on affordable talent over this summer...

Club
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Season 4: Summer Preseason 2023
Turning Pro

Chaotic progress defines our off-season, which starts with no rest the day after our National League season ends. We officially turn pro on June 12, but League 2 rules demand that our stadium hold more people, so work on a £2million expansion starts immediately. It won’t be done until the middle of October.

Roster-wise, we’ll approach things with the same general strategy we took with last summer’s promotion: bring back the top half of our team and replace the bottom half with better players. Our greatest challenge, however, will be fielding a competitive team on a wage budget that ranks second-to-last in League 2. Chairman Jimmy is holding on to his cash, and even after shifting over almost all of our transfer budget into wages, only Bolton lies below us in wages paid. It’s a tall order to go pro, and an even taller one to go pro on a shoestring budget.

Nevertheless, we get busy, looking to renegotiate our semi-professional contracts, find good value in low-cost players, and walking away from players who simply demand too much. Generally speaking, we’re successful at renegotiating contracts with the majority of the players we want to keep, but it does take more money than before. It’s only until the latter days of summer before we manage to bring on some promising new faces at midfield, center back, and striker.

As the season starts, we could still use reinforcements at a number of positions, and we seem weak on the outsides, in particular at wing. Expectations are mid-table from the owner, and that might be a tall order on this wage budget...

Season 4 Opening Episode is Up

Club
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Season 4: August 2023
Better than Expected

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Manager Notes
Chesterfield welcomes us to professional football with a 4-1 drubbing. We follow that with a dreary 0-0 draw against a weak Grimsby Town. League 1 Peterborough then knocks us out of the EFL Cup via a penalty shootout, and after 3 matches we’re winless and floundering. But we snap into form after that, ripping off three wins in the back half of the month. A rough 3-1 loss brings us back to earth at the start of September, but the 10 points is enough to get us a respectable 7th place in the table.

All in all, I’m thrilled with how we’ve turned it around to start things out, but it’s clear we’ve got weaknesses and that the better teams are going to be an uphill battle. Still, for a first taste of professional football, this has gone better than I expected.

Season 4 Episode 1 is up on YouTube.

Playoffs?

Now that I have a small tablet I can use as a 2nd screen when on the PC I watched a couple of your videos Godzilla Blitz (the end of season3 and the owner of season 4) and they're very well done. Great job.

Yes they are really good. I love the special intros you do.

Thanks guys! Much appreciated! It's a lot of fun to make them, and I feel like I have a lot to improve on still. They still get a small audience, but it's less small than it was a few weeks ago. I find it's helping me with immersion while playing too. So win win all around.

Club
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Season 4: September 2023
A Big Bag of Ugly

Table: 3W-4D-4L, 13 points (15th place)
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Manager Notes
Bloody Nora, we are bad. We manage zero league wins over month. We draw 3 matches and lose 3 matches and only end up with 3 points out of six matches. The final ignominy is when last place Barrow beats us 1-0 at the end of the month. Although our defense isn’t horrible, our offense is anemic. We manage only 3 goals in our 6 matches. We plummet in the standings, dropping from 5th place after our solid start to 15th place.

We’ll need to sort things out in a hurry, or this will be a short stay in League 2!

Season 4 Episode 2 and Season 4 Episode 3 are up on YouTube.

Club
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Season 4: October 2023
Bleeding Stopped

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Results

Manager Notes

We manage to stop our freefall down the table by starting out the month with a couple of big league wins. We end up picking up three wins, a draw, and one loss over the month, which sees us inch back up the table, to 11th place. Our scoring and defense both seem to have settled down, and some of our new players seem to be getting things sorted out position-wise. Whew!

Interestingly, there are a blob of teams in the middle of the table, all separated by the slimmest of margins. Despite our mediocre results, we sit only 2 points out of a playoff spot. If we can continue to play like we have in October, we might be able to actually move into playoff contention. If we play like we played in September, we’ll drop quickly out of this pack into a relegation battle. Must. Stay. Focused.

Season 4 Episode 4 is up on YouTube.