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A Cardinal Sin - Woking our way to the top

An FM19 Story
Started on 20 October 2018 by JT
Latest Reply on 6 February 2019 by mgriffin2012

Woking FC - 20/21 Pre-season & August


A new league means new expectations and we needed to strengthen the side for what will no doubt be a tougher season than last year. First of all we had a big clear out with 22 players being released. It seems a lot but most were kids that were not going to make it at this level but there were a few players who were in and around the first team. The biggest of which was Bert Schotterl, who was our number 1 until Palmer joined last season and the German wasn't happy being on the bench so left for pastures new. Other notable players were centre half Charlie Wassmer, Striker Duane Ofori-Acheampong, Wingers Christian Jolley and Luke Fairlamb and Declan Appau. Young midfielder Max Makaka also joined Eastleigh on loan to get some game time

All were going to be away from the first team with the new faces coming in. In total 8 new players have been bought in to boost the squad. 7 of which fall into the category of having been released from Premiership sides and one actually coming in for some money. So onto the ins.

Jake Askew Released from Chelsea, Askew comes in to compete with Palmer. Not as good at handling as Palmer he will probably play second fiddle but he has some decent physicals making him a useful Sweeper Keeper should we need to make a change back there.

Nathan Moriah-Welsh
Wingers have been a problem so far for me as we haven't looked great and this was an area of concentration. Released from Bournemouth he has very good pace and he can cross to an ok standard. Some work on passing and he should be a decent outlet on the left.

Khanya Leshabela
A South African U20 International released from Leicester. A right winger who again just has pace and the ability to cross. We play with a wing play style of football so essentially i just need you to be quick and able to drop a ball into the middle of the park

Euan Pollock
You might now start to see a pattern as Pollock is the 2nd man in from Bournemouth and he has bags of pace. He will challenge Luer and Hessenthaler uptop as i look to have two quick strikers. With decent heading and finishing he should also get among the goals.

Liam Loughlan
Another man in from Leicester, the young winger has pace and he can cross. As i am writing this i have noticed that i have really focused on Pacey players coming in. Looked good doing pre-season and comes in to compete with Leshabela.

Connor Barrett
Saying that Barrett hasn't got bags of pace but it is in double figures. This man is all about the key 3 defensive stats of heading, tackling and marking. Decisions and positioning also just about in double figures means he should be a useful centre-half as he joins from Leicester.

Robbie Burton
The Welshman joins from Arsenal and is technically a very gifted player who can rival Knott in the middle of the park. Again, good technicals and pace and 15 for passing means we should have another outlet for goals.

Anthony Breslin
Joining in late August, i added Breslin in from Eastleigh for £10k (Yes i spent some money!) to go in at left back. Again has the pace and tackling ability but will need a little bit of work on positioning to be truly solid for us.

So that is what has happened but it has also been a story about what hasn't happened. Bids did come in for Russell Hessenthaler and the youngster wanted a move as Aston Villa, Birmingham and Bristol City all came calling for him. Their bids of £50k all being rejected as i wanted something nearer the £200k knowing i had him locked into a contract. For now he is at the club but he is pissed off. Vontae Daley-Campbell was also linked with Nottingham Forest and Burton as the League clubs come sniffing around my young talented side.

That has also led to a small player revolt where players got upset about me saying no to Hessenthaler as well as a few whinging about a team talk during a friendly and also about a lack of depth in midfield (Which hopefully was resolved with the above signings). To say it has been hard work has been an understatement.


A solid pre-season as despite all of the troubles and having 40 players on trial at one point we managed to go undefeated with a very impressive 1-1 draw against Parent club Sunderland being the only game we didn't win. Tougher ties will be played in the league but Hessenthaler was still banging them in despite hating me.

As the season was about to start, the Media had moved our predicted finish up from 20th to a high of 18th

It will be a tougher season for us, for sure but i still think we can get mid table. The board just want to fight relegation but with some form and if we click we can take on pretty much every side in this league. I am personally hoping for 12th and a safe mid-table slot.


Well maybe even i have underestimated us as we sit in 6th place after 6 games. It was looking even better but we managed to lose to Harrogate in the last game of August which was a complete shock based on our respective starts. The new players have settled in very well as you can see from the goal scorers. Loughlan, Pollock and Leshabela all doing really well with Pollock even keeping an under-par Hessenthaler out of the side. Hessenthaler's sulking is having a major effect on his form but he has managed to pick it up in the last 2 games.

Can we keep it up? I think we will give it a go as we can cause a lot of problems and we have options to mix it up. Burton can come on for Knott is the latter isn't producing the goods. Leshabela and Loughlan are both playing well and scoring on the right flank whilst Pollock and Luer are among the goals with my star man Hessenthaler on the bench.

Woking's August player of the month

Joe Ellul takes the honours as the Maltese (for some reason i thought he was from Gibraltar last season) taking the honours. It is telling, the only game we lost is the one he couldn't play in as he had been called up for the national team. I am going to miss him in September so hopefully Barrett can come in and perform.
Wow! A really positive start to the league campaign, it seems like the momentum from last season has kicked in straight away! The 22 released will sure free up some wages even if they were on relatively low wages. I've used Breslin on previous FM's and he's been really solid every single time so he's really worth the 10 grand you splashed out on him ;)
Just five points dropped from the first six games is a very big achievement and is definitely the kind of form you need to be showing if you are going to push at the top end of the table this season
Great start to the season after promotion last campaign. After such a massive few months in the Summer with a number of players coming (via trial) and going; I'm glad to see you have settled in time. Hopefully you'll be able to keep this up, however the National League is a very funny league and it's difficult to remain consistent. I expect freak results from time-to-time, but fingers crossed you'll keep up this good start.
A strong start to the season! If you can continue to amass points like that, you could very well be within a chance of another promotion!

Woking FC - September 2020

A big signing

One of the drama's of pre-season was whether i would be able to keep hold of Hessenthaler who was quite rightly attracting interest from Championship clubs. Some bids came in, i rejected for not being game changing enough, he got pissed off and i thought i would have to play with what is essentially a stroppy teenager for the season. However, at the end of August, he finally dropped his whinge and i swooped in to extend the contract for as long as possible. He now has 3 seasons and is now the highest paid player at the club but it is good to have him back on side as focused he can cause damage.


I think the below shows what a happy Hessenthaler can do at this level.

Smashing goals in for fun, he singlehanded ripped through Wrexham with 4 goals as well as getting winners over Dover and Torquay as well as an equalising goal against a high flying Hartlepool. A month where we have gone undefeated and we are picking up points for fun. The media shows that its a magic 50 points that is generally needed to survive and we are almost half way there already

It is incredibly tight at the top though and we can't get hold of ourselves. The goal is still mid table for now but if we are in a similar position come January than i might just dream of League football for the first time.

Woking's September player of the month

After signing a new contract, Woking born and bred lad Russell Hessenthaler blew up and his 7 goals in 5 goals was weirdly not enough to win player of the month for the league but he gets my award. I love this kid far too much already

Woking FC - October 2020


Another month down and another one with lots of promise for us as we carry on picking up points. Well we picked up a mere 15 points out of 18 as bar a complete fuck up in the first game of the month against lowly Gateshead we have been dispatching teams despite often going behind.

The goals from Luer and Hessenthaler are back and when they are on form we simply can not stop winning. How we sit at the top of the table, i dont really know as we don't really rank high on any of the team stats for the season. The only ones we rank high on are shot % hitting target and conversions rates and it clearly means we are ruthless when we get our chance and to be honest you don't win titles if you don't take your chances. Can we keep it up that is the question?

Anyway, top of the table after 17 games and just 11 points off the magical number. I have to admit that i am going to need to rethink my expectations as right now promotion is looking very much a possibility. We have a 10 point gap from the play-off spots and we are already 9 points clear of 4th. It could all turn of course but this man is dreaming.

Meanwhile we also progressed in the FA Cup to get to the 1st round for the 3rd straight season. Being in the National league means it was just the 1 qualifier round as we put away rivals Dartford 2-1 to set up a tie against League 1 Leaders Bradford City next month.

Woking's October player of the month

He is still the main man and his goals make the difference. Step up Russell Hessenthaler who scored or assisted in every league game in October. He now sits with a record of 71 games, 46 Goals and 25 Assists at just 17 years of age
pfffft that is quite phenomenal from Hessenthaler! What a record!
Great to see you managed to keep hold of Hessenthaler, despite him being very unhappy about it to begin with! His record in the league thus far is nothing short of spectacular and hopefully that continues. Absolutely cracking start to life in a new division and long may it continue.
Hessenthaler is absolutely ridiculous :O Ace to see you topping the league and I fully expect to see Woking in the Football League sometime soon!

Woking FC - November 2020


November has been the toughest month so far and it certainly meant that it took a lot longer to get through it than i would have liked hence the lack of updates for awhile. It started with our obligatory 1st Round exit in the FA Cup as League 1 leaders Bradford beat us 2-0. No qualms there, they are far better than us and i was never expecting to win. If anything, it highlights we have a long way to go before being able to compete with League clubs. Maybe not getting promotion wouldn't be such as a bad thing.

From there we beat Spennymoor 2-0 in a solid but unspectacular match before getting smashed by Tranmere 5-2 and than losing to Promotion hopefuls Barnet 1-0 to lose our place at the top of the table. We ended the month with a ground out 2-1 victory over Halifax but we were poor throughout the match.

Still top but having played a game more, we have a real battle for the title going into December. Local Rivals Aldershot are up next and it isn't the sort of game we need right now as we have fatigue and unrest in the squad. Quite a few players are complaining about game time and Max Kretzschmar is now missing training on a weekly basis.

I am probably going to need to trim the squad down as it is far too big and i dont need the distraction of players being unhappy. I have shifted one more out on loan but its tough work moving players on at this level.

Woking's November player of the month

Not a great month for us and it has been slim pickings to be honest. Billy Knott being the best of a bad bunch as he is starting to get into games a little more
Great to see you going well at the top of the table and keeping up the momentum!
A fairly inconsistent run of results this month. However, it is enough to keep you top which is the main thing. Getting rid of the deadwood in the squad to cut out any unhappy players is probably needed, as you said. Looking forward to the coming months and seeing how you fair.
It is testiment to the way that you have played for the first half of the season and then you can play incosistantly and still be top. Great performance dude

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