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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
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Woking FC - 20/21 End of Season Review

On the pitch

Quite simply we blew it big time. The win againt Tranmere secured us a play-off spot and from that point onwards the team just gave up as we lost 3 home games on the trot before holding on for a 0-0 draw against rivals Aldershot. We than went onto lose the last game against Chesterfield and that saw us drop to 4th meaning we even lost our bye in the play-offs.

Somehow despite that awful form we smashed through Wrexham with a brilliant first half performance before letting them get two late consolation goals but our part timers were than knackered for Maidstone as we lost to a solitary goal to face yet further play-off heartbreak.

As you can see Ebbsfleet went through in the end as we face another season in the National which as i have said isn't necessarily a bad thing as we were predicted to come 22nd at the beginning of the season meaning a 4th place finish was a brilliant result all things considered. Now i just need to pick the team up for another hard long season.

Off the pitch

So a good season but one with a bitter end to it as we failed to capitalize on a brilliant opportunity to get ourselves promoted at the first time of asking. We need to rebuild the squad as it isn't strong enough to compete currently especially with Hessenthaler and Daley Campbell going back to their parent clubs

Greg Luer was the player of the season as voted for by the fans and his 34 goals in 55 appearances was greatly appreciated. However, Hessenthaler ran him a close 2nd and i guess was not in the running as the game treats him as having two spells at the club this season rather than the one. Still just 18 years of age but we are going to miss him a lot next season. He finished the season with 30 goals and 10 Assists meaning he leaves the club with an impressive record of 64 Goals, 29 Assists from just 106 Appearances (15 of which came from the bench). I have never had a regen like it before and he leaves the club a club icon already.

It probably shouldn't surprise you with the above stats but we finished the season as top scorers in the league but it was our defence that let us down badly as we just couldn't keep clean sheets and that is going to have to be the main focus for the pre-season acquisitions. There will probably be quite the revamp as we need to take this side to the next level. The one challenge we have is that the club is semi professional, in fact we are one of just five semi professional sides in this league with most of our opposition professional.

I campaigned at board level to change this but they refused to go professional despite us sitting on a fortune. The player quality we could attract would improve us no end but they were refusing to reinvest the Hessenthaler money until i finally pleaded with them hard enough to invest in new youth facilities which i am now calling the Hessenthaler Academy in honour of the great man.

Interestingly, the board also gave me the below budgets for the pre-season

How they expect i am going to spend £820k in transfer fees when no body wants to join me as i am part time i have no idea. Perhaps they think money is the answer after i won Manager of the year and i have been invited in for Interviews from Newport County and Burton Albion. Burton finished just outside the play-offs in League 1 so that is a very attractive offer indeed.
That’s quite the bitter blow after a tremendous season in the National League. However, you’ve performed remarkably and overperformed far beyond the expectations. I’m interested that the board are refusing to let you turn professional despite handing you such a large transfer budget and having a healthy financial position. Fingers crossed it won’t be too much of a hinderance as you look to improve the squad over the summer. Good to see interest from Football League sides as well as you continue to grow with the club.
Gutted :'( might be difficult to pick the side up after that near a miss
Heartbreaking to see you not make the jump after such a wonderful campaign. It'll be hard to replace Hess, no doubt, but you have a monster budget to work with! It seems as if you are just one jigsaw piece away from making promotion next season, which I fancy you to find!
Thanks Guys. Going to be tough to pick the side up. We are now just one of 3 semi-pro sides in the league so it is just getting tougher

Woking FC - 21/22 Pre-season & August


It was time to pick the boys up after last season and we needed to find some new talent especially after losing Hessenthaler. We released a lot of players during the off season, all of whom were non starters with probably the biggest name being Joe Ellul.

The defence was the key area for me and that is where most of the rebuilding was done. First in through the door was young Kane Gayle who was released from West Ham. The regen right back has good physicals and mentals but needs a little work on the technical stats but at 4* ability he is one of the stronger options in the league. On the other side of the defence at left back, i broke the clubs transfer record with the £80k purchase of Ollie Harfield from recently relegated Dag & Red. A well rounded player and instantly becomes the first choice at left back.

Centre backs were also on the menu, as we added the unpronounceable Pascal Kpohomouh having been released from Southampton. I wanted his pace and he should be smart enough to be in the right positions for this league which is what it comes down to. Alongside him i loaned in Ryan Johnson from Billericay as he wouldn't sign on a permanent deal because of our part time status. Not as quick as Kpohomouh but more rounded and the two of them will become my new partnership at the back.

So that was the defence rebuilt but i wanted more. Scott Quigley joined from Billericay to give Luer some competition up top. A £30k fee was arranged and hopefully he can take up some of the goal scoring that we have lost. The final move was to bring in Joe Busby on a free transfer with the ball winner giving us another option in the middle of the park.

So got nowhere near the £800k being spent but the £110k that was made us the biggest spenders in the league comfortably but with the window open throughout the season, i could always add to my collection.

Time for a tactical switch

For 3 seasons we have played a 4-4-2 formation but after last season's end i felt it was clear we needed a tactical revamp to 1) keep it fresh and 2) fix some of the issues we faced last season. It was a common sight for us to be overrun in the midfield and in about 3/4 of the games we had less shots and less possession meaning we rode our luck quite a bit. So with that in mind we have switched to the below

It is going to be about the counter attack now and to move to having 3 in the midfield to give us a bit more protection but also allow us to dominate the midfield in more games. So how has it done?

On the pitch

Not a bad little start as our decent pre-season form flowed into the league. 4 Clean sheets from the 6 games is a good sign that our defence has improved but when we do concede we are conceding hard as we look to chase the game so it still needs a little bit of work but it is getting there.

More importantly, games seem to be a little closer and we are giving the opposition far less shots. So defensively there are improvements but we are seeing a lot less goals so maybe i have created some problems elsewhere. Seeing Greg Luer with just 1 goal at this stage of the season is surprising and Quigley is yet to get off the mark being the only new signing who hasn't quite lived up to expectations.

The Media think we will finish 16th and the board want a mid table finish which i think is because of our status as 1 of just 3 semi-pro sides in the league. Personally i think the play-offs have to be our aim again but it is going to be tough.

Woking's August player of the month

No Greg Luer or Russell Hessenthaler here as i give the award to Aaron Kuhl who bagged 3 goals and seems to be the man who is benefiting the most from the extra man in the middle.
Hoping the tactical switch proves to be a stroke of genius and this can be the year you finally make the step into the football league!
Some tidy business with a few names that I recognise like Quigley. A steady start but one with plenty of positives to take, mostly at the back with the lack of goals being conceded.
I've used Harfield before and he was a great solid player for me in the lower divisions, a tidy start to the new campaign which I think most teams in your league would be happy with regardless of season predictions
Doing well to be in touch with the teams above you. The point difference to the top could easily be overturned in the space of a couple of weeks.

Woking FC - September 2021

On the field

If you go behind in every game of the month you know you are in trouble. Three late goals meant the month wasn't a complete disaster but it looks like our reality of being a mid table side at best is going to come to fruition.

On the positives, we are just 3 points from play-offs so it is hardly a disaster in what is proving to be a tight start to the season and there is at least a fighting spirit picking up 7 points from losing positions. However, at some point you have to stop going behind if you are going to do well in the league (Look at Arsenal this season). Scrapping for draws isnt going to get us promoted, we need to be scrapping for wins if we have a shot of going up this season.

A new face

Right at the end of the month, i dipped back into the loan market again as Billericay loaned me striker George Miller for the rest of the season. Not quite as good as Hessenthaler but in the right mould and might allow me to find some of that magic again that we so sorely miss.

At this rate i might end up with a whole team of Billericay cast off's which shows how good their squad is for this level.

Woking's September player of the month

Kane Gayle is the winner this month out of pure consistency in performances from the right back in what proved to be a slim picking this month as our form continues to falter.
Not a great month but not far off playoffs, which is always good.
I have to admit, I absolutely hated Woking when playing as Truro City haha, great story though, finally caught up, keep it up!
A pretty average month, which is reflected in the current position. However, as you say, you're not too far off of the playoffs so it isn't a disaster. The scoreline of the losses are narrow, so it's nothing too major and something that can easily be addressed over the course of the next few games and months, I'm sure.

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