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Intermission

I manage clubs on Football Manager Mobile and then tell you what happens.
Started on 7 December 2020 by Harleygator
Latest Reply on 6 March 2021 by ScottT
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Football Manager Story: A Football Manager Story
S2E7 – FA Trophy Final 2021/22

(Leamington FC, National League)



The first news article I received upon winning the National League had nothing to do with my success. Instead, I was informed that Middlesbrough were being liquidated; I didn’t even know that was a thing in FM. I recall, way back on LMA Manager 2006, being fired from Bologna in Italy after 6 weeks in the job and 8 consecutive wins because the club went bankrupt, and for whatever reason they deemed that to be my fault. An odd decision, though I do recall signing a mid-30s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on a rather lucrative contract – at the time, around £40’000 or so – which may have been a contributing factor. But in FM, I have both seen and led many clubs into financial ruin, yet I don’t think I’ve ever seen even a points deduction, let alone the aforementioned liquidation and dissolution of an entire club.

In other news, the modestly famous Hermann Hreiðarsson rode to the rescue for Dagenham & Redbridge, taking over the vacant manager’s position and winning the play-offs. I think this is a fair and just result after Dagenham’s old manager abandoned them in the heat of a title fight. Somewhat to my detriment, I credit our National League title to Dagenham having had the rug pulled from under their boots; as mentioned in previous updates, prior to the great desertion, Dagenham hadn’t lost since November 30th and would, in my view, have fairly decidedly clinched the title instead of us. While one shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, were this real I would readily expect our opposition’s fan to be putting out a fatwa.

I have this season talked a lot about my future at Leamington. I have sensed quite strongly that I wish to leave the club sooner rather than later, but I will not do so if I am in contention for honours – say, by occupying a play-off position – or immediately following a successful promotion campaign. I don’t think it is right to leave a club in either situation, not least out of pure self-interest to bolster one’s own reputation. I feel that I have a duty to manage Leamington for at least 3 months of the next season, in order to consolidate our promotion with a safe league position and the proper replacement of players to vacated positions. One worry is that I find myself very confident in my recruitment policies so far, and head into a league with an already-competitive core of players. To namedrop as many as I care to mention, I will proclaim without apology that I think a large handful of my players are at or above the level of a League 2 starting player, and still at an age where further development is possible – Connor Johnson, Jernade Meade, Mason Goodridge, Joe Bateman, Reece Cole and Jodi Jones are all products of my transfer efforts who would make an immediate impact in any League Two side, and they’re supported by a cast of carefully selected young players whose inexpense belies their effectiveness in my tactical setup. I suspect this squad will be much stronger than the odds will initially credit us for, and a successful campaign will lock me at the club a while longer. No bad thing when things are going well, of course, and I’ve already said one ought not to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially if you made it yourself.

Oh, by the way, we also won the FA Trophy.



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Replies

@Tango, looking forward to be able to spend on some starting players for a change. Almost every player I've brought in from another club has been below 19, and while they all get rotated for gametime, it's hardly the same as making a real key signing to impact the club right away.

@Jack and ScottT, thanks a lot. Finding that, after 2 seasons of the same pattern (slow start, invincible end) with players becoming more comfortable after a few months of bedding in, and I like to rotate in the youngsters, so that's important in the later runs I'm getting. Hoping we can find some earlier consistency next year, though.
1
Incredible job done here at Leamington considering early doors, relegation was looking a possibility. Now a couple years on you are into League Two. Great job. A shame to have lost Ellison who was looking an incredible talent for his age, but with the money you got it made sense to let him leave. Best of luck for the coming season, whether you stay around or make your move a few months in.
A fantastic way to cap off the season there. I'm intrigued to see under which circumstances you eventually leave Leamington given your criteria for staying at the club, too.
got curious about this liquidation thing, do you happen to have any screenshots showing how it looks like?
FMM Story
S3E1 – Summer 2022

(Leamington FC, League Two)



OUT – £200’000 – Central Defender, Lloyd Jones to Barnet
OUT – £2’100’000 – Striker, Kris Ellison to Barnsley
OUT – Loan Expired – Full Back, Nathan Woodthorpe to Crewe Alexandra
OUT – Loan Expired – Central Defender, Charlie Barker to Charlton Athletic
OUT – Loan Expired – Winger, Michael Fernandes to Colchester United
OUT – Loan Expired – Attacking Midfielder, Shay Lashley to Fleetwood Town

IN – Graduate – Goalkeeper, Alan Wootton
IN – Graduate – Goalkeeper, Cameron Adedoja
IN – Graduate – Central Defender, Dael Breeze
IN – £20’000 – Defensive Midfielder, Ricky Drench from Gainsborough Trinity
IN – Free – Central Midfielder, Kristian Shashoua from Hitchin Town
IN – Graduate – Central Midfielder, Matthew Boney
IN – Graduate – Winger, Harley Brown
IN – £3’000 – Striker, Russ Griffiths from Scarborough Athletic


The summer started with a much lesser scale of exodus than the previous one, having retained a great number of a far more desirable squad on 3-year contracts over the last 12 months. Because of some pre-agreed deals for non-league youth players in addition to the usual intake, we actually increased the size of the squad, and I took the decision to streamline the first team and enable a greater selection of players to appear in Reserve fixtures.

Regarding the intake, there don’t appear to be any players close to the level of Kris Ellison, as expected. While there is some modest potential among the group, most don’t have the current technical prowess to compete for a regular first-team spot; Harley Brown on the wing is the only player I really have an eye on, but it’s unlikely he’ll break in any time soon. On the purchasing side, Ricky Drench is an intelligent and ambitious Deep Lying Playmaker who will work as a (hopefully) good understudy to Mason Goodridge, and Russ Griffiths, while neither technically nor mentally gifted, is a strong physical specimen with 17 Pace and 15 Strength; both of these players have been given a chance in the first team.

As to what I think of the squad overall and our chances in the upcoming season, I refer back to the comments I made in the previous update. I find myself very confident in my recruitment policies so far, and head into League Two with an already-competitive core of players. To namedrop as many as I care to mention, I will proclaim without apology that I think a large handful of my players are at or above the level of a League 2 starting player, and still at an age where further development is possible – Connor Johnson, Jernade Meade, Mason Goodridge, Joe Bateman, Reece Cole and Jodi Jones are all products of my transfer efforts who would make an immediate impact in any League Two side, and they’re supported by a cast of carefully selected young players whose inexpense belies their effectiveness in my tactical setup. I suspect this squad will be much stronger than the odds will initially credit us for.

It’s also worth considering that we will have a rather more impressive budget this season, having sold Kris Ellison and Lloyd Jones for £2’100’00 and £200’000 respectively. Naturally, we need to replace both by signing a new starting striker and central defender; I may also have mentioned that I have been trying to sign a decent backup right-winger since last summer, and I will make this a priority in the transfer window.

First Team
Goalkeepers – Ben Alnwick, Billy Rosa
Defenders – Connor Johnson, Dennon Allamby, Luke Gabidon, Robbie Gelhardt
Full-Backs – Dan Meredith, Jernade Meade, Ciaran Brennan, Harvey Sayer
Defensive Midfielders – Mason Goodridge, Ricky Drench
Central Midfielders – Reece Cole, Joe Bateman, Mo Adams, Luke Urey, Josh Falkingham
Attacking Midfielders – Alex Babos
Wingers – Jodi Jones, Harry Forster, Peter Bastock
Strikers – Saif Mengi, Russ Griffiths

Reserves and Youth
Goalkeepers – Cameron Adedoja, Alan Wootton, Jake Weaver
Defenders – Dael Breeze, James Mace
Full-Backs – Shay Nicholson, Stephen Morley, Tom James
Defensive Midfielders – Gareth Patterson
Central Midfielders – Ellis Jones, Kristian Shashoua, Matthew Boney, Callum Gittings, Joe Clarke
Attacking Midfielders – Jack Moore-Billam, Chris Eagles, Joel Giblin
Wingers – Harley Brown, Pedro Fernandes
Strikers – Ryheem England

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Replies

@TheLFCFan, thanks a lot. Success in the first season came down to essentially lucking out on three free transfers in January - Reece Cole, Lloyd Jones and Connor Johnson. Likewise, success in the second season was also a piece of luck in having found Ellison. I'm hoping, now we've added quite a few cheap young talents in Urey, Bastock, Rosa, Brennan, Sayer, Griffiths and others, I can actually credit myself more. I think the main reason for my wantaway attitude about Leamington is probably due to it not really feeling like "my project" yet, but maybe that will change if the signings I've made put in some performances. Guess we'll see.

@Jack, indeed. If we find ourselves in mid-table approaching Christmas, I think that'll be my signal. I don't think I'd leave if we were fighting relegation, as it would be too interesting for the story!

@Tango, regrettably not. It basically said something along the lines of "Middlesbrough have significant debt with their creditors, and have agreed to wind down the club." I'm not sure if this means they'll actually disappear, or just get put into the non-league quorum, or be deducted points. They're in League One at the moment, and appear to be perfectly unaffected in terms of go-ahead for the season.
I thought you were going to spend more of the money you got from the sales

do you feel the squad is ok for the next level or it is just the board that didn't give you the budget?
Just discovered this club since yesterday, sadly I lost money on them haha. I wonder how this division can be compared to 3rd division in Belgium (as below most clubs don't have a full squad in Belgium)
FMM Story
S3E2 – Pre-Season 2022/23

(Leamington FC, League Two)



IN – £300’000 – Central Defender, Dan Happe from Leyton Orient
IN – £7’000 – Winger, Chez Urwin from York City
IN – £650’000 – Striker, Niall Ennis from Wolverhampton Wanderers

OUT – Free – Winger, Pedro Fernandes to Guiseley
OUT – Free – Attacking Midfielder, Joel Giblin to Guiseley


Replacing Jones and Ellison turned out to be a relatively simple proposition given the funds available to us. First, we snapped up Dan Happe from Leyton Orient, slightly above his market value but well worth the outlay given he joins as quite clearly our best option at centre-half, strong in the air and the pass. Next, more impressively, we bagged an absolute bargain in Wolves’ Niall Ennis, a £2’500’000-rated Advanced Forward who joins at a fraction of his true worth – lightning fast, difficult to mark and possessing of a dependable right boot.

We also finally concluded a transfer saga that has been going on since early last season: we had agreed a deal of around £5'000 for Chez Urwin in January, a young right winger from York, but his transfer fell through as the player got injured and failed the final medical. Monitoring his situation, I attempted to rush through the deal before the January transfer window closed, but York decided they wanted over £100’000 for him instead, so we pulled out. I’m happy to have sorted it out more sensibly, and he looks like a great prospect.

(1 – 0) Hemel Hempstead Town (A) – N Ennis (1)
(0 – 0) Solihull Moors (A) –
(2 – 1) Inverness CT (H) – D Happe (1), C Urwin (1)
(4 – 0) Bromley (H) – N Ennis (1), P Bastock (1), J Jones (1), R Griffiths (1)
(2 – 2) Dagenham & Redbridge (A) – S Mengi (1), H Forster (1)

Unlike the friendly runs from our two previous seasons, there were no major standout players in the vein of Michael Tait or Kris Ellison; rather, this was one for the second string, from whom most of the goals came – Peter Bastock, Chez Urwin, Russ Griffiths, Saif Mengi and Harry Forster all the backup options in their respective positions. Bastock in particularly was quite consistent in his appearances here, and I felt confident giving him pitch time last year, but it’s quite clear that I need another player on the left-wing. Wing players have been a recurring challenge due to my requirement for the opposite foot; so far, scouting has revealed no viable transfers in this position.

As the game fell so early in the year, I have included a Carabao Cup game in the pre-season, against Southend United. For some reason, our victory against Southend triggered the below news report; I’m not sure why this is a giant killing, as Southend are in the same league as we are. Are we that bad that beating a team in the same league counts as a giant killing?



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Replies

@Tango, the Summer update is just a summary of the squad as it transitions from season end into pre-season, detailing any pre-agreed deals, the youth intake (such as it is), and any lapsed/terminated contracts, as well as my initial assessment of how strong the squad is.

@Wolf, sorry that the real Leamington aren't managed by an FM player! I imagine that this division is probably still quite competitive in comparison to the lower-tiers of most Continental nations, given the sheer level of investment in England for our top-four divisions and the "trickle-down" effect this has in terms of failed youth prospects, loanees and end-of-career player-managers ending up in the National League.
Ennis is an absolute steal! I had him in my LLM save last year and he was great. Bargain signing who should replace Ellison well at this level for a fraction of the fee.
nah, it also took me a while to convince the press in my save that my Union was a real thing
Enniss already paying back his transfer fee! Excellent!
Ennis and Happe are fantastic acquisitions that will certainly boost your chances this season. An excellent start with a pleasing victory over Southend in the cup. A confidence booster ahead of your welcome to the EFL.
FMM Story
S3E3 – August-October 2022

(Leamington FC, League Two)



IN – Loan – Winger, Michael Fernandes from Colchester United

OUT – Loan – Goalkeeper, Cameron Adedoja to Southam United
OUT – Loan – Goalkeeper, Alan Wootton to Harrogate Town
OUT – Loan – Central Defender, Dael Breeze to Coventry Sphinx
OUT – Loan – Attacking Midfielder, Jack Moore-Billam to Southam United
OUT – Loan – Striker, Ryheem England to Coventry Sphinx


I managed to solve the weakness on the left-wing before the league season began by re-signing on loan, Colchester United’s Michael Fernandes; he notched up 15 goals and 17 assists for us last season, and has a good affinity with the players around him on the pitch. In terms of our tactic, he performs that inside forward role much more effectively than Harry Forster, who’s a distinctly average dribbler and largely ineffective in the shot, which is really the whole point of that role. Fernandes is also a major outlet for goals, which is a concern I had going into the season – I’m confident that Ennis will outperform this level, and Jodi Jones could well slip into double figures, but besides a handful from Reece Cole and Luke Urey, my squad at large isn’t renowned for contributing in that way. My first season was dominated by Michael Tait and Harvey Vale, and the second season was all about Kris Ellison, and I haven’t made so many changes as to expect anything less than a greater reliance on 2 or 3 players for the bulk of goals.

(4 – 0) Leyton Orient (A) L2 – N Ennis (1), J Jones (1), R Griffiths (1), M Fernandes (1)
(1 – 2) Morecambe (H) L2 – N Ennis (1)
(1 – 0) Milton Keynes Dons (A) CC2 – L Urey (1)
(3 – 0) Crawley Town (A) L2 – R Griffiths (1), S Mengi (2)
(1 – 0) Cambridge United (H) L2 – N Ennis (1)
(0 – 0) Scunthorpe United (H) L2 –

The club’s first season of professional league football began with our strongest opening game during my time as their manager. As the scoreline suggests, we dismantled Leyton Orient quite easily, and keeping with our tactics from last season – narrow attacking 4-1-2-2-1 – we managed 4 wins from 6 to put us among the frontrunners. As expected, Niall Ennis was good for the goals, though two substituted goals from Russ Griffiths was also a nice surprise.

IN – £325’000 – Goalkeeper, Dillon Phillips from Cardiff City
IN – £250’000 – Central Defender, Jack Tucker from Norwich City


In order to consolidate our strong start to the season, I remembered comments from a previous update about buying a League Two-winning side and decided to use some more of the Kris Ellison money before the transfer deadline passed. I managed to get a decent deal on a transfer-listed centre half, who happens to be better than our last, best signing in this area, Dan Happe. The most unexpected signing, though, was for a goalkeeper, given the entrenched position of Ben Alnwick as our No.1 for the last 2 seasons; but Dillon Phillips is twice the keeper of Alnwick, and I couldn’t resist. On the downside, the player demanded a £1’000’000 release clause, which is basically his market value; I don’t expect he’ll be around for long, but this isn’t necessarily a problem given a wealth of youth prospects between the sticks, especially Billy Rosa.

(3 – 0) Liverpool Reserves (H) PJG – S Mengi (3)
(0 – 0) Yeovil Town (A) L2 –
(0 – 1) Manchester United (H) CC3 –
(4 – 0) Harrogate Town (A) L2 – C Urwin (1), N Ennis (2), M Fernandes (1)
(2 – 0) Stevenage (H) L2 – N Ennis (1)
(2 – 1) Colchester United (H) L2 – P Bastock (1), N Ennis (1)

I’d hope to manage Manchester United in this save at some point, so it was a small thrill to play against them in the third round of the Carabao Cup; we almost forced them into extra-time too, but for a late winner from – who else? – Bruno Fernandes. Our results in the league continued in a more fruitful vein, with the club sitting in third place. Niall Ennis is turning out to be an excellent replacement for Ellison, with 9 goals and 3 assists so far. Further, many of the young players I’ve picked up from lower and non-league sides are starting to flourish in my setup, meaning we’re able to rotate and properly rest the club’s strongest players.

(1 – 1) Cheltenham Town (A) L2 – R Cole (1)
(5 – 1) Rochdale (A) PJG – M Fernandes (1), J Jones (1), N Ennis (2), R Griffiths (1)
(3 – 1) Accrington Stanley (A) L2 – C Urwin (1), N Ennis (2)
(2 – 1) Rochdale (H) L2 – L Urey (1), N Ennis (1)
(4 – 0) Salford City (H) L2 – N Ennis (2), M Fernandes (1), C Urwin (1)
(1 – 0) Wimbledon (A) L2 – N Ennis (1)
(2 – 1) Mansfield Town (A) L2 – C Urwin (1), H Forster (1)
(1 – 0) Southend United (H) L2 – P Bastock (1)

So, it’s still early doors, but our results and position so far are starting to look like it will be a fairly straightforward season ahead, though hopefully not a boring one. It’s evidently much easier for a competitive side to get promoted in League Two due to the three automatic qualification spots, and you’d have to say on the present evidence that we’ll be up among them when the final whistle blows.



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Replies

@All, I mean, the evidence speaks for itself on Niall Ennis, doesn't it? What a great asset for the club!
Ennis is Messi in disguise.
Ennis making sure he'll bag at least once a match. You're achieving some success with one-man-teams eh

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