Likely to be a challenging campaign ahead. Best of luck.
Football Manager Story: A Football Manager Story
S2E2 – Pre-Season 2021/22
(Leamington FC, National League)
With my first season at Leamington having been highly dependent on loan signings, and in fact my promotion having been largely the product of efforts of two in particular – Harvey Vale and Michael Tait – I anticipated a rather extensive jaunt in the transfer market, and with a large remit in respect of positions. Having said that, the release of every single forward and attacking midfielder (except the excellent Chris Eagles) over the summer meant my focus was necessarily on bolstering my attacking options both out wide and in the centre. Most especially, the signing of a comparable shadow striker to Harvey Vale, or indeed Harvey Vale himself was critical for my tactical plans. The immediate problem, however, perhaps a consequence of our elevated standing, was a tightening of wage contribution demands from those top division sides who had previously given us a free ride. The result of this was a far greater insistence on permanent signings, as mentioned in the last update, but also a greatly diminished quality of loanee signings from clubs in much lesser standing than previous.
IN – Loan – Goalkeeper, Adam Przybek from Ipswich Town
IN – Loan – Central Defender, Charlie Barker from Charlton Athletic
IN – Loan – Full Back, Nathan Woodthorpe from Crewe Alexandra
IN – Free – Defensive Midfielder, Mason Goodridge
IN – Free – Central Midfielder, Josh Falkingham
IN – Free – Attacking Midfielder, Alex Babos
IN – Loan – Attacking Midfielder, Shay Lashley from Fleetwood Town
IN – Free – Winger, Harry Forster
IN – Loan – Winger, Michael Fernandes from Colchester United
IN – Loan – Winger, J.J. Donnelly from Wycombe Wanderers
OUT - £2’000 – Central Defender, Josh Martin to Chester
OUT - £675 – Winger, Kaiman Anderson to Kidderminster Harriers
First, the positive. Having discovered that Mason Goodridge had been released by Burnley, we were able to bring the player back as one of our own, a move that delighted many in a squad in which Goodridge had been popular; Michael Tait had also been released by Aston Villa, but given his rather poor record of injuries, we elected not to offer him a contract, and despite scoring 16 goals last season, I feel this was the right move. My favourite signing, however, was 30-year-old midfielder Josh Falkingham. I had previously signed Falkingham way back on FM10 for Crewe Alexandra, and he had been an excellent captain well into my save; likewise on FM20, with a leadership stat of 20 and with a Relentless personality, he immediately becomes the first name on my teamsheet and replaces Callum Gittings as captain.
Other than the two midfielders above, though, I was mostly underwhelmed by the activity this window. Regarding replacing or retaining Vale, I feel that this has been an early failure going into the season. My ideal solution had been to take Vale back off Chelsea for another season, but the Premier League side wanted us to stump up more than £2’000 per week in contributions to his wage, completely unworkable for a National League club. Although I managed to find two adequate players in this position, Alex Babos and Shay Lashley aren’t really comparable to Harvey Vale last season, let alone of a standard required to replicate his success in a higher league. Aside from disrupting my plans for a strikerless formation, this also leaves 16-year-old Kris Ellison as the only serious season-long goalscoring prospect in the squad, a burden which, I suspect, might be beyond the fresh newgen.
(3 – 1) Bath City (A) – K Ellison (1), R England (1)
(2 – 1) Barnet (H) – H Forster (1), K Ellison (1)
(2 – 2) Halifax Town (A) – R Cole (1), A Babos (1)
(1 – 0) Ebbsfleet United (H) – K Ellison (1)
(2 – 2) Chorley (A) – K Ellison (1)
And yet, as results demonstrated, what Ellison may lack in experience is most certainly not true of raw goalscoring instinct. It is worth remembering, however, that Michael Tait had a similarly impressive friendly record last season and then spent most of the rest of his time at the club in various states of disrepair. One hopes, especially with a player as impressive as Ellison undoubtedly is, that similar problems won’t plague him too.
@Tango, I have been pronouncing it Ben "All-Nick", although you're probably right to say that it is "Annick".
@ScottT, thanks, most likely will be, and as with the recent update, I am not especially confident with the attacking options I've brought in. But we'll see.