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Leamington - 2026/27

I manage clubs on Football Manager Mobile and then tell you what happens.
Started on 7 December 2020 by Harleygator
Latest Reply on 22 April 2021 by Harleygator
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FMM Story
S5E2 – Pre-Season 2024/25

(Leamington FC, Championship)



OUT – Loan – Full Back, Ciaran Brennan to Southend United
OUT – Loan – Central Defender, Sean Neal to Farnborough
OUT – Loan – Defensive Midfielder, Robbie Dodoo to Farnborough
OUT – Loan – Winger, Kristjaan Breakspear to Warrington Town
OUT – Loan – Winger, Finn Bonfield to Coventry Sphinx
OUT – Loan – Attacking Midfielder, Wilson Killip to Coventry Sphinx
OUT – Loan – Striker, Melvin Hartley to Blyth Spartans
OUT – £1’500 – Goalkeeper, Teddy Digie to FC United of Manchester
OUT – £1’500 – Central Defender, Dael Breeze to Dulwich Hamlet
OUT – £6’000 – Winger, Harley Brown to Folkestone Invicta
OUT – £10’000 – Central Defender, Robbie Gelhardt to Aldershot Town
OUT – £200’000 – Full Back, Jernade Meade to Queens Park Rangers
OUT – £400’000 – Full Back, Dan Meredith to Queens Park Rangers
OUT – £400’000 – Goalkeeper, Billy Rosa to Hamilton Academical
OUT – £2’500’000 – Winger, Michael Fernandes to Sunderland

IN – £4’000’000 – Full Back, Ethan Laird from Manchester United
IN – £2’700’000 – Full Back, Sam McCallum from Norwich City
IN – £5’000’000 – Winger, Anthony Elanga from Manchester United
IN – £625’000 – Striker, Sam Greenwood from Salford City
IN – Free – Striker, Arkadiusz Milik from Napoli


After some consideration, I decided it was in the best interests of the club to act upon the best judgement of my head, rather than my heart; Dan Meredith and Jernade Meade, having seen us this far, were quite clearly neither skilled nor athletic enough for the Championship, and I decided to offer them out to other clubs. Queens Park Rangers, who evidently disagree, bought them both for fair fees. We were able to replace them quite handsomely, not with the most technically gifted players, but with a couple of top physical specimens in Sam McCallum and Ethan Laird. With all of my first team full backs now possessing a 15+ Pace attribute to add to an already impressively-paced central group, I’ve been able to tinker tactics slightly to playing a high defensive line – the logic being I can bring more bodies closer to midfield with less risk of being caught stranded by fast attackers.

And speaking of fast attackers, we agreed to an unexpected and somewhat unfavourable deal for Michael Fernandes who, on loan and as a Leamington player, had managed a possibly irreplaceable 32 goals and 41 assists over the last three seasons. Sunderland wanted him for £2’100’000, but with only £400’000 to make up to his release clause, it was a clear choice to negotiate up to that and let him leave on our own terms. Having already signed one failed youth prospect from Manchester United, it was also a pretty simple task to ask them for another in the dangerously pacey Anthony Elanga, who joins for twice the price of Fernandes but, one suspects, probably only half his contribution in goals and assists,

Finally, replacing Ennis and Griffiths with talents as exciting as Ennis and Griffiths turned out to be a fool’s errand. The best available option was to make satisfactory moves for two tactically appropriate players in Salford’s Sam Greenwood and, somewhat notably, former Ajax and Napoli man, Arka Milik. I’m not expecting much from these guys, honestly: at 30, Milik brings experience from which David Avenell can learn, but he’s a dimming light; and Greenwood is the same sort of player as Ennis only worse – though, in fairness, he is two-footed and can play on both wings, making him an ideal utility man in attack, the sort of player you want on your bench to cover multiple eventualities.

(0 – 0) sc Heerenveen (H) –
(3 – 0) Maccabi Tel-Aviv (H) – D Avenell (2), B Ormerod (1)
(4 – 0) Luzern (H) – M Edwards (1), R Cole (1), J Jones (1), R Drench (1)
(3 – 0) Mallorca (H) – A Elanga (1), K Shashoua (1), D Avenell (1)
(2 – 0) Astana (H) – J Jones (1), S Greenwood (1)

For the second pre-season in a row, I decided to host some higher reputation foreign sides at the New Windmill Ground, and though in truth results against reputable but inconsequential sides such as these might not give a great indication of strength going into the tough Championship, control of possession owning to our new focus on a shorter passing game was a very prominent feature. I’m still unclear on what to do against narrow, deep defending – the reason we lost the FA Cup Final was because the team couldn’t break down that kind of insular play from West Brom; this is something I will have to tinker with as we move through the year.

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Replies

@Tango, you say that, but domestic club job offers have rather dried up. I think the only one I got for the whole of last season was Middlesbrough, and nothing came in through the summer either. I was slightly tempted to apply for the Nantwich Town position, as they were promoted into the VNN this summer, and they're the team I've always said I'd buy if I became modestly rich (I support Crewe Alexandra, so I want to bolster the local area).

@TheLFCFan, he certainly adds a new level of quality even to this side; a European top-tier talent at a Championship side, and when you now add Arka Milik into the mix with his experience, we've suddenly become a much more assured unit.

@ScottT, I noted that the club's rating hasn't really gone up, sadly. We've now got a 2 star reputation, which is one of the lowest in the Championship. So our antics haven't really impacted the club's profile. However, I'm now listed as a "National" reputed manager, so maybe there will be eyes cast in my direction. But I'm committed to a few more seasons here.
I think that's a very positive window with the standout additions of Milik and Laird. Milik will add a great level of quality at the Championship level, despite possibly not being what he once was. But he also adds an incredible amount of experience of playing at the very highest level of the club game. Laird brings a good amount of ability again but with a more youthful touch as seen in his physicals.
FMM Story
S5E3 – August 2024

(Wales, European League Division A, Group 3)



Bore da! Not what you were expecting, huh? Leamington, my main job, doesn’t pay enough to cover the bills, so like a single mum who don’t need no man, I took a second job as manager of Wales. Funnily enough, I didn’t apply for this job – I actually tried to get the vacant position in Russia as a precursor to moving over there once I finally find cause to leave Leamington – so this offer is a signal that I’m making some waves in the world. Having also said that, the Welsh were not happy with the appointment of an inexperienced manager, and English to boot. Having spent 4 years living, studying and working in Wales, I can tell you there is very much an undercurrent of anti-English hostility among the Welsh, though I’m not sure that really informs their distrust on the game given that it’s unlikely FM has a hidden Racism attribute in the national supporter profiles.

For my first two games as manager would be a nice, simple, calm affair, with no pressure or consequence… lol, just kidding. We start European League qualification on the back of a 6-0 drubbing against Germany, with opening games against Spain and England. Oh, joy. This is the first squad I selected:

Goalkeepers – Danny Ward (Leicester City), Adam Przybek (Ipswich Town)
Full Backs – Connor Roberts (Swansea City), Keelan Williams (Ipswich Town), Ben Davies (Newcastle United), Rhys Norrington-Davies (Sheffield United)
Defenders – Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea), Joe Rodon (Celtic), Tom Lockyer (Burnley), Ryan Astley (Nottingham Forest), Connor Powell (Swansea City)
Midfielders – Matt Smith (Millwall), Joe Morrell (Norwich City), Will Vaulks (Watford), Callum Jones (Hull City), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest)
Wingers – Daniel James (Manchester United), David Brooks (Birmingham City), Rabbi Matondo (Schalke), Harry Wilson (West Ham United), Tom Lawrence (Derby County)
Attackers – Jack Vale (Blackburn Rovers), Nathan Broadhead (Bristol City)

Although this is to be expected of international football, it’s perhaps a little more starkly the case that this Welsh side is one bursting at the seams with all-rounders and utility players, which goes against my instincts after four years of aggressive role specialisation at Leamington. It seems like almost every player is a jack of all trades, the sort of players I would avoid signing at club level – guys with a 10-12 across the board in their technical, mental and physical attributes, neither good nor bad at passing or tackling, middling in aggression, creativity, teamwork, neither as fast, fit or strong as they might be, nor as slow, tiresome or weak as they might be. How one is supposed to layout a team like this is currently beyond me; I sense we may need to become a reactive force and adapt to our opponents rather than playing to our strengths, though this will mean a sub-optimal performance in every case. In terms of standout players, we don’t have Gareth Bale or anyone remotely like him to lean on – the only two key players I can identify are Manchester United’s Dan James, not a natural finisher, and Chelsea’s Ethan Ampadu, who got done by Michael Fernandes in last season’s FA Cup Semi-Final. Joy.

(1 – 3) Spain (H) ELDAG3 –

I decided to adopt a narrow counter-attacking approach against pass-masters Spain. We started the positively, having equal opportunities as the first 20 or so minutes ran up. We opened the scoring from a corner with an own goal, and with some excitement from me at the development, we had a chance to make it 2-0 from the penalty spot; however, Jack Vale bottled it, and frustratingly the team never really recovered from that disappointment. Almost all second half chances went to Spain, and they promptly made us pay for it. It was a predictable start to my reign, though not how I had hoped, and it could’ve been different had we been able to increase our lead.

(0 – 5) England (A) ELDAG3 –

Ouch. I reckon there would be serious accusations of sabotage if an Englishman led Wales to this result against England. It was clear that our setup was wrong from the very start, with two easy early goals triggering panic mode and a few wild tactical changes that did precisely nothing to help. If there is something to be taken from these two fixtures, I learned that the Welsh are clearly not suited to counter-attacking football against stronger opponents – though quite what they are suited to eludes me.

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Replies

@TheLFCFan, with Milik and players over the age of, I reckon, around 29, I tend to undervalue them quite a lot. I play with young teams, towards potential, towards energy over intelligence and all the things which youth brings which experience lacks. It's the Crewe fan in me, I suppose. Lack of options forced my hand here, so maybe Milik will have a chance to change my outlook on older players. It's a balance I could probably strike better.
FMM Story
S5E4 – August-October 2024

(Leamington FC, Championship)



Having wanted to experience international football for going on 3 years, such a bruising introduction made me glad to return to more domestic matters. My first experience as manager of Wales was alienating in the sense that I felt lacking in information and bereft of the tools and support structure to obtain it; and because of that, the two games presented a tactical headache of the kind I had pretty much eliminated in my day job. I was familiar with the culture at Leamington, I know every player and how they fit in, and importantly how to get the best out of them; it will be a long time, I think, before I achieve this with Wales. And so, I turned my attention back to what I know and set about preparing my squad for the Championship season ahead.

(4 – 2) Stoke City (H) CH – A Elanga (3), D Avenell (1)
(1 – 0) Hull City (A) CH – J Jones (1)
(2 – 0) Queens Park Rangers (H) CH – D Avenell (1), O Finney (1)
(6 – 0) Northampton Town (H) CC1 – A Elanga (1), A Milik (1), J Jones (1), R Drench (1), K Shashoua (1), S Greenwood (1)
(2 – 0) Norwich City (H) CH – O Finney (1), D Avenell (1)
(1 – 3) Fulham (A) CH – A Milik (1)
(1 – 0) Burnley (A) CH – S Greenwood (1)
(1 – 2) West Ham United (A) CC2 – P Bastock (1)
(5 – 1) West Bromwich Albion (H) CH – K Shashoua (1), R Drench (1), J Jones (1), A Milik (1), A Elanga (1)

Oof, satisfying. Having been beaten 1-0 in an unlikely and ultimately infuriatingly winnable FA Cup Final by West Brom, our first appearance against the side since that fateless day was a small chunk of payback, but also a painful reminder of the greatest missed opportunity of my entire FM career. Still, our start to the season once again exceeded all expectations; in a bit of an ego-massaging feat, our new high defensive line worked a treat, as we were able to control most of our games without being caught out thanks to our rapid defensive line-ups.

(0 – 1) Nottingham Forest (A) CH –
(3 – 0) Wigan Athletic (H) CH – A Elanga (1), J Jones (1)
(2 – 1) Huddersfield (A) CH – D Avenell (1), A Milik (1)
(2 – 0) Preston North End (H) CH – A Elanga (1)
(2 – 4) Everton (A) CH – J Jones (1), S Greenwood (1)
(1 – 0) Watford (H) CH – A Milik (1)

We closed out October sitting top of the league, but it didn’t quite feel as though we occupied it with the same kind of bravado as in previous years. It felt, in League Two and One within the first five games that we were “not like the other teams” in terms of our commanding performances, but it isn’t like that here: this is more of a sense of grit and determination rather than flair in what we’re doing. We’re clearly beatable from anywhere, as demonstrated by challengers Everton and nowhere-men Fulham; we’re also not running away with our victories, owing each set of three points more to solidity at the back than any kind of showmanship up front. Perhaps this is the result of the loss of Niall Ennis, and it is interesting to note that there are no standout players doing his job; something Tango mentioned in League Two was our apparent tendency to become a one-man team, what with Ennis, before him Ellison, and then even Harvey Vale in my very first season, but this is not the case this year. By this exact stage in both of the last 2 seasons, Ennis had 17 goals alone; at this stage, Milik, Avenell and Greenwood have 12 between them. 12 is a decent contribution, but in context, Ennis has notched up 12 goals himself in 13 games for Portsmouth. No one, except maybe Anthony Elanga, is stamping their authority; we’re a unit, calmly, simply churning out the right results.

Also, I hit another milestone in the win at Watford – my 250th game in charge of Leamington!

Interesting to see you take the Wales job and an unfortunate start in two very tough games as their manager. Hopefully they give you the time to work out who should be playing and what the correct set-up should be. Back at Leamington though, continued excellence. Despite a few losses here and there, top of the league in the first season in the league once again and already a reasonable gap opening between you and the playoff spots.

Also, great to see Everton in the Championship! :D
FMM Story
S5E5 – October 2024

(Wales, European League Division A, Group 3)



Apologies for the relatively lengthy gap in posting: I've been ill since last Tuesday and haven't been online to post.

Goalkeepers – Danny Ward (Leicester City), Adam Przybek (Ipswich Town)
Full Backs – Connor Roberts (Swansea City), Ben Davies (Newcastle United), Rhys Norrington-Davies (Sheffield United), Tivonge Rushesha (Swansea City)
Defenders – Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea), Joe Rodon (Celtic), Tom Lockyer (Burnley), Ryan Astley (Nottingham Forest), Connor Powell (Swansea City)
Midfielders – Matt Smith (Millwall), Joe Morrell (Norwich City), Will Vaulks (Watford), Callum Jones (Hull City), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest)
Wingers – Daniel James (Manchester United), David Brooks (Birmingham City), Rabbi Matondo (Schalke), Harry Wilson (West Ham United), Tom Lawrence (Derby County)
Attackers – Jack Vale (Blackburn Rovers), Tyler Roberts (Leeds United)

We only made two changes to the squad selection going into our next international fixtures, both due to injuries; in terms of the talent pool, there aren’t many quality Welsh players, so there’s a narrow talent pool for replacements and we’ll have to stay cross-fingered for a clean bill of health around these periods. Tactically, I switched from the 4-1-2-2-1 I use with Leamington to a 4-2-3-1, partially because Wales don’t have any DMs of any note, but mostly to embrace the relative strength of our attacking players. I decided that a weak defence was best served by staying narrow, and recognising our inability to spot incisive passes, we flipped 180 from our counter-attacking game to adopt slow, short passing, patient build-up play.

(2 – 1) Bosnia & Herzegovina (A) ELDAG3 – B Johnson (1), T Roberts (1)

My first three points for Wales were very welcome, though I can’t say I was overly pleased with the performance we produced to earn them. Bosnia should have been a much more simple game, but it took a late winner to see off a match which was a little too close for comfort. Tyler Roberts, back from injury in the previous missed selection, was a threat owing to his pace – an advanced forward of his specific qualities is something I’m used to in the figure of Niall Ennis, and I reckon I can use this player to good effect going forwards.

(2 – 4) Spain (H) ELDAG3 – D Brooks (1), T Roberts (1)

The only thing I have to say about this result is this: ARRRGH! What a frustrating match. This was Wales’ best performance in my short tenure, a surprising fact given the quality of our opponents. Our new focus on short passing meant, again surprisingly, that we beat Spain for possession, but we also had more and better chances. Could we get past David De Gea? Could we balls. At the other end, Leicester’s Danny Ward has an absolute nightmare between the sticks, conceding every single shot the Spaniards had, three of which came from outside the area. A positive is that the tactical setup seemed to work, but to miss the three points here at our best is exactly the sort of result that separates the best from the rest – and we most certainly fall into the latter category.

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Replies

@TheLFCFan, not for much longer, by the looks of things! And with international management, you don't have the same feedback as you do at club level, so I'm not getting the coach commentary which helps to make these decisions, particularly about mentality and picking players with a bit of something about them in that regard. So, after only 4 games, I'm not entirely sure it's everything I hoped it would be, ha. But I'll stick with it until I know whether I enjoy it or so, but so far, not really.
Results going the way you would expect at the moment with regards to Wales. The squad has some quality but certainly not enough to compete with Spain at the present moment in time.
Harleygator's avatar Group Harleygator
3 monthsEdited
FMM Story
S5E6 – November-December 2024

(Leamington FC, Championship)



Attentive long-term readers may be interested to know who won the Championship Player of the Month award for October 2024 – none other than a certain Kris Ellison. For those new to the story, Kris Ellison was a newgen who graduated from our youth programme at the start of my second season at Leamington. Being Leamington, our youth programme hasn’t produced a prospect worth a damn; but Ellison was the exception, and the young Target Man debuted for the club by scoring 52 goals in all competitions as we did the double in the National League and FA Trophy. Naturally, we had no choice but to cash in on this great talent, and he was promptly sold to Barnsley for £2’100’000 – money which guaranteed two further consecutive promotions when it was used to buy a competitive spine for the squad in Niall Ennis, Jack Tucker, Dan Happe and Dillon Phillips. At the tender age of 19, Ellison has since made 33 appearances for Barnsley, scoring a very commendable 17 goals. Less happily, we face Barnsley within the next few games, and should only hope that Ellison does not feature against us.

(1 – 0) Brentford (A) CH – D Avenell (1)
(0 – 0) Charlton Athletic (H) CH –
(1 – 0) Swansea City (H) CH – D Avenell (1)
(2 – 1) Barnsley (A) CH – M Edwards (2)

As it happens, Kris Ellison did feature against us, and he promptly scored the opening goal of the game inside 90 seconds. Many happy returns and all that. As has been a feature of our performances this season, however, my Leamington side were able to stabilise themselves pretty quickly and recorded a comfortable, if hardly spectacular win. With few exceptions and unlike results in the last 3 seasons, we were by no means running away with our matches, with most of our wins ending inside a 1 goal margin, typically a Jose Mourinho-esque 1-0. Likewise, there were no specific players who stepped out of a rigorously flat pecking order – Avenell scores, then Elanga takes his turn, Milik grabs one off the bench, Edwards cuts in, Greenwood too, over the course of 5 or 6 games, with limited continuity. When Elanga bagged 7 in 12 games, I took him out of the rotation plan and gave him every game ahead of Bastock and Greenwood, but even he dried up for the trickle of contributions from multiple sources. This is not necessarily something to be worried about while results are going our way, though.

(0 – 1) Fleetwood Town (A) CH –
(2 – 0) Portsmouth (H) CH – M Edwards (2)
(1 – 0) Middlesbrough (A) CH – A Elanga (1)
(0 – 0) Reading (H) CH –
(3 – 0) Sheffield United (A) CH – A Elanga (1), A Milik (1)
(2 – 0) Stoke City (A) CH – M Edwards (2)
(2 – 3) Hull City (H) CH – A Milik (2)

December ended much as October had – Leamington sitting top of the Championship, but by no means running away with the title, yet still playing solid football and turning out routine results. At this halfway stage, I think it is safe to say that we’re serious contenders for the title and promotion to the Premier League. I have rarely managed this achievement in my time playing football management games and would not have predicted it given the struggles I had in the first season, when I expected to be leaving the club in a stable but uncompetitive position. To my memory, the first time I ever achieved a back-to-back bottom-to-top chain was on LMA Manager 2006 with Hereford United, on a substantially easier game alas; the next would be Whitehawk on Football Manager 2016, with plenty of near-misses and failures in between. On FM20 alone, I failed to do it with Brackley, Farsley Celtic, Nantwich Town and Leamington respectively. So, to be so close now feels like a culmination of efforts and learning, though I know to take nothing for granted after last season’s FA Cup heartbreak.

I called my friend Rick to wish him a happy new year as we headed into 2025, and, as a fan of football manager himself, I told him about how things were going at Leamington.
. . . . . "I know," he said upon hearing about my run of good form. "You know I watch the news right? Hey, by the way, can you get me a couple of tickets for the United game?" We were to play United in the third round of the FA Cup; I'm guessing he wants to see his boyhood club trash my carefully, lovingly crafted Leamington team.
. . . . . "Sure," I said, "Come round, I'll pop the kettle on."
. . . . . "Start me a tab at the bar, more like!" He laughed down the phone. I started to call him a cheeky bastard, but the line went dead.

The Premier League could be calling at this rate! Very encouraging.
FMM Story
S5E7 – December 2024

(Wales, European League Division A, Group 3)



Goalkeepers – Danny Ward (Leicester City), Adam Przybek (Ipswich Town)
Full Backs – Connor Roberts (Swansea City), Ben Davies (Newcastle United), Rhys Norrington-Davies (Sheffield United), Tivonge Rushesha (Swansea City)
Defenders – Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea), Tom Lockyer (Burnley), Ryan Astley (Nottingham Forest), Connor Powell (Swansea City), Miles Thomas (Cardiff City)
Midfielders – Joe Morrell (Norwich City), Callum Jones (Hull City), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest), Louie Thompson (Norwich City), Chem Campbell (Bradford City)
Wingers – Daniel James (Manchester United), David Brooks (Birmingham City), Rabbi Matondo (Schalke), Harry Wilson (West Ham United), Tom Lawrence (Derby County)
Attackers – Jack Vale (Blackburn Rovers), Tyler Roberts (Leeds United)

After some positives to take from the last round of international fixtures, I decided to stick with a mostly unchanged side, tailored modestly for the same formation and tactics as last time given the win against Bosnia and great performance in the defeat to Spain. Looking to the group table, I know in reality that we’re not progressing as had been hoped by the Welsh FA, but if we can get another 4 points from our final two games, I would consider that a success for a team of such wanting quality. Things would need to improve drastically, however, with a more confident performance against Bosnia and some desperately needed solidity against an England side that routed us in the Away fixture.

(2 – 0) Bosnia & Herzegovina (H) ELDAG3 – D James (1), T Lawrence (1)

Gladly, the first of these requirements came true with a poised win over Bosnia. With Tyler Roberts tired from domestic football, we rested him for Jack Vale, who put in another drab performance – clearly a poacher’s role is not suited to the setup I have cobbled together so far. Fortunately, goals came from the wide men, making me feel right at home given our emphasis on this at Leamington; this was also pleasing as at Leamington we play our wide-men as inside forwards, while here they are traditional wingers who don’t really cut inside; but then again, given we play a narrow and short passing game, I suppose it should be expected that they’ll have more chances than regular wingers in a more flowing approach.

(1 – 1) England (H) ELDAG3 – T Roberts (1)

More encouragingly, we made England work for the final available points in the group, and they were forced to settle for a point with a late equaliser from Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka. Like in the Spain game last time out, our focus on short passing and, this time, time wasting meant that we had and made the majority of the play; our attacking was clearly more laboured than the venomous pushing of our opponents, but we were successful in limiting their time on the ball and so, their opportunities to hurt us. A 1-1 draw is better than I could’ve really expected, though it didn’t change our third place finish in the group.

So, my first taste of competitive international football ended in a pretty predictable disappointment in a tournament, though one of the lesser ones. There wasn’t much fallout from this, as the Welsh FA kind of expected this result; though I did get some odd comments when I posted about my apathy for the final standing on Twitter and a few hundred angry Welshmen replied with some pretty fierce abuse; it’s just a game, jeez. We head next into qualification for the 2026 North American World Cup, with the expectation that we should qualify for the tournament proper. I cannot really gauge how this will realistically go until I see which team I shall face, and the make-up of the squad is such that I’d really have to judge it as we go, because I’m not confident that this side can convincingly go into any match with three points as theirs to lose. We’re not going to top whatever group we’re drawn into – the top seed will take most of the points over both fixtures – but with careful consideration on our approach and the players I select, it should be possible to be the best of the rest.



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Replies

@ScottT, certainly looking that way, and progress with Wales too.
Positives to take from those games. An excellent effort against England. The squad seems to have some decent wingers but lacks in other areas. Hopefully some talent can emerge sharpish.
Would a move for Ellison be back onto the cards seeing how your fortunes have certainly improved since he left...? Good to see him going well anyway. But even better is the continued view of Leamington sitting pretty at the top of the league.

Wales wise, it's slowly improving, getting a couple wins and the a point against England and making it tough for Spain. I think a couple friendlies and some continued improvement and this team will have a great chance at qualifying.
Good detail but sorry to say, it's so boring. Going up the leagues and getting to the fa cup final, come on so unrealistic. I've just got Telford to the prem on computer and im in 2031. The grind and the ups and lows are what makes it fun imo but whatever floats ur boat :)
FMM Story
S5E8 – January-February 2025

(Leamington FC, Championship)





Given the overwhelming prioritisation of youth transfers over the last 5 years, it was nice to receive the above news as we headed into January 2025. The next Dario Gradi? asked an article online about me, obviously satirising the importance we FM story writers place on our saves. I’ve been very successful at cutting through the muck and identifying those young players with the good base for specialisation and insertion into my tactical framework; this process has been the basis for the extraordinary levels of rotation we’ve been able to achieve, with only a handful of players required to play more fixtures than not. This means, obviously, having sacrificed the regular turnouts of a star player like Niall Ennis, but it has promoted a much fitter squad overall, thus fewer injuries and more match sharpness for everyone.

That said, while sourcing players continues to be a fairly mechanical task after 4 seasons, bringing them in is becoming burdensome. When we were in the National Leagues, it was a simple enough job to nab future stars of Championship and League One quality from the non-league for nothing more than a sell-on clause; and even in the lesser League tiers, we were able to bring in top talents for anywhere between £5’000 and £50’000 a pop. But at the start of this season, our usual pre-agreed summer transfer of young players scratched the £1’000’000 mark for only 3 or 4 players, none of whom have played a game for the first team, and the trend has continued. In every January window for at least 3 seasons, I think I’ve brought in at least one new young signing for the Reserves, but this year, unaffordable demands for six-zero sums have made that impossible.

(1 – 0) Queens Park Rangers (A) CH – A Milik (1)
(0 – 1) Manchester United (A) FA3 –
(2 – 0) Fulham (H) CH – K Shashoua (1), A Elanga (1)
(0 – 1) Norwich City (A) CH –

Rick called me after the Manchester United game, annoyed that I hadn’t gotten him a ticket to the game. “What do you mean?” I asked, confused.
. . . . .”Well, I looked like a right div, didn’t I? Had to buy one, ‘cause obviously saying I know you did bugger all, and obviously all the ones for the away stand were gone, so I’m sat in with your lot in a United top like an absolute knob.”
Having no idea what he was on about, I turned my attention to the pressing matter of performances and results. We were unable to repeat our FA Cup antics from last season with a second 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in four seasons; this time it was Anthony Martial who dealt the blow. Equally disturbing is our result against Norwich, who are beginning to turn the thumbscrews in our race to the title; we’ve developed a thread of inconsistency recently which may not bode well as we head into the final months. To compound these difficulties, I took a gamble in the transfer window and decided to cash in early on some of our up-and-coming talent, the logic being that I could reduce rotation for the final 3 months without affecting performance, and at the same time build up enough of a war chest to shore up the squad for our Premier League debut.

OUT – £16’000’000 – Defensive Midfielder, Ricky Drench to Everton
OUT – £9’000’000 – Full Back, Harvey Sayer to Burnley
OUT – £6’000’000 – Central Midfielder, Kristian Shashoua to Sheffield United
OUT – £2’500 – Defensive Midfielder, Gareth Patterson to Farnborough


The three first-team players we sold only cost us £55’000 to bring in, so receiving £31’000’000 from these deals borders on the insane; however, the transfer market was as barren of replacements as a desert is of spring water. To replace them, I recalled Robbie Dodoo from Farnborough and promoted him alongside Ellis Jones and Lee Monkhouse. Dodoo and Monkhouse are entirely untested in the first team, though I do trust that Mason Goodridge and Sam McCallum can handle more playing time as the first choice options; Jones played 24 times for us in League One, and was just awful, however he is probably one of the most role-specific players in the whole squad for the Advanced Playmaker role, being “green” in the highlighted statistics (passing, creativity, movement, and whatever the other 2 or 3 are) and red or yellow in everything else.

(5 – 0) West Bromwich Albion (A) CH – D Avenell (3), A Elanga (2)
(3 – 1) Burnley (H) CH – A Elanga (2), A Milik (1)
(3 – 0) Nottingham Forest (H) CH – S Greenwood (3)
(1 – 2) Huddersfield Town (H) CH – S Greenwood (1)
(3 – 2) Preston North End (A) CH – J Tucker (1), M Edwards (2)
(1 – 1) Sunderland (H) CH – J Jones (1)

Keeping on the theme of youth transfers, David Avenell was starting to feel the pressure of first team football, so I gave him some time off the pitch throughout January. We managed a decent, league-topping run of form after our defeat to challengers Norwich; this is a tough race that could genuinely go either way, but I think it’s pretty clear now that we’ll be able to achieve automatic promotion to the Premier League. Crazy, but true. And to think, last year I was hoping to join Volgar Astrakhan.



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Replies

@ScottT, kind of the opposite problem to 4 seasons at Leamington with gaps out wide.

@TheLFCFan, I did scout him, but the coaches reckon that Barnsley want around £30'000'000, which I don't have! But David Avenell is looking like a great prospect and understudy to Milik, so hopefully he can do the business.

@Meijueiro99, trust me, I'm painfully aware of this. You're completely right to say that this save has been unrealistic, and that does make it boring. As you also say, there's a lot of detail, and a big reason for this is that I know how it looks - it looks like I'm cheating - and so I want people to see what I'm doing more clearly, to know the justifications for my actions and to see things in context. Like, for example, with the FA Cup thing, it wasn't Liverpool, City, United, Spurs I beat, it was Fleetwood, Blackburn, Millwall and Charlton, so that's not unreasonable that a table-topping League One side could take those scalps, but I knew that the 1-0 win at Chelsea was a little harder to believe, hence I explained a bit more about the game - Tammy Abraham was a threat, neutralised by this player or this tactical setting resulting in this, and then the goal, you know, how did Ennis get that goal, well, Michael Fernandes cut inside and he's right-footed, so he could pass effectively through, and then Ennis has this in Pace or Movement, this in Shooting. I hope that's enough for people to know that this save, while outlandish, it at least genuine. And from a writing perspective, I'm planning to do something a little more... creative, shall we say... with the story going forwards, which I'm still sort of working out, but I've been dropping teasers in the last few updates, so hopefully you'll stick around a bit to see what I do to improve this.
Looking good with an eight point advantage on Everton in third. A good effort in the Cup against Man United to mention too. It was always set to be a tricky game but you didn't disgrace yourselves at all.

I don't think you need to justify yourself and the success you've had. :)

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