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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
S5E8 – March 2025

(Wales, World Cup Qualification, Group 8)

Success, failure: I guess it is kind of relative when you’re below the upper echelons of international football. Having been dropped into a European League qualification group with England and Spain, the markers of success pretty much boiled down to don’t get walloped; I’m not sure we managed to achieve this given England stuffed us 5-0, but then we also managed a 1-1 draw too, so you can’t take too much from us. With the Welsh FA satisfied that they hadn’t made a catastrophic error in hiring me, qualification for the next World Cup was my latest challenge.

We were drawn into European Group 8, alongside Germany, Iceland, Azerbaijan and Belarus. I think this is a group which we have a chance of qualifying through: Germany are obviously the frontrunners, but Belarus and Azerbaijan are reasonably straightforward fixtures; Iceland are a more recent phenomenon, and it’ll be our results against this side in particular that I think will be the decider. I learnt from the European Nations League something that I already knew: I’m not a good tactician, and so trying to adapt tactics to opponents on the fly was a stupid decision to make.

Goalkeepers – Danny Ward (Leicester City), Adam Davies (Sheffield United)
Full Backs – Neko Williams (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Rhys Norrington-Davies (Sheffield United), Connor Roberts (Swansea City), Barney Soady (Bristol City)
Defenders – Joe Rodon (Celtic), Connor Powell (Swansea City), Miles Thomas (Cardiff City), Ben Cabango (Swansea City)
Midfielders – Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea), Joe Morrell (Norwich City), Chem Campbell (Bradford City), Callum Jones (Hull City), David Brooks (Birmingham City), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest), Matt Smith (Millwall)
Wingers – Daniel James (Manchester United), Rabbi Matondo (Schalke), Harry Wilson (West Ham United), Tom Lawrence (Derby County)
Attackers – Tyler Roberts (Leeds United), Jack Vale (Blackburn Rovers)

With limited pickings, I nonetheless attempted to increase the number of specialists in the squad; as mentioned, the Welsh talent pool is filled with tonnes of utility players which don’t suit themselves to interesting, dedicated tactical approaches. The biggest changes to the squad were found in defence, where I decided to play wing-backs and increase our overlapping play out wide – Bristol City’s Barney Soady replaced the far more reputable Ben Davies of Newcastle United, in a sign of changing priorities for the Welsh national team; I also included Ethan Ampadu in the midfielder quorum as a specialist playmaker, meaning one less utility man taking space in the midfield, and one more defence-specific centre-half to improve our solidity there.

We started our qualification campaign against Germany, hardly the sort of fixture you need if you want to hit the ground running. With running full-backs now employed, I used Inverted Wingers for the first time in my life… and it worked an absolute treat! All of our goals came from direct early crosses, with Tyler Roberts pace and David Brooks’ movement causing havoc on the end of these tricky diagonal forward balls. Brooks’ glancing header to seal the win was the epitome of this approach as we recorded a famous victory against the group favourites!

(3 – 0) Germany (H) WCQG8 – T Roberts (2), D Brooks (1)

As stated, the next best side in Group 8 are Iceland, who we play twice in a row in the following games over the summer. If we can win both of these fixtures, there’s now a very real prospect that the group will be ours to lose. Imagine that.


What a win against the Germans. A fantastic way to start the qualification process!
FMM Story
S5E10 – March-May 2025

(Leamington FC, Championship)

As we near the end of another monotonously successful campaign and the prospect of an unlikely, if welcome debut in the Premier League, the run-in to the title is, at least, looking like a close fight. There is a clear cushion between 2nd and 3rd place, so our promotion appears to be all but assured; however, beating Norwich – having already been bested by them one-on-one – could yet turn out to be a busted flush, as they’re heading into the final weeks in far better shape and consistency of form than we are, especially with our rather questionable January business.

(2 – 1) Everton (H) CH – D Avenell (1), M Edwards (1)
(1 – 1) Watford (A) CH – A Milik (1)
(1 – 2) Brentford (H) CH – S Greenwood (1)
(2 – 1) Charlton Athletic (A) CH – S Greenwood (1), D Avenell (1)
(2 – 0) Swansea City (A) CH – A Milik (1), M Edwards (1)

Ricky Drench, who left for Everton in that January window, scored a header against us in the first game of March, making that two former Leamington stars to open the scoring against us this season; we’re saturating the market, apparently. March was unexpectedly challenging owing to an uncharacteristically leaky defence, while the poor results against Watford and Brentford mark the first time we haven’t won in consecutive games for fourteen months, while Norwich haven’t lost a league game since December. We head in to the final six games neck and neck on 88 points, with Norwich leading on goal difference by 11. To compound our difficulties, we head into April having lost Mason Goodridge to a hip injury in training, meaning I have to rely on Kayne Redfearn, a 20-year-old with 1 club appearance who I bought in the summer of 2022 for £5’000, and Robbie Dodoo, a talented but undeveloped 17-year-old newgen.

(1 – 0) Barnsley (H) CH – S Greenwood (1)
(2 – 0) Fleetwood Town (H) CH – D Avenell (1), E Jones (1)
(2 – 2) Portsmouth (A) CH – A Elanga (1), D Avenell (1)

Norwich slipped up with a defeat to Stoke City in their first of the six fixtures, so my Leamington side were able to forge a small point’s lead. 2 games later, though, we were almost put to the sword by Niall Ennis, our hero of the last two seasons, who sent us 2-0 down with 30 minutes left to play; however, after Anthony Elanga clawed one back, David Avenell thundered in a header in the 93rd minute to keep us a point ahead of the Canaries. This one is going down to the wire.

(3 – 0) Middlesbrough (H) CH – S Greenwood (2), A Milik (1)
(1 – 0) Reading (A) CH – M Edwards (1)
(1 – 2) Sheffield United (H) CH – S Greenwood (1)

We did it! Norwich ran out of steam while we rediscovered our table-topping form when it counted. Champions of the Championship, back-to-back promotions from the bottom league to the top for only the second time in my decade or so of Football Manager LLM saves, the culmination of momentum building through years of considered squad development, the staggered rolling to National League promotions, the unstoppable velocity of our League Two and One campaigns, and now… a subtle easing off – a victory, yes, but with worse performances in the cups, more inconsistency in the league, and a general sense that the real work is just up ahead, its nature obscured through the haze of cup-lifting firework smoke and gold confetti, and endless calls from pranksters posing as journalists. I have no delusions of competitiveness next year, and the bookies will certainly put us on the long odds; but with a few great young prospects still knocking about and £30’000’000 in the bank, we are a club that could. What we will is another matter.
To win the Championship - possibly one of the toughest leagues in the world - by that margin is unbelievable. You finally did it though! Premier League Leamington!
A fantastic season and to break the 100 point barrier is an incredible achievement. It is a testament to the excellent work you have put in to making this Leamington squad what it is. The Premier League will be on high alert!
FMM Story
S5E11 – June 2025

(Wales, World Cup Qualification, Group 8)

Goalkeepers – Danny Ward (Leicester City), Adam Davies (Sheffield United)
Full Backs – Neko Williams (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Rhys Norrington-Davies (Sheffield United), Connor Roberts (Swansea City), Barney Soady (Bristol City)
Defenders – Joe Rodon (Celtic), Connor Powell (Swansea City), Miles Thomas (Cardiff City), Ben Cabango (Swansea City)
Midfielders – Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea), Joe Morrell (Norwich City), Chem Campbell (Bradford City), Callum Jones (Hull City), David Brooks (Birmingham City), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest), Matt Smith (Millwall)
Wingers – Daniel James (Manchester United), Rabbi Matondo (Schalke), Harry Wilson (West Ham United), Tom Lawrence (Derby County)
Attackers – Tyler Roberts (Leeds United), Nathan Broadhead (Bristol City)

With the unanticipated thrashing of Germany, even after that single game my Wales side could dare to dream that it was heading to the World Cup. As mentioned in the last international update, beating Germany and assuming victories against Azerbaijan and Belarus (a reasonable assumption), qualification was probably dependent on getting the points against the next best side, Iceland, who we play twice in the month of June 2025. I think it’s fair to say that success in these fixtures is defined as getting all available points, as anything less than that means wasting the advantage given to us by besting Germany. I made an unpopular change to the squad by dropping the expensively-rated Jack Vale for pacey forward Nathan Broadhead, another move towards specialisation over reputation.

(3 – 2) Iceland (A) WCQG8 – D Brooks (2), R Rodon (1)

A chilly encounter as Iceland played a counter-attacking game at home, and rather successfully at that; although limited to 33% possession, they made excellent use of few opportunities to run us close. As with the Germany game, early crosses from the inverted wingers and wing backs were a big source of our chances, and this worked well with David Brooks, my shadow striker arriving late into area to collect the huge dividends of this approach. 3 points in Reykjavik sets us up nicely for the return fixture in Cardiff.

(2 – 0) Iceland (H) WCQG8 – D Brooks (1), N Broadbent (1)

To counter Iceland’s counter, we adopted a deeper defensive line, and this worked to completely shut them out – zero shots to write home about. Another goal for Brooks from a cross and a selection-justifying second from Broadbent left us siitting top of the Group and, unless we suffer some unexpected humiliations against Belarus or Azerbaijan, we’re going to the World Cup!

Getting a taste for the bigger stadiums, I started to consider the possibility of a bigger ground for Leamington as I headed back to domestic football. Of course, the ground has had a few small upgrades over the last few years to accommodate for great attendances from home and away supporters alike, with the previous two stands having been extended into four full-seated areas more suitable for a Championship side. With the surrounding area being mostly arable farmland, we’ve had the space and funds to increase the area around the ground, extending the old dust-clogged car park to a tarmacked space across the lane and building up brick-backed stands with a pleasant yellow-black rectangular cross pattern. In the corners rings a grey plywood fence, 6 feet tall, but low enough at my height to peer in at the diagonal stripe-cut pitch and bumblebee print seating...
. . . . .”Well, if it isn’t Phileas Fogg,” calls out a cheerful voice behind me, and I turn sharply to see a vaguely familiar man approaching. His silvery-padded jacket donned by a hi-vis waistcoat gives him the appearance of a light bulb. “Back from your jet-setting already? I didn’t expect to see you around here for a few weeks yet.”
. . . . .We consider each other for a moment, him wearing a rather expectant gaze that hovers from genial to increasingly quizzical. Realising that he, inexplicably, must know who I am, and having always been of the nervous predilection simply to go along with their mistake in such situations, I adjust my face accordingly and mutter something about its nice to see him again, how’s the weather holding up, you know.
. . . . .”I’ve just done a coat on the lines, so I hope it does hold up!” He seems to think this is terribly funny, so I smile along, but his eyes narrow even as he guffaws like a oaf. After a moment of silence, he clears his throat with a gruff cough. “So, did you need anything from inside?”
. . . . .”Need anything?”
. . . . .”Yeah. I can let you in if you like?” He jabs his thumb towards a bright orange metal door towards the south stand.
. . . . .”Um, no, thank you, that’s alright. I was just…” Just what? “Just looking, that’s all.”
. . . . .He nods and takes his leave, but not without a couple of narrow glances over his shoulder at me, as though looking for an answer to a question he hasn’t quite formulated yet. Odd fellow. Odd place, in fact. I fumble for my keys as I walk back to my car. Bigger than I expected, I think with one last glance around – the ground, not the groundskeeper. Bigger stadium, bigger car park even, for a non-league club at least. Very odd indeed.


Great work. Wales are off to the World Cup! Success seems to follow you around wherever you go. :D Sometimes you're forced to make decisions that may go against popular opinion, in this case picking Broadhead ahead of Vale, but when they pay off like they did, it's definitely worth it and soon forgotten about.

With promotion to the Premier League comes increased demand and I think it's only natural to expect there will be expansions to the ground. It needs to look inviting and suitable for top-flight football after all.
FMM Story
S6E1 – Summer 2025

(Leamington FC, Premier League)

OUT – £725’000 – Attacking Midfielder, Ross Tumilty to Barnsley
OUT – Released – Winger, Finn Bonfield
OUT – Released – Attacking Midfielder, Wilson Killip

IN – £2’300’000 – Defensive Midfielder, Teddy Marriott from Wigan Athletic
IN – £1’500’000 – Central Defender, Michael Tooth from Crewe Alexandra
IN – £800’000 – Central Midfielder, Lucas Oxlade-Chamberlain from Middlesbrough
IN – £450’000 – Central Defender, Millen Livermore from Reading
IN – £275’000 – Central Defender, Haydon Thuo from Burton Albion
IN – £200’000 – Goalkeeper, Callum Oswell from Notts County
IN – Graduate – Attacking Midfielder, Reuben Woodards
IN – Graduate – Winger, Ciaren Chapman
IN – Graduate – Striker, Mal West

Well, here we are. 5 seasons of checking the job boards and carefully building a side that theoretically wouldn’t collapse when I left it, but which practically became the most formidable force outside the top-tier for nigh on two or three seasons has reached its conclusion, or perhaps a new beginning as a Premier League side. Having wanted to go overseas for a challenge before tackling the mightiest of the European leagues, I’ve had to grow into my role and investing concern in Leamington FC; but with a decent young side and £30’000’000 in the coffers thanks to our January risks, we have the chance to do something exciting here, to make a mark. We’re not going to win the thing for a couple of seasons at least… and if we do, I might literally end this save and never play FMM21 again, because it would just be an obscene level of ease to achieve that, no achievement at all. At the same time, I’ll make preparations as I always do to earn the best results we can manage and challenge for any silverware that’s on offer, and I’ll continue in earnest to keep scouting and manual searching for prospects until my final day at the club.

So, what do we need to do to get the squad ready for the season ahead?

In between the sticks, I’m really happy with the men I have – Dillon Phillips, now aged 30, has led us to the best defensive record for three seasons running, while his understudy Brad Embleton has the potential to eclipse him within the next 2 or 3 seasons, a natural and timely progression. Spencer Cain and Callum Oswell will go out on loan for their development into (hopefully) decent second or third options; unfortunately, Alan Wootton and Cameron Adedoja haven’t developed into the players I hoped, and I will look for an out for them in the transfer window.

My defence has enjoyed a rich vein of prospects, with my focus on bringing in top physical talents with the pace and strength to bully opposition attackers. This is an area of little concern for the club, and I don’t anticipate many changes to the line-up here. Sean Neal, a 2024 summer transfer from Bristol Rovers had a great season for Farnborough in the National League South and has all the makings of a future club captain and finds his way into the first team. The only major change here is in looking to replace Jack Tucker: we’ve worked on his tackling for 3 whole seasons, but with an attribute of only 12 in this skill and 14 in pace, his dominance in the air sadly no longer justifies his place in our higher defensive line and the qualities we need to perform in that sort of setup.

Midfield is the biggest area of concern for this pre-season, as my analysis reveals that three of our usual suspects – Joe Bateman, Reece Cole and Mason Goodridge – aren’t really fit for a role in the wider first team squad, let alone a matchday one. With Bateman and Cole, it is as simple a fact as having been replaced by younger players, Reece Irvine and Ellis Jones being of modestly better ability and still some development to go, while replacements in a backup capacity won’t really be too expensive. Mason Goodridge is a more difficult decision, as he is a highly specialised and useful ball-winning midfielder; but with a higher defensive line, I don’t think we really need a player to break up play “in the hole”, with that deeper position now occupied by a creative playmaker type like Robbie Dodoo and Kayne Redfearn. At the same time, I do have an attachment to these players, as Goodridge and Cole have been with Leamington since my very first season, so it’s a decision similar to the offloading of Meade and Meredith last year, head versus heart, tradition versus creative destruction.

Finally, in attack, I’m not really sure what to make of the options we have here. For the first time in my career, we ended last season without a 20+ goalscoring attacker – our top scorers, tied on 15 each, were Championship Player of the Season Anthony Elanga, a winger, and Arkadiusz Milik, who is 31 years old. Leamington’s great hope, the alleged wonderkid David Avenell, finished on 13 – nothing spectacular, but certainly encouraging. There are goals from anywhere here – out wide, Marcus Edwards, Jodi Jones and Sam Greenwood managed 31 between them, and Melvin Hartley, newly promoted, scored 26 for Blyth Spartans last year. All this makes for a great unit, but as discussed before, the importance of one star striker cannot be overstated – and I can’t afford one. Will this be Avenell’s breakout season at the ripe old age of 19? I can’t see him getting more than 20, honestly. Elanga won’t match his 15, the other wingers are unlikely to tally up to 31, and Melvin Hartley certainly isn’t going to be on 26. So where are the goals going to come from? Avenell or no one, it seems. There’s not much I can do about that.

First Team
Goalkeepers – Dillon Phillips, Brad Embleton
Defenders – Dan Happe, Dennon Allamby, Luke Gabidon, Bobby Ormerod, Sean Neal, Jack Tucker
Full-Backs – Ethan Laird, Sam McCallum, David Watmore, Lee Monkhouse
Defensive Midfielders – Robbie Dodoo, Mason Goodridge, Kayne Redfearn
Central Midfielders – Ryan Wintle, Oliver Finney, Reece Irvine, Ellis Jones, Reece Cole, Josh Bateman
Wingers – Marcus Edwards, Anthony Elanga, Jodi Jones, Sam Greenwood
Strikers – David Avenell, Arkadiusz Milik, Melvin Hartley

Reserves and Youth
Goalkeepers – Callum Oswell, Spencer Cain, Alan Wootton, Cameron Adedoja
Defenders – Josh Ruddick, Michael Tooth, Millen Livermore, Haydon Thuo
Full-Backs – Ciaran Brennan
Defensive Midfielders – Teddy Marriott
Central Midfielders – Tariq Harfield, Matthew Boney, Lucas Oxlade-Chamberlain, Reuben Woodards
Attacking Midfielders – Jack Moore-Billam
Wingers – Peter Bastock, Kristjaan Breakspear, Ciaren Chapman
Strikers – Mal West, Saif Mengi, Ryheem England


A big season ahead. Given your success so far, I wouldn't bet against you surviving at the bare minimum this season. Good luck.
FMM Story
S6E2 – Pre-Season 2025/26

(Leamington FC, Premier League)

IN – £20’000’000 – Central Defender, Reece Oxford from Augsburg
IN – Free – Defensive Midfielder, Trevoh Chalobah from Chelsea
IN – £1’300’000 – Central Midfielder, Dennis Adeniran from Everton
IN – £2’800’000 – Attacking Midfielder, Luka Ilic from Manchester City

OUT – £1’800’000 – Central Midfielder, Reece Cole to Wigan Athletic
OUT – £500’000 – Defensive Midfielder, Mason Goodridge to Milton Keynes Dons
OUT – Loan – Goalkeeper, Spencer Cain to Warrington Town
OUT – Loan – Full Back, Ciaren Brennan to Huddersfield Town
OUT – Loan – Central Defender, Josh Ruddick to Blyth Spartans
OUT – Loan – Central Defender, Michael Tooth to Farnborough
OUT – Loan – Central Defender, Millen Livermore to Blyth Spartans
OUT – Loan – Central Defender, Haydon Thuo to Coventry Sphinx
OUT – Loan – Central Midfielder, Reuben Woodards to Halifax Town
OUT – Loan – Central Midfielder, Matthew Boney to Halifax Town
OUT – Loan – Winger, Ciaren Chapman to Coventry Sphinx
OUT – Loan – Striker, Saif Mengi to Warrington Town
OUT – Loan – Striker, Ryheem England to Coventry City
OUT – Loan – Striker, Mal West to Farnborough

And so it was that two club legends set out for pastures new, as Reece Cole and Mason Goodridge returned to a more comfortable level of football. Cole managed 148 appearances for the club over four and a half seasons, contributing a very respectable 25 goals and 30 assists; Goodridge, a deep-lying defensive midfielder, played 173 times. We haven’t yet been able to secure deals for Tucker and Bateman, but we did the business of replacing all four of these players.

The obvious showpiece signing was that of former West Ham man Reece Oxford, who left for Germany in 2018 and hadn’t bothered to actually learn German in the last 7 years; perhaps not the most dedicated player to have at the club, in that case, but with good technical attributes for a ball-playing defender and decent pace to fit into our high line. But it was the other three signings that were the real business of note – £4’100’000 for three mid-twenties midfielders with Premier League experience at top clubs (and Everton), better than the peak players they replace, but replaceable by the potential of comparable youngsters, and therefore each one a good long-term squad prospect at this level. I’m very happy with these. I would’ve liked to add a peak striker too, but the budget just wasn’t there; we considered a dip into the loan market for 1 or 2 attacking players, but there wasn’t much to add to our squad.

(2 – 1) Valencia (H) – D Avenell (1), M Hartley (1)
(7 – 1) Feyenoord (H) – A Elanga (1), M Edwards (1), D Avenell (3), M Hartley (2)
(1 – 2) Lazio (H) – S Greenwood (1)
(3 – 0) Montpellier (H) – M Edwards (1), A Elanga (1), M Hartley (1)
(5 – 0) AEK Athens (H) – O Finney (2), S Greenwood (1), A Milik (1), M Hartley (1)
(4 – 0) Bayer Leverkusen (H) – D Avenell (1), A Elanga (1), M Edwards (1), M Hartley (1)

In what is hopefully a sign of things to come this season, we had a strong and diverse series of friendlies with contributions in front of goal from plenty of sources: 7 goalscorers over 6 games against top-half European sides – from Milik, Greenwood, Finney, Edwards, Elanga and Avenell, but most surprising were the six goals from youngster Melvin Hartley. I think the games against Lazio and Valencia are probably the most telling, those being the highest ranking of the set and more comparable with the average Premier League side, and I think if I were able to finish the season on 19 wins, 19 defeats, that would be a mid-table position and something I’d be happy to achieve in our debut season.


A good set of results in pre-season that will certainly boost your morale. I think you're right to be confident about what you can achieve with signings like Oxford.

Looking forward to the next twelve months and then whatever is to come with this intriguing idea of looking to switch it up a bit!
FMM Story
S6E3 – August 2025

(Wales, World Cup Qualification, Group 8)

Goalkeepers – Danny Ward (Leicester City), Adam Davies (Sheffield United)
Full Backs – Neko Williams (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Rhys Norrington-Davies (Sheffield United), Barney Soady (Bristol City), Keelan Williams (Ipswich Town)
Defenders – Joe Rodon (Celtic), Connor Powell (Swansea City), Miles Thomas (Cardiff City), Ben Cabango (Swansea City)
Midfielders – Joe Morrell (Norwich City), Chem Campbell (Bradford City), Callum Jones (Hull City), David Brooks (Birmingham City), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest), Matt Smith (Millwall), Yevhenii Waters (Luton Town)
Wingers – Daniel James (Manchester United), Rabbi Matondo (Schalke), Harry Wilson (West Ham United), Tom Lawrence (Derby County)
Attackers – Tyler Roberts (Leeds United), Nathan Broadhead (Bristol City)

A quick update on the football today, given the routine nature of these fixtures.

There were no changes I wanted to make to the squad after an excellent outing in the Iceland fixtures; however, injuries to full back Connor Roberts and, most disappointingly, Chelsea playmaker Ethan Ampadu meant I was forced to weaken the squad slightly. I wasn’t particularly worried about this, though, as we were to face Belarus and Azerbaijan, teams well below us in the world rankings and expected in both cases to yield the three points each we need to guarantee qualification at the top of the group.

(0 – 0) Belarus (H) WCQG8 –

Regrettably, a bad performance against Belarus at home in Cardiff turned what should’ve been a triumphant international period into a cause for concern. We created very few chances, were lacking energy in our pressing game, and Belarus’ deep defending nullified our wide game, with little space for the AM to arrive late into. Fortunately, Iceland and Germany drew, so we weren’t punished as we really should have been, but this was a wasted opportunity.

(2 – 0) Azerbaijan (A) WCQG8 – T Roberts (1), D James (1)

We resumed normal business with a more assured result against Azerbaijan. We now find ourselves sitting 6 points clear with 3 games left, but Germany have a game in hand. I can’t imagine we’ll secure another victory against Germany, meaning we’ll be forced into two final cagey fixtures against these teams again, with Belarus having already taken 2 points from us at home. Still, we’re still in the driving seat here, my team are playing mostly good football, so we’ll just see how it goes once we get our best player back.
FMM Story
S6E4 – August-October 2025

(Leamington FC, Premier League)

My players were understandably nervous for the first game of this 2025/26 season: firstly for it being the club’s Premier League debut and the first time most of them were experiencing football at this level, and secondly because we kicked off against Liverpool at Anfield, shortly thereafter meeting league winners Manchester United at Old Trafford. But I wasn’t dissuaded by this tough start, as I know my squad well, have confidence in my tactics, and we’ve strengthened most areas of the team over the summer. I told the club I was aiming for mid-table, and I think this is a reasonable target, though I guess our first fixtures will give more of an indication.

(1 – 1) Liverpool (A) PL – S Greenwood (1)
(1 – 0) West Ham United (H) PL – A Elanga (1)
(1 – 0) Manchester United (A) PL – L Ilic (1)
(1 – 0) Birmingham City (H) CC2 – A Milik (1)
(0 – 0) Aston Villa (H) PL –

And I think, by the looks, mid-table was about the right kind of prediction. These were cagey results, unsure of ourselves, as any kind of promoted club can expect: taking points from Liverpool and beating Manchester United, but dropping them at Villa, and a poor performance against Birmingham in our cursed tournament, the Carabao Cup (we’ve gone out in the second or third round every single year). On the squad front, I recognised we had some fitness issues with the wide players, even with my heavy rotation in this area; I tried a deadline day signing of a promising winger, Milan Kalinic of Crotian side NK Osijek, but this was delayed beyond the deadline due to the work permit requirement (this, more than anything, gave me cause to question my decision to vote Leave… lol), forcing us to push this move back and reconsider it for January.

(2 – 0) Brighton & Hove Albion (H) PL – A Elanga (1), E Laird (1)
(3 – 0) Peterborough (A) CC3 – A Milik (2), E Jones (1)
(0 – 1) Everton (A) PL –
(0 – 1) Manchester City (A) PL –
(1 – 2) Leicester City (A) PL – A Elanga (1)

We moved on then to September, and one of our toughest months since, maybe, my first 3 months at the club. I can’t actually remember the last time we lost three league games in a row, though I suspect it may actually be all the way back in 2020, some 5 years ago. The match at Goodison Park was obviously an annoying result, but the Leicester City defeat really hurt – we conceded the decisive goals in the 89th and 93rd minutes. Even so, I’m still feeling quite positive, as it feels like these are just the teething problems of a debut side.

(2 – 1) Chelsea (H) PL – D Avenell (1), S Greenwood (1)
(2 – 1) Norwich City (H) PL – A Milik (1), A Elanga (1)
(2 – 0) West Bromwich Albion (H) CC4 – D Avenell (1), M Hartley (1)

David Avenell finally opened his account this season with goals against Chelsea and West Brom. Our scoring patterns (or problems) from the Championship carry on here, with Arkadiusz Milik the only player to get more than 1 goal in a single game, though only against League Two Peterborough. We have, as expected, one of the worst scoring records in the league, but, encouragingly, we are second only to Southampton in our defensive record – this continues our long-standing tradition of being one of the most stubbornly secure sides at the back in the various leagues we’ve climbed. If we can remain strong in this area, it’s not inconceivable that we could continue to take points from the big boys and cement a strong position going forward.

An unexpected loss of points against Belarus but thankfully you were let off the hook when the Germans failed to gain all three points too. Glad to see you flying in the Premier League with Leamington. Certainly keen to live up to the expectations you have set of simply doing more than just surviving!
FMM Story
S6E5 – October 2025

(Wales, World Cup Qualification, Group 8)

Goalkeepers – Danny Ward (Leicester City), Adam Davies (Sheffield United)
Full Backs – Neko Williams (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Rhys Norrington-Davies (Sheffield United), Barney Soady (Bristol City), Keelan Williams (Ipswich Town)
Defenders – Joe Rodon (Celtic), Connor Powell (Swansea City), Miles Thomas (Cardiff City), Ben Cabango (Swansea City)
Midfielders – Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea), Joe Morrell (Norwich City), Chem Campbell (Bradford City), Callum Jones (Hull City), David Brooks (Birmingham City), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest), Matt Smith (Millwall)
Wingers – Daniel James (Manchester United), Rabbi Matondo (Schalke), Harry Wilson (West Ham United), Tom Lawrence (Derby County)
Attackers – Tyler Roberts (Leeds United), Nathan Broadhead (Bristol City)

We come to the run-in of our World Cup qualification bid, which has, so far, gone better than I might’ve expected. Opening our account by thrashing Germany removed, in some senses, some of the pressure in the other games, as those were a valuable three points, unexpected, but which were no longer must win. We come around to Germany again, who have been predictably clinical since our meeting – they sit on 10 points, while our slip-up against Belarus leaves us slightly ahead on 13. With 3 games left, this is a nervous position to be in, as it isn’t unreasonable to suppose that, if Germany win, they have the quality to make up the relatively small advantage we have in goal difference. On the positive side, Ethan Ampadu is back from injury, and we have to take heart from having dismantled Germany so thoroughly the last time out.

(3 – 0) Germany (A) WCQG8 – D Brooks (2), B Johnson

And no further comment is really required, eh? For whatever reason, the German side were laid out in such a way as not to cope with the sort of game that we’ve come to play, and we dismantled them for a second time to pull away by 6 points with 2 games left, meaning we only need 1 more point to secure the top spot and, hopefully, a preferable group in the World Cup. Which means, effectively, we’ve already secured this, as we’re going to get at least 1 point from Azerbaijan or Belarus. I feel this is a good achievement after a difficult start with international football.

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