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Reading Royals on the Rise

A story chronicling the journey of the Reading Royals from the Championships to Champions League Football (I hope)
Started on 15 June 2021 by pancetta15
Latest Reply on 19 August 2021 by pancetta15
  • POSTS28
  • VIEWS5934
Hello Everyone,

I have always loved soccer (despite never being very good) and always played FIFA growing up. As I started getting really into watching Premier League soccer during project restart and beyond, I found myself wanting to play FIFA again. After searching around online, I found a superior option - FM21 - and over a few months, I have bumbled my way into a decent understanding of how it works.

I have tried a few saves so far, but I tend to reach a point a few seasons in where my mind wanders, I get sidetracked or bored, and I start clicking like a fool. The very thoughtfulness and caution that got me to that point is recklessly abandoned and I start trying to advance as quickly as possible. From what I have read, I am not necessarily alone in this, but I want to be better. I have found great success with posting publicly about exercising to stay accountable. I am hoping that I can do something similar here. I hope the fear and great shame of having to report a foolish decision to all of you will prevent the decision from being made in the first place.

So, as you can tell, this story is just as much for me as it is you! I hope to start the save in the next few days and then provide an update after every month that has past in the game. I have loved reading these stories and I can't way to jump in!
Hello Everyone, the save is under way and I was able to play through October during the week. Before I get started with my update, my game is letting me take screenshots, but they are not showing up under my screenshots file under FM in my documents or my pictures under screenshots. I did some googling and it seems like they should be there? Please help because I would love to provide some screenshot updates rather than just type everything!

Here's everything that has happened so far that is worth knowing:

I took over the club and was tasked with finishing top half and eventually fixing the finances. I was happy that it was only mid table because being sacked sucks, especially with so much I want to do!

In real life Reading had a solid season and finished 7th. I plan on blowing the roster up, so I will be content with my top half finish goal. There are some solid players at Reading, but anyone on a decent wage or with some value, for the most part I sold. My plan was to get younger and high potential players to grow and develop in the absolutely ridiculous grind that is the Championship. I am shooting for promotion next season (2021-2022) with a solid and young core to carry me into the Prem and ultimately into European Football.

In terms of the players that I like and/or will be keeping:

GK: Rafael is on a reasonably high wage, but he is also one of the better keepers in the league. As I want a strong spine and cannot afford to be sacked, I am keeping him. My keeper of the future is young man named Coniah Boyce-Clarke. He is for sure going places, but he is very young. I am keeping him at the club for now, but may look into a loan for the winter transfer window.

Def: Team Tom (McIntyre and Holmes) provide some youth and potential, so I am keeping both of them, and, actually signed them to longer term deals. They can also both play out wide defensively on the left and right respectively, so they provide good cover. I want to play with wingbacks and the good news is I am well covered. The bad news is neither player is mine beyond this year. Richards on the left (Bayern free transfer after the season) and Esteves on the right (loaned in) are both good options. While I will need to replace them eventually, they are here for now.

Midfield: There are other players in the midfield, I suppose, but I only have eyes for Michael Olise. He is my superstar to be, my young stud, my Obi Won Kanobi only hope. I immediately sign him for a long term deal and, at his request, include a release clause of almost 50 million. This may be important as he already has the WNTED for PSG and he is both French and Ambitious.

Striker: Joao is arguably my best player, but I am selling him and Puscas and that is that

I realize my scorched earth style has the potential to end poorly, but I want to build the team my way with a long lasting core that will continue to improve as the competition does. Through transfers out, I am able to raise almost $30 million between transfer and wages.

Transfers Out:

John Swift - Burnley 7 Million
George Puscas - Dynamo Kiev 1.2 Million (1.4 Million)
Liam Moore - Brighton 5 Million
Yakou Meite - Strasbourg $3.5 Million
Lucas Joao - AS Saint-Etienne $7 Million
Andy Yiadom - Troyes 800k (1 Million)

With that cash, I went to work. I want to play defensively sound, (I am playing a 4-2-3-1) counter attacking football as I believe I will be the underdog more often then not. Plus, I want to watch my team haul ass on the break and score goals after bending, but not breaking on defense! I also got, on my recommendation, Chelsea as a senior affiliate- so I hope to get some squad depth through free loans.

My first real action, along with seemingly every other team in Europe, was to try and sign Andrea Pappeti. He would be a very strong option for many years to come. I knew it was a long shot when I saw Man United and Arsenal among his favorites, but you miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Michael Scott / Wayne Gretzky. Believe it or not, he spoke to me! His agent made it very clear he was not super interested, but he sat down with me. Well, I threw the kictchen sink at him. I figure one thing I could offer that those other clubs could not is Star Playing time. I offered him the max salary I could and more add ons than made sense. I think if we ever got stuck in traffic coming back from Bristol he made $500 and if he shat more than 3 times a week at the team facility, he would receive $2500. But, alas, he choose United and that was all she wrote.

Transfers In:

Luke Daley - Huddersfield $375k

Very young, but I know WBL will be an area of concern in the future, so I liked him for that

Prince Henry - Bristol City Free

I mostly liked the name, but I seem to remember in the Beta he was pretty good, so for $0 I took a flyer on him for the future

Kevin Ehlers - Dresden $3.5 Million (4 Million)

A solid ball playing central defender, I like that for my tactic so in he came

Karamoko Dembele - Celtic 14.75 Million (16.75 Million)

My most expensive signing so far, but I think he will be worth it. A young Englishman who can start right away and has loads of potential.

Max Norman Williamsen- Kristiansund 9.75 Million (10.25 Million)

A giant youth who has excellent tackling ability. I also want to have him become lord of the near post corner. (Somewhere Ian McIntosh is nodding solemnly)

Sivert Mannsverk - Songdal 4.4 Million (5 Million)

The scouts love Norway and we went back for this central/defensive midfielder. He's another guy who will start right away with loads of potential.

Janis Antiste - Toulouse FC 4 Million (5.25 Million)

He checked the boxes for an advanced forward and is young and friends with Olise. What could go wrong?

Ricky Jade Jones - Peterborough 3 Million (3.8 Million)

Not quite ready for first team, but young, talented, and English

Maxen Kapo - PSG 500K

A midfielder that was cleaning Neymar's cleats in Paris. But, for me, he will play first team football

George McEachen - Chelsea Loan

More squad depth than anything else, but I also like his contract expires in June 2021 and if I like him and vice versa, he could be a good free signing

I am skipping ahead a bit, but my surprise/joy are so great for this next loan signing, I needed to tell you all now. I found that while my defense was solid, I was not scoring as much as I would have liked. So, I checked the loan list and I saw with my excited eyes, Curtis Jones. I was surprised because he actually had snuck into the first team the end of this year in real life, but I suppose the real life Liverpool is but a shadow of the FM Liverpool. Either way, I was very happy to pay all his wages, make him a regular starter, and have him become one of the 3 best players on my team.

We will get into fixtures now, but my starting 11,as it stands on October1st:

ST: Jones
AML - Ejaria
AMC - Olise
AMR - Dembele
DML - Mannsvert
DMR - Kapo
WBL - Richards
DCL - Ehlers
DCR - Williamsen
WBR - Esteves
SK- Rafael

A brief note on finances- They are not great. They are not terrible, but I certainly have not fixed them. As you saw above, I had to wheel and deal with clauses and installments to be able to afford everyone this year. I figure my finances will be fixed once I get promoted. While I figure that for next season, as you will see, the Royals are giving me reason to believe that we may be on the move!


We went up to Scandenavia for training camp and beat the bag out of some bad teams in friendlies. We won a combined 14-1 and looked good. I was happy with my tactic and rotated a lot to get some players a look and to let me get a look at some players.

We began the campaign with the Carabo Cup first round against Ipswich with a solid 3-0 win. We were better than them in every facet of the game and I was glad to see our form continue!

We then began our Championship Season against Derby. It was not pretty but we snuck out with a 1-0 win.

We then drew Southhampton (at the time 2nd in the Prem) in the second round of the Carrabo Cup. We actually led most of the game, but ended up losing in penalties after 3-3 regulation. Would it have been cool to win? Sure! Was I secretly excited we didn't? You betcha! There are already so many fixtures and as my team is so young- I fear that everyone is always tired, so I am happy to save myself a couple more fixtures.

With the cup out of the way, our focus was solely on the Champioship. We lost a very very boring game to Barnsley 1-0, but then rallied to beat Cardiff 3-1.

After September we sat 6th with 6 points through 3 games. We trailed Norwich at the top by 3. I think trailing Norwich is going to be something we have to get used to.

My future updates I hope to have pictures and do them right after I play so there are clearer and I have more relevant things to say. Thanks for reading and hopefully, in my next update, with a full month of Curtis Jones, things will be chugging along.

Please let me know any feedback you have!
November is under way we have 5 fixtures, all in the Championship

H - Preston (18th) 1-1 D

From what I have seen online, it appears that I was “FM’ed”? They scored in the 82nd minute on their only shot of the match. My xG was 3.05….. Disappointing to only take one point from this, especially at home. Antiste scored the lone goal in the 72nd minute after scoring in the 45th minute only to have VR strip it away for offsides. (I moved Jones into the AML spot, placed Ojaria on my bench, and replaced Antiste into the starting role where he resided “Pre Jones”. Jones was not cut out to be a striker, although I have my own issues with Antiste. I think Timo Werner is a hell of a player and will be for some time, but Antiste’s early showings remind me of Werner this season. Antiste is scoring whilst offside and comically missing excellent chances.) One other fun fact to come out of this match- the media has taken to referring to the squad as “Debt Ridden Reading”, so that’s fun

H – Stoke (10th) 2-0 W

This game was routine and comfortable, and I needed that for my own sanity after the last game. I decided to rest Olise and Mannsvert and thankfully, it did not come back to haunt me. The longest lasting effective of this game is that backup defender, Tom MacIntyre, went down with a leg injury- projected to be out 4-6 weeks. The media also informs me that marks 9 unbeaten in a row for us.


Some brief administrative updates before I head to the next match with Bournemouth: Brexit is happening and I am limited to signing 6 under 21 players from abroad a season. This is going to potentially be limiting to the way I want to recruit, so I must pay close attention to this. I am currently sitting in 5th and in the playoff hunt, so the board is A- happy with me. I leverage that to get them to add a scout, physio, and 2 senior coaches.


A – Bournemouth (10th) 0-0 D

This. Game. Was. Brutal. I controlled the game, dominated xG, but couldn’t score. This seems to be becoming a theme for my squad and I don’t love it. We put 10 of 13 shots on target but couldn’t do a damn thing. I tried switching to work the ball into the box from having nothing selected there. A problem prior to the switch is we love a long shot. The problem with the alternative is we get far fewer shots because we bumble around in the box and lose the ball. I immediately begin scouting for strikers with high finishing. While we extend our streak to 10 unbeaten in a row, we really needed 3 points here.

A – Millwall (9th) 1-0 W

I dedicate this win to Ian McIntosh. I enjoy his podcast and articles and the man loves set piece training/tinkering. As someone who has never set, let alone practiced corner routines, I began this season with the goal to do both of those things. It had made zero difference, until this match! Ehlers headed home a near post corner in the 88nd minute to win! I was proud I resisted to hurl computer against a wall when they drew even in the 92nd minute because VAR ultimately disqualified the goal. We again had the much better game but struggled to score. While I have been complaining about my offense, and yes it is for sure a problem, I can take solace in the fact that we have only yielded one goal this month so far. That does not really make me feel better, but it is true!

H – Bristol City (16th) 2-0 W

We make it 12 unbeaten! We controlled the whole game and Mannsvert scored his first goal for Reading, a lovely strike from just about the 18 yard box.


Overall, a solid month. We picked up 10 points from 5 and find ourselves in 3rd . We are four points behind Norwich at the top tied with Brentford but behind on GD. The two draws certainly hurt this month, especially now that we are battling for top 2 and no playoffs. They hurt even more when you consider that we had a very tame schedule this month in terms of opponent’s strength. Looking forward to December we have 7 fixtures including Norwich and Berntford in the same week. I will have to be very careful with managing playing time.

I still hope to get the screenshots working and hope I have discovered the problem. I am welcome to feedback about my posts or gameplay, so let me know what you think. Thanks!
Sorry, in the wrap up section, it reads poorly. To correct: We are 4 behind Norwich at the top and we are tied with Brentford in points, but behind in GD.
Welcome to the Big Time

December is a huge month for Reading! We have 7 league fixtures including matchups against Norwich and Brentford, the teams in first and second respectively. Before we get into the fixtures, I see that we have been matched with League 1 Oxford in our first FA Cup matchup in January. Last, but certainly not least, we will have screenshots for the January update on! It turns out it was mostly operator error, but I am excited to bring that extra dimension into the story for all of you!

A - Sheffield Wednesday (2-2) D

This game was a real rage inducer! We led 2-1 until the 93rd minute when they scored in added time. Obviously, a draw is not as good as a win, but as we battle for automatic promotion, it really sucks!

H - Nottingham Forrest 1-1 D

Well, we outshot them 25-2 and here we are. After this game I am switching to work the ball into the box because only 8 of my shots were on target and continuing to seek finishing help in my scouting missions. We conceded the equalizer in the 88th minute and I am detecting a pattern. I am also going to try and rotate the squad a little bit more because I think fatigue could certainly be a factor in these late concessions. 22nd place Birmingham is coming to town next and I really need 3 points to stop the slide!

H – Birmingham 3-0 W

Well, the Birmingham squad has money on Reading to win the league. After a Red Card 10 minutes in, we score 3 easily and then I sub off my most useful/most tired players Jones, Olise, and Mannsvert. In just half an hour, my boy Curtis Jones scored and assisted in the effort.

A – QPR 3-2 W

This game easily could have gone very very wrong. I rotated very heavily because of Norwich and then Brentford after this one. I wanted the lads at peak condition. In the process, I put in some players who have rarely seen the light of game. MacIntyre returned to action and Antiste scored 2! Holmes almost gave me a stroke when he missed a penalty in the 53rd minute that would have given us the lead, but Gibson (a rarely used player loaned in to us) came up big on a corner late in the game and that was that! We snuck by without playing Esteves, Richards, Jones, Olise, or Mannsvert.

H – Norwich 2-0 W
Well, here we are. Going into the game, Brentford sat at 1st with 42 points, Norwich had 41, and we had 39 in 3rd. We played well, Norwich held more possession, but we felt more in control the whole game. Olise, the man himself, slotted in a penalty in the 56th minute and Antiste sealed the deal in the 93rd minute after getting a beautiful through ball played to him by Jones. After this game, and a Brentford draw, we enter our game with them sitting second place with 42 points. 1 behind Brentford and 1 ahead of Norwich.

A – Brentford 2-0 L
We picked a bad time to have a bad game. They controlled play from the start and frankly, 2-0 makes us seem better than we were. I have nothing else to say here, it’s too painful, and much too soon. Norwich won elsewhere so we slid back into 3rd. Brentford 46, Norwich 44, Reading 42

H – Luton 4-3 W
This game was very exciting, but for all the wrong reasons. After 12 minutes, we led 3-0 so I dialed back the intensity of the tactic and made my 3 subs to preserve our youthful legs. After an opponent hat trick by Sagbo, we were lucky to escape with a win as they dominated play for 78 minutes. I would say lesson learned, but we still got the 3 points in spite of me, so I am pretty pleased!
Overall, not a bad month, but certainly not a great one. The Brentford defeat stings, but that will happen, they’re a top team in the league. The Sheffield and Nottingham draws really hurt and they further help to demonstrate some of our shortcomings as a team- fatigue and finishing. Luckily, we are almost at the transfer window’s opening, so I have a shot to address both. In a perfect world, I would add another playmaking defensive mid who can absorb some minutes and contribute strongly when in the game. It looks like midfield fatigue is far worse than defensive fatigue, so that is where my focus shifts. I am also looking for better finishing and another player to rotate in my top 4. There is certainly fatigue up there. In fun news, Olise claimed the Championship player of the month and so we enter January in 3rd place, 2 points back of both Norwich and Brentford who are tied at 47. Next update should be a meaty one with transfer window and January fixtures!
Was toying with the idea of doing a Reading save many moons ago. They're the biggest team local to me, so goodluck with them and hope you get them to the Premier League.
@Nerazzurri - thanks! I've definitely been enjoying it so far.

I actually tried to get a jersey from their online store and unfortunately, it said because of Brexit they are not shipping internationally!
A semi stop-start beginning to the season, but I've no doubt that once your players are comfortable with your tactics: consistent wins are on the way. There's certainly no issues with your ability to find the back of the net, which is always pleasing to see, so maybe a few tweaks defensively will see you concede a few less goals. Regardless, good luck in your promotion charge! If you need a hand with advice on how to upload images to the site, feel free to drop me a PM, and I'll be happy to help you in that regard :)
Thanks @ J_ames, I would love for some more consistency!

I did send you a message about uploading images. I appreciate the offer for help!
A Mighty Month

A simple fact of life is that some months will be better than others. January was such a month for Reading! We won both our FA Cup fixtures to reach the quarters and thus exceed expectations and in 5 league games, we got 13 out of a possible 15 points. This update will also include our transfer activity so it will be a lengthy one- buckle up!


A – Huddersfield 1-0 W

A fairly boring game overall, but despite surrendering more possession and passing poorly, we won the xG battle and the game! They did have the potential equalizer called back only 8 minutes after I took the lead, but the right call was made and we earned our first 3 points.

H – Oxford 3-1 W

Our first FA fixture was at home against L1 Oxford. This game was very very scary for a little bit. And while the last thing I need is more fixtures with such a young and easily wounded team, FA Cup pays pretty well (remember “debt ridden Reading”) and carries some prestige. Esteves straight up American Football tackled a man 8 minutes in and got thrown out with a straight red. They then scored in the 35th minute to take the lead. At halftime, things looked bleak, but I altered our formation by removing our wingers, throwing everyone in the center midfield, and instructing the squad to play through the center. We scored thrice unanswered in the second half for the 3-1 victory. In other news, Antiste logged yet another goal where he was offsides.

H – Brentford 0-0 D

If we do not get automatically promoted, this game will be one we come back to. Despite Brentford playing with 10 men the last 50 minutes and us being at home, we just couldn’t break through and create anything. Very very disappointing result

H – Coventry 3-0 W

We needed a game like this after Brentford. Essentially to beat the shit out of an inferior team, dominate play, and get 3 points. That is exactly what we did. We allowed only 1 shot on our goal and controlled 63% of the ball. We also scored 3 times (4 if you include Antiste’s offside effort). Great result at a critical time!

H – Millwall 2-1 W

The FA gods were kind to us and we drew Millwall at home. This game was tight with them having a goal called back for offsides, but we snuck a 2-1 win. This further elates my board, but everyone should relax a little bit because we see several days later that we get Liverpool at Anfield in the quarters.

A – Preston 2-1 W

An unlikely hero rose to the front today- Sam Baldock. After an uneventful game, Sam Baldock (who hates my guts because I rarely play him and was only featured in this game to attract some transfer interest) scored an absolute missile volley from outside the 18 in the 95th minute after only 3 minutes were deemed necessary. A very very luckily 3 points here!

H – Bournmouth 3-0 W

It is a tribute to both our defense and luck that we did not concede here. We scored thrice with an xG over 3, but we also conceded an xG of almost 2. Either way, a great way to close out a very very good month!


Transfers Out

None of transfers out were super exciting or, perhaps even super helpful, but here we are. I sold Southwood and Morrison because they were not in my long term plans and were going to walk for free in June anyway. I did not get great value for Southwood, but better than nothing and I freed up his wages for now. McIntyre leaving really because I had earlier on resigned him long term, but he really wanted to leave and I was able to include a 50% profit clause, so hopefully he does well and goes somewhere for lots of money later. Andresson and Lalwess are development loans whereas Laurent and Baldock are FU loans because they were very complainy and did not factor into my current plans. Laurent is a solid player, but at the time, I did not really need him, so he went out to just play more at another Championship level squad. Baldock, missile volley aside, will not be long for our roster.

Transfers In

I have very little cash, but had some wage flexibility so I could do some temporary strengthening with loans. I am really pushing hard for promotion this season because I know the Prem will fix my finances. I was actually very excited about these three loan players I brought in. I learned after the fact that the number of loan players allowed in a match day squad is limited, but that’s ok- someone is always hurt or tired and I can rotate. All three of these players help to strengthen the squad. Billy Gilmore playing as a deep lying playmaker (I actually got him earlier in the month, so he heavily featured in our run of form) is an improvement over my current players and he also provides some depth in an often tired position. Jordan Ayew is an excellent attacking player for the Championship and he will provide depth and also, I hope, some more reliable finishing than I currently have. Ben Davies is rock solid. He adds depth, experience, and talent to a defense that is now without McIntyre.


Overall a very very good month. I was happy with our transfer activities, for the most part, and we had a good Cup run and Championships results. Our main foes, Norwich and Brentford, also had good months and we sit in 3 just 3 behind leading Norwich and 2 behind Brentford. Things are really heating up down the stretch and the goal has very much become automatic promotion!

As a reward for my efforts, I am granted coach of the month. Onward and upwards!

p.s. I hope you enjoy the pictures courtesy of J_ames' assistance!
Doing very well, the story so far has been good reading. This league in particular experiences plenty of highs and lows but you look like you might be ending the season on quite a high.
@Justice As you will see in one second when I make the post, we didn't quite end the season on the high we wanted, but objectively, a very successful campaign. Thanks for Reading!
Close, But No Cigar

I was able to play a lot in the past few days, so rather than month by month, I am skipping to the end of the season. Despite such a promising season, we were unable to achieve automatic promotion and then lost 2-0 in Wembley in the playoff final for promotion. Considering we were only expected to finish top half, the season has to be considered a success. While I can intellectually accept that, it that does not take any of the sting out from being so close, so close but yet so far! If we had been promoted, I would have written a long and glowing summary post. However, as soon as the final whistle blew, we immediately began focusing on what we could/should improve and what it would take to get promoted next season. Below is a summary of the rest of the 20/21 campaign and the next post will be transfers and the beginning of 21/22!


As you may remember, Reading flew through January and looked primed to compete for automatic promotion. Unfortunately, the wheels came off in February. Norwich and Brentford began to pull farther ahead and I got bitten by the injury bug. Mannsvert went down for 7 months and Olise went down for 7 weeks in February. The only highlight was a 2-1 victory at home over Arsenal in the FA cup 5th round.

March, unfortunately brought more of the same with only 7 of a possible 12 league points. We also lost 7-1 at Anfield in the FA Cup quarters. By that point, we had fallen essentially out of the automatic promotion race.

Reading, with Olise back, although still down Mannsvert, had a promising April ending with 4 straight wins. At least as we prepare for the playoffs, our health and form were improving.

We ended up drawing Norwich and beating Huddersfield to end the regular season in 3rd with Norwich and Brentford earning automatic promotion. In the semi’s we rolled through Wycombe 5-3 and were on to Nottingham Forrest in the finals. We played poorly. So poorly that I believe I must have missed something big tactically and the game never felt as close as it ended- 2-0. Below are all the results from February through May.

Overall, a very promising season. We were picked top half/mid table and finished 4th (with playoff results). I feel confident we can get to the promised land after next season. The positive is that my young squad improved in leaps and bounds. The negative is that means almost everyone on my team has a WANTED next to their name. I have a young, talented, and ambitious group. I have been working all season with my scouts and I have some exciting players lined up if I have cash to spend. I would happily roll it back with my current squad, but that seems very unlikely. I am also trying to avoid loan players so that I can just focus on getting my own players minutes. The big clubs are circling my players and it will be very interesting to see how the transfer window plays out. Until next time!
Ahh it's a harsh way to end the season but you can take solace in achieving far more than what would have been expected. The experience will prove invaluable going into next season.
Promotion or Bust

It was a very busy transfer window. I often consider myself to be a bit of an Obi Wan, but I found myself living the moment when Obi Won looked down at Anakin’s burning body telling him tearfully that he was the chosen one right after he defeated him in pitched combat by having the high ground. In my case, I was sitting across from the mercenary thug young player Michael Olise and his shark agent when he told me he had to move on to a bigger club and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Like young Skywalker, Olise was the chosen one! After haggled on a price, I felt dirty all over and he was gonzo. Joining him in selling out is Max Normann Williamsen. MNW made amazing strides during the season beginning at League 2 level and finishing as a good player for a Championship squad (if my scouts are to be believed). He attracted more interest than Olise and both Manchester squads wanted him.

To make matters worse, the bigger club Olise went to was Nottingham Forrest. Really just rubbing salt in the wound after our feebleness in the finals. But, they gave me enough money to buy several players, so onward and upward, I guess. I played the Manchesters off of each other, but could not drive MNW to higher than $13.25 million. I earned a small profit, but losing such a promising young player hurt, especially to United. I let several players leave on free as they were not good enough- excepts Richards- I would have loved to have kept him, but that was out of my hands, unfortunately. Tetak and Nevers are talented youngsters that I already had in my youth ranks, so I sent them out on loan for experience. The other loan players- I just didn’t really have anything for them and nobody wanted to buy them, so I banished them from the kingdom for a while. Either way, I had more to spend than last season and my strategy was again to push as much of the transfers fees I owed out down the road to when my finances were better.

I am going to go through each player briefly because despite who I lost, I genuinely believe my team improved dramatically and I am excited to unleash them on the Championship.

Arvin Appiah- a young and talented English attacking player. He will fit nicely into my front 4 as a rotation player. I had actually lined this transfer up last year, but am excited to see it come to fruition.

Billy Gilmour- Nuf Said! He was great as a loan player for me and is just super talented. I was very surprised Chelsea would sell, but I made him a star player and he loved me while on loan here. I fear if I don’t get promoted, I will lose him, so there is extra incentive as I want him to be in the spine of my squad for the next decade!

Elias Machuca- A smarter and more capable ball playing, albeit it smaller defender, than MNW, I like to think the specific money used to buy him was the profit from the MNW sale.

Josh Tymon- After losing Richards there was a big gap here in the starting 11. Tymon is a solid option and his nationality of English is helpful for squad requirements moving forward.

Carney Chukwuemeka- A very very high potential option. I was very excited Villa was willing to sell and while he is staying in my youth teams to start, depending on development and injuries, he may sneak up for a match at some point.

Luis Carbonell- Another plug in rotational player for my top 4, also high potential.

Javi Lopez- Needed some squad depth at left wing back, he provides that and could develop into a solid player over time.

Pedro Bicahlo- Midfield depth at AMC. I have been happy with Ojaria and he will start there, but Bicahlo will provide both depth and competition at the position.

(Not included in this list because of timing, I also signed Wilfried Gnonto to join up in January. He may end up being my best signing! While very young, he has blistering speed and I will turn him loose on the counter. Once he arrives, we will watch his performances and development with great interest)

Heading into this season, here is how my squad will line up:

GK: Boyce-Clarke
WBL: Tymon
CDL: Ehlers
CDR: Holmes
WBR: Esteves
DML: Gilmour
DMR: Mannsverk
AML: Jones
AMC: Ejaria
AMR: Dembele
ST: Antiste


Andresson (GK)
Machuca (CD)
Rinomhota (DM)
Bicalho (AMC)
Lopez (WBL)
Appiah (AMR)
Samuels (WB)
Carbonell (ST)


In an undefeated preseason, we largely battled against Spanish/ Portuguese clubs near where we had our training camp. We also defeated the Chelsea “D” team which was fun, but no reason to get carried away.

H – Pompey 6-0 W

Really just an excellent way to start the new season. We beat the bag out of recently promoted Portsmouth. This game had a little bit of everything. Antiste made his mark on the campaign early by scoring a goal from…..yes, you guess it….an onside position! Holmes added a couple penalties coming out of swarming play in the opponent’s box. Ehlers scored on a corner and even young Gilmour got into the action with a laser beam strike from 20 yards. Antiste added one more for good measure, but an excellent start!

A – Swansea 3-0 W

Keep ‘em coming! Another dominant win. Appiah, placed in the starting lineup because Dembele came back from U21 England duty as if he had done forced marching on zero sleep for the whole time he was gone. Appiah certainly earned his money today putting in all 3 goals for the squad.

H – Cardiff 1-1 D

This reminded me of last year. We outplayed an opponent and then allowed a late game equalizer. Frustrating, but what can you do- one point is better than none.

A – Bournemouth 2-0 W

We drew fellow Championship team, Bournemouth, in our first round matchup in the Carabo Cup. A strange game overall. Neither team could really get anything going until they had a player sent off at the one hour mark. We then got two goals within the next 15 minutes. Both caused by a barrage of attacking football, although one of them was put in by a Bournemouth player. We advance to the next round- as expected!

A – Brighton 2-2 D

I was proud of the lads here. Down 2-0 at the half against a team just relegated from the Premier League away and we came flying back to force a draw. It was certainly emotionally draining as we kept getting yellow cards, but no goals, but Antiste and Ojarie struck within the last fifteen minutes of the game to get our point. Still yet to lose in league- although that sounds like a jinx if I ever heard one!

A – Bournemouth 3-2 W

For the second time in as many weeks, we play Bournemouth on their pitch. For the second time in as many weeks, we beat Bournemouth. More eventful than the last time with Bournemouth scoring twice and Antiste returning to his form with 1 scored that got called back due to his inability to judge depth. Regardless, 3 good points!

H – Huddersfield 2-0 W

This game was dominant in every way. We held them to 1 shot versus our 20 and had 60% of possession. On another day I may have been disappointed to only score twice, but on this day, I was just happy to get 3 with a rotated squad and move on.

H – Exeter (P)0-0 W

Our second round Carabo Cup match was boring. We had one goal called back, surprisingly not scored by Antiste, and that was really the only good chance of the game- on to penalties we go. In a glorious display of goalkeeping, Boyce-Clarke blocked 2 penalties of 4 and our lads scored all 4, so on we move! Far dicier than I would have hoped, but we were expected to win and we did, so good on us- I guess?

H – Watford 1-0 L

Disheartening. We outplayed them in every possible way except for one disastrous moment where Joao Pedro made us pay. After an excellent through ball into Pedro, Boyce-Clarke inexplicably charged him down. One touch later and Pedro was alone in front of goal and he made us pay. This game was also the first one we played with some league standings implications. Disappointing to have lost, but overall a solid first month of fixtures as we sit in striking range of automatic promotion.

Here is the overview:

The longer my young team plays and grows together and gets experience with my tactic, the more likely domination becomes. I really think we have the potential to run away with the league. But, only time will tell!

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