Altrincham F.C. - Mission: Champions League

Oct 4, 2017
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Hello. It’s been a while.

My first save on FM20 was with Altrincham, but the ridiculous match engine (missed one-on-ones, missed penalties and just general disregard for the team instructions that you set up) made the game unplayable for me and I was fully expecting to not play it again.

Only a very specific set of circumstances would mean that I came back to FM20. Like, for instance, a global pandemic meaning I was forced to self-isolate for a number of weeks/months and have nothing else to do but play FM20.

And so here we are. Altrincham F.C.

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Having not thought that I’d share this story on FM Base, you join me near the end of my third season in charge in April 2022...​
 
Oct 4, 2017
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Yasss Hampus, welcome back always love following your stories
Was honestly going to wait until FM21 because the match engine was annoying me so much before Christmas, but it obviously was just meant to be...

Couldn't agree more! The Sligo and Berwick saves were bangers (Scott Scott the Scott, anyone?). A shame that we couldn't follow this one from the beginning.
Yet on both of those saves I didn't actually win the Champions League! 2 finals with Berwick and a Europa League final and Champions League quarter finals with Sligo is the best I did. Hence the name of the story
 
Oct 4, 2017
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So, as I stated in the last post, I’m currently in April 2022 and have just signed a new contract until 2024.

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But enough about the present. Here’s a recap of our last two seasons.

2019/20 - National League North - 7th Position

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League: Finished 7th - Knocked out by Chester in Playoff 1st Round
FA Cup: Lost 2-1 to Southend in the 1st Round
FA Trophy: Knocked out in 3rd Qualifying Round by Blyth

We weren’t expected to get promoted so a 7th place finish was decent although it was harsh to get knocked out by Chester on penalties in the playoffs.

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2020/21 - National League North - 1st Position

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League: Champions!
FA Cup: Lost 1-0 to Port Vale in 1st Round
FA Trophy: Lost 3rd Qualifying Round to Gateshead

We won the league on goal difference in our second season in charge. Having unlimited loans helped but it meant a massive overhaul was needed for the next season…

5th April 2022

The massive overhaul happened and this is the current situation in our first season in the National League.

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We are top by 4 points although Chesterfield have a game in hand.

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The reason we are top is because of shrewd transfers in the summer and the fact that we have Tyrone O’Neill on loan from Middlesbrough. 22 goals in 39 games.

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So yeah, you join me as I’m on the brink of getting semi-professional Altrincham into League Two. What could possibly go wrong?​
 
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We had 4 games remaining and the first was against 4th position Aldershot who had the top scorer and best player in the league Timmy Abraham (brother of Tammy).

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I was a bit worried going into the game, but it turns out I didn't need to be.

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A Connor Stanley hattrick did the job in the end.

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He has been with us since the start of last season after being released by Man United and could still do a job for us in League 2 if we get there.

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The victory over Aldershot was made sweeter by the fact that Chesterfield lost their game in hand. So with 3 games in the league remaining, we were 4 points ahead.

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So another 3-0 win, this time against Macclesfield, went down a treat.

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With 2 games remaining, it was between us and Cambridge United.

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A win away against Notts County would give us the National League title. However, the game was defined by 3 minutes.

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Our centre back decided to get sent off, so we had to bring on our only defender off the bench. Then our left-back decided to get injured, so we had to play a left-winger at left-back. Naturally, we lost game.

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A win in our final game would still get us promoted though. It was at home against already relegated Hereford and started swimmingly.

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1-0 down after 2 mins, the bottle job was on. But thankfully our young side held their nerve.

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We’ve done it! We’ve earned back to back promotions and Altrincham are promoted to the Football League!


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Oct 4, 2017
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Our first season in the National League turned out to be our only season in the National League as we went up as champions at the first time of asking!

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That was despite having the 4th lowest salary in the league.

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We had a tiny squad this season but the players available to us did the job.

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Along with top scorer O’Neill, Max Sheaf was one of our best performers of the campaign and we’ll be looking to get him in when his contract at Hull expires in the summer.

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Part of our success was down to getting some good players for free from the youth squads of Premier League clubs. Vitezslav Jaros and Kwaku Oduroh were 2 of those and both are already wanted by bigger clubs.

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As good as they’ve done for us this season, the current squad won’t keep us in League 2 next year so a big transfer window awaits as we go into our first season as a professional club.​
 
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The 2022/23 season is upon us and Altrincham are in League Two. A lot of transfers have been made and there are still a few loans signings still to be made.

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Once again I’ve raided the under-23 teams of Premier League clubs to pick up a lot of good players on free transfers. They include Aaron O’Driscoll and James Olayinka.

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Doing it this way means that we have a very competitive squad, but almost all of these young players would only sign if they could have a release clause in their contract. So if they do well then they could be off to bigger clubs.

Still, the signings mean we’re predicted to finish 11th and we still have space for 4 loan signings which could add some real quality to the side.

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Our first game as a professional side is away against Hull in the League Cup before we face Swindon in our first league game.

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The plan has always been to stay up this season and get promoted next season, but with a couple of quality loan signings who knows what we could achieve this campaign.​
 
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Our first game as a professional club was away against League One Hull City in the EFL/Carabao Cup. Nothing was expected from the game and nothing was achieved.

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It was nice for Callum King-Harmes to score the first goal for us as a professional side as he’s one of our longest serving players

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Next up was Swindon away in our first league game. Right-back Zak Swanson was making his debut in the game after his Arsenal contract expired in the summer.

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So he celebrated it by getting sent off after 19 minutes.

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Yet that didn’t stop us.

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It was a brilliant win. Tyrone O’Neill scores no matter what division we’re in and James Olayinka scored a screamer to consolidate the points.

We have also made the first of our loan signings. For some reason Mitko Mitkov (great name) has decided to join us on loan from Leeds despite being Championship quality.

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The signings we’ve made mean that we are now predicted to finish 2nd

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The top 3 automatically get promoted so there’s a possibility that we could get back-to-back-to-back promotions. Just the 45 games to go…​
 
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We are 7 games into the season and it is going well.

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We’re in 5th position having won 4 of our opening 7 games.

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I’m a bit confused as to what constitutes a good season for us considering that we’re now predicted to finish in the top 2 due to the signings we’ve made.

Those loan signings include left back Dominic Thompson from Brentford and Jean-Pierre Tiéhi from Fulham, who looks far too good for League Two

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Tyrone O’Neill had a 4 star rating at the start of the season but that is now all of a sudden 2.5 stars. I think that owes to just how good our signings have been.

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So it’s going to be interesting to see what the next few months hold for us. They’re going to determine if we’re in for another promotion push or on for mid-table mediocrity, which I’d still be more than happy to take.​
 
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In the previous post I questioned whether we’d be in for a mid-table borefest or a promotion push this season. It turns out it’s very much the latter… Just look at our form in September and October!

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It means we are top of League 2 by 3 points after 18 games.

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It’s not as if we have a complex tactic that’s overwhelming teams, I honestly think it’s just the signings we’ve made. I much prefer spending time trying to find the best players to buy rather than perfecting the tactic.

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David Parkhouse was signed as a backup striker after his Sheffield United contract expired, but he now has 5 goals in 6 starts so has displaced Tyrone O’Neill in the side.

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Timi Sobowale and Charlie Savage are other examples of players who are playing an important part after we signed them for free in the summer (from Man Utd and Man City)

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But my favourite player is James Olayinka, who is our joint top-scorer with 6 goals despite being a box-to-box midfielder. All of his goals have been from outside the area.

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Next up we have Halifax Town in the FA Cup and considering the form we’re in I’m hoping we can get to the 3rd round of the competition at least.​
 
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November was an interesting month for us as we continued our brilliant league form and had a kind draw in the 2nd round of the FA Cup at home against Lincoln. So of course we were knocked out by them after bottling a 2-0 lead even though we’re above them in the league.

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We also finished 3rd in our Mickey Mouse cup group, but I cannot overstate how little I care about the competition.

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It meant that from December, all that was remaining for us in the season was our league games

We are now in February...

We. Cannot. Stop. Winning.

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It’s honestly getting a bit ridiculous now. After 30 games we are 19 points above fourth position.

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It’s hard to believe how well we’re doing considering this time 2 years ago we were in the Vanarama North. We just constantly find a way to win and showed how good we were by dominating Solihull Moors in a 6-0 victory.

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Despite the domination, our 3rd choice centre back Tom Clayton was unhappy with his playing time so I decided to cash in on £250,000 for him, which is the record for Altrincham

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His replacement will be Ryan Shotton who significantly boosts the average age of the squad but is only contracted for 6 months so the deal made sense.

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He joins the club he was on loan at in the 2007/08… the very same club who are about to get back-to-back-to-back promotions. There is no way that we’re not going to get promoted to League One this season!​
 
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I’m still in disbelief about how easy this season has been for us and how dominant we’ve been.

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The fact we have only lost 4 out of our 37 league games is ridiculous and it is only a matter of time before we get promoted.

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I was concerned about losing out the title to Colchester but after winning our game in hand, we’re now 7 points clear of them.

It truly has been a team effort with players like Tyrese Fornah (8 goals 3 assists) and Aaron O’Driscoll providing a solid spine in the team.

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Which allows players like Mitko Mitkov and David Parkhouse to produce the goods.

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We also have players on the fringes that always do brilliantly when in the side. Paul Hart came on a free from Arsenal and has 4 goals this season in 10 starts and 14 sub appearances.

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And Callum Wright, who wasn’t even first choice last season in the National League, is performing out of his skin this season. He has 3 goals and is averaging 7.23 in 17 league appearances for us this season.

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This is all with us having the 22rd highest salary in the league.

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We go into our final 9 league games needing 5 points to confirm promotion… but with promotion a given, the focus now is on sealing the League Two title.​
 
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A 3-1 win at home against Newport meant that if we won our next game against Cheltenham, then promotion would be confirmed.

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And we did just that.

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We have been far too good for League Two this season. I can’t quite believe it’s the middle of March and we’re promoted.

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With 7 games remaining, the focus was now on getting promoted as champions. So what better way to start with a game against 2nd placed Colchester.

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16 points clear with 6 games to go, I think it was fair to say that we would be going up as champions.

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And that was confirmed with 5 games to go

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The only thing left to do was to beat the league record of 102 points, which was achieved by Swindon in 1986.

And that was done with 2 games to go.

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What a ridiculous season, in the end we got 111 points.

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The fact we won 35 of our league games is mad. What a season!​
 

leckuno

Member
Jan 26, 2017
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Great season there. Wonder if you'll have the same effect on League One next season as well
 
Oct 4, 2017
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Great season there. Wonder if you'll have the same effect on League One next season as well
Don't know about you but I'm finding the lower leagues in England to be far easier than they were before. To be fair the last lower league save I did in England was on FM16 but I can't believe how easy it's been since getting promoted from the Vanarama North
 
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