Altrincham F.C. - Mission: Champions League

Oct 4, 2017
It’s the 2029/30 season, we’ve been in charge of Altrincham for 10 years now and are about to enter our second season in the Premier League after we were relegated from the division in the 2027/28 season.

It’s time to go through my favourite part of Football Manager stories - the transfers.

Transfers Out

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We’ve recouped £47m and have only sold one first-choice player (and that was by accident).

The first transfer out was a weird one as Everton were willing to pay £10m for Lewis Black who came through our most recent youth intake. He looks like he’ll be okay, but £10m and 50% of the next sale was a no brainer.

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Next up was the infamous Julian Cordoba, who has gone on loan to Sheffield United to be their second choice left-back. He’s having a strange career and we’ve almost recouped his transfer fee with the deal.

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Later in the transfer window, the board mysteriously accepted an £18m bid for Diego Silva. It turns out that his relegation release clause from LAST SEASON was still active.

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So off he went. He was never going to be a top Premier League player but I was a bit sad to see him go after his three seasons at the club.

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A transfer I was less bothered about was Bruno Carrasco, who has joined newly promoted Nottingham Forest for £17m. It’s silly to sell him to a rival but I wanted him to leave purely because of how bad he was in our first season in the Premier League.

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Transfers In

Now for the good stuff.

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Pascual Rodriguez has joined us permanently for £12.5m from Barcelona after spending the last 18 months on loan.

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Goalkeeper Federico Panariello becomes our record signing for £33.5m from Liverpool. I’ve been eyeing him up since he was at Bristol City and decided to spend big money on him because he was young and English.

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Kimborough Bennett joins us for £23m from Arsenal. Like Panariello, he’s been on my watchlist for a while and has had his growth stunted by a big club.

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Jon Slaven joins for £10m from Celtic. At 19 years old, he’ll only get better and fills the gap at left back which we had.

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We also signed Tim Lovenkrands from FC Copenhagen for £7.5m. He’ll probably play a bit part role this season.

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And Nathianiel Chalobah has joined on a one year deal purely for his experience.


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We also made 2 loan signings. The first was Kevin Sherlock on loan from Chelsea. I’ve learned my lesson from relegation last time so when I see quality, I sign it... even if it means that he’ll get game time over our promising young players.

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And last but not least, Eiichi Sakamoto also came in on loan from Manchester City as a replacement for Diego Silva.

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Also, I had to mention the fact that Championship side Brighton splashed out £64m on someone with 0 senior appearances. Mental!

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So, that leaves us with a much better squad than last year and we are predicted to finish 18th.

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We have Newcastle and Stoke in our first 2 games, which gives us a very good opportunity to get off to a fast start.

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We were 6 points away from safety when we got relegated 2 seasons ago and I believe we have a much better squad this time around. Please Altrincham, don’t get relegated again!
Oct 4, 2017
After the expensive summer transfers, it feels like we’re spending fortunes on player wages. Yet our wage expenditure is still only the 19th highest in the Premier League.

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And we have £122m in the bank, so it’s fair to say we’re not exactly struggling with the finances.

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Our first game of the Premier League season was at home to Newcastle, who finished 10th last season. It was imperative we got off to a good start.

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So it wasn’t too bad when captain Felix Baker popped up with a winner in the last minute. We would’ve lost that game 2 seasons ago, which is the biggest compliment I could give.

Then we played fellow promoted side Stoke in our next match.

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Another win! And drink it in… for a period we were top of the Premier League!

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It got better though.

In our next match, we absolutely did a job on Man City.

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Luke Wordsworth scored with our fourth shot of the game in the very last seconds. Not bad for a back up right-winger.

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We also beat Stockport (just) in the League Cup to cap off a perfect month for us.

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And because it was a perfect month, something weird happened at the end of August…

Altrincham were top of the Premier League.

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We’re the only team in the league to win all of our first 3 games!

And yours truly was crowned Premier League Manager of the Month for what I hope is the first time of many.

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What a month!
Oct 4, 2017
According to an inbox item, there are 14 players produced by Altrincham that are playing in the Premier League. I have no idea how the stat is calculated because some of those players have only been at the club for 2 years and were signed from South American clubs...

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And our commercial income is the 18th highest in the Premier League. We’re slowly establishing ourselves as a top club rather than little old Altrincham.

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But that’s enough admin. The main news is that we have a tactic.

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Ever since beating Man City we’ve stuck with a 4-3-3 with an anchorman and it is working wonders. There was no better example of this when we smashed Wolves 4-0.

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William Murillo got a deserved first start in that match and scored, only to be ruled out with injury for 6 weeks in training a couple of days afterwards.

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But it didn’t matter as we just kept on winning. We did another job on Arsenal (Champions League winners 2 years ago) after the October international break.

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And we even made it to the quarter-finals of the League Cup after a great October and November.

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We’ll play Sheffield United in the quarter-final, so our second choice side has a chance of getting us to the semi-finals.

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After 10 Premier League games we sit 4th in the table. It’s very close at the top but to be honest the main thing is that we’re 13 points clear of the bottom 3.

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Captain Felix Baker has been our player of the season so far. He has 3 goals and 1 assist and is averaging 7.42 in the Premier League

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He’s our longest serving player and after 4 pretty mediocre seasons, he was far too good for the Championship last year and has continued his form into the Premier League.

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So 4th position at the start of November when we were predicted to finish 18th... What could possibly go wrong?
Oct 4, 2017
We’re no longer battling it out at the top of the table, but results have still been positive for us considering that we were tipped to go down at the start of the season.

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The tactic is proving to be really effective against the big sides as shown when we beat Man United at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

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One thing I’ve noticed is that we seem to be having a lot of shots in games yet only have 24 goals in 20 games.

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So I looked into the stats further and one astounding thing is that we’ve created the most chances of any team in the league!

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It’s not all down to one player but Thiago Ryan has all the technical stats to suggest he is Premier League quality, yet has just scored 1 goal from open play in 16 starts.

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I’ve started playing him on the left purely because he is too good to leave out of the team… surely?

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Whereas he has been disappointing, on-loan winger Sakamoto was been one of our best players this season. His 4 goals and 7 assists mean he’s played a part in almost half of our Premier League goals.

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We finish 2029 comfortably in 8th position with 33 points. We got relegated 2 years ago with 32 points!

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And we also have a League cup semi-final doubleheader against Spurs in January.

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So the decade started with us in the National League North and ends with us 8th in the Premier League and in a League Cup Semi-Final.

I wonder what the 2030s have in store for us!


May 21, 2013
Thiago Ryan could play on the left, right, anywhere you like haha! Absolute worldbeater

Oct 4, 2017
Thiago Ryan could play on the left, right, anywhere you like haha! Absolute worldbeater

Hahaha he's had enough chances now and Madsen has made the striker spot his own. Thiago Ryan has 3 Premier League goals, 2 were penalties and the other one was a free kick in our first game of the season!... There's only so many chances that I can give him!

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Oct 4, 2017
Our January transfer window could not have been any more uneventful. No ins and no outs. On the other hand, Man City spent £250m which is just stupid money and shows that we are a long way from competing with them financially at least.

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January was a really good month for us in the league as we continued to win games.

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We again showed our giant killing capabilities by beating Arsenal at the Emirates. We’ve beaten them, Man United and Man City away from home this season!

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And we are comfortably in 8th position. In all honesty should not finish below 8th given that we are 12 points ahead of Norwich in 9th.

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We also have the 19th highest wage expenditure in the league, which makes our position even more impressive.

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We ended up losing our League Cup semi final to Spurs 5-4 on aggregate but there’s no shame in that defeat considering that they’re top of the league.

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Annoyingly, we were knocked out in the 4th round of the FA Cup by Sheffield United. They played with 3 central strikers in the replay and we had no answer for it.

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And we finally have a striker who has started scoring! Jesper Madsen has 9 in his past 11 matches and is making sure Thiago Ryan stays on the bench.

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It would be an incredible season to finish 8th, but now that we’re knocked out of both cups I can’t help but think about a potential place in Europe next season.
Oct 4, 2017
We had a few underwhelming results in our league games in February and March until we played Sheffield United at home. We started off by scoring 2 goals within 70 seconds.

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And Jesper Madsen scored a hattrick in under 11 minutes.

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We eventually won the game 6-0, which was our biggest Premier League win…

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...until our next home match against Villa.

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We absolutely smashed them with hat tricks from on-loan winger Sakamoto and CENTRE BACK Djuric who scored twice from corners and then netted a penalty. Surely he’s the first centre back to do that in the Premier League? Imagine having him in your Fantasy Premier League team!

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Even Thiago Ryan got a goal (must have been the support from Schnauzer) albeit from a free kick in the last minute. He did finally get a goal from open play in a 1-1 draw against West Ham but I’m struggling to think of a player who has such good attributes yet struggles to perform in matches.

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So with 7 Premier League matches remaining, we are still in 8th position. Newcastle and Arsenal are 3 points ahead of us but have also played a game less so a European place is looking unlikely for us.

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We also have a decent looking goalkeeper who has come through our most recent youth intake.

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We still have to play Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham to play so I’m not holding much hope of getting into the top 7 but you never know!
Oct 4, 2017
With 5 games remaining we entered the top 7 for the first time in 2 months.

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But potential European qualification was made more complicated by the fact that Arsenal were in the FA Cup final and also in the Champions League semi-finals whereas Newcastle made it to the Mickey Mouse Europa League final.

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I spent too long trying to work out the potential scenarios in which we could qualify for Europe when the reality was that we still had to play Chelsea and Man City.

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And both Arsenal and Newcastle just kept on winning. So 8th position is what we have to settle for.

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Spurs have not finished above 4th in the save but were confirmed Premier League champions with 3 matches to go.

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Our last game of the season is against them but no matter what happens we’ll finish 8th. I think I would’ve taken an 8th placed position at the start of the season!
Oct 4, 2017
What a season it’s been for Altrincham. We ended up beating champions Spurs in the final league game of the season and finished with 69 points. That would’ve got us into the Champions League 2 seasons ago!

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Nottingham Forest and Stoke go straight back down to the Championship along with Leicester. Forest have some decent young players who we’ll look to purchase in the summer if we can.

We also created the most chances in the Premier League this season by quite a long way. Spurs created 86 whereas we created 113 so by that logic we have the right tactic it’s just a case of having the right players to get the most out of it.

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In terms of players, our squad is very promising and all the big money signings have played a major role this year.

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Eiichi Sakamoto has been unreal for us this campaign with 9 goals and 20 assists in the Premier League.

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He’ll return to Man City in the summer and will surely play a big part for them in the next few years, which is not good news for us!

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Elsewhere, Felix Baker won the Premier League Young Player of the Year.

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He had the highest average rating of the squad (7.34) and played like a proper captain for us this season. He’s been here for 6 seasons and I’m hoping he will be part of an Altrincham team that wins a trophy.

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Interestingly, 3 English teams made it to the finals of all 3 domestic European competitions this season. Firstly, Newcastle won the Europa League 2…

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Man United lost in the Europa League final.

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And Liverpool failed to retain their Champions League crown after losing to Bayern on penalties. They’ll go into the Europa League next season after finishing 5th in the league.

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The board agreed to upgrade our youth facilities in the summer, which are now one of the best in the country. We’ll also move back into our stadium next season which has been expanded to a capacity of 24,000.

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And just to prove our youth facilities are good, our under 18s won their league this season.

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We got £30m in prize money just for finishing 8th and the board have given us £52m to spend in the summer.

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It’s going to be tough to break into the European places, but that is the aim next season.
Oct 4, 2017
Before we enter the 2030/31 season I thought I’d write a post about some of the unsung heroes of the save and also find out what some former players are up to.

What prompted this is the fact that 10 Altrincham players were called up for the 2030 World Cup, although 3 are on loan at other clubs and Sakamoto will be returning to Man City.

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Federico Panariello was the first Altrincham player to be called up for England and it just so happened to be for the World Cup after his impressive season for us. He’ll likely be third-choice keeper at the World Cup but could make his England debut in one of the warm-up games.

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I’ve not really mentioned our centre backs in the last season or so but they deserve a huge amount of credit. Predrag Djuric and Adie Higginson played every single league game last season.

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What’s more impressive is that Higginson also played every single league game for us last season in the Championship so hasn’t missed a league match for 2 seasons!

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Equally impressive is the fact that these two were our starting centre backs when we got relegated from the Premier League. It just shows how relegation to the Championship was perhaps not the worst thing for us.

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Connor Stanley was a player pivotal to us going from the National League North to League One and I have kept him at the club all this time.

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He’s played in every single division for Altrincham and now I want him to score in the Premier League too. Failing that, having him here when we win a trophy or play in Europe would be nice.

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Zac Fyatt is the second longest serving player at the club and is also someone I want to keep around so he can be a trophy winner with Altrincham.

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He was awesome for us last season in the Championship but is just not Premier League quality.

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In terms of former players, I could go on forever so have just looked at a couple.

The first is Miguel Rubiano, who I was reminded of when a news item came through saying that he had missed a penalty for Real Madrid in a Champions League Quarter Final.

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But he is firmly part of the first team at the Bernabeu and I’m hoping we come up against him someday in the Champions League

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Rubiano will represent his country at the upcoming World Cup and another former Altrincham player who will be doing the same is Mamadou Bamba.

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He is a regular at Everton after being sold for a £9m profit after just 6 months at the club.

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Now for some interesting ones.

I’ll be very impressed if anybody reading this remembers us selling Shane Ryan to Aston Villa. He was the very first big-money sale we made.

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It’s fair to say Villa overpaid for him. He’s spent all his time on loan at other clubs, the most recent of which was Hibs.

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Another young Northern Irishman who we sold for big money (or so it seemed at the time) was Paul McVeigh to Watford for £12m.

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He actually had a decent season on loan at West Brom, but to get £12m for him was ridiculous.

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Finally, when we were relegated from the Premier League two seasons ago one man stood out above the rest. Trevor Dickson finished top goalscorer and is now at Newcastle.

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He went to Blackburn, got relegated with them and then signed for Newcastle who finished 6th and won the Europa League 2 last year.

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Right then, that’s enough nostalgia. Let’s make some transfers.
Oct 4, 2017
To say we’ve had a busy summer would be an understatement.

Firstly, after being knocked out by Spain in the 3rd Round of the 2030 World Cup, I was offered the England job. It might seem like a strange decision to reject the offer, but I want to win the Champions League with Altrincham, not manage England… yet.

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Portugal went onto beat France in the final with Mbappe and Aouar missing penalties.

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Onto the departures. We recouped £116m in transfer fees and didn’t sell a single player from our first-choice team.

Transfers Out

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The saddest of the transfers out was Diamantino Carpinteiro to Wolfsburg for £7.5m.

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He has been with us since League One but sadly was just not needed anymore.

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Alex Bass wanted to leave as he had achieved all he could at the club. I didn’t stand in his way so he has joined League One Doncaster.

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He’s been a tremendous servant for us, earning 3 promotions as well as appearing for us in the Premier League and FA Cup final just like Carpinteiro.

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Another player who has been with us a while, Miroslav Malashevski, has moved to Borussia Mönchengladbach for £10.5m.

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It was a case of cashing in before his contract expired but he did have 4 successful seasons with us.

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Onto the big money moves and central midfielder Michele Moresco has joined Villa for £17.5m.

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The fee was a bit low but he wasn’t a homegrown player and I’d rather give game time to our two new central midfield signings.

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Ivorian striker Alassane Sidibé has joined Ajax for £20m+ 25% of his next transfer fee.

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He’s a good player but wasn’t going to get game time and with a year left on his contract I made the decision to cash in.

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Then, on deadline day, newly-promoted Brighton came in for back up full back Pierpaolo Buonocore. They offered us £45m.

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I just had to accept. £45 is a ridiculous amount.

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And that brings us nicely onto the transfers in.

Transfers In

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To replace Buonocore, I decided to go all out and activate the £35.5m release clause for Ukranian Oleg Bondarenko. He’s only 19 but could become one of the best right backs in the world.

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Another wonderkid defender joining us is Hector Pozos for £11m from Pumas in Mexico. Like Bondarenko, I think he could become world class.

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Mohamed Houbaine has joined us for £24m from Standard Liege. He has only just turned 18 and has 2 caps for Belgium so I thought he was worth the money.

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Srdjan Radmanovac has joined us on loan from Spurs but we have an option to buy him for £30m. He’s an English wonderkid so if he progresses well I think I’ll be tempted to pay that money for him.

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Another loan signing was Romeu Firmino from Chelsea. We needed a right winger and I wanted to avoid making a loan signing as we would essentially be improving a player for another club. However, there was nobody I could find in the transfer market so Firmino will do for now.

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Other signings were Renny Betteridge (who joins from Leicester to be our back up keeper after Bass’ departure) and Ljubomir Zerjal who was signed for £10.5m but loaned out as we have 3 good strikers at the club already.

So, with all that, we are predicted to finish 11th but with Newcastle having changed managers in the summer I’m hopeful that we can challenge for 7th place.

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We have a tough start to the season playing Arsenal, Man United and Spurs in our first 5 matches.

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Hopefully we can build on the 8th place finish from last season!


May 30, 2020
Great reading! Good luck with getting into Europe. Check this for updates at least once a day! I think the relegation back to the championship may well be the foundation needed - financially and experience wise - hope to be having a crack at the championship soon myself.

You were right about L1 and L2 - I managed to go up as champions from L2 with Workington (on the last day) and now am doing a lot better than the expected relegation in League 1!

(Note the mid season friendly is something I do for unfit and second choice players as people do wonder! - I'm not totally mad! :D)
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Oct 4, 2017
Great reading! Good luck with getting into Europe. Check this for updates at least once a day! I think the relegation back to the championship may well be the foundation needed - financially and experience wise - hope to be having a crack at the championship soon myself.

You were right about L1 and L2 - I managed to go up as champions from L2 with Workington (on the last day) and now am doing a lot better than the expected relegation in League 1!

(Note the mid season friendly is something I do for unfit and second choice players as people do wonder! - I'm not totally mad! :D)
Thanks mate, glad you're enjoying it! And I couldn't have put it better myself - relegation was one of the best things that happened to us weirdly enough!

That's great going with Workington considering you were predicted to go down. I found League One and League Two easy just because it was easy to sign good players, but the Championship was a lot tougher to get out of (took us 3 seasons) and then the Premier League is another level entirely! I'm also always arranging friendlies for the under 23s so that my reserve players can keep fit.
Oct 4, 2017
What’s the best way to start a Premier League season? By beating someone 4-0.

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That win against West Ham was needed considering we were playing Arsenal and Spurs in our next two matches.

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Thankfully, we comfortably beat Everton in our final game of August to prevent a bad start to the season.

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We sit 8th in the table because of goal difference. It’s still too early to read anything into the table but newly-promoted Brighton have won all their matches without conceding!

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Elsewhere, all available season tickets were sold for the season as we enter our first Premier League campaign at the Mark Maddox Arena (after ground sharing with Bolton in our previous 2 seasons in the Premier League).

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Because they had sold out, I asked the board for a stadium expansion which they granted. At some point next year we’ll be playing in front of more than 31,000 fans.

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We currently have the 14th highest ticket revenue in the league so the expansion will help boost that too.

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And we still only have the 18th highest wage expenditure in the league despite being predicted to finish mid-table.

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Winger Kimborough Bennett was called up to the England squad for the first time ahead of the September internationals.

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He could become the first Altrincham player to be capped for England. Our goalkeeper Panariello was picked for the most recent 2030 World Cup squad but did not make an appearance and has not been called up this time round.
Oct 4, 2017
September 2030. The month where an Altrincham player represented England for the first time.

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Kimborough Bennett played in both September internationals, mainly because new England manager Nuno Espirito Santo is using him as a wing back in his 5-3-2 formation.

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After a loss to Man United in the league, a late win against Brighton (who were top of the table at the time) and an impressive Carabao Cup win against Arsenal were much needed to ensure our season didn’t go off the rails early on.

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It also left me little choice but to start Wiliam Murillo in our next game against Crystal Palace as he scored 3 goals in those games.

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He repaid that faith with a hattrick.

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Murillo is now the reason we’ve tweaked our tactic to play an inside forward on the right and it seems to be working.

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However, although it was still early in the season, our problem was that we could not find a way to get points off the big teams. That changed with our game against Liverpool at Anfield.

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We’ve played 5 of the big 6 teams in the division early on in the season and we were also unlucky not to get something against Man City.

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And considering the tough fixtures, we’ve done extremely well to be on 22 points after 12 games. We’re just two points off third!

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The Premier League holders Spurs have had a horrendous start to the season so have some catching up to do.

We’re also through to the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup where we’ll play Championship side Stoke. We made it to the semi-finals of the competition last season so it would be nice if we could go one better this year.

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And special mention has to go to centre back Phillip Djuric, who is in his 4th season at Altrincham and averaging 7.59 in the Premier League this season.

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We play 4 teams in the bottom half of the Premier League in December so it will be very interesting to see where we are at the turn of the year. There will be no mention of the Champions League...yet!
Oct 4, 2017
We are in January 2031 and have played 8 Premier League games since the last post. Our record in those 8 games?

Won 6, Drawn 2, Lost 0.

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And it means we are in second place!

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But just look how close the table is! The gap between the top 7 and everyone else is ridiculous and a few bad results could mean that we slip out of the European places, nevermind the Champions League places.

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The 4 clean sheets in December demonstrated how we have been very good defensively this season. Goalkeeper Federico Panariello has kept 10 clean sheets in the league despite missing 3 matches earlier on with injury.

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Despite the almost perfect month we had in the league, we somehow bottled a 2-0 lead against Stoke in the League Cup quarter-final to lose 3-2, which was thoroughly undeserved.

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One player that has gone under the radar for us has been Eder Claveria, who is probably the best player at the club.

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He was signed for £6.25m 3 years ago to be a centre back but, with the change in formation, has firmly established the anchorman role as his own.

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Another player to highlight is William Murrilo. Because of his excellent early season form, which now sees him on 9 Premier League goals, he has been rewarded with a new contract.

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It contained a £109m release clause because, you know, who would pay that?

Well, apparently Everton of all clubs are willing to pay that fee…

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So January could be interesting to say the least.

I’m still not sure whether we’re in a title challenge or a challenge for a place in the top 7. I think it’s both!