An England Save - Starting At Gloucester


May 10, 2018
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Right, as I keep getting sacked on this year's game, I decided to do a save that can't come to an end if I get the chop! This save is an England save, where I will start at National League North side, Gloucester City.


The save will run it's course and I will go with the flow. Will it be a one team save from the bottom to the top? Will it be a journey all over England save trying to reach the top as quick as possible? Will it be a mercenary save where I just follow the money as a right greedy b4st4rd? I don't even know yet....all I do know is I'm going to enjoy this one and run with it right through to FM22 no matter what happens. If I get sacked, I go again by applying for other jobs and rebuild my reputation! The aim (one way or another) is to win as much as I can and align myself with the elite managers in the day!

I start the game with the coaching badges and experience that was recommended for the level I join the game. That gives me a National B License and previous playing experience as a Sunday League Footballer.


As far as the club I take over, Gloucester were formed in 1889, but have very little to shout about in the way of trophies with only a couple of minor league titles to their name. They play their games at New Meadow Park which has a capacity of just over 3,200.


This is the club's 12th season in the National League North/South where they've only managed a top half finish twice. Can I be the man to turn their fortunes around....and even if I do, will I stay or will I just use them as a stepping stone to bigger things. Let's find out!

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Taking a look at my squad, it's easy to see that the biggest weakness is in defence. In fact, my assistant doesn't rate any of my goalkeepers or centre backs and we don't have a naturally left footed left back in the whole squad! Our two strikers are decent and I'll be looking for a way to play both of them in the same tactic. There's some decent wide players in the squad too, so it's obvious I'll need to be focussing my attention on attacking rather than defending and it may be a case of attempting to simply outscore our opponents.


I'll definitely be looking to play a target man in my tactic as Gold Omotayo is a huge lump at 6ft 4" and defences will be terrified of his aerial ability!


He'll be complimented by Matt McClure up front, who can play off him with a bit more pace about him. McClure could thrive from Omotayo's knock downs and flick ons and it's going to be important to get these two gelling up front as soon as possible.


Keanu Marsh-Brown is going to be another key player for me this year. Getting down that right wing and whipping in the crosses for the front two, I wouldn't be surprised to see this guy top of our assists chart this season.

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This is the tactic I've put together. Crosses flying in from both wings, with an attacking minded centre mid to spray the ball forward, covered by a more defensive DM. If we are chasing a game, I can push the full backs on to a more attacking role to overload the wings as well. Simple, but hopefully effective.


The tactic needs to work as my new bosses are demanding promotion within 2 seasons, which seems a bit harsh when you think the club had been struggling to break into the top half for a decade!


Oh well, at least if I get sacked it's not going to be save or story over!
I made my first signing for the club and would you believe it's an ex Premier League player! Stephen Bywater may be 39 years old, but he can still come in and do a job for us as our number 1 keeper down at this level for at least a season! His experience will be invaluable to the lads as well and I'll likely make him my captain from the off!


And my second signing was a loan deal for Luke Robinson, who joins us for the year from Wigan. He is easily better than any other left back we had in the side and when I saw he was available, it was a must to bring him in!


A solid enough pre season saw us get progressively better as the games went on.


With the league campaign starting late this season (not until October), it meant my first competitive game in charge would be an FA Cup match against lower league opposition.

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And what an introduction I made. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come! Matt McClure was the star of the show, scoring a perfect hat trick inside 12 minutes! Believe it or not, but he actually had another 3 goals chalked off in the first half for offside!


We're one step closer to hitting the board's target of making the 1st round proper of the competition.


And with the league campaign about to kick off, it's worth noting that the bookies reckon we are extremely capable of exceeding the board's target of a top half finish and even have us a relatively short odds to win the division. Clearly our strongest area of the pitch is down the right flank as both my right back and right winger make the dream 11.


And it was my right back, Daniel Leadbitter, that scored our first league goal of the season as we took an early lead against odds on title favourites, Fylde. Leadbitter then turned provider for Matt McClure in the 2nd half as we sealed an impressive opening day victory over arguably the best side in the division!


Really bad news up next though as I lose our lump of a striker, Gold Omotayo, on a free transfer. He moves to Switzerland where he will now earn £2.5k per week and we simply couldn't compete with that offer to get him to stay!

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However, Matt McClure wasn't missing his strike partner as his goals led us to two more league victories and further progression in the FA Cup!

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But despite having maximum points, we're not quite top of the league yet!

We've reached the board's expectation in the FA Cup by making it to the 1st round proper. A very good performance and impressive victory over National League side, Weymouth, should put everyone in our division on high alert this year that we mean business!

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And I celebrated with a new signing. I desperately needed to add another striker to the ranks, so welcome Mikhail Kennedy. The Northern Irish striker was available on a free after being released by Charlton and he'll provide ample competition for a first team spot.


Another comfortable win followed against Leamington in the league, before we suffered our first defeat under my management as we were soundly beaten by Kettering Town!

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It was quickly back to FA Cup action then and we had a tough away draw at Milton Keynes Dons to contend with! But we weren't as big outsiders as I'd expected going into the game and it seemed the bookies gave us a little chance here.

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And to be fair, we gave the Dons a bl00dy good game and they really had to be at their best to beat us! A valiant effort and I'm proud of my team!


Although it came at a cost as we lost left winger, Bernard Mensah, to injury for over a month!

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A mixed bag of results in the league followed as we played 6 games in 21 days - that's averaging a game less than every 4 days!

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Rounded off with a really impressive victory over a Gateshead side that were right up there in the division! This game also saw new striker, Mikhail Kennedy score his first goal for the club.


Chorley are absolutely running away with the league at the moment, still undefeated in their opening 12 games. We sit 3rd although its all pretty tight in that top half of the table!


And it's our very own Matt McClure that leads the goalscoring charts as he is the first player of the season to reach double figures.

A routine win against lower league opposition in the FA Trophy saw us through, before a couple of tough games in the league where we only managed to pick up a solo point.

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Then we'd take on National League opposition in the FA Trophy 3rd round in the form of Halifax Town. With most expecting us to lose this game, we upset the odds, taking them to extra time where we overpowered them with a couple of goals to knock them out! That's the second time this season we've knocked out higher league opposition from the cups.


The confidence boost from that result saw us string together three straight wins in the league right afterwards!

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With the most recent one seeing Mikhail Kennedy bang in all 4 goals in an outstanding performance against Farsley Celtic.


Although the same game did see us lose Kevin Dawson for 3 months. The central midfielder has featured in 18 games for us already this season contributing with 7 goals and 3 assists!

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We didn't miss him too much against Bradford PA though as we won again! Confidence is high and we were absolutely flying!


Until we ran into a Chorley side that had only lost once all season, that is!


In the FA Trophy 4th Round, we faced more National League opposition, this time in the form of Wealdstone. They were struggling down in 22nd in their division, so we fancied our chances of an upset. And we were right to, as we edged out higher league opposition for the 3rd time this season and progress to the next round.


Since Kevin Dawson's injury was announced, I've been looking to add another centre mid to the squad as cover. Danny Whitehead is the man I have brought in and he joins us on loan from Port Vale, where he's struggled to break into their team this year. He has plenty of experience in League Two playing for the likes of Macclesfield and Salford, so he should be able to shine for us down at this level.


Whitehead went straight into the starting lineup and immediately made an impact as he got the assist for our first goal on the way to an excellent victory away at Boston United.


Gaps are starting to open up in the league table now as we approach the half way point of the season. We still sit off the pace of leaders, Chorley, but more encouraginly, we have opened up an 11 point gap back to Boston in 8th and if we can secure a playoff spot this year, that will be a great achievement.

We were really out of sorts against Alfreton and a bad day at the office saw us suffer our 2nd defeat in our last 3 league games.


But we quickly recovered our form, stringing together a 6 game unbeaten run!

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A run that saw us overcome National League opposition once again as we continued our run in the FA Trophy. We are making a name for ourselves this season for being a bit of a bogey team for the clubs in the division above!

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And in the quarter final, we very nearly overcame one of the biggest teams in the National League, taking Stockport all the way to a penalty shootout after a fabulous spectacle for the supporters. An effort that everyone at the club can be proud of!


It didn't take us long to put that shootout defeat behind us though as we went through the month of March unbeaten with 4 wins from our 5 games!


Matt McClure has been simply outstanding all season and hasn't lost his shooting boots all season and has now racked up 21 league goals in 28 apps and has bagged 26 goals in all comps!


Only Jordan Cook of Gateshead is anywhere near him in the race for the National League North Golden Boot.


With Chorley still looking unstoppable in their quest to win the title, we are now their nearest rival and from here it would be a huge disappointment were we not to at least make the playoffs!

I've had plenty of success playing this sort if save, so good luck and enjoy the ride.
There's a couple of players in the youth intake that look like they might make it in the first team at some point in the future.

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Centre back, Bryan Walsh, looks like the most promising with the 15 year old centre back being a possibility to play some first team football as early as next season maybe.


And on a personal note, I was offered a new 2 year deal with the club on £900 per week. I was happy to sign and continue to work I've started here!


We went out and made statements against both Kidderminster and Gateshead scoring an incredible 10 goals across the 2 matches!



But it wasn't all good news as we lost striker, Danny King, to injury for a month!


It would be fair to say that Danny has been the revelation of the season. He wasn't even going to be a starter at the beginning of the season, but has found himself playing a major part in our campaign, contributing with 10 goals and 10 assists in all competitions this year!

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And without him in the team against York, we actually struggled to create anything meaningful and fall to a 2-1 defeat!


The three games that followed had plenty of goals for both sides though. 7 points from 3 games is good, but our lack of ability to defend our own goal is slightly worrying as we hit the run in!


And sure enough the trend continued in an absolute goalfest against Chester, where we just about came out on top!


Now what is interesting is that since my last update, Chorley have been dropping points left, right and centre and with just 5 games remaining, we are only 2 points behind them and it is truly a two horse race to the title now!


Which sets up our next fixture perfectly!!!

Absolutely gutting! We concede a late goal to Chorley and maybe our title hopes with it as well! Only 4 games remain now and they go into them with a 5 point lead over us!


In our next game, we recorded an easy victoy over Bradford, but unfortunately Chorley also won their game with ease, so no points gained!


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Next up we scraped a win against Boston by the skin of our teeth, and Chorley dropped points against Leamington. That's a 3 point gap with just 2 games remaining now...we're back in with a shout!



No, actually we're not! All hopes of winning the title are dashed with a 3-0 defeat to 5th placed Southport in a game where we were extremely dominant but simply couldn't score whilst they couldn't miss!


And we ended the regular season on a real low point, getting thrashed by Alfreton. We need to pick ourselves up for the playoffs!


The two defeats at the end there actually meant we were overtaken by Fylde and finish 3rd. Still an excellent achievement for us, but we have to look back to that Chorley game and think if we'd have won that, it could have given us the momentum to go on and win the division.


Before the playoffs begin though, we have a new signing to announce. This deal for Adam Thomas was actually done a couple of months ago, but he couldn't join the club until the transfer window opened. He joins on a free transfer from Stockport County where he has only managed 1 appearance this season!


We drew Gateshead in the playoff semi final and unfortunately for us we continued in the same vein as our last two regular league games....we were nothing short of awful and were soundly beaten! A really good season has fizzled out into an underwhelming last few games!


Our only real positive moment to take from the game was Adam Thomas scoring a debut goal.

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Despite finishing on a bit of a low point, its generally thought that we had a good season and were one of the overachievers of the division.

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I mean, I guess it would be an overachievement as I led the club to their highest ever league finish.


Our general performance stats showed that we were well above the league average in scoring goals.


Matt McClure scored 35 and it's safe to say he is one of the most prolific strikers I've ever managed in FM. He wins the National League North golden boot.

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McClure actually scored 40 goals in 50 games across all competitions! A couple of others worth a specific mention would be left back, Luke Robinson bagging 20 assists and the 11 goals and 11 assists from Danny King who wasn't even in my starting 11 at the start of the season and became an important member of the team!


In fact, McClure was actually named as the Player of the Season for the entire league!


Despite finishing 3rd in the league, a lot of players could have performed better with only McClure scoring an average rating over 7.

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There was one last award for Stephen Bywater before he retires as he picks up the signing of the season on awards night.


As far as my own future goes, I'll be more than happy to stay here for another season. Although, I couldn't resist a cheeky little job application for the Hartlepool job after they finished 16th in the National League this year.

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As I awaited news from my Hartlepool application, at Gloucester there was a takeover!


But nothing to get exctied about as the new owners were quick to announce that they'd not be investing any money into the club.

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My new boss hasn't come in with any unrealistic expectations though.


Right, time for new signings! First up is winger, John Johnston who joins on a free from Chester, where he made 31 appearances in our division last year, scoring 6 goals and getting 8 assists. A good addition!


Another player from Chester as striker, George Waring joins the club on a freebie. He wasn't very prolific in front of goal for them last season with only 4 goals, but I play a target man and he is a big strong lad at 6ft 5" and I'm hoping he will suit our tactic better than theirs.


Next up is Bradley Pearce. The centre back joins for free from Sutton United. He spent last season on loan at Farnborough, playing in the lower leagues, where he scored an average rating of 7.31 during his 34 appearances.


Lucky I am continuing to build my squad as it looks like I'll definitely be here for the season, as Hartlepool didn't even see me worthy of an interview.

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Bayli Spencer-Adams is yet to make a competitive appearance, but he came through the academy at Arsenal before learning his trade at Watford for the past two years, so he could be decent. Only time will tell with this young centre back who joins us on a free.


Another youngster that comes from Premier League roots is Abdi Sharif who was released by Liverpool. He could be a really good player for us and will fill my defensive midfield role perfectly!


And the final addition (for now) is central midfielder Cavaghn Miley, who joins from Eastleigh on a free. He played for them 28 times in the National League last season and although he struggled for them, I'm hoping he might find a level down more suited to his ability.


Back to one of our stars from last season now - After an impressive campaign last year, Matt McClure is fancied to be the league's best player again this season!

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Pre season was decent enough!

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With the league about to commence, we are among the favourites this year after our good showing last season. Matt McClure and Bernard Mensah also make the media dream 11!

King's Lynn Town were relegated from the National League last season, so they should have presented a much more difficult challenge than they actually did! A flying start for us!

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Easy wins over Telford and Braintree saw us top of the league with a 100% start, scoring 11 goals and conceding none in our opening 3 games. A perfect start!



Probably my final signing for a while is Luke Daley who comes in on loan from Huddersfield. I had no real competition for the left back spot so he comes in to challenge.


A slight stumbling block as we lose for this first time in the campaign before dropping points in a draw. However, it was against two sides that are amongst the favourites to win the division, so can be forgiven. And anyway, we very quickly put our mini bad run to an end with a couple more wins on the board!

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Which means that after 7 games, only York City with their 100% record sit above us in the league!


New signing George Waring has already matched his goals and assists tally from the whole of last season in just 6 appearances!


And Matt McClure has picked up where he left off last season, already amongst the top scorers in the division.

Next up was a game away at Kidderminster and it's safe to say we were outplayed for the first time this season and deserved nothing from this game!


I demanded a reaction from the lads and they delivered with back to back wins before a disappointing defeat at home to Spennymoor left me feeling a bit deflated again!

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Still, I couldn't dwell on it as we came up against Chatham in the FA Cup and I'm pleased to report we made light work of our lower league opponents.


And we followed that up, by smashing in another 5 goals in the league against Boston. John Johnston picking up where he left off against Chatham by finding the back of the net again.


Johnston has settled in well at the club with 6 goals and 5 assists in his 10 appearances so far in all competitions.


Three more wins followed including progression twice in the FA Cup to ensure we reach the first round proper for the second season in a row.

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And we have a very winnable tie to look forward to as we take on National League side, Aldershot.

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Especially with them struggling in the division above. Another team who are also struggling is Hartlepool....wonder if they regret not even seeing me for an interview yet?!

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Three more league games followed for now though and another 5 points chalked up as we make it 8 games unbeaten in all comps.

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We still sit 2nd in the league behind York City, who are quite frankly, running away with it!!

In the first round of the FA Cup, we dominated our National League opponents and fully deserved our win!


And we celebrated that with a big win back in the league against Gainsborough, before coming back down to earth with a bump against Farsley.

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And then we progressed in both the FA Trophy and FA Cup! It was nice to knock our league leaders, York, out of the FA Cup as we enter the 3rd round with the hope of landing one of the big boys at home!

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But we didn't get either wish as we didn't get the home draw and we didn't get one of the big teams (sorry Coventry fans).

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Three more unbeaten games in the league saw us maintain our spot in 2nd place as we passed the half way stage of the season. York still have a huge advantage over us though!

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There's no denying we are having an excellent season in the cup competitions this year and that continued as we progressed past Guiseley in the FA Trophy.


The final thing for this update is the promise of a potential golden generation in the youth intake later in the season! Oooh, exciting!

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