Bristol City - It's Coming Home

zacram

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Nov 11, 2014
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I was a little reluctant to start writing a new save as I've been rather busy lately and struggled to get into a save in FM21 since my early Wrexham one. However, having slowly been slugging away at a new career I thought I'd share my last attempt at actually winning some top tier silverware in this year's edition.

So I will be replicating my usual one nationality saves, but returning to my roots and giving it a crack back in England. I did do this at the end of last year but actually found it a little easy starting with my Leicester side (https://fm-base.co.uk/threads/leicester-city-foxes-become-lions.163650/), so have decided to give it a crack with Bristol City instead.





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Having just moved to Bristol recently I thought they'd be a good team to start this challenge with, and they actually had a really good core squad of English players to make the transition easier. Now I have actually already played 18 months into this save already so I shall quickly do a quick recap of the current situation.


We managed to secure promotion to the Premiership in our first season, having battled our way through the playoffs. Had Norwich not picked up an early red, they probably would have beaten us, but luck was on our side that day and we manage make it to the promised land after a good season whereby I bought in no new players.


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We are now at the 1st January 2022 and struggling to keep our heads above water in the Premier League having not won a game in our past 11 fixtures. I anticipated a relegation scrap this season and avoiding relegation is our only real objective this season, whilst establishing a core side of English players.




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Here is an overview of our current squad after a rather busy transfer window last summer following our Premier League cash injection. We now only have 5 non-English players in the Senior squad of which Kalas is the only first team regular.


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Tyrese Campbell was our big summer signing for a record £18.5 Million. Following Stoke's relegation to League One they had to lower their asking price and I decided to splash the cash on the U21 international. He is already proving to be invaluable for us this season with 8 goals in 17 league appearances and will be key to our survival challenge.

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Tom Holmes was transfer listed for just £3 Million by Reading and a transfer fee I happily paid. He is already one of our best players and at just 21 years old has plenty of time to develop further and will hopefully have a big future ahead of him with Bristol City.



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Jake Cooper was another powerful centre-back I brought in over the summer. He wanted to leave Millwall and was listed for just £3.9Million and another bargain in my eyes. I'm a big fan of trying to get the most out of set-pieces and having a 6'7" centre-back with springs in his feet is the perfect player for me.

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We still have some budget available to maybe bring in a new face, but I'm relatively content with our squad depth at the moment, so would only be signing a player if they will make a first team impact.


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That was a very brief overview of the past 18 months of the save, but essentially the story starts now, as we try and keep ourselves in the Premier League.

 

zacram

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Despite some momentary joy in the FA Cup, our miserable winless streak extended to 12 games in the Premier League. Although we did manage to secure a vital point away to fellow strugglers Brighton with virtually the last kick of the game.

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Perhaps that gave us the confidence we needed to finally end this winless streak, as we held on for a crucial 3 points against Villa. It was far from a convincing performance but 3 points is 3 points and that's all that matters


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Finally we seem to be finding some form, winning 2 of our next 3 league games as well as holding Chelsea in the FA Cup. The victory over Southampton was even more important as they are also fighting for survival in the League.

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We then put in a valiant effort in the FA Cup replay at Stamford Bridge, but couldn't pull off a shock result. Staying in the Premier League is my only real goal this season and now that's all we have to focus on.

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We fail to make the most of a run of 3 home games in the League, losing to fellow Premier League newcomers Bournemouth and only drawing with bottom of the table Burnley. Despite a 6 point gap on the drop zone we are still 11 points shy of the magic 40 mark and are going to need a couple more big performances to ensure our survival.


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We have a pretty horrendous season run in, with the current top 4 all still to play. I cant really see us getting much more than 6-7 points in these so may be relying on other results to go our way.

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zacram

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I was going to do a midway update on our season run in, but got a little carried away with the exciting news...

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We actually strung some really good performances together and had our survival confirmed with 4 or 5 games to spare. I had been rather worried going into these final fixtures but after a comprehensive victory over Leeds we appeared to get the confidence and form we needed to get us over the line.



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We finished the season on an impressive 45 points, 15 points clear of relegation that many thought would be our fate. Liverpool managed to pip United to the title, whilst Leeds and Newcastle had impressive seasons, qualifying for European football.

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Our record signing, Tyrese Campbell is the main reason we managed to avoid the drop this season. He scored an incredible 23 goals on his Premier League debut, winning the Golden Boot ahead of Salah and Werner.

Despite his achievements he still doesn't appear to be on the England radar and I may have my work cut out to keep him at the club much longer, having drawn interest from a number of Premier League sides already.


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This is our supposed best XI, although our success in the second half of the season actually came from a 5-3-2 formation. So cant really say I fully agree but it's mostly right in terms of personell.

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We did also get a couple of decent prospects entering the academy...

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Now to see how we can strengthen the side over the Summer....
 

zacram

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Summer 2022

I guess the first thing to really do is introduce the new faces we have brought into the club over the summer...


Nick Pope (£9.75M) - Now a goalkeeper wasn't our highest priority, but following Burnley's relegation he became available for a relatively decent price. Whilst a couple of better English keepers are out there I'm a big fan of Pope and believe he should be the number one choice for England.


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Rico Henry (£12M) - I really needed another LB/LWB and Henry was the best option I could identify as being both affordable and interested in joining us. He had a season in the Premiership with Brentford last year and will be a definite starter for us.


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Brandon Williams (Loan) - He comes in as a loan signing as I was really struggling to find a decent future RB. Having not been able to identify any permanent signing he will be a useful addition to cover the role for the present season.


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Jamaal Lascelles (£3.5M) - He was transfer listed by Newcastle and whilst he isn't expected to be a first team regular for us, he is a very useful backup. Has plenty of experience and a good leader.


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Jonjo Shelvey (£375k) - Another player deemed surplus to requirements at Newcastle and a decent player to pick up on the cheap. Our midfield isn't the greatest and his passing and vision will likely make him our main playmaker.


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Louie Barry (£5.5M) - A young striker with bags of potential at a relatively good price. Having only made a few sub appearances for Villa, he will get more game time with us this season and can hopefully develop into an elite striker in the future.


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So we finally have a fully English squad!

It is currently rather large, despite being well under our wage budget and am desperately trying to ship a few players on before the window closes.



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Pre-season went relatively well on the whole, but the big blow was the injury to Campbell just a few weeks before the start of the season. He was our main guy last season and with Semenyo also injured, Louie Barry may be thrown in at the deep end.

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Despite the new arrivals we are still bookies favourites for the drop. Whilst i've strengthened the squad on last season we are still not reputable enough to attract star names and need to stay in the top devision to build our name.



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zacram

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We had a very difficult start to the season, losing narrowly to both United and Chelsea, 2 teams that finished in the top 4 last year. Louie Barry then opened his Bristol City account with a brace against Stevenage in the EFL Cup.

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The injury to Campbell highlighted the need to bring in another quality striker and Ivan Toney was identified to be a suitable candidate following Brentford's relegation back tot he Championship. He did cost £14.5M but will be well suited to Premier League football and can hopefully form a formidable partnership with Campbell.


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Hamza Choudhury also joins after Leicester transfer listed him for £10.5M. As a Leicester fan I was inclined to bring him into the club and at a very good price for a young midfielder that is still improving. On paper he is our best CM and should be well suited to filling the B2B role.

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In our very next game, Ivan Toney announced himself to the club in spectacular fashion, scoring a debut hat-trick in front of a sell out stadium. He looked clinical in front of goal and already looks to be money well spent!

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Since, we have now strung together a series of impressive results, elevating us to 11th in the League and into the EFL quarter-finals. I was a little disappointed to lose to Bournemouth but cant really complain after thrashing Leicester, West Ham and Spurs!

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As hoped, Ivan Toney and Tyrese Campbell have started to form an unstoppable partnership in front of goal, scoring a combined 12 goals. Both have missed fixtures and have a better mins/goal ratio than those leading the race for the golden boot. Let's hope they can keep the form going for the remainder of the season.

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We also received our first England call-up since my arrival, as Nick Pope heads off for international duty. Whilst he didn't feature, it's still a landmark moment in this challenge. Surely Tyrese Campbell will be next......

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zacram

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Ivan Toney has been scoring for fun in the Premier League since his arrival, but despite his 6 goals in 6 games we pick up just 8 points from a possible 18. That being said, it is still a very good return for us considering our predicted finish of 20th this season. The 4-0 victory over Leeds was obviously the main highlight in this run of fixtures.

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We are closing in on the half way stage of the season and are sat comfortably 11 points above the drop zone. The form we are in we should hopefully avoid a relegation battle once again and would be very nice to beat our 45 point haul from last season.

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We did have a long gap in the season following the Qatar World Cup to which our only representative, Nick Pope, made 0 appearances. England eventually got knocked out in the quarter-finals to Italy as Ivory Coast incredibly made it to the Semi's!

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Portugal went on to win the World Cup, beating Italy in the final.

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Our final game of 2022 saw us pull off an incredible turn around and avoid an embarrassing early exit from the FA Cup. Tyrese Campbell came off the bench to score 2 goals in stoppage time to get us past 10 man Cardiff. I did start a mostly reserve side and fortunately Campbell spared my blushes.


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Toney and Campbell now top the goalscoring charts and will likely need to leave Bristol to have any chance of an England call-up....


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Unfortunately that may be quite soon for Campbell as we has a £36 Million release clause, with both Chelsea and Bayern sniffing around. I have tried to get him to sign a new deal but is currently unwilling to negotiate, so could be a rather disastrous transfer window for us if we do lose him.

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zacram

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We carried our good form at the end of 2022 into 2023, picking up points in our opening couple of games.

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We then stunned Chelsea in the EFL Cup, as teenager, Louie Barry scored the decisive penalty in the shootout. I actually thought we had the game won in regulation time, before Mason Mount smashed in an equaliser in stoppage time. Fortunately we managed to keep our heads and win a shootout that puts us into the Semi-Finals!



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Just 3 day later we faced Chelsea again, this time in the League, and this time we recorded an emphatic victory! I'm still not entirely sure how we managed it, but we are looking so clinical in front of goal. We don't dominate the games but either Campbell or Toney very rarely manage to get on the scoresheet.


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Just a week after our quarter-final victory, we managed to overcome Brighton in another shootout to book our place in the final of the EFL Cup! It was another close fixture but we were clinical from the spot once again, not missing a penalty in the shootout. We now have a shot at my first piece of silverware.


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We will be going up against Arsenal next month, a side I am yet to beat, having lost our 2 fixtures against them last season.


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Our good form continued for the remainder of January, including a third shootout victory against Birmingham in the FA Cup. Something has suddenly started to click in the squad and I'm still trying to get my head around how well this season is turning out.

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Bayern did activate Tyrese Campbell's release clause of £36 Million, but offered him a ridiculously low salary of just £28k p/w, the same figure he is currently on at Bristol. Fortunately he rejected them and no other bids were made despite heavily rumoured interest from Chelsea.

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As soon as the transfer window closed Campbell was open for a contract extension and my main priority was to remove his low release clause. His agent was insistent that a release clause remained, but this is now set at £95 Million, so is likely to deter many club.


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zacram

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Our fantastic run continues into February as we pick up 13 points from 15 - We are now unbeaten in 15 games across all competitions and really cemented our place in the Premier League!

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Manchester United then gave us our first loss since 11th November 2022 (did include the World Cup Break) in all competitions, which included an 11 game unbeaten run in the Premier League. We struggled to get a foothold in the first half and then the red card to Choudhury at the start of the second half essentially ended any potential fightback.

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Just 3 days later and we are heading to Wembley to play in our first ever EFL Cup Final as we look to pull off an upset over Arsenal.

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Unfortunately we are missing 4 key players for the final - We have a pretty thin squad as it is anyway so isn't an ideal situation to be in.

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Despite our troubles going into the game we managed to take an early lead in the game before being pegged back by a Smith Rowe equaliser. We haven't seen much of the ball in the first half but have fashioned the best chances and have looked dangerous on the counter attack.

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Unfortunately Arsenal's pressure proved to be too much for us in the end, as Aubameyang finally got a shot past Pope to win the game. It's always disappointing to lose a final, but we have defied expectations to get here and is a big learning curb for a very inexperienced squad.


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Despite the EFL disappointment, we are currently 5th in the League and in a really strong position to push for a European place come the end of the season. We have surpassed last seasons tally of 45 points with 13 games still left to play!


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zacram

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We continued our incredible season with home wins over both City and Liverpool, amongst yet another defeat to the Gunners. I'm still not entirely sure how we are continuing to pick up big results but I'm very happy to see it.

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However, we did then go crashing out of the FA Cup against Spurs in the Quarter Final. I felt pretty confident going into the game on the back of victories over both City and Liverpool but we failed to really get anything going in front of goal and fully deserved to lose.

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I was going to do a midway update but then just decided to finish the season off. The wheels did start to come off a bit towards the end of the season, losing 5 of our last 7 games but a victory against West Brom secured us a place in the Europa Conference League next season! I has expected a relegation battle, and instead we qualified for Europe and hopefully a rise in our club's stature.

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The best XI is pretty close to what I was selecting, with just a couple of changes in midfield. Campbell and Toney scored a combined 57 goals this season with 25 assists! An unbelievable return from our two frontmen. Undoubtably, I'm expecting some interest in both strikers over the summer.

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So Campbell claims the Premier League Golden Boot for a second successive year, whilst Toney finishes second in his debut season for the club.

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Campbell also went on to claim the European Golden Boot as well, beating both Immobile and Haaland for the award.... and yet still no England call-up.


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We didn't have the greatest of Youth intakes unfortunately this season, and our best prospect is Irish rather than English as well.

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We have another decent budget to use and hopefully last seasons success will draw in some bigger names.

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zacram

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I desperately needed to strengthen our RWB and brought Ainsley Maitland-Niles in for a record transfer fee of £34M from PSV. In all honesty he wasn't my first choice as other players weren't interested in joining us, but the main advantage of Maitland-Niles is his versatility. The man can literally play anywhere and makes him an extremely useful player to have in the squad.

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Joe Willock also joins for a bargain price as his contract was expiring in the summer. I thought about trying to grab him on a free but other sides were interested and £1.3M is an exceptionally low fee for a player of his quality. I don' currently use wingers in my formation but he is very adept at playing CM so will fit in the side.


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I also brought Brandon Williams in permanently as United no longer wanted him and then another fullback, Adam Smith who joins on just a 12 month contract to provide additional cover for the wingback positions.

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It was a mostly successful pre-season as I try to improve the formation that served us so well last year.


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We are no longer predicted to finish bottom, but are still tipped to be scrapping it out to stay in the Premier League.


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Nimes Olympique, a side in the French League that I admittedly have barely ever heard of stand in our way of the Europa Conference League Group Stages. They finished 6th last season and a side that we should really be beating over 2 legs.


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It was also quite funny to see Liverpool and City switch managers over the summer. City made the first move and poached Klopp off Liverpool after they won another Premier League title and then Liverpool decided to replace Klopp with Guardiola.

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zacram

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An Ivan Toney penalty with virtually the last kick of the game got us an opening day victory and newly promoted Southampton, before we battled out a bore draw with Palace.

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We then managed to secure ourselves a good away victory in the first leg of our Europa Conference qualifier, although have lost Hamza Choudhury for the next 3 months as he unfortunately broke his ankle.


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Another goalless draw against Brentford leaves us on 5 points from our opening 3 games and sitting up in 5th place.


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We then finished off the month with our best performance of the season in the second leg against Nimes Olympique, booking our place in the Group Stages with a 5-0 aggregate win.

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On paper we have an incredibly easy group, facing a Belgian, Icelandic and Kazakh side. I have vaguely heard on KAS Eupen, but not a clue on the other two and will be bitterly disappointed if we cant top this group with ease.

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As most high profile players are still refusing to even enter contract negotiations with us, I decided to splash our budget on a Youth prospect, Jake Aspin. He has some pretty solid attributes for a 17 year-old and am putting my faith in him developing into a future star.


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So this is a look at the squad I have to work with at the close of the transfer window. It's marginally stronger than last season but we will desperately need to bolster our reputation to attract the bigger names and am hoping the Europa Conference might do that somewhat.

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Tyrese Campbell finally gets the England call-up he has been deserving of for the past 2 seasons. Also good to see some of the youth players getting a chance at the junior level as well.


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Ha that Conference League group is amazing, definitely going to do a save in FM22 with a team that can get into that competition instead of constantly playing the usual suspects in the Champions League. Who did you sign Aspin from?
 

zacram

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Ha that Conference League group is amazing, definitely going to do a save in FM22 with a team that can get into that competition instead of constantly playing the usual suspects in the Champions League. Who did you sign Aspin from?
I know, definitely a very winnable European Competition!

I signed Jake Aspin from Burnley, he wasn't my first choice, but was either priced out of a deal or players had no interest in joining us. Had money to burn and hoping he develops well.
 
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zacram

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The fixtures have been coming thick and fast with the addition of our midweek Europa League fixtures. Fortunately the level of competition has enabled me to field a complete second team with a fully fit squad and rest our key players. This has helped us rattle up some good results in the League as well, only losing one game to City.

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Following a perfect October, United denied us the opportunity to better our EFL runner-up position last season, knocking us out in the 4th round. We can feel rather hard done-by, having had a better xG but still being on the end of a 4-1 thrashing.

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Following just our second League defeat of the season to the Hammers, we cruised our way into the knockout stages of the Europa Conference League, securing 1st place with 2 games to spare. This also means we go straight into the second knockout stage, sparing us a couple of additional fixtures.

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So after 11 games down in the season we are sitting very nicely in 5th place. Obviously a lot of football to be played, but with Chelsea, Spurs and City all struggling somewhat early on, European football could hopefully be on the cards again next season.

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zacram

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Despite a couple of heavy 3-0 defeats to both Newcastle and Manchester United, we picked up solid victories over both Villa and Spurs in the league. We also cruised through our remaining Europa Conference League fixtures to top the group with maximum points and a +19 goal difference. I'm sure the tournament will get tougher now, but we have a real shot of silverware when we enter the 2nd knockout stage.

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We then strung together some impressive performances in the League and FA Cup, including a victory over Liverpool. Our 9 game unbeaten run in all competitions was then ended by City, before another loss to Arsenal a few days later. Regardless, we still sit 5th as we move past the halfway point in the season and still have a game in hand to play. Hopefully we can secure another top 7 finish.


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The victory over Liverpool did come at a cost as Tyrese Campbell suffered broken ribs, ruling him out for the best part of 2 months. He is a goal machine for us and despite having a slow season by his standards, is already at 14 for the season.

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I couldn't find any players worth spending the big bucks on, as players still want to see us increase our Premier league stature before entering into contract negotiations. So I'm hoping if we can secure European football again this season we will have a big budget to spend over the summer and hopefully more interest in joining.

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zacram

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113
We lost just 2 Premier League games in our next run of fixtures. Losing out narrowly to both Brighton and Wolves, whilst picking up big victories over the likes of Everton and Chelsea. Louie Barry also scored back-to-back hatricks against Everton in the Premier League and FA Cup, which is quite the accomplishment.

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For the second time this season United knocked us out of a domestic cup competition, and once again we had a better xG in the game! It is a little frustrating but they do have a considerably stronger squad so isn't all that surprising.

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So with just 9 games left in the season we are 4 points clear in 5th and right on Chelsea's heels for a Champions League place. I cant see us overtaking Chelsea and instead will be a battle to hang on to a top 6 position, as Wolves victory in the EFL Cup secures them a place in the Europa Conference League next season.

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Our next game will be up against Norwegian side, Vålerenga in the Second Knockout Round of the Europa Conference. They actually came 12th last season in the League following their qualification as their League dates are out of sync with most of Europe. So in theory it should be a relatively easy fixture.

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Also taking a look at the remaining sides in the competition, it's only really Sevilla and Feyenoord that could be problematic and we have a really strong chance of winning the competition i feel.

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MWPlayz

Member
Jun 18, 2018
174
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Well, how's that?

BO!

I support the club, and you're surprising many people with the shocking progress! Keep it up!!