FM Saddler's Managerial Journey

FMSaddler96

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Feb 10, 2016
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Glad you did the next update before replying, what an end of season you had! Hopefully you can get Seager back, and maybe an experienced old head for the know how to help push on next season in the championship
Sorry was at work when I replied yesterday and just realised how brief the reply was. I think now we have gone up there are a few areas of depth we need to improve. Left wing will be one as harriot won the starting role and sims underperformed so unlikely to bring him back. Think I need a better backup across the back line and maybe an improved 2nd choice keeper so MacGillivray c a new be loaned out. Also think I need another cm, not sure whether gazo and Flanagan will be good enough in champs.

In terms of strikers my main aim is keeping Bradshaw fit and signing seager up again but also want to get a prospect backup. Someone who is good enough to add something when required but could claim the starting job in a year or two.

I've got a bit or a plan lined up for championship. First season I just want to survive. Second season I'm aiming for mid table before challenging and getting promotion in either the 3rd or 4th season. As a Walsall fan I've done this save about 10 times but never got past first season cause of how frustrated I get with it but this time round I've stuck to it and will continue to do so.
 

dporter8999

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I generally struggle to get past halfway points in a season with most teams, but seem to have found my way doing Brescia in Serie B, terrible finances, having to offload future stars to pay off debts, its a challenge right up my alley.

Good plan for the championship, last thing you want to do is do too much too early, otherwise you'll need a massive turnaround in playing staff and there is no guarantee they will gel quick enough.

Look forward to following your exploits, its the only story keeping me interested atm.
 

FMSaddler96

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Feb 10, 2016
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I generally struggle to get past halfway points in a season with most teams, but seem to have found my way doing Brescia in Serie B, terrible finances, having to offload future stars to pay off debts, its a challenge right up my alley.

Good plan for the championship, last thing you want to do is do too much too early, otherwise you'll need a massive turnaround in playing staff and there is no guarantee they will gel quick enough.

Look forward to following your exploits, its the only story keeping me interested atm.
Glad you're enjoying it! I've played through a bit and have most transfer business done as of the first pre-season game. Will get the updates done in the next day or two but looking good so far.

I tend to struggle keeping saves going long term. Furthest I have got on an FM16 save is 3rd season so this will eventually become my longest save. The longest I've ever done is 6 seasons but got bored of that a lot and ended up having 9 jobs in 6 years trying to find the right job before just giving up.

Best I've ever done in a Walsall save is end of first season but lost in play-off semi's. When I did that it annoyed me that much I deleted the save but managed to stick to this one.
 

FMSaddler96

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Feb 10, 2016
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View attachment 132427
So before going into details of signings, pre-season news and tactics we have a few bits of news to cover that have happened over the summer.

Firstly is the big news of a takeover. Previous chairman Jeff Bonser gave away the reigns to the club after a successful season and sold to Kyelan Wilson who has brought in a whole new boardroom. They opted to keep me saying they were impressed with my work and continued with previous plans which leads to the next two points...

Firstly we are buying the stadium! Yes it costs a lot of money to do so but the financial benefits of doing so will be key in the future and when better to do so than after a promotion to a division with a lot more TV money. This was originally suggested by Bonser who asked on my opinion but the new board see it as beneficial and plan to complete it by June 2018.

The next piece of news is the improvements to youth facilities. One of my philosophies is to produce youth talent and the board were happy to improve youth facilities to help achieve this. They rejected improved training facilities which could hurt us this season though.

The next piece of news is the extra coaches we are allowed. The board said we needed an improved coaching staff and allowed two extra coaches so I brought in a defensive and fitness coach to try fight for survival.

And finally is the budgets. After a successful season Bonser opted to give us some money to work with and the newbies stuck the budgets. We received around £1.5m in transfer funds as well as around £70k in our wage budget. We have gone over the wage budgets to offer deals to key existing players and currently sit over by about £3000 but I plan to ask for the extra funds later in the season.

 

FMSaddler96

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Feb 10, 2016
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So with promotion to the Championship it was obvious we would require extra quality in depth in order to battle for survival and that was key to the transfers. Firstly we will go over our outgoing deals...

View attachment 132426Honestly not much to report as it is mainly just kids who failed to impress who have been released. Roberts, Bakayoko, Kouhyar, Pooni, Jezeph, Smith, Lewis, Cela, Van, Caswell, Maddocks, Shorrock and Cockerill-Mollett are all academy players who failed to impress and push for the first team and with two new lots of youth intakes they were falling behind in terms of quality to challenge for the first team.

The only other releases in there are of Charlie Owens and James Alabi. Owens I was unsure about as he had potential but had fallen behind Zenon in terms of quality so I opted to release him. Alabi is someone I would've kept but with the players we brought in he would've been an unnecessary wage.

I didn't want to lose any players and this is why we haven't lost much. We had a few bids in for Downing, Mantom and Demetriou but all were quickly rejected. The biggest bid was £650k for Downing from Birmingham but I didn't want to lose our vice-captain.


 

FMSaddler96

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Now we go over incoming players. We needed extra depth and quality if we wanted to survive. We have a quality starting 11 but in some positions we lack the depth to cope with injuries and that would be key this season as we would have to always have a backup should a key player get injured.

View attachment 132425So 11 there are 11 transfers. All in all I think I brought in basically a backup 11, so let's take a look at who they are...

Curtis Main - 25 years old - ST - £325k from Doncaster
View attachment 132424Doncaster had just been relegated from league 1 but Main was definitely a stand out player for both years. Scoring 36 goals in 79 league games for Donny he was there main hope of survival and despite not having the technical's he will be fantastic for doing the chasing and supplying a striker partner.

Graham Burke - 23 years old - AML - £500k from Notts County
View attachment 132423Burke is a player I had been looking at last summer but Notts County refused to sell knowing he would be key to them surviving league 1 after a promotion in 2015/16. They finished bottom but Burke was, like Main, a standout player. He provided 17 assists and 4 goals in 2 seasons and as a backup for Harriot could provide a real threat from the bench.

Liam Cullen - 18 years old - ST - On Loan From Southampton
View attachment 132422Once again we raid Southampton for depth and this time we picked out a fantastic player. Cullen is one of the brightest prospects Southampton have and our scouts believe he could be a premier league striker but Southampton were happy to give him to us for the year and he is definitely an exciting player.

Jordan Turnbull - 22 years old - CB - On Loan From Southampton
View attachment 132421Again we look to the Saints for depth on loan. Originally I tried for McCarthy who made 9 appearances for us last season but the CB refused so I turned to Jordan Turnbull. Turnbull is probably the better of the 2 players and will be a solid backup for us this season.

Oliver Husing - 24 years old - CB - Free From Bremen II
View attachment 132420Husing is a no nonsense CB and that's what we needed. Early last season Downing and Flanagan made mistakes on the ball and it cost us in some situations but Husing will just get rid when needed. A big strong CB who is good at the essentials. He can also add a threat at corners being 6'4'' and has proven so having scored 8 goals in his career.

Jamie Allen - 22 years old - CM - £130k From Rochdale
View attachment 132419Rochdale just avoided the drop from league 1 last season and it was thanks to this man. The midfielder is a like for like rotation option to Jorge Grant and they are of a similar quality. For £130k I had to snap up Allen as he provided the quality in depth I keep mentioning. 17 assists in two seasons show he can play the killer ball and he is also fantastic at set pieces.

Rastko Suljagic - 22 years old - GK - Free From Stuttgart II
View attachment 132418
How we made this signing I don't know. Clubs such as Dortmund were chasing for the Serbians signature but I somehow managed to bring him in. A similar quality to Etheridge with the potential of MacGillivray I saw no reason not to sign but was surprised when we got him. There are issues with his work permits meaning he has been sent out on loan to work towards getting it for the season. Oh and when I offered him out for loan Dortmund asked for him but as a backup, I refused...

Yes you read that write... Walsall are rejected loan offers from Dortmund. Crazy!

Tom Hopper - 23 years old - ST - Free From Scunthorpe
View attachment 132417Another striker to add depth but this time it comes in prospect. Hopper likely has the quality to start but also sits 4th or 5th in the striker rankings so he will be heading out on loan for a year. In 2015/16 he scored 18 and got 5 assists but an injury ridden 16/17 campaign saw him get just 4 goals and 3 assists in 21 games. I am hoping he can move past his injuries and develop out on loan.

Pau - 17 years old - ST - Free From Novelda
View attachment 132416The crazy looking Pau is definitely one for the future. With his deal at Novelda expiring clubs such as Real Madrid and Manchester City were expressing interest but I got in there a few months before it expired to get the deal done. At 17 he has fantastic potential and will try show that on loan at Northampton for the season.

Abdoulaye Kote - 18 years old - RB - Free Transfer
View attachment 132415Kote is an exciting prospect. At 18 years old he is good enough to be backup to Demetriou and is a more attacking option than Kinsella who I will try transition into a midfielder. Kote was released by Monaco but has premier league potential so when he asked for just £500 a week I had to accept.

Archie Edwards - 20 years old - LB - Free Transfer
View attachment 132414Again Archie Edwards is a player who will come in a be the backup at full back. Edwards is a more attacking option than Hadzhiev, who I will once again try to transition to midfield, so will be perfect to backup Evina. A Charlton youth product he played 14 games in the Championship for them last year and did "okay". He also enjoyed a brief loan spell with league 2 Yeovil where he got 2 MOTM awards in 3 games!
 

FMSaddler96

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Feb 10, 2016
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Oh and there was one other transfer coming into the club...

Ryan Seager - 21 years old - ST - On Loan From Southampton
View attachment 132413
Yes last season's top scorer returns on loan for a 3rd year. I had this deal done at the end of last season after enquiring about the price to buy. Turns out Southampton still see him as a future first team player for them and wanted no less than £6.75m.

So with no chance of probably ever being able to afford Seager I extended his loan for another year. 2 seasons already on loan with us have been successful and he was happy to stay another year and the benefit of a loan is we once again pay 0% of his wage.

In 2015/16 Seager was only really a backup but got 3 goals and an assist in 20 games. After the underwhelming campaign he had I didn't plan on bringing him back but when Bradshaw got injured for 4 months I needed a similar striker to fill in and opted to bring Seager back.

Last year he fired in 22 goals and 5 assists in 42 games and was a large part of why we won promotion. I don't see him playing as key a role with the additions of Cullen and Main and hopefully the full return to fitness for Bradshaw but I do expect him to chip in when needed and add the extra goals that could keep us out of a relegation battle.
 

FMSaddler96

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Feb 10, 2016
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So with a tough season ahead I thought I'd give everyone an overview of the tactics I will be employing.

View attachment 132412This is the tactic that won us promotion last year. I always prefer playing a possession based, high pressing and attacking system. Move the ball around well and keep possession and it worked fantastically last year but it'll probably be used less frequently this season.

Also I like attacking the flanks. We have a ton of quality out wide and have seen that with full backs and wingers often getting goals and assists. This year it'll be no different as our wide players still have enough quality to add and provide goals from out wide.

We have the quality to play this on a regular basis but when we travel we will need the extra defensive cover to make sure we can stay in games. We also altered this tactic last year play a high tempo, mixed passing game which leads to the next tactic...

View attachment 132410This is a tactic I have used before but we very rarely required it in the last 2 seasons. Last year it was used to hold onto a lead in the last 20/30 minutes when we needed wins but the main time it was used was in the game against Barnsley which won us promotion.

I have confidence this tactic can work for us at this level. Once again we will look to attack out wide but move the ball quicker on the break. I still expect the pressing and that will be key to this tactic.

This is the tactic which will most likely be used most this season with the likes of Swansea, Burnley and Middlesbrough in this division so making sure we stay strong at the back will be key to the season. The only question is how a lone striker can perform without the man behind in support.

View attachment 132409And then finally we have a tactic to keep things simple. This tactic uses the most basic formation in football and plays to our strengths. Often last season we played similar to this but with a CAM instead of a second striker.

All it asks is for our full backs to get forward, to play the pressing game and to get the ball to the feet of our strikers in the box. Whilst I would ask to keep possession I feel that some of the better teams will beat us off of the ball.

This is basically our tactic from last season but simplified to this level. We will use this more often than the 4-2-3-1 until we can define where we are in terms of quality in the league. The 4-2-3-1 will be used to beat teams we should be beating which hopefully by the mid-point of the season will be enough teams to see us mid-table.
 

FMSaddler96

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So with news, transfers and tactics discussed it's time to take a look at how pre-season went before I dive head first into the first season of the Championship.

View attachment 132403So overall pretty mixed as we faced a mixed range of opponents.

Walsall 2-2 Walsall Under 21's
We were by far the better team but the under 21 side showed the quality we have waiting to break into the first team. Looking at our youth squads I'd say we have a decent league 2 team in quality so it isn't a bad result for first pre-season. It was good to see Bradshaw on the score sheet before Burke scored on his debut.

Rushall 1-3 Walsall
A fantastic performance saw us get a win in our only mid-week friendly. After the disappointing result in the first game I wanted another challenge before the tough test of Hibs. Hopper, Grant and Main all scored first half goals and it looked like we could've hit double figures but players got complacent which was an issue I wanted to work on.

Walsall 2-3 Hibernian
The result is unfair to Hibs. We were awful and I made that clear to the team after the game. Bradshaw and Burke once again got our goals but I was furious as we let the visitors walk all over us in the first half an hour as we conceded twice in the opening 5 minutes before they added a third in the 28th minute.

AFC Telford 0-2 Walsall
We played our affiliate side this time around and it was a good all round performance for us after an awful game against Hibs. The first half saw us create chance after chance but lack the clinical finishing to break the deadlock but 2 superb goals by Forde and Seager clinched the win.

Walsall 0-0 Southampton
This was the best pre-season game we had. Southampton were relentless going forward and recorded 26 shots but only registered 3 on target as we remained stubborn at the back and refused to let them get into decent positions. Whenever they did get into a good enough position to threaten though our defenders managed to push them back out fantastically.

The other positive was the fact that on the break we managed to create plenty of chances with our 4-1-2-3 tactic. Quickly moving the ball we managed to get 4 chances, 4 shots, 4 shots on target and were unlucky not to get the win. Our hardest opposition of pre-season and we get a draw.

York 0-5 Walsall
York are in a rebuild period after getting relegated to the conference in 2016/17. I expected a win but I didn't expect it to be this big. York still have a lot of quality players who are being chased by league 1 sides and even one who I tried signing.

We exploited the wide areas superbly with Morris, Harriot, Burke and Forde all getting at least a goal or assist. Bradshaw topped off his fantastic pre-season with a double in the first half. The second half saw us get the 5th before just controlling the game.
 

FMSaddler96

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Feb 10, 2016
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So I was going to wait until we had played our opening 5 league games as I expected nothing from them with tough fixtures against Middlesbrough, Birmingham, Burnley, Brighton and Huddersfield.

However...
View attachment 132393We beat Middlesbrough 3-1 at the Riverside!

Boro who have just been relegated from the Championship have spent more on transfers these last 2 summers than what we have spent in our history and they have players on more than our entire wage budget!

So when we went 1-0 up from a corner just 2 minutes in I was shocked but expected to lose the lead to the hosts quickly. However a Morris brace within 18 minutes made it 3-0 and we were cruising. We hadn't controlled possession but we were quick on the break and hit them down the flanks, as planned.

3 minutes later they pulled one back from a corner and I was expecting a come back but we actually controlled the game from there and had the better of the chances. We finished with 40% possession but we were fantastic defensively and didn't allow Boro to create any clear cut chances.

We could've finished with more goals. Bradshaw hit the post once and also forced a world class save. Curtis Main came on and got through on goal a couple of times, one of his shots was tipped over and the over was miles off target.

After one game we sit 3rd and this is automatically going better than expected. I'm not getting hopes up for upcoming games but I am ecstatic with our start and it shows we do have the quality to battle in this division and cut off any real nerves I had of an embarrassing relegation and being sacked early on.
 

FMSaddler96

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So with a surprise win against Middlesbrough on the opening day we had a league cup tie to deal with before facing Birmingham in our second league game in front of the Sky cameras. We would host Southend in the league cup, a team who were up there in the first two years in league 1 so it wouldn't be an easy game.

View attachment 132235It was a bit of a let off really. We didn't register a shot for 60 minutes forcing me to alter our tactics. Southend were attacking up the middle in the first half and defending wide areas well so I removed our full backs and wingers and switched to a 3-1-3-1-2 formation.

The use of two strikers, including the introduction of Bradshaw who was rested allowing Cullen to start, changed the game and we attacked up the middle well. Bradshaw was teed up by Morris for the first and he slotted into the corner superbly.

Kieron Morris then made it 3 goals in 2 games getting the winner with 6 minutes left. Southend's fitness let them down in the end and our fast movement, attacking style was too much for their defenders to keep up with.

Whilst I am happy with the final result the performance wasn't good enough for the opening 60 minutes and it was partly down to the tactics but the players also didn't look to care, despite going down just 2 minutes in.

And the reward for getting through to the second round is a trip to the King Power Stadium to face off against Leicester. Leicester have finished 8th in the last 2 seasons and won't be an easy team to beat but if we perform how we did on the opening day I am confident we can cause an upset.
 

FMSaddler96

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Feb 10, 2016
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Thoroughly enjoyed reading this so far, keep it up!
Thanks mate, currently playing a bit more but not sure when next upload will be. If I can't get it done today I may not get a chance for a week or two because of other commitments. Will try my best to find the time to make quick updates but can't make any promises
 

Villebear

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Aug 2, 2016
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Thanks mate, currently playing a bit more but not sure when next upload will be. If I can't get it done today I may not get a chance for a week or two because of other commitments. Will try my best to find the time to make quick updates but can't make any promises
No point trying to force an update out early, take your time and upload it when you can. We'll understand!
 

FMSaddler96

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Feb 10, 2016
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No point trying to force an update out early, take your time and upload it when you can. We'll understand!
Just want to keep relatively up to date with where I am at. After this week or so I should get a couple of big updates done depending how much of a chance I get to play. Playing through a bit now to try and get the opening of the season updated for all
 

Villebear

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Aug 2, 2016
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Just want to keep relatively up to date with where I am at. After this week or so I should get a couple of big updates done depending how much of a chance I get to play. Playing through a bit now to try and get the opening of the season updated for all
That's the most frustrating part of a story, when you're way further ahead in game than where you are on your posts. Big updates would be good, rather than many smaller ones, especially while you're busy!
 

FMSaddler96

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Feb 10, 2016
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That's the most frustrating part of a story, when you're way further ahead in game than where you are on your posts. Big updates would be good, rather than many smaller ones, especially while you're busy!
Yeah, will try get the opening to the 5th/6th league game today then do big updates when I can. If I get time to play I may be able to get up to Christmas-is
 
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