There's No Place Like Home!

Godfish93

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England Euro 2036 Squad

(Age, Caps/Goals)

Goalkeepers

Freddie Sands - Lincoln (36, 124/0)
George Collins - Liverpool (29, 5/0)
Andy Randell - Newcastle (29, 2/0)

Defenders

Sam Marshall - Lincoln (22, 34/2)
Peter Dixon - Man City (31, 91/3)
Hugo Ellis - Lincoln (25, 10/0)
Dan Francis - West Ham (31, 28/1)
Jack Hustwick - Watford (28, 7/0)
Tom Swift - Man Utd (32, 109/3)
Greg Johnson - West Brom (31, 34/2)

Midfielders

James Rose - Liverpool (26, 53/7)
Fouad Dawood - Chelsea (25, 32/2)
Ed Pullin - Tottenham (24, 14/4)
River Gosling - Lincoln (23, 4/1)
Josh Davies - Lincoln (23, 32/11)
Jason Stewart - Watford (27, 13/2)
Dave Webb - Arsenal (29, 69/11)
Mark Morrison - Lincoln (26, 47/6)
Callum Puckett - Man Utd (33, 73/22)

Strikers

Stephen Ballinger - Leicester (On Loan from Lincoln) (19, 8/2)
Taxi - Tottenham (27, 17/23)
Darren Heath - Lincoln (23, 13/6)
Kevin Milton - Nottm Forest (On Loan from Lincoln) (21, 3/5)

Group F

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Godfish93

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​Group F

We started our defence of the title with a game against Turkey. And, in true tournament fashion, my battle plans A-Z all went out the window in the first nine minutes. Turkey ran riot at the start, and we looked shellshocked. Thankfully, Taxi dragged us back into the game with two goals in two minutes. We pushed on, but we pushed too far, and Turkey took the lead once more. Davies levelled it again, and despite a frenetic second half, 3-3 it remained.

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Moving on from that disappointment, and that Webb will be out til the later stages, we took on Croatia. We made a few changes to freshen the squad, and it worked out well. Squad favourites Morrison and Swift got the goals in a solid 2-0 win, but we did lose Morrison to injury. It leaves us on 4 points, and needing a win to finish top.

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The last game of the group sees us against the lowest ranked team of the group, Bulgaria. They were one of the tightest matches we played though, and we were thankfully to Josh Davies bailing us out to the three points. The result also puts us top, as Croatia beat Turkey.

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Knockout Stages (As of 30/6/36)

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Godfish93

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Round of 16 - England vs Portugal

So, thanks to injuries and suspensions, I went into this match with just 6 substitutes. What occurred next was incredibly boring.

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We won, it's about all you need to know. Moving forward, we play Belgium in the quarters. Scotland or Germany await us in the semis, as the tournament looks set to improve in quality.

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Godfish93

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Quarter Final - England vs Belgium

So, after the boredom fest that was the Portugal match, we deal with the more vibrant Belgium. Having knocked out France last time out, the Belgians are in the mood for a fight. That said, they did finish as a 3rd place team behind Italy and Germany, so they haven't been in great form.

We go into the game with a stronger squad than last time, and nearly have a full bench as we push for a semi final spot.

Naturally, it all went to **** in the first minute. We didn't wake up early enough, and Callens slipped through to take a very early lead. We finally kicked into gear though as Taxi, then Webb struck within a minute of each of other to put us in the lead. Tom Swift heading home from a corner put us well in control going into half time.

The second half wasn't as chaotic, but a late two footed lunge from Swift will see him miss the rest of the tournament. Morrison's injury also sees him out the tournament as well.

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So, who do we face?

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Germany. Well, that should be fun then.​
 

Godfish93

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Semi Final - Germany vs England

One of the biggest meetings between the two teams in recent times,only dwarfed by the World Cup final two years ago. Swift and Morrison both miss the game, but otherwise we are back up to strength.

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In the end, it was drama of a different kind as we took the match in the last moments of the game. With close fought battles across the pitch, it was our makeshift CM Peter Dixon that popped up with a 25 yarder to win the match. It's only his 4th international goal, but by far his most important. The lads absolutely got stuck in though, with 5 bookings across the players, including all 4 defenders.

Moving on from that, we have the final to look forward to. We'll be playing Spain, who conquered Italy 3-1 aet. They are the form team of the tournament, and not the team I wanted to be playing in the last match.​
 

Godfish93

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Final - England vs Spain

So, it's time for the big one. England have won one European Championship, and are the current holders, whilst Spain have five to their name. We go in without any new absentees, and Swift is returned for the final. Realistically, the team picks itself, and is more than capable of matching the Spaniards.

We did more than match them in the opening stages, as Taxi latched on to a long ball to rifle home in the 8th minute. Two moments of madness pegged us back though, as we failed to mark up twice; Torrent and Rico getting two goals within three minutes. It was Spain's turn to lose concentration next though, leaving Taxi free in the box for his second goal deep into first half injury time.

The game became more cagey after that, with both teams conscious that any mistake could cost them the game. In the end, it took a superb run by Josh Davies through the defence to turn the game, threading Taxi through at the end for his hattrick.

With 90 minutes on the clock, we made some changes to waste some time... then immediately conceded. Dortmund striker Navarro ran clear to slot home with seconds remaining.

Extra time was even cagier, but in the end it was Spain calling the cab home, as Taxi finished yet again to put us 4-3 up, with all 4 goals for the Spurs striker. We concentrated from there, and Sands was finally able to lift the trophy again, in what turned out to be his last international match.

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After the game, we also dealt with the awards.

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So, a highly successful European Campaign for England. With the players released back to their clubs, I join them, heading back to Lincoln for the upcoming campaign. Hopefully my winning summer transfers across to them as well.

 

Godfish93

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Pre Season 2036

So, having returned home to a hero's welcome, it was time for me to settle down to business with Lincoln. Lee Bowyer had dealt with preseason before I got back, but the rest of the summer was mine to command. A selection of friendlies and transfers were the order of business.

Firstly, transfers. We didn't really need to strengthen up front, so I put a lot of focus into the midfield section of the team. With Baack and Luis Felipe both starting to age, I needed to consider the fact that I would need to replace them at some point. Granted, I had some options already in Hendriks and Sutherland, but I was keen to have further options.

Broadhurst was someone I have been aware of through England, and I am aware of his goalscoring prowess on the right wing. The fact that he was free made it even better. He'll act as cover for Felipe on the right, and will be helpful to provide competition for Gosling.

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Dresen is also brought in, despite being a natural winger. He'll possibly get trained to play on the left side, but in reality, he will challenge Morrison for the role behind the striker. The 20m we paid Dusseldorf was money well spent as far as I am concerned, with the young German looking extremely talented.

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Tsyperdyuk also has a talented future. The 22 year old Ukrainian has been on my radar for a while, but a cruiciate ligament injury set him back a year, and forced me to cancel my original move for him. More or less fully fit now, he will be the future Baack, playing in the anchor man role where needed, or simply sitting in midfield. For 24m, I'm happy to have secured one of Dynamo Kiev's brightest talents in recent years.

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We do see a number of outgoings though, including the departures of Contreras and Moreno. Both struggled last season, and in the interest of game time, chose to move on. Contreras goes full circle as he goes to Maritimo - the club I initially signed him from.

Our new partnership with Toulouse sees Amellal rejoin his former club, whilst Abad joins him for the year. Meanwhile, England striking prospects Binns and Ballinger both join Aston Villa and Liverpool respectively. They'll both have the chance to sample European football, and challenge to get into my England squad.

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Friendly wise, it was a bit of a mixture. I'll throw the Community Shield and Super Cup in there as well, as they are realistically warm ups. It would have been nice to win the testimonial fixture, but with half the team missing, it was still respectable. The Shield and Super Cup games were both a useful test of tactics against stronger teams, and yet again we couldn't defend. I'll be looking at trying to secure an experienced centre back before the window shuts.

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With the season starting, we play the opener at home to Aston Villa. Ideally, we get a quick start, and a few goals to boot.​
 

Godfish93

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August 2036

So, with the majority of my transfer business done (more on that later), we move towards starting the season. We start that with a home game against last years surprise package; Aston Villa. Naturally, the game started out fairly cagey, but once we got settled, we took some stopping.

Luis Felipe opened the scoring with a sumptuous curler; a goal that would win goal of the month. Haouchi scored his first goal after a two year spell in Ukraine, and we looked settled. Villa did pull one back late on, but it wasn't enough.

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A trip to Everton shortly followed, which resulted in a dramatic ending. Yet again, we looked comfortable from the off, but we couldn't finish our chances. Torrent finally rifled home in the 81st minute, before doubling that shortly after. A Davies goal made it 3-0 and safe. There was just enough time for Everton to get two back though, resulting in a nervy finish.

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Southampton by all accounts was a much easier game to deal with. A Torrent brace and a goal for the returning Vallei settled the points early on, and we coasted home from there.

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So, where does that leave us? Well, up the top end in 2nd, just behind Spurs. Realistically, the table means nothing at this stage, but it's always satisfying to see Utd in the drop zone.

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In other news, I picked my first England squad since the Euros. Also my first squad without Freddie Sands as it turned out, and he was replaced by Neil Forinton. Forinton is the heir to the net for Lincoln as well, so he was the natural successor to the squad place. With no Puckett or Morrison either, we recall Riddle and Broadhurst to the team. Ballinger is set to start at CAM.

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The Champions League was also drawn, with Lincoln joining Utd, City and Chelsea in the hat. With some difficult prospects on offer, I was happy with how it turned out..

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Realistically, we should top that group. Valencia will be difficult, as will the trip to Kiev, but we need to make it work. Olympiakos should be straight forward enough for us.

Lastly, we meet the new player I alluded to. Graham Keown joins us from Southampton for 12.5m. With some work, the lad has some real potential in the centre of the park, and I'm going to try to get him some game time where possible.

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Godfish93

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September 2036


So, after a perfect start to the season, could we carry it on?

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Well... no. The Valencia match was incredibly disappointing, as we lost out in a very even match. In truth, I'm more disappointed about the draw with Cardiff. You can probably guess why when you look at the stats for that one...

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Despite all that, we somehow still sit top of the pile. We'll need to pick up our level of performances if we wish to stay there though, as this month was a touch disappointing.

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England weren't much better either really. A dire draw with Germany was supplemented by a straightforward win over the Czechs, but we didn't really perform in either game. We have a friendly with Honduras next then the Czechs again, so we need to at least pose a threat next time.

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Godfish93

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October 2036

So, after a less than ideal month last time out, we needed to get back up to speed fairly sharpish. We started out with the visit of Kiev in our second CL match. We started the game pretty slowly though, and we went level. Kevin Milton finally stepped up though, and his double, in addition to a Torrent strike, gave us some much needed points.

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Following our CL game, I announced the England squad to meet the Czechs. Before that though, we had a friendly with Honduras (no idea why). Teraud and Power are in the squad for the first time, with ex-Lincoln keeper Hampson replacing Forinton in the squad. Heath, Ballinger and Milton all vie for the strikers spot with Taxi out injured.

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Before we all meet up though, there is the small matter of Lincoln vs Utd at Brown Park. More often than not, the two teams have produced competitive games. This one was incredibly one sided though. A first minute goal by Puckett put us on the back foot, but the introduction of Luis Felipe on 33 minutes changed the game. The second half was all Lincoln, and with Malenica proving to be unstoppable, we ran home 4 goals to win convincingly.

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A quick flight to the Honduras saw us play what was probably a pointless friendly, but Lewis Teraud scored twice on debut to give us a routine win. Darren Heath also picked one up; the striker on loan to Spurs needs to impress with my options ever increasing.

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A key win over the Czechs soon followed back at Wembley, with goals from Rose and Milton sealing the game in the first half. A win against Germany next up would give us the top spot and a shot at the semis again.

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Spurs have largely kept pace with us so far this season, and the game at New White Hart Lane promised to be a thriller. It didn't disappoint either, with late goals from either side seeing the points shared after a relatively even game. Thankfully City slipped up, so the dropped points weren't as troublesome.

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Our third CL group game saw us fly to Greece and face Olympiakos. Once a team capable of creating shocks; the Greek side wilted in the face of a superior team. They even let Sam Marshall score a first time screamer; that basically never happens. The downside was the following injury news - Torrent out for a while with a hip injury. Time for Milton and Haouchi to really step up.

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Fulham next for us, and we rotate the squad in light of players still recovering from the international break. One player to take light of their opportunity was Tysperdyuk, who played superbly at right back after coming in for the rested Marshall. A nice 3-0 win also saw Malenica return to lead striker with 2 goals, with the German striker shifting into a more central position.

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The final game of the month saw Kerry vs Gallardo in the Capital One Cup. Thankfully, I came out on top this time, with Malenica running the show from the front again. Two good goals sees us into the next round, while City are left contemplating yet another defeat to the Imps.

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The early stage table still sees up at the top, with City and Spurs losing ground in the bid to usurp me. However, we have lost the firepower of second top scorer Torrent, so it remains to be seen whether Milton, Malenica and Haouchi can fill in the gaps. It also gives young Jamie Powell and Ryan Read the chance to train with the first team, as they may be required as substitutes for the three striker formation.

Forinton drops off the clean sheet chart as well, with his injury seeing the retiring record apps holder Freddie Sands add a few more to his tally. The veteran keeper may be on his way out, but he'll feature a few more times yet for us. As yet, I am unsure on his career plans, but he always has a coaching spot with us if he wants it.

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Godfish93

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The Heroes of the Story So Far - Part 1

With FM16 drawing rapidly to a close, and my file slowly with it, it is time to revisit the men that endeared themselves with the Lincoln faithful. We'll start with the overall best eighteen, then we'll work towards a few more of my favourites.

Freddie Sands

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My England and Lincoln number one, Freddie Sands came to the club upon Everton's relegation. He shored up what was a weak back line for the Premiership, and then just went from strength to strength. A hero on both club and international fronts, Sands was the keeper we needed. Later in his career, he fostered a good working relationship with Neil Forinton, the heir to his throne. We still benefit from that to this day.

Sam Marshall

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The best right back to ever grace a Lincoln City shirt. When Sam came to the club, he was initially classed as a winger, and wasn't classed as anything truly special. His moment came in the Community Shield of 2032/33, with Zuniga and Robles both in the Chile Olympic squad. From there, he never looked back. The current England and Lincoln captain has been arguably one of the players of the decade. A World Player and Golden Ball winner, as well as the multitude of trophies he's collected, Marshall will go down in the history books on the same pages as Messi, Ronaldo and Pele.

Michael Wallner

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Wallner came to the club from feeder club Hadjuk, as we fought off interest from Manchester City to bring him to Lincoln. He was immediately sent out on loan to Harrogate, where he spent the next 2.5 seasons experiencing English football at the sharp end. After keeping Harrogate in the Premiership in their debut season, a trip up north to Celtic beckoned. He came back to the club and straight into the heart of the defence the following season, but failed to impress. After two unspectacular years, it was possible the Croatian's time at Brown Park was over. However, a drastic improvement saw Wallner become a mainstay at the back, forming a solid partnership with Mukendi. Now 31, and having just had a testimonial with Celtic, he is working closely with the future stars at the back in a bid to secure his legacy.

Prince Mukendi

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In Mukendi's case, Caen's loss was absolutely our gain. Having been noticed by our scouts, his desire for Champions League football saw him run down his contract. Lincoln and PSG went head to head for his signature, but a chance to join one of the most improved clubs in the world was hard to pass on. He immediately impressed at the back with Wallner, with a dominating first season in England. With the ability to chip in with goals, and acting as cover for Marshall when needed, the Frenchman has made himself legendary.

Cesar Neira

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Neira was a long term signing of mine, but Bayern Munich beat me to him originally. A tough season in Bavaria saw him listed, and we seized the opportunity. We have a lot to thank ex-captain Alex Aleman for though, as it was his recommendation I looked at his international teammate. After 3 superb seasons off the bat, Neira tailed off for a while. However, my return to the club saw an upturn in form as he shook off the underperformer tag to become one of the best left backs in the league. With Ali Tekin and Tysperdyuk coming into the club though, Neira found himself slowly moving to the fringes. In honour of his service, he was allowed to leave, with Maritimo becoming his final club. Having retired completely from football, he still chips in with comments on the club from time to time.

Next Time: The Midfield Maestros





 

Godfish93

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The Heroes of the Story So Far - Part 2

So, part 2 of this recap sees me address the midfield five that feature in the all time best XI.

Joel Vallei

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For all my credit in this file, this one belongs to Jurgen Klopp. On replacing me, his first signing was to bring in Vallei. I scoffed at the move, suggesting that he didn't need more midfielders. Boy, was I wrong. He was consistent for the club while I travelled Europe, and even more so when I returned.

Having started at Ajax, Joel joined Lincoln for 28.5m. This turned out to be cheap, as Vallei asserted himself as one of the best CM's in the league. When paired with Baack on my return, the two were unstoppable. The emergence of Morrison as a central midfielder along with the arrivals of Schmitt and Dietel saw Vallei drop back into the pack as he got older. His years of service saw him allowed to join Liverpool, where he currently captains the side.

Mark Morrison

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Morrison was the first real prospect to come out of the Lincoln academy in my tenure. Having spent plenty of money to fund the next stars, and having brought in Speakmann as my new Head of Youth Development, you can guess at how delighted I was that it worked.

Loan spells with Oldham, Luton, Harrogate, Portsmouth and Middlesborough followed as Mark tried to find his feet at the club. Plenty of sub appearances followed, before I suggested he try exert his influence from the centre of the pitch rather than from behind the striker. It worked on both a club and national level for him as he finally became a first eleven fixture. With vice captain roles for club and country, Morrison is now one of the most popular names in the country.

Luis Felipe

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Luis Felipe originally came to my attention in the Club World Championship. The right winger played well against us in the final for Corinthians, and after the match I sat down with the manager and thrashed out the workings of a deal. He joined that January.

Having joined, he immediately established himself as a pacy winger who could pick a pass. It wasn't til I rejoined the club that he really hit the ground running though, and his season of 15 goals and 23 assists was the highlight of his Lincoln spell. The back end of that season saw him finish runner up for the Golden Ball as well. Opportunities became slightly more limited as new players came through, and a move to Lyon followed in the January of 2039. A key part of the French team now, the Lincoln legend is thought of as one of the best South American players to grace the club.

Gerardo Rivero

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Continuing the theme, the CAM position is also filled by a South American. Rivero wasone of my bigger signings in my early Premiership days, as we tried to fight to establish ourselves. The 8.5m signing was crucial for us. He allowed us to create goals, and would chip in from set pieces as well. A key part of our first ever major trophy win in the COC in 2024, Rivero left having just being part of our first successful Champions League campaign. The tycooned Maritimo beckoned, and he would link up with the future Imps striker Eduardo Contreras. He may not have been part of the generation of Imps to win multiple major trophies, but he was just as vital to our success.

Massimo De Rosa

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From South America to the other side of the world for our last midfield entry, as the Australian De Rosa features at LW. Massimo's career started in France at PSG, but we recognised his significant talent and eventually bought him for just shy of 30m. Having left the club shortly after, De Rosa struggled under Klopp, and joined me in Marseille a year later.

The loan spell was the kickstarter for his career. I rejoined him at Lincoln the year after, and watched him flourish. Capable of playing anywhere across the midfield, he started at LW battling with Sakanoko, then Davies. However, a shift to the centre of the park often saw his best work, and before his departure to Celtic, he dominated with Vallei. LW he might be here, but CM was where he truly belonged.

And that's the midfield. Next time out, we meet the striker that fills the last spot on this team.

 

Godfish93

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With FM17 due imminently, I just want to take the opportunity to thank you all for the 50k+ views that this story has attracted. It has been by far one of my favourites to do. Lincoln and myself will return in FM17, starting as soon as the beta comes out. However, what would you like to see this time out? Anything missing from the story that you would have liked to have seen? Drop a comment below. There is no guarantee of implementation, but I'm game for suggestions.
 
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