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When The Saints Go Marching In - St Albans City

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OK, so after a few days away, I decided to start a new story and go to the bottom playable division in England for this one. I really enjoyed my Palermo save (easily my favourite one from the past couple of years) and building a squad as I rose up the leagues in Italy and now the plan is to achieve the same thing in England...we hope.

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St Albans City are now entering their 8th straight season in the Vanarama National League South with some really mixed fortune from their recent history, finishing anywhere between 5th and 20th across the last 7 years. I'll be looking to kick on with the club and get them back in the National League where they haven't been since 2006/07 when they spent one single season in the division above.

I begin my career with the recommended coaching badge (National B) and previous playing experience (Sunday League footballer) for the club's current level. I'll be looking to improve myself as I improve the club over the coming years.

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The club play their home games at Clarence Park which is a 5,007 capacity stadium (642 seated). Again, this is something I intend to improve as we (hopefully) move up the English football pyramid.

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Anyone who follows my stories will know that all my tactics are my own and I don't use any recommended shortlists for signing players, so I expect this to be a long term save without immediate success of year on year promotions. Hopefully, you'll enjoy the journey as much as I'm hoping I will.

Financially, the club is in a stable position with a positive bank balance. I won't have any transfer budget (to be expected at this level) but there is about £800 in the wage budget to allow me to pick up a couple of free transfers if need be.

1. balance.JPG


Initially, I don't need to go mad in the transfer market as I have a relatively big squad for the level we are playing at with cover across most areas of the pitch. The defence (especially centre back) position looks a little weak so that is likely to be my focus for strengthening in the early stages of my management.

1. squad.JPG


The best player in the team is veteran David Noble who has spent most of his career at a much higher level than this! Although he is now 39 years old, he should still have plenty to offer for a season at least!

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Shaun Jeffers will be leading the line for us up front and his excellent finishing (for this level) could prove decisive in the attacking side of our play this season!

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In fact, Jeffers is the favourite to finish as the league's top goalscorer this season!

1. goalscorer odds.JPG
 
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The Palermo save was great. There was realistic progression with some smart signings. The fact that you got sacked in around the 7th season also put a realistic spin to it. Even the Leeds save was blatant overachievement and getting sacked. One thing I would recommend is to make posts on maybe a game by game basis whenever you are in danger of getting sacked, to increase the drama and excitement among readers. It makes the story more thrilling to read, whatever the conclusion may be.
 
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The Palermo save was great. There was realistic progression with some smart signings. The fact that you got sacked in around the 7th season also put a realistic spin to it. Even the Leeds save was blatant overachievement and getting sacked. One thing I would recommend is to make posts on maybe a game by game basis whenever you are in danger of getting sacked, to increase the drama and excitement among readers. It makes the story more thrilling to read, whatever the conclusion may be.
Appreciate the feedback mate and of course your support in following my stories :)
 
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Pre season offered a perfect opportunity for me to tinker with tactics and hopefully get a setup I was happy to start the season with. Our friendlies went well enough with 4 wins and a draw.

2. friendlies.JPG


The tactic I've come up with and will be playing against Tonbridge in our first game of the season is this. A slightly off set 4-4-2, which utilizes my best players in their best positions. We'll try to play positive football without leaving ourselves exposed at the back.

2. tactic.JPG


As far as expectations from my bosses go this season, they want a mid table finish which should be more than achievable.

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The bookies seem to think we'll be right there in mid table!

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We kick off our league campaign in perfect fashion with a good win away at Tonbridge. Good to see both my strikers getting on the scoresheet in the first game of the season...that should be a good confidence booster for them!

***NEW SIGNING***
Jack Lee - CB
Signed on a free transfer from Sheffield Wednesday


I said I needed to invest in the central defence position and I've done so by adding Jack Lee to the squad. He joins on a free transfer after being let go by Sheffield Wednesday after coming through their youth system. The 22 year old is a big presence in the back line at 6ft 4" and we can build the defence around him!

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Dartford would present a much tougher opposition than Tonbridge did as one of the better teams in the division. And when they went 2-0 in front, it looked like we might suffer a defeat in our first home game of the season. However, an excellent fight back from my lads saw us take a point from the game...we very nearly won it in injury time too when Joe Neal netted and thought he has his hat trick, only for the ref to rule the goal out for offside.

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A great performance over in Essex. We were solid here from start to finish and fully deserved the 3 points we walk away with!

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Our unbeaten start to the season continued with a good victory here! Shaun Jeffers hammered home a header from close range from a corner in the last few minutes for us to ****** the win!

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Jeffers was again the match winner against Chippenham in another narrow victory. This time the goal came very early on and then we simply held on to the lead for 87 minutes!

So five games into my first season in charge and we remain unbeaten after a solid start! A game in hand could see us go top as well.

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3. potters bar.JPG


Everyone knows that a decent run in the FA Cup down at this level can bring a game changing level of riches to the club, so we would be looking to get through as many rounds in the competition as possible. We took on lower league side Potters Bar in the 2nd qualifying round and after an early scare, we secure victory and passage through to the next stage.

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Back in the league, we recorded another win on a dedicated fan day against an Eastbourne side that couldn't capitalise on the fact we definitely weren't at our absolute best.

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A tightly contested game against Bath finishes in a draw with both sides taking a well deserved point.

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It took us two games to overcome Gateshead in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round. The first was a tense, nervous affair that could have swung either way, where as the second was a goalfest with both sides showing off their attacking prowess and things swinging our way on the day and we make the first round proper of England's lucrative cup competition, where we will now face Altrincham from the National League.

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We continued our great start to the league campaign, making it 9 games unbeaten as we record back to back 1-0 wins over Concord and Hungerford. John Goddard has been struggling to find the back of the net so far this season, but the player tipped as our best at the start of the campaign finally got off the mark with the winner against Hungerford in our most recent game.

***NEW SIGNING***
Diaz Wright - CM
Signed on a free transfer

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23 year old Diaz Wright comes in to boost the central midfield options at the club. He was released by Colchester in the Summer and although he might not be good enough for League Two level right now, he can definitely do a job for us.

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Oxford City have made a positive start to their campaign and sat 4th at kick off, so this was a very impressive win for us away from home!

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We weren't at our best against Maidstone, but momentum carried us through and a Shaun Jeffers spot kick was enough to take all 3 points again!

So 11 games into the season now and still unbeaten, flying high at the top of the National League South table and with a couple of games in hand over our nearest rivals too!

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Meanwhile in the FA Cup...

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WOW! WOW! WOW! They say this competition is full of drama and this was a perfect example of that right here! 2-0 down and looking dead and buried, only to see my lads come back and win the game against higher league opposition. Joe Neal with the winner with one of the last kicks of the game as he found himself clean through on goal to chip over the Altrincham keeper!

Although it did come at a cost as we lose Joy Mukena for the next 4-5 months to injury! He's been ever present so far this season and solid for us at centre back! He will need replacing!

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We'll take on League Two side, Leyton Orient in the next round.

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4. billericay.JPG


Our first defeat of the season came at the hands of Billericay, but it really shouldn't have done as we were the better side, with more possession, more and better chances! Disappointing!

It brings to an end an 11 game run.

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***NEW SIGNING***
Ryan Huddart - GK
Signed on a free transfer

4. huddart.JPG


I wanted to improve our goalkeeper and have been on the lookout for a couple of months. Ryan Huddart offers me a significant step up between the sticks. He was released by Borehamwood in the Summer and has been a free agent since, so was prepared to drop down a level to play for us.

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Huddart didn't have the greatest of debuts though, conceding three on our way to defeat at Ebbsfleet.

***NEW SIGNING***
Ollie O'Dwyer - CB
Signed on a free transfer

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O'Dwyer came through the youth at Reading, before spending the past 6 seasons training at Crystal Palace, so he should be of a good enough calibre to make an impact for us down here at basement level. Although he isn't the quickest, he has some strong defensive attributes which should serve him well in this division.

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Despite complete dominance from start to finish against Slough, we only managed to beat them by a narrow margin. Still, we're back to winning ways after two defeats and that's the main thing!

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A much better performance and a much more convincing win down in Kent. Kyran Wiltshire came in at right wing as I rested a few players and took his opportunity, kicking off the scoring with a close range header.

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Our first game in the FA Trophy this season resulted in a very comfortable victory over lower league Aylesbury, who simply couldn't live with us. I didn't take them for granted here and fielded a strong side and it paid off.

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And that led us to the big boy competition and an FA Cup clash with League Two Leyton Orient. Unfortunately, the gap of two divisions proved too much for us to overcome and we were soundly beaten. However, we can proud of our little cup run this season and making the 2nd round proper is still a decent achievement.

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Back in the league, the board picked this one for a fan day and what a decision that turned out to be. If the fans don't want to come back after witnessing a 10 goal thriller, then nothing will get them back through the turnstiles again.

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Back to the FA Trophy again as we continue to juggle cup and league in quick succession, and we overcame a potentially tricky tie against fellow National League South club Chelmsford to progress to the next round. With every win comes valuable prize money into the club which will help sustain our future.

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Havant & Waterlooville are one of the best sides in this division and sat 3rd at kick off, so this was always going to be a tough game, which makes the win even more spectacular for us! It's a massive, massive result!

17 games into the season and we sit pretty at the top of the table with a 6 point lead back to Ebbsfleet in 2nd. We've had a great first few months of the season and will look to try to keep this momentum going through the New Year.

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5. hemel.JPG


Our next league game against Hemel Hempstead came just 2 days after our previous match against Havant. It meant that full squad rotation was required and it ultimately cost us, with the Hempstead front line running riot against a disjointed and unfamiliar defence for us! We'll take this one on the chin and move on quickly!

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After such a heavy defeat in our previous game, it wasn't ideal going to one of the better sides in the league for our next match. However, the lads worked really hard and we come away with a well earned point against Dorking!

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Tonbridge presented much easier opposition from our last two games and we step up and get the expected victory. Narrow margins, but 3 points is all that matters!

Bad news coming out of the Tonbridge game was losing Romeo Akinola to injury for around a month.

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He'll be sorely missed as he's been a massive part of our attacking game so far this season, chipping in with 5 goals and 6 assists in 17 appearances in the league!

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Kyran Wiltshire proved to be a more than capable replacement for Akinola though as he bagged a goal and 3 assists in our win over Dulwich!

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We're out of the FA Trophy as Torquay prove to be just too strong for us. No shame in losing to higher league opposition though and the scoreline was kept respectable with a decent enough performance from my lads.

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We bounced back in the most spectacular fashion in the league against Dartford though! What a win this was and a massive statement to the rest of the division!

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Based on the fact we had 17 shots against Chelmsford, it was disappointing to come away with just a point from this game. Still, you can't win them all and when you don't win it's important not to lose!

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Another draw followed away at Hampton. A decent result on paper against a strong side, but gutting to have thrown a 2-0 and 3-2 lead away...especially with them getting the equaliser so late in the game.

Despite dropping points in our last couple of games though, we do still remain on a 6 match unbeaten run and do still top the league table by 4 points over an Ebbsfleet Town side that will push hard all the way to the end of the season!

5. league.JPG
 
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6. chippenham.JPG


I know a win's a win, but Chippenham are one of the weaker sides in the division and we were 3-0 up here...so the final scoreline is a little bit disappointing and we might have just about got away with one in the end.

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A solid performance down on the south coast ensured we racked up another victory. This one was never really in doubt and we always looked in control!

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Bath City came into this one in 5th position and as expected, presented us with a much tougher game. They were hard to break down and we only managed to find our way through their defence the once...but once was enough on this occasion and we pick up a valuable 3 points!

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Our performance at the Gallagher Stadium was our worst in a while and we didn't really deserve to come away with anything from the Maidstone game.

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We weren't much better against Concord Rangers and suffer back to back defeats for the first time since November!

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A Shaun Jeffers double gets us back to much needed winning ways against Hungerford. Jeffers was unlucky not to seal his hat trick with a couple of efforts going very close in the 2nd half.

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This was our first 0-0 draw of the whole season as we shared the spoils with Oxford City.

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Billericay were the first side to beat us earlier this season, so we wanted a bit of revenge here. We very nearly got it too, but a lapse in concentration in the dying seconds of the game allowed them to get an equalizer that they really didn't deserve on the balance of play!

Personal progression is going to be required in this save if I'm to take St Albans to the next level and the first step up that qualifications ladder is now underway as I start my studying for the National A License.

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And in line with the board's investment in my development, they tie me down for another year with the club.

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So with 8 games left, we've dropped down to 2nd in the table and Dulwich have now emerged as our biggest threat to winning the title in my first season. However, winning our game in hand would put us back on top of the pile!

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Meanwhile, the youth intake for this season is a decent one with a few players that could go on to feature for our first team.

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Centre back, Matt Crowther, might not be a million miles away from the first team right now and with such strong leadership credentials, he might even be a future captain of the club.

6. crowther.JPG
 
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7. ebbsfleet.JPG


Wow, a very impressive second half performance saw us fight back from 2-0 down against Ebbsfleet to absolutely batter them in the end! We weren't at the races in the first half and the lads needed a good kick up the backside at half time, but I'm delighted with the response in the 2nd period! This is a big win against one of those sides chasing a playoff spot.

7. slough.JPG


Joe Neal's injury time winner against Slough could prove vital in the title race. This was an end to end game that could have gone either way and it's a little harsh on Slough to walk away with nothing, but I'm not complaining!

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A really entertaining game against Slough was followed up with a really boring one against Welling!

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We weren't at our best against Braintree and were punished by the club sitting at the bottom of the league! It has to be said that this was a shock result, but hopefully this will be a wake up call for my lads that we need to keep our concentration levels up right to the end of the campaign.

With 4 games remaining, we are still top and do still have a valuable game in hand. However, out of all the sides that can still win the league, we easily have the toughest run in. All 4 of our last few games will be against other sides in the top 7!!

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7. havant.JPG


The game in hand was against 4th placed Havant & Waterlooville and proved to be a massive win! We're now 4 points clear at the top with just 3 games to go!

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Hemel Hempstead put 6 past us earlier in the season, and we clearly didn't learn anything from that game as they absolutely hammered us again here! We have been awful against them this season and have a 4-11 aggregate defeat to them this year!

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The Dorking game came just 2 days later and we didn't get the result we wanted with a team full of changes! It's so disappointing to lose though as we had recorded 18 shots to their 9 and dominated for large periods!

Despite losing our last 2, we do still go into the final game of the season top of the league! Our final match...Dulwich Hamlet in 2nd! Whoever wins lifts the title!

7. league with 1 left.JPG


7. dulwich.JPG


Unfortunately, we were on the wrong end of the result and after leading the division for so long, we'll now have to settle for a playoff place on the final day! Gutted!

There you have it, the final league table! A 2nd place finish will at least get us through a round and give us a home draw in the playoffs!

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7. bath.JPG


Our Playoff Semi Final against Bath City went all the way to penalties and it was us who held our nerve to progress to the Final! Oliver Tomlinson was the first player to miss (for Bath) after both sides had taken 8 perfect penalties each!!

Dorking await us in the final...a side we have failed to beat on two occasions already this season! We're going to have our work cut out!

7. dorking history.JPG


7. final 90 mins.JPG


After 90 minutes, the score remained goalless! It had been a tight game, although we had the better chances and come close on several occasions hitting the post once and crossbar twice!! I was starting to think it wasn't going to be our day! However, as we went into extra time, we would have a man advantage after Dorking's Bobby-Joe Taylor saw red on 81 minutes!

And it took less than a minute of extra time to use that extra man advantage as Shaun Jeffers headed home to put us in the lead! However, it only lasted a couple of minutes before Darren Oldaker's free kick had Dorking back on level terms! Extra time finished 1-1 and it was on to another penalty shootout!

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And again there were 5 perfect pens from each side and were down to sudden death at Wembley!

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Both sets of players were showing incredible composure as they made it to 10-10 without a single miss!!

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It wasn't until the 12th penalty that Dorking finally missed the target and we had a chance to seal promotion...my hands were covered in sweat at this point!

7. dorking miss.JPG


Up stepped Shaun Jeffers...and...buried it in the top corner!!!! WE'RE GOING UP!!!

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7. final day.JPG
 
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End of Season Review - 2021/22

Vanarama National League South = 2nd (playoff winners)
Emirates FA Cup = Second Round (knocked out by Leyton Orient)
Buildbase FA Trophy = Fourth Round (knocked out by Torquay United)

8. squad.JPG


What an incredible season for my squad. Looking at us on paper, we were never going to be anyone's favourites to go up, but my lads performed admirably all season and really came together as a team! We were unlucky not to win the league in the end, getting pipped on the final day after being up there all year, but I was pleased to get the job done via the playoffs against two very good sides. Plus, it did give the fan's a day out at Wembley which is always a bonus for them! Both Shaun Jeffers and Joe Neal had fantastic seasons as a front pair, both closing in on 30 goals for the season. Romeo Akinola and John Goddard produced plenty of goals from their wide midfield positions, with Akinola also reaching double figures on goals as well as he finishes a fine season! Cameron Green will be missed next year if we can't extend his loan deal after he chipped in with 11 assists from left back and we definitely lacked creativity down that side when he didn't play. The goalkeepers were OK if unspectacular, whilst Jack Lee and Ollie O'Dwyer proved to be solid for us at centre back all year!

The Best 11...

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The Awards...

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A focus on attacking football this year proved to pay off as we finish the season above the league average on every single attacking aspect of the game!

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It was a decent year for us with the finances bringing in some essential cash into the club. Competition prize money was in excess of £50k due to a couple of mini cup runs and proved to be a key factor in keeping the bank balance in the green all year.

8. finances.JPG


The transfer budget for next season has been set at £0 which was to be expected. However, there has been a nice boost to the wage budget, rising from £6.5k to £10k! That should allow me to improve the squad with some good players!

8. budgets.JPG
 
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***NEW SIGNING***
Denilson Carvalho - AMC/R/L
Signed from Billericay Town on a free transfer

9. denilson.JPG


Denilson played 40 times for Billericay last season in the lower tier and although he only scored 4 goals and got 2 assists, I'm convinced they weren't utilising him correctly and I'm confident I can get more out of him, despite us now being at a higher level.

***NEW SIGNING***
Calum Ferrie - GK
Signed from Queen's Park on a free transfer

9. ferrie.JPG


Ferrie gives us a significant upgrade between the sticks and could prove vital to our bid to stay in the National League this season!

***NEW SIGNING***
Elijah Simpson - ST
Signed from Montrose on a free transfer

9. simpson.JPG


Our first choice strikers had great seasons last year and I'm not exactly looking to replace them. However, we didn't have any strength in depth in their positions and I was probably quite lucky neither of them picked up a serious injury all year. This season won't be the same as I look to add two new strikers to the team and Elijah is the first in!

***NEW SIGNING***
Ricky German - ST
Signed from Crawley Town on a free transfer

9. german.JPG


The other striker that will make up the quartet for the front 2 positions is Ricky German. He's a decent finisher, with a little pace and good work rate, so I'm sure he can contribute.

***NEW SIGNING***
Louis Hall - LB
Signed from Newport County on a free transfer

9. hall.JPG


I desperately needed a new left back for the upcoming season and again targeted a more attack minded one, as we created a lot of goals from this position last year. Louis Hall looks like a good player for this level and could prove to be one of my signings of the Summer.

***NEW SIGNING***
Ayo Tanimowo - RB/LB
Signed from Brighton on a free transfer

9. tanimowo.JPG


On the other side of the defence is Tanimowo who has come through Premier League youth, so should be a good acquisition for us. He can cover at left back too which is always handy.

***NEW SIGNING***
Dean Rance - CM
Signed from Dag & Red on a free transfer

9. rance.JPG


On paper, based on sheer ability, Dean Rance is possibly my most impressive signing of the Summer and will sit right in the heart of the midfield, taking the place of the now retired 40 year old, David Noble. It's likely I'll be handing the armband to Rance as well for the upcoming campaign.

***NEW SIGNING***
Jermaine Anderson - CM
Signed from Woking on a free transfer

9. anderson.JPG


Also vying for a spot in central midfield will be Jermaine Anderson. He's predominantly here to act as a backup player for me, but he could work his way into the team with some decent performances.

***NEW SIGNING***
Rashawn Scott - AML/C/R
Signed from Reading on a free transfer

9. scott.JPG


19 year old Rashawn Scott, brings some youth to the attack and he can play all the way across the midfield too. Again, another player that has come through youth at high level at Chelsea, before a move to Reading last year and now us.

So as we head into the pre season friendlies, this is the squad as it stands. I'm happy with it so far and we have a good mix of experience and youth with cover for most positions. I've focused on having plenty of options in centre mid and up front. Centre back is looking a bit desperate at the moment, so I'll need to add a couple of players here, but all in all it's coming together nicely.

9. squad pre friendlies.JPG


***NEW SIGNING***
Frankie Terry - CB
Signed from Colchester on a season long loan

9. terry.JPG


It wasn't long before the first new CB walked through the door. 18 year old Frankie Terry probably isn't good enough yet to break into Colchester's first team, but he can definitely play a leading role for us this season.

***NEW SIGNING***
James Gorman - CB
Signed from Aldershot on a season long loan

9. gorman.JPG


James Gorman quickly followed to provide more cover at the heart of the defence. He's not going to be good enough to immediately break into my first 11, but should provide adequate backup for absolutely no cost.

In and amongst all the new signings, there was a key departure as well. Romeo Akinola was one of our best players last year and I desperately wanted to keep him at the club. However, when he's being offered £1,100 per week to play elsewhere, I simply couldn't compete and convince him to stay.

9. akinola.JPG


During pre season, I wanted to play a couple of lower league teams to build a little bit of fitness and we won them both comfortably. Following that, we played three sides in our division to see how we fared and it wasn't too bad.

9. firendlies.JPG
 
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Went to login to my game tonight and got this....anyone know how to fix it? Is my save corrupt? Tried turning the laptop on and off and it won't load and just keeps showing this message...

load.JPG
 
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Went to login to my game tonight and got this....anyone know how to fix it? Is my save corrupt? Tried turning the laptop on and off and it won't load and just keeps showing this message...

View attachment 596263
very likely the game is corrupt. Try this solution https://www.footballmanagerblog.org/2018/07/fix-corrupted-football-manager-save.html

Could be skin/graphics problem also. Try to run in default skin for this save game and other saves, hope can work.
 
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Thanks for the advice mate, but didn't work :-(
:cry: I assume u also tried the ‘last save overwrite backup.fm’ file and did not work. I am also assuming the laptop have enough free space to load the game.
 
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