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Everything posted by Dong21

  1. My last update ended with a win away at Dartford that meant we were undefeated in 21 games. The path to promotion was looking extremely comfortable. It was therefore about time things got a little more interesting with some bumps in the road... February 2023 Despite Barnet having a man sent off and despite us dominating the game, we kicked off February with our first league loss in several months. It was tough to take as we even had two goals disallowed for being marginally offside. The gap between 1st and 2nd was reduced to 10 points. I changed the entire starting eleven to take on Ebbsfleet in the FA Trophy and they lost as well, knocking us out of the cup. After the game Scunthorpe offered to take 35 year old Lee Martin on a free transfer. As he rarely plays I decided it would be good to save the wage spend and accepted. We got back on track with wins against Boreham Wood and Fylde. McGhee was the star of the two games, but it was great to see Simpson finally return to the scoresheet. The wins had returned us to being 12 points clear at the top, but a draw away at Halifax knocked that back down to 10. Contracts Ash Kigbu had established himself as first choice centre back alongside Ben Hockenhull during the season. With less than six months on his contract, I opened talks with him about renewing his deal. Kigbu would only entertain a one year extension and wanted an extortionate rise. I offered to near double his wage and he still walked away, so Kigbu will be departing Boundary Park at the end of the season. Since these negotiations (post-Fylde game) I have dropped him from the team and have played Parker instead. In more positive news, I successfully negotiated new two year deals for three players who have performed well and developed throughout the course of the season. Goalkeeper Turner and central midfielder Vaughan have new £900 per week deals and defensive midfielder Haysman has a new £1k per week contract. March 2023 A place in the Playoffs was guaranteed after we thrashed Southend, in a match in which Danny Lloyd shone the brightest. A loss to promotion-chasing Wrexham was extremely disappointing as we were the better side. In these latter stages of the season our concentration and ability to finish teams off, when playing top seven sides, seems to be letting us down (see Grimsby result, later in the month for more of the same). The gap ahead of second was still nine points luckily. We got lucky playing Aldershot as they had a player sent off in the first minute, so we were able to go attacking and wait for the goals to go in. After the Aldershot win I was advised we had now set a new club record points haul for a season. For both the Kings Lynn and Grimsby games we were without Luamba, Thomas and Willock who were all on international duty. No postponement was offered, which happens in the Football League. Goalkeeper Turner was ruled out with a sports hernia for six weeks, so Gregory (who received a 6.2 match rating in his only prior appearance, when we were eliminated from the FA Trophy) was to deputise for the rest of the season. Centre-back Parker was then ruled out for five weeks with sprained ankle ligaments, giving the sulking Kigbu a reprieve and return to the team. Despite our patchy form, Dion McGhee won the VNL Player of the Month for March. Understandable given his four goals, two assists and 8.04 average rating. The loss against 5th place Grimsby means our gap ahead of 2nd place Notts County is 8 points, with 5 games remaining in the season. In our final five games, we play four teams in the bottom half of the table, so I will be devastated if we manage to throw away automatic promotion at this late stage of campaign. Anything can happen in football though. Fingers crossed we can secure our return to the Football League at the first time of asking.
  2. December 2022 We were drawn against League One opposition in the FA Cup Second Round. Plymouth were 8th placed in the third tier when we played them, so I knew it would be a tough challenge. This proved to be the case and it was a straightforward 2-0 loss. I was worried that after 14 wins in a row that this loss could scupper our league form, but I had nothing to worry about and we were straight back to winning ways. We were losing 1-0 to Solihull Moors so subbed on Lloyd and Thomas. Lloyd got two assists and Thomas two goals. Against FC United of Manchester in the FA Trophy I gave Lee Martin only his second start of the season and he had a phenomenal game. Two goals, with the second an absolute screamer. The negative was that CB Maghoma went off injured after 2 mins and was ruled out for 9 weeks with a groin strain. Substitutions continued to change our games throughout the month. Thomas got the late winner against Dag & Red and Jno-Baptiste got the off-the-bench winner vs promotion chasing Notts Co. Both McGhee and Willock have been essential to our success so far, but were both only on one year deals. I therefore decided to give two year contract extensions to both, with slight wage increases. January 2023 We started 2023 with a draw against local rivals Stockport. This was disappointing as it brought to the end a run of 16 league wins in a row. Striker Thomas continued to change games from the bench. There was probably an argument to have dropped misfiring striker Simpson by now, but since we continue to win, it didn't seem necessary. After injuries Mellor, Williams and Jno-Baptiste had all struggled to get back into the starting eleven. They had been doing well and building fitness in the U23s though, so I decided to test them out against lowly Maidstone. They all did poorly and are firmly back out of my first choice line up! Central midfielder Vaughan continued to impress, getting two assists and a goal against Alfreton Town in the FA Trophy. The thrashing of Scunthorpe was a great day for Danny Lloyd, but was most important for Simpson who scored for the first time in 10 hours. Hopefully this is him turning a corner. Throughout this run of form we had managed to build up a gap of 15 points between us and 2nd place. I can't quite believe how well things have gone and truly thought this was going to be a season of relative struggle, with Playoffs best case scenario. We conceded in the 90th minute away at Woking, meaning the gap reduced to 13 points. It is not panic stations just yet... Transfer Update Finances continue to be an issue at Oldham. Each time there is a prospective takeover, that could ease this issue issue, the owner shuts it down. In January the Chairman once again injected £75k to assist with running costs. With this in mind I decided to proactively sell one of my players to put some money in our coffers. 19 year old Benny Couto has performed really well every time he has deputised at left back, which has been all cup games and midweek league games generally. I therefore decided to cash in on first choice left back Sam Hart. Hart has been a key performer (21 league appearances, 2 goals, 9 assists and an average rating of 7.43), but I am focused on developing Couto. I therefore offered Hart out and, of the multiple bids we received, he decided to join Notts County for £65k. In addition, goalkeeper Letheren was unhappy not to be first choice so I let him join Spennymoor on a free. I also yet youngster Jack Williams join Redditch, again on a free. You’d forward Da Silva was loaned to Curzon Ashton. Our youth intake preview suggests that our top prospect arriving at the end of the season will be a goalkeeper, so hopefully whomever this will act as Letheren's long term successor. To bolster the squad I turned to the short-term loan market. First to arrive was goalkeeper Cameron Gregory on loan from Shrewsbury. The young shot stopper will provide great competition for Turner and we are only paying £230 per week for his wages. The second arrival, to act as back-up to Couto at left back was Swansea full back Lincoln McFayden. He is definitely good enough to be first choice if anything happens to Couto and we are paying none of his wages. The final piece of good news is that my assistant manager Terry McPhillips made the decision to reject Coventry and stay at the club. A sign of his faith in the project we are working on here at Oldham!
  3. Interesting @warlock and certainly sounds like it could be the case! If I look at Oldham in real life, their attendances would have definitely fallen following relegation if it wasn’t for the positivity surrounding the new owner.
  4. Evening all - I've been following along with all the posts in this thread, as usual. Some great work being done, particularly on the transfer front. I have just reached the half-way point in my first National League season with Oldham Athletic. Update can be found here if anyone is interested:
  5. It was always ambitious starting a big project like this in the middle of the summer with holiday season on horizon - so apologies for the lack of updates over the last few weeks. I am back from my travels now though and so can push forward with this exciting adventure. In this update I will cover the last two months at the club - and what a two months they have been! October 2022 After a relatively inconsistent start to the season, we had started to turn a corner with three wins in our last four games in September. Things fully clicked into place in October, as we went on to win seven out of seven fixtures. The Halifax game started badly when Haysman gave away a penalty and former Latics-man Zak Dearnley scored to put them in front. We came back to win 3-1 though with, importantly, winger Lloyd getting his first assist for the club. Besides Turner (GK), Williams (RW) and Simpson (ST) we changed the whole team to take on struggling Southend and beat them comfortably. One of our toughest tests came next; title-chasing Wrexham. Just before the match we learnt Williams, who had been doing so well for us, was ruled out for 6 weeks with a hernia. We went 2-1 down against Hollywood Wrexham, but roared back to win 3-2 and rise to 2nd in the table. Nantwich in the FA Cup was a great opportunity to play squad members. Back-up striker Thomas, on loan from Swansea, got a confidence boosting hat-trick. Academy graduates Luamba and Vaughan got a brace and a goal respectively. This was the first 10 goal game the club had been involved in. Around this time we got the news that young prospect Kane Badby had broken his leg whilst on loan at Hyde and would be out for 8 months. I suspect this will hinder his development quite a bit. We sent young striker Fidel O'Rourke on loan to Gloucester during the month, and I hope he has more luck than Badby. Simpson was the star of the show with a hat-trick, when we beat Aldershot. That result saw us rise to top of the National League table, albeit only on goal difference ahead of Boreham Wood. The game against Grimsby was a tight one, so I was delighted that we got a penalty that allowed us to capture the three points. McGhee, who had been in terrific recent form, was ruled out for 10 days after that victory. Connor Simpson won the VNL Player of the Month award due to his six goals in six games, and an average match rating of 7.6. Bobby Carroll's screamer against Southend came second in the Goal of the Month listings and I picked up my first Manager of the Month accolade. Hard-to-please owner Abdallah graded me a 'B' in my end-of-month assessment - I'm not sure what more I could have done to get an 'A'! November 2022 Whilst Premier League club's prepared for a break for the World Cup, the National League continued to roll on at pace during November. Our second game against Grimsby in a week, this time in the FA Cup, was a lot more straightforward than the league game. I once again played a changed side and they did well. All the hard work in the summer transfer window is paying off as I effectively have two sides I am comfortable playing. 19 year old left back Couto picked up the Man of the Match award in this game, thanks to his pair of assists. I decided to reward the youngster with a new £600 per week, three year deal. With winger Williams still out injured, I decided to reward 19 year old Junior Luamba for his good form in the FA Cup with a start again against bottom-side Maidenhead. He repaid my faith with two goals! This was the start of an unexpected spate of form as I continued to stand-by him. By the end of the month, Luamba was the shock winner of both the VNL Young Player of the Month and Player of the Month after a return of five goals in four games and an average match rating of 7.8 per game. D'Mani Mellor had just returned from two months injured and then was ruled out again for a further month with a pulled calf muscle just ahead of the Maidenhead game. At the start of the season I considered him my first choice striker, but whilst he has been out Simpson and Thomas have done great meaning he will struggle to get in the team when he finally returns. Second place Boreham Wood drew twice as we beat Maidenhead and Wealdstone, so we went four points clear at the top of the table. As the month went on they fell down the table with Notts County rising to second and Wrexham to third. Gateshead were third at one point, but our win at their ground knocked them back down to fifth. We ended the month going seven points clear at the top, beating Torquay 1-0. Notts County have since played a game more than us and closed the gap back to four. I picked up my second Manager of the Month award, but was more chuffed about Luamba's personal accolades. I have titled this update 'Near Perfection' as although on the pitch things could not have gone better, behind the scenes there have still been challenges. In early October the press started talking about a club takeover by an investor. I was really hoping it would be third time lucky, and was thinking the real-life takeover by Frank Rothwell might be a good omen, but as the month continued Abdallah once again quashed the move. After a run of 14 straight victories I chanced my arm and asked if I could be considered for a new contract, considering my current deal is only till the end of the season. Abdallah rejected this citing financial reasons... Finally, I had hoped to see home attendances rising thanks to our red-hot form, but we have stayed consistently around the 2,200 mark. Here's hoping their is a lag in interest and gates start to pick up as the season continues!
  6. Wonderful news, in real life, as it was announced last night that Oldham-based businessman Frank Rothwell has purchased both the club and the stadium. He will be joined on the board by legendary former Latics manager Joe Royle and his son Darren, who brokered the deal. Mo Lemsagam, the brother of former owner Abdallah and hapless Sporting Director, was seen leaving the stadium with a coffee machine under his arm. Symbolically, the closing of a dark chapter in Oldham’s history. I’ve watched the introductory videos the club has posted on their social media and it really feels like the club is now in the hands of people who have its best interests at heart. I really hope this is the start of the local community reconnecting with the club in a major way. Now all I hope is that the sale of the club is replicated in my FM save!
  7. ‘If’ we win promotion Appreciate the optimism! Certainly happy with how things are going so far.
  8. After updating on my staff restructure and the numerous players I have signed to rebuild the squad, it is time to update on how our matches have gone in the first few months. June 2022 The first fixture of my managerial reign was the game against the reserves that you traditionally play when starting out at a new club. This was a unique scenario as it was before June 30 and I had put all of the squad from the 2021/22 season in the Under 23s to await their contracts expiring. So this match ended up being our young players and small number of first teamers who had received new contracts (and who I profiled in my second post above) playing against the squad that got Oldham relegated. Our team also included four of the players who I signed first, including the goal scorer Jno-Baptiste. Considering I had barely commenced recruiting our new squad, I was pleased that we were able to secure a draw. July 2022 In a normal season, I would probably acknowledge that nine pre-season friendlies is excessive. Given that we were completely rebuilding a squad - I need a lot of opportunities to observe both our young players and trialists in matches and then build fitness and morale in players, once signed. You will notice the goal scorers in the games at the beginning of the month include trialists who did not end up signing for us, whereas in the games closer to the season starting my squad was closer to being finalised and the goals came from contracted players. We won all seven of our matches against local sides of a lower standing than ourselves, which was reassuring. Losing narrowly to League Two Chesterfield was not an issue and I was pleased with a draw against Championship side Preston. I ended the pre-season period feeling like I had a good level of understanding of the abilities of my players. We sold 2,050 season tickets, down from 2,500 the season before. Understandable given the relegation out of the EFL! It is my intention to try and win the disillusioned fans over. Our National League campaign commenced with a victory on the south coast, as we beat Eastleigh 2-1. We played very well, having 23 shots and hitting the crossbar three times. The score line would have been more resounding if not for a late consolation goal. Most satisfying was that 18 year old midfield prodigy Vaughan got an assist. August 2022 I mentioned in my message to @Chevie that I had managed to eventually sign a central midfielder. It was another ex-Manchester United academy graduate, Matty Willock who arrived at the start of August. Willock has made 50 league appearances for a handful of League One and League Two clubs over the last few seasons and is a full international of Montserrat, so comes with plenty of relevant experience. Equally happy as a ball winning midfielder or a box-to-box midfielder, he improves us in the middle of the pitch. On the subject of transfers, with my squad now up to capacity (and particularly having learnt on the eve of the season that you only get five substitutes in the VNL!) I loaned out a number of youth players to gain experience. Jim Simms, Oliver Kilner and Rio Glean all went on loan to Bamber Bridge. Kofi Moore and Kane Badby both went to Hyde. August was a tough month, in which I learnt that the National League has a higher standard of opposition that I was anticipating. We lost three times out of six. It was a stark reminder that my squad is still gelling together and it might take some time for us to fully click. It is worth noting that we currently have no team leaders, so squad dynamics need some time to foster. Centre-back Parker suffered a hamstring strain in the game against Solihull and was ruled out for five weeks. After failing to impress me against Solihull I dropped 'keeper Letheren and Turner has been by first choice stopper ever since. Looking at positives, our best performance and result to date came in the derby against Stockport. Additionally, it has been pleasing that we scored in every game. In August I received word that a local investor was in talks to takeover the club (mimicking what is hopefully happening in real life). However come the end of the month this had once again been quashed by Abdallah. Fingers crossed it will be third time lucky. September 2022 The game against Woking was frustrating as we through away a 2-0 lead and ended up drawing. Mellor had got on the scoresheet within two minutes but then was taken off injured. After the game it transpired that he had sprained his knee ligaments and was ruled out for eight weeks. With my first choice striker injured, it forced my hand to play strikers Thomas and Simpson and it has worked out well as they've both performed well when called upon. Thomas' first goal came six seconds into his debut! After the Woking draw I decided to take immediate action to turn our form around. Firstly, I held a team meeting and told the team that we could do a lot better than we currently have been. Secondly, I decided to open the chequebook and sign winger Danny Lloyd on a free transfer. I have given him a two year contract on £1,800 per week, which does make him our highest paid player by some distance. However, I felt I needed some more quality on the wing and my staff rate him as the best player at the club, now he has arrived. The 30 year old spent last season at League One side Gillingham, however has extensive non-league experience. The team meeting seemed to have had the desired effect, as we have had two big victories against Dartford and Fylde, and also beat Barnet. The defeat at Boreham Wood was disappointing (particularly as we lost because of a penalty conceded by Spence), although they are currently league leaders so they were in good form. Lloyd has yet to do anything of particular note, but it is extremely early days. So after 12 games, we currently sit within the Playoff places, which I am happy with. There is tonnes of room for improvement as I am still not settled on my best team and am constantly tweaking our tactical approach, but we are only five points off the top with room to grow so that is a good place to be. The final point to note is that the board decided to inject £110k into the club on 18 September and a further £150k on 26 September to help assist with our financial struggles.
  9. Thanks @Chevie! In my squad preview I mentioned that contracts had been offered to two central midfielders - they both rejected us for clubs further up the football pyramid. However, I was eventually able to sign another player who can play both DM and CM. More on him in my next update. Thanks @SinlessCity - always great to hear when someone likes my approach to updates, as the updates can take some time to put together 😅 Absolutely agree - upgrading staff can take time and effort but it is worth it for the huge improvements you can make. Thanks @john1! I’m really pleased with the business I was able to complete. I just need to get them all to gel now. I’ve actually completed the first three months of the season, but I am currently on holiday in Portugal and didn’t bring my laptop (I think it would overheat in this weather!) so a full update will be posted when I return from holiday next week.
  10. Great news! Congrats @keeper#1 - upwards and onwards now!
  11. You wait a while for an update, and then two come at once! As noted in part 1, the two formations we have been utilising in pre-season have been 4-1-2-2-1 and 4-2-3-1. We therefore needed to ensure we have quite a variety of attacking players - wingers, central attacking midfielders and inside forwards (for when playing 4-1-2-2-1). Many of the players I have signed are adept in playing multiple positions, which is valuable to me. Here is the rest of the Oldham 2022/23 squad: Attackers When playing 4-1-2-2-1, the below two signings will likely be my first choice wide options - Tormey as an inverted winger on the right and Jno-Baptiste as an inside forward on the left. When playing 4-2-3-1, or any other formation for that matter, I am sure this pair will also feature frequently. Both players possess electric pace, something I am hoping will put as at an advantage in the VNL. Nathan Tormey is another player like Rosa and Carroll who is yet to get professional first team minutes for a club, but on my assessment he is more than ready! Francis Jno-Baptiste could easily be played as a striker, but at this early stage I see him as a wide forward. He has had an interesting career to-date, having spent the last three years in Sweden playing for Ostersunds. As a Manchester United fan, turning Dion McGhee into a success really appeals to me. Similar to other players I've signed, he has started off with great promise (moving from United to Newcastle and then on to Sporting Braga) but is yet to have the opportunity to prove himself. He can play anywhere across attacking midfield and is on a bargain £300 per week. George Williams is the highest earner at the club (in fact, he's the only player earning more than £875 per week!), which may seem a strange decision as he's not first-choice on paper. I made this decision for a coupe of reasons: (1) we had assembled the rest of the squad so cheaply that I could justify spending more here, (2) he is an out-and-out winger, which we need in the squad and (3) he has 125 league appearances in the Football League which is more experience than most of my squad and he is still only 26. I signed two additional attackers for increased squad depth - both at opposite ends of their playing careers! Signing Lee Martin may seem a little left-field (and it's not my United bias shining through, I swear!) but adding his experience to the squad to help out develop the youngsters seemed like a wise move. Martin has made 418 league appearances across his career and has recent experience in non-league with Ebbsfleet. With his loss of pace, he will likely be utilised as a central attacking midfielder rather than a winger. At only 20 years old, Rio Glean was signed as 'one for the future', although he did score a screamer in our last pre-season friendly to give me food for thought! As you can see, we now have quite a few attackers. It may look like too many, but three are teenagers who I may choose to loan out or move back to our youth ranks. Realistically I can't see Kane Badby or Kofi Moore getting many minutes now I've recruited. Junior Luamba spent the majority of pre-season on international duty with DR Congo's U20s so is somewhat of an unknown quantity. McGhee's contract is one that I am keen to extend in due course. Martin, by contrast, had a non-negotiable clause in his contract that he gets a one year extension if he plays 15 times, so I will need to think carefully about his minutes. Strikers We have been making plans to go with one striker up front this season. However, if it was financially viable I have been keen to have enough strikers that we could switch to a 4-4-2 if needed and have another firepower to cope. Four signings have been made, to join Vani Da Silva who was already at the club. I was extremely excited to secure D'Mani Mellor as our planned first-choice striker for the season ahead. Mellor has made 10 substitute appearances for Man United and now I will be giving him the opportunity to be the main man. Mellor adds to our core of Mancunians at the club and picking up players from the big Manchester clubs will continue to be a strategy for me. Again, I think this deal is a coup for a club at this level. Adding a different style of forward to the mix is Connor Simpson. Mellor is a pressing forward, whereas Simpson is more of a target man. Despite being only 22, Simpson has played for 10 different clubs with the most recent ones being in Wales and Iceland. Hopefully he can settle down and find a home with us. Joining Glean in the 'one for the future' bucket is 20 year old Fidel O'Rourke. Signed from Liverpool's academy, I intend to loan him out for development this season. My plan for this transfer window was to try and limit loan signings if possible. In previous managerial saves I have had a great deal of success using loanees, but I wanted to try something a bit different and build using the club's players. In the latter stages of the transfer window I had been looking to add one more first team level striker to the group, however the wages wanted were getting extortionate. I therefore decided to make an exception to my loan policy and bring in Josh Thomas from Swansea on a season-long loan. He arrives with a slight knock (in the final stages of recovery from pulled knee ligaments), so won't be able to feature in the first game of the season, but should be able to be involved shortly. I am now ready to commence the Vanarama National League season. Let me know what you think of the squad I've built and wish us luck!
  12. With a threadbare squad, predominantly made up of under-18s, it was always going to be a busy first summer at Oldham Athletic. This proved to be the case and I now have 20 new arrivals to preview across the next two updates. I was excited to start with a clean slate and have the flexibility to spend my budget as I wished. I noted previously that I was limited to a maximum wage of £800 per week, which was lower than I was expecting and certainly limited some of our business. After the Fan's Trust takeover fell through in late July, I noticed that I could now offer up to £2,000 per week (budget permitting), so I guess the wage limit was somewhat like a transfer embargo. By that point I had constructed much of my squad, so no big spending spree of wage budget took place and from an overall financials perspective this is probably a good thing. I took over 40 players on trial over a six week period. Many of whom featured during pre-season so I could cast judgment over their ability. Some were judged not good enough and quickly released, some were offered contracts but chose to go elsewhere and some were successfully signed. Central midfield has been a particular challenge. I must have offered around 10 contracts to players who would have been great additions, but in each instance they chose to go elsewhere - normally to a League Two club. I am writing this update on the eve of the new season. In the VNL, the transfer window remains open from May until March, so there is plenty of time for further additions. We currently have three contract offers out with players, two of which are central midfielders, however given how this summer has gone so far I have limited confidence these deals will be completed! Overall I am happy with our transfer dealings, I believe I have constructed a young, talented squad, without spending much to do so. The majority of the squad have potential to grow and improve, although there are a few sprinklings of experience which I think will be important for the campaign ahead. Let me introduce to you, the Oldham squad for 2022/23: Goalkeepers This was one of a few priority areas as when I joined the club there was only one limited 17 year old 'keeper on the books (who has returned to the U-18s to continue developing once these deals were completed). I signed two goalkeepers, both of whom have the ability to be our first choice stopper. The more experienced of the two is Kyle Letheren who has played at a variety of clubs across the English and Scottish league pyramids, most recently at Morecambe in League Two. On current ability he is more accomplished than my other signing, Jake Turner, however Turner has the age and potential to go on and become a superior goalkeeper over time. Turner was released by Newcastle in the summer and, by coincidence, last got professional minutes during a loan at Morecombe in the 2020/21 season (prior to Letheren's arrival). Given his age profile, I gave Letheren a one year deal, whereas Turner has got a two year contract. Full Backs Before a signing was made, this was the area we were most equipped as I had already chosen to renew the contracts of right back Jordan Clarke and left back Sam Hart. I also have young prospect Benny Couto, who I am keen to develop, therefore I decided that there was no need to target a left back this transfer window. At right back, I found a player who would bring great experience and leadership to the team - something essential when we have so much young talent. Prior to his brief spell in the Eredivisie last season, Jordan Spence was playing regularly in the Championship over the last few years. I therefore think it was a huge coup to persuade him to drop to the National League. In the season preview media items he has been identified as one of the best players in the division. Due to his leadership, determination and experience I asked him to become club captain at the end of pre-season. Prior incumbent, and fellow right back, Clarke didn't mind handing over the captain's armband stating that it he was "probably the better option". I now have two good options at right back. Clarke was ruled out for seven weeks at the start of pre-season with sprained knee ligaments so I kept youngster Oliver Kilner around for cover and development. With Clarke now on the verge of match fitness, I may look to loan Kilner out. One potential danger is that MK Dons are currently interested in Sam Hart. I would hope to keep the player but a big fee could be transformative for the club so I would need to consider any offer carefully. Particularly as Hart currently only has a one year deal. Centre Backs This was definitely the easiest position to recruit for - I was delighted by the abundance of quality players who were willing to sign on reasonable terms. As such, I signed four players who could all easily be first choice. There are a lot of games to be played at this level, so I am sure they will all get plenty of minutes. Christian Maghoma has an interesting career path, having come through the Spurs academy, then spent time playing in Poland at Arka, before returning to the UK to play for Gillingham in League One. I have been very impressed with his performances in pre-season and as such have appointed him as our vice-captain for the season ahead. Having spent time in both Liverpool and Arsenal's academies, Mich'el Parker is also a player with pedigree. Most recently playing for Linfield in Northern Ireland, I was impressed with his technical and physical attributes. Having a left footed centre-back is always valuable and Ash Kigbu is the player for me. Capable of playing left back, if needed, he adds versatility in a number of ways. Kigbu is a local lad who was developed at Man City before being sold to Wolfsberger in Austria for £250k. That deal didn't quite work out and now he is back in Greater Manchester looking to rebuild his career. Ben Hockenhull may be worth the signing for his resale value alone! The youngest of the four, the ex-Man Utd academy player, has bags of potential. Besides Kigbu, who would only sign a one year deal, the other three are all on long-term deals which is great as they all have potential to develop. You may recall that I had two young centre backs with potential at the club, Will Sutton and Frazer Cookson. As I recruited so well at centre back I decided to loan the pair out to Bradford (PA) and Evesham respectively, to continue their development. Central Midfielders As discussed above, this position has been our biggest recruiting challenge. The positive spin on this, is that it could lead to more opportunities for top prospect Harry Vaughan, which would be beneficial for the club. Despite the hardship, we have managed to recruit three players in this area. We intend to either play 4-1(DM)-2-2(wide)-1 or 4-2-3-1, which is why we want to be more resourced in this position. Brazilian by birth, but with English as his second nationality thanks to five years in West Ham's academy, Bernardo Rosa could offer some attacking flair to the VNL. Clearly a very raw prospect, however his passing, technique, first touch and passing are already top class. One of my first signings of the summer was Bobby Carroll, formerly of Everton's academy. I'm not sure why Carroll's stats are showing as declining, he hasn't been injured or performed poorly in pre-season. Neither Rosa or Carroll have every played first team football so I am somewhat taking a punt on them, but I am looking forward to seeing what they do. Our headline signing in central midfield so far is Khalon Haysman, who quite simply has incredibly mental attributes for an 18 year old. Comfortable in defensive midfield or central midfield, he is a player that I am very excited to be managing this season. Hopefully I can find a suitable midfield partner for him. The outlay on wages for my central midfielders has been miniscule so far. In the next update I will profile our signings and squad in the attacking midfield and striker positions.
  13. Brief update: I have been without wifi (or had extremely poor / slow wifi) since the weekend due to a network issue in my area. My broadband provider has promised me it will be resolved by next Monday... I have finished pre-season with Oldham and my squad is nearly finalised for the season ahead (as you can imagine, there have been quite a few new faces!), so when my internet isn’t like wading through treacle I have plenty to write about! Updates pending.
  14. Congrats on the silverware and the promotion @keeper#1! Continuing on with the same core squad, plus a few key additions, or mass rebuild ahead of the Championship?
  15. It really is mate! Glad their story is getting a bit of mainstream attention - the pressure needs to stay on the owner to lower his asking price and sell up. Sadly I know Mo Lemsagan well as I've watched along with horror over the years as he's made bad transfer decision after bad transfer decision (from Urko Vera to Wilfred Moimbe to Florian Gonzales... I could go on!), all whilst never taking any accountability. One of my great hopes for this save is for the departure of Mo and Abdallah, and the arrival of new owners. On last year's save I took the club from League Two to the Premier League and wasn't able to shake them. Hoping for more fortune this time around. Only a week after taking on the managerial role rumours started to swirl of a Fan's Trust takeover but after a month Lemsagem came out to quash the prospect of a takeover and sadly all talk of this has fallen away. Hopefully, like in real life, the fan's effort continue to grow!
  16. Twelve games undefeated and a really healthy lead at the top of the table - you look like you're on course for a great season @warlock! Classic catch-22 You want to have a successful season, but going to the Premier League could kill the enjoyment of the save. Fingers crossed it doesn't. I definitely agree with this sentiment @Jogo Bonito - it's often more fun to go through the struggle as it provides more of a challenge and when you finally turn things around (if you do) the success feels more rewarding. Despite your difficulties, I wouldn't be surprised to read soon you've managed to sneak into the Playoffs... and at that point anything could happen!
  17. For anyone that’s interested in Oldham’s current plight (and therefore the circumstances I am currently managing under in this save), BBC Sport have recently posted a good article on the subject: Oldham Athletic: How the Latics stumbled their way to relegation to the National League
  18. This is very true to real life! The owner has given the fans false hope that he’s selling up but sadly nothing seems to actually be happening. Fingers crossed that he goes for you. I’m certainly hoping he’ll clear off in my save!
  19. The fixture list has now been announced and we will start our National League campaign away at Eastleigh - quite a trek for the Latics faithful! Before then I have lined up eight pre-season friendlies in which I will test out a variety of trialists (who will hopefully earn contracts), look to build match fitness, strive to improve morale and team cohesion, and work towards establishing a tactical approach and starting eleven. Some would say there is a lot to do before our first competitive game! Abdallah's expectations are that we finish in the Playoffs, reach the 2nd Round of the FA Cup and reach the Final of the FA Trophy. Season Preview The media are predicting that we will finish 8th and are less likely to be promoted than both fellow-relegated side Scunthorpe and newly promoted Fylde. To be fair to the media, I have just released over 20 players and have only made a handful of replacements so far - what do they have to go off? At this point it is likely club reputation alone that is even putting us in their thoughts for top half. As you can see, Fylde were joined by Gateshead, Dartford and Maidstone in securing promotion to the VNL. Last season the league was won by a dominant Chesterfield. They were joined in promotion to League Two somewhat surprisingly by 5th placed Bromley. This meant that big hitters (it's all relative, right?) Wrexham, Grimsby, Stockport and Notts County remain in the division. They will all be strong contenders for Playoffs or promotion. Financial Projections An initial glance at the club's finances indicated things might be okay, but scratch beneath the surface and it becomes apparent why our financial position is described as 'Insecure'. The club's balance is currently £650k, but with very little income expected over the coming season (we have received just £215k as a parachute payment and £5k from the league's TV deal) this should deplete rapidly. We have also just commenced repaying a debt to the Chairman of £28k per month - this may seem like a small amount but at this level it will soon add up. By the end of the season we are expected to be £500k in the red and, even more worryingly, in two years time we will be £2.25m underwater. Wage Limitations As previously noted, the board have given me a wage budget of £25.5k per week for the upcoming season. Based on 21/22 budgets, that would have given us the 7th biggest wage budget in the National League - not ground-breaking but certainly workable. With nearly my entire first team departing and those remaining on miniscule youth contracts, I was really looking forward to building a squad to fit the budget. A problem I have now discovered since I have started negotiating with potential signings, is that the board is limiting me with a £800 per week maximum wage for any signings. This is going to make things more difficult than expected. I certainly had plans to find young players and bargains, but I did also think there would be room in the budget for a few key players whose wage would exceed £1k per week. For context, predicted league winners Wrexham have 19 players on a higher weekly wage than my maximum, and this includes three players being paid more than £3k per week and a further two being paid £4k per week. Now we all know that Wrexham are owned by Hollywood superstars, so perhaps they are not a fair benchmark. That said, Stockport have 13 players paid over £800 per week (including one on £3k and one on £3.5k), Grimsby have 10, Notts County nine, Southend eight and Aldershot seven. Even newly promoted Fylde have five players on bigger wages than I am permitted to offer. Now this may sound like moaning, but pragmatically I do understand the limitations from a financial security perspective. I'm just looking to paint an accurate picture of the challenge that lies ahead for me. The objective of turning Oldham Athletic around is still achievable, I'm just going to have to work harder and smarter than anticipated.
  20. Whichever club I manage, the first thing I do is assess the staff and consider whether there are ways I can make improvements. Having the right personnel influences so much of what is important to a manager, from identifying transfer targets to developing the players at club, so it make sense to dedicate a good amount of focus to this area. Even on a tight budget, there are usually options readily available that are better than what you already have. For me, staffing really does matter. Assessing the staff at the club upon my arrival, I found that the quality was extremely poor. My faith in them was that low that I concluded that keeping them around would actively be to the detriment of the club. I agreed the mutual termination of nine contracted staff, with the most high profile being, long-term acolyte of John Sheridan, Tommy Wright. The only staff I retained were Goalkeeping Coach Steve Collis and Head of Youth Development Conor Marlin. Collis had good all-round goalkeeping coaching attributes, had one year left on his contract and I could not see a stronger option externally. Although Marlin's coaching attributes are limited, his ability to identify talent made him a better option than others in the market, so I renewed his contract for two years. Effectively now starting with a blank canvas, here are the appointments I made: Coaching Team Having a right-hand man who has can judge the quality and potential of your players, provide valuable advice and also contribute to the provision of quality training and player development is essential. I therefore put a lot of time and effort into making sure I had the right Assistant Manager. I managed to acquire Terry McPhillips from Southport. It is testament to his ability that I offered him a three year contract. McPhillips has been coaching since 1992, spending 12 years at Crewe's prestigious academy, nine years in the youth set-ups of Premier League sides Everton and Blackburn and managing in his own right at Blackpool. I am of the opinion that his signing is coup for the club. At this level of football you need staff who are well versed in multiple elements of coaching, compared to at the higher level where you have more staff and can therefore have more specialism. When I discovered Richard Thomas I was impressed by his mental and technical attributes, something that will be important as I will likely have a fairly young squad that can be developed, but also his competency across the board. For only £350 per week, the former Head of Youth Development at Watford, is an absolute bargain! I have read a few articles on what it is like to manage in the National League, as I have never done it before, and a recurring theme was the vast amount of games you need to pay and the impact it can have on your squad. I therefore was delighted to acquire a Fitness Coach as impressive as Steve Haines. Haines' prior experience was at Derby County, and coincidentally that is where my new Head of Performance Analysis Harry Croft cut his teeth. Croft, again, has noteworthy attributes and is at an age where I am sure he will continue to grow. This completes my new first team coaching team. Recruitment Team Hiring in the recruitment team saw the return of two familiar faces; last time I managed Oldham I hired both Ronny Rosenthal and Eric Vandenbergh. They both served me very well and helped me identify players that we signed and went on to great success. When Oldham were a League Two club I was pleased we were able to employ the pair, so to do it now as a National League team is even more thrilling. The new face in this team is Khaled Badra. Admittedly a left field choice, as his areas of expertise lies with African and Middle-Eastern talent, I am hoping his scouting ability will shine through and be applicable wherever he is located. I will report back on whether this leads to a skew in the players I am recommended. Medical Team Compared to other members of staff I have brought in, the medical team are relatively expensive. This is clearly an important area though, as at this level if you lose your key players to injury you are unlikely to have a large amount of options in reserve. I hired the highly respected Mike Micciche as our Head Physio and he will be ably assisted by Ryan Wilkie. Travelling down from Scotland to take on the role of Head of Sport Science is Andrew Lombard. Development Coaching For a club with as little resources as ours, developing youth prospects is extremely important as it creates a pipeline of talent for the first team and also, pragmatically, assets that can be sold to raise funds. I therefore made sure I had a full compliment of capable under-18s ('U18') coaches. I hired Dustin Hudson as U18 Manager, in his first role in football, for his good all-round managerial, mental and coaching attributes. My one concern is his temperamental personality - this was something I would have ideally avoided, but he really was the outstanding candidate. I have only given him a one year deal, so I can move him on swiftly if a better option becomes available or if I can see he is impacting the personalities of my young players. Hudson will be supported by Assistant Manager John McKeown and Fitness Coach Ed Franklin. I think it is valuable to have former top level pro's working in the youth setup, especially with international experience, who the prospects can learn form. My new U18s Coach Ashley Williams certainly fits that bill. Williams has 86 caps for Wales and was a consummate professional. I am hoping his determined personality will conuter-balance Hudson's. Likewise, I am hopeful Jussi Jaaskelainen will have a positive impact on our young goalkeepers. Jaaskelainen's attributes have seemingly been downgraded from when I have hired him in previous years, but he is definitely of a suitable level to do well in a fifth tier club's youth team. It is not yet clear whether I will decide to have a an under-23s ('U23') team next season - a first team and an U18s could well be sufficient in the fifth tier of English football. That said, I managed to persuade Chris Kiwomya to give up his role as Manager of the British Virgin Islands and take on the role as my U23s Manager. Kiwomya has great mental attributes, is an attack focused coach and has good experience developing youth. He is the only member of staff we have at U23 level currently. Foundations for Success By taking the time to revamp the club's staff, I now feel comfortable that we have done a lot to lay the foundations for success. I have built a team around me that have the ability to perform well and enable the team and I to fulfil our potential. With staff now in place, I can proceed to look at recruiting players.
  21. Thanks @john1, I appreciate your message! Enjoying the return to writing about my FM adventures. I’m not ready to make targets or predictions yet! Need to see how my squad building goes 😅 I’ve taken a moment to restructure my staff (and enjoy the sunshine!☀️) so my next update will be about that.
  22. Thanks @karanhsingh! Hopefully the first and last relegation of this career. Certainly the last intentional one!
  23. Eagle-eyed followers of this developing story will have noticed that I am commencing this career in the summer of 2022, with Oldham in the National League, which replicates their real life current predicament but is not where you would normally find them if you commence a save on FM22. I therefore thought I would provide some information on how I set this challenge up, before I get started. I set up the save with a whopping 42 leagues playable, with a further four set up as view only. As I knew I would be managing in the fifth tier, I added more leagues than I would normally do to add a greater level of depth and more lower divisions from other countries. I selected the start date to be pre-season 2022 for the Canadian Premier League season, meaning that the save commenced on 04 April, 2022. True to their pre-season media prediction, upon commencing the save I found Oldham in 23rd position in League Two with just six games remaining in the season. I decided to add a manager to Oldham so I could oversee the final six fixtures and steer them to relegation to set up this career challenge as required. Being in charge for this time period had the added benefit that it avoided the AI manager renewing any contracts that I would then be lumbered with. I demoted the first team squad, ready for their eventual releases at the end of the season, and promoted the youth players who I profiled above to the first team (with the one exception being goalkeeper Danny Rogers as, although I wanted the team to lose to secure relegation, I didn't want them to get thrashed and crush the morale of my prospects). Taking this approach had dual benefits as (1) the players are not yet ready for this level, so defeat and therefore relegation was pretty much guaranteed and (2) the young players got six games of EFL experience to aide their development. I proceeded to simulate the final games and after five defeats and one draw, relegation was successfully delivered. Scunthorpe joined us in demotion, replicating what took place in real life. In a promising development for the season ahead, my team of youngsters started to gel and perform quite well in the penultimate and final games of the season. These were a 3-2 loss away at Tranmere and then a 2-2 draw against Crawley. Youngsters Da Silva and Badby both bagged EFL goals, and top prospect Vaughan got two goals in two games. Even more impressive, was that despite being in a team of youths who mostly got beaten, Vaughan achieved a pass completion rate of 94% across the the six games he played - enough to give him the highest average across the entire season when you include the original first team! These developments increased my excitement to get started with this save. After relegation was secured, I took no further action other than to resign and retire the proxy manager I had in place, allowing me to add a new manager ready to commence this challenge. With that, I was ready to get started!
  24. Just came across your thread @keeper#1 - it is great to see another manager playing as Oldham! Usually it is just me taking on the challenge most seasons Great to see the Latics back in League One, effectively their spiritual home after 21 years spent there out of the last 25 years! I have just started writing about my latest save managing them. Mine will be a slightly different challenge to yours as I will be starting in the National League rather than League Two. Now I have found your career I will be certainly following along with interest and I hope you follow along with mine as well!
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