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Taking over Sunderland with table as in real life on 7th April 2017. Only signing players aged 18 or under.

An introduction

I've had a real problem getting motivated for saves on FM17, so I'm giving myself one last chance, now that the final update is out.
I have used the real fixtures and results database from this site dated 7th April 2017 and will take control of Sunderland.

I intend this to be a one club career, so hopefully the board will stand by me if I don't manage to save us from relegation. I will limit myself to signing players that are 18 or younger, with the long term prospect of dominating England and Europe.

Apart from England, I have the following countries loaded: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, France, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain and Wales. If at any point a gain a feeder club in a league not loaded, then I will add it in.

As it would be unrealistic for a Premier League club to hire a manager with no coaching badges, I will begin my career as a former professional player (Local Level) and with my Continental C Licence. I have focused my attributes into youth development.
First Day In The Job

So David Moyes has gone. The Sunderland fans have been calling for his head for a while, and Ellis Short has finally had enough. Replacing him, is a relative unknown, Jon Harrod. Harrod has spent time working with youth teams previously and it is believed that he will use this experience to help develop a younger team and won't be afraid to blood youth prospects.
The club already has philosophies in place to sign young players for the first team and develop players using the clubs excellent youth system. There is a £12m transfer budget, but with the window closed, Harrod won't be able to spend to aid the relegation fight.

For anyone unfamiliar with the current Premier League table, this is how it looks.
We are 10 points adrift of safety with only 8 games to go. These include trips to the Emirates and Stamford Bridge, as well as our next game, at home to Manchester United.

For the remainder of this season, I will concentrate on trying to get results, before overhauling my staff in the summer. I will begin looking at potential signings now, but won't make any moves until I know which division I will be in next year.
Manchester United (H) - 9/4/2017

We expect United to play a 4-3-3 formation with a DM and two wingers. To try and counter this, I will start with 2 up front.
Currently, Duncan Watmore is injured and loanee Adnan Januzaj cannot play against his parent club. We will begin the match like this.
On the bench, we have Mannone, O'Shea, Kirchoff, Borini, Gooch, Larsson and Asoro.

The match didn't start too well, as we had Lamine Kone stretchered off inside 5 mins. John O'Shea came on to replace him.
Most of the first half was uneventful. Pickford made a few good saves, while our best chance came when De Gea tipped a Cattermole free kick onto the post. Then, in stoppage time, a quick counter attack from United saw Ibrahimovic play a pinpoint through ball, taking out my defence and allowing Mata to score, when one on one with the keeper.

We started the second half well, with decent possession and we were rewarded on the hour mark. De Gea made a double save, first from Oviedo and then from Anichebe, before Khazri knocked the ball into an empty net.
After this we put up a real fight, but just couldn't get Defoe into the game, so he was substituted after 70 mins with exciting youth prospect Joel Asoro coming on for his debut. He almost scored with his first touch, and went on to force a couple of good saves from De Gea. At the other end, Pickford had to be at his best to prevent Martial curling one into the top corner.
With 5 mins to go, we made our final substitution, with Seb Larsson replacing a tired Gibson. In the closing moments, Smalling hit the bar with a header from a free kick, but we held on to end at 1-1.

We committed a few too many fouls. But apart from that, a good result. Kone will only be out for 5 days.
West Ham (H) - 17/4/2017

We don't play until Monday this week, so before we play the gap between us and safety has increased to 12 points after Crystal Palace beat Leicester. We do have 2 games in hand over Hull though, who now occupy 17th place.

West Ham are predicted to play 4-2-3-1. So we are sticking to the same formation in the hope that we can put some pressure on their back 4.
Two players were disappointing in the last match. Manquillo and Jermain Defoe. I've replaced Manquillo with Billy Jones, but kept faith with Defoe and hopefully we'll get more service to him this time. Kone is fit enough to start.
On the bench we have; Mannone, Lescott, Kirchoff, Borini, Larsson, Januzaj and Asoro.

For the second game in a row, we pick up an early injury. This time Anichebe is stretchered off after 7 mins. Asoro comes on to replace him.
It was 16 minutes before our first real attack, Defoe forcing Adrian to tip one round for a corner. Pickford had already made a couple of good saves by then.The best chance of the first half fell to West Ham with Carroll heading over from a Feghouli cross.
With Defoe once again struggling, I pulled him off after 65 mins and gave Borini a run out. Chances had been scarce in the 2nd half before then.
Sakho almost scored a wonder goal for West Ham on 77 mins. Picking up the ball on the half way line, he went past 2 defenders before forcing Pickford to tip the ball over the bar.
With 10 mins to go, and another draw looking likely, I put Januzaj on to replace Khazri, hoping he'd add a different type of creativity. Unfortunately, it came to nothing and we ended at 0-0.

Although the result was disappointing, I can't be too upset with the performance. Anichebe has been ruled out for up to 2 weeks, while Gareth Southgate was spotted in the crowd for the second match in a row.
Middlesbrough (A) - 26/4/2017

My first derby match is coming up and it's between the league's bottom 2 teams. Boro currently sit 4 points ahead of us so this really is must win match!
We expect Boro to line up with a very defensive 4-4-1-1 (with 2 DMs). As we are playing away, I've also approached this slightly more defensively, as I need to win the midfield battle. So this is how we line up.
I would have been tempted to play Rodwell as RPM but he got injured yesterday. On the bench we have; Mannone, O'Shea, Kirchoff, Manquillo, Asoro, Borini and Cattermole.

No early injury today, but there was an early goal. Gibson played a hopeful ball forward after we'd cleared a corner and their defence just left it. Defoe ran onto it and was left one on one with Valdes, it was too easy for him to just slot it home.
After half an hour though, it was 1-1 when a cross from Fischer was nodded home by Gaston Ramirez.Oviedo should have done a better job picking him up. Defoe had a couple more chances at the end of the first half, but wasn't able to trouble Valdes.
Early in the second half we were struggling to create any chances, but we were reducing Boro to shots from distance. Januzaj's rating was down on 6.5 and was by far the weakest player on the team, so I hauled him off after just 52 mins, hoping that Borini would cause more problems coming in from that right wing.
On 57 mins, Pickford made a great save from a Negredo shot to save Jones' blushed after he'd given the ball away.
As the game went on, Ndong and Khazri were replaced after getting tired by Kirchoff and Asoro. Neither made an impact and the game fizzled out. 1-1 and now 3 draws in a row when draws just arent good enough. 10 points adrift with only 1 game in hand and a possible 15 points available.


Djilibodji put in his second Man of the Match performance in a row, so at least that's some positive.
I really like challenges and in my opinion, should continue and expect more! I'm going to do it soon too, I'm in the process of choosing
Hug and continue good career!
Official SrWerGaming ©
Bournemouth (H) - 29/4/2017

After 3 draws from my first 3 games, we desperately need a win. Avoiding defeat just isn't enough anymore. Bournemouth start the day in 12th and pretty much assured of their Premier League status.
We predict that they will line up with a flat 4-4-2. My thoughts are to employ a back 3 to cope with their 2 strikers, while still playing 2 up front myself. This is how we line up.
On the bench we have; Mannone, Kone, Denayer, Januzaj, Khazri, Gibson and Asoro.

Unbelievably, we pick up yet another early injury. This time, Cattermole is stretchered off after 7 mins. He is replaced by Darron Gibson.
It was half an hour in before we got a decent chance for either side. Borini playing a through ball for Defoe, but Boruc tipped it round for a corner. We had another couple of chances from long distance before Defoe fluffed another 1 on 1 chance. 0-0 at half time, and we'd done really well defensively. We'd even created a couple of decent chances, but Defoe just couldn't take them.
Within 2 minutes of the restart though, we were behind. Wilshere playing a great ball into the box and Afobe avoided everyone to turn it in. After 53 minutes, our fist real chance of the half saw Borini blast over from the edge of the box. From the resulting goal kick, a long ball was flicked on by Afobe and Wilson put Bournemouth 2-0 up.
Needing to get a result, I pull off O'Shea and replace him with Khazri. he was immediately involved with a couple of chances, but every shot we have seems to be straight at Boruc.
Things went from bad to worse when Manquillo dallied on the ball on the edge of our own box. Wilson took it off him and set up Afobe for 3-0. We still had 20 mins to play, and I didn't really have many options left. Defoe had had a poor game, so I pulled him for Asoro, just to give him game time really, more than hoping he'd turn the game around. Within seconds of him coming on though, it was 4-0. A hat-trick for Afobe. My defence just stood there and watched him run through them.
When Arter added another with a long range effort, I was starting to wonder why I'd started this save. It ends 5-0... I take my frustration out on the team, but they just switch off.

We edged possession and chances but lost by 5 goals. I really expected more from Defoe especially. I guess I should start planning for life in the Championship.

Cattermole has been ruled out for 3 weeks with a damaged knee cap. Southgate was in the stands again, apparently watching Pickford and Defoe. He won't have been impressed!
We now need a minimum of 10 points from our remaining 4 games, or you could say, we need a miracle.
Hull City (A) - 6/5/2017

Prior to this game, I got Lescott to sign a new contract. Although he's 34, I'm hoping he'll be good for tutoring some younger players, and unfortunately, he's still one of my best defenders at the moment.
Hull are the team currently sitting 17th. But lets face it, every game is must win now if we are going to avoid finishing bottom, let alone staying up.
I'm half tempted to bring in some of my young prospects as my senior players were so bad last time out, but while there's still an outside chance of staying up, I don't want to do anything too radical. Hull generally play 4-2-3-1, so I'm switching back to my trust 4-3-1-2 formation.
I'm playing two 18 year olds up front as Defoe and Borini have been poor and Anichebe isn't fully fit yet. On the bench today, we have; Pickford, O'Shea, Lescott, Kirchoff, Januzaj, Borini and Defoe.

The decision to play the kids up front looked good in the 18th minute when we took the lead. A counter attack from a Hull corner saw Asoro set Khazri through, who then found Maja just inside the box and although Marshall got a touch, we go 1-0 up.
The rest of the first half was quiet. We restricted Hull to efforts from set pieces, while we didn't manage too many shots ourselves.
The second half was much the same, Maja looked lively up front, while Mannone was claiming everything that Hull through into the box. Asoro wasn't having as much impact tho, so after an hour I replaced him with Defoe in the hope he can find his scoring boots.
With 10 minutes to go and still leading 1-0, Januzaj and Kirchoff come on to replace Khazri and Larsson. A couple of minutes later and we'd doubled our lead. Maja held the ball up well before laying it off to Defoe who struck it from 20 yards out into the top corner. It's good to have him back!

That's how we ended. Easily the best performance from the team so far. Only Asoro was disappointing,but he is more of a winger than a striker.
As you can see, we really dominated this match. If only we could play like that all the time.

We narrow the gap to 7 points, but with only 3 games to go. Swansea, Arsenal and Chelsea. Not the easiest run in, but beating Swansea will see us move off the bottom
Swansea (H) - 13/5/2017

After the previous game week, Chelsea were confirmer as champions, with 2 games to spare. Tottenham meanwhile have guaranteed themselves second place.

Can we stay alive in the Premier League for another week? Swansea sit 18th and haven't won in 9 games, so I'm hopeful.
It looks like the Swans will play 4-5-1, I'm sticking with the same formation, seeing as we won.
The only change from the last starting line up is Defoe coming in to replace Asoro.
The bench remains the same too, with Asoro instead of Defoe.

The first half took a while to get going, but after 26 mins, Swansea had a free kick. Our wall did its job and Khazri set Maja away on the counter. He was forced a bit wide, but Khazri had continued his run into the box and got on the end of the cross to make it 1-0.
After 32 mins, Larsson found Gibson on the edge of the box. It didn't look like there was much on, but he curled it into the top corner giving Fabianski no chance.
At half time, we'd had 70% of the possession and Swansea hadn't even managed a shot.
Sigurdsson pulled a goal back on the hour mark, getting on the end of a Llorente cross, but we were still dominating.
With 20 mins to go I pulled off Defoe for Borini and Larsson for Kirchoff, just to sure things up really, plus they were getting tired. It does the job and we hang on for a 2-1 win!

This moves us off the bottom of the table, up to 18th. We're still 5 points behind Hull though with a game in hand (against Arsenal), and then we travel to Chelsea for the last game of the season while Hull host Tottenham. I'd prefer two easier must win games to end the season... But there's still a chance.
Arsenal (A) - 18/5/2017

Arsenal had a few catch up games to play and have had to play Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday and then again on Sunday. Our game is on the Thursday, so I'm hoping for a slightly rotated team giving us an outside chance...

I'm sticking with our winning team, but Defoe never has a good game when I start him, so I've replace him with Anichebe
On the bench we have Pickford, Manquillo, Lescott, Kirchoff, Rodwell (returning from injury), Januzaj, Defoe

I'm pleased to see that it is a rotated Arsenal team. Sanchez and Ozil are still playing though, so it won't be easy.

What a start. A long range effort from Khazri forces a corner . Larsson takes it, Ndong squares it and Khazri scores! 9 mins in and we lead.
After 24 mins, Arsenal equalise. Anichebe had almost scored at one end, from the resulting goal kick, Arsenal string a few passes together before Walcott scores from just inside the box.
Maja fluffed a chance on 31 mins, putting over when clean through. Then right at the end of the half, Sanchez is stretchered off and will be replaced by Iwobi.
I suffer my own injury problem after 52 mins, as Khazri needs to come off. Januzaj is his natural replacement, can he produce?
Needing a goal, I get Defoe on with 15 mins to go, replacing Maja. I also bring on Rodwell to see if he can prove a point, Gibson the man going off.
But there it ends. 1-1. It's a good result, but it's not enough, we're down.


So the three relegated clubs are Sunderland, Swansea and Middlesbrough. We put up a good fight, I've only lost one match since taking over, but the task was just too big. Time to rebuild.
Because of the relegation, our board have set the initial budgets for next season, giving me £13.1m to help us regain our Premier League status.
Great start to this, thought you were going to make it at the end too.

Looking forward to seeing how you bring the Youth through
Chelsea (A) - 21/5/2017

Chelsea have won the league and we've been relegated, so this game doesn't really mean much. As such, I've given some kids and fringe players a game.
On the bench, we have Mannone, Manquillo, Rodwell, Khazri, Krusnell, Kirchoff, Defoe.

14 Mins and Love concedes a penalty for a push on Costa, which Hazard easily tucks away. But straight from kickoff, we push forward and a Robson cross finds Asoro, who bundles it in from close range. That's all that really happened in the first half.
In the second half, we quickly fall behind. Alonso scoring with a cross turned shot which deceived Pickford. A minute later, Hazard headed in a Costa cross. When O'Shea turned a ball into his own net after 57 mins, it was game over.
I through on Defoe, Khazri and Rodwell to try and and make sure I don't lose by too many. It didn't stop Costa scoring a 5th though.

Post Season - W/E 27/5/2017

We had the end of season awards, not that they mean much as we only played 8 games. But Defoe won player of the year, Gibson won goal of the season and Denayer won young player of the year.
In the end of season meeting, I tried to convince the team to stick around and get us promotion, some of them look like they want to move on though.
I go for a mid-range (4 week) pre-season.

My initial pre-season transfer plan needs to be to bring in players that will challenge for a first team place. Remember that this is a youth challenge, so I am restricting myself to only signing players aged 18 or under. There aren't many out there that will improve the team, especially affordable ones.
My first target is Maximiliano Romero, but I know he may not get a work permit. He's an Argentine striker, and I get a £3.5m offer accepted.

I have a few players who's contracts are expiring. Pienaar, Larsson, Anichebe and Kirchoff.
Pienaar won't make the first team, but he want's to stay. So I offer him a backup contract on a reduced wage, and hopefully he'll be a good tutor.
Larsson is still useful, but will also need a wage reduction. Anichebe will also have to do until another striker comes through.
Kirchoff is one of my better players and at 26 is really in his prime. He'll only sign if he's a key player and with a £17.5m release clause, but he really is must keep.

Some of the young players I'd been keeping an eye on have been listed for loan, but I'm unsure how much use they'll be in the immediate future. I'll come back to this once the window opens. Any loans I make will also only be U18s.

The other 2 relegated clubs, have sacked their manager. Christian Eriksen wins the FWA and PFA player of the year awards. Conte wins manager of the year. Lloris gets the golden glove and Kane the young player.

It's that time when clubs release young players they don't think will make it. The only player that takes my interest is DJ Buffonge, released by Man Utd. I've offered him a trial to take a closer look.

Romero's deal has been agreed but he did fail his work permit. I've put an appeal in, but I'm not hopeful.
Post Season - W/E 3/6/2017

The week starts with Pienaar signing his contract and Romero's work permit appeal being rejected. It's a tough choice whether to sign him and loan him out or whether to cancel the deal, as £3.5m is a fair chunk of my budget. But I'm taking the plunge, as my scouts really rate him.

On Monday, Anichebe signed his new contract and Buffonge arrived. He's not going to be hitting the first team any time soon, but he has the potential to make it, so I'll sign him up.
On Wednesday, Kirchoff signed his new contract. Milan were showing interest in him, so I'm glad he chose to stay.

Josh Maja came 3rd in young player of the month for May, which is good going seeing as he was nowhere near the team when I took over.

Now that it's June, I've decided I should really take a full stock of what players I have, whether they are any good, and move on those that aren't.
I aim to have 2 first teamers and 2 prospects for every position. Anyone not in the first team by 21 will be moved on. This is a simple breakdown of where we are at...
1st Choice - J. Pickford (Can still improve)
2nd Choice - V. Mannone
Potential - Not much! We have M. Woud and M. Stryjek, but both are only looking like 2* potential.
Over 21 - Mika
1st Choice - B. Oviedo
2nd Choice - There really isn't one. T. Robson is rated highest (1.5*), but Lescott can play there if needed.
Potential - O. Krusnell (3*) but nobody else over 2*
Over 21 - None
1st Choice - B. Jones
2nd Choice - A. Mathews (Still has potential to improve)
Potential. - D. Love has 3* potential, but he is now 22, so may need to be moved on.Nothing else here.
Over 21 - Just Love.
1st Choice Pairing - L. Kone/P. Djilibodji
2nd Choice Pairing - J. O'Shea/J. Lescott
Potential - Absolutely nothing
Over 21 - T. Beadling is 21 and a bit useless. His contract is up this month, so I'll just let him leave.
1st Choice - J. Kirchoff
2nd Choice - L. Cattermole
Potential - P. McNair is 22, but does have 4* pot.
Over 21 - D. Gibson and McNair
1st Choice Pairing - D. Ndong/S. Larsson
2nd Choice Pairing - J. Rodwell/S. Pienaar
Potential - E. Robson & E. Embleton are both 2*, but that's as good as it gets.
Over 21 - None
1st Choice - W. Khazri
2nd Choice - L. Gooch (Only 21, potential to improve)
Potential - D. Wright & G. Honeyman have 2* pot, which is the best here.
Over 21 - None
1st Choice - Although I have players such as Borini and Anichebe that can play left wing, I don't have anyone who's best position it is except DJ Buffonge. He has potential, but only 1.5* currently.
1st Choice - J. Lens
2nd Choice - D. Watmore
Potential - J. Asoro (Although I may prefer to develop him as a striker)
Over 21 - W. Buckley (contract up this month, will let him leave)
1st Choice Pair - J. Defoe/F, Borini
2nd Choice Pair - V. Anichebe/J. Asoro
Potential - J. Maja
Over 21 - C. Lawson (Contract up this month)

Although I don't use wingers often, I like to have the option, so I will be looking for someone that can play down the left. I also need some cove at left back. Other than that, I will just be looking at players with decent potential, as my youth team is very poor at present.
Post Season - W/E 10/6/2017

I've had my scouts looking for young talent since I took over and I've been going through looking for left wingers and left backs that will add something to the team. After ruling out some big names that won't want to play Championship football (Pulisic, Mbappe), I make an offer for Justin Kluivert. He's going to cost me the best part of £5m, but half of that will be in installments. There's also a sell on clause they want inserted.
Kluivert himself insists on a £20m release clause to bigger clubs and £9.5k in weekly wages.

As far as left backs go, I have my eye on Ryan Sessegnon at Fulham. He can play anywhere down the left, so will be good as back up for the full back and wing positions. He's valued at £2.8m, so I'm surprised to get a bid of £4.3m accepted. He doesn't haggle too much on the contract front, settling for a £13k a week wage.

Also on my shortlist for left winger are Moise Kean (Juventus) and Lincoln (Gremio), although I doubt the latter would get a work permit.

Midweek, and Kluivert agrees terms. He'll arrive on 1st July. I look further into Kean before confirming, but decide that he'll cost too much.

Lamine Kone comes to speak to me, as he heard some Premier League clubs are interested in his services. It looks like he'll be going, as I can't promise him I'll strengthen the team. We agree that I'll accept any bids that meet a £13m asking price. He'll be a big loss if he goes.

Just before the domestic window opened on friday (9th June), Sessegnon signed. This is how he currently looks.
Buffonge arrived too.
He clearly needs a lot of work, but I'm confident of building him up. I've immediately got Seb Larsson tutoring him.
Post Season - W/E 24/6/17

Early in the week, we take Trent Alexander-Arnold on loan for the season. I try adding a future fee, but Liverpool want silly money for him. He's at least as good as Matthews and will compete with Jones for my Right Back place.

I thought it was a good time to talk to the board about a few things. They reject my asking for a feeder club, but do agree to expand the youth recruitment and increase the junior coaching budget.
Great start to this, thought you were going to make it at the end too.

Looking forward to seeing how you bring the Youth through

Thanks! I missed your comment previously, but just looking back through. I had almost no prospects originally at the club, and the senior players I have are old. This could be more challenging than I was expecting.
I didn't think I'd stay up when I took over, but the lads really did put up a fight. Just 4 points adrift at the end.
Season Review - 2016/17


My first match in charge takes best match of the season, which was nice.

This is how the final table looked.

The new fixture list is also out. We start the season at home to Wolves and end at home to Scunthorpe. The derby matches against Middlesbrough are 26th September (A) and 17th February (H).

New fixtures mean new expectations. And it's no surprise that the board want promotion.
Raising expectations to winning the league only increased the budget by £0.5m so I didn't bother.
Pre-Season - 2017/18

Its 1st July and the window is open. My 2 pre-arranged signings have arrived.

Of course, Romero doesn't have a work permit, so I'll need to loan him out. We don't have a feeder club, so hopefully, I can get a spanish club interested.

Leicester made an offer for Kone, but is was well below the £13m that I agreed to sell him for.It was non-negotiable too, so instantly rejected.

As I'm getting ready for my 1st full season in charge, I thought it was probably time for me to bring in my own backroom staff.
First in is a new assistant manager, David Weir. Bar motivating, he's better at everything I'd want than the outgoing Paul Bracewell.
Next up, Head of Youth Development. Clearly this is a very important role for me, and the guy I had in place only had a rating of 3 for Working With Youngsters... Anyway, he's gone now and has been replaced by Luiz Fernando Moraes. The former Santos man doesn't speak any English, but his stats are great.
I wanted to sign a DoF. I generally only use them for offloading players, and extending contracts of current players and staff. However, the board hired Mark Venus in the role just after I arrived (I hadn't changed the responsibilities) and they aren't prepared to let him go. Even though I'd agreed terms to replace him with Andreas Brehme.

The rest of my coaching staff only needs the odd tweak here and there, but at least the main roles are sorted.

Our pre-season friendly schedule looks like this.
Ayr United (A) (Friendly) - 8/7/2017

In the run up to our first friendly, we managed to send Romero out on loan to Tenerife. As he's Argentinian, it will only take him 2 years to get Spanish citizenship (unless I can get him a work permit beforehand).
I'd also managed to agree a deal with Rashaan Fernandes. The dutch winger was released be Feyenoord at the end of the season, but still has masses of potential. Unfortunately, he's out for 7 months with damaged cruciate ligaments, so he obviously failed his medical. I'll be keeping an eye on him though. I may be able to sign him in January.

I thought I'd use the pre-season to trial some different formations, starting with a 4-3-3 variation.
Most of the rest of my squad are on the bench, except Alexander-Arnold and Sessegnon who are both on international duty with England U19s.

The first half is poor. We create a few chances but nothing of note.
At half time I replace Anichebe and Borini with Defoe and Kluivert.
We finally find a break through after an hour. Defoe finishing from just outside the box after a good passing move. We strung 12 passes together in the build up before Rodwell found Defoe.
I take that opportunity to make a couple more changes Asoro and Larsson coming on for Watmore and Kirchoff.
After 68 mins, some poor defending leads to an equalizer.
My final set of changes sees Ndong replace Cattermole and Krusnell replace Oviedo.
Larsson come close with a couple of late free kicks, but it ends 1-1. Not a great result, but that's not what pre-season is about really.
Zenit (H) (Friendly) - 11/7/2017

I've been scouring the loan list for U18s that will improve my first team. Players that would cost too much to buy, but would have an impact. I've managed to get bids accepted for Martin Odegaard and Jacob Bruun Larsen. I'm short in the attacking midfield/wing department, so if they agree to come, it will certainly be a help. Waiting to hear back...

One player that has come in, is Cole Dasilva. The Welsh fullback was released by Chelsea, but I think there's still a chance he can make it, even if all he has going for him at the moment is his pace.

Zenit play a 4-2-3-1 formation, so this gives me a good chance to go back to 2 strikers. This is how we line up.

Things didn't start well as Mannone gave away a penalty after 7 mins. He didn't save it either!
We got a penalty ourselves on 15 mins. Khazri looked certain to turn in a cross from Jones, but had his shirt pulled. Borini cooly slotted it away.
Borini scored again after half an hour. The keeper came to claim a cross which a defender headed away, this left Borini an empty net to pass the ball into. Thats how we stood at half time.
At half time, we made a few changes. On came Asoro, Gibson and Kone. Of go Anichebe, Cattermole and Jones.
Khazri should have increased our lead after 53 mins. Asoro set him clean through, but with only the keeper to beat, he blasted over. Asoro himself was left one on one after 61 mins, but he managed to hit the bar.
Another couple of changes then, Kluivert for Khazri and Watmore for Borini. And a switch back to the 4-3-3 we used in the last game.
It backfired a bit, we conceded an equaliser on 70 mins. Mannone should have done better though. However, he redeemed himself a little with a few good saves towards the end, meaning we end at 2-2.


We do a great job of keeping possession, but we need to do more with it!
Red Star FC (A) (Friendly) - 15/7/2017

I decided to send Josh Maja, up to Ayr for a season long loan. He won't get much game time with me and I need him to be playing regularly.

With Red Star lining up with a flat 4-4-2, I see this as a good chance to try out a back 3. This is how we line up.

Krusnell can currently only play left back, hence his poor rating at wing back. I'm training him there though, in case I want to play this formation more often.

It was a very quiet first half. Our first real chance not coming until the 41st minute, a Jones cross being headed wide by Defoe.
Half time subs saw Defoe, Krusnell and Rodwell, being replaced by Borini, Oviedo and Pienaar.
Although we were dominating possession, we went behind after 70 mins. A cross evading all 3 centre backs before being turned in. I took that opportunity to make a couple more subs. Cattermole replaced by Ndong and Kirchoff by O'Shea.
We go further behind shortly after, and despite creating a few more chances, we couldn't score. If the season carries on like that, we'll have problems!


After the match, we have some bad news followed by some good news. Firstly, Odegaard decides he doesn't want to play on cold, wet nights in the north-east. However, Jacob Bruun Larsen is coming in, which gives us an extra option on the wings.
He can even fill in at wing back if I need him to.
Galatasaray (H) (Friendly) - 19/7/2017

Not much happened in the run up to this match. They play a 4-2-3-1 formation, which would normally see me play 4-3-1-2. But I need to get my wingers fitness up, so we go 4-3-3.
Seb Larsson is versatile and fills in a right back for the match.

This wasn't a game I expected to win, and Podolski put Gala ahead after 7 mins. But we equalised almost straight away after a Kluivert shot was blocked and Borini blasted home.
The rest of the first half is quite even, we have a couple of long distance efforts, but go in at 1-1.
Half time subs see Gibson, Gooch and Kirchoff, being replaced by Pienaar, Watmore and McNair.
Just 2 mins into the seconds into the second half, Lescott picks up his 2nd yellow and goes off. I pull off Cattermole for O'Shea to sure up the back line.
I couldn't keep them out though and Sneijder scores after 66 mins. Then Sinan made it 3 just 2 mins later.
Knowing the game was beyond me at this point, I bring on Bruun Larsen for Kluivert and Dasilva for Krusnell. Not much else happens and we end at 1-3.


We held our own until the red card, so I can't complain too much.

After the game, I find out that our friendly against Kobenhavn has been cancelled as it now clashes with a Champions League qualifier.
Ajax (H) (Friendly) - 23/7/2017

We received an offer from Watford for Jermain Defoe. The offer £1.3m plus some add-ons. But as he's valued at £1.7m, it's a non-starter.
It's also time for those pre-season odds.
It's no surprise we're among the favourites to go up, seeing as we just came down. They don't expect much from my players though, with Borini at 1000-1 my best chance at top goalscorer.

In other news, Steven Pienaar started a coaching course. While Alexander-Arnold picked up the Golden Ball at the U19 Euros. Ryan Sessegnon also made best 11 of the tournament.
I've also made an offer for Andre Dozzell, he's good enough now to fight for a first team place. He'll take a big chunk of my budget, but hopefully he'll prove worth it in the long term.

Onto the match. Ajax playing with 4 defenders and 1 striker means I go with this.

Following a free kick, we take the lead after just 8 mins. McNair getting the final touch after a bit of pinball in the box.
McNair almost scored again after 27 minutes following a corner. But not much else happened in the first half.
At half time we swap Larsson, Ndong and McNair for Gibson, Rodwell and O'Shea.
Pickford made a few good saves early in the second half, but eventually got beaten by Cerny following a corner after 59 mins. Another corner a few minutes later saw Dolberg put Ajax 2-1 up. We must learn to defend corners...
Khazri and Jones get pulled after this, replaced by Kirchoff and Bruun Larsen. There's also a late change that sees Asoro replace Anichebe.
We can't find an equaliser though and lose 2-1. On a plus though, Kluivert performed well in the AMC role.

Very unlucky to go down! Brought in big improvement for next season Loving the layout and details of each match
Very unlucky to go down! Brought in big improvement for next season Loving the layout and details of each match

Thanks! I think it will be difficult to develop players quick enough to take the places of the aging ones. Sunderland have such an old squad! I'm hoping I can find enough first team ready 18 year olds that I can bring in, at least on loan.

I post match by match, mainly to keep myself motivated. Glad you like it.
Darlington (A) - 29/7/2017

The week starts with us bringing in another young player to boost the ranks. Jack Paterson arrives from Kilmarnock costing £275k.
I always like a central midfielder that knows how to pass.He'll be tutored by Lee Cattermole.

I've also been approached by Paolo Medina's agent. The 18 year old full back was released by Real Madrid, so I've offered to take him on trial to get a closer look.
After letting my coaches assess him, I decide not to take this any further. He's certainly not good enough now, and it's unlikely that he'll become better than I've already got.

I get a loan offer for Denver Hume, a 19 yr old left back that probably won't make the grade. He's off to Stockport in the National League. At least he'll get game time. Stockport also want Luke Molyneux, a 19 yr old winger. So off he goes.He's also unlikely to make it, but hopefully I can build his value up before selling him.
Also going out on loan is George Honeyman. I'd rather sell him, but nobody seems interested. I get Macclesfield to loan him with an optional future fee.

It appears that Odegaard wasn't put off by the north-east weather, as he went and joined Hull for the season.

Just before the Darlington match, we get a big signing over the line. Costing us £6.25m (partly in installments), welcome to Sunderland... Andre Dozzell!
I love the 20 rating for determination. He'll certainly be around the first team this season.

Onto the match, and this is how we lined up.
I'm hoping to make some minor tweaks the more I use this formation, as I feel it should be a good counter against teams that play 4-4-2.

Early on, we're restricted to long shots, but take the lead after 10 mins when Ndong slides a through ball for Gibson to finish.
The rest of the first half is poor, as we are back to just having efforts from distance. We have 13 shots in all, but only 5 are on target... At half time, it's 1-0.
At half time, Djilibodji and Ndong are replaced by Kichoff and Dozzell.
Its a bright start to the second half as Asoro hits the post in the opening minute. And a few minutes later, Anichebe puts one just wide.
We reach 60 mins and I make a couple more changes. Asoro for Defoe, and Gibson for Gooch. The two of them link up well just after coming on, before allowing Dozzell to find Anichebe just inside the box and it's 2-0!
Anichebe should have made it 3 late on, heading wide from a Dasilva cross when it looked easier to score. So we win 2-0. Comfortable, but not overly convincing against poorer opposition.


That's the last friendly. Bring on the 2017/18 season!
Wolves (H) - 5/8/2017

Before we can start the season, I need to choose a captain. It has been John O'Shea, but to be honest, he's not a guaranteed starter anymore. So, I promote Lee Cattermole from vice captain and let O'Shea replace him.
We also need to set win bonuses. I leave both the league and cup bonus set to normal.
I notice that Monaco have made Kylian Mbappe available for loan. He's not likely to come, but it would be crazy not to make an offer.

I decide it's about time I ask the board for some help. So I get them to improve the youth facilities, but they won't agree to a new affiliate.

Wolves look like they will start with a 4-4-1-1 formation, so I don't see a need for playing 3 at the back and think I can get away with 2 up front. This is how we line up.
I think Sessegnon will be better off further forward in the long term, but I'm happy to play him at left back for now.
On the bench, we have Mannone, McNair, Watmore, Kluivert, Jones, Gooch, Defoe.

We dominate the early stages, before Khazri plays a short back pass to Pickford and Bodvarsson nips in quickly and tucks it away. Khazri almost makes up for it with a free kick, but a great save denies him.
We dominate the rest of the 1st half, with 70% possession and 11 shots,but no goals.
After 65 mins, and no real second half action, I shake things up. My front 3 have all been poor, so I pull off Anichebe and Khazri, replacing them with Defoe and Kluivert.
With 10 mins to go, and still no goals, I send Watmore on for Borini, but we just can't find that goal. A disappointing start...


My strikers need to buck up their ideas.

After the game, I find out Mbappe decided that Torino was a better move for him. Shame.
Unlucky against Wolves
This is going to be quite a challenge I think, best of luck!
Sometimes you have to stand in the shadows; to see the light.

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