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Take over the first Premier League side to sack their manager and lead them to greatness

I did this last year and enjoyed it until I got too busy to play very much. Taking inspiration from the "down by Christmas" challenge, I will take control of the first club in the bottom 5 of the Premier League to sack their manager. This will then be my starting point for what will hopefully be a long and successful career.

As well as England, I also have the following leagues running; Scotland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, USA, Argentina and Brazil.

I've disabled the first transfer window so teams will start the season with the squads as in real life. I will then holiday until a manager gets sacked. Hopefully before Christmas so I can work some magic in the January window!
The first manager to leave his post is Mark Hughes, but it's mid October and with Stoke in 16th, he resigns before he's pushed. So I won't be taking this job.
Perhaps surprisingly the Stoke board take on former Hull manager Mike Phelan.
As we move into November, the bottom 3 are Swansea, Bournemouth and Huddersfield. Clement's job is the only one currently insecure.

I get into December and still nobody sacked. Starting to wonder if I'll get chance to do any business for my new club in January. Swansea move out of the bottom 3 to be replaced by Brighton and there are no insecure jobs...
Suddenly, Clement and Eddie Howe are sacked on the same day. Bournemouth are bottom, Swansea are 19th so I'll be taking the Bournemouth job.

I would post screenshot of the league, but currently, my screenshots look like this
Anyone have any ideas why?
It's ok. Discovered it's a Beta bug. This is how the table currently looks.
Meet The Manager

I'm not going to start with no qualifications because it's too unrealistic for a struggling team to hire someone with no knowledge at all. However, I haven't maxed my self out.
I favour youth development and am more tactical than tracksuit.

The board expects the team to play possession football. Although it isn't usually something I focus on, I'll just go with it for now and see how it goes.
Meet The Team

Currently, the only player injured is Artur Boruc and he's out for around 2 more weeks.

According to the initial team report, we lack depth at central defence, central midfield and attacking midfield. We don't really have a consistent goalscorer and the squad lacks leadership.
Despite our poor league position, the players are generally happy.

Squad Breakdown
Begovic is the best GK at the club, while Boruc and Federici provide backup. Boruc is 37 yrs old now, so I'll definitely need to be looking for a new keeper.
There are a couple of 19 yr olds showing decent potential. Stanton (on loan at Guernsey) and Ramsdale.

At left back, Daniels in far better than any other options at the club. Mings would be second choice, while Ake can also play there.
On the right, Francis can still do a job, but at 32 is probably the wrong side of his peak. Adam Smith provides competition, but there's no depth or potential.
My best pairing in the middle looks like being Cook and Ake. Although Francis can also play there, there's literally no more depth. Corey Jordan looks a good prospect, but is currently injured for 6 months with damaged cruciate ligaments. A central defender must be top of my shopping list!

I'm fairly flexible with the formation I will play and I'm happy to work around the players I have, so I'll look at all areas.
We have a couple of decent DMs, Surman and Cook. Cook wants a chance in the first team and is currently loan listed, but I think I'll probably keep him at the club. Other central midfield options include Arter and Gosling (another wanting first team football), while Hyndman is a decent prospect and would provide competition if he wasn't on loan at Lille. The only other prospect of note is Ofoborh, who's predominantly a DM.
We have a number of players that can play on either wing. Ibe, Pugh, Stanislas, Fraser and Gradel (out on loan at Toulouse). Josh King can also play anywhere in the attacking third, but is currently transfer listed. As for as prospects go, Mahoney is a 20 yr old right winger.
If I choose to play with an AMC, Josh King looks my best option, so I remove him from the transfer list. Hyndman may also offer an option there.

We have 3 main strikers at the club. Wilson, Afobe and Defoe. Grabban and Mousset are both out on loan, while King can play there if needed. There's not much in the way of potential here though.

In summary, I feel we lack a solid spine. I need to find a central defender, central midfielder and an attacking midfielder, as well as decent back up goalkeeper.

We are short on staff. There's no assistant manager and only 2 main coaches. There's no DoF and the head scout isn't that good. The other 2 scouts at the club are even worse.

First job, find some staff!
Approach To First Game

The board offer me the chance to set expectations.
I look at the budget options if I change them, but the budget doesn't actually change. So I leave them all on the lowest.
I was actually surprised to find we are still in the Carabao cup. We have a quarter-final against Spurs coming up.

I choose not to take the captaincy away from Simon Francis. I don't want to upset anyone before I've even started!
Although, I upset them in the team meeting when introducing myself. I tell them I'm confident that we can stay up, and they feel I'm being unambitious and that we should be aiming higher. I cautiously backtrack and tell them mid-table is more realistic. It seems to cheer them up.

Lewis Cook comes to see me to discuss his lack of football under the previous manager. I tell him that he'll get the chance to prove himself.

Our first game comes just 2 days into the job. A trip to West Brom
West Brom (A) - 13th December 2017

For the first game I'm lining up 4-3-3. I was tempted to play with 2 strikers but avoiding defeat has to be my priority and I'm fairly sure 2 up front would leave to many spaces. This is my first team sheet.
On the bench are; Federici, Francis, Daniels, Gosling, Fraser, King and Afobe.

We have a goal disallowed for offside after 36 mins and go in at half time with the score still 0-0.
During the second half, Stanislas is replaced by Fraser and Afobe comes on for Wilson. But it ends 0-0.


At least we didn't lose. Swansea did, so we close the gap to them to just 1 point, but we're 5 points from safety.
Huddersfield (H) - 16th December 2017

After the Bournemouth game, I am able to confirm Wolfgang Rolff as my assistant manager. The 57 yr old German has previously been assistant at some top German clubs, including Hannover, Frankfurt, Bremen and Leverkusen.

Dan Gosling came to speak about his lack of play time. To be honest, he's not really cut out for Premier League football, and won't get near the team if I sign the central midfielder I want. So I tell him that he can go and he seems ok with that.

As well as my new assistant manager, I also chose to hire a director of football. I mainly use mine just to negotiate contracts of existing players and selling on my unwanted ones. In comes 41 yr old Italian, Roberto Goretti. Formerly DoF and HoYD at Perugia.

Ryan Fraser picks up a bruised knee in training and will miss the match. But he'll only be out for a few days.

For the match against Huddersfield, I switch to a narrow formation in an attempt to control the midfield and allow me to play 2 up front.
On the bench are; Federici, Francis, Daniels, Gosling, Ibe, Mahoney and Afobe.

It only takes us 5 mins to take the lead. King and Wilson teaming up well before Defoe finishes from close range.
It's level after 20 mins when Ince scores from 25 yards. Keeper should have done better there...
We aren't level for long as Wilson puts us back in front. Latching onto a long ball from Mings.
Wilson scores again less than 2 minutes later. It feels like we are just walking through Huddersfield's defense.
Equally though, they are walking through ours. It's 3-2 after 29 minutes as Quaner scores a one on one chance.
It stays 3-2 up until half time, although Wilson fluffs a great chance for his hattrick!
My first sub comes after 65 mins with Mahoney replacing King. Afobe replaces Defoe 10 mins later, while Gosling replace Surman.
With a little under 10 mins to go, Depoitre gets on to a long ball from Mooy to make it 3-3.
But, Wilson eventually completes his hattrick after missing a number of chances to do it earlier.
There's a stoppage time red card for Huddersfield as we see the game out 4-3.

Tottenham (A) - 19th December 2017 (Carabao Cup Quarter Final)

After the win, I decided to ask the board if I can take my next coaching badge. So I'm currently training for my Continental B Licence. Hopefully I should get it around the end of the season.

Brad Smith comes to see me about his lack of play time. The problem with Brad is that he's a wing back and I don't use them. He's not great as a full back or a winger. What's more, my coaches reckon he's only good enough to play in League 1 and that he'll never be Premiership material. So I tell him he can leave.

Normally, I'd play some kids and fringe players in the cup, but seeing as this is a quarter final, and I'm trying to get some momentum going, I decide to go fairly full strength.
There's a few changes as some players are tired, but we line up like this.
On the bench are; Federici, Mings, Ake, Arter, Stanislas, Mahoney and King.

Early on its fairly end to end, but Cook gives away a penalty after 12 mins when he pushes Foyth and Kane steps up to score from the spot.
We create plenty of chances after that but just can't get the ball past Vorm, and go in at half time trailing by that single goal.
We finally equalise just before the hour mark. Wilson latches onto a long ball from Daniels and rounds Vorm before slotting home.
Shortly after this, I replace Ibe with Mahoney.
Unfortunately, we're only level for 10 minutes, before Kane rises to head home a Sissoko cross.
Late changes see King and Arter replace Afobe and Surman.
There are 5 minutes of stoppage time, and with 4 of them gone, King times a perfect run for a Wilson through ball and blasts it past Vorm for the equaliser. Somehow, we force extra time!
It only takes Spurs 4 minutes to retake the lead as Sissoko fires one into the top corner.
Shortly after, Daniels picks up a damaged heel, so I'm forced to use my extra time sub to bring on Mings.
Llorente makes it 4-2 before half time of extra time, and it looks like we're going out...
110 minutes gone, and Wilson pulls one back after a great ball from Mahoney, can we find an equaliser?
No. We fight hard but the cup run ends 4-3 after extra time.
Started this up then had to take a break because of work. Now Christmas is out of the way, it's time to get back to it...
Good Luck with this
Official SrWerGaming ©
Watford (A) - 23rd December 2017

In the run up to the match, I accept a few loan offers for some kids that are nowhere near the first team squad. Then Stanislas comes to talk to me about his lack of play time. He's the best winger I've got so I don't want to lose him. I don't always use wingers tho, so it's a complicated situation. I tell him I'll give him some game time, hopefully it will force him to put in some good performances.

This is how we line up against Watford:
Stanislas isn't a natural AMC, but I'm prepared to give him a chance. On the bench are; Boruc, A. Smith, Wiggins, Fraser, Ibe, King and Defoe.

We take the lead after 12 mins, when Afobe turns in a cross from Francis.
For most of the rest of the first half, we certainly look second best. But just before the break, Wilson latches onto a through ball from Afobe and passes it past the keeper to make it 2-0.
In the dying moments of the half, Deeney pulls a goal back for Watford when the defence give him far too much space.
We start the second half lively, but are restricted to long range efforts that we can't get on target.
On the hour mark, I pull a disappointing Stanislas and replace him with King.
Shortly after, King's involved in the build up as Wilson makes it 3-1.
A tired Mings, who's on a yellow, is replaced by Wiggins as we try and see the game out.
Watford hit us on the counter attack with 6 mins to go and Deeney sets up Kabasele to make it 3-2...
And then Deeney bullies his way through the defense to equalise!
And then Deeney scores a winner as the defence are caught out of position.
We lose 4-3 despite being in a strong position. The defence appeared to sleep through the second half and needs some serious work.

Looks like a defender may need to be the first signing we make.
Wow, got your job cut out with Bournemouth! Lots of goals going in at both ends though. Should be an exciting job! Good luck!
Everton (H) - 26th December 2017

Between matches, I send a few more youngsters out on loan. I also accept a few offers from Russian clubs for Boruc.
On the incoming front, I have my scouts frantically searching for defenders, while having bids accepted for Ryan Sessegnon and a transfer listed Danny Ings.
Just after that Ings bid gets accepted, Liverpool sack Klopp. They sit 9th in the league having just lost 4-1 to Chelsea at Anfield.

For the Everton game, I chose to change formation to see if it might help us concede less goals! I went with this team:
On the bench are; Federici, A.Smith, Wiggins, Gosling, Fraser, King, Afobe.

The match starts well, as we take the lead inside 4 mins from Ibe. Everton had actually hit the post, but we hit them on the counter attack making the most of Ibe's pace.
A couple of minutes later and it's 2-0. Cook heading in a Stanislas corner.
Everton pull a goal back on 33 mins through Klaasen and then equalise with their next attack as Tom Davies heads in a Sigurdsson cross.
We have a couple of chances to go in leading at half time, but Surman and Stanislas both blast over.
On the hour mark, I bring on Afobe to replace Wilson who's having a poor game.
He scores within minutes of his introduction as Ibe cuts back a great ball for him to turn in.
For some reason, we leave loads of space when we're leading, and it's not long before Sigurdsson finds Klaasen to equalise again.
Wiggins replaces a tired (and booked) Mings for the last 10 minutes.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Everton score again as Niasse breaks away from the defence and squares a ball for Lennon to score...

We manage to lose 4-3 for the 4th game in a row!

Bournemouth love a 4-3! Loads of goals, good luck with this, certainly looks like you need some better defenders!
Burnley (A) - 30th December 2017

It's a quiet period between Christmas and New Year, as I hunt for reinforcements, both on field and in the back room staff.

On the morning of our match, Callum Wilson comes to see me. 7 goals in his last 4 games has perked the interest of Man City, and he wants to leave to play Champions League football. I know I'm not likely to be able to offer him that at Bournemouth for a long time, so I tell him he can go if City match our valuation, which I set at £40m (He's valued at £31m), but he storms out...

I just make the one change for this match, with Ake being replaced by Adam Smith.
On the bench are; Federici, Ake, Daniels, Gosling, Fraser, King and Afobe.

It's the 29th minute before a goal comes and it's Wilson showing what he's got once more, getting on the end of a cross from Smith.
Just before half time, Francis is stretchered off with a head injury. Ake my only real option to replace him, so let's hope he can improve on his last showing!
The second half is fairly quiet. I bring on Fraser to replace Stanislas with 20 mins to go.
On 77 minutes, Burnley go down to 10 men, as Cork picks up his second yellow.
It helps us see out the game, and I finally get a win!


It's not quite enough to lift us out of the relegation zone, but it puts us just 2 points behind Burnley and 3 behind Huddersfield.

Francis had concussion and he'll be out for up to 2 weeks.
Crystal Palace (A) - 1st January 2018

With only a days rest between games, there's not much to report. Wilson did manage to come second in December's player of the month though.
Boruc has agreed a deal with CSKA Moscow and will join them when the Russian window opens on 28th January.

Because of the schedule, I need to rest a few players, so we line up like this:
With a bench of; Federici, Daniels, Wiggins, Fraser, King, Stanislas and Afobe.

We take the lead 11 mins in. It's Wilson again, finishing off a good passing move.
Wilson turned provider for our second goal after 26 mins. He's forced out wide but gets a cross in which Pugh puts away.
On 32 mins, Zaha goes down and wins a penalty. Lewis Cook gets a yellow for it. Cabaye steps up and tucks it away.
Just before the end of the half, Mings picks up a knock. I give him chance to run it off, but at the break, make the decision to replace him with Wiggins.
We have the better of the second half and eventually break through after 68 mins. Ibe beats the offside trap and gets to the edge of the box before squaring the ball for Pugh to score his second.
A few minutes later, he grabs his hat-trick as a corner isn't cleared, bounces around the area for a bit and he gets the final touch.
A couple of late changes see Lewis Cook and Wilson replaced by Daniels and Afobe.
Afobe makes an immediate impact as he's brought down by Sakho and wins a penalty. Daniels takes it, but it's saved!
We see the game out from there for a 4-1 win.


It's enough to move us up to 16th, while Pugh's hat-trick sees him named in the team of the week.
Peterborough (H) - 6th January 2018 (FA Cup)

The first signing arrives as Danny Ings agrees terms. So at least if Wilson does leave, I have a ready replacement.
It's unlikely that Sessegnon will be following him, as Fulham have now accepted bids from Everton, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Southampton and Tottenham.
The hunt for a central defender is proving difficult as I'm priced out of pursuing my top targets. Middlesbrough want £40m for Ben Gibson, While Lamine Kone is transfer listed by request, but Sunderland still want north of £20m for him. Nevan Subotic is a possible short term solution. He's also listed but at a much more reasonable £1.4m. He's getting on a bit though.

I take a bit of a risk for the cup match and put out a rotated team.
On the bench are; Boruc, Daniels, Mings, Pugh, Ibe, Wilson and Defoe.

My fears are put aside as we take the lead inside 10 mins. A cross from Brad Smith is turned in at the near post by Stanislas.
Unfortunately, our lead lasts 4 minutes as Miller beats the offside trap and then easily beats the keeper.
Steve Cook gives away a penalty on 19 mins. Ake gets booked for protesting about it. Miller should score his second, but blazes it high and wide.
At half time it's 1-1.
Less than 2 minutes into the second half and Ings scores a debut goal. Mahoney with some good work down the right, and Ings puts it in off the underside of the bar.
Stanislas picks up a knock just before the hour, so I replace him with Pugh rather than risk him playing on.
Later in the half, Arter gets a groin strain and is replaced by Ibe. Then Ake gets a second yellow...
I use my last sub to replace Mahoney with Mings and hope we can see out the last 10 minutes.
We do, despite a couple of scares, and we march on to round 4.

Manchester United (H) - 14th January 2018

Ryan Sessegnon chose Arsenal. I wasn't expecting him to choose us, once I'd seen who'd made bids. De Sciglio was another available option for full back, but Leicester offer far more than I can afford.
I do finally get a central defender across the line, as Dael arrives from Middlesbrough for £12.5m. He's only 20, good enough to challenge for a place now and will improve.

In the FA Cup 4th round draw, we are picked out to travel to Ipswich.

Liverpool announce Luis Enrique as their new manager, while Chelsea sign Kevin Strootman for £40m.

I take the opportunity to recall Hyndman from his loan spell at Lille. I feel he can help with numbers in midfield and offers something different.
I also turn my head to the loan market and bring in Lorenzo Tonelli until the end of the season from Napoli. He's a central defender, so I finally have competition for places. It's actually caused me a slight headache, because the next day, Subotic arrives, so now I probably have too many defenders!

For the United match, I keep the same formation that's been doing well for us and we line up like this.
On the bench are; Federici, Tonelli, Francis, Pugh, Fraser, Ings and Afobe.

United have the majority of the early action, bit as the half goes on, we start to get into it.
Just before half time, we win a free kick on the edge of their box. Stanislas swings it in, Fry nods it down and Ibe rifles it home from the penalty spot. We go in with a 1-0 lead.
United attack hard from the start when we come back out. However, it just gives us chances to hit them on the break, and after 51 mins, that's what we do as Wilson slides Stanislas through and he beats De Gea.
Mings picks up a knock, so is replaced by Francis, while later Pugh comes on for Arter.
A final late change sees Afobe replacing Wilson.
Right at the death, United pull a goal back as a Pogba cross is turned home by Lingard. It makes for a nervy end as there's 5 minutes of stoppage time!
In the 4th minute, United equalise. It's made by Pogba's vision again and finished by Ibrahimovic. We end 2-2.


With Southgate in the crowd, apparently watching Wilson. I wonder if that City bid is coming soon...
Southampton (A) - 21st January 2018

After letting a few more youngsters go out on loan (I'll evaluate them properly in the summer), I get a transfer offer from Wigan for Wiggins. It's only £550k, but I don't need him so hopefully he'll be off.

I do consider a change of formation, but decide that it's probably not best to do that while we're performing well. So we line up like this:
On the bench are; Federici, Cook, A.Smith, Hyndman, Pugh, Afobe and Ings.

We don't get off to a good start here. Gabbiadini puts Southampton 1-0 up after 14 mins, scoring a tap in after Begovic can't hold his first shot.
We slowly get back into the match and the equaliser comes just before half time. Finished off by Ibe after a good passing move.
A few players had poor first halves. The worse being Arter. So at the break, I replace him with Hyndman.
Our job is made difficult as Mings is sent off for a second yellow early in the second half. I sacrifice Surman and put Smith at full back.
Within minutes tho, Southampton were back in front. Gabbiadini again.
When David makes it 3-1, I have to face facts that we aren't winning this game. We're being completely overrun.
I try and get the team to tighten up, but Southampton just look like scoring every time they get the ball. It's almost 4-1 not long after... but it's disallowed for offside.
Our players are clearly getting frustrated, and Smith gives away a penalty on 83 mins, which Boufal scores.
Their next attack, another goal. This time Long gets in on the act.
Boufal makes it 6-1 in stoppage time. That's not the way I expected my first derby match to end.


I make my feelings very clear post-match. There'll be some changes happening for the next game.
Ipswich (A) - 27th January 2018 - FA Cup

Wiggins completes his move to Wigan, while the rest of the squad offer to refund the fans that travelled to Southampton.
Josh King picked up an injury playing for the u23s. He'll be out for a week.

On the transfer front, I try and bring in some loan players to bolster the squad. First up is Tiemoue Bakayoko from Chelsea, but he has no interest in coming. I've also had bids accepted for Daniel Amartey and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, but I'm not sure either of those will come either...

For the match against Ipswich, I take the advice of my backroom staff and switch to a 4-3-1-2 formation.
On the bench are; Begovic, Ake, Fry, L.Cook, Stanislas, Arter and Wilson.

We take the lead after 23 mins. A cross from Ibe is nodded down by Afobe and fired home by Ings.
Unfortunately, our lead doesn't last long as a hopeful long ball is latched onto by Garner to level.
We create a few chances towards the end of the half, but can't find the net and go in at 1-1.
It's a quiet second half. So after 63 mins, I change things up and replace Hyndman with Cook.
10 minutes and no chances later, I throw Wilson on to try and win us the game. Ings making way.
We still can't break through though and we'll be heading for a replay.

Manchester City (H) - 30th January 2018

Boruc completes his move to CSKA as the Russian window opens. Simon Francis comes to see me as he feels I was wrong to let him go due to his leadership qualities. He settles down when I tell him that Boruc just wasn't good enough anymore. He even agrees with me.

In the FA Cup draw, we'll get a home tie against Newcastle if we get through our replay.

For the City game, I take a bit of a risk and switch to 3 at the back. Hoping it will help contain their forward line.
On the bench are; Federici, Subotic, Tonelli, Daniels, Surman, King and Afobe.

We don't get off to a great start. We have a great effort but City hit us on the counter attack, and de Bruyne scores.
We actually have the best of the chances for the rest of the first half. We just can't score! At half time, it's still 1-0.
City dominate the ear;y second half, but we finally put a good move together. It ends with an unselfish Wilson setting up Ings for a tap in and making it 1-1.
After 65 mins, some players are starting to tire, so Steve Cook is replaced by Tonelli. And 5 mins later, Lewis Cook makes was for Surman.
Just after that second change, City take the lead. Bernat runs past everyone down the left before putting in a cross that Jesus finishes.
A late change sees Daniels on for Brad Smith, but although we force a couple of saves from Ederson, we just can't find another equaliser.


Defeat moves us back into the relegation zone on goal difference from Brighton. We have them next...
Transfer Deadline Day - 31st January 2018

The day starts with Leicester and Stoke both making offers for Adam Smith. With Watford also interested, I certainly won't be selling him off cheap. I negotiate with Leicester up to a guaranteed 11.3m, with £8m up front. They'll be more once he reaches 50 games. Stokes offer is lower and non-negotiable, so gets rejected.
Smith agrees a deal before Watford come calling, so off he goes.

Amartey surprises me by agreeing to come on loan until the end of the season, as does Nkoudou.
Coming in on more permanent deals are; Kaan Ayhan, a 23 year old defensive midfielder who can also fill in at DC, and Fred Onyedinma, a 21 year old winger from Millwall. However, he will be loaned back to them for the remainder of the season.
I also move to replace Smith, bringing in a transfer listed DeAndre Yedlin. He should be a great asset if I continue with 3 at the back.

With Jermain Defoe having hardly played since I came in, I give him the chance to leave as Lazio and the Brighton make bids for him.
He chooses Brighton. Hopefully that doesn't come back to bite me...

I almost bring in Thorgan Hazard right at the death, but he doesn't sign the contract in time, so it falls through.

These were each Premier League clubs biggest signings.

And these are my deals (plus a few more loaned out young players)

Away from transfer news, Lys Mousset is enjoying a decent loan spell at Charlton and picks up League 1 young player of the month.
Brighton (A) - 3rd February 2018

Nothing really to speak of pre-match. I opt for the same tactics we used against City as it almost worked!
This means that Yedlin and Kaan Ayhan make their debuts.
On the bench are; Federici, Subotic, Tonelli, Amartey, Daniels, King and Afobe.

We draw first blood after 32 minutes, as a shot from Ings is blocked and falls nicely for Arter to turn home.
Right on half time, Brighton equalise, and obviously, it's Defoe... Begovic doesn't claim a cross and Defoe has an empty net to put the ball into.
The second half is quiet and a haul off a disappointing Wilson and replace him with Afobe after 69 minutes.
Lewis Cook picks up a knock late on, so Amartey gets some game time.
It looks like we're ending 0-0, but very late on, we hit them on the counter attack. Afobe surges forward and Ings is left on his own, Afobe squares it to him and it's 2-1 with literally the last kick of the game.


It moves us up to 16th. 3 points clear of Brighton and we have a game in hand over them.
Ipswich (H) - 7th February - FA Cup Replay

For the cup replay, I switch back to 4-3-3. The narrow formation used in the first game didn't really work and I should give my wingers more game time.
I made a slight error by letting Federici play for the U23s on the same day, so O'Flaherty gets a place on the bench, alongside Steve Cook, Fry, Surman, Arter, King and Wilson.

It only takes us 3 minutes to take the lead as Stanislas chips a through ball for Afobe to put away.
The rest of the first half is a dull affair. We have more possession and chances, but they are mainly from long range, adn we take a 1-0 lead into the break.
Early in the second half, Afobe picks up a knock, so I replace him with King.
Despite getting plenty of chances, we can't score a second. With 15 minutes to go, I replace a tired Kaan Ayhan with Surman.
We finally secure the game in stoppage time as Ibe makes it 2-0 following a great ball from King.


We now host Newcastle in 10 days time.
Arsenal (H) - 11th February 2018

Just before the Arsenal game, Ryan Fraser picks up an injury. It's only blisters and he'll be out for around a week.

It's back to wing backs for this game as we try and keep it tight.
On the bench are; Federici, Subotic, Mings, Kaan Ayhan, Stanislas, Nkoudou and Afobe

We get off to a good start and take the lead after 18 minutes. A free kick is sung into the box, nodded down by Amartey and Steve Cook is there to score.
Arsenal equalise with their next attack tho. A long ball from Cech sees Kolasiniac of all people break free and finish a one on one chance.
After 38 minutes, we're back in front. ings is forced wide, but gets a cross in for Wilson to head home. We take a lead into the break.
Wilson scores his second after 54 minutes. He times his run well to just be onside from Lewis Cooks ball and calmly slots it past Cech.
Nkoudou replaces Wilson for last 25 mins so I can get him match fit. Unfortunately, Arsenal score shortly after. Iwobi from close range.
Ings misses a couple of late sitters, but thankfully we hang on to claim a precious victory.

Newcastle (H) - 17th February 2018 - FA Cup Fifth Round

In the week between matches, Stanislas is treated for a tight calf, but should be back for the match. Tonelli however, picks up a sports hernia and will be out for a month.

The board come back to me about my request for an affiliate club. We don't currently have one and it would be nice to have somewhere to send players on loan as well as having first refusal on their youngsters. The options I'm given are Oldham, Walsall, Southend and Port Vale.
I choose Walsall, mainly because they have the best training facilities.

As we approach the weekend, Steve Cook is ruled out with a tight groin. He'll only be out for a few days though.

For the match, I switch to 4-2-3-1 as Newcastle seem to have problems dealing with it.
On the bench are; Federici, Fry, Kaan Ayhan, Surman, Fraser, Ings and King.

The first half is an even affair, although Ibe misses the best chance, hitting straight at Darlow.
It's still 0-0 at half time.
Hyndman picks up a knock early in the second half and is replaced by King.
We pretty much dominate the play but without creating too many clear cut chances. When we do, Darlow is up to the test.
With 10 minutes to go, I replace Stanislas with Fraser.
He's involved in the build up to the goal as he lays the ball of to Wilson who finds the run of Ibe. This time he slides it past the oncoming keeper to make it 1-0.
Begovic makes a great save from the last kick of the game to see us through.

Swansea (H) - 24th February 2018

The FA Cup quarter-final draw gives us a home tie. Unfortunately, it's against Chelsea and will be played on 18th March.

Josh King picks up a training injury. It's a calf strain that will keep him out for up to 5 weeks.

For the Swansea match, I continue to try and pick a formation to exploit the opposition weaknesses. This leads me to playing 4-3-1-2 here.
On the bench are; Federici, Fry, Ake, Surman, Fraser, Ibe and Afobe.

After a couple of good early chances, Arter picks up a groin injury and is replaced by Surman.
Just before half time, we're made to pay for not taking our chances as Bony is set through and scores.
At the break I lay into the team quite a bit. It seems to have the desired effect as we are level with 5 minutes of the restart.
Yedlin looked to have nothing on, but somehow squeezed a cross to the near post where Wilson turns it in.
Hyndman's been disappointing in the AMC role, so after an hour I replace him with Ibe.
It doesn't help unlock the Swans defence tho who tightened up after conceding and eventually, the game ends 1-1.


Arter's groin injury isn't as bad as first thought and he'll only be out for a few days.
West Ham (A) - 3rd March 2018

Somehow, Fulham lift the EFL cup after beating Tottenham in the final. Our 4-3 extra time defeat to Spurs was picked as the best match of the competition.

Afobe comes to see me to discuss his lack of football. He's not played as much since I brought Ings in, but I was expecting Wilson to move on. As he's a highly influential player, I tell him I'll give him a chance to prove himself.

28th Feb is youth intake day. The best I get Lawrence Okafor.
Even he doesn't look too promising really.

This is how the league table looks as we head into March.

Lewis Cook came second in Young Player of the Month, while I came third for the manager award.

We confirm a deal to sign Jarrod Bowen from Hull at the end of the season. He's only 21 and should improve, while already competing for a first team place.

West Ham appear to be week against 4-1-2-3, so to try and take advantage of that, we line up like this.
On the bench are; Federici, Subotic, Ake, Pugh, Fraser, Stanislas and Wilson.

It'd end to end stuff early in the game. Arnautovic does score after 26 mins, but he's offside and it's disallowed.
It's still 0-0 at half time.
West Ham do finally take the lead after 51 mins, Carroll heading home a cross from Arnautovic.
Afobe isn't making the most of his chance, so after an hour, I pull him off for Wilson, while Nkoudou makes way for Stanislas.
Wilson's only contribution is to pass the ball to Antonio, who runs half the length of the pitch before crossing to Carroll who heads home for 2-0.
That's how we end up.


A disappointing performance.
Liverpool (A) - 10th March 2018

In the run up to the Liverpool game, Wilson bruises his knee in training. That will keep him out of the match, but it should be the only game he misses.

Without him, we line up like this.
On the bench are; Federici, Subotic, Fry, Fraser, King, Hyndman and Stanislas.

We take the lead through an unlikely source after 6 minutes. It's Yedlin that scores after Lewis Cook finds him in space on the right wing.
Liverpool put us under pressure after that, and we need Begovic to save us a couple of times. Somehow, we hang on to lead at half time.
It's a Begovic save that leads to the Liverpool equaliser. He can't hold a Coutinho shot, and Firmino knocks in the rebound.
After 56 minutes, Liverpool have a corner and it leads to Arter pushing Wijnaldum and giving away a penalty. He steps up and scores it himself.
Arter's been poor anyway, so I replace him with Hyndman after that.
Afobe had been been having another poor game and I was considering taking him off. Just then tho, he gets onto an Ibe throughball and slides it past the onrushing Karius to make it 2-2.
I leave Afobe on, but replace Ings with King for the last 10 minutes.
We see the game out for a draw.

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