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Discussion
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - a takeover

So my first game on FM19 will be with the team that were just down the road when i grew up. I am a Gooner at heart but Woking is still the first team i saw live in their relative heydays on the mid 90's. The aim here is to take the side from the doldrums of the Vanarama Conference South to the lofty heights of the Premiership.

Club History
Woking Football Club are a semi-professional side based in Woking, Surrey. Formed in 1889 the club play at the Kingfield Stadium (Named the Laithwaite Community Stadium for sponsorship reasons) and are nicknamed the Cardinals or the Cards. Whichever you prefer.

Now in the 6th tier of English football after their relegation last season, the club is looking to rebuild and in the short term get themselves into the league football season for the first time. A feat the club nearly achieved in 1995 and 1996 where they came 2nd two years on the trot just behind Stevenage on both occasions

https://i.imgur.com/FdalH72.png

As you can see there is some cup history with 3 FA Trophies to our name coming in 1994, 1995 and 1997 highlighting how dominant Woking were in non-league football at one point. It was during this time that Woking famously took than Premiership side Coventry to an FA Cup 3rd round replay where a last minute goal prevented the tie going to extra time.

Finances
Finances are especially key in non-league games as you need the money in order to make the jump from semi-professional to professional status. I am pleased to say that the club are in the black and are looking pretty good with £160k in the bank

https://i.imgur.com/Ma4skby.png

The finances mean we can go and add some new players to the squad with an extra £2k or so per week available to offer to new signings but we will have to make do with no transfer fee budget for the time being.

Expectations
Having been relegated last season, i was expecting relatively high expectations by the board and i wasn't too wrong as the Board demand we finish in the play-off spots (Top 7) which nicely aligns with the Media's pre-season expectations where they predict us to finish in 7th as well

https://i.imgur.com/Klpbhsv.png

However, as you can see the odds between 2nd and 7th are exactly the same, meaning it will be tight. Relative moneybags Billericay are going to be tough, whilst Welling had a decent squad and Torquay have history of being a League side so shouldn't be underestimated either.
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg

Woking FC - 18/19 Pre-season



Tactics


With a revamped tactics module in this years game i was keen to look at how we can set up in the lower leagues where the ability is just not there to play the likes of Gegenpress and Tika taka football. Therefore we needed something a little more simple and ready for the lower leagues. This is what i am opting for

https://i.imgur.com/mr7IX6L.png


A relatively basic 4-4-2 with the idea to get the ball forward quickly and out to the wings to knock in crosses. With two strikers (Target man and Advanced forward) we should have at least one willing striker to run into the channels and a big man to get on the end of any crosses, we should have the firepower to score the goals. So far i haven't tweaked any of the parts of the formation preferring to see how the out of the box option will do for the first part of the season.

Off the back of this a secondary formation (4-4-1-1) with a pure direct play is being trained as a back up formation should we need it.

Squad


After going through the U23's and the U18's i got myself to the conclusion this would be roughly the 1st team squad for the season wiithout any new transfers.

https://i.imgur.com/SCETUfR.png


It looks pretty strong but there is some work to do as we do quickly go into teenagers for back ups in a lot of positions and although i do want to give youth a chance, i think we need a few more better rounded players to make a charge over what will be a long season.

Kane Ferdinand is our best player by a longshot and will play as a ball winner in the middle of the park alongside Max Kretzschmar in what looks to be a very strong central midfield for the division. I cant actually remember the last time i had two 4.5* midfielders in the middle of the park. Max will be more likely a box to box engine midfielder to give us some impetus moving forward.

However, it is the two men infront of them that the formation is going to rely on. Jake Hyde is a useful looking target man with 14 for heading and some decent height to boot. He should be able to terrorise defenders in the air and it should mean any floated crosses we will be in the hunt for. Greg Leur alongside him will be the legs and will be the one that will help stretch the back 2 to give Hyde more space. Well that is the plan anyway!

I will call out more of the squad as we go through the season

Scouting & Transfers


With lower league management it is all about looking for bargain buys which quite often means the free transfer market. A modest scouting budget has been supplied which as expected has gone on scouting the Vanarama North/South to see if there are any decent players we could pick up for next season on frees as we can't afford to pay any transfer fees

https://i.imgur.com/jgozGN0.png


Over pre-season a tonne of players were bought in on trial as i looked to add a few more players. The main aims were for wingers, a central midfielder and the defence and it was tough going. A lot of players were either no better or the ones that could make a difference were not interested. However 3 new faces all join the ranks

Max Makaka
The first signing ever on FM19 goes on a 20 year old Congolese/Englishman midfielder. Not one i could have predicted but Max has some decent ability meaning he is the natural back up for Ferdinand and Kretzschmar and he has pedigree having come through the books of both Tottenham and Watford. At £50 per week he is even low risk on wages.

Chris Paul
Quickly behind him was Chris Paul, a Northern Ireland U21 International who also started his career at Tottenham before moving to QPR and than out of contract. The coaches really rated him and although a right back wasn't high on the list, he does naturally fit better into a more attacking full back as overlapping is a factor of the playing style we have chosen.

Callum Ellseley
The last man in is another Tottenham Alumni having started there before moving to Norwich and than being cut having not played a game for the Canaries. A very solid centre half with lots of double figures in the physical departments as well as in the key technical stats. He comes in as a starter despite his young age.


There were no other outgoing's but we are still way under budget on wages even when i secured new contracts for our best 5/6 players. To help with the finances i also asked for a senior affiliate and i was pleased to tie up a deal with Sunderland who will pay us £30k a year, come to us for a friendly every season and loan us their youngsters. So far none have come over but in time that could become an important source of players for us.

Pre-season


Things have been going alright on the pitch too as the players have adapted themselves nicely to the 4-4-2 formation.

https://i.imgur.com/18luoxP.png


As you can see goals have been pretty easy to come by so far smashing four goals on 3 occassions but we can't get ahead of ourselves as all of the games were against weaker opposition in lower divisions than ourselves. Newcastle U23's was our one defeat but to be fair i rested the whole 1st choice side as the match came just 3 days before our first league fixture and i didnt want a knackered team for my debut.

Greg Leur caught the eye early on scoring 6 goals in 6 games and could be the main man this season. A young winger Reggie Young who was in the U18's at the start of the game has also come through and is in fact in pole position to be on the left wing for the opening game after some impressive performances including a handful of assists.

So far the cards are looking in my favour. Let the season begin!
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg

Woking FC - August 2018

August 2018

Just like in real life, we got ourselves off to a decent start in the league to stamp our claim as a promotion hopeful

https://i.imgur.com/ycgktN7.png


It all started with a 1-0 victory over East Thurrock where their defender was unlucky turning the ball into their own net as he was trying to prevent Leur from scoring himself. In our first home game though we smashed through St Albans 3-0 with the strikeforce working beautifully in tandem. It was the same again in the 2-1 win over Oxford City where we never looked in doubt.

The one blip of the month came at Wealdstone as we looked tired and off the boil having played Oxford just two days earlier. A schedule like that with part time players is always going to make it difficult. However this man was happy with the result

https://i.imgur.com/mTMCuWl.jpg


That defeat and the endless chants of us having no fans has though shaken us a little. We lumbered to a 4-3 victory over struggling Hemel Hempstead with Max Kretzschmar banging in a left foot volley from outside the area and slotting home a penalty to go alongside Leur's two tidy finishes. Our second two games in 3 days spell came up and this time i played both games with rotated squads rather than the previous effort of a strong side followed by a weaker side but we still struggled. Two 1-1 draws against Truro and bottom of the table Eastbourne at least mean we avoid defeats but both were lifeless affairs to be honest.



Still after 7 games we find ourselves in 4th spot amongst a pack of teams chasing the very impressive Welling down. We have Billericay up next in what will likely be one of the tougher games of the season. If we can get back to winning ways there we should look good for the rest of September and close that gap with Welling.

Looking through the games, the wing play style is generally working as we sit top of the crosses completed stat (17%) and with 8 of our 23 goals (Including friendlies) being assisted by crosses it is definitely forming a strong part of our play. It has also helped we are 2nd on shooting accuracy meaning we are making the keeper work 54% of the time and we are also 2nd in headers won which i think has partly been down to the excellent Ellesley at the back as well as Hyde doing his piece getting on the end of the direct balls and crosses.

Defensively we can improve and we are seeming to have some problems from through balls and assists within the area. I think we need to either drop the defence a little to combat the directness of the lower leagues or try and put more pressure in the middle of the park. Something to chew over for the next month.

August Woking player of the month

The obvious choice could be Greg Leur who leads the scoring charts with 5 goals but instead i have gone for a man who has impressed me because quite frankly his attributes are not that good but he is performing. Reggie Young is just 18 and was drafted in from the U18's during pre-season as we lacked depth on the wings. Since that moment though he has really taken his chance and he leads the assists charts with 3 to his name and his partnership with Captain Casey at left back highlights a really strong attacking outlet on the left. One that is far outperforming the right hand side at the moment.

A takeover looms?

At the start of the game, Woking are set to having the owners open to offers as they are in real life. The old chairman left suddenly and was replaced by former Mayoress Rosemary Johnson a few months ago and the game also believes the owners are looking for a change and it looks like i could be about to happen as this came up

https://i.imgur.com/SEiYTCj.png


Obviously a consortium could put a fresh spin on the game with the potential for money helping me spearhead a charge up the leagues which finger crossed could happen. Admittedly a few days later i did get some news that a fan group is also interested in taking over. That will be a little less exciting but i am sure more will follow
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - September 2018


September 2018

Onto Month 2 where we have fixtures against Billiericay and Torquay, two of our potential rivals for promotion, as well as our first foray into the FA Cup. Could we keep up our form?

https://i.imgur.com/JMIN0eo.png


Well yes and no. We managed to overcome Billericay 2-1 with Greg Luer being on fine form. In fact, that was the story of the month with Luer scoring 6 goals in just 5 games to keep the pressure on. His last minute goal against Dulwich Hamlet rescued us after we made 1 mistake and he helped get us going in what proved to be a trickier tie against Thatcham than i would have liked.

The game against Torquay was a similar game to the Wealdstone one from August where we just looked tired and we couldn't offer anything in the way of attacking threat. It does throw in the question that we might need a plan B and we already look too dependent on Luer to score our goals which is again something we are going to need to address. Still we are in the play-off spots 2 months in



September Woking player of the month

Quite clearly there is just one player in the running and that is Greg Luer who has been superb all season but really hit his stride this month with 6 goals putting his current season total of 11. 9 of which are in the league meaning he is 5th in the scoring charts for the league but if we can keep him going that is one of the key metrics for a successful season.

Transfer embargo now in place

https://i.imgur.com/xJU6cM8.png


So it looks like the takeover is going to happen but it isn't going to be a consortium which means we will not have a big boost in revenue. The Fan's trust will in all likelihood mean no change at all which isn't the worst of things.
Not a bad opening 11 games that, interesting to see a takeover on the board already, shame it doesn't look like it'll benefit you financially.
https://i.imgur.com/zgMyvyG.png?2
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - October 2018


October 2018

Month 3 and the FA Cup start to kick into gear as we start the month with the 3rd Qualifying round fixture against Brentwood. A game i was expecting to win relatively easily but in the end a 93rd minute goal from Nicky Wheeler had to be enough to take us to the 4th Qualifying round where we got fellow Vanarama South side St. Albans.

It took going to a replay (Which we didn't need) but we eventually got free. Jake Hyde scoring in the first game to earn a 1-1 draw and hitting two in the replay in another 3-0 romp against St. Albans. In fact Jake Hyde has now scored 5 goals in 3 games against them this year. This has got us to the 1st round proper, meeting the board's expectations where we have a tasty home tie against Vanarama Premier side Barnet. Onto the league table.



Four more games down and 7 points collected in what highlights some of our struggles (Scoring goals) but does highlight some of our strengths (Defence). We can be very tepid and if Greg Luer is not playing well than we do really struggle to score goals. Jake Hyde has played himself into some form partly as i loves ripping apart St. Albans so we might have finally got him back to the scoring ways i expected but we do need the midfielder chipping in more with some goals if we are going to make a concerted effort to get back to the top.

It is though still pretty tight towards the top and in the month of November we have lots of the teams in and around us which if it goes in our favour means we could get ourselves comfortably into the Play-off spots. A nice 5 point gap over 8th place Slough is good to see though at this stage.

October Woking player of the month

Looking back at the month it was pretty hard to find that stand-out player. In the end it came down to two players who i can say improved from their first two months form. Jake Hyde and Nicky Wheeler were the the two men but in the end i will give to to Wheeler whose 2 goals and 2 assists helped us get through two rounds of the FA Cup and show there is some potential in our right hand side.

Takeover is complete

https://i.imgur.com/LOHxlUi.png


The long winded takeover is now over and it couldn't have been more anticlimactic as the fans trust take over and simply change nothing. Well apart from removing the need to play direct football.
How have you got a takeover already, I never see a takeover until a few seasons into the game. Good going in the first few games though hope you keep it up!
How have you got a takeover already, I never see a takeover until a few seasons into the game. Good going in the first few games though hope you keep it up!

This depends on the state of the club you're in etc, they must have a board open to it. I'm Newcastle in my first save and we were taken over around Feb season 1
This depends on the state of the club you're in etc, they must have a board open to it. I'm Newcastle in my first save and we were taken over around Feb season 1


I support Newcastle and wish we'd get taken over in real life
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - November 2018


November 2018

A much quieter month in the end with just 4 games and a much needed two week break at the end of the month to rest these part timers. Although all 4 games were tough with the three league games all against teams fighting for the play-offs and that 1st Round FA Cup tie against Barnet. A Young Albie Hopkins was added on loan from Oxford United on a 3 month deal to cover whilst Wheeler and Jolley sit injured on the sidelines.

https://i.imgur.com/AX5V4Ct.png


All in all a good month with 9 points from 9 in the league. Enough to win me manager of the month and more importantly keeps us right in the hunt for promotion come end of the season. In fact the top half of the table is looking very very tight indeed.



Two points off the top and a very nice gap formed between ourselves and Chippenham just outside of the play-offs. As you can see our three games were against 8th, 9th and 5th meaning the 9 points have been vital in propelling us up the table.

Therefore the only blip this month was the FA Cup where despite taking the lead in the 1st minute through Jake Hyde we were dominated by Barnet and in the end their class overcame our side as we exit the competition. We move on to the FA Vase which starts in December with Torquay our opponents in the 3rd Qualifying round.

November's Woking player of the month

It could only be one man as Greg Luer takes the award banging in 5 goals in the league putting him on 17 for the season so far. He also came 2nd in the League's award as he sits 2nd in the scoring charts. Without him we would be screwed!

Brexit is here

Not sure if on this version of FM there are different outcomes from Brexit but it has been announced and it is going to look like this

https://i.imgur.com/HG12Sql.png


It seems pretty soft with Ireland still counting as non-foreign and just a limit on the number of foreigners in the squad. To be honest i am quite looking forward to trying to go up the leagues with as an all british squad as possible. Bring it on!
This depends on the state of the club you're in etc, they must have a board open to it. I'm Newcastle in my first save and we were taken over around Feb season 1


Correct. The board were willing to listen to offers when i took over so it wasn't a surprise that we got a takeover so soon
It is close at the top of the Conference South! As you predicted. Hopefully the in form Luer can make the difference for you.

KUTGW
Sometimes you have to stand in the shadows; to see the light.

OYSTON OUT
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - December 2018


December 2018

The end of 2018 is upon us already as we moved through the festive season and progressed past the half way point in the season. The FA Trophy also kicked into life and was the jumping off point for the month. In the 3rd qualifying round, we entered and it was a home tie against fellow Vanarama South side Torquay that was in our way. They beat us in the league earlier in the season and it was always going to be a tough draw, but when you have Greg Luer, anything is possible and it was Luer's two strikes that were enough to progress 2-1 into the first round proper.

The 1st round tie was tougher and on paper it had a bit of spice as we were drawn against local rivals and Vanarama Premier side Aldershot. A game the fans always want to win and i was happy to give them what they wanted, with centre half Kiran Khinda-John getting on the end of a corner to score the only goal of the match to send the fans into raptures. The 2nd round will be played in January where we have Dartford as opponents. The board are happy that once again we have met their expectations for progression.

In and around these games, the league has continued to move ahead with 5 more fixtures and for us another 10 points picked up.



As you can see it is still incredibly tight at the top and really at this stage it could be anyone in the top 5 finishing top of the table. Dartford proved too tough for us and it puts an interesting spin on our upcoming FA Trophy match where we will seek revenge. The Billericay match was also crucial as i was sure we were going to end up losing that but we seem to have some fighting spirit at times and again prevented them from opening up too big a gap on us.

Really as it stands now, i have to be looking at play-offs as a bare minimum. We have a nice gap over 8th and unless our form dips we should be able to hold on. To keep us going though, i have added two new midfielders into the squad over December as legs start to tire going into the home stretch. Luke Fairlamb joins on a free until the end of the season having been released by Vanarama North side Brackley and he provides more competition for that left wing slot. The 2nd signing comes from our parent club Sunderland as Jake Hackett joins on loan. Predominantly a central midfielder he provides options if Ferdinand and Kretzschmar are tired but he can also go on the left wing if needed. Lots of double figure attributes making him a potential star for the 2nd half of the season.

December's Woking player of the month

An awkward month for voting as again lots of players got on by without doing too much but Kiran Khinda-John takes the award for me. Two goals including a crucial goal against local rivals Aldershot and some assured defending in place. His average rating for the month was just over 7.00 and he has been an ever present alongside Ellesley.

Finances

In some ways a quiet month with no takeover's or brexits but i wanted to shine a spotlight on the finances which have surprised me.

https://i.imgur.com/3tCyDq0.png


They have surprised me in a good way, i may add as we are a Non-league side making money. A big part of that has been the cup runs with our game against Barnet in the FA Cup being on the TV meaning we have decent TV income and prize money rewards. Equally our gate receipts have been key as we have an average attendance just short of 2,000. It means we have the highest attendance in the Vanarama South, we would be the 7th most attended in the Vanarama Premier and we even have higher attendance than two League 2 sides. The fan's are there and it gives me hope that should we progress further with this side that we can cope with the financial pressures on the club
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - January 2019


January 2019

New year... new Woking? Well in a way yes. The first half of the season saw us playing well and winning games through tough sturdy play with many games finishing 1-0 or 2-1. Defensively the team were the best in the league and although not the nicest football it was effective.

Well January saw a slight change to the formula but the most important part was that we were still winning. The main change was the sheer amount of goals that were going in as we found our goalscoring boots in what proved to be a great month for the club.

https://i.imgur.com/RfZ1DwB.png


Looking at the results you can see one name dominate as Greg Luer carried on his amazing season banging in 8 goals in January as not only did we keep the pressure on Torquay and Billericay but also progress in the FA Trophy beating Dartford in a what was a tricky tie.

https://i.imgur.com/M2nsC1n.png


From a league perspective, that draw against Wealdstone hurt as Torquay now sit 4 points ahead of us and the league title is going to be a real battle this year as both Billericay and Torquay look like they can more than match our form this season. The good news though is that the gap between us and Dartford is growing and at 7 points gives us some breathing room. It is important as 2nd and 3rd will have to go through one round less in the play-offs which might prove crucial in our hunt for promotion.

January's Woking player of the month

Let's face it. Greg Luer was never not winning this. 8 goals throughout January showed that he is in a different league this season.
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - February 2019


February 2019

The Woking steam train is still rolling with the team going the whole month without conceding and picking up 8 points from the 4 league games. On top of that, we also progressed in the FA Trophy 3rd round beating Truro 2-0 to put us into the quarter finals of the competition where we will take on Leyton Orient. Time's are good for sure.

https://i.imgur.com/wkcSvBa.png


Thing's though could still be better. As you can see from the screenshot above we are still far too reliant on the goals of Luer to get us over the line. He now has 31 goals for the season. We have only scored 65 as a whole team. When you take into account his 5 assists it means he has directly been involved in 55% of our goals alone.

That is something we are going to need to tweak in the upcoming seasons and if i can in the next few months as if he goes off the boil we dont score. This was evident in the opening and closing games of the month where he got a 6.3 rating in both games and in both games we dont score.

The other thing that could be better... is well Torquay and Billericay could stop picking up points themselves. As much as we have been on fire, these two have been matching us and in fact doing slightly better than us as the league table shows.



10 Games to go and we have 4 points to make up in order to win the title. That is going to be tough if i am honest which makes me believe it will have to be the play-offs this year. These look a cert now with a healthy 18 point gap over 8th and 8 points over 4th place Dartford. As i have already mentioned 3rd means we avoid a play-off quarter final which with part time players should mean we go into the matches that little bit fitter.

The Cup run though has been another highlight as we have beaten some tough sides to get to the quarter finals and Leyton Orient are about as tough as the come in non-league football and it should be a good match. We are in form and we have home advantage. Hopefully we can get the tie done in one game as a replay might just kill the guys in our title run-in.

February's Woking player of the month

Another hard month to choose as the obvious candidate Luer did go missing in two games and no one else really did much. I guess i am going to go with Nicky Wheeler who has come back from injury and shored up the right hand side chipping in with a nice assist as well as being consistent throughout the month.

Torquay & Billericay - What i am up against

I am just going to leave below the following screenshot which shows the financial disparity i have against the other two. This is just the salary's but as you can see from a budget point of view, our's is dwarfed by the incredible spend of these two giants.

https://i.imgur.com/CLcENuz.png


We will carry on bringing the fight to them though!
Exciting run in till the end, smashing the season so far tho!
https://i.imgur.com/zgMyvyG.png?2
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - March 2019


March 2019

March mayhem has happened as things got real tough for us. The month started with our FA Trophy Quarter final clash with Leyton Orient. Both teams had agreed that the match will go to extra time if the scores are level at full time giving both teams as much chance of avoiding a replay.

In the match i was so proud of the boys as we controlled and dominated the larger side from start to finish. We took a lead through a well executed team goal before they managed to peg it back. 15 shots to their 5 and all we could get was a draw. The game going to extra time took its toll as the replay was just 3 days later and it showed. We were just not the same and we did well to peg them back but they scored 3 goals in a 10 minute spell to blow us away. A  95th minute consolation helped make it look closer but we were still out.

The problem was that just 3 days later we had a league game and 2 days after that we had another one. 4 games in 8 days with part time players is impossible and it has cost us dearly in the league. We dropped a 2-0 lead against Hungerford who have been a poor team all season and than we lost to Chippenham where i basically had shells for a team.

It shows that our form picked up when we got some rest and although we were not great, picking up 2-1 wins over Welling and Slough were enough to seal a play-off spot for us. The 0-0 draw against Bath at the end of the month though has shown that we are still not quite back to our best.



5 more games to go and i have to say the league title is now looking very unlikely. Our next match though is against Torquay so we could cause some issues but i think i am going to have to settle for a play-off spot this season. It is a lottery but we have generally done well against the teams up and around us in the league as it has actually been the teams at the bottom who have caused us issues

March's Woking player of the month

Yup it is going to Greg Luer again. Not his best month but he gets the nod after steering us to both the wins against Welling and Slough. 34 goals and counting.

Youth Intake

FM19 has thrown me my first ever youth intake and it is pretty good to be honest. No world beaters as you would expect but the quality is there for these players to be first teamers in a year or two.

Russell Hessenthaler is the pick of the bunch and is already a 3* player. Nice physicals and double figure finishing means he will get some game time as we go into the last couple of games for the season.

Other highlights include left back Jonny Still, attacking midfielder / striker Victor Williams and winger Carl Granger who all could feature next season if they develop well enough.
Nice youth intake!

Play-offs are the more fun way to go up
Sometimes you have to stand in the shadows; to see the light.

OYSTON OUT
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - 18/19 End of season


The Season run in

Quite simply we ran out of steam and some of the games got crazy. A 4-4 draw against Torquay started the month where it looked like we had scored a late winner only to concede an even later equaliser. That was followed by a 3-2 defeat to Chelmsford before we smashed Concord 6-3 in a game where young Hessenthaler scored a hat trick at just 16 years of age.

A 2-0 defeat to Dulwich Hamlet and a 4-2 win over Gloucester finished the regular season as we went down in a blaze of glory and goals. Our once tight defence suddenly ripping open at the seams (I may add an update to FM did happen before i played this set of games so may have contributed). What it did mean is that it was the play-offs for us after such a long season



The 3rd place finish meant we went into the semi-finals where we would face the winners of Chippenham and Chelmsford. Chelmsford were the eventual winners meaning we had to take on a team who had just beaten us 3-2 in the league. The other game was a draw and right at that moment i knew we were going to be in for a tough old game.... and i was right.

We were pinned in from the start and never looked like winning the game. How the match ended 1-1 with Fairlamb hitting a 4th of the season i never knew. Extra time went and it was down to dreaded penalties. Our record during the season was not good having missed as many as we had scored and it proved to be the curse again as we went down 4-3 on penalties to end our season.

https://i.imgur.com/9Pqev6a.png


Chelmsford ended up beating Billericay in the final meaning the Essex money men will still be a thorn in our side come next season.

April/May Woking Player of the month

It was between Fairlamb and young Hessenthaler but it was the teenager who gets my nod. A First Hat-trick at 16 and he could be a lower league superstar for us. Already a first team starter and we will certainly look to build a team around him for the foreseeable future.

End of Season wrap up

I am gutted but i knew this wasn't going to be easy. We just ran out of steam and Torquay and Billericay were just not going to relent in the end. To lose in the semi-finals hurts though as we should have easily made the final but the defence just fell apart at the end. Whether it was fatigue or a change in the match engine, i just dont know but either way i am going to have to look at that defence in the off-season.



The end of season awards didnt throw up any surprises and it goes without saying Greg Luer was the star man. 40 goals and 8 assists and the highest average rating by miles. He was the league's top scorer and voted the 2nd best player in the league. An absolute star and if i can partner him with Hessenthaler we should have the firepower to do well next season.

I knew this save was not going to be easy and it won't be a classic back to back promotion save but i am ready to fight for another season
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - 19/20 Pre-season and August 2019



Transfer Window

It has taken awhile to get over the disappointment of the Play-off loss but the board were happy to keep me on for another try. To aid me, i was given a healthy transfer budget of £42k but the wage budget was to remain the same at £9k per week which means we needed to lose some players to free up some wage budget. 

It was tough going, to move on players but both Ian Gayle and Jack Cook were allowed to leave the club with the latter even going for £3k. There have so far been failed attempts to move on Christian Jolley and Paul Hodges who are both taking up a fair chunk of wages and will not get used this season. Equally a couple of youth players were meant to go out on loan to get football but again there were no takers for them. Jack Hackett also refused to extend his loan spell from Sunderland preferring to go back to the Black cats.

In terms of incomings there were 5 new players to bolster an already pretty strong squad. The first player to join is the best of the lot as I raided relegated Concord for midfielder and playmaker Billy Knott. The amount of stats in double figures for this level puts him as one of the top 10 players in the division and his free kick taking level means we now have the ability to threaten from set pieces.

Sunderland were able to send us another new player for the season with Swedish U21 winger Benjamin Kimpioka joining for the season. He is a little attacking to fall into our current 4-4-2 formation but if we are chasing a game or dominant we can probably afford to have him further upfield.

The next three transfers are all for the defence. An area that was generally good all season until the last few months where it simply fell apart when we needed it the most. Through extensive scouting and around 50 players on trial, i have decided to add these three to the ranks. Two of which are Internationals! Joe Ellul is a Gibraltan international and the 6"4 centre half should provide an aerial threat going forward as well as have the heading ability to deal with the often long ball over the top. Joining from Braintree who were relegated into the Vanarama North, i am hoping Joe's lack of pace doesn't prove to be his undoing.

Tyrone Sterling is another slightly older player at 31 but he has good overall mentals and physicals. He was at relegated Concord so joins former teammate Knott at the Kingfield and will likely rotate with Casey with this year at left back. The Brilliantly named Vontae Daley-Campbell was the final signing having been released by Arsenal. Decent pace and physicals are the main strengths of his gameplay but he is only a few points away from some crucial double figure attributes in the technicals.




Pre-Season

Outside of the transfers, we had some pre-season fixtures lined up against some stronger League opposition including one against our parent club Sunderland. The first three games Sunderland, Portsmouth and Colchester were all designed to boost the coffers, much needed after i got the board to agree to improve our youth facilities.

All three games saw some decent spells of football but we still lost 3-1, 2-1 and 3-1 respectively. However, my assistant was good enough to make sure we ended pre-season with two winnable games against Witham and East Grinstead and we did just that dominating both games winning 2-0 and 4-1 to put us back in a good morale position ready for the first game of the season.

By the time the season started we were predicted to come 6th once again with the play-offs looking like our best hope again. Billericay are favourites but the relegated trio of Maidenhead, Havant & Waterlooville and Eastleigh are going to be our main competition.


August

A busy opening month with 6 games to start the season and i am happy to report we finished the month undefeated. A 1-1 draw at home to St. Albans wasn't the greatest of starts but we did show a new angle to our game play with set pieces causing problem after problem for them and it lead to our penalty in the 88th minute. Greg Luer stepped up and did what he does best by scoring the equaliser.

From there we were able to beat Slough and Dartford relatively comfortably before a bore draw against East Thurrock ended our winning ways. However, we bounced back with two 3-0 victories against Hemel Hempstead and newly promoted Hendon.




An absolutely great start to the season and we are purring. Goals are there and defensively we are strong again. Maidenhead have had a terrible start which is pleasing to see and we have points over our main competition.

Woking's August player of the month

Greg Luer is still in the goals but it is our new weapon that win's my award and also the league's. Billy Knott may well be the missing link as he scored 4 and assisted once to have a dream start at his new club. We lacked goals from midfield last year and that might have been what cost us. However, Knott could be the difference, his two goals from free kicks helped us secure two victories.
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - September & October 2019


September & October

I am going to mix up the post lengths to see what works and instead of one each month, i will try and group a few months together. If you prefer it the other way than do let me know!

September and October consist of plenty of league games as the season hits the 1/3 mark as well as seeing the FA Cup kick into gear. We were going into this period on a high having started the season well and we carried on that form going into September. It might not have started with a bang but the 0-0 draw against Havant & Waterlooville who are one of the stronger sides in the division was a good sign of what was to come.

We put Hungerford away 3-1 with Luer and Hessenthaler combining well and showing their potential as a strikeforce. Chippenham are a strong side and again we had to take a draw but the signs were there that we could go smash a side if we wanted to. A visit to Herne Bay in the FA Cup allowed me to swap the team around and the reserves comfortably beat the lower league side 3-1 before the big Gibraltan Ellul scored a towering header from a Knott corner to put away Welling 1-0.

The Thrashing came in the last game of September as we smashed poor Gloucester 7-2 with Hessenthaler pulling all of the strings for us upfront. It was an unusual amount of goals and goals started to rain as we went into October. The only slight problem was they rained in at both ends as we kept having to change our side to keep a fit 11 on the field.

An Away trip to Salisbury in the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying round saw us squander a 2-0 and a 3-2 lead to draw 3-3 which was a real kicker. Just 2 days later we had in form Dulwich Hamlet and although i could almost count on a new 11, we still lacked the impetus and despite pulling back from 2-0 down and 3-2 down we were unable to get a fourth equaliser as we went down 4-3 in our only defeat of the season so far.

Than just 3 days later it was our turn to host Salisbury and another 3-3 draw was played out. This time though we were 2-0 down before taking the game into extra time. Greg Luer put us in front but we lost a lead again and the match went to Penalties. The nerves jangled but we eventually got the job done with an 8-7 penalty win to set up a tie against.... Dulwich Hamlet.

Before that final qualifier though we had Bath at home, which was our 4th game in 7 days and somehow we found our defence again as we comfortably won 2-0 with Hessenthaler slotting in two nice goals. It was back to the FA Cup, and this time Dulwich Hamlet were not a match for us, with Luer and Fairlamb getting the goals to seal another 3-1 victory for the side. That has set up a 1st round tie against Morecambe. I smell a potential Giant Killing!

Wealdstone have been a little bogey team for us and once again they proved horrible as Reggie Young had to score an equaliser after a corner was not cleared to keep us to one defeat so far. Just like in September, October ended in a goal-fest as we smashed Billy Big Bollocks Billericay 6-1. Yes you read that right!



A Top 3 are starting to breakaway as we form a leading pack with Oxford City and Eastleigh. Out of all of the teams, it probably isn't surprising to hear we are the top scorers in the league, but we also have the best defence as well. There is something different this year and i put it down to Knott and Hessenthaler. Knott's set pieces are causing havoc giving us another outlet and although he hasn't added goals since September, he is still assisting, or at least assisting the assist. Hessenthaler has been superb and at 16 years of age, is bossing this league with 12 goals and 8 assists meaning he is involved in more goals than anyone else. Greg Luer's 14 goals are also showing that last season was no fluke.

However, let's just take one second to laugh at Billericay. Sitting in the bottom half of the table, they have a wage bill, 5x higher the next biggest team. Some of their players are getting paid £3,000+ per week, whereas my overall spend per week is just £10k. We have put ourselves in a good position and now we just need to follow it through.

Woking's player of September & October

The youngest man in the squad, the youngest ever goalscorer of Woking but also my best player. What a regen to get in the first ever youth intake as he sits at 4.5* and is banging in goals as part of a killer partnership. Russell Hessenthaler is the man of the moment and he is also the October player of the month for the league and surely some bigger clubs will be after the young man sooner rather than later.
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - November & December 2019


November & December

Things are motoring along very nicely indeed if i say so myself as the team and more precisely the strikeforce of Hessenthaler and Luer perform week on week

https://i.imgur.com/LjX7B0l.png


I must admit there was a little fear at the beginning of November as we had to come from two goals down to beat Truro 3-2 with Luer banging in an impressive hat trick. I said i smelt a giant killing and Morecambe was nearly it as we lost to a 95th minute winner but we did play the whole of the 2nd half with 10 men after Ellul got himself sent off. Again we were 3-1 down at one point so we have the drive to come back.

The lowest point was the hammering we took from Promotion rivals Eastleigh who absolutely smashed us in what is the worst performance in the last 18 months of game play. Things were low but a little pep talk saw us limp over the line against struggling Basingstoke before we had a comfortable 2-0 win over Ashford in the FA Trophy.

However, the month of December was almost faultless as we beat Oxford City 2-0 and as you remember they were up there fighting with us for promotion. Maidenhead came down last year but are struggling and it was the only blip of the month as we sneaked a 1-1 draw. Than the FA Trophy saw us have another chance to bang the goals in, smashing Margate 6-1 with Hessenthaler hitting 4 before beating sorry Hampton and Richmond 5-1 on Boxing day.

Legs were tired going into the end of the year and rotation was on full but back to back victories over St Albans and Slough leave the table looking like this going into 2020

https://i.imgur.com/ZjiU0ba.png


We are 4 points better off than this time last season and Eastleigh and Oxford have allowed us to get some breathing room. I suspect the gap will close to 5 points when Eastleigh play their game in hand but right now we are dominating. I have to win the league from this position and to be fair i am confident i can do so with Hessenthaler and Luer who have 44 goals between them this season already. No more reliance on just Luer and the young Hessenthaler (already rated a Championship prospect) being an absolute machine. Billy Knott's contribution in midfield from set pieces is also helping and we might finally get ourselves back into the 5th tier of English football.

In fact our form was so good in December, i won Manager of the Month and i attracted the interest of National League Side Wrexham which i obviously declined.

A new number 1

We also have a new number 1 as i bought in 23 year old Alex Palmer formerly of West Brom on a free transfer with German Bert Schotterl now playing second fiddle. I did sell on 3rd choice keeper Sam Mason to Billericay for £1k as i still desperately try to keep our wage budget down.

Interestingly Billericay's wage budget is now £3m per annum and they have a net spend of over £100k! It clearly isn't working for them.

Woking's player of November & December

Russell Hessenthaler won it last time and this time it has to go to Greg Luer who has scored some vital goals, 10 in all over the last two months and now sits on 24 goals for the season, 17 of which are in the league. It means he now has 51 league goals for me (64 overall) and is already a club icon.
That keeper seems a right steal especially on a free transfer! Interesting to see Billericay struggling, my brother was them on our network save until he was sacked and struggling, the money certainly doesn't work for them it seems.
https://i.imgur.com/zgMyvyG.png?2
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - January & February 2020


January & February

The Woking charge is still on people as we perfected the month of January with 5 wins from 5 including a very impressive victory over Vanarama National league leaders Grimsby 3-1 in the FA Trophy 2nd Round. Which obviously meant i won the Manager of the Month.

In the League,the secret to our success has been the ability to smash and grab early on in the first half and with that we have been held on to win the games and to extend our winning run to 9 straight games. As we moved to February, though the form has taken a little hit but things are still looking pretty good.

We won our 10th match on the trot smashing Hungerford 4-1 before the form hit that little wobble. We crashed out of the FA Trophy to Kidderminster 3-2 having conceded another late goal (94th) which quite frankly pissed me right off. That led to 7 points from the next 4 league games which isn't the worst form but considering where we have been it was a little disappointing. However, it is the league table that matters and this is where i can only smile.



The 8 Point gap is still there and we have 10 games to go. If we can avoid our March and April wobble from last season we will have that promotion in the bag. Hessenthaler and Luer slowed down last month with a measly 5 goals in the last month so i am going to have to give them a little pep talk to get us over the line.

Youth Intake

The 2nd Youth intake is now in and it looks relatively tidy, although there isn't a Russell Hessenthaler who can go straight into the team and smash it.

https://i.imgur.com/fyn0kHn.png


Seb Hudson and Carl Liddle could both be useful centre halfs with some work. Hudson has good determination which i normally find aids development whilst Liddle isn't lacking there but probably has the better physicals and technicals that are needed.

William Tunnicliffe is probably the other decent looking prospect as a potential midfielder. He has good passing for this level and technique but will need a lot of mental work as well as physicals to be a regular.

Woking's player of January & February

Normally this prize just goes to either Hessenthaler and Luer and whomever scores the most goals but this time there will be a slight change as Callum Ellesley takes the prize. The centre half has picked up his performances and has formed a nice little relationship with Joe Ellul.
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - 19/20 End of season


March, April & May

If i told you the month of March saw us get thumped twice, it would probably tell you how my nerves felt during these three months as we tried and tried to throw away the league title. The fact one of them thumpings was against BIllericay who i lost 6-0 hurt even more as i just seem to hate their flashy big bollocks lifestyle.

To cut to the chase, we were dodgy as hell in the back few months of the season and like the year before we started to concede goals and it let Oxford City back into the title race. With just 3 games to go we were 4 points clear and had a home tie against Oxford City, win and the title was ours, lose and we were going to the wire.

https://i.imgur.com/hI1IiIi.png


Greg Luer, made sure it was not going to slip as the main man and Mr. Reliable slotted home a 94th minute winner to give us a 3-2 win and my first piece of silverware on FM19!!



It wasn't all bad though for Oxford as they got through the lottery of the play-offs to see them join ourselves in the National league next season.

Woking's player of the season

There are three men in the running for this award. Greg Luer was top scorer again with 37 goals which wasn't enough to be top scorer in the league but his goals are vital. Than we had Billy Knott who in the centre of midfield ran things, 7 goals and 15 assists was a missing asset in my first season and he has easily been my signing of the save so far. However, i have to agree with the fans and give it to Russell Hessenthaler. The teenager is a sensation and is far too good for this club. 31 goals and 17 assists from a 16/17 year old is unheard in one of my saves. A cracking player who is already an Icon for this club after just 1 season. Championship clubs are sniffing around and if this is the one season i get to manager this guy than what a season it has been.

Looking ahead

Back in the Vanarama National it took probably one more season than i first hoped and i would have liked. Early predictions see us being one of the favourites to go back down and we are going to have to revamp the squad somewhat to be ready to compete in what will be a tougher league. Personally i am hoping there to be no more than 3 seasons in this league, with next year's goal to be mid table, the season after that a play-off spot and the 3rd season seeing us win the league or win via the play-offs. Within them 3 years a little FA Trophy wouldn't go amiss either. Wage budget has been doubled to £18k per week and we have £60k to spend on new players. Time to go shopping.
Well done mate! Step one complete!
https://i.imgur.com/zgMyvyG.png?2
Thanks Dan! Hopefully Step two will be done nice and quickly
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - 20/21 Pre-season & August


Transfers

A new league means new expectations and we needed to strengthen the side for what will no doubt be a tougher season than last year. First of all we had a big clear out with 22 players being released. It seems a lot but most were kids that were not going to make it at this level but there were a few players who were in and around the first team. The biggest of which was Bert Schotterl, who was our number 1 until Palmer joined last season and the German wasn't happy being on the bench so left for pastures new. Other notable players were centre half Charlie Wassmer, Striker Duane Ofori-Acheampong, Wingers Christian Jolley and Luke Fairlamb and Declan Appau. Young midfielder Max Makaka also joined Eastleigh on loan to get some game time

All were going to be away from the first team with the new faces coming in. In total 8 new players have been bought in to boost the squad. 7 of which fall into the category of having been released from Premiership sides and one actually coming in for some money. So onto the ins.

Jake Askew
Released from Chelsea, Askew comes in to compete with Palmer. Not as good at handling as Palmer he will probably play second fiddle but he has some decent physicals making him a useful Sweeper Keeper should we need to make a change back there.

Nathan Moriah-Welsh
Wingers have been a problem so far for me as we haven't looked great and this was an area of concentration. Released from Bournemouth he has very good pace and he can cross to an ok standard. Some work on passing and he should be a decent outlet on the left.

Khanya Leshabela
A South African U20 International released from Leicester. A right winger who again just has pace and the ability to cross. We play with a wing play style of football so essentially i just need you to be quick and able to drop a ball into the middle of the park

Euan Pollock
You might now start to see a pattern as Pollock is the 2nd man in from Bournemouth and he has bags of pace. He will challenge Luer and Hessenthaler uptop as i look to have two quick strikers. With decent heading and finishing he should also get among the goals.

Liam Loughlan
Another man in from Leicester, the young winger has pace and he can cross. As i am writing this i have noticed that i have really focused on Pacey players coming in. Looked good doing pre-season and comes in to compete with Leshabela.

Connor Barrett
Saying that Barrett hasn't got bags of pace but it is in double figures. This man is all about the key 3 defensive stats of heading, tackling and marking. Decisions and positioning also just about in double figures means he should be a useful centre-half as he joins from Leicester.

Robbie Burton
The Welshman joins from Arsenal and is technically a very gifted player who can rival Knott in the middle of the park. Again, good technicals and pace and 15 for passing means we should have another outlet for goals.

Anthony Breslin
Joining in late August, i added Breslin in from Eastleigh for £10k (Yes i spent some money!) to go in at left back. Again has the pace and tackling ability but will need a little bit of work on positioning to be truly solid for us.


So that is what has happened but it has also been a story about what hasn't happened. Bids did come in for Russell Hessenthaler and the youngster wanted a move as Aston Villa, Birmingham and Bristol City all came calling for him. Their bids of £50k all being rejected as i wanted something nearer the £200k knowing i had him locked into a contract. For now he is at the club but he is pissed off. Vontae Daley-Campbell was also linked with Nottingham Forest and Burton as the League clubs come sniffing around my young talented side.

That has also led to a small player revolt where players got upset about me saying no to Hessenthaler as well as a few whinging about a team talk during a friendly and also about a lack of depth in midfield (Which hopefully was resolved with the above signings). To say it has been hard work has been an understatement.

Pre-Season

https://i.imgur.com/HKfZTVm.png


A solid pre-season as despite all of the troubles and having 40 players on trial at one point we managed to go undefeated with a very impressive 1-1 draw against Parent club Sunderland being the only game we didn't win. Tougher ties will be played in the league but Hessenthaler was still banging them in despite hating me.

As the season was about to start, the Media had moved our predicted finish up from 20th to a high of 18th

https://i.imgur.com/m3h3Huu.png


It will be a tougher season for us, for sure but i still think we can get mid table. The board just want to fight relegation but with some form and if we click we can take on pretty much every side in this league. I am personally hoping for 12th and a safe mid-table slot.

August


Well maybe even i have underestimated us as we sit in 6th place after 6 games. It was looking even better but we managed to lose to Harrogate in the last game of August which was a complete shock based on our respective starts. The new players have settled in very well as you can see from the goal scorers. Loughlan, Pollock and Leshabela all doing really well with Pollock even keeping an under-par Hessenthaler out of the side. Hessenthaler's sulking is having a major effect on his form but he has managed to pick it up in the last 2 games.

Can we keep it up? I think we will give it a go as we can cause a lot of problems and we have options to mix it up. Burton can come on for Knott is the latter isn't producing the goods. Leshabela and Loughlan are both playing well and scoring on the right flank whilst Pollock and Luer are among the goals with my star man Hessenthaler on the bench.

Woking's August player of the month

Joe Ellul takes the honours as the Maltese (for some reason i thought he was from Gibraltar last season) taking the honours. It is telling, the only game we lost is the one he couldn't play in as he had been called up for the national team. I am going to miss him in September so hopefully Barrett can come in and perform.
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - September 2020


A big signing

One of the drama's of pre-season was whether i would be able to keep hold of Hessenthaler who was quite rightly attracting interest from Championship clubs. Some bids came in, i rejected for not being game changing enough, he got pissed off and i thought i would have to play with what is essentially a stroppy teenager for the season. However, at the end of August, he finally dropped his whinge and i swooped in to extend the contract for as long as possible. He now has 3 seasons and is now the highest paid player at the club but it is good to have him back on side as focused he can cause damage.

September

I think the below shows what a happy Hessenthaler can do at this level.

https://i.imgur.com/ne5FuGp.png


Smashing goals in for fun, he singlehanded ripped through Wrexham with 4 goals as well as getting winners over Dover and Torquay as well as an equalising goal against a high flying Hartlepool. A month where we have gone undefeated and we are picking up points for fun. The media shows that its a magic 50 points that is generally needed to survive and we are almost half way there already

https://i.imgur.com/6Z4Fc5t.png


It is incredibly tight at the top though and we can't get hold of ourselves. The goal is still mid table for now but if we are in a similar position come January than i might just dream of League football for the first time.

Woking's September player of the month

After signing a new contract, Woking born and bred lad Russell Hessenthaler blew up and his 7 goals in 5 goals was weirdly not enough to win player of the month for the league but he gets my award. I love this kid far too much already
https://i.imgur.com/LcBPGF7.jpg
Woking FC - October 2020


October

Another month down and another one with lots of promise for us as we carry on picking up points. Well we picked up a mere 15 points out of 18 as bar a complete fuck up in the first game of the month against lowly Gateshead we have been dispatching teams despite often going behind.



The goals from Luer and Hessenthaler are back and when they are on form we simply can not stop winning. How we sit at the top of the table, i dont really know as we don't really rank high on any of the team stats for the season. The only ones we rank high on are shot % hitting target and conversions rates and it clearly means we are ruthless when we get our chance and to be honest you don't win titles if you don't take your chances. Can we keep it up that is the question?

Anyway, top of the table after 17 games and just 11 points off the magical number. I have to admit that i am going to need to rethink my expectations as right now promotion is looking very much a possibility. We have a 10 point gap from the play-off spots and we are already 9 points clear of 4th. It could all turn of course but this man is dreaming.

Meanwhile we also progressed in the FA Cup to get to the 1st round for the 3rd straight season. Being in the National league means it was just the 1 qualifier round as we put away rivals Dartford 2-1 to set up a tie against League 1 Leaders Bradford City next month.

Woking's October player of the month

He is still the main man and his goals make the difference. Step up Russell Hessenthaler who scored or assisted in every league game in October. He now sits with a record of 71 games, 46 Goals and 25 Assists at just 17 years of age
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