Number 1
16 years ago
1 year ago


On the outskirts of the small market town on Brackley in Northamptonshire is a world championship winning sports team, in the form of the Mercedes Formula 1 team.


Since Mercedes purchased the Brawn GP team in 2010 to return to the F1 grid for the first time as a works operation in several decades, they have become a dominant force, winning over 100 grand prix races, 8 constructor's championships and 7 driver's championship titles, with 2014-21 seeing the F1 superstar Lewis Hamilton, former world champion Nico Rosberg and multiple Grand Prix-winner Valtteri Bottas regularly winning races in cars built in Brackley.


The area is certainly one known as much for motorsports - near to Brackley is the Silverstone Circuit, which hosts the British Grand Prix, while many of Mercedes' rivals and teams in other categories of motorsport work out of factories in nearby towns and villages.


Brackley Town Football Club are a team with slightly more modest ambitions than Mercedes' of world domination, but the team has a reasonable track record of late. In the past ten years, they have reached the FA Cup Second Round three times and won the FA Trophy for the first time. They have also had a number of runs in the National League North play-off as they chase a first ever passage to the National League.


Seemingly ever FM player has had a go at trying to win the lot with a team from a smaller origin, but my FM ambitions have tended to mainly focus on Championship clubs. So would I pull off something special from such a low base?


Well it couldn't hurt to try I guess.

Number 1
16 years ago
1 year ago

In the real life 2021-22 Brackley season, which we are mimicking here, the team made it into the National League North play-offs. Our ambitions as outlined, meanwhile…

… are to basically build a team up.


As much focus also seems to be on cup runs, which may not be as essential for some of the more renumerated teams I've managed in Football Manager but here very much seem like the way to try and build cash. And that's not least in telling with the requirement that I make the FA Cup First Round proper.


Top half in fairness is an interpretation shared…

It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to jump up from 13th, as predicted here, to get into the top half of a 24 team league.


Such is the convoluted nature of how the National League does its play-offs now, meanwhile, that 7th could still get us a chance of promotion into the National League proper.


As far as tactics goes, 4-2-3-1 Gegenpress has been my default on FM22 but I'm not 100% sure I have the players to do that. So I'm starting off as a 4-3-3 wing play as an experiment, with this rated as my strongest 11

A couple of decent players are in my team for the level in fairness, so there's as much a case of finding the best way to use them. If I was being critical, however, I do think we could use a better holding midfielder and possibly an extra left-winger. I also have a few players out of contract just bumming around as interns, including key midfielder Richards, plus a few players in their mid-to-late 30s that could use a succession plan.


It's easy to analyse those parts, however, and another to do anything with them. My budget isn't exactly up there with Manchester City or PSG.

So, how hard can it be to make something of this?


I'm sure I'll find out soon enough.

Number 1
16 years ago
1 year ago

This has progressed slower than intended as I've just been busy and not had the time to play on.


Nevertheless, I have managed to squeak my way through pre-season, and we managed to do this…

Mixed bag in fairness. In our games against EFL sides, we did reasonably well against Oxford and very well to claw back a 3-1 deficit to draw against Northampton. We'll gloss over getting mauled by MK Dons, or throwing away a decent lead to draw against National League side Solihull Moors.


The signs are there that the players are getting the methods we're going for in fairness.


The longer transfer window means I'm not unduly worried yet about getting reinforcements, though I may need to get a toe in for some areas.

Even though I only get 5 subs in the NLN to name on my bench - something I wasn't aware of before diving in - I do think some areas are weaker than others. Ideal positions to acquire talent for include a new left back and possible extra left-winger.


So anyway, matchday 1 has arrived for real, and it starts with a trip to Chorley, a near-3 hour drive northwards in one of those things that does make you ponder how much this division stretches the definition of what is north.


How would we begin?

Alright stuff I guess. Was a fairly even game and my changes did well to salvage the 1-1 draw, with Yusuf coming on to secure a point.


So that's the way we start. Next up was a home contest against Darlington, and would we begin the league campaign in the grand manner?

Well that's less ideal. Despite having chances, throwing on attackers and looking good, we made the cardinal sin of conceding first and never looked like recovering. Maybe fate would've been different if we'd not had a goal disallowed, but that's by the by.


Boo. Still, plenty of chances to turn things around.

Number 1
16 years ago
1 year ago

The nucleus of this project is there, but so far, progress has been slow, not least as I've been too busy to play much FM recently, and indeed have been overtaken by real life events where Brackley are in a play-off for promotion to the National League tomorrow.


Nevertheless, we soldier on and after failing to win either of our first 2 in charge, we don't have an easy third test. York City have started well and have a strong squad, so I expect this may be difficult.

Well, we did hold our own there. York look decent but we managed to neutralise the experienced Clayton Donaldson, held our own nicely enough, and even had more shots on target.


Sure, I aspire to more than a goalless draw, but it'll do for now.


It also means that four games into this experiment, we're still yet to acquire that first competitive victory, making it a must for what essentially passes as a sort-of local derby against Leamington. While not as close as Kettering, or Banbury (though they were a newly promoted team in 2022/23 so aren't here for now), there's still a local pride element in such a north-heavy division. Could we do it?

Alright, alright, alright. We have our first win.


Frankly we made hard work of it given we had 20 shots and they had 3, and it did require the intervention of substitutes to pull things in our favour with Matt Lowe setting up Bradley Rolt, both off the bench, to grab our goals in a 1-0 win. But hey, they all count.


So, with three points in the bag, the goal for momentum is to try and keep on running, even if two of our stars in Lee Ndlovu and Shepherd Murombedzi are off on international duty. This meant tweaks for our longest away day as we went to Blyth Spartans, a mere 4 hour+ drive from Northamptonshire to Northumberland.


Very hardy souls are those making such a venture, but would they be rewarded?

We would indeed.


It came about through changes. Having not been impressed by a first half that saw us trail, we tweaked formation and intensity, and that bore fruit with two goals straight away in the first 10 minutes of the second half to take a 2-1 lead.


Blyth had decent chances to force an equaliser late on, but we resisted, and took some valuable points for the road with us. So that's a sign we're making progress.


It also means we're now on back-to-back wins, and are going for the triple for the first time as we welcome Southport to St James Park. Could we do it?

Not quite.


There was a hard luck story in this one as Southport had a player sent off, and we duly battered our opponents for the second half with chance after chance going awry. A disallowed Fabio Lopes goal was, however, the cue for us to just run out of steam. Losing Murombedzi to injury hasn't exactly helped.


So, blast.


Equally important business looms, however. The board expect us to try and qualify for the FA Cup proper. To do that, we need to triumph in a trio of qualifying rounds, starting with a home tie against Stalybridge Celtic.

That's the first part of the job done. Experimented with the classic FM22 4-2-3-1 Gegenpress that I seem to adopt in all my career modes, and it duly worked wonders, as we swept our visitors away with three first half goals.


So, progress is beginning to take shape with our Brackley Town project. Now to see if this progress can be maintained.

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