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kinggazzaman Comments
So we're a couple of months into life at the Emirates let's check in with Mr Figo to see how things are going...

"We've started the season off well...


I said previously that I expected to beat Wolves and that's what we did and saying the first test was Man Utd, this was a test that we came through with flying colours! Two goals each for Lacazette and Aubameyang meant that United fell on their tridents. We then battered West Ham to make it a perfect August, 3 wins, 11 goals and 0 conceded.

In fact, the month was so perfect that there were several individual honours handed out for it

I picked up Manager of the Month in my first month coaching.


and in addition to this 3 players all fought it out for Player of the Month


Lacazette's additional goal must have set him apart from Auba in the running for this award, but fantastic to see all 3 spots being taken up by my front 3.

We had a small blip at the start of September not being able to get past Southampton in the League and then the same with Sociedad in the Europa League was a blow, but nothing like getting battered by Liverpool. We managed to claw it back to 1-1 and I thought we'd be able to push on from there but it was them who pushed on and put us to the sword. We never looked like challenging and we absolutely deserved to lose that game. Disappointing to say the least. We did bounce back however, picking up wins in all three competitions.

So, what does this all mean for the league tables.

Let's start with the Europa League...


still early days but we're in a good position to qualify. We easily outclassed Basaksehir and I'm confident that we can beat Sociedad the next time we play them. I have no concerns and 100% expect to get out of this group.

Now, for the Premier League table...


It's a really odd looking table, I know it's early days and I don't expect Bournemouth, Palace and Leicester to be up there later on in the season. Perhaps even in a couple of months when I'll update you again. The important thing is that we have points advantage over most of the typical challengers for the title. I do not know what happened to Man City but I'll not complain about having a 9 point advantage at this stage of the season. It's looking positive at least.

Things are also looking good in the statistics side of things


We're hitting the target most of the time which is fantastic and we're scoring goals more than anyone else as well so we're doing something right. I don't think there's many teams who are going to ship 3 or 4 past us this season, and I think that's what it's going to take to beat us in all honesty, the way things are going at the moment at least.


As you'd expect with those team stats we're dominant in the goal scoring player stats as well. Lacazette and Auba are the top in the division for goals and average rating. The challenge is to keep up this form throughout the rest of the season.

I'll come back to you in a couple of months so this is the forecast for the next couple of months


We should have a really good grasp on the Europa League by this point and there are several winnable games by this point. Towards the end though things pick up in terms of big games we have the game vs Man City and I have no doubt they'll have improved their fortunes by then, and the small matter of a London Derby either side of a crunch match in the Europa League which could determine who tops the group.

An interesting couple of months I am sure.

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Good season! Hope you manage to keep hold of your Moroccan striker though!
Pre-season is over and with the opening day of the Premier League season against Wolverhampton Wanderers on the horizon we sat down with Luis Figo to discuss the goings on during the pre-season tour and the ins and outs at the Emirates Stadium.
Last time we spoke we heard that he was planning on making additions to the midfield so has he managed to do that?


"Yes, it was a good window for us I think. Not playing in the Champions League has limited the amount of players that we can afford to bring in. I can confirm that we did look at Wilfred Ndidi and did make an approach to Leicester City but with an asking price upwards of £100M it was evident that a deal could not be done.

My first move was to bring in a central midfielder like I said, by bringing in Kramer. Not necessarily the quality of player we wanted by he certainly adds something to the squad and it looks likely that he will start on the opening day in that holding midfield role.


Next up I saw that Jack Grealish would be available for a good price, so with a need for home grown players in the side and with Jack's versatility allowing him to play anywhere across the midfield it seemed like a fantastic oppurtunity to add some depth to the squad whilst adding another home grown player into the mix. It's unlikely that he'll start many league games but he should see some action off the bench and during cup competitions. Or, God forbid a serious injury to Mkhitaryan.


The final signing (I thought) was German international Jonas Hector. Again, with a formation that utilises a Left Back, a Left Wing Back and a holding midfielder someone as versatile as Jonas will be a valuable addition to the squad. If Nacho Monreal or Kolasinac have a poor run of form then Jonas can go right in and make that position his own.


Like I said I thought Jonas was going to be my final signing that was before I realised that Daniele Rugani was available from Juventus. Not wanting to pass up a chance to improve our defence I jumped at the chance to bring him in, despite the relatively high loan fee of £5M. The upside of bringing a Juventus player in is that he'll be able to play in all the matches that we'll have this season, unless of course Juve have a shocking Champions League Group Stage.


Now let's take a look at pre-season, it was a fantastic start and hopefully we will be able to bring this form into the domestic season. We played some good sides in Benfica and Malaga and managed to get positive results there. Of course we can't read too much into this and the first test will of course be Wolves and Man Utd in our first two games of the season.

Finally, before I go I'll look ahead to the opening day of the season. I have a lineup in mind for that which won't be too different to my starting XI going forward


As I said before the midfield is up for grabs. Ramsey can fight Elneny for that spot and Elneny will also be fighting with Kramer for the holding midfield role. Jonas will be looking to break into one of the two LB spots. Then of course we have Mustafi and Sokratis who can feel agrieved to be sat on the bench.

Finally, Bellerin is injured so that is why Lichtsteiner gets the starting spot.

I'm confident with how things will go, we should beat Wolves but of course the first real test is Man Utd.

So it's taken planes, banners, painted bedsheets and obscene amounts of #WengerOut tweets but finally Arsene Wenger has cleared out his office at the Emirates Stadium. The media are in a frenzy debating who the right person to take over the prestigious role is. They spoke about Ancelotti, Emery, Zidane and even Mikel Arteta. The powers that be at Arsenal decided to go with none of them. They did however go along the Arteta route and go with a brand new manager but a former international.

The man is a Portugal legend and was even braved the trip from Barcelona to Madrid, much to the dismay of fans who decided to throw a pig's head at him whilst taking a corner.

That's right the new man at the Emirates is Luis Figo...


He's been spending his time away from the game after his failed FIFA Presidential bid getting his coaching badges and the former Real Madrid man decided it was the best time to dip his toe into the management waters. One thing is certain he'll have a lot of people to impress in North London.

We caught up with Luis to discuss the current squad situation at the club



"I'm quite happy with the goalkeeping situation, we have two great options that both offer us a variety of talents. Regarding our defence I think the board did a fantastic job before I came in with the additions of Sokratis [Papasththopoulos] and Stephan [Lichtsteiner] and the attack is strong with Lacazette and Auba. My main concern is the midfield. The way I want to play utilises a defensive midfielder and a more standard central midfielder and it's those areas where I think we could do with a little something extra."

Below is the tactic that Luis talked us through once the cameras stopped rolling, and you'll certainly see that the including of Elneny and Ramsey could lead to some unhappy fans on AFTV if there's any negative results. It'll be interesting to see how Luis fares in the transfer marker and how he'll juggle the upcoming youth players.


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Benin Cup 1st Round

My first game in Benin was in the first round of the domestic cup. Remember I need to win both the league and the cup before I can move onto the next nation...


A disappointing start, although we didn't play too badly we never really troubled their keeper and conceded a late winner to send us crashing out of the cup in the first round.

This means that I'll be spending a minimum of 2 years here in Benin

I could have my work cut out here. This team don't look all too good
Story so Far...

So I decided to write this after a couple of seasons of the save had passed.

Firstly, I started as USM Alger in Algeria, now I don't have any screenshots of that part of the save since the Algerian league has since been removed after completing it. Apologies.

However, onto Angola.

Here's how we got on there...


A really impressive season, one that I couldn't be happier with. We were dominant in the league, the only team that beat us was last season's champions in the second game of the season. Looked like it should have been pretty comfortable right, well, that's where you'd be wrong.

As you can see above we won ran out comfortable winners in the Taca de Angola in the end


but what about the league table....


It's pretty impressive. I think in only our second season that we've already witnessed the closest title race of the save. It's a good job for me that the league title is decided on Head 2 Head, considering we're the 1 in their Loss column.

Anyway, 2 seasons down, and this is how my career looks so far


So there we have it 2/57 done. Next stop...



Welcome, some of you may remember my Warrington Town save form earlier on in the year, and how that did not go to plan. Well, I'm back, and this is an even longer save.

I've got Claassen's megapack, that includes 57 African nations. Some of you may have seen the Alphabet challenge around on the internet. I'm doing one entirely based in Africa.
I'll start in Algeria and work my way all the way through to Zimbabwe. The criteria for moving on is simple, win everything available to the top flight, excluding supercups. So for context, if it was the English Premier League I'd have to win the FA Cup, Premier League and Carabao Cup.

Here is my manager, there was only one name I could go with for this... meet Toto


It's going to be a long long road. I'll be keeping a checklist here of the countries that are complete

Completed Nations

1. Algeria https://imgur.com/0y6UYm6.png
2. Angola https://imgur.com/EnOaZ1z.png
Okay so here we go







Y'know what really sucks about the final is the fact we could easily have won this. We had so many chances, but it wasn't to be...


That penalty will haunt me forever

Anyway, just the simple Runners Up points for me
Total Points = 25
SSE Airtricity Premier Division - 1/4 Round Up

So I forgot to do an introduction to the club, so I'll quickly do that before we kick off looking back at our start.


In terms of reputation this is a pretty big leap from Warrington, I took them from 0.5 to 1* repuation and now I've doubled that. So hopefully my own reputation can grow whilst being here. I'm also hoping that Bohemians can get promoted from the second division because I really want to have as many fierce games in the calendar as I can, get the crowds in and get some dollar signs rolling on that cash register.

Our facilities look okay...


The disappointing thing however, is that the stadium is owned by the council, so it's just a money pit at the moment and there isn't really anything that I can do about it. My only real hope is brining in as much as I can in terms of prize money and player sales. Everything else looks okay though.

So what happened last year in order for Liam Burns to leave his role at the club after just 1 year and 137 days.


They became experts at not winning games, that's what. A remarkable amount of draws that actually meant relegated Bray Wanderers won more games than Burns did in his entire season. Pretty crazy. I'm certainly hoping I can do better than that!

The Squad


As you can see there's a number of decent players in this squad this year and some younger players with a high potential as well. I know we lack quality at the back I'm hoping that our superior quality in midfield and attack will be enough to compensate for that. Full backs are notoriously difficult to find on FM so I'll certainly be on the lookout for some newgens to come in there. Hopefully some released players from England won't mind getting a ferry over the Irish Sea.



Really pleased with how my first pre-season here went, getting used to my new tactic (the same one that won me the National League North) and not being too leaky at the back. The only blip here was a 0-0 draw with Shakhtar which is a great result anyway.

So how did this convert into competitive football.


Very well, is the answer to that question. The thrashing of rivals St Pat's in the Leinster Senior Cup caused their coach to storm out of a press conference. I certainly won the mind games side of things there. This then carried well into the league picking up great wins before our first real test in the Leinster Cup against Dundalk. It was a close game but were able to grab a winner in the 112th minute of the game to put us into the Semi Final. This astonishing form then continued into the international break. We seemed a little sluggish coming off it but the 0-0 against Galway was a game without a single highlight other than kickoff and full time. We then responded well though by annihilating St Pat's again in the EA Sports Cup to easily progress into the 2nd round. The second game against Dundalk was tough, it was real close until the 36th minute when we broke the deadlock and in 40th minute we added our 3rd. A dominant 4 minutes pretty much sealed the game. A couple of penalties their way made the game look closer than it was once we really started to move through the gears.

Yet to lose, here's how the table looks now.


We're 10 points clear after only 9 games and we have a much superior goal difference to anybody else. We've already got more wins than the entire of last season and the Quadruple is still a possibility. It's super super important that we finish in the top three at the very least and here is why...



Our finances are pretty bad. Despite the fact the game says they're okay they really aren't. What we need to start doing is winning trophies to bring the prize money in. Build our reputation and be able to sell players for decent money. The reason I say top 3 is crucial is they are guaranteed to play in Europe. Yes it's only the very very early stages but if we finish top we go into the Champions League and will at least get a crack at the Europa League if things don't go to plan. The dream is to reach the Group Stage of either tournment, rake in the prize money and TV rights as well and drag our finances into the black again.

Let's now look ahead at what's to come.


This will take us to the halfway point in the season. The big games here are of course the two cup games. I fully expect to win both games, UCD are a second tier side and we've already beaten Drogheda Utd twice and not conceded to them at all. Derry and Dundalk are the biggest games in the league, Derry are second and although Dundalk sit behind Cork and Galway I think they're the strongest team in this division so 3 points there is crucial.

Providing we get past UCD there will also be the Quarter Final played in this period as well, and the draw for the Semi Final should we get that far.

Lots to look forward to and some great form to boot. Lets hope this can continue and we can extend our lead at the top

So I decided I needed to forge ahead and try and get myself a new job.

Jobs I applied for: Oldham Athletic, Stevenage, Rochdale (All League 2), Lincoln (League 1), Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers (Both Irish Premiership).

Oldham and Lincoln offered me jobs, both were in and around the relegation zone but I didn't fancy going from one relegation fight and into another. Stevenage, Rochdale and Dundalk all interviewed me but didn't offer me jobs.

So the one last team that offered me a job and I decided to accept it was...


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Judgement Day

So, here we go 5 games to save my job (and a cup match) here they are again


I decided to go back to the counter attacking tactic that kept me up last year in the hope of getting enough points to survive.

Here goes nothing

vs Dartford


Did everything that we needed to do, thank goodness. 3 points down, 5 to go. 4 games in which to do it.

vs Wrexham


This game sucked, we played reasonably well, got a penalty and a chance to equliase in the 88th minute. We missed it, they go up the pitch and win a penalty which they score to see off the game. 5 points needed, 3 games to get them. We need to win against Telford

vs Telford


Great, just great. A late penalty wasn't enough to get anything from this game and we now need to go into the Torquay and Sutton game and win both of them to stand any chance of winning. I think because they're much better than we are that counter attacking is still going to be the way to go. I just don't know what else to try at this stage

Just to add before we move on that we lost against Cambridge in the FA Trophy, but I don't really care. Onto the next game, anything but a win and we're a goner

vs Torquay


I never expected to win this game. We needed it wrapped up before we got to this stage. Just like that, the dream is over


Confirmed in black and white. Rubbish. I hope my Assistant takes the job, it'll be nice to see how he gets on after I bought him to the club
Quick Update

Okay, so I'm writing an update earlier than anticipated. Reasons for this will become clear later...

First let's take a look at our results


Things have improved slightly, we've picked up a handful of points but it hasn't been enough really. The league table looks like this...


We're way off safety, and things aren't looking good. Following that embarrassing defeat to Gateshead this happened...


Ah, the board has us on the ropes. I tried saying our run of games had been tough, they weren't having any of it. When asked what I needed to do to save my job they said I needed to get 8 points from my next 5 games.

Here are those 5 games in question


Dartford are 23rd, Wrexham 18th, Telford 20th, Torquay 4th and Sutton 7th. Now, I think in order to do this we're going to need to win the first 3 games because the way we've been playing it'll be tough to get anything from Torquay and Sutton.

Wish me luck, this save could be coming to an abrupt end
Vanarama National League - 12 Game Review

So after the heroics of last season we're back again and ready to fight for our survival. Nobody thinks we can do it so how have we got on so far then...


...badly. Without a win for the first 11 games of the season, and at one point were 9 points adrift of safety. That vital win against Ebbsfleet providing us with some very much needed points. But we still only have 4 points on the board. I said I wanted 13, so we already have ground to make up to be on track. Not ideal.

I can imagine you've guessed where this leaves us in the league, but here's the table anyway


Yeah, it's bad. That win means we're only 7 points off safety but there's still a lot to do to stay up. At least this run of form came now, rather than in the later stage of the season.

Anyway, the least said about this part of the season the better, what do we have to look forward to coming up. Well we start our FA Cup campaign at least with an away draw to Darlington.


With our form any team could be a challenge but teams like Spennymoor, Dartford and Woking who have just come up have to be places where we're picking up points if we want to remain in the division again this year.

We also kick start our FA Trophy run, hopefully we can do more than we have in previous years on that front. Only time will tell, the important thing though is closing that gap to 20th place
@DNZY not quite


They had one season in the National League before they bottled it. Although I've played 3 seasons, I'm 4 in because of the holiday
Vanarama National League - 2021/2022 Season Preview

Seeing as I've already started pre-season I thought I'd jump right in with a season preview.

In terms of expectations I went with a slightly more ambitious Avoid Relegation compared with the Attempt to Avoid Relegation


The reason for this was purely to have a slightly bigger wage budget because I really needed to bring in a fair few defenders. In terms of the cups the board basically want us to win one game in each. Again, I want to go deep in the FA Trophy something I've said a lot but we haven't been able to do so hopefully we can this season.

The media aren't really giving us any chance at all, which is slightly concerning because I thought I'd strengthened my side since the end of last season


As you can see they expect us to finish dead last. I'll enjoy proving them wrong.

In the way of preseason friendlies I wanted to try and bring some money into the club (too little too late though) and play some teams to build confidence and team cohesion before the season kicked off so there's a combination of top sides and minnows here


I'm not expecting to get anything from the big sides apart from money, almost 4,000 people flocked in to see us play Villa, our record attendance is 1,444 so yeah that's why we're playing them.

Lets now look ahead to the first few games of the season. I don't really know what to expect from any of these games so I'm just going to go in with the aim of getting 50 points again this season and I'll want around 13 from the first portion of this season should put us on course.


What will happen, only time will tell but another season at the bottom is to be expected. It'll take a long time to get out of this league I think, I just don't want to fall through the trapdoor
Vanarama National League - End of Season

We had 10 games, 10 games to secure our future in the National League. It's certainly been a tough season, let's see how we got on


Two huge wins against teams in the bottom 4 pulled us out. Then we went on a pretty bad run of games only picking up one point from a possible 15. It came to the final two games of the season. We were level with Accrington but sat 21st due to goal difference. We needed to pick up something to give us a chance. That game against Orient was special, saving a penalty in the first half to keep the scores at 0-0 before stealing a winner in the second half. An enormous result for us which pulled us up into 20th and 2 points clear of Accrington.

It came down to the final game, a win and we stay up. If Accrington won, and we didn't (which you can see we didn't) then we'd go down on goal difference.

Luckily for us Dover didn't completely bottle their 2-0 lead and Accrington could only manage to draw 2-2 which meant we stayed up on the final day of the season. Two consecutive seasons with final day drama. Luckily, both times it's gone our way.

Before we take a look at the league table this will show you just how bumpy the final third of the season really was, there were several times I didn't think we'd get it done but we have, thankfully


So now lets look at the league


I must say I'm really not disappointed to see the back of Morecambe and Leyton Orient two strong sides, although I'll be forever grateful for that penalty miss.

Gillingham are too good a side to be down there for long so I'm pleased I won't have to come up against them next season, Accrington too. The other two gave us some crucial points so it's a shame to lose them.

End of Season Awards



That's about right, Phillips has been consistently my best player since he joined mid-way through last season. So I'm not shocked to see him bag player of the year.

What I was pretty surprised about in the end though was this...


Nobody came close to Jonathan Edwards, the guy was an absolute machine. At the time of typing he's still at Gateshead, but Wigan want him so hopefully he'll move on. It was still nice to see Phillips bag a good haul of goals for the season and hopefully that'll carry on into next year

Vanarama National League - 36 Game Review

We've approached the business end of the season and with only 10 games to go lets see how we got on since I last posted.


This was a really really tough run of games. Bookended by a couple of good results. There were times in the middle where the players heads started to drop, I started to wonder whether or not I'd keep my job until the end of the season. Things were bad, a cup competition I wanted to go deep into ended abruptly against lower tiered opposition. Thankfully things picked up towards the end of the run and we were able to scrape a few 1-0 wins and get some really valuable points on the board.

Here's how the table looks heading into the final 10 games


Those last few games were enough to scrape our sorry backsides out of the bottom 4, I was starting to think about how to prepare myself for another season in the lowest tier.

This will show just how bad things had become


Now yes perhaps I've been exaggerating how bad it was becoming, but when you're getting beat week in week out it can be tough to see where the next win is going to come from, it looks as though we've turned that round and although we spent a good few weeks sitting inside the bottom 4 we've turned that around. Hopefully we'll still be outside it in 10 games time.

Speaking of those final 10 games, this is what they are


A real mixed bag of results here, and I'm thinking that my initial target of 45 points won't be enough to secure safety and it may take something around 55 if not more than that. I think games against Gillingham and Concord Rangers are vital games against two sides in the relegation zone. Forest Green, Leyton Orient and Morecambe will be really tough games whilst all the other sides are around the same area as us, fighting it out in the lower half of the table so I'll be looking to pick up points as much as I can. Like I said, whilst my initial target was 45 points, I don't think that'll be enough this season and I'll be looking to try and gain nearer 55.

All I want is to finish above the drop zone, it's been the goal all season, now time to go out and see if we can do it
Vanarama National League - Halfway Review

So last time i checked in we were preparing for a couple of cup runs and were loitering just above the bottom 4. I think the run of games we just had was easier than the way we opened the season.

Let's take a look at how we got on...


A real mixed bag in the end. Disappointed to bow out of the FA and not even make the first round proper, it was a tough draw but I still felt we could have come through especially after forcing a replay. The most disappointing games were the draw against Gillingham, it's always a bit rubbish to not gain points on the teams fighting it out around you. The 0-0 to Kidderminster was infuritating, we missed two penalties in the first half and weren't able to score from open play either, definitley 2 points lost in that game.
It was nice in the end to turn it around and get a point against high flying Torquay, although again we missed the chance to win, but still can't sniff at a point there.


So now quite as high as we were before this period, but still far enough above the relegation zone to achieve our goals for this season. It's super tight at the bottom and all we need to do is grab a win and we'll shoot up a couple of places. We're still on course for the 45 point goal I set myself at the start of the season. Hopefully we can stay up, we have a new stadium to look forward to soon, hopefully that'll give us a nice little boost.


Most of what we've been doing has been outside of the bottom 4, we dipped in briefly earlier on in the season but dragged ourselves out pretty sharpish and haven't slipped back in since. Hopefully it stays like that


So this is whats to come over the next 12 games quite a few sides who are fighting it out towards the playoffs so hopefully we can come through with some points, staying out of the bottom 4 and beating Salford to continue a cup run. I really want to go as deep as I can in the FA Trophy this year
Vanarama National League - 12 Game Round Up

We've been promoted, we had a good pre-season under our belt but that means nothing as soon as the proper stuff begins. So how did we get on over the first 12 games of the season...


A bit of a shakey start, picking up one win and 4 defeats but a change of tactic was on the card and we managed to pick up some valuable points against some good teams. Those final two defeats were also unlucky. We managed to have some great comebacks from being 3 goals down in both games but then conceded an ever later goal to come away from those games with nothing.

How does this look in terms of the league


All I'm concerned with this season is not finishing in the bottom four, if we can achieve that I'll be happy. I'm looking to gain around 45 points this season and we're a good way into that already.

Our past postions graph also looks pretty interesting, it's still fairly early on but the league is still really tight. This could be a bumpy graph over the course of the season


The good run of games we had as well led to some individual awards for us.



Phillips had a great month which was enough to see him awarded both Player and Young Player of the Month awards, and well not to be outdone by one of my players, I joined him in accepting Manager of the Month too


Anyway onto the next run of games, there's a lot going on between now and then with me beginning my run in both cup competitions.


There has been the FA Cup draw since then, and we've been given an away tie to Tranmere Rovers which is tougher than I would have liked at this stage of the competition. There's some tough games with Forest Green, Leyton Orient and Torquay but there are certainly teams there we can get the win. This definitley looks like the easier portion of the calendar. If this is reflected later on it could be valuable in the run in
Vanarama National League North - End of Season Review

It's time, the season has finished. Last time I checked in we were 3 points behind FC United (who also had superior GD) with 7 games to go. How did those games pan out in the end?


We had a fantastic run of games. We finally beat our bogey team in Curzon which proved enough to relegate them in the end. Chuck in the huge wins against Chester and Darlington and for the second season in a row we ended in blistering form. But, there's still one game to play I hear you cry.

Well, this is how the league table looked going into that game...


Thanks to Salford City beating FC United 3-0 on the day we beat Kettering there was a 6 goal swing in terms of GD, FC United then went on to win their penultimate game 3-0 whilst we won 4-1 meaning there was no change to GD.

It all came down to the final game of the season. The permutations were simple whoever goes out there and wins by the most goals would lift the title. The title felt like it was simultaneously in our own hands, and like we needed a favour from Braintree at the same time.


We did our bit, if FC United won by 3 goals or more they'd take the title on Goal Scored/Goal Difference.


But none of that mattered, in the end we won the league by 3 points. At one point FC United had a 13 point lead over us and we turned it around completely. Something that I never, ever expected from this season. We'd achieved the impossible, and won the title...


So FC United had to get ready for the event that I'd been preparing for, for a large chunk of the season. The playoffs


As you can see they bottled them too, a devastating end to the season as they prepare for another season in the National League North whilst the two teams that pressured them all season are the ones going up.

End of Season Awards




There were times when I didn't think I was going to win this award, it's voted for by other managers so I didn't know what to expect. I thought FC United's coach would take it home, but no I prevailed and added A Manager of the Year award to my single Manager of the Month award to date.

There's just one final thing I want to show you before I kick back and bask in my own glory. Some of you may remember last season we delayed Stadium Expansion plans, well this year they're happening. We only manage to fill 30% of our smaller stadium but we still need to make it bigger. Fantastic


So we're more than doubling the current capacity of the stadium and plunging ourselves into more debt that we're already in, but never mind. It also means that our first real home game of the season won't come until January. I expect us to be in a relegation dog fight next season and I'm really hoping that playing away from home for the first half of the season won't affect us too much.

We can worry about that in a couple of months though, for now, lets enjoy our success.
Quick Update

Just a quick update...


We've made it into the playoffs!

How did we manage it?


Two great results against Stockport and Kidderminster and two disappointing draws with Altrincham and Chorley were enough to secure us a top 7 finish. Of course the aim is still to try and catch FC United who now lead by three points at the top. Although if that turns out to be too big a task for us then a top 3 finish and a bye into the Playoff Semi Final has to be the aim.

Here's how the league table looks at the moment.


7 games to go...

Come on you Yellows!
Vanarama National League North - 31 Game Roundup

So we're now 3/4 of the way through this season. A season which so far has exceeded all expectations. We achieved what was expected in the two cup competitions and were far outdoing what we expected from the league campaign. So lets take a look at how the next run of games went


As you can see we had a decent run again, we picked up our second loss of the season in disappointing circumstances to Brackley but were able to score huge wins against FC United and Salford. Those early draws against Curzon and Harrogate allowed FC United to pull out a 13 point lead at the top of the table. Since then though our form has really picked up. How are we doing in the league table though?


Well, I think it's safe to say that FC United have bottled it. 11 points we've closed on them in our last 7 games. After I saw that 13 point lead I thought the title would be too far out of reach for us, and we should focus on the playoffs. Now, we go into each game we play with the possibility of taking the top spot. The same goes for Kidderminster however and they'll also be looking to lift the title at the end of the season. One thing is for sure, we have a title race on our hands over these final 11 games of the season.

I'll share a couple of the league statistics with you guys before we look at what is still to come this season.


We're looking good when it comes to hitting the target and finding our man from crosses. We're also second in terms of goals scored behind FC United, not really a shock when every other ball we hit finds the target.


Alex Pattison has become an absolute general in the centre of my midfield picking out key passes all day long. It's also nice to see that Scott has the most clean sheets in the league despite missing a large chunk of games through injury.

Now, onto the final set of fixtures for the 2019/20 season.


This first run of 6 games is massive. Stockport, Kidderminster, Darlington and Chester are all in playoff spots at the moment. Chorley want to get in on the action and well, we should beat Altrincham but drew against them earlier on this season.
The final run of 5 seems a little easier for us. We just need to get through those 6 games with as many points as possible and hope Kidderminster and FC United drop some points as well.

I may well do another update before the end of the season, it depends how things pan out with these games.
Vanarama National League North - Midseason Update

So here we go at the halfway point in the season, we started of with blisteringly good form, have we been able to carry this on through to the midway point?


A lot of disappointing draws to be honest with you. The 4-4 against Chester we threw away a big lead, Kettering, Altrincham, Lowestoft were all fighting down the other end of the table and are all teams we should have put to the sword. You can also see that both our cup competitions came to pretty abrupt ends. I think an away trip to Bolton in the 1st Round of the FA Cup is possibly the toughest draw we could have got, and it wasn't really any surpise to get outclassed by them. I'm more disappointed with the FA Trophy, I felt with the form we had we could have made a real crack at going deep in this tournament. Instead we were given a tough draw with Forest Green and it was a tie we had tonnes of chances to win. After around 84 minutes we had the lead but managed to concede twice in the dying moments to see our Wembley dream ended for this season.

This does allow us to concentrate on the league but it won't stop that FA Trophy exit from stinging, especially if I see FGR going deep into the competition.

Anyway have those irritating draws affected our standing in the league table at all?


This time I went to the trouble of capturing the entire league table for the benefit of @A11_Smithy so he can see what on Earth has happened to York.

We're looking okay, I definitley think that playoffs has to be our target now for the season. It'll be really disappointed to bottle a 13 point advantage to 8th place. I also think that the title may be a stretch. FC United's league form has been blistering and have won 8 of their last 9 games in the league and I just can't see them slipping up enough for us to take advantage of it. We still have too many draws in our system to charge for that top spot. A top 7 finish however certainly seems doable now.

So what do we have to look forward to in the near future?


A trip to our bogey team in Curzon Ashton, and some tough ties against FC United and Salford that could really start to shape the way the league will look come the run in. There's also several games that we'd expect to win in there. York, Alfreton, Stafford, Braintree for example.

Hopefully we can pick up some decent points here and make the run in a little less stressful for us.
Should have just let them leather each other. Looking forward to this though mate!
Vanarama National League North - 10 Game Review

This will only be a short post just to update you with what's been going on over the first 10 games of the season and our first foray into the FA Cup.

So let's take a look at how we got on, we had some tough games to kick things off.


Certainly impressive. Considering last season we managed to grab two wins and a couple of draws to kick things off to have turned things into this form so early on was certainly a shock to me. A monumental win against Title Favourites Salford and important draws against playoff contenders Braintree and FC United have contributed to some impressive displays.

Especially when you consider that we have picked up a few injuries and bought some other players in as a result of this. This unfortunately includes a 5 month lay off for Ofori so we have bought in another striker who has yet to hit the back of the net. Depth is good though.

You can also see that for the first time since I joined we didn't need a replay in our FA Cup tie and we comfortably saw of lower league opposition to make it through to the 3rd Qualifying Round. We drew Coalville in the next round, another lower tier side so hopefully we'll be able to pick up the win there as well.

So how does all of this transform into a league table...


I am SO pleased with how the table is looking and I know it's early days but that's certainly giving us something to cheer about. This time last season I was sitting in 20th place, just inside the relegation zone and now we're 7 points inside the playoffs just 4 points off the top spot.

I think it's too early to decide what our aims really are for this season. At the moment I just want to pick up points as much as we can. Beat the teams below us and not lose against the teams around us and who knows where we'll be come the midway point.

The next time I'll be checking in will be the midway point in the season which falls on Boxing Day again this year. It took us until that point last season to start picking up form. Hopefully we'll have gone a little deeper in the FA Cup and FA Trophy by then as well.

Before I go lets take a look at our upcoming fixtures.


Some really tough games here. Stockport, Darlington, Kidderminster, and Chester are all flying high at the moment so they're places we need to be picking up points if we're going to fight for the playoffs this season.

Until next time, let's hope we can pick up some good points.
2019 Preseason and Transfers

So preseason is all said and done. Let's see how we got on


Really pleased with how we got on, I mean, we never expected to win against Bristol City but it was good to get a run out against some good level opposition.

I think the most important part of this pre-season was to bring in some players and keep the spine of the team that performed so well at the end of last season together. In terms of important players leaving only left back Jake Green left. I tried to offer him a new contract but he accepted the offer from Harrogate instead. So I needed to try and replace him.

We also needed to replace the loan players from last season. So my targets were a goalkeeper, right back, left back, centre back, centre midfielder

Here's who we got


We signed two goalkeepers, both pretty decent, I was only in the market for one but because Porter left for Maidenhead I needed to bring in a backup. Easily done. Offered 3 keepers a trial and these were the two that made the cut.



One young player, and another more experienced goalkeeper. Both are around the same standard with scouts rating them both at around 2.5* CA. Both on non-contracts so we're only paying the one that starts. Pleased with these two. Important position that needed filling seeing as it was occupied by a loanee last season.





These are the three permanent signings that will slot right into the back line. Again, Jones came in and replaced a loan player who had gone away and left the position vacant. I think he'll do a good job there. Hood comes in as a starter and an improvement to our defensive pairing from last season with Killock dropping to the bench. His wages are slightly more than I'd like but we're still well within our wage budget. Warnock replaces Green who left for Harrogate.

We also made one loan signing at the back, this may be my heart talking a little but we bought in Oldham youth player Jay Sheridan to add some depth at the left back position.


You'll see he's nothing special, but certainly capable at this level and he's costing us literally nothing. No fee, no wages. So I can't complain



My final signing of the season, again to replace Howe who was a loanee last season and the player of the year. I tried to bring him in on a permanent basis but he asked for £1.5k a week which is way way above what I can afford. Pattison looks real good though and although his wages are pretty high he's one of the best players in our team.

I did initially think of bringing in a striker, but Hine decided to not retire in the end so I didn't really want to change the strike force that looked so good at the end of last season.

All together I'm really happy with how the squad is looking for this year, I'm looking to finish in the top half, but let's look at what the bookies make of our chances.


They have us down to finish 15th, I'm aiming for at least 11th/12th and a playoff push would be amazing. We'll see how things pan out though.

Our first run of games looks pretty tough


FC United, Salford and Harrogate all made the playoffs last season. So some good opposition to test our metal against.

We'll also have started our FA Cup campaign by then, and I'm hoping to go one better than last season.

Our expectations from the board are as follows:

Vanarama National League North - Midtable
Emirates FA Cup - Fourth Qualifying Round
Buildbase FA Trophy - First Round

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Vanarama National League North - End of Season Round Up

So last time I checked in we had dragged ourselves clear of the bottom 3 and built a nice little cushion to security. So how did we get on in the final 11 games of the season?


We seemed to hit our best run of form at the end of the season. One defeat in the final 8 games, and that was against eventual champions Fylde, at that point they were still fighting for the title with Boston and we had nothing to play for.

However, along the way we managed to pick up another award.


Ofori really stepped it up when we needed him to, Murray was having a run of games without scoring but it didn't really impact us in anyway because Ofori more than made up for it. One of the highlights for me in this run was the game about Tamworth, why? Here's why...


Ofori ran the show, he had that entire defence in his back pocket and not only became the first Warrington player to bag a hat-trick during my career but he went and added another putting himself firmly into the record books.

Well, for a little while anyway


Murray must have turned the boosters on when he saw Ofori start banging them in for fun he decided he could go one better, and well. He rewrote the history books.

Anyway how was the table looking when all was said and done?


In the end it was a pretty comfortable midtable finish for us. We were actually still in with a chance of reaching the playoffs once we'd secured our status for next season. Of course, playoffs wasn't ever my aim and it wasn't realistic to close down 12 points in 6 games but it was still nice to be mathematically still in with a shout.


Overall, I'm super super happy with how this season finished. I never thought after the first 10 games when we were down fighting it out with the relegation zone that we'd end up finishing in mid table safety. That 4-1 win against Harrogate that was the best game of the season apparently seems even more impressive when you realise that they went on to finish in a playoff spot. They were knocked out in the first round, but still they were there.


I'd say on the whole I agree with these awards. I think if Murray had been here all season then he would have scooped the fans player of the year award. But Lowe was really important in the centre of midfield.

So, what did the squad make of our first season. Let's take a look at the Dynamics


I have a lot of support from the players. Of those 5 who don't support me, 4 won't be here next season, with one retiring and 3 going back to their parent clubs. So I certainly must be doing something right, and that translate over onto the overview screen as well...


Everything came up millhouse for us in the end. We just need to keep this going into next season as well and bed the additions in well.

Finally, thank heavens for small mercies.


Our finances are pretty shot anyway making a loss of almost £200k this past season, so I'm so pleased that we don't have to spend a tonne of money expanding the stadium with seats that will remain empty. Hopefully we can increase attendances over the next year and that might make it a little more worth it.

Anyway, until next season. Thanks for sharing this ride with me. Certainly was a rollercoaster at times
Vanarama National League North - 31 Game Round Up

So the last time I checked in was just after the Boxing Day match against Halifax. The squad has changed a fair bit since then. I saw our finances are pretty shot, so I decided to have a complete clear out of the squad. Strip it down to the bare bones and try and save some money on wages.



As you can see, we have a match day squad and one player spare. It's pretty big risk, but due to the nature of the league it's pretty easy to replace people if they pick up a long term injury. Either a short term loan up until the deadline, or bring a player in on a free. Anyway, how did we get on...


As you can see our good run of form carried on into the new year. Not surprisingly Curzon Ashton who have become somewhat of a bogey team continued their dominance over us in all competitions. We bounced back right away though and got another couple of valuable wins against Bradford PA and Kettering. The game against York was a particular disappointment, firstly we managed to go ahead in the 85th minute after losing Elliot Murray to injury earlier on was a moment of jubilation, only for York to ruin it in the 90th by bagging an equaliser. (I blame you for this @A11_Smithy for talking up how bad you were).

Then the two defeats in a row, I think a large contributing factor to this was the injury to Murray, he failed a fitness test but was eligible for selection against Spennymore so he made the bench. Came on in the second half when we were losing and we manage to turn the game around. Then wins against Leamington and the draw to Kidderminster were also with him in the squad. He's become completely undroppable since he joined and his stats of 7 goals and 7 assists in 14 appearances shows that.

It's also funny that you should mention Dean Ebbe @DNZY because in that draw against Kidderminster this happened


This run of game also saw me and my players pick up our first personal awards of the career



Well, I say both of us, Murray is the only one who won outright. Although, I'm still taking even placing given the form we've endured so far this season as a victory. If only we'd gotten a result against Fylde I think I'd have got my hands on that award.

This is how our good run translates into the league table...


We've moved ourself nicely clear of the drop zone. 10 points clear with 11 games to go and I'm starting to feel pretty confident about staying up this season.

So our final run of games this season are as follows...


Some pretty tough games in there. Chorley, Salford, Chester and Fylde are flying high, but I'm confident of picking up points against the teams that sit around us in the table.

Youth Intake


Nothing all too special, other than a potential new goalkeeper for the first team in the next couple of seasons depending on how he develops and how quickly. Here's how he looks right now


Anyway, that'll do for now. I'll see you all again at the end of the season. Ready to hopefully prepare for another season in the National League North

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Ouch, painful month! I'm sure you can turn it around though.

Interesting to see Blyth doing so well, when they're in a relegation fight in my save