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lolmappo Comments
I think that win over Southport is the biggest I've seen so far in this year's FM! Good start to the season, fingers crossed you're able to get promoted out of the division this time round.
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Thanks for keeping up as always @Dan, the FA Cup exit sure is a bummer but fortunately our league form hasn't taken too much of a hit.

NOVEMBER 2018


http://boxtoboxfootball.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/1200px-Chester-fc.svg_-300x300.png


We're really getting into the swing of things now in terms of the season, and while we still sat atop the table at the beginning of the month there were plenty of teams breathing down our necks so staying focused is crucial. Somewhat quiet on the game front with only three matches being played, but there's also been a lot of off-the-field stuff to deal with so let's get right into it!

Transfers

https://i.gyazo.com/56c8e188d559f5d0070fb6ce1023c005.png

James Smith joins as our new backup CAM, this was the role O'Neill was initially brought into do but given his brilliant form he's ended up actually playing in the same XI more often than not, meaning that we've been a little short on options in the number 10 role coming off the bench. Smith has been out of football for a year after leaving West Brom in 2017 but I think he'll do a more than adequate job here whether it's coming off the bench or filling in in the starting lineup if any injuries spring up. What's more, he's on a dirt-cheap weekly wage and can also fill in a little deeper down the park if required.

https://i.gyazo.com/8ccd3f9d13ea0ca4c8b2f6dcae012fb7.png

The inconsistency of our defence has cost us quite a few points recently, and in a bid to keep more clean sheets I've signed former Welsh youth international Billy O'Brien to be our new number one goalkeeper. Both Shenton and King have done decent jobs up to this point but O'Brien looks to be leaps and bounds ahead of both in terms of natural ability, with my assistant rating him as a good National League level player and he's certainly got the potential to star between the post for years to come! I'm still looking to take even more measures to tighten up our backline on top of this, so expect to see a centre-back or two coming in over the next couple of months.

Matches

https://i.gyazo.com/b970ff218243094f3b4d1003cd99699b.png

As I mentioned earlier we'd only play three games this month, not playing at all in the last couple of weeks due to reasons completely unbeknown to me, and frustratingly they'd all end in draws. Though it's my first winless month as Chester boss, it's also easy to take a more glass-half-full perspective and see that we're now unbeaten in five, nonetheless though there's been plenty of points dropped. First of all we travelled to Brackley who occupied a playoff spot at the time and played out a game which pretty much summed FM up to a T. All four goals came in a pulsating first half, we went 2-0 up through O'Neill and Hughes but the home side managed to draw things back level by scoring with two out of the four shots they had all game, both coming in the space of three minutes right on the stroke of half-time. In contrast the second half was a complete snoozefest without a single highlight, and though we pressed for a winner that our dominance would've merited we ultimately had to settle to share the spoils. Back at the Deva versus Altrincham it was a much more even contest, albeit one we were behind for a large portion of after they took the lead with half an hour on the clock. We kept pushing though, and eventually grabbed a dramatic late equaliser thanks to George Green with a contender for goal of the season. Our final game, and probably most disappointing of all our draws, was at relegation-battling Leamington. Again, we were the better side but were let down by poor finishing and when they took a surprising lead with just over ten minutes left it looked as though they were going to steal the three points. Once again though we managed to grab a late equaliser, this time courtesy of substitute Jordan, but taking just a point away is still an undeniably poor result given the standings of the respective teams in the league.

https://i.gyazo.com/32e72632bce403ac82f8828552dbc38c.png

Speaking of which, here's the league table and thankfully despite all our dropped points we remain top - not only that, but we've also got a game in hand over second-placed Stockport. We've got some massive games coming up over the festive period, playing four of the current top seven in December, so it's vital that we don't let our heads drop and hopefully we're able to seize the opportunity to extend our lead further. Rooted to the foot of the table are Curzon Ashton, who are now actually managed by Bernard Morley who I replaced as Chester gaffer, with Guiseley also continuing to struggle.

Other news

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Even though there's not been as much action on the pitch, there's been plenty of off-the-field issues to deal with. Starting positively though, I've acquired a Continental C coaching license after completing the course I began right at the beginning of the save. The stat boosts should provide a nice little helping hand in training, and I've immediately begun to study for my B license which I should complete by the end of the season.

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https://i.gyazo.com/4d53f59ff329fa3144e995fd04e95d40.png

The internal club elections have been and gone, and with chairman David Harrington-Wright declining a new term the reigns have been handed over to Steve McPherson. I don't expect many, if any, sweeping changes to be made under his stewardship - especially since the club is still owned by the fans - but from what I've read it sounds like he did a decent job occupying a similar role at Hampton and Richmond in the past, plus he's already given me an improved wage budget so happy days thus far!

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https://i.gyazo.com/de02ba1dfd5eb062193d192a97b5a2b3.png

Finally the news you've all been waiting for, what will come of football once we leave the EU? Well, more new details have been revealed and there's definitely some food for thought. The new foreign player limit is, as far as I know, very similar to what's currently in place anyway (and to be honest I can't really ever see us signing 17 foreign players in the duration of this career) but the big potential problem is the new work permit system - with foreign players having to be offered a minimum salary of £8,000 a week before they can play for a British club. I'm not sure whether this applies to foreigners who already play in the British leagues, and whether or not it only applies to the top divisions, but if not then the new rules could be very detrimental to our hopes of keeping the likes of Sousa beyond this season since £8,000 is the current total of our entire wage bill! It seems that FM are doing an even better job than the real-life media at proving how bad an idea Brexit was but hey, I'm not here to get political.
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OCTOBER 2018


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We went into the month of October with perhaps the greatest feeling of optimism at the football club for years, sitting pretty at the top of the National League North table and looking to kick on even further. We'd face four more league games, plus another round of the FA Cup, that would really test our credentials - let's get into it!

Transfers

https://i.gyazo.com/32c296c93de6d0ea99c0d6b7fb421c63.png

Unusually for a career of mine I've abstained from making any new signings since the season started but as the window is open pretty much all year round in non-league, we're free to bring players in whenever we see fit so we've made good use of that rule here. Angolan international Erico Sousa is only on loan until the end of the season from Accrington but what a player he looks to be - able to play on both wings, he's more comfortable on the right but I think he'll find himself playing on the left hand side more often due to our lack of depth there. Given that my assistant rates him as a good player for most National League sides and he was wanted by a few sides in said division, our capture of him is a pretty significant coup and is proof of the type of player we're able to attract despite our low standing on the league pyramid. What's more, we're only paying a small fraction of his wages so our accountant won't be cursing me for bringing him in plus his contract with his parent club is up at the end of the season so if he manages to impress enough he may well end up joining permanently.

Matches

https://i.gyazo.com/4e7005a20b4ca6cce5e96f3f5211017f.png

More red and yellow dots than you're used to seeing here, and some pretty worrying performances to go with them - fortunately though we were able to get things back on track towards the end of the month. We started our round of games for October with perhaps the worst result of them all, a shock FA Cup exit at the hands of seventh-tier Banbury. At home, we were massive favourites and expected to put quite a few past them, but despite dominating pretty much from start to end we were held to a goalless draw with George Green missing another penalty. Frustrating though it was to not progress at the first time of asking, I was nonetheless still expecting us to put things straight in the replay but instead we were stunned as despite young Marsh-Hughes scoring again the Oxfordshire club not only knocked us out, they did so whilst being the better team over 90 minutes. The defeat means I've underachieved in the competition compared to the board's expectation for us to get to the first round proper - and while I don't think I'm in any imminent danger of the sack given our league form, it hurt for me personally since one of my aims for the season was to go on a good cup run to generate some extra income. Back at home and back in the league, it looked like we were set to put our cup troubles behind us after Jordan fired us ahead after fifteen minutes against Nuneaton Borough, but after Green missed yet another spot-kick and Bob Harris was sent off things started to get a little bit nervy and with just a couple of minutes left to play, the away side drew level from twelve yards and we were forced to settle for just a point. Winless in three, morale wasn't the best going into a huge match against title favourites York, and though it was one of the games of the season it certainly didn't end how we'd have hoped. We were 2-0 up within the first ten minutes thanks to Mooney and an absolute corker from Vieira, but incredibly we missed our third successive penalty, Matty Waters the culprit this time and the hosts were level by half-time! With the momentum now firmly with them, things went from bad to worse for us in the second half as winger Mahon was dismissed for a second bookable offence and they managed to complete the comeback shortly afterwards. We pushed forward, hoping for an equaliser, but with Howson also shown red we ended the game with nine men, killing any hopes of clawing our way back and seeing us hit with a fine for failing to control our players. With our winless run having been extended to four games, we needed a bit of inspiration against Alfreton and inspiration is what we got! We bounced back in style to produce a 3-0 win, the whole team put in a fantastic performance but the star of the show had to be our talisman George O'Neill who came up with a marvellous hat-trick! Finally, we recorded another victory albeit a narrower one in our midweek game against Ashton United. We went into the dressing room 2-0 up after a dominant first half in which we could've scored even more than we did, in the second half though it was a different story as the visitors spurned a number of chances as well as being denied numerous times by goalkeeper King (who's more or less displaced Shenton as our number one) and though they did manage to pull one back with a couple of minutes left with a pearler of a free-kick we held firm to ensure we didn't bottle another two goal lead!

https://i.gyazo.com/88516462411e83ca1b81459c889e0906.png

Our lead has been cut to just two points due to our dropped points against Nuneaton and York as well as the good form of second-placed Southport, but importantly we're still hanging in there at the top. Meanwhile, our former manager Marcus Bignot has been sacked by Guiseley who lie bottom of the table.

Other news

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I think the UK's decision to leave the EU was actually announced in September but I forgot to include it in the last update, now though some potential permutations are beginning to come to light. In all honesty I'm not sure a foreign player limit would affect us too much, certainly at the moment, if the speculation is confirmed - all I hope for is that the talks will go smoother in-game than they're going in real life! I'll be sure to keep you updated with any more news on Brexit when it breaks.
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We've certainly had a good start @Dan, the key now is to keep it going throughout the rest of the season!

SEPTEMBER 2018


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After a near-perfect August, we lay top of the table going into the month and looking to extend our advantage even further. Without any midweek games to hamper players' fitness and with our FA Cup journey also getting underway, would fortune continue to favour us?

Matches

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A few more dropped points but overall still a decent set of results, it's looking like we might not just be one-month wonders! Kicking things off at Guiseley who are managed by former Blues boss Marcus Bignot, we were able to pick up another trademark narrow victory to ensure we started the month off on a bright note. We went 2-0 up after Green opened the scoring and Hughes got his first goal since his opening day hat-trick, the home side got one back shortly after but given that they didn't trouble our defence for much of the game I think the result was a deserved one. Back at home against high-flying Bradford Park Avenue we were full of confidence but ended up being held to an incredibly frustrating, if entertaining, draw. Despite having a fantastic season so far, George Green dropped one of the worst performances of his career as he missed a penalty and ended up being substituted at half-time and it looked for all the world like we'd be ruing our missed chances when Bradford scored what they'd have thought to be the winner in the 89th minute. As soon as their goal went in we went all-out attacking and I demanded my players to show me more and for once in FM they actually came up with a response! George O'Neill, who is in the form of his life right now, finished a nice move deep into injury time to salvage a point for us. However, he was unable to avoid us succumbing to only our second defeat of the season on the road against Boston - despite netting a stunning equaliser after we'd fallen behind early on, the Pilgrims were back ahead again shortly after with all the goals coming in the space of ten first-half minutes. I know I've said in the past that we should be winning our games by more given our on-pitch dominance but this match was actually the opposite - even though the stats suggested we were the better team and deserved to win the game, several of our players put in sub-par performances and we were lucky to only lose by the one. I was worried that a two-game winless streak would negatively affect morale but we bounced back perfectly in my first cup game as Chester manager, an impressive 4-1 victory over eighth-tier North Leigh securing our passage into the third qualifying round of the FA Cup. Lloyd Marsh-Hughes, who recently broke the record for our youngest-ever player, was the hero of the day as I fielded a few academy graduates in the starting lineup, with two goals and a man-of-the-match performance. Although I didn't get a news item about it and the records page only shows info from the beginning of the save, I also have a feeling that with his brace he's become our club's youngest-ever goalscorer. Other goals in that game came from Jordan (who himself is playing really well at the moment) and a screamer from Stopforth in his first game back following a spell out injured. With our confidence back we travelled to Chorley who are one of the favourites for promotion and absolutely blew them away, recording our joint-biggest win of the campaign so far and surely proving our title credentials. We were 3-0 up at half time thanks to Jordan, O'Neill and a Green penalty, and Milan Butterfield got our fourth and his first in a blue and white shirt in the second half. After one of their players was shown a straight red card with about half an hour still to play I was hopeful of us getting even more but even though we were unable to I can't really complain given the eventual scoreline anyway!

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In spite of those poor couple of results against Bradford and Boston we not only retain our place at the top but increase our cushion to four points over second place. At the other end of the table, Spennymoor remain rooted to the bottom and are the only team yet to win this season while Kidderminster are also having an unexpectedly tough time of things. Time will only tell whether we can make our lead even more unassailable - in October we're coming up against York who currently occupy one of the playoff places and are the bookies' favourite to win the league, so that'll be as good a test as any!
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Good luck with this! It's nice to see another NLN career on the forums, I'm currently doing one with my club Chester and even though I've got a bit of a grudge against Blyth in real life after they beat us 8-1 this season, I wish you all the best in the digital world!
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It is indeed @Suffolk Seasider! I'm not sure why he's played so little over the last few years, my guess is due to injuries but he hasn't had any problems here so far.
Haha @tongey hopefully you'll find another Astles sometime soon! Templeton has had a solid start to life in blue and white, certainly looks to be a good prospect.

AUGUST 2018


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The first month of competitive fixtures in my reign as Chester manager is in the history books, and it's certainly been a hectic start to life back in the National League North. Seven games, all against very decent teams, could we get off to a bright start and build up some crucial early-season form?

Matches

https://i.gyazo.com/541f46736f1a40685add983ee3fea54c.png

We certainly could, I could hardly have asked for a better set of results to kick things off with six wins from seven and things marred only slightly by the one narrow defeat. First things first we faced Spennymoor at home and absolutely smashed them thanks to a thoroughly professional performance from the whole team, George Green opened the scoring with a stunner after just a few minutes but the real story was Matty Hughes who scored his second hat-trick in as many games! We'd have to fight a lot harder to get the three points in the next game though, we travelled to Curzon Ashton just two days later and as a result had to field a virtually completely changed lineup. O'Neill, Livesey and Jordan all got on the scoresheet but after having initially taken the lead early on the home side pulled one back with a couple of minutes left to play, setting things up for a tense finish - fortunately, we managed to hang on and get the three points. In real life we suffered the ignominy of letting EIGHT in when we travelled to Blyth so in-game I was naturally delighted that we were able to take out our virtual revenge on them - again though it was far from easy for us as we struggled to finish our chances despite being by far the better side, fortunately though substitute Dudley found the net on 82 minutes and the Spartans were unable to come up with a response. Back at home, we were looking good after three consecutive victories but we were stunned by FC United who are one of the favourites to go down this season. Despite us going into the lead early on through Romario Vieira, the away side soon found a response and the turnaround was complete after 75 minutes with their player Willoughby who's currently top scorer in the league getting the decider. I was worried we might let our heads drop and that morale would slip but just a few days later we were back to winning ways against Kidderminster - another slightly concerning defensive display but the narrow scoreline didn't really reflect our dominance as they scored with pretty much the only two real opportunities they had. O'Neill bagged a brace but the real man of the match was Gary Roberts who had a hand in all three goals. It was a first vs second clash as we travelled to Telford and Green gave us the lead from 12 yards, the Shropshire club drew level before the break through a Scott Burton own goal but terrace favourite Mahon's first goal of the season proved to be the decider in the second half. Finally, we returned to the Deva to face off against fellow phoenix club Hereford and recorded yet another 3-2 win - man of the moment O'Neill scoring another two and Luke Jordan getting what would prove to be the winner. Again, perhaps some room for concern over the quality of our defending but at the same time we could have scored even more had we finished more of the chances that fell to us.

https://i.gyazo.com/914305ef1c1c092ba53ce2b023e7eeaa.png

All this has left the league table looking very good indeed after a month of football - I know it's early days but already being at the top is sure to be good for morale and given the form we're in everything's certainly looking rosy! The rest of the top 4 is all made up of nearby north-west clubs Altrincham, Southport and FC United while Bradford Park Avenue, Chorley (both of whom we play in September) and Telford make up the rest of the playoff places. Meanwhile at the foot of the table, north-east clubs Blyth and Spennymoor languish in the bottom two with Leamington joining them in the relegation zone.

Other news

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Not particularly surprising if I dare say so myself, still though it's nice to be recognised for my hard work! I'm just hoping that I don't inherit the 'curse' often associated with awards like these.

https://i.gyazo.com/68cdf905d35ad2a0b41418a6efe9c617.png

And lastly, striker Lloyd Marsh-Hughes has become the youngest player to feature for our first team in our history, I'm not sure whether this record encompasses the old club but regardless it's a great achievement for the lad and testament to the quality of our youth setup. I have to say, even though I said I'd try to accommodate as many youth players in my squads as possible I've not really been able to do so given how many senior players are performing so well - nonetheless, we had various fitness issues with our first-team forwards in the build-up to the Hereford game so I thought I'd throw Lloyd straight into the starting lineup! I can't say he played the best game of his career but he certainly showed some promising signs.
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Absolute heartbreak at the end of last season to miss out on the top 7 by just a few points and then to lose the cup final on penalties! New signings look very promising though, I reckon your squad should easily be good enough to be pushing for top 6 or maybe even top 4 this time round.
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I've been following this keenly so far, you made easy work of the second division last season and I'm excited to see if the likes of Cordoba and Schaub can replicate their great form in the Bundesliga. Beating Bayern on the second matchday certainly isn't a bad way to re-introduce yourself to the league!
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Thanks @Suffolk Seasider, I've also actually got something of a soft-spot for Blackpool this season as our former player Ben Heneghan is currently on loan with you guys.
Cheers @Dan, hopefully I'll be able to keep this going right throughout the duration of FM19 this time round.
Appreciate it @tongey, gotta love Northwich for giving us Ryan Astles a few years back!

PRE-SEASON 2018


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The first pre-season of my tenure as Chester manager is done and dusted - transfers have been made, friendlies played and overall the team is looking in good standing as we prepare for what should be a very competitive NLN season.

Transfers

https://i.gyazo.com/aedec5d50ba5240fe41ad124fbe2bad4.png

One of the best things about managing in non-league is that there's no transfer window as such, so unlike in the professional leagues we're not bound to a certain registration deadline and you can expect us to continue to strengthen throughout the course of the season. As things are though, a total of six new faces have joined the club since the last update - all of them free agents as is usually the case in this division, but certainly not lacking in quality, and all-in-all they've left the squad looking a whole lot more balanced. Let's take a closer look at them:

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Bermudan midfielder Milan Butterfield holds the honour of being the first-ever player signed in the Lazurite era, and what a signing he looks to be. He appeared on the first scout report sent to me, meaning we were able to get the deal done just a few days into the pre-season. When I first joined we had some quality midfield players but few good young prospects in that area so I decided one of my goals in the market would be to reduce the average age in that area of the park, and Butterfield fits the bill perfectly. Despite never playing for his previous club Walsall, my assistant already rates him as a National League standard player so he should be a star turn in this league. Plus he's only 20 years old, so if we're able to keep hold of him then he may well continue to play a key role for years to come.

https://i.gyazo.com/1ecd3e06d8a3b7dc9408a5247c748c33.png

Northern Irishman Cal Templeton was our next addition, another young prospect who'll slot straight into the first team. I was a little surprised that he'd been without a club for a year given how good he's rated for this level, but other clubs' loss is our gain and I expect him to be able to shine for us despite his tender age. I brought him in primarily to be first-choice RB (a position I identified as being a weakness in the squad in my last post) but he's also more than comfortable playing centrally so he may be utilised there in a few games as well.

https://i.gyazo.com/55ff68708e493c12ab55114f5f00694c.png

The brilliantly-named Romario Vieira is another exciting midfielder who we were able to pick up after his release from Leeds. Sharing a name with two of the best players of all time, there's bound to be some pressure on his shoulders to perform and while he may never reach the levels of his namesakes, he certainly has the ability to be a key player for the Blues. He'll be playing in a youthful double pivot with Butterfield and I'm looking forward to seeing how the pair perform together.

https://i.gyazo.com/fd2070a11ffe7a09c91b39154206e6ff.png

I know what you're thinking, why on earth have we signed a 38-year-old who isn't rated anywhere near good enough for this division? Well, you'll be pleased to know that Kevin James will probably play a minimal part in any action on the pitch - rather, he's been brought in to be our new youth team manager. He had the best stats of all the applicants for the role, and when I saw that he was still playing I thought I might as well allow him to continue that part of his career in addition to his backroom duties. He's unlikely to ever play a game for us, but he's an influential figure in the dressing room and will at least provide some insurance should we ever have a terrible injury crisis.

https://i.gyazo.com/8d8fe916730f659d40747a084b60c4d6.png

With Templeton coming in to play on the right hand side of defence, I was also looking for a player to complement him on the left flank. I had reservations over signing Bob Harris initially as I was really looking for someone younger, but I decided to take him on trial and after putting in a number of impressive performances in friendly games and training I felt I had no choice but to offer him a permanent contract. In the end I'm glad I did because he turned out even better than my scouts rated him, and brings plenty of experience having actually been a regular in League One with Sheffield United not too long ago. He'll be used in rotation with academy graduate Matty Waters, which should free up Pritchard to play higher up the pitch where I believe he'll be more effective.

https://i.gyazo.com/7c2e145e3d5da313b3aa2a4886ba08db.png

Finally, George O'Neill is another player signed off the back of an impressive trial period. I was looking for another striker plus a backup attacking midfielder to cover for George Green, and we've managed to kill two birds with one stone as O'Neill is capable of fulfilling both those roles well. After three goals in two friendly games his contract effectively signed itself, and with him being on dirt-cheap wages he seems to be a great acquisition.

https://i.gyazo.com/c7f0f3905e67f2e788757f776eb65910.png

An update to the provisional 'first XI', with new boys Harris, Templeton, Vieira and Butterfield all adding to the quality of the team.

Matches

https://i.gyazo.com/24d32a0f14d1c2ff5257ab297b53f63d.png

I always like to schedule a lot of friendlies to ensure all our players are fit in time for the beginning of the season proper and that everyone has a chance to play and prove themselves. We've played nine in total here, and as you can see the majority of the results were very pleasing. Kicking things off nice and early at the end of June, we travelled to Welsh giants The New Saints and managed to record a pleasing victory against a professional side. George Green took just a minute to score his first goal in a Chester shirt from the penalty spot, though after they got a late equaliser it looked for all the world like we were heading for a draw before Matty Hughes netted a winner in injury time. We left it late again against Merthyr Town, Green getting his second in as many games but after going down to ten men on the hour mark we had to rely on another injury-time winner, this time from Mooney. And yet again it wasn't until the dying embers of the game that we were able to make a breakthrough against King's Lynn with two late goals from Butterfield and former youth teamer Marsh-Hughes - admittedly though we should've had things wrapped up before then as we dominated throughout. This was followed up by a narrow but respectable defeat by Cardiff's youth team, they actually played a couple of first-teamers so the fact that we were able to come away with a couple of goals thanks to a trialist we didn't end up taking on plus Dudley was reassuring. We went back to Wales and back to winning ways soon after, though, with a 2-1 victory over Newtown with goals from Mooney and Green - another game where the slender scoreline didn't really reflect our dominance. We finally managed to keep another clean sheet with a comprehensive 3-0 win against affiliates Airbus UK courtesy of yet another Green strike and an O'Neill brace, before our only other loss of pre-season - again, going down 3-2 to a Premier League youth team. Although the final scoreline against Palace was the same as the Cardiff match, it was a completely different game and we were actually the better team, unfortunately their counter-attacks proved lethal and their player Kaikai bagged a hat-trick. Finally, our last 'friendly' game against Gloucester was actually a testimonial for one of their long-serving players. I wasn't too bothered about getting a result since I didn't want to show the main man up on his big day, but nonetheless we ended up ruining the party thanks to a superb hat-trick by Matty Hughes.

And that just about brings things to a close for this pre-season review, we're jumping straight into the deep end with seven games in August against good oppositions. Let's hope for a successful season - hopefully you'll be joining me along the way!
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CHESTER FC - THE ROAD TO GLORY


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Hello all! A few of you on here might remember me for the career I posted on these forums back in FM17, in which I attempted to take my local team Chester all the way up from the depths of the National League to the Premier League and beyond. Unfortunately that save had to be abandoned after a couple of seasons due to my old laptop deciding to call it a day and me losing motivation - and after a break from posting on here for a while, I'm back re-attempting the challenge for this year's game. A lot has changed for Chester since the 2016/17 season, with the team suffering relegation to the lowest playable division in the regular database and now having virtually an entirely different squad to boot, so I hope you'll join me in my quest to take my hometown club all the way to the top!

History

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Founded in 1885, the old Chester City FC (known affectionately as the 'Blues' due to their home colours or the 'Seals' in reference to former ground Sealand Road) spent most of their existence floating between the third and fourth tiers of English football. Despite few successes in terms of winning silverware, the club had its fair share of now-famous names pull on its famous blue and white shirt - Lee Dixon, Ian Rush, Cyrille Regis and Roberto Martinez to name just a few. Older football fans may remember the club's famous League Cup run in the season of 1974-75, in which the Blues managed to reach the semi-finals (beating then-champions Leeds 3-0 along the way) despite only playing in what is now League Two - but for the majority of supporters, Chester's best claim to fame is being one half of the infamous 'Cross-Border Derby' contested against Wrexham which regularly ranks as one of the fiercest rivalries in the country. Despite all this, the club began to fall upon hard times in the beginning of the 21st century due to various financial problems. Under the mismanagement and corruption of owner Stephen Vaughan, things quickly got worse both on and off the pitch - with the club relegated to non-league football and entering administration. The downwards spiral was complete in March 2010, when the club was expelled from the Conference and just a day later were formally wound-up in the High Court.

Soon afterwards, though, newly-formed fans' union City Fans United set about creating a new phoenix club to ensure that the city did not remain deprived of football. The fully fan-owned Chester FC were set up, with a new badge but retaining the old club's colours and continuing to play at the 5,000-capacity Deva Stadium, and were placed in the NPL Division One North (the eighth tier of football in England). It wouldn't be long before the new club began to make headlines - though this time for the right reasons as under the management of Neil Young they achieved an incredible three consecutive promotions, meaning they would compete once more in the Conference Premier. Life in the top division of non-league proved more difficult, however, with the team only managing to stay up in their first season there due to the financial problems and consequential expulsion of Hereford United. Several mid-table finishes followed, but last season proved to be one of nightmares as fans' nightmares began to come true again. A terrible playing season, which saw the reformed club relegated for the first time ever and culminated in then-manager Marcus Bignot being sacked in a car park, only told half the story with financial problems once again coming to the fore and much-publicised turmoil in the boardroom compounding fears that Chester FC could go bust just eight years after reforming.

However, things are now beginning to look up again. The club's finances are healthy once again thanks to a number of fundraising activities plus a donation of £1million into the facilities and infrastructure by a local businessman. After a drawn-out search for a new manager, popular duo Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson were appointed in time for the new campaign having led Salford to promotion from the division last season. In the virtual world though, it's my job to take my hometown club from the bottom right to the top of the footballing pyramid!

Meet the manager

https://i.gyazo.com/e251392aa4c5befeff5ecbe06cba222b.png

Here we go then, the men upstairs have decided to take a gamble on a local lad with no prior playing or managerial experience to be the catalyst to turn their fortunes around. I've made just about everything up when creating my manager, making myself a more realistic age and looking like Mark Chapman's illegitimate son but I'm ready to prove the doubters wrong and show that a normal fella is capable of transforming his non-league team into powerhouses of the game. As far as my backroom staff are concerned, although Morley has left as manager his counterpart Anthony 'Jonno' Johnson has decided to stay and be my assistant! I'm in half a mind to get rid of him, though - a) to make things more realistic, b) because his stats aren't actually that good and c) because he's a top guy and deserves better than being someone's number 2.

The squad

https://i.gyazo.com/9271a783963c8902d277bdfb7c71a933.png

These are the players I've inherited, and the vast majority of them are recent arrivals having been signed under the 'Bern and Jonno' regime. Only two senior players (plus a few youth teamers who I've decided to promote to the first-team squad) remain from last season's disastrous campaign. As you can see, there's a lot of quality but also a lot of glaring issues I'll need to sort out in the transfer market - as things stand we've only got one natural striker and there's also a lack of depth and indeed quality at full-back. I'm not going to be playing with any real rules or gimmicks when it comes to signing or selling players, but one thing I do want to focus on is youth development - even though our in-game facilities aren't the best, in real life our academy is something we're proud of as a club (with numerous recent graduates now playing for league clubs) so I'll be looking to give our youngsters a lot of playing time when I can.

Here's a closer look at some of the potentially key players for the upcoming season:

https://i.gyazo.com/6713715b0a0acf14461c7b05c30fd659.png

Undoubtedly the most well-known player in the team at the moment, George Green's story has unfortunately come to be seen as a cautionary tale. Signed by Everton at just 15 years old, Green was touted as a star of the future and tipped to play for England one day, but he soon began to struggle with off-the-field issues. Plagued by mental health problems, his career began to spiral out of control and his freefall in the leagues began, eventually ending up in non-league. However, in recent times he's been able to get his life back on track and after a number of impressive displays in this division last season with Nuneaton he's arrived at the Deva looking to rebuild his reputation. With all that's said about him it's easy to forget he's still only 22 and at the moment he's ranked as one of the best players in the league with 4.5* current ability and five solid stars of potential. Sitting in the number 10 role, his creativity could be key if we plan on having a successful season.

https://i.gyazo.com/11991381470c572f33b64ac6594ecb35.png

The other joint-highest rated player in the team, Danny Livesey is one of a number of players brought over from Salford by Morley and Johnson. I wouldn't say he's quite as outstanding in real life as his stats here may suggest, but in-game at least he's rated as one of the best defenders in the league. He's got bags of experience playing at higher levels than this - having amassed over 300 appearances in the Football League. Unfortunately, at 33 age isn't really on his side and he isn't here permanently, but at least for this season I'm expecting big things from him and for him to be able to lead from the back. His contract is up at the end of the season, so if he impresses enough and his wage demands aren't too high then we may well be able to keep him here beyond then.

https://i.gyazo.com/7771346829a9e8ed10ecab6dc871edfe.png

Modern-day Chester legend Craig Mahon is the one of only two senior players still here after our relegation. The Irishman holds the record for the most games played for the reformed club, with 167 to his name so far, and despite struggling at times in the National League he should really be able to prove his class playing in a lower division - in real life, he's been back to his best so I'll be delighted if he's able to replicate that sort of form for me in-game. In my FM17 career he never really played a big part for me, but having unsurprisingly become a fan favourite due to his performances and his longevity he should be able to prove this season why he's seen as one of the most skilful players at this level.

https://i.gyazo.com/40b0ec6e444c97d1cee3c25e986704d4.png

The only other senior player who's stayed with us after last season is local lad Gary Roberts. Big things were expected of 'Robbo' when he became a first-team regular for Crewe as a teenager, but after struggling with drink and drugs his career has nosedived as a result. Now aged 31, he returned to his hometown club midway through the last campaign and after deciding to stick with us in the National League North I'm hopeful that he'll be able to add a bit of 'bite' and leadership into our midfield.

https://i.gyazo.com/dc05e5490477201bda2c9d9a75a69de7.png

Finally, Matty Waters is another player who you'll be familiar with if you read my FM17 career. Having been promoted from the youth team when I first took over, he quickly became a key part of my first-team plans and was able to lock down his place as first-choice left back even when we reached League One. In real life, things haven't been going so well for him - he's only managed to rack up a handful of appearances for the senior side, struggling even now to get into the team, and was actually still registered in the youth team when I started up this save. Because of this, I was somewhat surprised to see that he's rated more or less just as highly as he was a couple of years ago and with us currently having depth issues at full-back he may well end up starting the season as our first choice.

https://i.gyazo.com/779dd28211b7ffa45b063c55f85f4ada.png

This is the tactic I'll be using to start things off, along with a provisional 'strongest XI'. I tend to find that the simpler tactics work best when managing in the lower leagues, so I've tried to keep the instructions fairly minimal - as things stand I'm trying to get the team to play a simple possession-based game.

Season preview

https://i.gyazo.com/960fefdc99184dd1fc8fc1d785a0edd7.png

At the beginning of the IRL season we were one of the bookmakers' favourites to go up, so it's a little surprising that we're only actually down to finish eighth in this prediction and, indeed, the board's expectation is merely for a mid-table finish. That's no bad thing, as it means those running the club will be more patient with me if I do mess things up but really I'm personally looking for us to bounce straight back and win promotion in this first season. As you can see, there's a number of big teams in this league including York, Stockport, Darlington and Hereford (all of whom also played in the professional leagues not too long ago) so it's sure to be a competitive season for everyone. Chorley are the runaway favourites to win the league, no real surprise there given how well they've started in the real world.

And that just about wraps things up for this introductory post, I hope you'll join me in my journey to take Chester right to the top! Up the Seals!
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You've all probably forgotten about me and this career, and with good reason. I'm typing this from my brand new gaming PC - my old laptop pretty much died and while I was still able to play FM on it, all the time out from this save meant I completely lost motivation for it. I'll be buying FM18 in the coming days and starting a new journeyman save which'll hopefully last me the majority of the game's lifespan. I haven't yet decided whether I'm going to upload the save on this forum or not, so all I can really say is keep your eyes peeled. I hope you enjoyed my little escapade here with Chester, it didn't run for as long as I hoped but I still got quite a bit of enjoyment out of it and hopefully you lot did too!
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As you can tell, I haven't updated this career or even browsed these forums for over two months now and undoubtedly you've all probably forgotten about this save. With school exams and trips away I haven't had much chance to play FM up until recently and I've been taking a break from my Chester save as I began to lose motivation and enjoyment for it. Since the summer holidays have been going on for a few weeks now I am beginning to get back into the swing of things but unfortunately yet more time away from home combined with having a laptop that seems to be on its last legs and is now struggling to run even fairly 'lightweight' games means even now I'll be struggling to provide regular updates at least until the release of FM18 by which time I will hopefully have got a better computer but will also be back at school. Right now though I'm going to continue trying to update this career when possible and hopefully regain interest in it - so watch this space...
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Thanks @Dan I'll be delighted if our season is anything like the last couple
Hopefully we can keep it up @Fatal Error but it'll take a lot of hard work!


Chester FC - November 2018


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


We're edging closer to the halfway point of our third season at the Deva, and boy has nobody expected us to be where we are. We start the month six points clear of second-place Coventry, but with several teams below us in good form themselves we'd need to be careful not to slip up. Could we handle the pressure?

Transfers

https://i.gyazo.com/b2965c99ac8488a28219d4fd6c1d6182.png

We're continuing the trend of signing young, high-potential first-team quality free agents - although we haven't gone as mad this time as we only bring in one more player. The free transfer window is now shut so you can have at least a month of no signings until the January window opens! The player in question is Ryan Hedges, a very good right winger previously on the books at Swansea. He doesn't have as much League One experience as some of our recent signings although he has spent a couple of years on loan in this division with Leyton Orient and Scunthorpe, but he'll immediately slot into the number one starting spot on the right flank as Vose has disappointed since his move in the summer and Joel Grant is beginning to show his age a little.

Matches

https://i.gyazo.com/b5b23905f468491f3bb84ab18c5a0468.png

We're still not slipping up! Yet another unbeaten month in the league and only one instance of dropped points in that run. That one draw was our first game of this six-match block, and it was a pretty uneventful goalless draw with Peterborough. Both sides had some attacks and the visitors had the better of the chances, thankfully though we defended really well and a point was probably a fair outcome. Next up though was the big one, our first game in nearly a year and a half against our fierce rivals, the Welsh sh*te that is Wrexham. We beat them every time we played them under my management down in the National League and we kept the perfect record in the FA Cup first round. Boateng opened the scoring with a screamer, his first goal for the club, before red-hot Frank Nouble added another straight after the restart. Lateef, who loves scoring against these guys, bagged a second half brace and despite two goals after the hour mark from the opposition we ended up winning fairly comfortably in this six-goal thriller. Even better than us beating our cross-border rivals though is the fact that we're finally out of the god-forsaken Checkatrade Trophy! We had one utterly flukey brilliant win on penalties in the first game of the group stage but our youth team just wasn't up to the job against giants of the game like Morecambe and Port Vale. This one was a 2-0 defeat on the road, and fingers crossed it'll be our final ever match in the worst competition known to mankind. Back to where it really matters, though - we went back to winning ways in the league at Wycombe. It was another woeful game really and thankfully the only real chance fell to us, Nouble finished it off beautifully and in the form he's in right now I wouldn't expect him to miss any opportunities like the one he was presented with then. We left it very late against Gillingham at the Deva, we dominated the game but I was convinced it would be another goalless draw. Lateef though grabbed what I thought was the winner with a minute left on the clock, straight afterwards though Nouble managed to bag a goal against his former club to secure the victory. In the final match of the month things were very different, Colchester dominated and deservedly went ahead just after half an hour. Lateef though equalised right before half-time and although it looked like we'd fall behind again we somehow managed to score twice - one of them was probably own goal of the season, an absolutely preposterous mistake from the home team's defender and with a few minutes remaining Sam Hughes made it 3-1 to wrap up our third consecutive win in League One.

https://i.gyazo.com/5784eefb53ea9ad2cf1011763463a1e7.png


We've only extended our lead at the top by a further point, proving just how well Coventry are playing as well - in fact our lead was actually reduced at one stage to just a few points before they were defeated in the game before last. There's still some competition for playoff places but we seem to have automatic promotion almost in the bag as we lead Bristol City by ten points. A thought should also be spared for rock-bottom Aldershot who picked up only their second win of the season recently - I guess it shows how much we've strengthened compared to them since we both gained back-to-back promotions to this division at the same time.

Other news

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Elections have been and old Ken Hodcroft has won a third term at our helm, we haven't always seen eye-to-eye but overall we have a good working relationship. There's a slightly different board in place though and what majorly peeves me off is the fact that I'm now being asked to sign high-profile players as well as young players for the first team. It'd be great if he'd have told me this a month earlier - some of if not all of the players I've recently brought in would fit that criteria but there probably won't be many more signings for now. The most annoying part though, is after this happened I asked the chairman for more transfer budget and he refused because he says we already have a good enough squad! Oh, and I've won the manager of the month thing again. I don't think I've showed that in a little while even though I must surely be the best gaffer in the league...

Next update: December 2018


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Cheers @Suffolk Seasider hopefully I'll be able to stick with this career until the end of FM, or at least until we achieve what I want to!

Chester FC - October 2018


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


It's been a dream start to life in League One and after a couple of months we proudly sit top of the division. Getting all three points from games hasn't been the easiest task, though, and this league seems to be more competitive than the two we've played in below it - a few slip ups and we could easily lose our position at the peak of the standings. Could we continue to get wins on the board to maintain our lead?

Transfers

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https://i.gyazo.com/3df681a206938153b2225b25ddc3f732.png

I know, the transfer window's closed and you could argue that we've started so well we don't need any more improvement to the squad for the time being - but all of a sudden my scouts seem to have stumbled upon a heap of amazing free agents and we've managed to secure the services of three here. Firstly we have Sam McQueen, an exciting left winger who arrives after being released by Southampton. Although Lloyd has been fantastic for us, I don't think Compton is on the same level and as I said last time out, it's important to have good squad depth and players who can easily rotate in and out of the side. This guy has experience in our division, last season he was on loan at Coventry and hopefully the Deva can work out to be his first permanent home where he will be able to get regular football. In a similar situation is our second arrival this month, and another player I'm very excited about in Hiram Boateng (who as far as I know is of no relation to Jerome or Kevin-Prince!). He's previously had loan spells at Plymouth and Bristol Rovers but was deemed surplus to requirements by Crystal Palace, I'm hoping though that we can help him to realise his potential and give him guaranteed first-team football. He also comes in as a much-needed rock in midfield - so far we've looked somewhat anonymous in the middle of the park and this guy is not only a brilliant playmaker but also a leader who can hold the team together. And finally, we have another centre-mid going by the name of Ben Thompson. Just like the others, he not only has bags of potential but also plenty of experience in League One as he previously played for Millwall. Like Boateng, hopefully he will sure up the team in the central areas - but just as with everyone else, he'll be subject to some squad rotation.

Matches

https://i.gyazo.com/20534dadcfe34cf0fb76c9763f474e16.png

What's that about slipping up again? We're still showing no signs of slowing down, unbeaten again in the league and with our only defeat coming in the joke of a competition that is the EFL Trophy. We started things off with a fantastic 3-0 away win over Swindon - we made perhaps the biggest tweak yet to our counter-attacking system and boy did it show. While we previously relied on getting the ball into the box to our two forwards, that doesn't seem to be quite as effective nowadays so instead I decided to shift the focus on playing the ball out onto the wings and working the ball into the box, and the result was some of the nicest football I've seen us play whilst not using our preferred 'home' tactic which is more possession-based. A brace from Alabi as well as a goal from Kelly made us run away winners - special credit must also be reserved for Lloyd who got all three assists! Don't worry though, we were back to nearly bottling three goal leads against Aldershot. Yet again we were playing some beautiful stuff, and after Compton netted and Lateef bagged a brace I thought it'd be another easy victory. But of course we had to let the away side back into it and despite some late pressure we did hold on in the end. Another noteworthy point of that game is that I gave a first league start to Richie Peacock, one of the regens that came through last year. Despite conceding two he not only looked at home in our back four but excelled there, earning the highest rating of all our defenders. I'm desperate to get out of the Checkatrade Trophy ASAP and as per usual I basically put the youth team out there, which resulted in us losing to League Two Morecambe - nothing else really needs reporting there. The sooner I'm able to stop talking about that cup the better! It didn't affect our league form though as we followed it up by beating one of the better sides in the division, Cardiff, on the road. All three goals came inside the opening 21 minutes and both of ours were really down to an utterly dreadful performance from their keeper! Nouble pounced on a horrendous mix-up between the goalie and defender to get his first goal and what will probably prove to be his easiest for the club, and Joe Davis who is turning out to be quite the goalscoring defender headed in to an open net following a throw in to get the the eventual winner. Oh, and their goalkeeper? He got a 4.6 rating. We weren't quite blessed with the same luck against Luton, who are turning out to be a bit of a bogey team for us. Again Nouble got an early opener but that was cancelled out by a penalty. They dominated the stats though and had they finished more of their chances we would have easily lost the game. We were back to winning ways again though in another big game at Oxford, our opponents went down to ten men early in the second half and we capitalised on it as Alabi and Lateef did the business. Finally, we could only manage a draw against Crawley but for once it's a draw I'm satisfied with - why? Well, we were 2-0 down at half time and I gave the players the hairdryer treatment in the dressing room. It clearly motivated them and our talismanic skipper Lateef rose to the big occasion, netting straight after kick-off as well as just after an hour. He had a couple of chances to complete his hat-trick and the comeback but unfortunately missed them, the team should still be given a lot of credit though for managing to salvage a point from two down.

https://i.gyazo.com/cd5b5c03e7850316632a04228ddc27a0.png


Everyone's beginning to beat everyone and just like in the last campaign we've been able to capitalise on that. It's really tight in the spots below us, perhaps best evidenced by the fact that Oxford who just a month ago were our big title challengers have now dropped all the way to eleventh! Pretty much every side in the top half that we play is a big game for both teams, and if we continue to win the big ones as we are currently doing, we'll have a great chance for yet another title as we'll simply fight off the chasing pack. Exciting times right now in Chester, that's for certain!

https://i.gyazo.com/12e3ab1016a1c3e3ff7a236f6d1edb3a.png

And keep your eyes peeled for this in the next update! For the first time since season one we'll be facing our fierce rivals Wrexham - this time it's in the first round of the FA Cup at home. We should be really up for this one as the two sides have had contrasting fortunes since we last met - we're sitting top of League One whilst our cross border neighbours are in the National League relegation zone!

Next update: November 2018
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Chester FC - September 2018


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


Well well well, look who's back on the forums. It's been a month since the last update and no doubt you've all probably forgotten about this career, but now I've finally found the time to sit down and continue this save. I'm currently studying for end of year exams at school and virtually straight after I go away for a week so unfortunately I will still be relatively inactive for a month or so - whenever I am able to though I'll try and play some more with Chester and keep you all updated. Anyway, back to footballing matters and after a little bit of re-familiarising myself with a team I haven't played with in four weeks we were soon ready to get the ball rolling again. We had another tough set of matches, but would we be able to build on our brilliant start to the campaign?

Transfers

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The window is of course closed so we can't sign any more players from other clubs until January, but we did manage to pick up this absolute gem of a free agent! Frank Nouble has been a stalwart of League One and the Championship for a number of years, with the exception of a short stint in China, and was dubiously released by Gillingham last season despite it being his most prolific in his career as he netted ten goals. My assistant rates him as our best striker now, although I doubt he'll quite measure up to that while Lateef is at the club . What he does give us though is even more depth in the squad, something important when you're playing two or sometimes more games in a week - we now have two fantastic target men which allows him and Alabi to rotate and cover for one another freely while we have Bowery and Kelly as backup for Lateef in the poacher role.

Matches

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We're not quite playing with as much freedom in attack as we were last month - perhaps best demonstrated by the fact Lateef has only got two goals in September despite scoring for fun previously - but most importantly we're getting points on the board and at the end of the day that's what matters. We began with a great win over recently-relegated MK Dons at home - despite being second best statistically we managed to rob them of all three points thanks to a rare goal from Max Muller. I've made my views clear about the Checkatrade 'Mickey Mouse' Trophy and as per usual we fielded what was basically our reserves against the Wolves youth team, however surprisingly enough we actually came away with a victory albeit on penalties. Ideally I'd like to just get out of the competition as early as possible and focus on more pressing matters - last time out we failed to get a single point and the two points we gained from this match are completely meaningless to me. Back to the league and for the umpteenth time we nearly blew a three-goal lead, this time against Southend. Yet again we had to do it the hard way, despite being 3-0 up at half time via Lloyd, Lateef and an own goal we let in two sloppy goals late on and it certainly made for a nervy finish! Honestly though, if the away side did complete the comeback we wouldn't really have much ground for complaint - the three goals were our only shots on target in 90 minutes. Unfortunately though, we did finally record our first defeat of the season in the next game. Looking on the bright side it was one of the toughest matches we'd face this campaign, away at the favourites for the league Bristol City, but nonetheless it was somewhat disappointing considering how good we've been previously against the big teams. We didn't even play badly either - they just slightly outclassed us on the day and as is becoming the trend for us the outcome was decided by very narrow margins. Our second successive away day was also our second successive instance of dropped points - Bolton completely outplayed us at the Macron but we salvaged a point thanks to another beauty of a free-kick from man of the moment Waters. We did end the month as we began it fortunately, it was nice to get back to winning ways albeit against rock-bottom Bradford. Despite being in pretty poor form recently Lateef was back to his best when we needed him, netting our only goal early on. It wouldn't be plain sailing for very long though as Anthony Grant was sent off after just half an hour but we managed to hold on for a precious three points.

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We're still top of the league but certainly not with the kind of cushion we're used to having, we did in fact drop down to second after the Bolton result but we managed to return to first following Oxford's recent dropped points. It's early in the season but thankfully we're already starting to look safe in the playoffs at least, seven points clear of Gillingham, but it looks like the fight for automatic promotion will be more competitive than we're used to with only four points separating us and Port Vale. League One is proving tougher than what we're used to, that's for sure, but as long as we keep grinding out results and getting points on the board who knows how far we can go?

Next update: October 2018
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Chester FC - August 2018


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After a short break from FM, we're back with the Deva for the beginning of our third season. Two years ago we were expected to be fighting relegation into the National League North, now though we proudly occupy a place in the third tier of English football for the first time in over twenty years, with several relegations, promotions, a winding-up order and a reformation in between all of that. We completely exceeded everyone's expectations to achieve not only back-to-back promotions but back-to-back titles, but we know it's not going to be easy in League One and with a squad many would say not particularly suited to this level, we would need to make some improvements to try and again exceed our preseason predictions of a 23rd-place finish. A good start is always vital for building up both form and morale, could we get some wins on the board to mark our first appearance in this division as a phoenix club?

Transfers

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I told you we weren't done with signings and we managed to bring in four more players before the deadline, three of those arriving in the last two days of the window! Jordan Bowery joins us for free as a much-needed third choice striker, he has experience of playing in not just this league but even in the Premier League, albeit never having a particularly brilliant strike rate for any club, but should hopefully be a solid choice as backup to Lateef and Alabi or coming off the bench. Anthony Grant is one of our older players and becomes the highest-paid member of the squad, but his experience in League One should be vital as he's spent the majority of his career in the third division. While I do expect him to decline somewhat over the next couple of years, for now he's our best midfielder and he's only on a one year contract in case he does end up falling off the mark more dramatically than I'd ideally want. Our only monetary signing is quite a big one, DR Congo international Efete is now our second most expensive signing ever (behind only fellow new signing Pearson) but I expect him to be a good central defender for some years to come. He's already got a couple of Championship appearances under his belt and a move down a division to secure regular football will give him a chance to prove he can make the step up when the time comes. Finally, the second deadline day signing we made was Chris Stokes, he's nothing more than a second-choice to Waters since I don't think Chicksen can cut it at this level - but I'm confident our new man will be able to come up big if and when he is called upon.

Matches

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Holy moley, we can't stop scoring and one person in particular is chipping in with most of those goals! Our lazy-eyed captain, do I even need to tell you his name any more, is quickly becoming a club legend and may well be the standout player this career is remembered for. He's taken to League One football like a duck to water and then some, and in every start he's made in that competition he's scored at least twice! We had a tough opening day fixture against recently-relegated Rotherham but managed to come out on top in a 3-2 thriller at the Deva, our new man Davis managing to score on his debut in addition to a brace from you-know-who. The actual scoreline is pretty flattering to the away side, we were definitely the better team and they managed to get a couple of honestly lucky goals. There were no goals, lucky or not, though in 120 minutes against Preston of the Championship in the first round of the EFL Cup. We managed to get incredibly all the way to the semi-finals in our first season participating in it and we advanced a round here, providing a small upset as we won 4-3 on penalties - Skrzyniarz was the hero as he saved two of the Lancashire club's spot kicks. Don't worry though, we were back to crazy scores and thrilling matches at the Ricoh Arena in an unbelievable seven-goal game which we fortunately came out on top in. Lateef, playing against the club who released him before we picked him up, made his old team realise what a massive mistake they made in letting him go as he netted ALL FOUR OF OUR GOALS, including an incredible 87th-minute winner! We finally remembered how to defend properly at home against Burton, recording a thorough 3-0 victory courtesy of yet another Lateef brace as well as youngster Brian Kelly getting his first goal of the season. And he was on target again in a 3-1 win at Doncaster despite us fielding a fairly weaker set of players, our other scorers in that one were Bobby-Joe Taylor and big man Alabi. To end the month we faced our toughest game of them all though, and it did unfortunately end in a loss. We were drawn against Watford of the Premier League and managed to take them all the way to penalties, the man in form got another goal and the away team went down to ten men, unfortunately though we were eliminated on spot-kicks with Oyeleke missing our deciding one.

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Top of the league! We've only played four games but we've managed to record all three points in every single one, and we're also the only team with a 100% record so far. Of course we're not going to carry on in this vein barring a miracle - in my eyes even making the playoffs will be virtually impossible given that there are so many big teams now in this division, all of whom have squads much better than ours. Still, morale is high right now and there's absolutely no reason why we can't keep this run going a little while longer! Remember that we were expecting to be near the relegation zone in both the National League and League Two so the media can't really be trusted with these things, and we've already beaten a couple of sides predicted to be pushing for promotion so who knows?

Other news

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Just a couple of personal accolades to finish the month off with. The first of these things actually happened towards the tail-end of last season but I didn't feel it was fitting to include it with the previous updates - I've finally bagged a coaching licence and now hold a Continental C, the fourth highest level of qualification, and I've immediately started studying for my Continental B as well now that the board are actually allowing me to do so. And of course the obligatory manager of the month award, I really wouldn't expect anything less after our amazing start. Interestingly enough though, Lateef who has averaged a rating of over 9 didn't even get in the top three players of the month!

Next update: September 2018
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Chester FC - Pre-Season Update 2018/19


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After incredible back-to-back promotions, we find ourselves playing our third season in League One for the first time in over twenty years. It won't be easy to stay in this division, especially when you see some of the teams in it, but I have faith in the boys to keep us up. Of course, the foundation of a good season is a good pre-season and we've been busy making signings to strengthen the squad further and playing friendlies to get our players fit for the coming campaign. How would we get on?

Transfers

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We've brought in five new faces, that number could rise before the transfer window closes but for now here's what we've got. Overall all the signings cost us £130k, over double the cost of all our transfers from the last two seasons combined, but it's now getting to the point where you've got to pay decent money to bring in players that have what it takes at this level. We still have plenty of budget left though so don't worry about our finances! We acquired three players before the end of last season who all joined us on the 9th of June, the first one being Dominic Vose. As you can see by his value he was something of a coup at just £20k and I don't know why he was rejected by Scunthorpe especially since they ended up being relegated. Despite previously playing for our arch-rivals Wrexham I'm confident he'll be a success with us and will be used either alongside or in rotation with Joel Grant on the wing - I have questions over whether or not Tollitt will be able to cut it in this division. Even more of a coup though was Will Boyle, he's valued at £88k but we managed to pick him up for less than five times less than his market value! His career hasn't really kickstarted just yet, having semi-successful loan spells at York and Kilmarnock before eventually being transfer-listed by his parent club Huddersfield, but I reckon he's actually the best defender we have at the club. He comes in as our 'rock at the back' as the centre-back we currently have would be very good rotational options but might not be good enough to start for us any more. And Joe Davis is another central defender, joining for the fairly cheap fee of £5k from Fleetwood who inexplicably never played him even during their relegation campaign! While I don't expect him to be a regular starter like Boyle, he seems to be another very good squad player. Our 'marquee signing' of the window, at least so far, has to be Matty Pearson. We were linked with him like crazy by the media even before I'd finished scouting him and initially Accrington wanted too much money for him but we eventually managed to land him for a club-record ninety thousand pounds. He was one of his former club's only decent players when they went down from League Two and was quite frankly wasted in the National League - my assistant rates him as a decent player for most clubs in our league. He's a very talented defender natural at playing anywhere across the back four and will probably be used in all three positions throughout the season but the main position I signed him to play in is at right-back. I still think Brindley is a good option off the bench but previous record signing Sean Clohessy really disappointed and doesn't seem to have what it takes in League One. Finally Josh Barnes signs for free as a backup 'keeper to Skrzyniarz - I wanted to get Yates back in but he refused so I instead got his former Derby team-mate in permanently. Onto the outs, and boy have we released a lot of players. I won't go through them all but some notable names you might recognise from the past are Horwood, Driver, Hudson, Joyce, Durrell, Bell, Lynch, Akintunde and Richards. All of them have featured at least at some point in the first team under my reign but are no longer good enough and towards the end of last season couldn't even get on the bench, with some having unspectacular loan spells in the National League. It's also the first batch of players I released that includes some of my signings, who might have been good enough once upon a time but aren't particularly any more. Meanwhile, youngsters Simpson and Adebayo-Rowling both leave on loan until January with the former going to Halifax and the latter going to Fylde.

Matches

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As per usual, lots of friendlies in order to get our players as fit as possible with ten overall, and also as per usual I don't really care too much about the results. Still, it wasn't an ideal start when we were beaten 1-0 at home by Torquay, the sort of match we need to win pre-season or not. It was a more pleasing performance against Lincoln, I'm not expecting any cricket scores with all the players on 60% sharpness so 2-0 against one of the National League's better sides was perfectly satisfactory. Boyle and last year's breakout star Kelly were on target in that one. Tom 'Barn Door' Youngs proved that he actually could hit the target against Stranraer of Scottish League One, getting both our goals in another efficient 2-0 win. Our only away friendly against Macclesfield was a goal fest with Lateef, Waters, Alabi and Davis all netting in a 4-2 victory. A less pleasing performance though followe with another narrow defeat, this time by Carlisle who just escaped relegation from League Two when we were in it. We never stood much of a chance against parent club Derby, especially considering they fielded a strong XI, so a 3-1 loss was nothing to make a fuss about. Following this we played four reserve teams of big European clubs and beat them all, conceding only a single goal in that time. Youngs, Alabi and Hughes scored against Jong Ajax who we drew with this time last season, Lateef got the only goal against Lille's reserves, the familiar Alabi-Lateef partnership was at work again vs Jong PSV and finally our main man and club captain Lateef as well as Wildig found the back of the net against the PSG reserves.

Season Preview

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The good old 4-4-2 continues to serve us well, I might try to mix it up a bit with some other formations this time round but for the most part it's staying the same and in fact this particular tactic has not undergone a single change (aside from maybe a couple of player instructions) since our non-league days. For the third successive season we'll be relying on our superstar strikers Alabi and Lateef, the former is in his fourth season with us but still only 23 while the latter has already managed to score 84 goals in two years! Ryan Lloyd on the left wing is another player who's been with us for every step of the journey so far and is still our best left-winger while on the other flank our best current option is new signing Vose. Sam Hughes was a product of the club's youth system and has since become one of the stars of the team, it's been a great story for him so far and he'll be looking to continue his rise up the divisions with us - he is equally good in defence and in midfield but will probably play more in the centre of the park. Alongside him is Carroll who is thankfully back for the start of the season after being out of action for almost six months with a broken ankle - when we signed him he'd never played a game of professional football before and had been without a club for four years but his development has been very encouraging and the fact he is still able to start for us in League One is a testament to that. The second youth academy graduate able to get in our best starting XI is our 'little Leighton Baines' Matty Waters, a quick, technically gifted set-piece specialist who was given his competitive debut as a teenager under myself and things have skyrocketed ever since for the 20-year-old. The other three defenders are all new signings, I've already talked about Boyle, Davis and Pearson who should become great players for our team. Finally, Polish stopper Skrzyniarz keeps his place between the posts after being voted the best goalkeeper in League Two last season - it's hard to believe that we got him from a club in the ninth division!

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We've got the best staff in the league for everything other than physiotherapy and that's very impressive considering the core of the backroom team were brought in by me at the start when we were in the National League. I'm still trying to strengthen even further so perhaps the likes of Darren Huckerby and Patrik Andersson will stick with us right through to the Premier League! The only staff departure was our head of youth development, who was poached by recently-promoted Championship team Northampton. My assistant was actually linked with the manager's role at Macclesfield but nothing ever came of that.

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Somewhat unsurprisingly, the four promoted teams are the four favourites to go down but I'm pretty peeved that we're predicted to finish second from bottom considering how dominant we were in the previous campaign. The goal again is to avoid relegation and I'm confident of doing that, while it'd of course be nice to have another promotion I'm not sure we're quite ready for it so a mid-table finish would be more than satisfactory. As you can see there are some massive clubs in this division like Bristol City, Cardiff, Rotherham and Bolton to name just a few and they're all expected to be fighting for promotion.

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Our remaining games of 2018 are all here. It'll be a baptism of fire on the opening day in front of our own fans against recently-relegated Rotherham before we start hopefully another successful EFL Cup run against Preston of the Championship. Yet again the board don't care much about the cups and that thankfully includes the Mickey Mouse Trophy for which we'll be in a group with the Wolves youth team plus Morecambe and Port Vale. Our first FA Cup game will be on the 10th of November and we'll face the only real local rival in this league, Rochdale, for the first time on Boxing Day away from home.

Next update: August 2018

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Chester FC - April + May 2017


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Our name's already been engraved onto the League Two trophy, so technically there was nothing to play for in the last five games. However, it was important for us to continue winning and keep morale high as we prepare for life in League One. Just like last time, I've included May in this update as well since there was only one game played in the month - plus we've got the end-of-season awards.

Matches

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We've most certainly carried on our winning ways and our form is probably the best it's ever been - we've won all of our last seven matches including every one in April and May! First off was a 2-0 home win against Cambridge, they had way more shots than us but our defence did their bit and we profited from their wastefulness in front of goal with Alabi and Grant both netting. We came from behind at Carlisle to record another victory, this time thanks to a brace from Lateef - again, they enjoyed more shots but we defended well and enjoyed more of the actual ball. It was a first vs second clash at the Deva against Crawley, a match that probably meant more to them than to us but we managed to win 2-0 again despite being under heavy pressure. They had more possession and over twice as many shots as us but quite simply we were clinical and they weren't, this time it was Alabi's turn to bag himself a double. Back on the road against Barnet, it looked as though we were going to cruise to victory being 3-0 up with ten minutes to play, after another Alabi brace and a beautiful free-kick from our set-piece specialist Waters. However, they scored two in two after 83 and 85 minutes and suddenly we were in danger of throwing it all away but we managed to hold firm. Finally, our only game in May was perhaps our best performance of the career so far! Stevenage needed to win to have any chance of making the playoffs but we absolutely destroyed them 5-0 - Alabi got his third brace in as many games, Waters scored another penalty, Lloyd hit an absolute banger and Taylor netted with a perfectly-placed header. If you couldn't tell from my superlatives there, it was a complete team performance from everyone involved and what may be most amazing is that the away side had loads more possession and more shots! It was the perfect way to end an almost perfect season for the club. League One here we come!

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111 points, a new record for the division and a whopping 32 above the next best side in Crawley. Rounding off the top three is Luton and it is indeed Aldershot who are the fourth team to go up - that's two clubs gaining back-to-back promotions! As you can probably tell from looking at the top seven, it was a very intense final day for everyone there other than us. Meanwhile, Newport and Blackpool (#oystonout) will be playing in the National League next campaign but Grimsby and Oldham are both safe for another season, along with Carlisle who had a late scare. In case you're wondering, Hartlepool and Forest Green were both promoted from that division while Scunthorpe, Fleetwood, Walsall and one of our rivals Shrewsbury are going down from League One.

Awards

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Finally Lateef has got the recognition he so deserves, he somehow missed out on National League Player of the Year but it doesn't matter since he's gone one better! He also claims the golden boot again, albeit only thanks to having played less games than runner-up Jay Simpson. I'm surprised only two of our players got into the team of the season since in my opinion we've had a lot of great performers - the man, the myth, the Lateef plus goalkeeper Skrzyniarz are the two that have made the cut.

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No surprise here though, if I dare say so myself

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And to finish things off, the internal club awards. Lateef was voted Player of the Season again by the fans, claiming well over half of the votes, and he also got goal of the season for his stunner against Bristol Rovers. Ryan Lloyd claimed the other two awards and was also runner-up in the best player overall, he won signing of the season when we made his loan move permanent and young player of the season. I'm baffled by the inclusion of Nartey since he only started seven games and averaged a 6.85 before being sent back to Chelsea in January - I guess he was just the best of a bad bunch of right-backs. There's no real shocks anywhere else though and I probably agree with the rest of the team.

Next update: Pre-season review 2018
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Chester FC - March 2018


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If you'd have told me last August that in seven months we would have the chance to clinch back-to-back titles and promotion to the third tier, I simply wouldn't have believed you - but that's the situation we're facing. With ten games left and a 22-point cushion on second-placed Crawley, it seems to be a case of not if but when - with some favourable fixtures, could we do it now?

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The form of champions is what you're looking at. Three wins, two draws, no losses - is that good enough? First of all though was perhaps the most disappointing result of the month - we only managed a draw with bottom-half Mansfield despite enjoying most of the possession and more chances. Our wonderkid Kelly opened the scoring just after half-time but they equalised with 12 minutes to play in a match with very few clear-cut opportunities for either side. Lateef has been our most in-form player by a mile since ending his goal drought and he netted a superb hat-trick against promotion pushers Leyton Orient. We were 3-0 up at half time after his first two goals either side of a Waters penalty. Our lead was briefly reduced but just a couple of minutes later we were awarded our second spot-kick of the match and up stepped the man himself to grab his third of the afternoon and send the Deva Stadium into raptures. We failed to win away again though, this time against Yeovil. Ryan Lloyd was the one to get our goal early on but we threw our lead away before full-time. For whatever reason the Oldham game had one of our lowest home attendances all year, which is a real shame considering I think it was one of the best games of the season. We went 2-0 up and looked pretty good value for it, Alabi finally managed to break his unbelievable scoring duck of over 16 hours (!!!) and Muller also got on the scoresheet. However, the away team pulled one back before the interval and in the second half it was all them, they looked like equalising or even going on to winning it with some great counter-attacking and we had to defend superbly. But the three points were confirmed ten minutes from time when the god that is Lateef scored two goals in the space of less than a minute! Annoyingly we couldn't keep a single clean sheet this month after conceding only a single goal in the whole of February but at least our strikers are back in form now - hopefully Alabi will do the same as Lateef has been doing after ending his goalless run and both the strikers mentioned again found the net in our final match against rock-bottom Newport. The latter grabbed another brace and the former also scored, despite us conceding in the second half. Lateef now has got eleven in his last nine and has restored his position as the league's top scorer with 25. Right now he's in even better form than he was in last season!

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CHAMPIONS!! BACK-TO-BACK TITLES!! BACK-TO-BACK PROMOTIONS!! It's been an incredible journey since I took over at the club but we're only just getting started, we've already clinched three trophies in two years and will be playing our trade in the Sky Bet League One next season for the first time since 1995! It was confirmed after our result against Orient, as I said a question of not if but when since we've been truly unbeatable all season. We first topped the tree on the 16th of August on just the third matchday and have stayed there ever since, if you count the games we haven't played then that's over eight months and 45 matches being untouchable as league leaders! There's going to be a very big party and since we're out of all the cups there is technically nothing to play for until the start of next season - but I still want to remain focused and keep this form of ours in order to keep morale as high as possible.

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I don't know how many of you will actually care about the league table at this point but here it is anyway. As you can see, a 23-point cushion over Crawley means we can't be overtaken - the second-placed side have regained their form themselves and look set for automatic promotion. The fight for third though is tighter than ever as Chesterfield are only hanging in there by three goals and Aldershot have found some incredible end-of-season form, a lot like in the last campaign when they surged up the table towards the end. Personally I'd love to see them go up since then there'll be two teams to have gained back-to-back promotions - perhaps a bit of a competitive rivalry is forming here? At the foot of the table sit Newport who have been there pretty much all the time but they may well be joined in the National League next year by Blackpool - what a fall from grace! Oldham and Grimsby, who both looked doomed at one point or another, are now comfortably out of trouble - the latter are managed by former Blues boss Steve Burr and feature 40-year-old Emile Heskey, and have been in a rich vein of form but the former are only so far away from danger thanks to the teams below them continuing to struggle since they've only won one of their last twelve.

Next update: April 2018

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Chester FC - February 2018


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Just a few more months to go for the league, and with a hefty lead at the top we're looking destined to achieve back-to-back titles and promotion to League One. We could at least secure a playoff spot with good results this month, but with some big matches we'd also have to make sure we didn't slip up...

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Wow, wow, wow! What a youth intake! The star of the show has to be fifteen-year-old Jake Ainge, with some lovely potential on him he could follow in Brian Kelly's footsteps and even begin to trouble the first team soon enough! Brett Wright and Ritchie Peacock also look like good prospects - the former natural playing at both left and right-back and the latter a no-nonsense defender who despite his age towers above the rest of the squad at 6'5"!

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And great stuff as far as the league's concerned as well with another unbeaten month - okay, none of our victories have been particularly spectacular but five clean sheets is really good stuff especially when you consider Skrzyniarz has been out injured since the Exeter match. We'd start the month though with the only game we failed to win. We were the better team against a good Notts County side but unfortunately our strikers weren't at the races and the opposition defended well. We went away to Wimbledon and battled to win 2-0, thanks to an own goal as well as someone you haven't seen on the scorecards for a while - Lateef finally ended a goal drought of over ten hours of competitive football! But as you can see, he couldn't stop scoring after that since back at home against Exeter it was the same scenario - a 2-0 win thanks to an own goal and our beloved poacher. And we recorded our third successive 2-0 victory against Plymouth with Lateef netting the second yet again, after our youngster Kelly opened the scoring after just a couple of minutes. Special credit must also go to Matthew Yates, the backup stopper put in a superb performance on his debut covering for the injured Skrzyniarz. The only goal we conceded in all of February was in perhaps our toughest match - on the road at Chesterfield. We were 3-0 up after half an hour after Babos' brace and yes, you guessed it, Lateef again. We conceded just before half time, a bit of a bummer really but nonetheless we held out to avoid a collapse. And finally we took another big three points in a Cheshire derby against Crewe, and boy did this game have it all! We had about five or six clear cut chances but could only find the one goal from Quade Taylor due to some poor finishing and I was worried that we'd let our lead slip. My fears were made even worse on the hour mark with Beckles' straight red, but just five minutes later Emmanuel for Crewe received a second yellow - 10 vs 10! And the referee wasn't done there - as we pushed for a second in injury time, Crewe's Danny Hollands saw red as well!!

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22 points clear with ten games to go, surely it's our title to lose now. We can potentially secure the title in March, so maybe bring a bottle of champagne to the next update? Elsewhere, Wimbledon have been in great form and have climbed into the automatic promotion places. Neither Crawley nor Wimbledon are safe though in the top three, so maybe we can capitalise on another drop-off of theirs and go on to lift the trophy?

Next update: March 2018
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Chester FC - January 2018


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I'm sorry that there hasn't been an update in so long, my laptop just seems to be giving up on me right now and I've been forced to replay some matches after my games have crashed before I could save them. I probably won't be able to get a new computer though at least until my birthday in June so for now I hope you'll understand that it is a struggle for me to keep posting regular updates to the career. Anyway, technical issues aside, it was a big month as we entered 2018. The transfer window did of course open but we also faced off against Manchester United in the EFL Cup semi-final and Middlesbrough in the FA Cup all whilst trying to cement our position at the top of League Two.

Transfers

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Lots of business being done as you can see, bringing in four new faces as well as sending yet more fringe players out on loan to National League teams. First up the transfers in, and as you can see our right-back crisis is well and truly solved! For possibly the first time in this save, we've got not just one quality right-sided defender but three! Tobi Adebayo-Rowling is the first of those, he joins us for free from Irish side Sligo Rovers and I'm definitely hoping he can follow in the footsteps of former Sligo right-back Seamus Coleman. He's got the potential to be a great player but I'll be looking to loan him out for the time being since otherwise his development would probably be stalled serving as our third choice. Adam Chicksen becomes our new backup left-back, Evan Horwood has been on the transfer list for a while now and isn't really good enough to be playing at League Two level so we needed somebody to adequately fill in for Matty Waters. He isn't the oldest but has experience playing at a professional level having formerly been a regular for MK Dons in League One, and as such is valued pretty highly. Sean Clohessy becomes our record signing for £22,000 from Sutton and brings yet more league experience to this team - at 31 he is the second oldest player at the club but I reckon he could still do a job for a few years, having previously starred for the likes of Southend and Colchester. He'll be used in rotation with Richard Brindley who we signed for £14k from the aforementioned Colchester and has already proven he can be a good player at our level. Onto the outs now, and as you can see the exodus continues with five more players leaving on loan. Elliott Durrell has been getting very little game time even with the departure of Chappell, so he joins Dagenham and Redbridge who are mid table in the Vanarama National. He won't be feeling completely alienated though as Callum Driver goes to the same destination - he's been playing a lot since arriving from Maidstone but with our new signings he effectively becomes fourth choice for us and would probably struggle to even get on the bench. Alex O'Hanlon performed well for us last season but just doesn't seem to be cut out for playing at a higher level, and two straight red cards in his last two starts may have ended his career with us. He'll have a chance to prove himself again at high-flying Eastleigh. Blaine Hudson struggled to get into our team even last season so I was understandably surprised when Lincoln said he'd be a key player for them, his contract expires in a few months and won't be getting a new one so his loan is just a way of putting himself in the shop window more than anything else. Finally Billy Simpson goes to Torquay, his development is going well having been a star player for two National North sides previously so he now has the chance to prove he can do well in a better league. We've also sent Richard Nartey back to Chelsea since he's barely been getting into the team, and that will only get worse with our new defenders.

Matches

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More red dots than you're used to seeing, but look closer and you'll notice they're all in cups against big opponents. In the league it's still fairly plain sailing and a great way to demonstrate that was on New Year's Day against Morecambe. I told you to remember the name Brian Kelly after his man-of-the-match debut, well the one star rated youth academy graduate has been in red-hot form ever since and scored an incredible hat-trick in this game. I can't find anything online but he may well be the youngest ever Chester player to perform that feat. I was so amazed by his performance, in fact, that I didn't even pay much attention to the fact we nearly blew a three-goal lead with the away team netting twice in the last fifteen minutes. We've already beaten Middlesbrough once this season, in the game which started off our EFL Cup journey, but our journey in the FA Cup would come to an end against them. They fielded pretty much a full-strength lineup, having clearly learnt their lessons from last time out, and unfortunately it proved too much for us but we still weren't outclassed. Against Manchester United it would be two cup defeats in a row though, again they put out a very strong team and we couldn't cope. Aaron Wildig gave us a shock lead at Old Trafford on four minutes but they equalised straight away and went on to score four in the first leg including a Rooney brace. I wouldn't let it get us down though and called a team meeting to improve morale and sure enough, we were back to winning ways in the league against Blackpool. We enjoyed nearly 60% possession but could only find the one goal, a stunner from Sam Hughes. Cheltenham are knocking on the door for automatic promotion and gave us a tough time at home, we'd have to rely on a 90th minute winner from Bobby-Joe Taylor to ensure all three points - amazingly that was his first goal for the club since signing in September 2016! Neither team could find the net though against Bristol Rovers, our goalkeeper Skrzyniarz was man of the match as he produced some superb saves to deny the Rovers attackers. For the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final it was more or less mission impossible and unfortunately we couldn't defy the odds. Morgan Schneiderlin was sent off just before half-time and we went more attacking but we still couldn't find a way through and Pogba and Rashford proved too much for us. Still, a 6-1 aggregate defeat to the dominant force in English football right now is by no means bad considering we are a whopping 68 league positions below them on the ladder. Pride, just pride! Finally, we ended the month as we started it with a narrow win over lowly Grimsby - this was another case of dominating possession but not being clinical in front of goal. Waters had been in awful form but he was man-of-the-match in that game, his penalty being the decisive strike.

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We're out of all cups but we've made progression in the league, we might just have the title in the bag now as Crawley's terrible slip up has left them 12 points adrift of us with sixteen matches to play. The table has become a lot more structured over the last couple of months and most of the important positions seem to be nearly set in stone - we're running away with the title, the other teams in the top three are looking pretty safe there and Grimsby and Newport look doomed down at the bottom. The only real fight going on right now seems to be for seventh place! Hopefully we can avoid a late struggle and achieve back-to-back promotions to League One!

Other news

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Playing in the professional leagues and with great progression in the cups, our bank balance is looking healthier than ever and sits and nearly £2million. We're going to be pumping some of our newfound money into our youth facilities - I'd asked for an improvement in the past but the board had rejected it, now though they've suddenly had a change of heart and announced the news without even consulting me. And there's also a couple of personal accolades - the match against Grimsby was my 100th in management, so it was good to be able to celebrate it with a victory. I've also won manager of the month as we won four and drew one of our five league games.

Next update: February 2018

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Chester FC - December 2017


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It's definitely a season of good cheer right now for us, as we approach the halfway point it's Chester who sit top of the League Two table and looking more and more likely to achieve back-to-back promotions. We musn't get too ahead of ourselves though as there is a lot of football still to play and there's still chance for a capitulation if we don't keep our heads down. We've also got our remarkable EFL Cup run to the semi-finals to look forward to, that won't be until next month though so the main focus now is on the league as well as maybe some FA Cup progression.

Transfers

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Wow, how uncharacteristic of me. For once I haven't signed any new players but instead we're beginning to ship some players on as I'm overseeing somewhat of an exodus at the club. There are several faces who I still think are good players but just can't get in the team right now and this is only going to get worse with the January window approaching, so they're leaving on loan for the rest of the season. Unfortunately in the non-leagues there's hardly any money around so some players I don't think are good enough and have placed on the transfer list just won't be able to move permanently, and those sent away temporarily are still having all their wages paid by us. Levi Rowley was supposed to be a big prospect in midfield but things haven't quite worked out for him and he hasn't played a single minute of football for us in League 2 so he'll join local club Macclesfield (as you can see, this actually happened at the start of November but I forgot to include it in the last update). Ryan Astles can probably be placed in the same category, he was a decent rotational player in the last campaign and I actually gave him a new contract but he hasn't played at all this season - he's headed to playoff-chasing York. The next move might seem somewhat surprising since Jordan Chapell was one of our best players in the National League but unfortunately I think that's his level - he's struggled at this higher tier and has only played twice following the signings of Grant and Tollitt so has been sent to Gateshead. And the fourth and final player going back down a division is Tom Youngs. He was touted as a big star for the future when we signed him last season but only managed 5 goals in 30 games across two seasons, and with Alex Babos coming into the team and Brian Kelly's breakthrough he's now pretty much our fifth choice. He still has time to get his career back on track though - a move to Torquay will give him the chance to prove that he still has the potential to become a regular starter at our club.

Matches

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Grrr that's annoying, we were unbeaten in the league all calendar year until the very last game! Yes, as you can see we've ended our unbeaten start to the season but there's a lot of other games as well to deal with. We'd start the month with yet more cup progression though, this time in the FA Cup as we narrowly beat League One's Bury. In a sold out Deva Stadium we enjoyed more of the possession but could only find the one goal with Lateef's early opener, thankfully that would be enough to go through. It was a huge first vs second match against Crawley in League Two, they had a man sent off after just 15 minutes but we couldn't find a way through and in fact they were probably the better team. A goalless draw was how that one finished. We went back to winning ways back at home against Barnet, an own goal and a Lateef brace giving us a comfortable 3-1 victory. It was a battle of the two best defences when we travelled to Stevenage and I was expecting another 0-0 but instead we managed to catch them off-guard despite fielding a weakened team. The unlikely partnership of Kelly and Babos worked wonders, with the former getting a goal and assist and the latter scoring his first two goals for the club to secure back-to-back 3-1 wins. Against Aldershot, I started O'Hanlon for the first time since his sending off and guess what? He went and got sent off again in the first half, it was after both goals had been scored though and we held out for the draw - for once I'm not too bothered about a point against a side we should be beating. Our away struggles would come to a head though in our final game, a defeat to our promotion rivals Luton. We were just awful, not creating anything and we deserved to lose and give the Hatters a massive three points.

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Everyone in the top three picked up the same amount of points so we're still five points clear despite failing to beat either of the other sides currently in the automatic promotion spots. It still seems like a two-horse race for the title right now between ourselves and Crawley, with the fight for third still very competitive. At the halfway point last year we were cruising at the top of the table but this division certainly seems to be a lot more exciting and we definitely can't afford to become complacent. Big shout out to Oldham, who were sitting rock bottom a month ago but have won every game this month to lift them 10 points clear of the relegation zone!

Next update: January 2017
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Chester FC - November 2017


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We're now in our fourth month of the season and form is beginning to settle down, but the Chester train is steaming ahead as we go into November top of League Two. We're still unbeaten in the league and eyeing back-to-back promotions, it wouldn't be our only focus though as we had eight games in four different competitions including the EFL Cup quarter-final against Premier League team Stoke!

Transfers

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One player joins us this month and it's Welsh winger Jack Compton who signs for free. He's another player with plenty of experience at this level, having played for the last five years in League One and Two. He gives us more depth on the left wing - Ryan Lloyd has been arguably our best player so far this season but the only other player we have who's natural in that position is Bobby-Joe Taylor who I just don't think is good enough for this division yet. Compton and Lloyd will probably be used in rotation with one another for the remainder of the campaign and Taylor will probably be sent out on loan.

Matches

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A mixed month with three wins, three draws and the one loss - fortunately though that loss was in the Mickey Mouse Trophy. Our FA Cup journey would begin against Stevenage but we couldn't beat them in 90 minutes at home as we played out a 0-0 draw, both sides defended well but couldn't come up with anything going forward. The aforementioned Checkatrade Trophy game was thankfully our last for the season as we were beaten by Manchester United's youth team, we'd already been knocked out so it really didn't matter and as with the two previous matches I just fielded a fringe team including two regens who came through our academy last February. Interestingly the goalscorer for United U23s was a man by the name of Ashley Young. In our first league game of the month we faced one of the worst defences I've ever seen in Oldham, even though they were statistically the better team their back four were all over the place and the fact Lateef only scored twice was a huge let-off for them. In the FA Cup replay we came back from behind to win 3-1 with two goals from Alabi and another from Lateef, setting up a tie with Bury in the second round. Alex Babos finally scored his first goal for the club and it proved to be the winner in a 1-0 victory over another struggling side in Newport in League Two, they had a man sent off after just ten minutes and we could and should have scored more as we dominated the whole match. The next game was a lot different though, we were lucky to get any points at playoff-hunting Cambridge, they were the better team and would've won if their strikers had been at the races. Finally we got another draw against Carlisle, this time we did manage to score though and it was a pretty special one. Brian Kelly, the best player to come from our youth intake last year, was a shock starter for the game as we rested our first-teamers for our big EFL Cup tie, he defied the odds however and scored not only a great goal but also got man of the match on his debut! He becomes the youngest goalscorer in our history as a newly formed club at just 17 years and 95 days, however it unfortunately wasn't enough to clinch all three points as Carlisle got an equaliser soon after.

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I honestly cannot describe this. We've gone and beaten a Premier League team, not only that but a Premier League team challenging for Europe and a team infamous for being hard to beat at home. But on a cold, rainy night in Stoke it was plucky old Chester of League Two who ran out victors! Our main man Lateef gave us a shock lead on 21 minutes, we couldn't withstand Stoke's pressure for long though as they hit back before half time. In the dressing room I told the players to 'get out and grab a goal to win it for us' and they did just that, man of the match Joel Grant netting on the hour mark. We went on to defensive but the Potters continued to put us under intense pressure, we managed to hold out for the win though and record one of the great cup upsets! It'll be an even bigger upset though if we somehow manage to progress to Wembley as the team standing in our way are champions Manchester United, last year they won a quadruple of the league, both cups and Europa League and are certainly the dominant English team at the moment.

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We're still keeping full focus on the league though and despite another unbeaten month we've only extended our lead by a single point since Crawley still refuse to slip up. We're playing them next month, that should be a good test for us. The top two are further breaking away from the chasing pack though with the other teams all in inconsistent form and the third automatic promotion spot still in reach for any of the teams in the playoffs if results go their way. That also means we're eleven points inside of the top three, the same points margin that we were inside of the playoffs by a month ago so it's starting to look like at the very least back-to-back promotions if not back-to-back titles are on the cards.

Next update: December 2017
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Chester FC - October 2017


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We've well and truly got our season off to a cracker as we've gone unbeaten in our opening 12 matches in League Two. Suddenly even in this early stage, we've got one eye on back-to-back promotion and maybe even back-to-back titles, incredible really considering at the start of the 16/17 season we were predicted to finish 20th in the National League! We only had four league games plus a match in the pointless Checkatrade Trophy, but the real focus this month was on our EFL Cup match against Brentford as we looked to make it to the quarter-finals!

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I've left that game until the end for added suspense, for now here's the other five games on our fixture list for October. There's been no transfers either so we're jumping straight in to the action. We're out of the Mickey Mouse Trophy with a game to spare as pretty much our youth team plus a couple of first-team regulars were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Fleetwood. Back in the league, we faced local team Crewe and beat them two one, coming back from being a goal down at half time with the familiar duo of Lateef and Alabi scoring. We'd then record a more comfortable win over Mansfield at home, Quade Taylor and of course Lateef getting on the scoresheet. Neither side could find any goals though as we played through another boring goalless draw against Leyton Orient, but we saved probably our most impressive performance until last, beating Yeovil 4-1. Lateef opened the scoring after just 13 seconds but it looked as though things would go south soon after when we conceded from a set-piece and then Alex O'Hanlon was shown a straight red for a horrific challenge. We rallied though and Tollitt restored our lead just before the interval and two late goals from man of the match Ryan Lloyd in the 88th and 91st minute secured the victory. And now, the game you've been waiting for...

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I really don't have any words, not only are we beating League Two sides but we're also beating Championship teams! After humiliating Reading in the last round we travelled to Griffin Park for a highly dramatic game. Lateef put us ahead with his first-half goal and we managed to keep Brentford at bay for a while, partly through some fantastic defending and partly from some poor finishing on their part. They eventually did draw level though with Tom Field's 72nd minute strike from a set-piece and it looked to be going to extra time - but a stunning free-kick from teenage superstar Matty Waters in the 89th minute sent the away fans into pandemonium and then Sam Hughes' injury-time shot was deflected off of the opposition defender to send us through to the quarter finals! We'll face our toughest test yet though - Stoke away. We've not been causing the biggest shocks though, believe it or not - that title goes to Oxford United of League One who, after knocking out Manchester City in the last round, beat Chelsea 3-0!

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Finally here's the league table. We haven't extended our lead at the top any further as Crawley and Notts County have both had similarly good months but we're starting to gain ground on the chasing pack, we're now 11 points inside of the automatic promotion spots. Aldershot, who came up with us from the National League, have also had a good start as they find themselves just two points outside the playoffs. 39-year-old Emile Heskey's goals haven't been enough though for Grimsby who have only won once in sixteen games and prop up the table on just seven points.

Next update: November 2017



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Wow, what a way to win your first-ever Champions League!!

In terms of the future of the series, I'd like to see you keep it going for at least a little bit but not so much that it gets too boring - personally I'd like to see you push on until you become #1 club in the world and have won everything, and then retire the save. That'd probably be a combination of A and C.
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I was surprised we could get such a big club as our affiliate @Crazybone5000 but I'm certainly not complaining - also, you guys finished 4th last season if you're interested


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Chester FC - September 2017



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We got our season off to a flyer in August, picking right up from where we left off in the National League as we won all five of our opening matches in the EFL League Two. Could we keep it going for another month and begin to dream of more than just avoiding relegation?

Transfers

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The window's shut but we've still brought in two new free agents, both of whom have experience at this level, and even higher, and should become key players for us. Aaron Wildig featured in almost every game for Morecambe last season, he didn't play too well but I'm still surprised he was let go since he's shown he has what it takes at both League Two and League One level and at 25 he should be coming towards the prime of his career. He'll form a very nice central midfield partnership with Rian Carroll as we look to have a bit of an overhaul in the middle of the pitch. Joel Grant is one of our oldest players at 30 but is also one of our best, he was released by Exeter and actually scored the winner against us last season when we met in the FA Cup. Again, I don't know why he was deemed surplus to requirements there as just a few years ago he was a stalwart for Yeovil in the Championship!

Matches

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Our players don't seem to have got the memo that we're in a higher division because we're still marching forward at the same pace we were last time out. Still unbeaten in the league, a few more draws are creeping in but still very pleasing results given that we're supposed to be in and around the relegation zone. A home game against struggling Grimsby was up first and we recorded a solid 2-0 win, Lateef netting in the first half and Alabi scoring late on in injury time to secure the three points. We couldn't find any goals though in a bore draw against Blackpool, there's not much I can say about our performance since there were only a couple of highlights in the whole 90 minutes. We went 2-0 down early on against promotion-hunting Notts County and looked set for our first league defeat but we rallied superbly and came back to win 3-2 thanks to Lateef, Lloyd and Alabi. And Alabi continued his fine form with two second-half goals att home against recently-relegated Wimbledon. Back-to-back draws followed - we had a trip down south for a week as we faced Devon sides Exeter and Plymouth. Neither team could find the back of the net in the first game but against the latter team we looked set to return to winning ways with Lateef's strike - unfortunately though we conceded an 87th-minute equaliser and had to settle for the single point. Back at home though we beat another newly-relegated team in Chesterfield through our star man Lateef.

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It's unbelievable! We're now through to the last 16 of the EFL Cup after knocking out another Championship team in Reading, this time though it was much more comfortable as we bossed the game and beat them 3-1 despite our opponents being 2nd in the second tier! All our goals came in the first half, Sam Hughes getting one and Lateef with a brace; Reading's 91st minute goal was their only consolation. We'll play Brentford in the fourth round next month.

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We're the only unbeaten team in our league, four points clear at the top and while I do think we'll end up picking up quite a few losses there's no telling where we'll be come the end of the season. Morale has stayed high after our amazing 16/17 campaign, and as we continue to strengthen our squad we may well do much better than avoiding the drop!

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And of course the board are desperate to keep me tied down and I'm perfectly happy to sign a new deal. I didn't sign a new contract all that long ago but understandably the men upstairs don't want me jumping ship and will probably continue to offer me new ones regularly if our success continues. I'm tied down until June 2019 and a small wage increase means I'm being paid more than all bar five of our players.

Next update: October 2017
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Welcome aboard @b0nb0n it was indeed a fantastic season last time out and yes, Lateef is an absolute god
It'll be tough this time round @chokosc but hopefully we can carry the momentum over from last season
I'm glad to see you're enjoying this so much @Crazybone5000, and hopefully the beast Lateef will continue banging in the goals for us as much as he did in his 'dream' first season with us!


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Chester FC - August 2017


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If you'd have told me this time last year that we would be playing in a division higher come the next season, I quite frankly wouldn't have believed you. That's where we are, though, as we go into the opening stages of fourth tier football for the first time in almost a decade and first-ever since our reformation in 2010. It definitely won't be easy to get out of this league but we're not thinking about promotion just yet, after all we were expected to battle relegation last campaign so it's only natural that the board and the media expect the same if not worse. With some good early-season form though perhaps we could defy the critics again, how would we get on as we began our journeys in three different competitions?

Transfers

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I said that I wanted to continue strengthening the squad before the transfer deadline and I've done just that as we say hello to four new players, two of which arrive on loan from parent club Derby. Unfortunately I wasn't quite able to make all the signings I wanted but I still think the team is good enough to avoid the drop. First up we have Matthew Yates, he's one of the players coming from Derby but you probably won't see much from him since he'll be playing behind Skrzyniarz in goal - I'll probably just start him in some of the lesser cup ties. We needed a new number two though as Alex Lynch just isn't good enough for this league, he's still with us for the time being but I'm not sure he will be for much longer. The next player comes in permanently, Jordan Richards signed as a free agent but to be honest, he's not quite as good as my scouts said he would be. He'll still get some solid game time for us though at right-back (yes, this is STILL a weakness in the team!). Our second loan signing is Alex Babos, he was at Eastleigh last year and bagged twelve goals in the league. I'm actually quite excited about this signing - for once we actually have a player who will provide both cover and competition for Lateef and Alabi as he is good at playing as a poacher and a target man. Finally we managed to secure the services of Omar Beckles on deadline day as he signs from recently-relegated Accrington for £12.75k. I know we're now relatively stacked at centre-back but this arrival means that we can perhaps start to play Hughes in midfield more, thus strengthening two areas of the team with one player!

Matches

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Well how's about that for some early-season form?! Five wins out of five in the league, okay we could have had a harder list of fixtures but the fact we also managed to beat title favourites Bristol Rovers shows we're not exclusively about winning against the smaller teams. Notice I've left out the Middlesbrough game, we're saving that one for later. We played fellow promoted side Aldershot at home on the first day, who handed us our biggest loss last season, we managed to pick up a win here though with Ben Tollitt scoring the decisive goal on his debut for the club. Our first away game was against Cheltenham who are also predicted to be battling relegation, we recorded a comfortable 3-1 victory - Tom Youngs who could barely hit a barn door last year must have been wearing his lucky boots that day as he somehow bagged a brace. Left-back Horwood was the other scorer in that match. We left it late against Luton but eventually managed to beat them by the same scoreline, the familiar partnership of Alabi and Lateef both getting their first in the league this campaign. A tough trip to Morecambe saw us rest a number of players due to fixture congestion, but Lateef ensured we took home maximum points despite playing with a weakened team. I was expecting Bristol Rovers away to be one of our hardest games of the season but some great rearguard action and a lovely goal from that man Lateef again saw us snatch the win from them. Our only loss of the month (at least out of the games you're currently seeing) was in the Checkatrade Trophy, I've already said that I have absolutely no interest in this competition and neither do the fans seemingly as only 900 people bothered to turn up. We played a significantly weakened side - if it wasn't for the rules on first-team players then I'd have just put the youth team out - and were beaten 3-1 by League One side Bury despite initially taking the lead through Youngs. But, there's still one more game we need to address...

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Absolute f**king scenes in this game!! We had pretty much the toughest first-round tie you could imagine for the EFL Cup, travelling to Riverside to play Middlesbrough but we stunned them as we knocked them out on penalties! They absolutely battered us in terms of stats, as you'd probably expect, but Alabi nicked a goal in the first half and it looked as if that would be enough for us. Unfortunately though our opponents equalised with the last kick of normal time to send it to extra time. We managed to hold our for another half-hour thanks to some superb defending and a great display from our keeper and eventually it went to penalties despite us having 40 shots against us. Both sides scored their first three but Julien De Sart's spot-kick was saved and centre-back Vassell converted the decisive one to send us through to the next round and record a famous upset!

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And there was more drama in our second-round tie, albeit against a much smaller team in Cheltenham who we'd already played once in August. They were battering us though and we found ourselves two one down at half-time and even then our goal didn't come until just before the break, I gave the players the hairdryer treatment and we dominated in the second half. In the end we came out 4-2 winners after goals from Lateef, Hughes and a double from Alabi. We'll play another Championship side in Reading in the third round.

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We're top of the league! Okay, we've only played five games but we've been playing superbly and hopefully the great form can continue. We're not really focused on the upper part of the table despite sitting top of the pile though, our goal is still only to avoid relegation but we're already eleven points above the drop zone.

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We're still winning awards, even in a higher division. Lateef looks like he's picked right up from where he left off last time round, with three goals and two assists in his first five league games and a fantastic 7.60 average rating and has deservedly won player of the month. Meanwhile I've got another manager of the month award after a 100% win percentage!

Next update: September 2017
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Chester FC - Pre-Season Update 2017/18


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Another fairly busy preseason has been and gone as we gear up for life in League Two for the first time as a reformed club. We've had some faces coming both in and out as well as lots of friendlies to get the team fit for the new campaign, how exactly would we fare?

Transfers

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As you can see there are loads of players leaving on frees, most of them were just youth players that will never make the step up - there are a few faces though who featured in the first team last season, but I don't think are good enough to be playing at this level. Some notable departures include former captain Tom Shaw as well as Lee Beevers who we signed last season, plus several players who had starred in previous seasons but were only ever on the fringes under my reign - Mahon, Hunt, George and Richards all examples of those. We also have a couple of youngsters going out on loan again for 6 months, transfer-listed Joyce as well as Simpson who actually might have a future at the club. On to the ins and three of them you'll probably already recognise but there are some more obscure names as well. Amadeusz Skrzyniarz, who we'll probably just refer to as Amadeusz, becomes our new number one 'keeper, I have no idea how he was playing for Romsey in the tenth division considering my scouts think he'd be a decent player for most League Two sides! We snapped him up as his contract was expiring but we had to pay £5k compensation - still not much for a player of his calibre. Ryan Lloyd joins us permanently after being deemed surplus to requirements at Port Vale, he was one of our star players last season so upon seeing that he was set for release from the League One side the deal seemed like a no-brainer. We've got Vassell and Nartey on loan for another season, Vassell should continue to feature regularly but I have doubts over how much game time Nartey will get if we manage to find a better right-back - that position's still a weakness in our team. Ben Tollitt is an invaluable addition since he has experience in this division playing for Portsmouth, admittedly only getting 14 games in his two years there but nonetheless he'll be a good right winger and should appear much more for us. Finally Josh Rees comes in from Chelmsford, another player who shouldn't be playing so low down the pyramid as he should be at least a good rotational option for us in central midfield. The fact we had a bid of only £500 accepted feels like daylight robbery. We're also only in the start of August so hopefully there should be at least a couple more new faces in the next update.

Matches

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The team returned to training nice and early, in June in fact, and we played a total of nine friendlies in order for everyone to be as fit as possible by the time our first competitive matches come around. The results were mostly pleasing even though they're pretty much meaningless in my eyes, for me it's just about getting fit but perhaps our good summer has raised morale even more. We played National North side Halifax first of all and recorded an expected victory, the few fans who decided to attend were treated to a seven goal thriller. The familiar strike partnership of Alabi and Lateef netted a brace each as well as an injury time goal from Tom Youngs. The Southport defeat was annoying but as I said I'm not all that bothered, for all the friendly matches including this one I just quick picked the team and none of the players were anywhere near fit. Alabi, O'Hanlon and Lateef scored as we beat Kidderminster comfortably 4-0 before we drew 2-2 with Gateshead, all the goals coming in the first twenty minutes. We played Grimsby and Hartlepool, the former still in League Two and the latter relegated from it last season - so I was pretty happy that we managed to beat them both. Lateef bagged a brace in the first of the two games and Hughes and Durrell each found the net in the second. All the goals against Macclesfield were in the first half with Tollitt scoring his first for the club and another Lateef brace plus an Alabi strike gave us a 4-1 win there. Performance of the pre-season has to be the game against MK Dons in the Championship, I said I don't care about results when the aim is just to get match practice but it was still nice to beat a team at their level. Vassell, Alabi, Lateef and Astles all scored. Finally we faced the Ajax youth team and were expected to lose pretty heavily, I thought we were going to do just the opposite but we blew a 2-0 lead to draw two apiece.

Season Preview

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This is probably our best XI, we're continuing to use the traditional 4-4-2 that was so good for us last season. We'll be relying on Alabi and Lateef again to grab us most of our goals, they've proven they can do it at National League level a lot and I'm hoping they can continue to do so. Another familiar face, Ryan Lloyd will again be sending in most of the balls for our front two along with new signing Tollitt. Again we have lots of options in midfield, most of them are from last season and Carroll and O'Hanlon are probably the best two. Matty Waters has come through the ranks at Chester and was probably the biggest rising star last year, he hadn't played a single game before I took over but he has developed at an incredible rate and is now one of the best players at the club. It's been a similar story with his fellow academy graduate Sam Hughes who is probably our best centre-back, alongside Max Muller who only joined us in February. As I've said right-back is a bit of a problem but for now Driver will have to try and do a job having joined last December from Maidstone.

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I think I'm the only person on these forums that shows the staff screen, but after last season's success was in no small part helped by my backroom overhaul I feel like it's necessary to show it again. We ended our stint in the National League with the best staff for everything across the board, and even in a higher division a lot of the staff I brought in last time round can still cut it. We continue to have the best scouting and physiotherapy team while our coaches are ranked first or second in most things. I'm hoping to bring one or two more in as well to bring that up to number one in everything.

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We were predicted to avoid relegation at the very start of preseason but since then our odds have been rising more and more and we're now predicted to finish 23rd, above only Aldershot who came up through the National League playoffs. Remember that last season we were only expected to avoid relegation but ended up winning the title, I'm not so optimistic this year though and I won't even go as far as my ambition then which was a top-half finish, I actually think we will struggle a lot more and there will definitely be a lot more red circles, I'm only hoping to avoid relegation back into the non-league wilderness.

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Here's our fixture list up until the end of the calendar year, we'll actually start the season at home to Aldershot, pretty much the best first game we could have hoped to have. In the first round of the League Cup though we've got pretty much the hardest draw possible, away at Middlesbrough who have recently been relegated from the Premier League! It's a good job the board don't really care about that competition, in the same way that they don't care about the Checkatrade Trophy aka the Mickey Mouse Trophy in which I'd just field the youth team if it wasn't for the stupid regulations about playing a certain number of first-team regulars. Our FA Cup journey will begin a round later this time, on the 4th of November. We don't really have any local rivals in this tier with possibly the exception of Crewe, we'll first face them in early October.

Next update: August 2017
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Chester FC - April + May 2017


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We've already got the title in the bag so these last couple of months were really a time of reflection for the club as we look back on what has been a really incredible season. Most of the important stuff that's gone on has happened off the pitch but we still needed to retain focus in matches as well so we can continue to carry our positive momentum through to next season. There was only one game in May so I decided to include that in our update as well.

Matches

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Everything you'd expect for the most part really in our final 6 games in the fifth tier, hopefully our final 6 games ever in this division over the course of this career. A 0-0 draw against Torquay wasn't the best start but probably reflected the game pretty well, the stats were about even and both teams defended well. Back at home we had a dramatic 3-2 win against York, we fell behind early on but Chappell and Vassell scored to make it 2-1 at half time. The away team equalised and were knocking on the door for a winner but we had the last laugh in the 87th minute, our star man Lateef netting the winner. The next game though was undoubtedly our best performance of the season - a 5-0 hammering of second place Forest Green! Emmanuel Oyeleke's first goal for the club in the 4th minute was probably the best one he'll score in his career, and also perhaps the best one of this series as he scored a screamer FROM THE HALFWAY LINE. An own goal followed before we really piled on the misery in the second half with defenders Muller and Nartey both getting on the score sheet, and James Alabi completed the rout with virtually the last kick of the game. Our next match wasn't so glamorous though as we only managed a 1-1 draw at home against Woking - despite us being by far and away the better team, they got a late equaliser to cancel out Lateef's opener. We went back to winning ways on the road again as we faced promotion-chasing Sutton and recorded a great 3-0 victory with Alabi, Carroll and Lloyd all scoring within 4 minutes of each other! The season would end for us at home to one of only three teams to beat us this season, struggling Boreham Wood. We most certainly got our revenge though as Lateef netted a superb hat-trick, his first for us in the league, in addition to another goal from in-form Rian Carroll.

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This is how the table looks at the end of the season, we ended up winning the league by an amazing 25 points with 111 overall, and broke both the club and National League record in the process. Second-placed Aldershot will be joining us in League Two next year as they beat Wrexham in the playoff final - the Shots themselves have been in just as good form as us recently and deservedly go up. Despite being first or second for the majority of the season, Lincoln almost blew it all as they only finished a point inside the playoff positions. At the other end of the table it's North Ferriby, Solihull Moors, Bromley and Guiseley who will all be playing in the Vanarama North or South in 2017/18, that's not really a surprise as two of them were playing in the fifth tier for the first time in recent years and the other two were promoted the year before. A special mention goes to Kevin Nolan's Dover Athletic who in the end managed a respectable 17th place despite being in the drop zone for the majority of the campaign; and to recently-promoted Sutton Utd who just missed out on the playoffs and the chance to go back-to-back.

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FA Trophy champions! We do the 'domestic double'! This wasn't a competition I prioritised at the beginning of the season but it's a nice one to win nevertheless and puts even more of a sheen on our fairytale campaign. Over 45,000 fans made the trip to Wembley - which is an insane figure for two non-league clubs from the north-west - and saw us thrash our fierce local rivals in the final. Two from Lateef and one from Alabi all in the first half saw us record a 3-0 victory and lift the cup.

End of Season Awards

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FIFA CORRUPTION! Somehow, despite getting the highest average rating in the league and not only winning the golden boot but breaking goalscoring records in the process, Lateef hasn't won the player of the year which instead goes to Forest Green's Rhys Murphy!!

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At least justice has been done here

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We didn't even have a goal on the top 3 goals of the month until April but it turned out to be goal of the season from Oyeleke and his 50-yard screamer. Here's a GIF of it for you to savour...

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In the fans' awards Lateef dominates again, deservedly winning both young player and overall player of the season, plus signing of the season while Oyeleke obviously gets goal of the season. The best lineup is accurate for the most part apart from the fact that Sam Hughes has barely ever played in midfield this season, and I have no idea why Astles is in there since he's only played 19 games.

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The national press are raving about the 'Non-League Leicester' too as they recognise our dream campaign. Winners of both the National League and the FA Trophy as well as managing to get to the first round of the FA Cup. Looking at the past positions we were top for over half the season and really were unstoppable once we got there. Our match of the season was apparently our 4-1 win against Forest Green in September which arguably started this whole run, although I don't know why they didn't put it as the 5-0 or one of our derby victories. I agree with our moment to forget though, our 3-0 humbling against Aldershot. Our attendances could have been better but are still way higher than in real life. Somehow we used the most players in the league despite usually having a similar 16-man squad for most games.

Other news

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And to bring this exhaustingly long post to an end, we've got a new junior and senior affiliate. Northwich all the way down in the eighth division become a club we can loan young or out-of-favour players to, plus we have first refusal on their players although I doubt we'd want to buy any of them. More exciting though is our link with Derby in the Championship, we can loan players from them without having to pay any of their wages and I can see this being very useful next season since we might be lacking some strength in depth. We'll still need to look for permanent additions though and hopefully you'll be able to see some of them in the next update...

Next update: Preseason 2017/18
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It really is amazing @r96Skinner, I think I'm going to call us the 'Non-League Leicester'
I think it'd be the biggest bottle-job in history @Dan if we somehow blew it now


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Chester FC - March 2017


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It's been a fairytale season for our club and we finally had the chance to secure the title a month early. We're certainly showing that we're ready for League 2 action and there would be seemingly no way we could slip now. We also had the chance to reach the final of the FA Trophy, a competition which wasn't too important to me at first but it's even better to go up winning the 'domestic double' I guess.

Youth Intake

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But before all that, regen day has been and as you can see there are actually a couple of decent players from our first ever youth intake. Kelly and Lyons look like they might have the potential to actually play for us in a few years but their poor current ability ratings mean it will take a while for them to reach that level, and unfortunately we might be rising up the leagues faster than they are developing. I've put them both on the loan list though in the hope that some National North/South clubs might want to pick them up. The other newly generated players will probably just end up being released.

Matches

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No two ways about it, this is not only the form of champions but the form of bloody gods. Unbeaten for the fourth month running, as well as a 100% league record this month. We'd start off with a local derby against Tranmere at the Deva, two first-half goals from James Alabi either side of an equaliser in a comfortable 2-1 win. We welcomed Tamworth who are playing in a league below us for the first leg of our FA Trophy semi-final tie, and we absolutely stuffed them 5-0, with Lateef scoring a hat-trick against one of his former clubs as well as a strike from Alabi and an own goal. Back in the league we'd face Lincoln who despite looking like our only real title challengers for a while, are now starting to slip and fighting for a top 5 finish. They put a lot of pressure on us at Sincil Bank but another two from Lateef ensured we took home all three points despite conceding a late consolation goal. We played a much weaker lineup for the second leg against Tamworth with the tie already dead and buried, we could only draw despite a goal from Alabi and Tom Youngs FINALLY finding the net for the first time since November! Macclesfield put up a good fight against us back at home, but our talismanic striker Lateef's early goal saw us record a narrow 1-0 victory. And Bromley challenged us even more, despite being in the relegation zone they threatened us on their own turf and we needed an 87th minute winner from Quade Taylor, his first goal for us, in order to emerge winners. We ended the month with a more comfortable win over Eastleigh with Vassell and Lloyd both hitting the target despite another late consolation goal.

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It's been inevitable pretty much all throughout the second half of the season and it's finally official, we were actually crowned champions after the Bromley game. It's a fantastic achievement for everyone involved, especially if you consider the board's preseason expectation was only to avoid the drop. I was more optimistic and aimed for a top-half finish, but there's no way I thought we'd be up there not only champions but completely dominating in the process. We're back where we belong in the Football League, for the first time as a reformed club and after an overall absence of eight years. But we're only getting started - hopefully in a few years we'll find ourselves much higher than the fourth tier...

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Oh, and here's the league table if you're interested in how all the other teams are getting on. Lincoln have been on a horrific run of form and have only won once in two months whilst our rivals Wrexham could yet be joining us in promotion. Guiseley, Bromley and probably Solihull Moors are all pretty much relegated while it seems pretty much a battle between Dover and Boreham Wood to stay up - although even teams as high as 17th-placed Southport could be dragged in with a few bad results.

Other news

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Just a few more news items to finish off with, the first being the fact that I've signed a new deal with the club. It's to be expected given our successes and I was only on a one year deal anyway, the board were unable to extend it any further than a year but I am now on £1,000 a week - making me paid more than any of the players minus Alabi. Annoyingly the FA Trophy final is our only game in May and we have nearly a month without any competitive football, but what a game it should be as the Cross-Border rivals will meet at Wembley for what I believe is the first time ever. Finally, we have begun the search for a senior affiliate club we can loan players from - ideally I'd be wanting to get them in on permanent deals but since a lot of our current 'squad players' won't be good enough to play in League Two, we can help improve our strength in depth with some decent loan signings if our budgets stop us from strengthening everywhere I want to.

Next update: April 2017
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