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Vauxhall Motors Story: Preparing for League Two

Here we go folks, after the unexpected promotion from Blue Square Premier the Motormen were preparing to face the much tougher opponents in League Two! I had faith in the youngsters who pulled off an amazing season in Blue Square Premier but I was perfectly aware that the squad needed some improvements in order to cope with the new requirements in a superior division. Let’s see what happened during pre-season…

First of all, the club finally turned professional! It was something that I did unofficially right from the start as I gave full-time contracts to every employee at the club, playing or non-playing, but I guess we have a better reputation now.

Although the club had almost 100K in the bank the board was not generous with me as they offered identical (and rather low) budgets for all the possible expectations. I chose a mid-table finish but that was just out of pride :)

The media prediction was that we were going to finish 24th, as usual, and the bookmakers were not optimistic about our chances either.

Anyway, you know that I don’t care about their predictions too much so I started to work on improving the club. The first thing that I did was to bring in a few more and better coaches, that part of the club is essential for developing our young players. Unfortunately the effort is severely hampered by out poor training facilities and the board said that they don’t have enough money to improve them. They did give me an extra thousand pounds for the wage budget though and also agreed to allow more coaches and scouts at the club.

Being on a very tight wage budget I offloaded 12 players and also released almost all the new under 18 players. Those deals brought 10K into the club’s coffers and although I had around 3K in the transfer budget I opted for free transfers. I brought in a total of nine new players, eight on free transfers and one on loan.


Now let me introduce the new faces. Although goalkeeper Adam Street had a pretty good season in Blue Square Premier I decided to bring in a new goalie, one that is more adapted to the sweeper keeper role. The fans were a bit angry that I sold Street but I believe that Martin Hansen will do a much better job. He is a Danish under 21 international and he spent five seasons at Liverpool. He didn’t get any chance to break into the first team there and I hope he will seize the opportunity to play regularly at a lower level. James Dunn will be his backup, I still believe that he can make some progress and fight for a place in the first team.

Our defense’s left flank didn’t perform too well last season so I decided to rebuild that area of the team from scratch. James Campbell is one of the two new left backs, a player that came through the youth ranks at Arsenal but never appeared in the first team. He has good attributes overall but he seems to be a bit slow. That could be fixed if he loses some weight, his height/weight proportion makes me think that he’s a bit chubby (that doesn’t show in the photo though).

The second left back joined us on loan from Middlesbrough, his name is Matthew Dolan and he will be a good competitor for a place in the first team. He can also provide cover as a central defender or a central midfielder. Boro didn’t want any wage contribution or fee for his loan so I guess it’s a great bargain for the club.

The right flank of the defense remains unchanged, Michael Duckworth and Jacob Hronec will be covering that area. For the middle of the defense I decided to keep two of the players that performed very well last season, Fraser Kerr and Oliver Nicholas, and brought in two exciting prospects. First there is Irish youth international Derrick Williams, a quick defender with very good technical abilities. He also has pretty good mental attributes so I think that he might develop into an important player for the club.

The other new centre back is Daniel Pappoe, a tall, strong and quick lad that joined us after being released by Chelsea. He spent four seasons with the Blues and even managed to appear in two Premier League matches! He is only 18 years old and I expect him to polish his skills and become a top defender, at least for the lower leagues.


On the right wing I decided to keep only Pietro Palladino, a player that has served us well for the last two seasons, and brought in regen Joe Griffin, a former Chelsea player. This was a last minute deal, he joined the club after the last pre-season friendly, but I hope that his technical skills will give us the edge in certain games.

On the left wing Sam Hart will have to compete with a good new signing: Jacob Walcott. He is Theo Walcott‘s less famous cousin, a former Reading player that already has some League Two and League One experience despite his young age.

For the central midfield area I decided to keep my favourite youngsters: Matthew Ball, Nathan Rooney, Oguzhan Ozyakup and Shane Williams. They will have a tough competitor for a place in the first team: experienced Scottish player Peter Leven. He seems to be the best midfielder at the club and he has loads of experience both in Scotland and in England (he started his career at Glasgow Rangers and his last club was MK Dons in League One).


For the attack I decided to bring in another infusion of experience from Scotland: former Rangers player Darryl Duffy. He played a few seasons in the Championship after leaving Rangers but he also has loads of experience in League Two and League One. He is a pretty good finisher and I hope he will score quite a few goals to help our cause. I had another four strikers at the club before signing Duffy and I really didn’t want to let any of them leave. The friendly games were a test for the four strikers and in the end I decided to keep Danny Uchechi, Omar Koroma and Akwasi Asante. Julius Gombala left the club but not on a permanent move, he joined Wrexham on loan for five months (with the wages paid in full by the Welsh club).

My new assistant manager seems to be fairly confident but I agree that we need another midfielder, one that would be equally adept for playing on both the right and the left wing.

I arranged another batch of exotic friendlies for my team and they went pretty well as we grabbed seven straight wins. Omar Koroma was particularly impressive during those friendlies but I was quite pleased with the whole team.

For the last friendly I invited Premier League side Newcastle to Rivacre Park. It was a sell-out and a very good game but we lost it eventually due to a corner kick goal. If you look at the stats though you would see that we were the better team throughout the game, we had better possession, more shots and last but not least, four clear cut chances! We would have deserved a famous win but I was very pleased with the team’s performance.

We have 23 men in the squad, the youngest squad in the league, and I will be looking to add just one more player: a right/left winger to provide backup for both flanks.

We are a bit over the wage budget though so I will probably try to bring in a loanee. Unfortunately the board were unable to find a parent club so I will have a pretty difficult task. That’s how our pre-season went, I am fairly optimistic but we will have to wait and see whether my team is good enough for League Two or not. Thanks a lot for reading, I’m looking forward to reading your opinions about the new transfers.

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Lye
Lye
10 years ago

Hi Johnny,

Pretty good signings especially experienced Peter Leven and Darryl Duffy. I think their experience will be vital. Good friendly games there and the players should have a good workout. Looking forward to the games in league 2. Good luck.

Arjuna
10 years ago

Hey Johnny,
Some good signings, and as Lye says, experience is cital. You have had some good friendlies, and are well prepared for what maybe a tough season. But I feel you may get top-half.
Arjuna

Darren Smith
10 years ago

Hey Johnny, you have done really well in the transfer market yet again. Its good to see you offloaded the unwanted players and I like your signings. Looking forward to another strong season and the top six is definitely on the cards.

Frank
Frank
10 years ago

Hi Johnny,

Some good signings there and you will need the experience. With your managerial skills I think top half or maybe to play off spot. Good luck :)
Check out my blog

thefootballgaffer.blogspot.com

Laxeyman
Laxeyman
10 years ago

Good signings there Johnny, especially Leven and Duffy, they will be crucial players. I have Derrick Williams in the Blue Square Premier with Droylsden and he’s been fantastic, I think his average rating is 7.65 from 35 games, hopefully he can do the same for you. You squad looks quite strong, I reckon you can reach the play offs at least. Good luck!

Ana Garcia
10 years ago

Some great signings Johnny as always! And your assistant seems pretty happy with your squad.

I am not one to make predictions usually because I am completely wrong! So instead I will wish you good luck and hope you have a good season!

:)

hils
hils
10 years ago

Hi Johnny,great signings as always!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hopefully you will come in the top half this season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good luck!!!!!!!!!!!

Kevin
10 years ago

Hi Johnny
“Build for the back” and you’ve done just that without bringing in ageing players. I like the idea of a very young squad and the capture of Martin Hansen s a particulary good one. In my game all the lower league teamswere after him so well done. Pappoe will add some pace yo your favorite defence set up and picking up striker from Rangers is not bad at all. Best wishes as you embark on another campaign.

PS Gibbs has my glasses so parden any spelling mistakes.

Roger
Roger
10 years ago

Hi Johnny,

I’ve enjoyed reading your story thus far, very entertaining!

I was reading some of your older posts and you seem to score a lot of goals from corners. I myself have trouble producing any results from set pieces. I was wondering if you could provide a little insight on the tactics you use when setting up for a corner kick? From the videos it looks like you have your best header attack the far post, is this correct? Anything you could share on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

Good luck with the rest of your season and thank you for telling your story!

Sears
10 years ago

Good signings, maybe another promotion is on the cards. Good luck

dami
dami
10 years ago

Good transfers, I’m quite happy that you didn’t release any of my favorite players. Surely your team will surpass the mid-table expectations you’ve set for them…

Jack
Jack
10 years ago

The coaching set up you have there Johnny looks brilliant, barring the facilities, it should definately pay dividends in develpoing your young squad, for me one of the biggest satisfactions while playing FM is developing your younger players and seeing them shine on the pitch. Hopefully your young players will keep developing and prove those critics wrong! Good luck for the season Johnny, I’m predicting you finish 1st for a change :P Can’t wait for the next post to see how your side fairs in the football leagues.

warren
10 years ago

Hi Johnny

Sorry for the delay in posting a comment but I have been busy over the last couple of days and not got round to doing this.

I like the signings of both Hansen and Duffy and hope that they can be a success at Rivacre Park and I also wish you a long and hopefully rewarding season.

Good luck

Sayam Khan
10 years ago

Hi Johnny

You always seem to have a problem with finding a parent club, i remember you having this problem with Dorchester also? :/

Anyway, your goalkeeper is definately the best signing, i think he can be your keeper all the way up to the championship.

Anyway good luck

Mariano
Mariano
10 years ago

I´,m preparing for my first season in league 2 with Havant and using your story as reference.
In Square premiere D. Williams was my main goalscorer, great heading for corner kicks using the Notts co tactic:)

My board don´t find my any parent club, i find this strange(bug?).

What are your standars for league 2 regarding attributes?

This are mine:

less than 8 bad
less than 11 ok
more than 12 good

Do you have some post where you explain the match preparation?

I know by now how you doing in League 2 so i won´t wish you luck, though I think yo might up ending in 1st place:)

Thanks for the guidance in the FM journey!

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