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Journey back to the top

  1. Journey back to the top

    I've been racking my brain trying to think of a team to manage and a story to write ever since this new FM came out.

    After trawling through the leagues and deliberating over who to manage, i decided to look down the leagues for a fallen giant I could bring back to some former glory.



    Then i found them, down in the depths of League One:


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    Sheffield United!


    Utd have been plying their trade in League One for 5 years and are approaching their 6th season in the league after their worst league finish last season in over 30 years.


    But then I thought, how am i going to turn their fortunes around when Danny Wilson, David Weir, Nigel Clough and Nigel Adkins have all failed? What makes me better than then?

    The truth is, I'm not, I thought to myself! This job will be tough and i can think of only one man capable of bringing the Blades fans success they are desperate for ...


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    Mr Sheffield United himself, Neil Warnock!


    Neil (or Colin as he's commonly referred to) enjoyed some success during his first spell in charge of the club between 1999 and 2007.

    He suffered the heartbreak of two FA Cup Semi finals and a play off final before eventually leading his beloved Blades to the promise land of the Premier League in 2006.


    It all turned sour for Colin though as the Blades were eventually relegated from the Premier League the very next year, despite picking up 38 points and the whole 'Carlos Tevez affair' (which we won't go into).


    Warnock has since had spells with, Crystal Palace (twice), QPR (twice), Leeds and Rotherham.


    However, just one thing is on Warnocks mind ... a record 8th promotion! And who better to break the record with that his boyhood Blades.


    Let the journey begin.

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  3. Looking forward to a Steel City derby.
    PaperClipFMer likes this.

  4. Quote Originally Posted by DiLucaHunter View Post
    Looking forward to a Steel City derby.
    I am as well mate, long way to go yet though!

  5. So here we go then ...


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    So that's the manager, what about the club ...

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    Decent finances and a very decent stadium for this level of football, but as you can see the club are at their lowest point for some time in terms of league position.


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    The board think a play off place should be the target for this season with a third round finish in the FA cup and 2nd round in the league cup.

    Play off should be more than achievable and really we should possibly be aiming for an automatic place.


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    For those targets the board have given me £300k as a transfer budget and just over £9K per week on wages.

    We shouldn't need a massive budget with the squad already able to compete towards the top of the league. The club also brought in 13 players in the summer before the appointment of Warnock.


  6. So, first things first after being appointed, let's have a look at the squad I'll be inheriting ...


    SQUAD



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    A couple of decent options for the 'keepers with both Simon Moore and George Long good options for this level. Moore possibly just edges it and has more experience but Long is certainly good enough to call upon if needs be.

    Aaron Ramsdale also looks to have good potential but is probably too soon for him just yet.




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    A few options here for full back, Danny Lafferty looks a shoe in for left back with Chris Hussey his only real competition. Kieran Freeman also looks decent if not spectacular at right back wit very little competition.

    The real annoyance here is John Brayford, he's by far the clubs best right defender and probably one of the best players, however for some reason he's been loaned to Burton which we're unable to recall until the end of the season.


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    This is one position we can leave well alone, we're well stocked with center backs with all 4 of these good enough to start. Ethan Ebanks-Landell and Jack O'Connell look the favoured partnership to start with though.



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    Plenty of options here but we look to have a number of very similar types of player.

    John Fleck is by far the best midfielder and probably the best technical player in the squad, and one of the best in the league. Louis Reed is similar but at only 18 has bags of potential, the biggest challenge with him is to try and keep hold of him.

    Stefan Scougall and Chris Basham offer something different with Scougall being a real box to box midfielder who's full of energy while Basham is the clubs only holding midfielder.

    Paul Coutts and James Wallace are very similar types to John Fleck but aren't quite to his standard, Coutts maybe worth keeping but i think Wallace's days are numbered with only 14 appearances made for the club in two years he's been here.

    Mark Duffy and Harry Chapman are the clubs only wide men which is certainly an area we need to strengthen. David Brooks is also the one real youth prospect who could come good in the coming years.


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    Probably the area I'm most excited about with 5 real quality options at this level, the only slight disappointment is Marc McNulty being out on loan at Bradford and unable to recall until next summer.

    We still have plenty of options though with Matt Done the most versatile and will possibly be used out wide more than up top. Billy Sharp is pretty much nailed on to start every game with him being club captain and almost guarantees goals.

    The big question is who to partner him? Caolan Lavery is a summer recruit and has good pace to stretch the defence, he's only 23 and still has room for improvement. The other option is Leon Clarke who is totally different, he gives us a target man option though and had loads of experience at this level.



    This is probably the side we'd use if the league were to start tomorrow ...


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    The back 5 easily picks itself, as does the central midfield with the combination of Fleck and Basham looking promising.

    The wide areas really concern me though, Matt Done would just about get the call for the left wing with Mark Duffy on the right. This is the main area we'll look to improve.

    Also, Leon Clark just pips Lavery to partner Billy Sharp, i just think he gives us something different and allows us to play it long when needed.
    Telstar and dave8721 like this.

  7. Good luck mate. Have a soft spot for the blades so will be following

    Also met Warnock in real life a couple of times and he is a top bloke

  8. Quote Originally Posted by PafcLad View Post
    Good luck mate. Have a soft spot for the blades so will be following

    Also met Warnock in real life a couple of times and he is a top bloke
    Thanks mate, I hope I can recreate his success!

  9. It was straight to business after joining with our pre-season starting immediately ...

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    Pretty good pre-season form using the 4-4-2 tactic and giving a few youngsters some valuable playing time.

    Star players of pre-season were midfielder, John Fleck who controlled the games really well, Billy Sharp also scored 4 goals in the 4 games he featured in. Lavery also gave me something to think about with 4 goals himself, many of which came off the bench.

    We were good without being fantastic so I thought we could do freshening up the first team a little!

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    A real statement of intent, Samir Carruthers joining from promotion rivals Mk Dons.

    He was a real important player for Mk Dons and was a big part of them gaining promotion to the Championship a couple of seasons ago.

    He looks absolute quality for this level and I'm a bit surprised a Championship club didn't snap him up! Hopefully he can join the club as we climb the leagues.





    The season is now just a week away and this is how we start the league campaign:

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    A really tough start to the season against promotion favorites Bolton, to make it ever harder, the sky cameras will be there!

    After this though, with the exception of Millwall (away) it looks quite favourable with games we should be winning.


    All the work is now done and we'll have to see if it's enough against Bolton in just a few days time.
    Last edited by PaperClipFMer; 17/01/2017 at 09:11 PM.

  10. First game of season

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    First game of the season then see's us against promotion favourites Bolton, recently relegated from the Championship.

    I decided to change our line up from the recent friendlies we've played:


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    And decided to go with a narrow 4-4-2 with us packing the midfield.

    I still wanted to play two up front as I believe the partnership of Billy Sharp and Caolan Lavery really could be the best in the league, however I was worried about being exposed out wide with us not using any wingers.


    So I decided with this formation, let's see how we get on ...


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    What a brilliant performance and result!

    I didn't really expect that and would have probably been happy with a draw pre-match. We have the first half performance of Caolan Lavery to thank for putting us in such a commanding position after just 20 minutes.

    We started the second half with the same mindset with Mark Duffy putting us 3-0 up and putting the game to bed. I was a little worried if Mark Duffy would cope in a central role with him preferring a wide role. I think he's perfect for the role behind the strikers though and he proved me right here today.



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    Last edited by PaperClipFMer; 17/01/2017 at 09:18 PM.
    FMSaddler96 likes this.

  11. Save has just crashed here guys! I'm hoping to get a new save up pretty soon though

    *EDIT: I've managed to get this save up and running again, hope you all enjoy!
    Last edited by PaperClipFMer; 17/01/2017 at 09:19 PM.

  12. August 2016


    After the seriously impressive win over Bolton, we immediately had a break from league action with a tie in the League cup against Bury.


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    We made 9 changes to give some of the fringe players a run out. We still got the win though without playing that well.

    A penalty won and converted by John Fleck was enough to see us through to the second round where we drew Derby County away from home.





    We were then back in league action at home to Rochdale, a game we were expected to win.

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    Wow!

    We were utterly brilliant here and could have actually scored more.

    Billy Sharp stole the show with a hattrick. He was quiet in the first game against Bolton but really showed me what he's all about here ... and he's all about goals!

    Jack O'Connell, Caolan Lavery and Mark Duffy also all got onto the scoresheet and we totally embarrassed a really poor Rochdale side.






    Just after this result, we had our first bit of bad news ...


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    An injury to Caolan Lavery which will see him miss 3 weeks of a really busy period.

    3 goals in 3 games is a really good return but his overall play has been equally impressive. Hopefully either Matt Done or Leon Clarke can replicate this for the next few weeks or so.






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    Another straight forward win here and our 3rd clean sheet in a row.

    Kieran Freeman opened the scoring before Billy Sharp scored yet again to double our lead.





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    This was our real test since the Bolton game, and we came through it with flying colours.

    John Fleck scored a wonderful volley from outside the box to open the scoring before Billy Sharp continued his great form by converting a penalty just after half time.

    Millwall got one back and looked dangerous late on but we defended really well to see out the win.





    Next up we traveled to Derby for the League cup second round tie at the Ipro stadium.

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    Arguably our best win of the season against a Derby side who had made a slow start to the Championship season.

    We changed systems and played 5-3-2 and it worked a treat.

    It was two unexpected scorers to put us 2-0 up inside half an hour.

    Left back Danny Lafferty opened the scoring after just 6 minutes with a wonderful goal from a really tight angle. Centre Back, James Wilson then doubled our lead with a towering header from an inwinging corner.

    We then just had to hang on, Derby got one back through Will Hughes but couldn't find a way back into the game.






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    We then got back to league action and put in our worst performance of the season so far.

    2 points dropped against Oxford and we were lucky it wasn't 3 really.

    We were 2-0 down with 6 minutes to go before Billy Sharp gave us hope with a typical tap in. Matt Done then came off the bench to rescue a point in the 93rd minute.

    We were so poor for the first hour though that we came away happy with a point in the end.





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    The final game of the month comes in the pointless Checkatrade trophy.

    We drew Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Leicester U23 in our group but it wasn't a competition i was remotely bothered about.

    We sneaked past Scunthorpe and claimed an extra point with a penalty shootout victory.

    I thought Leon Clarke had done enough for the win with his 2 goals but an equliser in the 90th minute meant we went to a penalty shootout. Fortunately we didn't miss one which meant we claimed the extra point.

    We made 11 changes and gave a lot of the younger lads some minutes, that's really all this competition is good for.






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    A cracking start to the season with no real negatives.

    The draw against Oldham has to be classed as 2 points dropped but the way we fought back to draw makes it feel more like a win than anything else.






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    Early days but we finish the month top of the league, although Mk Dons have managed to stay keep with us so far.

    We've started really well and confidence is sky high, we must keep this going though if we want automatic promotion.





    PLAYER OF THE MONTH

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    BILLY SHARP

    6 goals in 5 league one games speaks for itself. He’s done that with three different strike partners as well thanks to the injury to Caolan Lavery and the poor form of both Matt Done and Leon Clarke.

    I knew he'd be important to us but after this month I've no doubt he has to stay fit, if he does then I've no doubt he'll get 20+ goals this season.
    Last edited by PaperClipFMer; 21/01/2017 at 02:11 PM.

  13. Transfer deadline day


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    Despite us having a brilliant start to the season, I was keen for us to add another face or two to the squad. However, with Samir Carruthers taking up our whole budget, I was shopping on a budget.


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    Matt Done and Leon Clarke really hadn’t impressed me during their limited time on the pitch so I wanted a bit more competition.

    Craig Davies didn’t fancy dropping a division though and I couldn’t find anyone else suitable … not that I could afford anyway.



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    I then tried to steal Lewis McGugan from our bitter rivals, Wednesday.

    He’s just rotting in their reserves which is a total waste for a decent player easily good enough for the Championship. Unlike Davies, he would drop a division … but wanted £18k per week for his troubles … we said no!


    So we left it at that, the lads have done well so fa so I have to have confidence in them to carry this on until at least the new year.

  14. September 2016


    After a brilliant first month of the season, we had to follow this up with another busy period.


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    Our first defeat of the season as we fall to a 2-0 defeat by a very ordinary Gillingham side who hadn’t won a game all season before this.

    We showed some real ill-discipline as well with Chris Hussey seeing red after half an hour and Jack O’Connell following him with 10 minutes to play.

    The only slight positive was the return of Caolan Lavery who made his return from injury off the bench.






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    We bounced back superbly here though with a dominant away win over AFC Wimbledon.

    We went 1-0 down and thought the worst but Caolan Lavery turned things around. He celebrated his first start after injury with a brilliant hattrick before half time which put the game to bed.

    Samir Carruthers then got his first of the season to make it 4 before the hour mark.





    The bad news from this game though ...

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    I just can't seem to keep this guy fit!

    6 goals in 4 games is a brilliant return but he simply has to stay fit if we want t achieve anything this season.






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    Another win but a very different kind of performance to the AFC Wimbledon win. We dug in here and found a late winner through Jack O’Connell with less than 10 minutes to go.





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    I’m actually more disappointed with this result than I thought I would.

    All that work we put in to get the result against Derby and then we throw it away with a shocking result and performance here.

    The worse part of this is that we would have drawn Man Utd at Old Trafford! I think the board will be just as disappointing with us missing this money making opportunity.






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    In front of Sky cameras we stumbled to a 1-1 draw. Scunthorpe went 1-0 up early and held on well until Matt Done rescued a point for a second time with yet another late, late goal.






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    We at least finished the month with a win and a very good defensive display. Billy Sharp got the winner but he doesn’t look the same player when Lavery’s not in the side.






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    Another decent month, although our performances have dipped a little, thankfully our results haven't dropped too much.

    3 wins, a draw and a defeat in the league is decent, we were never really going to continue the form of last month.





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    The dropped points we've suffered this month have been punished though with Mk Dons continuing their good form and overtaking us into top spot.

    We're 3 points behind now at this early stage, the positive though is that we're already 4 points clear of 3rd which is the all important gap we're looking at this season.





    PLAYER OF THE MONTH:

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    ETHAN EBANKS-LANDELL


    An average rating of 7.56 for the month and 3 clean sheets is the reason Ebanks-Landell wins this award this month.

    He's put in some real commanding display's, especially in the 4-1 win over Wimbledon. His performances haven't gone unnoticed either with him winning 2 man of the match awards in the last 2 games.

    With him being on loan from Wolves we will have to see if we can make that permanent either in January or the summer.

  15. October 2016



    With us already 3 points behind Mk Dons in top spot, we had to re-find our form this month to put pressure on them.


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    We didn't start well though with a disappointing 0-0 draw against a mid tabled Fleetwood side.

    We're really struggling in front of goal now with Caolan Lavery still injured, we just can't seem to replace him with the lads already at the club.

    With Mk Dons willing as well, we fell 6 points adrift.






    We were next in actop in the Checkatrade trophy against Leciester's under 23's.
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    Caolan Lavery made his return from injury and scored almost immediately, less than 40 seconds in and we were already 1-0 up.

    Mark Duffy doubled our lead after 20 minutes which effectively put the game to bed.

    For the first time in the Checketrade we put out a strong line up to try and get some momentum going. It was a fairly weak Leicester side but a solid win and a third consecutive clean sheet non the less.






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    A very straight forward win which has been rare for us in the league lately.

    Goals from Billy Sharp and Samir Carruthers gave us all 3 points. It was our defensive display which was most impressive now and also gave us our 4th clean sheet in a row.





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    We were back to our best here against a very defensive side playing 5 at the back.

    We didn't struggle to break them down though with Billy sharp opening the scoring before Paul Coutts scored his first of the season just before the hour mark.

    Caolan Lavery then rounded things off, hopefully i can keep him fit and this partnership with Billy Sharp can continue.

    We also recorded our 5th clean sheet in a row.





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    A decent performance but a game we really should have won.

    We were 2-0 with 15 minutes to play before Bradford fought back to somehow claim an unlikely point.

    Caolan Lavery proved he was back in top form with a brace which looked to have secured victory.

    A penalty and a very late defensive mistake from the goalkeeper cost us 2 points here. Had we won, we would have gone top of the league, thanks to Mk Dons drawing with Southend.






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    After coming unstuck by a couple of late goals against Bradford last time, we scored a couple of our own here to steal all 3 points.

    1-0 down with just over 10 minutes to go before Paul Coutts scored his second in a week to draw level. We weren't happy with that though and pushed for the winner which eventually came from Billy Sharp after good work from Mark Duffy.

    This was our game in hand which means we finally overtake Mk Dons and go top of the league, and playing them next!






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    A clash at the top of the table, the winner of this going top of the league.

    It was a really even game but i think we just about shaded it. We were really went for the win whereas i think Mk Dons were happy with the point.

    Thankfully, right back Kieran Freeman push forward and with the ball falling to him, stuck home with just a minute to go.

    With the win here we finish the month top of the league.





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    Another unbeaten month with us dropping just 4 points all month.

    Our defence has been seriously impressive with 5 clean sheets in just 7 games, conceding just 3 goals all month.





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    We finish the month 4 points clear of Mk Dons at the top of the league, and more importantly finish 5 points clear of Walsall sitting in 3rd.

    The shocking form of Mk Dons has allowed us to overtake them, with them 3 defeats and a draw in their last 4 games.





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    The impressive period see's me winning a nomination for the manager of the month award. Sadly though losing out to Michael Appleton at Oxford who recorded 5 wins from 6 league games over the same period.






    Player of the month:

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    KIERAN FREEMAN


    To be honest i could have given this to any of the defenders, but for his impressive attacking displays and especially scoring the winner against Mk Dons, I have to give it to Kieran Freeman.

    I'm really glad he's started well this season as I had worried whether he'd be good enough or not but he's proved he's more than capable at this level.

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