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Let’s Try Not to Piss this All Away: A Burton Albion Story
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  1. So March wouldn’t be a busy month on the field with only 3 games and I was keen to ensure that we kept pushing and not just think that we had won a trophy and qualified for Europe so it was season over. With games against relegation threatened Everton and Fulham sandwiching a home tie with Europa League chasing Boro it was a month were at the very least I’d expect 2 wins and as we play Boro at home a clean sweep of all 9 available points would be very doable.

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    So not the 9 points I had hoped for but 6 will do and keeps us in the hunt for a CL place. Routine wins against Everton and Fulham were expected. I did think Boro would be the most difficult game but how we didn’t win with 60% possession, 3 times as many shots and shots on target I will never know.

    Now whilst March was quite on the field, off it was a different story. The club was subject to a takeover bid which got my hopes up of a tycoon and loads of cash etc.

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    The bid was soon confirmed, but much to my disappointment there was no extra cash, and like the previous Chairman, he didn’t want to improve any of our facilities. I suppose at least they let me keep my job.

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    So as I mentioned they let me keep my job, however I did get this message from my new boss:
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    Good to see that all my hard work if getting the club to where they are today, and making them an attractive club to takeover, is appreciated and isn’t just being discarded by the new regime!

    Anyway onto more football matters and we would go into April, were we would face QPR,Southampton, Stoke and of course the big CL battle with Chelsea, in good spirits, on reasonable form and with new owners who will hopefully through a bit of cash at the club in the new season. Everything was looking good lets hope that as we move into May the same can be said.

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    So unbeaten in April including a massive win over Chelsea. The draw with Stoke was disappointing and much like the Boro game the previous month, I suppose I should be happy to have got something out of it! He real annoyance was that if we had won we would have moved into 3rd and have a 5 point cushion over 5th with 3 games to go. I can’t really complain about an unbeaten month and there was more praise for a few individuals in the monthly awards:

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    One of the best goals I’ve seen on FM in a while. At least 30 yards out and bent into the top corner. Screamer!
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    Good to see Olegs getting some consistency in his performances, he like all of my wingers have been up and down all season.

    All of that meant that with 3 games to go the table looked like this:
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    So level on points with Chelsea and 2 points ahead of City with them up next. A win there would almost guarentee CL place though with games against Liverpool in 8th and Bournemonth in 10th we can’t afford to count our chickens just yet.
    TheBattman and Wilko like this.

  2. Just catching up with this now. Good read and great progress made with Burton.
    Ralph2211 likes this.

  3. Quote Originally Posted by burkeyoa View Post
    Just catching up with this now. Good read and great progress made with Burton.
    Thanks mate. Those extra few years spent in the Championship are now appearing to be a good thing

  4. Looking good mate! Very impressive season. Shame the new owners aren't interest in how the club got where they are and are only interested in what you do for them going forward!
    Ralph2211 likes this.

  5. Tounkara looks great - where did u sig him from?
    Ralph2211 likes this.

  6. Quote Originally Posted by neavie pops23 View Post
    Looking good mate! Very impressive season. Shame the new owners aren't interest in how the club got where they are and are only interested in what you do for them going forward!
    Thanks mate. Gutted to be at work and not be able to get the season finished. I was more annoyed that they didn't want to invest in youth level/facilities.

  7. [QUOTE=Wilko;3085004]Tounkara looks great

    He's done ok since he arrived. At work at the minute so can't be 100% but pretty sure it was Freiburg. Definitely Germany and not one of the bigger teams
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  8. So the final 3 games of the season and with Champions League football within our grasp the lads just need to remain focused and maintain the form that had seen us become a very difficult team to score against let alone beat. A win against City would mean 1 more win would confirm our Champions League qualification. It really was squeaky bum time. Could we handle the pressure or would the experience of City and Chelsea, who had been in this position on many occasions tell?

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    An unbeaten run to the end of the season, but not the number of points I had hoped for. The draw with City was an edgy affair with neither team wanting to lose and a draw was probably a fair outcome in the end. Bournemouth was another even game and this draw meant that Bournemouth had taken 4 points off us this season, and they are a team we should be beating. The Liverpool game was like so many of the matches that we had dropped points in. 29 shots, 11 on target (not enough) and 60% possession as compared to Liverpools 8 shots and 1 on target. We should have won and handsomely at that, but they held out and frustrated us and I suppose that is a measure of how far we have come when teams like Liverpool are just hanging onto draws against you and trying to frustrate you. Now the big question is did all these dropped points cost us Champions League football or did Chelsea or City bottle it more than we did?

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    So as you can see a successful season but one tinged with sadness as we miss out on Champions League on goal difference, and by 1 goal at that! None of the 3 teams involved in the scrap really wanted it and up until the 73rd minute when City equalised against Stoke we were sitting pretty. Whilst everyone at the club is disappointed that the hard work put in across the entire season has ultimately seen us come up short there are many positives to take from the season, and if you had said win a trophy and 7th to me in August I would have snapped your hand off.

    Trying to look at the season in a positive fashion we finished higher than ever before, with 13 more points than the previous season. We had the joint best defense in the league and we conceded 32 less goals that the previous season, and we won a cup. All this in a season were we were tipped to be more likely to be involved in a relegation battle than a Champions League battle.

    There were of course a few personal trinkets that would not make up for missing out on the CL but that eased that pain a little.

    We had the best keeper in the league with the most clean sheets and at 29 he has a few years left in him.
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    Two of our players made the team of the year, though spoiler alert, one won’t be next year as Spurs won’t loan or sell him to us.

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    The club of course had their own awards night and the results were as follows:

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    It’s a real shame we can’t keep a hold of Filip, as he has been a real rock in our defense for 3 seasons now and has developed into a star, which is probably why Spurs want £69m for him!

    Another manager of the year gong for me and at this rate I’m going to need to build an extension on the downstairs loo as that is 3 years in a row now. You would think that I would be linked to a few decent jobs at this stage but nothing but Championship or struggling Premiership teams.

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    So with everything around the club wound down for the summer I sat down with the new board to see how we could move the club forward and build on our success this season. It turns out that they agreed with the majority of my suggestions and we were going to expand the stadium to increase income, improve the youth set up and was promised a decent budget to improve the playing staff to help us cope with the pressure of Europa League football (assuming we get through the qualifier).

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    So these budgets meant the we had £66m and about £300k in wages which I was more than happy with. As already mentioned we tried to sign our loan players to different degrees of success with Spurs refusing to let Filip join us but with top scorer Batista now joining on a full time basis.

    We also had differing degrees of success in the other areas discussed with the board. We were successful in improving our youth facilities and they are now considered level 2 and we will have established youth recruitment. They did however refuse to increase the Junior coaching budget. Then we got this little bit of info from the council:

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    So no bigger stadium. I just hope that this doesn’t begin to hold us back too much as we try to progress as a club. Anyway friendlies have been put in place and our scouts are working overtime in an attempt to find the new faces required to push us into the champions league.

  9. Any chance of a new stadium or would the board not entertain that? 12,500 is small for a Championship club, never mind a top end of the table Premier League club with European football on offer.
    Ralph2211 likes this.

  10. Quote Originally Posted by neavie pops23 View Post
    Any chance of a new stadium or would the board not entertain that? 12,500 is small for a Championship club, never mind a top end of the table Premier League club with European football on offer.
    I don't even have the option to ask for a new stadium!(I assume its in board requests) I feel that the lack of income due to our tiny capacity could be what ends up hindering our progress and possibly taking us backwards

  11. Pre-season was going to be a busy schedule with 2 cup competitions and numerous friendlies including a mini tour of Portugal were we are apparently we are very popular, who knew. That was something we decided we would do yo try and integrate new players and have a look at a few of the younger guys who are now looking to make the break into the 1st team.

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    A fairly successful pre-season were we only lost twice and both of them narrowly to pretty good opposition in PSG and Chelsea. What was most pleasing was that when we played ‘Europa League’ type opposition we were winning comfortably. Overall very pleased with pre-season and the fitness levels of the whole squad going into the season. You may have noticed a few unfamiliar names among the scorers so lets get on with the transfers.

    The outs first of all. In the main they are players who have slipped down the pecking order and weren’t going to get any football, with the exception of Jack Grealish who just kept whinging about not playing enough and wanting to leave, it was less hassle to sell him and as he was free the previous it was all profit.

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    Now the ins. We needed bodies in the centre back position, what with Spurs not loaning us Filip again this season and the departure of Monteleone, so that was were we spent the majority of our money. Like the strikers last season I think I may have brought in 1 too many, but in my defense I was expecting another to leave after I had accepted a £20m for Bonacic only for him to reject the move, by which time I had spent the money and bought in a replacement.

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    So a couple of big money buys, we made Batista loan permanent, a couple of youngsters with a bit of potential and yet the three signings I’m happiest with are the 3 bargains who I expect to make an impact in the 1st team this season. Anyway here are all the new faces:

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    So our 1st big money signing. Brought in to replace Filip after Spurs wouldn’t let him go. £21m from Man City seems a bit high but already a physical beast and team that with decent mentals and the key centre back skills and we will hopefully see him improve over his time with the club, especially given that he is only 21. Was a nailed on starter until I thought I had sold another defender.

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    So this is the guy that I had no intention of buying but as mentioned previously I had thought one of my CB were on their way out. Physically and mentally very good and decent in all the technical areas you would want in a CB. Will fight with Pavel for the starting position, though with Europe I’m sure both will get plenty of game time.

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    So another centre back and one that I definitely didn’t need, but when my scouts finished scouting him and advised of his £1.9m release fee I couldn’t resist. One for the future who will probably get a few games in the cups assuming we can progress. That said already a solid defender who can easily do a job if called upon.

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    Batista was our top scorer last season and finally joins full time after I had messed up last season and only managed to get him on loan. Can play in all of the roles we play in midfield and very well rounded and if I’m honest a snip at £10.5m.

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    Another midfielder and again well rounded. Fernandes can do it all in midfield which will probably plenty of games. Impressive stats all round make him a very good signing and at £1.8m an absolute bargain. Will start as a back up but could very easily push his way into contention for a starting place very quickly.

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    Cisse appeared on a scout report and once I had had him completely scouted I had to buy him. At 22 he has time to improve but with his stats how they are already I’m not sure there are too many areas he needs to improve. He will also start as a back up but will definitely be in the Europa Legaue and cup teams. Could easily force his way into the 1st team.

    So with new faces on board and a decent pre-season behind us we would head into the new season full of confidence and with the fixture computer being kind to us we would face 3 winnable games against Fulham, Bournemouth and Wolves in the first month of the season. I would like all 9 points but would settle for 2 wins. I have to be targeting a similar season to last year, though the bookies still think we are more likely to be involved in a relegation fight than a title challenge!

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    So a good start with 2 wins and a draw and if I’m honest the wins were pretty routine whilst the draw with Wolves was pretty lucky as we rotated the sqaud and very nearly payed the price. Still good form to carry into September were we would face Champions Man U, West Ham and Newcastle in the league, EFL cup action against QPR and also our first Europa League game against as yet unknon opponents.

  12. So a couple of bits of news before we move onto the football. Aug saw our player win both Young Player and Player of the Month. Good to see our youngsters performing well and getting the recognition they deserve.

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    Then of course we had the draw for the Europa League group stages. I also selected my squad were I took the decision to concentrate on the league and left a few of our bigger players out of the squad, that and the Home Grown rules meant that we were never going to be able to fill the squad. This decision did not go down well with a few of the lads we left out and morale took a bit of a hit.

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    That said I’m fairly happy with the group and confident that we can hold our own against these teams and would be very disappointed if we did not manage to get out of the group, even with a rotated side playing every game. Anyway on to the games we actually played in September.

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    So two league defeats and two wins couple with cup progression and a win in Europe mean a month that’s ok I suppose. If we had manged to get a result against Burnley I’d have been pleased but to lose to a side who are struggling as well is not good enough, it was made worse by the fact we had dominated and Burnley weren’t even in the game until they scored. That was in complete contrast to the Man U game were we were outclassed and only managed one shot and not even on target. Our wins were all in games that we dominated and we the better team.

  13. October was set to be another busy one with Europa League games with Krasnodar and Club Brugge, whilst in the league we would face Watford, Arsenal and Liverpool. Another 2 wins in Europe would almost see us through to the next round and I would expect a minimum of 1 win but the Arsenal and Liverpool games could go either way.

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    Good performances in Europe have seen us top our group with a 100% record and 9 points so far, however we are really suffering from a European hangover with defeats in both our games after Europa League. A credible draw with Arsenal was the only highlight of a poor month in the league. The 1 point from a possible 9 has seen us fall down the league and we now sit in 10th and six points off 4th. Maybe Europa League isn’t doing us any good, either that or all the rotation is hurting us, but whatever it is we need to sort it out and fats if we are to make the top 4.

  14. Sorry for the lack of updates, but I loaded an old save just as a bit of a change of scenery and have been totally sucked back in! I will get back to Burton soon though.

  15. Another busy month beckoned in November. EFL Cup action against Arsenal would kick off the month, throw in Europa League games with Club Brugge and Utrecht and league games with Spurs at home and trips to Chelsea and Stoke and this could be a very challenging month. If we can pick up a few points in the league and try and secure our way into the knockout stages in Europe and I’d be happy don’t really care about the EFL cup.

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    So not exactly what I’d hoped for. A good cup win over Arsenal is about the only bright spot of the month well that and the fact that we are through in Europe. It would appear that the are really struggling with the amount of games and seem to struggle after mid-week games. I;m beginning to think that my decision to leave out half of the 1st team squad from the Europa League squad was a bad idea, as the lack of consistency in team selection seems to be hurting us.

    December as always would be busy and add a EFL cup quarter final and the last of the Europa League games and it would add up to 8 games in December. The cup games would mean nothing as EFL isn’t a priority and topping the group in Europe was already guaranteed. In the league we would entertain Leicester and Southampton whilst we would be on our travels to Man City, Norwich, Crystal Palace and Fulham. Given our poor form in the league and the fact that it is beginning to look more like a scrap to stay up than a run at the European places, it could be either a very good month or very bad.

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    Not a good month, though I suppose it could have been worse. Too many draws in games that we should be winning and as mentioned we could be sucked into the relegation picture very quickly, being only 5 points off the drop zone at the turn of the year. I have played about with the formation and made it more defensive from the Norwich game on and I suppose 1 goal conceded suggests that it has worked, however as none of our strikers seem to be able to hit any sort of goalscoring form we are still struggling to pick up points not helped of course when you get a player sent off in 21 seconds!

    January would be a chance to concentrate on the league with only FA cup games to consider apart from the league and a they are played instead of the league we can finally get a full week between games to recover and prepare for the next. I fully expect to beat Fleetwood in the cup and with games against some of the teams at the wrong end of the table to come I hope to pull away from danger and move towards the safety of mid-table.

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    We also sent a couple of players out on loan and sold a few who weren't playing. Wasn't looking to bring anyone in and didn't though did have a long look at Julian Drexler but could afford to pay him £155k per week nor did I want to pay him that.

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    TheBattman and Bennieehh like this.

  16. 4 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats in the league has seen us shoot up the table. I am a little annoyed that we didn’t beat Bournemouth though full expected top of the table Man U to spank us, but overall a very pleasing month.

    More of the same in February please.

    February would see further FA cup action against Newcastle in the 4th round and the return of our European adventure, lets hope we can get to grips with it and keep our league form as it was in January. With Watford and Arsenal in the league and a 2 legged affair with Feyenoord in the Europa League it would be a busy enough month.

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    So comfortable wins against Newcastle and then Villa in the subsequent round of the FA cup sees us through to the 6th round where we will face Chelsea. Progress in Europe with a 3-1 aggregate win over Feyenoord will see us face another Dutch club in Ajax in the 2nd knockout round, however all the cup success is offset by our continued poor league form, only 1 point this month and we slip back down the table and start to look over our shoulder again.

    March would again see us battle on 3 fronts in FA Cup, Europa League and Premier League action. As mentioned Chelsea will be the FA Cup opponents whilst Ajax provide the European challenge. Domestically we will face Liverpool, Chelsea and Stoke in the league. We really need to pick up a few points in these games!

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    So straight forward in Europe as we move into the Quarter finals comprehensive 4-1 victory over Ajax, however we exit the cup on penalties to Chelsea (we missed all our spot kicks!). Mixed results in the league with Liverpool put to the sword, Chelsea spanked us then a disappointing draw at home to Stoke, That said 4 points from those 3 games probably isn’t too bad, though relegation is still a real possibility, whilst I’m beginning to think winning the Europa League and therefore Champions League qualification is also a real possibility. Anyway onwards to April with Shakhtar Donesk in the Europa League and also a few tough league games including Man City and Spurs!

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    Ok so April in the league really didn’t go as planned with 4 straight defeats with the most fustrating thing being that despite the scorelines we were in all of the games and matched the teams for pocession shots and shots on target but just can’t seem to find the net. On the plus side we did make it to the semis of the Europa League where we will meet Sporting. So as we go into the final month of the season we have 3 games to secure our premier league status, we only need a point, but given our form and the fact that we haven’t even managed to score in the league for 2 months could be difficult. On the flip side we are 3 games from Champions League qualification and being Europa League champions. Quite a contrasting season I think you’ll agree.

  17. What tactic do you use?

  18. Quote Originally Posted by Henzeh View Post
    What tactic do you use?
    Either a 4123 or a 433 wide. I can post a scrennshot if you like

  19. Quote Originally Posted by Ralph2211 View Post
    Either a 4123 or a 433 wide. I can post a scrennshot if you like
    Yes that would be good if you could mate.

  20. So this is the one I would use most often.
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  21. I would use this against when I was trying to hold a lead or against the bigger teams especially away from home.

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    As you can see not a massive difference in the 2 systems, one is just a little more defensive and we play on the counter

  22. Oh and you have just motivated me to play this save again, something I haven't done in weeks!

  23. Thanks for that mate, i appreciate it. Which one did you use in the championship? Do you use control for all matches apart from holding a lead and against big teams? Also what training and OI's did you use?

  24. Quote Originally Posted by Henzeh View Post
    Thanks for that mate, i appreciate it. Which one did you use in the championship? Do you use control for all matches apart from holding a lead and against big teams? Also what training and OI's did you use?
    First couple of seasons in the Championship I used the counter tactic but it was the control tactic that won me the league and that I continued to use in the Premier League. I try to stick to the control tactic as much as possible but when up against the Man Us and Chelseas of this world especially away from home I will swap to the counter one.

  25. OIs are the same on both tactics. Are you playing as Burton?

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  26. No mate, playing as Nottingham Forest. Got to play as the team I love Might give Burton a go after reading this though!
    Last edited by Henzeh; 19/06/2017 at 09:01 PM.

  27. So been away for a bit, what can I say a combination of life and a bit of boredom with FM, but after a few questions about formations etc I have been playing the save again. So having left you with us needing a point to stay up and being in the semis of the Europa League I suppose I should get on with the update.

    Norwich, Palace and Southampton would be our Premier league opposition and despite our poor league form I was confident of beating the drop, though more as I didn't think any of the bottom 3 would win all their games rather than being confident that we would win ours. Among that would be the 2 biggest games in the clubs history with a Europa League 2 legged semi final against Sporting. I hoped we could get to the final and secure Champions League football but again I wasn't confident despite our European form being much better than our league form.

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    So 2 draws and a defeat was enough to ensure that we were playing in the Premier League again next season. We ended up 10 points clear of the drop but not good enough if I'm honest. We really struggled to balance Europe with league football and as you can see from the results it is something we will have to do again next season.

    That brings me neatly onto our European adventure. Two 1-0 wins, both with very late goals (85mins in both cases) was enough to see off Sporting and put us into the Europa League Final against Marseilles who had seen off Liverpool in the other semi. The Final itself was stressful. We fell behind to a Dembele goal early doors but managed to equalise before half time. Then despite being in control of the game we couldn't score again and we headed for extra time. I had a bad feeling we were going to be the better team and lose but in the 110 minute we got a penalty ans Sisto dispatched it to bring the trophy back to the Pirelli and secure our place in the Champions League, though we have to play a qualifier when I expected to be straight into the group stage, never mind just hope our Champions League run last longer than 2 games!

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    So the Final League table looked like this. 15th place just is not good enough, but we still managed to achieve the goal of Champions League football so not all bad I guess.

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    Given our poor performance in the league it would be a summer of trying to find the right signings that will allow us to compete both domestically and on the European stage. During the summer I did get a couple of offers to move into international management which I of course turned down!
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  28. So armed with our Champions League money myself and the scouting team set about spending it bringing in 8 players for a total of £60m. We sent a few guys out on loan in the hope that they would gain the necessary 1st team exposure as well as selling a few players who had fallen down the pecking order. This brought us in £18m and a profit on every player except one.

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    Not going to say too much about the outs other than in the cases of those going on loan I'm hoping that they will eventually make it to the first team. Those that were sold either didn't play too much last season or have just been replaced this season and I don't anticipate them getting too much game time this season, so I cashed in on them.

    The ins were all in positions that I thought required improvement and or depth. I'm pleased with the quality that we managed to bring in and hope that the additions made will be enough to allow us to attack both home and abroad this season.

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    So lets have a closer look at the guys brought in to help Burton Albion in their first Champions League campaign.

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    Having let our back-up keeper leave on a free we needed a replacement. I had looked at a few 18 year olds who would hopefully progress and just to keep Jordan Pickford as first choice for the next few years, however when this guy was placed on the transfer list for under £5m I could say no. Will probably be first choice with Pickford playing cup games etc but if he was to play poorly I have full confidence in my back up, so there could be a bit of a fight on for the position between the sticks.

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    One of the 2 full backs I brought in. I felt that we were lacking a bit on both sides and so looked to strengthen. £9.25m from Juventus shows he has experience at a big club. All round an excellent defender and decent going forward. At 24 we could yet see a bit of growth and will be 1st choice this season.

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    Much like his teammate on the other side he is solid in defense and handy going forward. At 26 probably won't get much better than he is currently however I'm more than happy with the £8.25m spent on him and I'm sure will help us tighten up at the back, again will be first choice!

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    Solid if unspectacular. Brought in on loan from Valencia just to have an additional body at centre back. I don't expect him to play too many games unless we get some sort of injury crisis, but looks like he could do a job.

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    Picked up on a free after being released by Man City and then sent out on loan. I think he may have something about him and if not he was free so can be sold on for a profit. Don't expect to see him in the first team anytime soon though.

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    Listed by Leverkusen and something that I wanted to add to the team was a right footed right winger so the Mexican fitted the bill. Really quick with excellent crossing and dribbling and for under £7m he could turn out to be a bit of a bargain and I do love a bargain!

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    Another option on the left wing, and as mentioned before wingers have tended to blow hot and cold so good to have another option. Pretty well rounded for a winger and at the age of 20 I expect some improvement from him. May well start the season as first choice.

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    The final signing and the most expensive, however at £18m I still think he was good value. I felt we lack some depth in attack and when Stevos goals dried up we didn't have anyone else stepping up. Rodrigues is quick, strong good in the air with really good dribbling and finishing. If he can hit the ground running we could have a very good striker on our hands. He will have to fight with Stevo for the number 9 shirt but may well be a starter at least to begin with.

  29. So pre-season would be the usual mix of teams we should hammer and teams that we would struggle against. I was keen to play a few Champions League type teams to test us against some of the best teams. There would also be the usual 4 team tournaments that I organise every year to try and bring in a few quid as with a stadium that only holds 12000 we need to generate every penny we can especially as the wage budget continues to grow!

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    So a mix of comfortable wins a few defeats against top opposition and a win over Real Madrid, so happy enough with how things went, especially as due to the number of games I was able to get almost all of the first team squad match fit heading into the season.

    August would bring the European Super Cup against Man City before kicking off the premier league campaign against Leicester. Champions League qualifiers with Marseille would sandwich a trip to Wearside and Sunderland. We would round the month off entertaining Bournemouth. Progression to the group stages of the Champions League is a must and I'd settle for 6 points in the League. I will probably treat the Super Cup as another friendly and perhaps rotate the squad against City, though a trophy to start the season is also appealing!

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    So not a bad month all in all. Against City I decided to go with my strongest team in the end and it was a pretty even game with them sneaking a 1-0 win. Not too disappointed as it is nothing more than a glorified friendly. In the league we were unbeaten so I can't really complain and happy to see my new striker in the goals, however I think Sunderland and Bournemouth will be towards the bottom of the league so it could be important points dropped. We did make it to the group stage of the Champions League winning on away goals, bit the second leg was a nerve wrecking affair. We had more possession but they had more shots. Both my centre halves scored above an 8.0 so that'll tell you everything you need to know!

    Onto September were after the international break we will have Spurs, Man U and Boro in the league Portsmouth in the EFL cup and of course our first ever Champions League group stage game against Zenit. With PSG and Napoli also in the group we could do with picking up a win against Zenit as points against the other 2 may be few and far between. I'm targetting 4 points in the league and even a heavily rotated side should be enough to get past Pompey in the cup.

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    So two good wins to start the month and another two goods wins to finish the month. Unfortunately a really poor performance against man U see us get hammered 3-0. But 6 points from 9 will do especially as we progress in the cup and make a winning start to life in the Champions League so overall a good month.

    October cold e the month that sorts the men from the boys though. We have PSG and Napoli in the Champions League along with Man City Chelsea and 3rd place Palace in the league. We round the month off with EFL cup action against Fulham. I don't think we'll get any points in the Champions League and just hope that any defeats aren't too heavy and don't effect our league form too much.

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    So that was a month to forget! The sad thing is it went pretty much as I had feared. Right from the moment we were 2-0 up against Napoli yet managed to lose to a 92 minute winner I had a sinking feeling. Chelsea probably deserved the win in the . next game having shaded possession and shots. The Palace game was very 50/50 but the defeat summed up how things had been going for us. By the time the PSG game rolled around I had convinced myself that we were out of the Champions League and even rested players in order to prioritise the Man City game. The draw we picked up with City I was hoping would be the turning point and ro back it up with a win in the EFL cup was pleasing.

    November would start much how October had been with games against Liverpool, who were there or there abouts in the league plus another game with PSG were I had again decided to play a rotated side. After that though would come a run of winnable games, and give how October had finished we really needed to win some games, so picking up points against Wolves, Burnley and Stoke was a must, whilst the game with Zenit could be very important when it came to 3rd place in the group. 9 points in the league and a win over Zenit would leave me a very happy man.

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    So from a really bad month to a really good month. Unbeaten in the league and we seem to have discovered our shooting boots again. My only disappointment from the month was that we actually dropped any points in the league as we had been in control of every game and should have beaten Liverpool and Stoke as well. The defeat to PSG was again with a rotated side however the win over Zenit meant we would definitely be playing European football in the new year, even if it is in the Europa League.

  34. December in England is always a busy month with the Christmas fixtures but throw in a Champions League game and an EFL cup Q Final and we would play 8 games in December so a bit of squad rotation was going to be required. Thankfully a lot of the games should be winnable which makes rotation a bit less of an issue. I'd be looking for 4 wins in the league plus progression in the EFL cup. The Champions League is a dead rubber so it will definitely be a weakened side for that one.

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    So not a great month but not a bad one either. We move into the semis of the EFL cup and our rotated side hammer Napoli. In the League we were unbeaten but some of the teams we played means it feels more like points dropped than gained. However we are moving back up the league and our now in the top six and back in contention of Europe.

    January would be another busy month with 9 games that would include a 2 legged EFL cup semi with Leicester and we if course enter the FA cup with a 3rd round tie against Swindon. With a couple of really tough league games against Spurs and Man U along with a couple that we should be looking to pick up points in like Sunderland and Boro January could be a very interesting month.

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    So easy progression in both cups with Leicester and Swindon dispatched meaning our first chance for silverware and of course qualifying for Europe would come in the EFL Cup final against Man U at the beginning of March and having just stiffed them 4-1 we would be pretty confident. In fact the only blot on the copybook this month was the defeat to Boro, which ended a long unbeaten run which stretched back as far as October in the league.

    February would see us back in cup action with FA cup tie against Leyton Orient, and the first knockout round of the Europa League with Kobenhavn. A couple of big league games as well with games against the teams who sit just above us in 4th and 5th in Chelsea and Palace. Its going to be a big month!

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    So an up and down month. We manage to progress to the 6th round of the FA cup with routine wins over Leyton Orient and Forest in the 4th and 5th rounds. We continue our good cup form in the Europa League with victory over two legs over Kobenhavn. However our form in the league continues to be patchy. Defeat to Chelsea and a draw with Palace leaves us 6th and there is now a bit of a gap developing between ourselves and 4th place Chelsea.

    March would see more cup action with Man City in the FA Cup and Bologna in the Europa league. Our 3 league games would see us take on 3 teams below us in the league, meaning a chance to pick up valuable points and push for the Champions League places. This would all be preceded by our 1st shot at Silverware for the season when we line up against Man Utd in the EFL cup final. I have to target a trophy 6 points in the league and progression in the cup would be a great month.

    Here's how the league currently sits with us having 11 games to play.

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    So there would be no domestic cup glory this year thanks to 2 penalty defeats against the 2 Manchester clubs. The EFL Cup final we probably could have won. Man U had a man sent off but managed to score on the break from the resulting free kick. We then equalised right from the kick off and proceeded to dominate the remainder of the game but didn't manage to get the goal. As we headed towards extra time I was confident the man advantage would be enough to see us through especially as they were tiring. Then on the stroke of full time our right winger Jurkovs picks up a 2nd yellow for a foul deep inside Man Us half and suddenly our advantage was gone. Extra time was edgy from both teams and then penalties were we were really poor missing 3! The City game could have gone either way and again we failed miserably from the spot in the shoot out.

    On the positive side 2 wins and a draw in the league keep our faint Champions league hopes alive whilst 2 pretty straightforward wins over Bologna see us through to the next round of the Europa League and perhaps the defense of our title is on.

    April would bring 3 very winnable league games and a Q final in the Europa League against the same team we defeated narrowly in last years semi, Marseille. Minimum of 7 points and progress to the semis again please.

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    So April went very much as I had hoped though I do feel like the draw with 19th placed Derby may come back to haunt us come the end of the season. In the Europa League, just like last year we manage to see off Marseille after 2 very even games on the away goals rule, setting up a semi final place and a very tough game against a very good BMG side.

    May would see us take on Norwich, Man City, BMG and Sheff Wed all with 7 days, good to see that FM takes scheduling seriously! We then have the 2nd leg against BMG and round the league season off with Arsenal and West Ham.

  39. So the final month of the season was upon us and Champions League qualification was still on in both the league and the Europa League. The problem was 4 games in a week which with us already having a few injuries was going to stretch our squad, it may be a case of pioritsing either the League or Europa League, whatever happened we were going to be faced with some very difficult selection issues, and the real possibility of not making the Champions League regardless of what we do!

    So how did we do?

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    So we started the month in good form with a draw against Norwich with a rotated squad, followed up by a win over Man City which put us right in the mix for 4th place, as that had been our game in hand, It also meant Man U were confirmed as Champions! We then went to Germany with a few injuries, suspensions and a lot of tired legs and put in a top class performance against BMG and walked away as deserved 2-0 winners and putting us firmly in the driving seat of the tie and favourites to make the final.

    With bottom of the table Sheff Wed up next to round off an exhausting week followed by the 2nd leg of the semi against BMG and Arsenal and West Ham still to come there was no resting for the boys.

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    The draw with Sheff Wed was definitely down to tiredness and those 2 points dropped meant that we were relying on other results going our way in order to get 4th in the league. The 2nd leg against BMG saw the lads return to a bit of fitness and winning ways with a comfortable 2-0 win meaning we had a shot of retaining the Europa League, though Benfica would be a tough test in the final. Defeat to Arsenal sealed 4th place for Chelsea and meant that all that was left for us to play for was 5th as defeat against West Ham in the final league game of the season would see them leapfrog us, so to get a draw and maintain 5th with a weakened team was pleasing and meant that fitness wasn't the issue it could have been for the Europa League final.

  40. So onto the Europa League final, and it now had increased importance given that we had failed to get 4th in the league and therefore missed out on Champions League qualification, this was our second bite of the cherry!

    We went into the game not in the greatest form and this was reflected in the betting with Benfica being slight favourites. we were confident that if we played well we would win.

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    So as you can see Benfica definitely had the better of the game with more possession, shots and shots on target, but we had set up to play on the counter so I wasn't really surprised by these stats, however what about the most important stat, the score?

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    So we did it with a late goal from sub Stevo and we had managed to upset the odds and retain the Europa League. Of course this also meant that we would be dinning at Europe's Top Table again next season with Champions League qualification confirmed, lets just hope the board can come up with a few quid to allow us to strengthen the squad again.

  41. So the season had finished and whilst it has to be viewed as a success given that we finished 5th in the league, lost in the final of the EFL cup and were also runners up in the European Super Cup. Winning the Europa League and making the QF of the FA cup means it was a good season but not a great season. we need to start getting into that top 4 and maybe even picking up a few more trophies. However we have been given a budget of only £27m and £97k wages which when you think of the type of player we need to bring in to improve the squad would mean may 1 or at a push 2 players. This is the first time that I have felt that our tiny stadium (12k capacity) and therefore low income has started to hold us back. I'm not sure how to progress with this side of things given that we have been refused planning permission for both a new stadium and and extension to our current one. One thing is for certain we may need to get rid of a few players to finance the purchases of those required to take the club forward, we may also see a few youth players promoted to replace those squad players who are on bigger wages but not getting much in the way of game time.

    Anyway a few odds and ends to tie up the season:

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    So I scooped manager of the year which I'm very happy with. we also had the annual awards and here are the winners:

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    Not sure I would entirely agree with the team of the year though. I probably wouldn't have Pickford in goal, Christie and Fernandes in the centre of the park, whilst they did play well when called upon were both back up players who only started 7 and 15 league games respectively so again probably would have been my choices for those slots. Finally as much as I love Stevo up front I don't think you could overlook top scorer Rodrigues for the start up front.

    So into the off season and lots of scouting to be done as we try to find the couple of players we need to take us to the next level.

  42. So with pre-season over and the new season about to kick off there are just a few things I need to clear up/rant about. Firstly my rant about lack of transfer funds was probably a bit premature as the board hadn't set the budgets yet. We ended up with £65m transfer and £250k wages. The second thing is other teams bidding for your players! Now I know if I transfer list someone and/or offer them out I won't get offers of their actual value, however when you have a keeper who is valued at over £5m and a full back who is £4.5m and you get offers of £700k and £0 respectively, and to then rub salt into the wounds they want you to pay 75% of what you are currently paying them! Really! Finally I forgot that I organise friendlies on this save so ended up only playing 4 games.

    Anyway rant over, how did we get on in pre-season? Well we at least played some decent teams despite my incompetence. AC Milan, Valencia, Athletico Madrid and Marseille would provide a stern test. With the Milan and Madrid games being testimonials maybe they wouldn't be as tough as expected.

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    So good results and performances all round with the Marseille result being especially pleasing given how close our Europa Legues games have been with them over the past 2 seasons. With so few games played it does leave us going into the season with a number of players not fully match fit and with 6 games in August including the Super Cup against Chelsea, Spurs in the league and of course our Champions League qualifier we better hope that we hit the ground running.

  43. So the season proper is just around the corner, and we kick off with our first shot at silverware in the European Super Cup against Chelsea, but who have we brought in to help us get to the next level and actually win trophies and who has been shown the door because they are no longer good enough? Onto the transfers made so far:

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    So a couple of older heads don't get their contracts renewed and leave on frees. Wilson scored plenty of goals for us during his 6 years at the club and was £375k well spent. Da Costa was another good servant with 4 years at the club and averaging over 7 for 3 of those years, but age was catching up with him and some new blood required. We gave the usual younger players going out on loan that I'm not even going to talk about. However both the Popescu's on the left have both gone, one on loan the other on a full time on a £9m deal to Everton. The winger wasn't getting the game time he needed whilst the full back again wanted more game time whilst I needed more home grown players.

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    So a couple of younger players brought in to go into the U23s and hopefully improve enough to make it to the first team. A couple of back up full backs, who mean not quite the drop in quality that there was last season, a central midfielder and keeper round off the ins. The window is still open and any further ins will depend on players leaving, however there are a few deals on the outs in the offing.

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    Came though as an offer from his scout, and I wasn't really looking for a new keeper as I was happy with the 2 we had, however once I had him scouted I couldn't not buy him for £575K. Really good all round though does punch a bit more than I'd like. As you can see is already worth over £11m and will probably become 1st choice, and mean the end of Pickford at the club (assuming I can get a decent offer).

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    Ben Neal was brought in from Liverpool and will start as a back up however there isn't too much difference between him and Torres and at 22 he can still improve and may well give Torres a run for his money and the starting spot at left back. Solid defensively but with room to improve going forward. Mentally and Physically very good, a signing I'm more than happy with.

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    Lindsay was brought in on a free after he was released by Arsenal. solid in all the areas you would want for a centre half and at 18 will hopefully improve whilst with the U23s. Having said that with the injuries we have pick up in that position pre-season he will be 4th choice centre back until at least Christmas, and may get a run in a few cup games.

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    Da Costas replacement as back up right back. Mentally, physically and defensively very solid, could do with improving a bit going forward but 22 he has plenty of time to grow. As with his mate on the left he will start as back up but will be putting pressure on for a start in no time and will probably get plenty of game time.

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    Another youngster who will slot into the U23s squad and who can hopefully one day make it to the starting line up. He has plenty of work to do and improvements to make so if he makes it it will not be for a few years. But good physically is a good start but will need to improve everywhere else. But for £160k a gamble worth taking.

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    The only one of our signings who will go straight into the starting line up, or at least once hes fit he will. Wasn't my first choice but the English player I was after was twice the price and wanted £50k more in wages, and went to Man City, so give it a couple of seasons and I'll get him for next to nothing. He is just a very good DLP and will slot perfectly into both formations we play.

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    The one other thing that happened over the summer. Was very tempted

  46. So August kicked off in the European Super Cup against Chelsea and it was a thriller, Palace, Wolves and Spurs would provide the league opposition whilst as would obviously be the case given that I turned down the job we got Bayern in the Champions League Qualifier, which I thought was incredibly difficult draw.

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    So the Super Cup put me through the ringer. 1-0 up early we went into injury 2-1 down before an equaliser sent us into extra time. 3-2 up shortly after kick off of injury time but the lead didn't last long, 4 minutes to be exact. As things seemed to be drifting towards penalties Stevo popped up with his 3rd of the game and our first trophy of the season was in the bag!
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    After the ups and downs of the Super came the bore fest against Palace. I did rotate the team a little given that we had played 120 minutes 3 days earlier but still need to be winning those games. 1-1 away at Bayern I was happy with however given that we went 1-0 up in the 88 minute I was completely gutted when the scored beyond the 1 minute of injury time we were meant to play, but an away goal is what I was after. Next up was Wolves and they were dispatched with ease including a goal of the month for new boy Doraci. The 2nd leg against Bayern was a game we dominated and were probably unlucky not to have won in normal time but we got the win in extra time thanks to a header from a corner from Aaron Moore, and we made the group stage for the 2nd year running and we have knocked out a European heavyweight on the way. Away to Spurs was never going to be an easy game and to pick up a point was pleasing. Not so pleasing was old boy Filip scoring the Spurs equaliser! How could you?

    So a few more transfers to tell you guys about now that the window is finally closed. First up a youth prospect brought in from San Martin in Argentina. Paz looks like he could be a good player if he can progress as I hope, if not £1.2m isn't a big outlay. He has gone out on loan to Spain as he has no work permit as yet.

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    A few departures as well. One that I'm not happy with but I forgot he had a release fee and didn't give him a new contract, but hey we brought in a new keeper already who is going to be 1st choice. The others had fallen down the pecking order and I was not too bothered about them leaving!

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  47. So September will see us in action on 3 fronts. West Ham, Liverpool and Leicester would provide the league opposition. We continue our Champions League campaign when we entertain A. Madrid whilst a difficult EFL cup 3rd round draw we see us travel to New White Hart Lane to take on Spurs. This could easily go either way and we could lose all 5 games or we could get results and progress in the cup, Champions League and the league.

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    So another unbeaten month means I can't complain, however 3 draws in the league means that we have only won once in 6 games which isn't ideal. However more good form in the cup competitions see us top our Champions League Group after a good win over A. Madrid, whilst a rotated side destroy Spurs on their own patch to progress to the next round of the EFL Cup.

  48. October would again see us attacking on 3 points, with more EFL Cup, Champions League and League action. We would face trips to Parkhead & Milan in the Champions League, home to Boro and away to Man Utd before back to back games against Bournemouth in the EFL Cup and League means a very difficult month ahead.

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    Two draws in the Champions League mean that we stay top of the group and I'm beginning to think about getting to the knockout stages. The draw with Man U had me thinking not more draws but 2 wins over Boro and Bournemouth see us move back up the League to 6th and towards the Champions League places. A penalty win see us into the Q Final of the EFL Cup and Wembley is one step closer.

  49. Just caught up reading all this, great work. I live nearish Burton and I think they have done a great job in real life and it looks like you have done great with them. I just started save with m team, Shrewsbury Town, getting towards business end of season frequenting playoffs at moment despite being highlighted as a team that would face relegation. We made the EFL cup final too, lol, I don't know how was bit strange, we came up against a reserve arsenal side, that featured Walcott and Welbeck but they beat us 4-2. It would have been bit silly if we won EFL Cup as a league one side. Anywho enjoyed reading your journey. Any bargain championship level players you would recommend (if I get here that is)
    Last edited by ShrewsburyBear; 03/10/2017 at 01:21 PM.
    Ralph2211 likes this.

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