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Thread: The County Championship

  1. #501
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    May 2020

    The season draws to an end before hopefully a major overhaul of the personnel at the Britannia Stadium.

    Matches and Roundup

    Just two games remained. There wasn't a great deal to play for, we could possibly move up a place, maybe drop a place or two. The league had already been won by Chelsea, two relegation places were to be decided but we didn't play anyone in the bottom six so we just had to play out the games.

    Our penultimate game took us to the King Power Stadium in Leicester. a side who despite being 14th were also safe from the drop.

    An unchanged side took to the field and it played out like a game at the end of a season.
    Some of my players were clearly already thinking about their summer holidays and were just not at the races.
    Andy Carroll scored early and when Chris Smalling put through his own net early in the second half, both teams stepped down another gear to play out the game. It was not our best performance by any means.
    Leicester 2-0 Stoke

    And on, to the final game of the season. A season where the club I was in charge of were rock bottom and looking doomed when I took the helm but now would finish solidly mid table and looking to build for the next season.
    The final game would see us visiting Arsenal. They were in a happy place as they had won the FA Cup a week before. A win here could lift them as high as third as well.
    I didn't hold out much hope of getting a result. We had a very marginal chance of rising a place so the players would not be very up for it. Their priority would be avoiding injury and ending the season after a lap of honour of the ground and saluting the loyal away fans after the game.
    There would be no holiday for me though and it may well be that it was the last time some of the players were seen in a Stoke shirt. Some may have played their last game already.
    It remained to be seen.
    Tom Ince was selected so he could say a goodbye to the fans. Adam Armstrong also as he had expressed a desire to move to a bigger club.
    Arsenal could call on the likes of David Alaba, Isco, Alexis Sanchez, Christian Benteke and even Neymar if they wished to.

    All of them played but it was actually us that made the first move as Andy Hopkins scored to give us the lead but we were soon pegged back. But not to be outdone, we retook the lead when Ryan Freeman fired in from the edge of the area on 25 minutes. This time we held the lead through until half time where I told the players to prepare themselves for an onslaught as Arsenal wouldn't want to be beaten in their final game of the season.

    I was right. They bombarded us with efforts and I could only be proud of the way the team played. It was to their credit that it was only a moment of brilliance from Neymar that brought the sides level.
    A decent enough way to end the season.
    Arsenal 2-2 Stoke





    Transfers

    IN -


    OUT -



    And so, season's end. And a very respectable 10th placed finish which brought us a windfall of 28m. Much better than relegation. Unbelievably, I am now the clubs most successful manager in recent history as that is the best ever finish. Records began in the 2014/15 season and Mark Hughes led the club to 13th and 12th placed finishes before being sacked halfway through the next season. Paul Lambert took over but couldn't save them, getting relegated in 18th but he did get them back at the first attempt finishing 2nd in the Championship. He was then sacked with the club bottom which is when I arrived.
    In addition to that, the club has never made it past the fifth round of the FA Cup or the fourth round of the League Cup. Improving these may be my best route out of Stoke.

    May brought no home match so not a lot of money coming in other than the prize money but at least we had a healthy looking bank balance again. Income came in at 29.02m and expenditure 4.14m. This means the balance bumps itself up to 23.6m The board are offering me a Transfer budget of 23m. I would hope to make a bit more with some sales as well.

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  3. #502
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    A limp last month but understandable and good it didn't really cost you league positions as every position worth a couple of million these days

    A nice war chest to go summer spending - you going for quality or quantity?

    Amazing you are most successful PL manager at Stoke

  4. #503
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    That part of the season didn't really count. The hard work starts now.
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

  5. #504
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    Let's see what you can do over the Summer
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  6. #505
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    June 2020

    Rebuilding time. Hopefully!!

    Matches and Roundup

    No matches of course but round up of the work done during the month.

    The first piece of work that I did was call Adam Armstrong into my office. He had made noises about moving to a bigger club. I had held out so as to not upset anyone as the season was going on. As soon as the season ended, he was placed immediately on the transfer list. He would hopefully raise me some transfer funds (valued at 22.5m) and get a wage off the books (49,000 a week).
    There was no early interest unfortunately.

    Ince was soon to be leaving and that would save me another 55k a week on the wage budget and so it was to looking for replacements.
    I soon made a move for a goalkeeper. One that many will recognise and one that I feel will save at least 7 or 8 points over the course of a season. This will create real competition for the goalkeepers jersey.

    Next was a move to bolster the defensive positions of the team. Bought primarily as a defensive midfielder, he is equally able to slot in at centre back. The fact that he is Icelandic raised a few eyebrows and gave Stoke fans memories of the near decade that the club was owned by an Icelandic consortium.

    One outgoing early in the month was Ryan Gauld finally making his move to West Brom. But it was soon back to incomings as a Dutch central defender joined the club. Someone who would add a bit of steel to the back line he moved from Dutch side Ajax and will be vying for a first team berth.

    Champions Chelsea, who had won the league by a massive 24 points strengthened even further by adding Gareth Bale to their ranks for a cool 45m. This was a great signing for them but not one that I was looking at. Their was a shortlist I was working to. It just really depended on whether I could shift some faces before as at the moment I was worried that I had managed to add some faces, make it my team but the wage bill had yet to come down.

    As the month went on, I found myself being frustrated by the continued rejecting of bids for the players I was watching. Yes I was interested in getting the man but not at the expense of a hefty chuck of pay packet.
    Tom Ince made his move to Manchester United and so that saved us another chuck of money to help with the rebuilding. And soon after, the seasons TV rights money came in which gave me another 8.5m. This was added straight to the budget for transfers.

    One that didn't trouble the club accountant though was the next man in. Marko Pesonen would come in as a young hungry right back and would pressurise Gamboa and Salomonsson. If one or the other, or even both, loved it. One left almost instantly as Cristian Gamboa moved on to Sunderland.
    Reserve goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell then moved on to Blackburn for a healthy fee and taking 25,000 a week off the wage bill swiftly followed by Simon Cox who was taking up 46,500 a week.



    Transfers

    IN -

    Ondoa - 5m


    Sverrir Ingi Ingason - 4.1m


    Virgil van Dijk - 5m


    Marco Pesonen - Bosman



    OUT -

    Ryan Gauld - Bosman


    Stephen Moss - Free Transfer


    Lloyd Blundell - Bosman


    Brendan Tait - Free Transfer


    Tom Ince - Bosman


    Cristian Gamboa - 5m (plus 25% future fee)


    Matthew Moran - Free Transfer


    Glenn Holden - Free Transfer


    Jonathan Mitchell - 4.3m (plus 25% future fee)


    Simon Cox - 1.9m



    The rebuilding has begun and I am happy with the names that I have managed to get through the door so far but there are maybe 6 or 7 others that I am looking at and definately two that I am desperate to get signed. It may need to wait for further outgoings first though.

    It terms of people leaving, I have got a few big wages off the books but I am looking to get a few more gone before the season starts. Some players could have a future if they pulled their finger out. My fear is they won't so I would rather get rid and replace than keep them on.

    For now it is the start of July. A chance to look at those who have run down their contracts. There could be some gold in there!

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  8. #506
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    Wow, Ondoa looks immense!

    4.1m seems a lot for the Icelandic player, especially with just 7 for marking! I fear he may go down as another Icelandic dud in Stoke's history

    Love van Dijk signing though, wish we could sign him IRL.

    Good to see a lot deadwood heading out, looks like you could do with Armstrong off the wage bill too. Especially with that price tag!
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  9. #507
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    Ondoa

    Cracking 'in' signings!

    Ingasson is a beast DM

    Takes the p!ss when someone like Cox on 45k pw so good they are going!

    How much kitty left?

    Tried zeroing Campbell to gauge interest then negotiate when clubs come in? That can boost the coffers

  10. #508
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    By Campbell, I'm assuming you mean Armstrong?

    Mixing up your Newcastle strikers are we?!

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  12. #509
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    Quite some turnover in the playing squad. I wonder how many of the eleven that stared the last game will be on the pitch for the start of the next one.

    Has Ryan Gauld done anything yet to live up to his billing of the next Messi ?
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

  13. #510
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    July 2020

    Continued times of remoulding and reshaping the squad, ready for the new season.

    Matches and Roundup

    No matches of course but round up of the work done during the month.

    Five days into the month, I was amazed when I received a bid from LA Galaxy for James Alabi. Not because a bid had come in but the size of it. Will Keane followed him out the door and another 50k a week was shaved from the wage bill.

    I followed that by picking up a bargain transfer listed Jonjo Shelvey to add to the midfield. He would essentially be Tom Ince's replacement in terms of creativity in the side.
    Apart from that, it turned out to be a very quiet month really in terms of ins and outs. I made a few bids for players which were turned down by their clubs and we received a number of bids for players that I had transfer listed but way below a value that I would be willing to let them go for.

    It would be back to the drawing board in the early days of next month before the games would start and another Premier League season would be underway.



    Transfers

    IN -

    Jonjo Shelvey - 1.3m




    OUT -

    Luke Kinnear - Free Transfer


    James Alabi - 8m (plus 25% future fee)


    Will Keane - 1.6m (plus 25% future fee)




    If I was honest, I was disappointed with what I had managed to do during the month. Only Jonjo Shelvey had come in and whilst not the worst player in the world, he wasn't going to turn us from and bbottom half team to league winners on his own. The outgoings were good and helped me add more to the transfer budget. I do still have Salomonsson's 60,000 a week, Adam Armstrong's 49,000 a week and Ruben Jenssen's 41,500 a week on the books which I would love to get rid of.

    We made 11.97m in the month whilst spending 6.16m so a healthy 5.8m profit. The transfer budget was now a very healthy 48m. I may have to dip into it before the league starts.

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  15. #511
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    WTF is that fee for Alabi Keep forgetting you've got the inflated fees though
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  16. #512
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    Hmmmm - you really need to get the quality in but at least some more dead wood is leaving

  17. #513
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    Is it really an aim to turn the team you took over into League winners for this season, or is Cup winners a more realistic target ?
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

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    Just read all 21 pages of this story. What a great idea!

    There have been some absolutely bonkers transfer fees in this save. Ebfatz is a Charirman's dream!

  19. #515
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    That must have taken you all day
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  20. #516
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    WTF is that fee for Alabi Keep forgetting you've got the inflated fees though
    Even without the inflated fees it was still a surprise to get that much for Alabi. Couldn't believe it when the bid came in. Couldn't hit accept quick enough!!


    Quote Originally Posted by Kingsley View Post
    Is it really an aim to turn the team you took over into League winners for this season, or is Cup winners a more realistic target ?
    Realistically, it's gonna be a cup. But this default 4-1-3-2 has surprised me at every club so far. So I'm not ruling it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wenky View Post
    Just read all 21 pages of this story. What a great idea!

    There have been some absolutely bonkers transfer fees in this save. Ebfatz is a Charirman's dream!
    Great to have you along for the ride.

  21. #517
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    Ondoa is a class signing, and that fee even with inflated prices for Alabi is unbelievable.

    I know you'd like to get a few more out the door but I'd definitely be getting into that 48m, seeing Chelsea just spent 45m on Bale it'll be hard for you to overcome them in the League, but strengthening will be needed for a good cup run which is definitely your best chance of success.

  22. #518
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    August 2020

    The league kicks off and we restart our quest for silverware.

    Matches and Roundup

    Instead of dipping into my transfer budget, I looked first to the free transfer market to see if there were any hidden gems. What I found was experience, Premier League experience. I could turn them down. A Uruguayan centre half and England's record goalscorer, whilst young Miquel Angel left for pastures new before leading into the first game of the season at home to Liverpool.

    This may give us an insight as to where we stand going into the season as Liverpool finished fourth last season but I personally wouldn't be reading too much into it as anything can happen in the first few games of the season.

    Despite the new signings, just three of them made their debut in the match. I stuck to what I knew and I knew that some players would do a good job. Some others were already key to what I want to do.


    It was a typical early season game and it had long periods of both sides looking to work out the opposition. Both sides had their chances but it was us that took one as on debut, Wayne Rooney broke the deadlock on 65 minutes. It proved to be the winning goal.
    One down point was an injury to Chris Smalling, who went off after just 17 minutes with what looked like a serious knock.
    But overall, I couldn't be too unhappy as we had kicked off the season with a win.
    Stoke 1-0 Liverpool

    Smalling's injury was not as bad as feared and he would probably only miss a week or so with a gash on his leg. He might have to fight to get back in the side though. Diego Godin deputised well after coming on as sub so as long as his legs were fresh and he could keep his form, he would keep the spot.
    The next game was our first away game of the season and saw us travelling to Sunderland.

    The Black Cats were another good side and finished in the runners up position last season. This would certainly be a test of our mettle. One thing I did know was that we had to drastically improve on the away form that we showed last season. We had to be more solid, more stable and certainly more able to dig in if things weren't going our way.

    Smalling was obviously missing and he was replaced from the start by Godin. His centre back partner was also new as the starting berth was handed to Virgil van Dijk to make his debut. It was throwing him in at the deep end a bit but I felt he was up to the task.

    The old away day frailties took just three minutes to rear their head again as we fell behind to a James Wilson goal. They doubled their lead on 22 minutes and from that position there was no way back. As the goal went in, I left my position in the technical area by the touchline and slumped down in my seat in the dugout. It was essentially game over in this one after just one quarter of the match.
    Both centre backs and the defensive midfielder were having shockers and if those positions play badly, it resonates throughout the whole side. Somehow, we didn't concede again in the match but it was very humbling to watch.
    Sunderland 2-0 Stoke

    We were drawn against Southend United in the League Cup 2nd Round but that was for the future. Our next game would be at home to West Ham.
    A Monday Night Football encounter to end the month and a chance to get back to winning ways. It was my plan to give Marko Pesonen his debut at right back but he pulled up injured in training so was unable to compete.
    Fred Onyedinma came into the midfield in place of Ryan Freeman and Nathaniel Chalobah replaced Ross Killock in the defensive midfield position.
    The final change saw Rooney dropped to the bench as he wasn't fully fit and replaced by Saido Berahino.

    Things started slowly but went downhill quickly as Will Hughes scored for West Ham. A very ironic goal against me considering I had a 25m bid for him turned down in the week.
    My players rallied though and brought themselves back into the game but it was some time before we got any reward.
    Four minutes into the second half, Jonjo Shelvey picked up the ball 25 yards out and drove the ball hard and low past the keeper for the equaliser.
    It was a great goal and it helped the whole team grow in confidence.
    In the 66th minute, we were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and that man Shelvey again stepped up and curled on over the wall and into the top corner of the net to put us ahead.
    He was clearly sending me a message. He clearly was showing me that he felt we didn't need to reinforce our midfield. He felt we were fine in that department. He was showing me he was the man to take us forward. I took his point onboard.
    Stoke 2-1 West Ham





    Transfers

    IN -

    Diego Godin - Free Transfer


    Wayne Rooney - Free Transfer


    OUT -

    Miquel Angel - 2.5m (plus 25% future fee)




    A decent enough month with two wins from three. I'm just happy to have the league campaign underway and start to get a picture of where we might sit in this division.

    We have almost a break even month as we made 4.75m in the month whilst spending 5.63m so only a small loss, less than 1m. I need to bear in mind that I won't be selling players every month though to balance the books. 47.1m in the bank 47m of which I can spend if I wish.

    Two home matches saw us bring in attendances of 32721 and 34293 are consistent on what we were getting last year.

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  24. #519
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    Solid start!

    Did you say you signed VVD as well? If so, screenie?

    Sounds like a lucky win over Pool

    Still think you are being too cautious not spending the but I guess you know what you want

    Easy enough to draw in League Cup

  25. #520
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    Decent start, but the league is not won in August. Godin still looks very good, but I wonder how long Rooney will be able to play. Some of his physical attributes are already looking borderline.
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

  26. #521
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    Looks like Rooney now

    Decent start indeed - Nice to see you're almost balancing the books too.
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  27. #522
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    van Dijk screenie in the June update further up the page.

    I did try and spend some money but nobody was budging on the players that I was after. When 25m for Will Hughes gets rejected, you know you are on a bad slope.

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  29. #523
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    September 2020

    A good start to the season and something to build on as the season really gets going.

    Matches and Roundup

    Ahead of us lay just a four game month and the first of those saw us seeing us host Brighton at The Brit. This would come after an international break which saw a huge bid come in for one of my centre backs which I just couldn't turn down. I did though ask for my regular cut of any future fee but the bidding club were having none of that and withdrew their bid.

    After the long break, everyone was fully fit so we went into the game unchanged.


    The likes of Rooney and Austin available from the bench. Chris Smalling and Lascelles not able to make it into the first team side either.
    Brighton were a decent side who finished 8th last season. We would need to be at the top of our game to come out of this with anything.
    You would not have known they they were the side that finished comfortably top half last season. Or that we were the side that had struggled and flirted with relegation for a fair chunk of the previous campaign. We played them off the park and had the vast majority of possession, shots, territory. But we could not make the breakthrough. I was cutting a frustrated figure on the side lines. What ever I tried didn't work.
    That was until the 75th minute when Andy Hopkins cut in from the right and hit a low left footed drive which was parried by the keeper. Saido Berahino followed in first and had the simple task of slotting into the empty net for what would be the winner.
    Stoke 1-0 Brighton

    Eight days off now until another stern test of how far we have come. Arsenal away at the Ashburton Grove Stadium. That gave time for everyone to recover fully. It gave time for Fred Onyedinma to get injured during training. It also gave time for a bid to come in for central midfielder Andy King. I would consider it whilst sitting in the dugout during the game.

    King himself stayed on the bench as it was Ruben Jenssen who replaced Onyedinma in the starting line up. I was hopeful that we could have a good go at them on the counter but we would need to start the game well. I was still considering these facts as I shook hands with opposite number Rudi Garcia before the game.
    I also knew though that we would have to be very tight at the back as Arsenal boasted a forward line that included Neymar, Isco, David Silva. Christian Benteke and Alexis Sanchez didn't even make the starting line up for the game.

    It was a pretty even game. We actually had more shots on goal than they did, we completed more passes, we had more corners. But the problem was, we only grew into the game after they had opened the scoring through David Silva. After that we got better, but only to a point where we were cancelling each other out. Despite the result, I was happy with the teams performance and we would have to take the positives from the match.
    Arsenal 1-0 Stoke

    Nine changes were made to the team for the next match as it was a home tie in the League Cup Second Round against Southend United. Only the captain Aaron Cresswell and Jonjo Shelvey kept their places. It was a chance for players to impress.
    It was afr from a bad side. Ospina was in goal, Maya Yoshida played at centre half, Sverrir Ingason and Marco Pesonen made long awaited debuts and with a forward line consisting of Charlie Austin and Wayne Rooney, we were expected to breeze through to the next round.

    Yoshida last less than three minutes before going off injured. Lascelles his replacement. We opened the scoring just five minutes later though as Ryan Freeman arrived late into the area to head home Marco Pesonen's cross.
    Charlie Austin had added a second before Wayne Rooney was withdrawn after injury and replace by Berahino. Austin scored his second and Berahino got on the scoresheet before half time.
    Shelvey got himself on the scoresheet in the second half and Charlie Austin completed his hat trick before Southend got themselves a consolation goal. But we were comfortably through and it had allowed me time to think about what to do about the Andy King bid.
    Stoke 6-1 Southend

    Andy King left bound for Nottingham Forest. We received a helthy amount of money in exchange. It did however leave me pretty short of decent central midfielders. I had a decent three but there was not much depth past them.

    We found out the extent of the injuries to Yoshida and Rooney as the centre back would be out for two weeks with a twisted knee, Rooney just a week with a bruised thigh.

    Stoke were bound for a Super Sunday match at home against Leicester City to end the month. Ondoa returned in goal, Smalling replaced Yoshida at centre back. Jonny Williams and Ruben Jenssen replaced Ryan Freeman and Josh Scowen in midfield and Andy Hopkins started up front in place of Rooney in what was a bit of a mix between the side that had been playing in the league and that played in the cup.

    We carried on exactly where we left off against Southend as we scored three times and had a goal disallowed in the first half alone. Jenssen, Hopkins and Austin getting on the scoresheet.
    I was particularly impressed by Sverrir Ingi Ingason who was playing defensive midfield. His first league start and he was absolutely bossing the game. Tackles galore, excellent passing and he could head the ball as well, not losing a header in the whole half.
    He was doing exactly what I bought him for and was replicating the performances that I had seen from him when I scouted him whilst he was at Lokeren in Belgium.

    Hopkins got his second and our 4th in the second half before again Ondoa lost his clean sheet and conceded a consolation goal to the opposition.
    Again, with the scoreline, I wasn't too bothered that he had conceded but he himself was livid and that is something I love to see. Passionate and striving to improve.
    Stoke 4-1 Leicester






    Transfers

    IN -


    OUT -

    Andy King - 8.5m (plus 25% future fee)



    A month that just kept on getting better. Goals rained in wherever we were playing. Successful progression in the cup as ell.

    The player sae of Andy King wil help us as we made 11m in the month whilst spending just 4.2m so a helathy 6.8m. I need to bear in mind that I won't be selling players every month though to balance the books. 53.95m in the bank 54m of which I can spend if I wish.

    Three of the four gmes were played at home, one of them the cup. Attendances came in at 34995 and 34250 for the league games and a healhy 25946 for the cup game. I was very happy about these and glad to see the people still flooding through the turnstiles.

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  31. #524
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    Another decent month mate, you were always going to be up against a star studded Arsenal side but no disgrace in losing 1-0, in fact growing into the game after the goal rather than putting your heads down has got to be a good sign.

    A great win over Southend as well, I know you were expected to win that game and easily but hopefully it can be the start of a good cup run, as stated earlier that is probably your best chance of silverware with Stoke.

  32. #525
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    Good start to the league Can't believe you lost to Arsenal though, disgusting!
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