It’s not often that I do a traditional save update season review type blog these days but after the following brief introduction to the finalities of how I am going to approach the whole save objective I feel compelled to do so. What a dramatic start to our first Welsh Premier season, read on and I hope you enjoy.
Finalising “Lifting Wales”
If you read my last blog you should be pretty fluent with the (quite simple) save concept by now, which even if you didn’t is basically to lift the Welsh league’s European coefficient and in doing so increase the nation’s number of European competition places over a period of time. The measly starting point for this endeavour is currently 1 Champions League qualifier round place and 3 Euro Conference places, again in the very depths of the early qualifying rounds, meaning at the current point it is going to be almost impossible for any team, including the mighty Welsh PSG .. I mean TNS, to ever make any real progress not to mention even getting to the group stages.
To give you an idea of where we are at at the start of the save in terms of that coefficient, Wales are currently standing at 52nd place in the world with a tiny 4.125 score, compared to England’s 99.284! If you are interested in reading more about how this is worked out then read back to the first blog here which has lots more detail.
That said, my general approach is thus, linked as these actions are to the factors that affect coefficient ranking, which is basically the league clubs consistently performing better in Europe:
- PERFORM BETTER IN EUROPE AS A CLUB:
Whichever club(s) I am with need to perform better than they are currently to help raise the coefficient.
- PERFORM BETTER AS A GROUP OF CLUBS:
Seed other clubs with much better players when I’m in a position to do so.
- JOURNEYMAN IT:
Develop and move so that more clubs get better.
- START LOW, AIM HIGH:
The usual suspects of TNS and Connah’s Quay etc are already qualifying consistently for Europe I thought it would be a good idea to start lower and add to the mix by developing yet another team to compete for places (see part 2 below).
- NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT BOLT-ON:
Side focus but would be lovely to raise Wales’ national status and bring some decent players home!
So with all that in mind let’s see how the first season went!
One step forward two steps back
So much for starting low, aiming high! I REALLY could have done without being told that we had slipped already in the coefficient table at the end of my first full season ffs. What made it worse was it had nothing to do with me as I had deliberately chosen the absolute bobbins Cefn Druids who had consistently finished in the bottom 3 for the last 5 years running as per point 4 above. Talk about gutting, this already set me back a year!
Oh well, onwards and upwards, let’s rewind to the start of the season and more about little Cefn Druids, the poor neighbours of lil’ ol’ Hollywood Wrexham whom I have decided to drag towards European glory!
First off, let’s get one thing straight, we are not talking Championship level here, not even League One or Two, but about part-time top half Vanarama level at most at the squad starting point. This has it’s advantages in that transfers can sometimes be easier given the amount of reasonable frees and amateurs knocking around, although of course this is vastly outweighed by the disadvantages of an incredibly low rep and budget that is dwarfed by TNS and the consistent success they’ve had over the years having won it 13 times in the last 20 and until recently 8 times on the bounce before getting knocked back by the rising Connah’s Quay Nomads in 2020-21.
So all that said, where to begin? By setting my stall out tactically of course and focusing massively on recruitment right across the board. I won’t bore you will all the details as this early LLM-type save stuff is pretty standard with some team improvements and a simple 442 cracking the ball forward, suffice to say that at the time of the league split, when the 12 team league divides into two after 22 games into a higher “Championship Conference” and a lower “Playoff Conference” it was looking like this:
With a board target of mid-table I was reasonably happy with this until I lost the next 4 games and got the dreaded carpeting to discuss my future before shithousing my way to 3 wins and a draw to receive this lovely message:
So far so good but now for the important bit, that European qualification, which you may have thought was now beyond me given I was in the lower half. However this isn’t the case as 7th position gives you a place in the brilliant Euro playoff final where you literally have an internal playoff to decide who is getting that last Euro Conference qualifying place. God, I love this league!
Cometh the hour, cometh the monobrowed boy
Zoom forward then to this beautiful FM moment when we faced Haverfordwest in a 6ptr to potentially grab the slot with just two games to go:
This was also notable because likkle monobrowed 16 year old Lloyd Jones here had newgenned his way through the door a few weeks before and had played a blinder in his first sub appearance, earning him another bench seat in this most crucial game of our season – could his beautiful eyebrow thatch, his discerning dead eye stare and his sublime left foot be deciding factors?
Course they could 🙂 coming on on 60 mins at 1-1 the stage was set for him to get the goal that sent us above Haverfordwest! Get in lad!
Sadly though I then experienced that all too familiar FM feeling as we failed to win the last game only for Haverfordwest to destroy their opponents and grab that Euro playoff slot, the knobheads 😦
Still though, not a bad season all told, with the mid-table finish that was expected and run of the mill XG pts performance that showed we were right where we should be given the chances we created, which I’m happy with:
So there you go, a predictable start in which I managed to keep my job, live up to expectations, dabble with a little European hope and even find a potential club legend newgen! If only it wasn’t for that slip in the coefficient table at the end of the season it would have been pretty, pretty fine indeed.
Going forward into season two I am hopeful of a few things:
- That this year’s teams in the Euro competitions get the fingers out of their arses and get that coefficient up again
- That I can continue to keep my job
- That I can get us into that top half for our first Euro dabble!
Fingers crossed till next time!
Thanks for reading,
Daz aka @fmheathen everywhere