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It took me nearly a year to get back into international management. I had to wait until after the UEFA European Championship to start applying for a new role. After the competition, like most international competition, a lot of managers either got sacked or stepped down from their position. One of the teams stood out to me, a team close to home.
After being knocked out of the UEFA European Championship in the group stage having lost all of their games, Wales were in need of a new manager. A couple of days after applying, the Welsh FA approached me and offered me the job as the Wales national team manager. Now, obviously, this meant again that I would be splitting my time between club and country. But, it does not mean, like the image below suggests that there would any conflict of interest. Something has to be done with the Welsh national team, going out of the UEFA European Championship in such a miserable fashion tells me that something hasn’t gone right. It might take me some time to figure out what. But I’ll have the time and the patience to sort it. The next competition for the Welsh national team is the UEFA Nations League. Currently, the Welsh team are in Division A, Group 1 alongside Spain and Russia.
UEFA Nations League
It was this competition that demonstrated how much work is going to be required to turn the Welsh national team into a better side than what they are currently. The UEFA Nations League is a bid to improve the quality of international football and reduce the number of meaningless friendlies.
“The UEFA Nations League creates more meaningful and competitive matches for teams and a dedicated calendar and structure for national team football,” UEFA said, who believe the new format addresses concerns national associations raised about friendlies no longer providing adequate competition. Weaker teams will also face teams of a similar level – so there will be fewer thrashings and more meaningful games for fans.
As well as the appeal of being named National League winner after the Final Four showpiece event for top teams, weaker teams will have better opportunities to qualify for European Championships – the bottom 16 in the rankings are guaranteed one of the 24 qualifying spots.
There are 55 teams involved, split into four leagues (A, B, C and D) based on their UEFA ranking at the end of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers. Within the four leagues, teams are split again into groups, which are made up of either three or four teams.
Within each league, four teams will be promoted at the end of the cycle, while four teams will be relegated. They will then play at their new level in the next competition, which starts in 2020. The winners of the four groups in League A will qualify for the Final Four competition.
I don’t know how Wales ended up in the top group for this competition. Quite frankly the team is in need a shakeup. I want them to play my style of football and I know that is going to take some time for the national team to adapt to. This Nations League never had any positives for Wales, it started badly with a two-nil defeat to Spain and got worse with a five-one and four-one batterings at the hands of both Russia and Spain. The competition ended with a three-one loss against Russia which put an end to the Nations League for Wales.
A miserable Nations League for Wales. Finishing bottom of the group with no victories and a torrid minus eleven goal difference.
The focus now for the Welsh national team in the UEFA World Cup Qualifiers for the upcoming FIFA World Cup now based in Australia and not the original Qatar. Before that time though, I’m going to have to reassess the Welsh national team. Things have to improve if I am to guide the team to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
2022 FIFA World Cup
In preparation for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Australia, my Wales team were drawn in Group 2 alongside Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Gibraltar and Liechtenstein during the Qualifiers. I was rather pleased with this draw as I felt that with my management, style of play and time between the failure of the UEFA Nations League, I felt I could build a team strong enough to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. My main concern was the limited National Pool. The Welsh Premier League is not known for developing world-class Welsh players. The well known Welsh teams such as Swansea and Cardiff play their games in the English leagues. This meant that the majority of players in the Welsh national team would be playing for teams outside of Wales.
For the style of play, I have stuck to what I know best. The tactical that I have used at both Wealdstone and Nottingham Forest. Rather than worrying about keeping clean sheets. I wanted to focus on the attacking play but offer defensive support in higher areas. The offensive aim is to have three options which a potential option of four if the right-sided Inside Forward is in the right position. The main playmaker is the Roaming Playmaker in the middle with Deep Lying offering defensive support. The aim for the defence is to keep a simple defensive line. The Ball Playing Defender has numerous offensive options with various attacking players.
Using this tactical style is was able to guide the Welsh team to an undefeated FIFA World Cup qualification. From an attacking point of view, you can see that a large number of goals were scored. On the other hand, there were very few goals conceded by the Welsh team during this qualification stage.
As I’ve already said, the Welsh team went undefeated in the Qualification stage for the FIFA World Cup. Playing a total of 10 games, winning eight and drawing two.
The goals against stood at six goals which seriously impressed me as it showed that the defence could hold their own. However, there will be harder teams to defend against in the upcoming FIFA World Cup. The amount of goal scored is naturally, a positive. It shows that the team can attack with the numerous attacking options available in the final third.
So, after the qualification, it was a matter of waiting for the Group Stage draw. My Wales team would be drawn out of pot three meaning that ere would be at least two teams in the group that would be ranked higher than Wales.
The Group Stage draw was tense. My Welsh team were drawn in Group G alongside South Korea, Ivory Coast and France. I’m rather apprehensive but positive, I believe that I have built a strong enough team to prepare for this World Cup. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t imagine my team going all the way and winning the competition but I envisage a successful competition in relation to the quality of the Welsh national team.
To prepare for the FIFA World Cup, I organised a few friendlies close to the host nation, Australia. In March, I organised friendlies with China and Kazakhstan. The China game ended 4-2 to Wales with stand out performer Tyler Roberts chipping in with two goals. Roberts is a player that I hope to build the team around on the attacking standpoint for the FIFA World Cup.
Before the games in May, I was asked to submit my preliminary 30-man squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup. I had a rough idea of who I wanted in the preliminary squad as I started planning using the National Pool after the failure of the team bad results in the UEFA Nations League. The stand out for selection was Gareth Bale who at the time of selection was carrying a twisted ankle injury.
After the selection, I had Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong friendlies to look forward t. Again Tyler Roberts chipped in with a few goals in both games. Gareth Bale recovered from his twisted ankle injury in time for the Hong Kong game. During this game, he chipping in with two goals to show that he as ready for the upcoming FIFA World Cup.
After the friendlies, it was time to select the team for the FIFA World Cup. Picking a squad for any international competition is difficult, you’re limited to twenty-three players of which three have to be GKs so that’s twenty outfield players to cover eleven players on the pitch. With this in mind, I look for players that are of quality but are versatile and can play in a variety of positions. It’s is important, as the manager to remember what tactic(s) I’m going to use. With that in mind, I had to select a number of defenders and midfielders but few centre-forward. But, the versatility comes from players that can play in a variety of attacking positions. After the 30-man preliminary squad, seven players had to be cut. See the squad that will be going to the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the unfortunate ones that were cut from the preliminary squad below.
So, the squad has been selected and we’re off to Australia for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. I’ve already said that I’m apprehensive going into this tournament. Going into a group with the second best-rated team in international football, France make me nervous. However, I feel that I have selected a team good enough to get through the group stage, from there we’ll see how it goes.
The first group game saw Wales take on South Korea in Austalia’s Allianz Stadium, a total of 44,000 fans turned out to see this opening match, the first FIFA World Cup match for Wales in many years. During the first half of the game, I wanted to give the team a good amount time to settle in the surroundings and get playing the football that I want the team to play. Even though I wanted this, it did not take long for the attacking threat to work. Ben Woodburn scored Wales’ first goal in this World Cup. A nice piece of back and forth play with the players waiting for right opportunity to pull the trigger on an attacking pass. That pass came from Tom Lawrence who sent the ball through to Ben Woodburn who danced around the defenders to slot the ball home. Not long after, disaster struck as Gareth Bale was stretchered off with a moderate back strain after a collision. This meant that Bale would potentially miss the rest of tournament. After one of my attacking threats was taken off, I brought on Harry Wilson from the bench, another attacking threat.
Wilson being versatile, I was able to move Tom Lawrence into the attacking midfield position to help with the attacking passes in the attacking third. After the goal, the team settled more into the game and just before half-time a corner from the left which was headed out of the box saw Ben Woodburn get a shot away which took a deflection off Lee Kangin to make it 2-0. A goal just before half-time was crucial as it deflated the South Koren side.
In the second half, South Korea came out more defensive which tasked me to either just tell my team to keep the ball and plug the gaps in an attempt to make that vital attacking pass or push more players forward leaving the defence open to a counter attack. I decided for the first option, with my team already winning the game there was no need to push players forward and give the opportunity for a counter attack. With the team keeping possession of the ball, the South Korean team got a little frustrated and started to tackle more harder which eventually took its toll on Tom Lawrence who took the brunt force of a tackle and was forced off with a minor injury, nothing to serious but with Bale already injured I did not want to push more pressure, so I took him off in the 57th minute and sent on David Brooks in his place.
The option to keep possession of the ball proved to be the right one as substitute Harry Wilson split open the defence to play through Tyler Roberts who knocked the ball into the goal to see the game finish 3-0 to Wales.
With Bale potentially out for the tournament, I was already one player down for the game that could determine the how well the team would do in this tournament. The game against France saw my team head to Brisbane, Australia to play in front of 52,500 fans in the Brisbane Stadium. It was this game I was really nervous about but, I wanted to remain confident. I changed the tactical approach based on the prediction of the attacking threat that France would put out. I wanted to strangle the game and frustrate the French. I decided to drop the central midfielders to defensive positions and used one Deep Lying Playmaker on defensive duty and Segundo Volante to offer some attacking threat with late runs into the other half. The wingers were dropped deeper but had their roles changed, the right-sided winger deployed as a supporting winger, the left-sided winger as an inverted winger. You can see below how the tactic was set out and how it looked throughout the game with the average positions.
It’s all well and good changing things but, it has to work. In my opinion, this change worked. The defensive approached soaked up the pressure from the inevitable French attacking players – Mbappe, Griezmann and Martial. There is, however, only so much soaking up that you can do in a game before you have to hit the attack button. In this game, similar to the South Korea game there was an early(ish) goal. France forward Griezmann scored the first goal of this game. It was then that I hit the attacking switch, and nine minutes later after dancing past a few French players into the penalty area, Harry Wilson was brought down in and a penalty awarded which Ben Woodburn slotted away. After that goal, the game settled down with little chance coming from either side. With about five minutes to go, until halftime David Brokes playing the Shadow Striker role chipped in with a goal to make it 2-1 to Wales going into halftime.
In the second half, I kept the same tactic and same initial plan of soaking up pressure from the French. But, like any soaking up tactic, it takes a moment of sheer greatness to get a goal. That moment came from Tiemoue Bakayoko who clearly got frustrated with the closing down by the Wales defensive players and took it open himself to take a shot from range that took GK Danny Ward by surprise as it went flying past him to make the game 2-2. After that goal, the game stayed at that and ended in a solid draw. As the Wales manager, I was pleased with this result. There was a possibility that I could guide the team through the group stage undefeated.
The final group stage game saw Wales face Ivory Coast at the Parramatta Stadium where 30,000 came to see who will top the group and who will finish second.
For this game, I chose to go back to the more attacking tactic. The team needed to score goals with France currently leading the group with a superior goal difference. The team have shown that they are able to get the job done when necessary, they are able to score goals and defend effectively. In this game, the attacking players demonstrated their attacking prominence. Ivory Coast, already sitting bottom of the group and out of the tournament had nothing to lose and did exactly what I did to France, soaked up at attacking pressure. It was a plan to worked as the first half ended goalless. To mix things up, I decided to move the players in the attacking areas around. This confused the Ivory Coast defence as they had to adapt to defending against another set of players in their area. This allowed Tyler Roberts to shine by opening the account and just over ten minutes later doubling his account by scoring again to make it 2-0. That’s how the final game in the group ended, now it was a matter of waiting for France’s final game against South Korea to end.
As I could have predicted after the Ivory Coast game, France won their game against South Korea and finished top of the group with seven points, level with my Wales team. It was goal difference that decided the first and second places in this group. France finished top by having a goal difference of plus eleven having scored thirteen goals and only conceding two. Wales finished second by scoring seven and conceding two during the group stage. It was the France draw that decided this group. The moment of magic late in the game that allowed France to see the game end in the draw saw France finish top of the group.
The group stage was successful. But, there is a negative to finishing second in the group stage of the World Cup, that negative is that you end up facing a team that finishes top if their group. For my Wales team, Belgium was the team that they would have to face to progress in the FIFA World Cup. Managing team fitness in the World Cup is difficult, it is the main reason that a manager has to either have a backup tactic that fits the 23 players or a selection of versatile players that fit into a base tactic. I went with the latter which I am undecided as to whether it was right or not. Two major injuries throughout the game did not aid the final result. Losing Gareth Bale early in the game with a serious back injury just made the team lose that attacking umph. Attacking players did not seem to turn up during this game. However, defensive players tried their utmost to prevent Belgium from scoring. But, late in the game, with a little more than five minutes to go, Romelu Lukaku battleaxed his ways through the Wales defensive line and found the one and only goal that shattered Wales’ dreams and thus ended the journey in this year’s FIFA World Cup.
The title of this post suggests a change of club, that is exactly what has happened. I was approached by numerous clubs in higher divisions throughout last season but, I wanted to stay with Wealdstone and push for the promotion.
The Wealdstone board tried their best to keep me at the club. Having been promoted the board set me the target of avoiding relegation from League Two. They tried to entice me with more money and the highest wage budget that I’ve had since I joined the club. However, whatever the board did, I was always going to move on. The club that approached me had just been promoted to the Championship from League One. This was my chance to manage in the Championship, one division away from the top division in English football, the Premiership.
Nottingham Forest, a club with a rich history. Former European Cup winner, Division One champions, FA Cup winners. A club, I was proud to join. It was an opportunity to try similar to what I had hoped to achieve with Coventry, guide the team back to the Premier League.
The Nottingham Forest board offered me a two-year contract where I will be paid £5,000 per week. I initially agreed to keep the club’s Director of Football, keep a positive atmosphere in the dressing room and refrain from applying for jobs at other clubs. In terms of transfers, the board want me to sign high profile players. We’ll have to see how well that goes with a budget just under £1.5m and a wage budget of £180,000.
Joining a team that had just been promoted to the Championship was great motivation for me. Having been sacked from Coventry and built up my career, surpassing them in my managerial career and now I am one division way from the top division of English football, the Premier League.
With Wealdstone, I was able to guide them to back-to-back promotions to the Football League. Although last season I did not guide Nottingham Forest to promotion, I have a feeling that though the team will be tipped for relegation as most promoted teams are, I know that I can build a team ready to challenge in the Championship.
I am of the firm belief that for a club to develop, it has to have a solid plan for player development. This is not the player development of the first team, though that does factor into the development plan. But, development of the future players coming into the squad via the youth intake. Their coaching is going to aid the development of this club. With that in mind, the first thing I asked the Nottingham Forest board was to increase the junior coaching budget. The board agreed and would increase the budget to match the levels of the club current ambitions. What that statement meant was anyone’s guess, but nevertheless, the coaching budget would be improved and I was happy with that request being accepted.
In terms of developing the current and future crop of first-team players, I made the request of the board to improve the club’s training facilities. Luckily being promoted to the Championship and a very tight control of finances in the previous season, the club had some money to spend on improvements. The board agreed to spend £400,000 improving the club’s training facilities. The new training facilities would be completed in September of this season meaning that the work would take place over this pre-season.
The final request I made to the board was for myself. Being a manager in the Champions, I wanted to improve myself as a manager. I asked the board to send me on the next coaching course the Continental B Licence, a course which takes 6 months to complete. The board agreed and would cover the £1,200 fee.
Looking ahead to the football, for pre-season like most pre-season I like to select a variety of friendlies. Selecting a variety of friendlies is also important for me during pre-season. By variety, I mean a mixture of strong and not so strong opposition. I usually go in a order of playing weaker teams are the start of pre-season and work up to stronger opposition towards the end. However, this is not always set in stone. Sometimes I mix it up and check which teams I have played during past pre-season and see if I want to play them again or not.
For team training, during pre-season, I work on a lot of things to prepare for the upcoming season.
– Ball Control
– Team Cohesion
The above is the order of team training I set during any pre-season, I make sure that the intensity for ball control and fitness is set to high and the final selection of team cohesion set to very high. The reasons for this, I will explain below.
Some people might think that working on ball control during pre-season is pretty strange. However, my theory is that players after finishing any season players go off on their holidays and potentially don’t kick a ball for a few weeks. Getting them back for pre-season I like my players to be comfortable on the ball before progressing further into pre-season. Another reason for selecting ball control is it links the style of football I like my teams to play. I have always been a simple, play football type of manager. I don’t like the long ball style. Therefore, making sure players can pass and control the ball, play simple football is a must. Selecting ball control early in pre-season enables the team to work on this and get used to the style I want my team to play.
Once I am happy with the players’ ball control, I move on to what most would see as the reason for pre-season – fitness. During this stage of pre-season, usually the second or third week. I like to make sure that during the pre-season friendlies that players are rotated so that all the players are getting sufficient enough game time to increase their fitness. But are not being overplayed or underplayed. I stated earlier on that the fitness intensity is set to high so the player rotation during this stage of pre-season is very important. Primarily to avoid injuries, but also to increase whole team fitness.
For the final stages of pre-season training moves on to team cohesion. During the latter stages of pre-season, it is important to note that your team could have brought some new players in, or you could have promoted some players from the U21’s or U18’s to the first team for the upcoming season. With this in mind, I always like to save team cohesion until the end of pre-season. Usually, during this stage, my team is playing stronger opposition and so working on team cohesion during these games is a good thing to do. If the player I have can play in with the style of football I want during this stage of pre-season then I know that pre-season has been successful. If not, then the opening stages of the season are even more important.
Finally, for pre-season, I like to set up what I call paired training. By this I mean I will have a youngster training with more experienced players in the squad. Not only does give the chance for a youngster to work with an experienced player, it also gives the players a chance to bond. If anyone is going to do this during their pre-season, I would advise if you have marked certain players from the U21’s and U18’s as potential first-team players that you get them linked up with a player and get those players playing together in games during pre-season. This gives the more chance to work on team cohesion and most importantly give young players a chance to learn from the best and also play in your tactical setup.
To build a team ready for the Championship, I went a bit mad when bringing in new players. The notable first player should stand out. Barry Crook from Wealdstone, this was the player I tipped to be picked up by higher quality teams, After a scout report of a potential of four stars. I put in an initial bid of his value and the club countered with £24,000, I was happy to pay the £24,000 and bring in a player which I hope will have a good future at Nottingham Forest. The second player, Ben Cooper, from Wealdstone was not a transfer of my doing, it was a transfer already agreed. If I was honest, I would not have brought Cooper to the club as I do not see a long-term future for him at the club. The next players were all and as I said before, I went a bit crazy with the number of signings. I ended up raiding Manchester United for good reason, after a short amount of time at the club. I approached the board to ask for a Senior Affiliate. After one month, the board returned with four clubs, one immediately grabbed my attention, Manchester United. Nottingham Forest formed a link with Manchester United which would mean that I would be able to loan players from Man Utd without having to pay for their wages. It also meant that Manchester United would pay a small fee of £114,000 to Nottingham Forest each season.
2020/2021 Mid Season
This was the season where, potentially, football in the UK could change. In 2017, the UK decided that they would leave the European Union (EU). Many have speculated what this means for the future of football in the EU. It should be noted, that this is a simulation and the way that football could be affected is anyone’s guess.
Why does ‘Brexit’ feature in Football Manager?
Back in October 2016, Miles Jacobson, head of Sports Interactive, explained in an interview that it would not feel right about the idea of leaving such a seismic event out of the game.
“We usually try and keep politics out of the game because nobody wants it rammed down their throat,” said Jacobson. “But we were left with an interesting situation this year when the people of Britain voted to leave the EU and it wouldn’t have felt right to leave that out. It’s something we had to reflect in the game.”
Types of Brexit
Soft Brexit & footballers as entertainers
In a ‘Soft Brexit’ scenario, there are few actual changes in the game, with free-movement of workers, and therefore players, from the EU remaining.
Another possible outcome of the Brexit trade negotiations in Football Manager would see footballers categorised as ‘entertainers’, which would make it slightly easier for them to obtain work permits. As a result, there would be minimal restrictions on the movement of players from the EU into the UK.
In a ‘Hard Brexit’ scenario, the game will be altered significantly for teams in the Premier League, essentially making life more difficult for managers. Similar rules to those currently applied to non-EU players will now apply to non-UK players instead, meaning that it will be difficult for clubs to sign players from the likes of Spain, France and Germany.
My version of Brexit looked like this. From next season, there will be restrictions in place where any clubs from the United Kingdom will have a limit on the number of the foreign players that they are allowed to register in their current squad. This system of 17 foreign will replace the current work permit system for the United Kingdom only. Players already playing for clubs in the United Kingdom will only face these new restrictions when they sign a new contract with their club. Even though, the Republic of Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom, any player from there will be classified as non-foreign to national leaving the EU.
For players that do happen to leave the United Kingdom and leave for a team in the EU, they will need to apply for a work permit. The image below shows the new work permit rules now that England has left the EU.
Now, less of the political talk. Although it’s important, I’ll adapt my approach when necessary. Moving onto the football talk, I am continuing to move up the developmental ladder of coaching having now gained the Continental B Licence.
Not long after gaining the Continental B Licence, I was knocking on the Chairman’s door request that I start the next course, the Continental A Licence. The board accepted and I was on my way for another 12 months to study to gain the next qualification. The board would be covering the £3,000 cost of the course which meant that would have to keep progressing and making money for the club.
Making money is the aim of my game. This season is no different. Having brought in a rather large number of players into the squad for this season, I wanted to challenge. I don’t want to call deja-vu yet but, this is very similar to what happened with Wealdstone. A promotion in the previous season. Predicted for relegation and then end up sitting top of the league that the team have been promoted to halfway through the current season. The big difference this time is the finances. As you go up through the pyramid in England, the amount of money that is pumped into your club increases.
Should the club be promoted this season then they would be playing in the Premier League. The League were money has taken over football.
The results so far this season show that club is doing very well in the league. It is unfortunate that we have been knocked out of the EFL Cup but to lose to Man City in an exciting game has for me set the rest of the season up. It has allowed me to focus, the only two competitions that are the focus for the rest of this season are the FA Cup and the Sky Bet Championship. The reason I have chosen to concentrate on two is for the purposes of club progression. As I want this club to progress into the Premier League be back playing in the top European competitions that club is going to have to adapt to playing numerous games in a variety of competitions. Having a focus on two competitions for the second half of this season is a good platform for the players, coaches and myself to learn from in preparation for the potential bombardment of fixtures should the club reach the levels required for the top competitions.
2020/2021 End of Season
The table at the end of the last update showed Nottingham Forest sitting top of the Sky Bet Championship, 13 points clear. It was looking very likely that the at the end of this season that the could be promoted to the top tier of English football, the Premiership. The club are also still in the FA Cup, the winner of the FA Cup goes into the Europa League where the club could earn more money through the income that European competitions such as the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Champions League, brings.
With all the above in mind, it wasn’t a surprise to read that the club had received a takeover bid from London-based business tycoon.
Naturally, during any takeover bid, the club are placed under a transfer embargo until any potential takeover bid is completed. It was a difficult time for myself as the manager. I knew that should the club be promoted to the Premiership that there would need to be improvement made to the squad. For that to be possible, I would require a sufficient budget to bring players in. That is, not only a budget for transfer costs but, a budget for wages, agent fees amongst other fees that are involved in improving a squad following a promotion to a higher division.
Luckily, the takeover was completed before the end of the season meaning that I could at least get planning on how I would improve the squad for next season.
The new club’s owner is London-based business tycoon., Tony Kleanthous who replaced the former owner Socrates Kominakis.
As part of the takeover, the new board has taken out a bank long of nearly £8m to help with the previous cub debts and general day-to-day running of the club. That amount of money is not a lot to be concern about in modern football as it can be easily generated via the numerous financial income that the club will potentially be getting in the future.
The new board were also quite generous when it came to me make numerous requests not long after the takeover. I put in three requested all that were accepted by the new board. The club will be upgrading the club’s training and youth facilities for a total of nearly £2m. Finally, after numerous requests to the previous board, I will be getting an upgrade to the club’s data analysis facilities which is expected to cost £700,000. This means that in the first day of taking over the club the new chairman has invested a total of nearly £3m in improving the club’s facilities. That sort of investment need to reap results otherwise my job as manager of this team might be called into question.
After the takeover, I went about business as normal. I’ve had a target in mind, and that was to get to the Premier League. This was the season, that target was successful. The team’s promotion was gained before the final game of the Sky Bet Championship.
Various game throughout the season was pivotal, the most important being the 2-1 over Birmingham. But, other game such as the 6-3 victory against Preston, an impressive 6-1 trashing against Bristol City amongst other victories this season.
As previously stated, the winning of the league title was wrapped up early this season. It was an end to the season. A season which Nottingham Forest finish top of the Sky Bet Championship with a total of 100 points, 12 points clear of second-placed Millwall. The superior goal difference also assisted with the promotion. There was a difference of 22 goals between Millwall and Nottingham Forest with Millwall completing the season with a 27 goal difference scoring a total of 81 goals, conceding 54. This, compared to Nottingham Forest who scored 110 goals and conceding 61.
For all the players in the squad, one particular player stood out and took not on the Sky Bet Champions Player of the Year Award but was also awarded the EFL Young Player of the Year. Angel Gomes, the young loanee from Manchester United brought a certain style and class to the Nottingham Forest side. This season chipping in with 15 goals and 13 assists in the league with an average rating of 7.52. The team would not have been so far up the table with the massive number of goals scored if it was not for young striker Ben Brereton chipping with a league total of 27 goals which saw him finish second in the Golden Boot award.
The big surprise for this season was the club’s successful run in the FA Cup. For some fans, it could either be exciting or just a matter of the ‘better teams’ should have done ‘better’. Myself, as the teams’ manager love to take on any challenge and this season’s FA Cup, was just that. I wanted the team to at least get to the 5th or 6th round of the FA Cup but to get to the final against West Brom, a team which most fans do not expect to be in the FA Cup final.
It was a back-and-forth final with Nottingham Forest taking the lead after Arsenal loanee Vaughan successfully scored from a penalty. West Brom levelled in the second half with a thumping header. Then it was Sky Bet Championship Player of the Year and EFL Player of the Year’s time to shine as he slotted in a tidy finish from 12 yards in the 66th minute.
The game was put to bed in the 86th minutes with another Arsenal loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles who scored from close range to make the score 3-1 and crown Nottingham Forest the FA Cup winner for the first time since 1959.
After winning the FA Cup, Nottingham Forest will be the Europa League next season. I wanted to bring success to the club and the new owners, now that the club have the Sky Bet Championship, the FA Cup and the Europa League to look forward to next season, it’s fair to say that this season has been rather successful.
After winning the league, the board gave me an initial budget of £33m and wage budget of £450,000. Following the FA Cup win and the qualification for next season’s Europa League, the board provided an extra £13m meaning that I would have £46m to spend next season.
I’ve already said that this season has been a successful one for the club. Qualifying for the Europa League, winning the Sky Bet Championship and the FA Cup is fantastic. This was was also a record-breaking season for the club for certain players. Barrie McKay, broke his own record of 10 assists to amass a total of 23 assists this season. Ben Brereton, like McKay broke this own record which he achieved last season by bettering his 27 goals scored in 2019 by scoring 32 goals this season. Goalkeeper, Freddie Woodman got the club’s clean sheet record by totalling 12 clean sheets. Finally, this season’s star player Angel Gomes achieved the club’s record for Man of the Match awards by winning the trophy in a total of 12 games this season.
The awards by selected by the fans were as follows. Ben Brereton picked up the Fans’ Player of the Season picking up 34% of the vote with Angel Gomes and Barrie McKay came second and third, picking up 29% and 23% respectively. The Goal of the Season was awarded to Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Record-breaking clean sheet Goalkeeper, Freddie Woodman picked up the signing of the season. Finally, Ben Brereton alongside the Fans’ Player of the Season picked up the Young Player of the Year award.