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The Journeyman - A FM 21 Story

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Old 01-08-2022, 07:14 PM   #1
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The Journeyman - A FM 21 Story



One year. That's all it took for me to realize that maybe I had made a mistake.

Retiring from football at a young age due to a massive knee injury to become a youth coach seemed like a way to stay in the game. Being a youth coach though didn't necessarily pay the bills. After a few years of working two jobs to make ends meet and spending half the year away from my wife, I had grown tired of the grind and figured it was time to follow my dad's mantra.

"You're grandfather once told me that it was okay to do what you want to do until it was time to do what you were meant to do."

Maybe he stole that from a movie, or maybe they stole it from him. I am not sure. It was ringing true though. So I returned home and became a physical education teacher and the high school soccer coach.

One year later, I realized what a fool I was.

And it was one year later while surfing the internet that I happened upon a job advertisement. While reading it, I became intrigued. It could've been the bourbon directing the mouse pointer to the 'Apply Now' button, or maybe it was me fighting against my father. Either way, I was filling out an online job application, not really giving it a second thought.

So it was quite a shock when I noticed I had a missed call from England. My first inclination was that it was simply a missed spam call, but they did leave a message in my voicemail. So I thought, what the hell, let's listen to it.

"Hi Drew, this is Rory Fitzgerald. I am the president of Wealdstone Football Club, and I finished looking over your CV and I would really like to talk to you more in-depth. We'll get back in touch. Thank you."

This has to be a joke. Why would a football club in England even waste time talking to some unknown American? Then the next line of questions started rushing through my mind. Am I willing to pack everything up and move to a different country? What will my wife think? Oh God, I didn't even mention this to her. Why did I drink bourbon last night? I could always not call them back.

But what would you think of yourself if you turned down this potential opportunity?

So I called them to set up a Zoom meeting with Mr. Fitzgerald, as well as a couple of other directors. It was a very cordial meeting. We discussed everything from my playing career to my years in the youth setup with Red Bull New York and why I left. It was a good conversation. Mr. Fitzgerald asked me one last question, and my response still sticks out.

"Describe your style of play?"

"Well sir, I believe that football is here as an entertainment industry. Supporters work hard, 9-5, five, or even six days a week, to be able to afford to come to a football match. If my team is just going to set up to win games by set pieces and long balls, its not what I would want to spend my hard-earned money to watch.

A smile crept across the face of Mr. Fitzgerald, and he looked at the other directors who were in the room and they all nodded in agreement.

*****

"What's wrong?"

I knew it. It wouldn't take long for her to notice that something was off with me. I proceeded to tell her all about the past 24 hours. The drunk application, the phone call, the zoom meeting.

"And they want to fly me out to Ruislip tomorrow to discuss the job further. I feel like they are seriously considering me for this job."

"Where is that even at?"

"It's not far from Heathrow, so Ruislip is just outside of London."

I could tell a million thoughts were going through her head. It's a lot to spring on somebody. The potential for a life-altering decision. The potential for more money. I looked up the best info on average salaries in the lower English leagues, and it would be double what I make as a teacher.

"I know it's a lot. Believe me, I know. But this is an opportunity to manage a professional soccer team. It was always my dream, and now it's potentially staring me in the face."

"If you don't have dreams, you don't have anything..."

I know she stole that from a movie.

"So you are going to get on that plane, and we'll figure it out from there."

***

"Hey, honey."

"Hey, how did it go?"

"You are not going to believe this..."


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Old 01-09-2022, 12:48 AM   #2
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Re: The Journeyman - A FM 21 Story



Wealdstone FC Introduce Drew Welch

Wealdstone today confirmed the appointment of Drew Welch as the club's new head coach. Welch has reportedly signed a one-year contract worth $52.5k.

This will be Welch's first managerial job in football. The 34-year-old American was previously a youth coach in the Red Bull New York system. However, while there may be similarities between Welch and his mentor Jesse Marsch, Welch brings his own tactical style.

"People want to discuss formations and such, but I'm more concerned about style," said Welch. "Football is a beautiful game. It's supposed to be entertaining. Obviously, there are things I want to accomplish tactically. Just because we're in a lower league, it doesn't necessarily mean we have to play old-school, route one football."

"The system I want to implement is going to be intense," said Welch. "Both on our players, but especially on the opposition. They are going to get very little time on the ball. When the opposition gets it, the goal is to win the ball back quickly. If there's an opportunity to counter-attack quickly, we're going to."

Assistant Manager Stuart Maynard, who did interview for the manager position, will stay on the club as the assistant manager for Welch. Club President Rory Fitzgerald said they are looking to expand the support staff to give the first-year manager all the support he needs.

*****

"Stuart, I realize that you interviewed for this spot, but I'm glad you're sticking around."

"All I ask Drew is that you do right by the club. They gave me my start as a player, so I'm here as long as they want me."

"So, what do we have here?"



*****
Club Vision - "More than a club."

Memorandum

Per our discussions:

- Sign players under the age of 23 for the first team.
- Work within a payroll budget of $550k for staff and players.
- Hire a general manager to help you with contracts and building your support staff.
- Approve the hiring of an analyst, as well as two first-team coaches for the coaching staff.
- Approve the hiring of three scouts.
- Approve the hiring of one physio.
- Approve the hiring of four youth coaches.

Goals for this season:

- Require avoiding relegation from the National League.
- Require at least reaching the first round of the FA Cup.
- Prefer at least reaching the second round of the FA Trophy.

Future Goals

- Year 2: Establish ourselves in the National League
- Year 3: Record top-half finish in the National League
- Years 4 & 5: Maintain top-half position in the National League.

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Old 01-27-2022, 05:27 PM   #3
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Re: The Journeyman - A FM 21 Story




Wealdstone FC Introduce Michael Shaw

Wealdstone confirmed the hiring of Michael Shaw as the Director of Football for the club. Shaw, coming out of the sports marketing world, is going headlong into his first job in the world of professional football.

"The ambition of this club is what attracted me," said Shaw. "This club has had a long history in the lower leagues, and now we find ourselves in the fifth tier for the first time in 32 years. The directors want to solidify this position, and with a new manager and a new focus on building a proper backroom staff to help this club forward, I feel that my skills can help in that."

The 43-year-old from Kingsnorth signed a two-year contract with the club and said his first assignment was to put together a scouting staff.

"We need a team of guys," said Shaw. "It can't just be one guy trying to make all the decisions."

***

Wealdstone Announce Two Arrivals

Today, Wealdstone announced the arrival of two loans.

23-year-old central midfielder Tom Holland has arrived on an eight-month loan from Welsh side TNS. Holland only made three appearances for TNS last season but does have 61 career appearances for the club over three seasons. Holland is expected to slot straight into the starting lineup.

Wealdstone also took advantage of their link with EPL side Watford in bringing in 18-year-old striker JJ McKiernan. McKiernan will be looking to make his professional football debut for the club. McKiernan is a natural striker, however, it is possible that Welch could use the youngster as an attacking midfielder.

***



Overall, I feel we had a very solid preseason. We didn't lose any matches, we got through the matches with zero injuries, and the lads seemed to be acclimating to the tactical system I'm looking to implement.

There is one area of disagreement between me and Stuart. In five preseason friendlies, we missed all of our 26 shots from outside the box. Stuart feels like we should work the ball into the penalty box, while I'm not sure we have the technical ability to do that. Personally, I'm all for pressuring the keeper with shots.


***
Projected Lineup



Media Prediction: 19th
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Old 01-28-2022, 01:49 AM   #4
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BT Sport Game of the Week - 10/27/20





MATCH REPORT | Barnet 3-2 Wealdstone

In a hard-fought match, Wealdstone battled back from a 2-0 deficit before a late Barnet goal sunk the Stones to 9th position in the league table.

A first-half brace by JJ Hooper would give the nearly 1,600 in attendance visions that Barnet was going to run away in the local derby and snap their five-match winless streak to open the season. Wealdstone would battle back with Jorome Slew netting his own brace on either side of the break to pull the Stones even. Unfortunately, Barnet would see Flynn Clark unleash a howler from just outside the box on a free kick that would eventually prove to be the match-winner.

WEALDSTONE: Isted, Olowu (Cawley 77), Meekings, Okimo, Efete, Wishart, Dyer, Holland (Lench 82), Green, Slew, McKiernan.

Subs not used: Askew, Parish, Phillips


BT Sport Highlights



Manager Drew Welch - "We played very well today. Well enough to be able to come away with something from this match. Unfortunately, it just wasn't to be. We dominated possession, but we let ourselves get carved open too many times by their counter game. They made 52 entries into our final third from central areas that developed into nine shots on goal. Simply too many. And we need to start converting some of these long-range shots. 0/8 is not going to get it done. We're capable of doing better than that.

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Old 01-28-2022, 03:32 AM   #5
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October 2020



Club News

Danny Parish finishes third in Player of the Month voting

Danny Parish had a great month of October, which led to him finishing third in National League Player of the Month voting. Parish turned on the goal-scoring for Wealdstone, firing in five goals in six league appearances during the month.

Notts County striker Sam Dalby won the award, after scoring six goals in six league appearances. Dagenham and Redbridge striker Scott Wilson finished second in voting after he also scored six goals in six league appearances.

BT Sport picks up FA Cup first round match

Fans who can't make it to Altrincham for Wealdstone's first-round FA Cup match against Altrincham will be able to watch via BT Sport. Altrincham defeated National League North side Southport 6-5 in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw. Altrincham is struggling at the start of the season, currently sitting 19th in the National League.

Wealdstone adds goalkeeping coach

Wealdstone announced the signing of Jammal Finnigan to a two-year deal to be the club's goalkeeping coach. This is Finnigan's first job in club football. Director of Football Michael Shaw said that Finnigan's work at a local goalkeeper camp is how he discovered the 32-year-old and it shows that he'll leave no stone unturned to round out the support staff at Wealdstone.

Manager Drew Welch said that they are still looking for one more first-team coach as well as two youth coaches for the club. Shaw said he's hoping to announce the signing of two more scouts to round out his scouting team soon.

Fans Choice Player of the Month Voting

1. ST Danny Parish - 7 apps, 7 goals, 27 key passes, 7.87 match rating
2. WB Michee Efete - 7 apps, 1 goal, 1 assist, 17 key passes, 12 tackles won, 7.26 match rating
3. CM Tom Holland - 6+2 apps, 1 goal, 1 assist, 15 key passes, 11 tackles won, 7.15 match rating

Medical Center

ST Moses Emmanuel suffered a pulled knee ligament in a reserves match on October 18th. Emmanuel is projected to resume training within a day or two.

CB Connor Stevens is still undergoing rehab after offseason knee surgery. He is projected to return to training by the end of January.





I will say this, the matches came hard and fast. There was just one week where we didn't have multiple matches. Part of me is disappointed that we couldn't put two matches together in league play. Despite that though, we still find ourselves in 5th position in the league table. Personally, I'm not going to put much stock in the table this early in the season, but the directors are doing backflips in the office. Hey, as long as they are happy.

But spirits are very much up around here. The lads are buying in and everyone seems to be in good spirits. We are nowhere near a relegation battle to start the season and we made the FA Cup proper. I know this managing professional football is not this easy all the time, but a start like this does take the stress away.

Although, the board did deny my request for getting my National B License. I know it's not because of money. The club was able to cash in on a 20% sell-on clause for a former player and got $88k from Cardiff. Yet, they paid for Stuart to get his National A License.

Definitely a concerning development. Michael told me not to worry about it, but I get the sense they don't want me leaving for a bigger club.
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Old 02-02-2022, 10:46 PM   #6
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Re: The Journeyman - A FM 21 Story





MATCH REPORT | Altrincham 2-0 Wealdstone
Emirates FA Cup - First Round


It was a closely fought contest, but the Stones' poor finishing would be their undoing in a 2-0 defeat to Altrincham in the first round of the FA Cup.

Altrincham striker Joe Piggott would get the Robins on the board first after he beat Wealdstone keeper Jake Askew to the ball and promptly passed the ball into the back of the empty net. The second goal would come on a free-kick when the ball was played to defender Ritchie Sutton on the edge of the box, who uncorked a shot that found the top right corner of the goal.

Wealdstone did enjoy an advantage in possession but was only able to muster one shot on target out of eight shots on goal. It's been an issue this season for Wealdstone, as the club ranks 18th in the league in shots on target ratio (36%) and 16th in conversion rate (9%).

WEALDSTONE: Askew, Olowu (Phillips 73), Meekings, Okimo, Efete, Wishart, Holland, Lench (Smith 68), Green, Parish, McKiernan (56)

Subs not used: Everett, Cawley, Dyer, Slew


BT Sport Highlights



Manager Drew Welch: "We played okay, but Altrincham was able to take advantage of a couple of mental errors. Jake was making his first start at keeper because Harry's not allowed to play in cup matches, and Jake got caught in no man's land on that long ball. Then we just failed to close out on the shooter outside the box on a set-piece. We'll get better. I was pleased with some things in the second half. But we have to get better."
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Old 02-03-2022, 02:51 PM   #7
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November 2020



Club News

McKiernan recognized


Watford loanee JJ McKiernan had a great November and was recognized by the media in voting for the National League Young Player of the Month, finishing second. In three league appearances, McKiernan made three appearances, scoring two goals and registering an assist with an average match rating of 7.80.

Stockport County winger Harrison Burrows (on loan from Peterborough) won the award after scoring a goal in four appearances with an average match rating of 7.62. Yeovil Town winger Josh Neufville (on loan from Luton) finished third in the voting, scoring four goals in five appearances with an average match rating of 7.18.

Fans Choice Player of the Month Voting

1. ST JJ McKiernan - 4+1 apps, 2 goals, 1 assist, 1.07 xG, 7.28 match rating
2. CM Tom Holland - 5 apps, 1 goal, 0.03 xG, 7.16 match rating
3. CM Alex Dyer - 3 apps, 1 goal, 0.17 xG, 7.20 match rating





The one thing about football management is the many different personalities you have to deal with. Juggling playing time, transfer offers, contracts, etc., etc. It can be a lot, especially for a first-year guy. Thankfully though, no major issues. It definitely helps when your captain, Jerome Okimo, is such a strong personality and the boys respect him.

The other thing that helps cure all ills is winning. We did have a disappointing showing in the FA Cup, but our league form is still outpacing my expectations. If you had told me we would be four points off the top of the table and 13 points from the relegation zone, I would've said you were nuts.

I'm waiting for this to get tougher. Only a few minor issues with injuries, but nothing too serious. The guys seem to be in good spirits. I would like to bring in a new wingback or a new center-back for depth purposes, but I'm not sure we have the budget for that.

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Old 02-07-2022, 12:55 AM   #8
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December 2020



CLUB NEWS

Welch lifts Wealdstone

Few people expected Wealdstone to be flying as high as they are in the league, but the Stones have never looked back since opting to bring Drew Welch to the club back in August.

The head coach is proving to be a shrewd operator, bringing fresh confidence to the team and guiding them to an impressive 11 wins during his first 20 games in charge.

With the players taking to his very positive system, there is plenty of optimism both with the supporters and the board as well. After some very impressive early-season form, it appears that we will not have to worry about a relegation battle this season.

Efete signs 2-year extension with Wealdstone

The club announced today that wingback Michee Efete has signed a two-year contract extension worth $43k. Efete has enjoyed a decent season so far for Wealdstone, helping the team's cause with a goal and three assists in 17 appearances.

"This was a deal we definitely wanted to get done," said GM Michael Shaw. "Michee is one of our better young players and we feel he has the potential to get better and help this club solidify our position in the National League."

Fans Choice Voting Results

1. ST Jorome Slew - 5+1 apps, 2 goals, 1 assist, 1.97 xG, 7.10 match rating
2. CM Tom Holland - 3+2 apps, 7.16 match rating
3. ST JJ McKiernan - 2 apps, 2 goals, 0.92 xG, 7.30 match rating





One thing that I learned a long time ago when I first entered coaching (and this rule is going to apply to all things in life) was that you will never please everyone.

I guess it came as no surprise that Moses Emmanuel came to my office to ask for a move so that he could get more playing time. Moses is a natural winger and I don't use wingers in my tactical setup. He can play up top as a striker and he can drop into the hole and play as a number ten, but they are not his natural positions and other players are in front of him.

He's only made one appearance as a sub, and that came back in October. We'll see if we can sort something out for him.

I was glad that we were able to lock up Michee to a contract extension. We've got another one in the books as we're in negotiations with Danny Parish to lock him up as well. I feel like I can build this squad around these two guys. All Danny does is score goals, and he already has 12 in 19 appearances across all competitions.

Speaking of contracts, mine is up in six months. Hell, there have already been five firings in the league. And yet, I'm still here...the unknown American. Funny world.
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