Oxford United – Getting down to work

When taking a new club on FM, there is obviously so much to do. But if you have a clear strategy in your mind about what you want to do, that’s half the fun. The other half is hoping you get taken over by some filthy rich investors! So when taking over somewhere new, based on the type of club I was looking to build, I look at:

  • Squad mental attributes
  • Squad technical attributes
  • Their contracts
  • Staff
  • Make as many demands as possible with the Board to see what I could get away with

Tactics and transfers don’t really come into my thinking yet because I focused on sorting the club infrastructure. Training is but a distant pipedream at the moment.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to build the club around mentally sound footballers and use that as a basis for a strong platform for the future. There’s so much to do, but you have to be realistic about what you can achieve with a lower league budget. A reminder of how many light years we were away from achieving this:

Oxford United_ Players Players-6

The squad personality is “fairly loyal” which really is of no use at all. The squad I have now in 2026 is highly professional and that’s been a very conscious decision.

So the first step is weeding out all the crap, basically. Below are a few players that I decided to keep because they had some semblance of ability who would be at least useful to have around in L2: Kemar Roofe, Callum O’Dowda, Jake Wright, John Lundstram, Alex Mcdonald and Cameron Gayle. There were a few more but you get the idea – some hooks to try and at least get some platform.

Some of the filler would have to remain, but I wasn’t fussed about renewing their contracts. The rest I was able to gleefully agree a mutual contract termination. The kitty was at zero – I was under no illusion that loans and freebies would be all I could achieve in the first two seasons, at the least. Once I knew who I wanted to keep, including those who would be squad players, I sorted out their contracts to keep hold of the highest valued players. This is also a good chance to review each player’s squad status.

In terms of staff, I wasn’t allowed to bring  a large entourage into the club but I made sure that I hired the highest possible attributes for the specialisms. Tactics coaching, Defending, GK and Fitness. I made sure that when creating my profile I was 20 for Attacking to save on another wage. So lots to do here – scouting staff and finding an AssMan that would be willing to work in L2.  Mental attributes that help to build and develop the squad personality I’m looking for are:

  • Determination
  • Discipline
  • Working with youngsters – as this was an element I was looking to build upon.
  • If hiring from abroad, then Adaptability is also important

Sorting out players and staff took hours – but then again it should do if you do it properly. It is really all about trust – who do you trust to carry out your instructions on the field, and which staff do you trust to develop your players in the best possible way. This obviously gets much easier when you rise up the divisions and your budget increases – but at this stage I was forced to compromise a great deal.

Finally for this part, the Board.

This is tough, at the start of the game with no CV to speak of, your demands are laughed at. It took a title win in my first season to build some relationships with the Board, but all of my initial demands were rejected.

The facilities, stadium, youth recruitment and pitch were all in dire need of an upgrade. However this would have to wait until I had more credibility. If you’re lucky enough to take over a club with a reputation, then you absolutely must make these demands to get the best facilities you can – they do make a difference.

So to summarise – the initial few hours are spent:

  1. Reviewing all aspects of the squad and whether they match up to your DNA.
  2. Sorting out their contracts, reviewing the filler, and getting rid of the dross.
  3. Reviewing the staff – same as above.
  4. Trying gainfully to get a helping hand from the Board.

In the next part I’ll look at recruitment.


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