FM19 Guide | Adjusting to Promotion

Recently I wrote an article showing how to start a new save well, if you missed it you can check it out here. With a strong start in the league, I decided to continue my Brentford save and see where we ended up. After an expected finish of mid table, we won the league, finishing with 88 points.


After the success I’d had, I decided to give it a go in the Premier League, and see if plucky little Brentford could mix it with the big boys. Here is my guide to adjusting to Promotion in FM19.

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Home comforts and playing the long game

It seems crazy to think that managers used to be afforded time to implement their plans and learn about the club they were at given how things are in todays modern game. Whether that’s due to owners and chairmen expecting instant success, the vast and quite frankly ludicrous sums of money involved in the game now, or a combination of both, some managers seem to receive their P45 the moment things turn a little sour. Continue reading

Players of the 90’s: Alan Shearer

When you think of goalscorers in the Premier League, so many names come to mind, we have been blessed over the years with an abundance of goalscoring talent in the form of players like Teddy Sheringham, Les Ferdinand, and more recently players like Sergio Aguero and Mo Salah have all shown us their remarkable goalscoring skills.

But in the 1990’s, and even into the new millennium, there was only one man who was tearing up the records and carving his name into the very fabric of English football itself. He has a legacy that will stand the test of time as one of the all time greats of this game, I am of course talking about Alan Shearer. Continue reading

Stat Analysis | Who is the Best Goalscorer in the Premier League

With the race for the golden boot tighter than ever, I decided to crunch some numbers to see who is the best goalscorer in the Premier League. In this post I’ll outline the stats I used, who is best in each category of my analysis and then try to predict what the final goals tally will look like. I took the 13 top scoring players in the PL this season as the sample. First let’s look at a number of stats comparing players performance this season to last.



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The Homegrown Rule and how it has affected the development of Young players in England

new-premier-league-logo-2016-17-7The Homegrown rule. It’s something that often does the rounds in football chat and forums across the land. When people talk about how “England are never a force at international level” or “Young players just aren’t given a chance these days”, invariably the Homegrown rule is often called into question. And with seemingly good reason, especially in the Premier League.

Whilst it’s fantastic for all clubs concerned that the Premier League is such a huge financial cash cow, with clubs pocketing in excess of £130m per year just for competing in the Premier League, not to mention all the admittedly top-tier talent brought over from foreign shores, the question always comes back to whether England is doing enough to develop its own World Class talent. Whilst recently the England youth sides have had an incredible amount of success, such as winning the Under 20 World Cup, in times gone by the England teams suffered some damaging losses and have had to fight to get back their reputation of a good footballing nation.

Whilst some of this can be attributed to clubs not giving enough game time to younger players when they can buy a ready-made foreign replacement, in this writer’s opinion it can be mostly attributed to past failings by the Football Association, such as failing to provide adequate funding for grass-roots level football, and ultimately, the incredibly vague nature of the Premier League’s Homegrown Rule, which states:

Each Premier League team can only register 25 players over the age of 21 for that season’s first-team matches. Of those 25 players, no more than 17 can be non-Home Grown Players. In other words, if you want the full complement of 25 over-21 players, you must have at least 8 Home Grown Players. Note that this rule ONLY applies to Premier League matches, not fixtures in other competitions.”

A bit vague right? When you delve a little deeper into it, the rules state that:

A Home Grown Player, as defined by the Premier League, is a player who: (a) is 21 or older on January 1 of the year in which that season begins; and (b) spent three years between the ages of 16 and 21 with a team in the English football League system.”

So not only does the Homegrown Rule sound very vague in its initial description, but it actually does nothing to promote the growth and development of young British players. This in turn leads to sub standard international performances and intense media scrutiny for the “underperforming” players. The other issue with this rule is that there is no obligation to even PLAY your Homegrown players! As long as they form part of your 25 man squad, that’s all that matters. It’s no wonder then that so much pressure is put on any emerging young talent in England, as the perception will be that they must be a top quality talent, and sadly this pressure is often what causes players to not fulfil that potential.

michael johnson telegraph

Michael Johnson was a hot prospect for Manchester City but ultimately gave up on football and now owns his own estate agents business. Credit to

One example of this is former Manchester City midfielder Michael Johnson. Hailed as something of a prodigy when he broke through to the City first team in 2006, he seemingly had the world at his feet. But just a few years later, and after several incidents, Manchester City paid up the remaining time on his £25k a week contract and Johnson retired from football, having stated that he had spent time in the Priory Clinic for mental health issues and now wanted to be left alone to live the rest of his life.

Whilst it was never specifically noted that the pressures of life as a rising star in the Premier League were to blame for his issues, it was almost certainly a factor. Had the pressures of his rising stock not been so great, perhaps he would still be playing now, but sadly this is not the case. And for me personally, there can be no doubt that the relaxed and vague nature of the Homegrown rule contributed to this. If there was a clearer route to regular first team football, as well as with the right support from health professionals, then more young players would get the opportunity to shine.

Whilst the Homegrown rule does apply to all of Europe’s major leagues, clubs in countries like Spain, Germany and Italy all spend a lot of time and money developing and cultivating their young talent, as well as providing them with all the necessary support that they require in order to prepare them for the pressures that come along with playing top flight football. Due to the intense nature of the Premier League, from the outside looking in, this doesn’t always seem to be the case.

Allsvenskan.jpgOver in Scandinavia, the Swedish Allsvenskan league has possibly the best Homegrown rule. Each matchday squad in the league must have at least nine Swedish players, which means that at worst five players in each team will get game time if all three substitutes are used. This has led to Swedish players earning big moves to other teams and means that they can potentially develop into World Class players. Zlatan Ibrahimovic spent 3 years at Malmo before earning a move to Ajax, current Sweden Captain Andreas Granqvist plays for Helsingborgs, whilst players like Pontus Jansson, Victor Lindelof and Kristoffer Nordfeldt all ply their trade in the UK for Leeds, Manchester United and Swansea respectively. All of them started their careers in the Swedish Leagues, though Lindelof started lower down in Division 1 Norra, but still earned a big move to Benfica regardless.

This is the sort of system that would yield more effective results, but for whatever reason, it just doesn’t happen here in England. German teams must name at least twelve German players in their squad of twenty-five, which is effectively half, and its easy to see the results this has had on their international successes, prior to this year at least. Whilst in Spain and Italy as previously mentioned, there appears to be more game time given to young players to aid their development.

At the 2017 Under 21 European Championships, Germany, Spain and Italy’s Under 21 teams all played more top-flight minutes for their clubs than England players did as the images below will show.

If the Premier League were to introduce a rule similar to the Swedish Allsvenskan, then young players could potentially gain more top-flight game time and thus develop at a much quicker pace than they currently do. The much discussed “6+5 rule” is another option, but this was abandoned in 2010.

Ultimately, there won’t be any changes to the rule anytime soon or possibly even ever. But it is the opinion of this writer that for the England team to prosper and become a successful and feared footballing nation again, our young players need to be given the opportunity to get more game time. Whether that is with a rule change in the Premier League, or from moving abroad, both the FA and the Premier League must act to safeguard the future of English footballers.

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Bradley Wright-Phillips – Reborn in New York

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Interview with former St Mirren and current Ross County player, Stelios Demetriou

Croatia v England: Match Preview


Here we are, at the World Cup semi-final. Very few people predicted that happening. Many expected the same melodramatic soap opera of England going out early on, and it all being due to Sterling and Lingard being too cocky, or the lack of coaches. While England have only beaten inferior sides on paper, their run of games is an indirect result of how many larger international sides have struggled recently. Italy and Holland, among others, failed to qualify for the tournament; Argentina almost achieved that feat. If anything went differently, even a flinch of the players’ bodies, Spain and Portugal could’ve been knocked out by Iran in the group stage. Germany were knocked out to Sweden and Mexico then.

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One To Watch – Jordan Pickford (England)


Jordan Pickford celebrating the win over Newcastle

Overview of Player

Name:Jordan Pickford

Position : Goalkeeper

Age: 24

World cup influence: 7/10

Overview of Nation

After a dismal Euro 2016 campaign, England needed to regroup and start performing to qualify for the World Cup, and England need to improve over the last two World Cup performances, just scraping through the group stages to then be embarrassed by a young German side in 2010. The World Cup after that they were knocked out of the group stages rather meekly by Uruguay.

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Why England won’t win a major competition in our lifetimes.

The England Football team, that strange place where we seem to have generation after generation of incredible talent with no real final product. We’ve produced some of the best players in the world yet when it comes to an international competition, we lack that edge going forward. In this piece I’ve looked at some points that could explain our shortcomings on the global stage.

1. Youth Development

When I play Football Manager I will happily spend hours upon hours searching the depths of the world’s football to find the best youth players and bring them in at an early age, allowing them to become used to the new country and the style of football that you are trying to implement.

National football should be very similar in my opinion, in the sense that players with potential should be brought through more of the youth stages and then given international football, rather than just chucked in the deep end. We’re all too used to players arriving in the premier league and struggling for the first season because they’re adapting to the new environment, so why should international football be any different?


England U21’s Final team in their defeat to Germany in 2009. I’m sure you will recognise a few faces! Source: Talk Sport

A comparison I will provide regularly in this piece will be that of Germany. Now despite recent success, the Germans were actually really struggling with international football just before 2000, and they set up a new system since and it’s worked a charm. They have focused much more on developing home-grown talent, improved youth facilities across the nation and have significantly more qualified coaches than England. In 2009, the U21 European Championship saw England and Germany in the same group, in the group stages they drew 1-1 with goals from Gonzalo Castro and Jack Rodwell. However they met in the final and Germany ran away 4-0 winners. Now despite the results lets look at how the Germans and the English lined up in the final:


And how the Germans lined up in comparison, again some familiar faces! Soure: Bundesliga Fanatic

Germany England
Manuel Neuer (GK) Scott Loach (GK)
Andreas Beck Martin Cranie
Sebastian Boenisch Lee Cattermole
Benedikt Höwedes Nedum Onuoha
Jérôme Boateng James Milner
Sami Khedira (C) Mark Noble (C)
Mesut Özil Adam Johnson
Sandro Wagner Fabrice Muamba
Fabian Johnson Theo Walcott
Mats Hummels Micah Richards
Gonzalo Castro Kieran Gibbs

So you’ll probably recognise names on both sides, however how many of the English side went on to play for England? Let alone play well? Compared with a German side with the likes of Manuel Neuer and Mesut Özil, its hardly a fair comparison! If this team were to play today I’m assuming the scoreline would be even worse!

So step 1 for the FA: Sort out English youth football. If a players getting youth football, you should be expecting him to be playing full international football in the future, if they’re not good enough to be playing then you need better scouts or better coaches.

2. Domestic player bias

When doing these sort of articles, I like to be able to back up my claims with evidence, or some statistic that seems to match my trends. As a Mathematics student I think its important to provide a proof or pseudo-proof to your claims.

In this case, I noticed that a lot of foreign players tend to travel to the premier league, but English players don’t tend to move in the same direction as much. You could easily write in this article each English player in a different major European leagues. However hundreds of other players seem to come here. In fact on 12th January 2017 we had 69.2% of our players from other countries which is over 10% more than any other nation in Europe. Our reliance on foreign talent at our clubs means the English talent is pushed aside. Even Pep Guardiola compared Spanish nationals coming to England and suggested that the English team could benefit from playing in other nations. Teams and leagues have different styles of play, with different coaches and different ethos regarding the game so collecting lots of different ideas might change the national side completely. We’ve had varying success when players seem to move abroad. Gareth Bale, although not English but British, famously moved to Real Madrid however no major English players are currently playing overseas. At the 2018 World Cup, many teams have announced their squads and of the teams higher than England in the FIFA World Rankings I’ve compared how many of the national teams are playing club football abroad:

Nation (FIFA Ranking)

% of squad playing club football in home nation

England (13th)


Denmark (12th)


Peru (11th)


Poland (10th)


Chile (9th)

Did not qualify

Spain (8th)


France (7th)


Switzerland (6th)


Argentina (5th)


Portugal (4th)


Belgium (3rd)


Brazil (2nd)


Germany (1st)


As you can see we are the only nation with all our players coming from home soil. Every other team has players playing all over the world. Is this something we should seek to improve upon? Obviously the appeal of the Premier League is enormous, with money enticing the very best players. However if you can’t get game time in England then maybe younger players should go abroad to seek new challenges in a foreign country.

So here are just two of my suggestions on how I think the England team could improve, but I’m sure every fan has their own opinions on who to select and how the team could win major competitions. I guess that’s why Gareth Southgate has the hardest job in football!