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English Abroad FC: Season 1 review

Welcome back to the English Abroad FC Football Manager 2020 experiment. In this post we will fast forward to the end of the first season to see how it went.

Quick updates

From the end of the first post to this one, there have been a couple of changes. The first was that I added another player, Sam Gleadle from Reno of the USL Championship in America. The second was that I managed to get the new English Abroad FC badge and kits in the game which was a nice little bonus.

I am hoping to sell the kits soon with the profits raised going to the NHS, message me on Twitter if you’re interested in buying one.

Results

So with the team in League One starting on -12, could they get promoted? The media had predicted them an 8th place finish but manager Ian Burchnall and his coaching staff would be hoping to do better than that – and they did!

The team managed promotion with their first attempt – although they had to do it the hard way, coming through the playoffs.

The final league table. Zoom in or open the images in new tabs for a better view.

The Expats finished third in the league, two points off automatic promotion. They would have won the league by five points had it not been for the points deduction. It was not all plain sailing though as they lost eight games but they did have the best goal difference.

In the playoffs they defeated Lincoln in the semi-finals before heading to Wembley to face Sunderland for a spot in the Championship. Over 51,000 fans saw English Abroad FC secure a narrow victory, with Nico Yennaris’s first half goal enough to secure the win and promotion.

The big playoff final victory
Confirmation of the promotion

Burchnall’s tactics consisted of a variation of the 5-4-1 formation, a system he stuck to throughout every match of the season. Here is what a typical lineup of his would look that, the player who played up top was regularly rotated.

A typical lineup for Burchnall

With the win, the team secured their place in the Championship for the 2020/21 season. Elsewhere, they reached the third round of the FA Cup before losing 2-1 to Fulham and made the second round of the EFL Trophy before being knocked out by Peterborough on penalties. The club was not entered into the League Cup.

The team averaged 4,141 spectators per match which is at 82% capacity of their stadium. They achieved one sell-out.

Player stats

The team used 26 players over the course of the season.

Not listed: Steven Taylor (6 apps) & Elliot Simmons (1 app) also appeared for the first team

Here’s the key stats for all competitions:

Most appearances: Chris Smalling (55)
Top scorer: Jadon Sancho, Marcus Edwards & Nico Yennaris (14)
Most assists: Sancho (14)
Most yellow cards: Jonjoe Kenny (12)
Most red cards: Four players tied on 1 (including Lee Cattermole)

Brandon Austin had a superb season in goal. EAFC kept the most clean sheets in the league with him in goal, an impressive 23 in 46 matches. Sancho provided the most assists in the league, 12.

Analysis

It’s not a surprise Sancho stood out but the fact Yennaris tied with him for top scorer was something I did not expect to see.

Adam le Fondre is probably disappointed he didn’t see more game time as he scored eight goals in eight starts and 18 sub appearances.

One of the team’s bright prospects Noni Madueke also showed he could be a star of the future for the team with two goals and an assist from just one start and eight sub appearances.

Chris Smalling was a true rock at the back, making more appearances than anyone else and making more tackles per game than any other player, excluding Cattermole. The Roma centre-back also posted an average match rating of 7.16/10, second only to Sancho.

Transfers

Unfortunately, the club did bring in one player on loan in January and he had quite an impact – I’ll make sure this doesn’t happen next season. Adam Hlozek came in from Manchester City (plays for Sparta Prague in real life) and made 20 appearances scoring eight times.

There were also several loan moves out for the players getting less game time.

The loans out

The under-23s

The youth side spent the season playing friendlies throughout the campaign and it provided a great place for fringe players to get game time and for others to return to fitness. They lost just four of their many friendlies over the season.

The under-23s stats
The under-23 stats of players in the first team

Every player in the squad played for the U23s at some point so there was a lot of rotation in matches and a lot of substitutions made. Here’s the key stats:

Most appearances: Jordan Brown (45 – 8 starts)
Top scorer: Stephy Mavididi (19)
Most assists: Charlie Machell (9)

International appearances

Unsurprisingly with the players in League One, none of them made appearances for England but a few featured for their second nationalities. Nico Yennaris continued to play for China but interestingly, Marcus Edwards, who had a great season in League One, declared to play for Cyprus and made 6 appearances.

Next season

For the next season, I will be terminating all loans and stopping all transfers in and out so only the original squad plays. The team will now be in the Championship and will compete in the League Cup this time but will not be in the EFL Trophy.

The U23s will be entered in the Professional Development League so will have competitive fixtures at that level against other Football League teams.

Do you think they can get promoted again?

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