After a while, with not getting that “FM-feeling” from my saves, I landed on a save I wanted to do for a time. Since release, I’ve thought about this and finally got around to doing it. As I wrote last year in my Fulham Team Guide, the club has a good foundation for youth to build on in an academy challenge. Since they got the Level 1 category in 2012, Fulham has had one of the best academies in England and evenly developing players that now play in the Premier League, Championship and abroad. Some familiar names may be Ryan Sessegnon, Moussa Dembéle or Harvey Elliott.
Before we get started, some rules need to be set, and while this is an academy challenge, it comes with a twist from the usual challenge rules. Players that formerly have graduated from the academy and have trained at the club as their home-grown status can be brought back to the club. That doesn’t mean that I’m planning to spend a lot of cash and repurchase them all at once, but if we need a right-back and Djed Spence is available, it sure would be cool to bring him back to the club.
It will also take some time to get rid of all players who are not from the academy, especially starting with the transfer window turned off. However, I think this will be realistic to do in three transfer windows, so after the January window in 2023, everyone should probably have left the club.
- Academy graduates can be brought back
- All non-graduates should’ve left the club by 31.01.2023
The club has good facilities but intends to have a competitive first-team consisting exclusively of academy graduates. I have ambitions to invest in both facilities, recruitment and coaching. With the amount of money we will get in with a promotion to the Premier League and the sales of all first-team players, we will probably have more than enough money to invest in the academy and training ground.
Since everyone is bound to leave anyway, I decided not to invest a lot of time in a write-up about the first team players. I’d instead invest time in getting to know all the academy players at the club. When the game starts, six graduates at the club have gained their league debut for the first team, with two of them regular members of the first team.
Marek Rodak is already good enough to be the starting goalkeeper, as he was the last time the club was in the Championship. However, he also seems to have some potential to develop further and will probably be the starting goalkeeper for years to come. He has good overall stats and is also capable of participating in the play as a sweeper-keeper.
Fabio Carvalho is probably the most prominent talent the academy has produced in modern times, together with Harvey Elliott. The team needs to be built around this guy! Luckily for us, the transfer to Liverpool was not added to the game, so the first thing I did was offer him a new and improved contract. It’s hard to say his best position, and I want to try him as both an inside attacker on the left and a central midfielder with attack duty in the middle of the pitch. The sky is the limit regarding his potential, and bigger clubs are already interested. It could be hard to keep him at the club…
Tyrese Francois seems to be a decent midfielder with his technical stats. With his excellent passing and abilities on the ball, I can see him developing into a decent deep-lying playmaker in the future. It’s hard to tell how much better he will become, but he will get chances in the first team early on.
Until someone better comes from the academy, he definitively will have a spot in the squad.
Jay Stansfield comes with high hopes for his name. Scoring goals for fun for the U18s got him his debut in the Championship two seasons ago. He’s got all the right abilities to lead the line in the future, and he can also do an excellent job on the wing if needed.
Steven Sessegnon and Sylvester Jasper are out on loan for the season and will not be a part of the team for the first season. Both do have a future at the club, though, and will be around the first team for the next season. In addition, Hibs have an optional fee of £100K to purchase Jasper after loan. Hopefully, they won’t use that.
I’ve been going a bit back and forth in terms of formation and tactics with this team. I’ve landed on this as a base to get the best out of Harry Wilson while he’s at the club. It’s also a flexible formation where I can drop the DM down as a third centre-back or push him up as a CM in a more attacking variant of the tactic.
The wingback on the left will be far more attacking than the right one due to the lack of a winger on the left side.
The roles are flexible and not written in stone, especially when the senior players start to leave the club. So I’m prepared to make adjustments to most of the players at hand.
I will probably invert the tactic to get Carvalho in the same role on the left if Wilson doesn’t play.
I want the team to dominate and play the ball during most matches. However, I also wish to have high tempo on the ball while they patiently wait for the right time to attack.
With an academy with proud traditions like this one, there are bound to be exciting talents and some uncut gems with lots of potential in the academy. There are several players worth mentioning that look like decent talents for the future, but for the time being, there are three standouts that are worth mentioning above the others. Harvey Araujo starts with the U18s and looks like the best defensive prospect in the academy at the moment. He’s a natural at left-back and capable of playing as a central defender. The latter is probably where I see the brightest future for him with his abilities. First and foremost, the lack of pace makes him a better prospect in the heart of the defence than on the left-back. I need more speed from the wingbacks. He’s got jumping reach and passing as his best stats, and he can be a beast of a ball-playing defender if he’s trained correctly.
Luke Harris also starts with the U18s and is younger than Araujo. I really like his offensive stats, and he’s got the future set out for him as a goalscoring midfielder. I love midfielders who come from the deep to finish the attack, and Harris got all the right skills.
Ollie O’Neill starts with the U23s and is a similar player to Luke Harris. Although O’Neill got a better work rate and stamina, so he could probably also develop into a decent box-to-box midfielder. He’s two years older than Harris and has come longer in his development. Depending on the midfield situation as the season progresses, it could be that a loan is best for his development. His debut in the Carabao Cup is undeniable.
Thanks for reading this blog.
/ FM Veteran