Carabao Cup First Round Draw Made

The draw has been made for the First Round of the EFL Cup, known in recent seasons as the Carabao Cup. Ties will be played 14/15 August. Arsenal enter the competition at the Third Round, scheduled for 25/26 September.

Middlesbrough are the most recent winners (2004) to be included at this stage, and they travel to League Two Bradford. On 04 August, promoted National League sides Gateshead and Cambridge United will play a Preliminary round tie to face Oldham.

CARABAO CUP: Preliminary Round
           Gateshead  -  Cambridge United

CARABAO CUP: First Round
  Accrington Stanley  -  Wigan Athletic
       AFC Wimbledon  -  Bristol Rovers
            Barnsley  -  Carlisle United
              Barrow  -  Leeds United
     Birmingham City  -  Stevenage Borough
           Blackpool  -  Bury
       Bradford City  -  Middlesbrough
           Brentford  -  Reading
       Burton Albion  -  Queens Park Rangers
   Charlton Athletic  -  Southend United
     Cheltenham Town  -  Ipswich Town
       Coventry City  -  Crystal Palace
        Crawley Town  -  Swindon Town
        Derby County  -  Chesterfield
    Doncaster Rovers  -  Wrexham
         Exeter City  -  AFC Bournemouth
      Fleetwood Town  -  Huddersfield Town
   Hartlepool United  -  Hull City
      Leicester City  -  Gillingham
       Leyton Orient  -  Aldershot Town
  Milton Keynes Dons  -  Bristol City
   Nottingham Forest  -  Crewe Alexandra
        Notts County  -  Tranmere Rovers
     Oldham Athletic  -  Gateshead / Cambridge United
       Oxford United  -  Walsall
 Peterborough United  -  Colchester United
     Plymouth Argyle  -  Millwall
          Portsmouth  -  Luton Town
   Preston North End  -  Port Vale
            Rochdale  -  Sheffield Wednesday
   Scunthorpe United  -  Rotherham United
    Sheffield United  -  Morecambe
     Shrewsbury Town  -  Cardiff City
             Watford  -  Yeovil Town
   Wycombe Wanderers  -  Brighton & Hove Albion
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Catch-Up ‘W’: WBA, WHam, Wigan, Wolves

It’s the penultimate part of our catch-up series, and today we’re looking at the four remaining sides who have played some part in the Premier League during our three simulated seasons from June 2015 to date. Today we focus on West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, my beloved Wigan Athletic, and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Here’s how the teams fared in the Premier League table the last time we were playing daily, at the end of May 2015: WBA 9th, Wolves 12th, and Wigan 16th, while West Ham finished the season 7th in the Championship following their relegation the previous season.

2015-16

Alan Curbishley was in charge and he spent almost £20m in the summer to bring in players including Fábio (Blackburn, £6.5m), Adam Le Fondre (Reading, £4m), Francis Coquelin (Arsenal, £3.5m) and Christian Benteke (Villa, £4.6m). Over half was recovered in sale of several fringe players.

After qualifying for the Europa League as FA Cup runners-up (to Man City), they were paired with FC Groningen for a place in the Group Stage. WBA lost the first leg 0-2 in the Netherlands, but put in a cracking 3-0 win in the return leg at home to progress and be drawn alongside Basel, Trabzonspor, and Bulgarian side Litex.

The league season started with patchy results, and WBA also found themselves out of the League Cup at the first opportunity with defeat at Spurs, but the European campaign got off to a solid start with wins at Litex and Basel before defeat in Turkey. Five points from their final three games was enough to put them through to the knockout phase.

December was a bad month for the club however, and after nine games without a win, Curbishley was sacked at Christmas to be replaced by Alan Shearer. His first game in charge would be at home to his boyhood club Newcastle, and WBA came from behind to win 3-2.

FA Cup 3rd Round defeat followed at Portsmouth, before the club exited the Europa League in the last 32 following a 1-1 home draw, and then a 1-4 defeat to Pescara. Only four more defeats came in the club’s final twelve league games of the season and they finished a steady 14th.

2016-17

The following season saw a quiet transfer window, and a bang-average season on all fronts. Once again out of the League Cup at the first hurdle (at home to Millwall), and didn’t record a league win until a 5-1 win over Fulham on the last day of September. Every short unbeaten run of 3/4 matches was followed by a pair of defeats and the club sat 10th at Christmas.

Replays were required to beat Aston Villa and then Brighton in the FA Cup before a 5th Round exit at Manchester City. The season petered out somewhat with the club picking up just 10 points from the last 33 available, and West Brom finished 12th.

2017-18

Tom Cleverley and Jack Butland arrived from Swansea for a combined £13m (which the club recouped in fringe player sales), with the club also signing Oriel Romeu from Chelsea for a fee of around £3m.

WBA lost three of their opening four league matches, but did finally make progress in the League Cup where they eventually went out on penalties to Manchester United in the Quarter-Finals in the club’s only defeat in a run of fourteen matches up to the end of the year.

FA Cup 3rd Round defeat came at Derby, and the club went on to pick-up 20 points from their last sixteen games to comfortably finish 10th in the league. Shearer remains in charge ahead of the new season, and Jonas Olsson is club captain.

2015-16

Gordon Strachan’s West Ham were facing a second season in the Championship after missing out on the Playoffs the previous season, but despite League Cup wins over Crystal Palace and Coventry, a poor start to the season a run of just one win in eight cost Strachan his job.

John Sheridan joined from Southend United to replace him and West Ham went on a stunning run of 12 wins in a row before defeat by Hull, and then a further 14 unbeaten after that. Home defeats by Cardiff and Birmingham would cost them top spot to Burnley before an eventual FA Cup 6th Round defeat to eventual winner Wolves.

Three wins and three draws ended the league season and West Ham would finish five points behind Burnley, but crucially two points clear of 3rd place Southampton, and the Hammers were back in the top flight!

2016-17

Come the New Year, West Ham only had five wins to their name in the Premier League and had been eliminated by Southampton in the League Cup. A thrilling 3-2 win over Arsenal came in the FA Cup before defeat at Man City.

A run of six straight defeats plunged West Ham perilously close to the bottom three, and come to final week of the season they were in the drop zone. A vital win came at top six Burnley before a point against Leicester set-up a winner stays up final day game at Bolton.

Robert Hall had the Hammers ahead inside two minutes. A Chris Eagles penalty quickly levelled things, before Marc Linighan and Marvin Sordell traded goals. The winner came around the hour mark when Johnny Russell slammed home from the edge of the box to lift West Ham to their final finishing spot of 17th, and relegate Bolton in front of their own fans.

2017-18

Sheridan spent over £30m last summer collecting some handy squad players such as Johnny Russell (Wigan), Giannis Fetfatzidis (Bolton), Asmir Begovic (Stoke), and Aaron Lennon (Liverpool). Grant Hanley was the biggest sale, moving to Villa for £7m.

I’m really bored of this. They finished 11th. 😂

I’ll expand on this at a later date. Just need to get all this stuff finished!

2015-16

Finished: 10th
FA Cup: 5th Round exit to Spurs
League Cup: Lost 2-4 in Final to Chelsea
Manager: Mark Hughes
Transfers: Cheikhou Kouyaté from Blackburn, £7m

2016-17

Finished: 14th
FA Cup: 5th Round exit to Hull
League Cup: Lost 0-1 in Final to Everton
Manager: Mark Hughes left for Wolves, replacement Roy Keane sacked in May

2017-18

Finished: 18th, relegated
FA Cup: Lost in 6th Round Replay at Sunderland
League Cup: Lost 0-3 at home to Fulham in 4th Round
Manager: Steve Clark appointed, replaced by Michael Appleton in February
Transfers: John Obi Mikel from Sevilla, £8m. Andy Carroll to Southampton, £4m

Again, will expand later. Apologies to any Wolves fans reading.

2015-16

Finished: 6th
FA Cup: Beat Spurs 2-0 in Final
League Cup:  Lost at Stoke in 3rd Round
Manager: Martin Jol, who left for England job after Euro 2016
Transfers: Artur Sobiech from Hannover, £15m

2016-17

Finished: 11th
Europa League: Lost in Last 16, 2-3 on aggregate to Porto
FA Cup: Lost in 3rd Round at Swansea
League Cup: Lost in 4th Round at Blackpool
Community Shield: Lost 1-2 to Tottenham
Manager: Gareth Southgate appointed
Transfers: Vladimir Darida from Zenit, £11m

2017-18

Finished: 12th
FA Cup: Lost in 5th Round at Sunderland
League Cup: Lost in 3rd Round at Bolton
Manager: Southgate sacked in November, Steve McClaren appointed
Transfers: Sean Murray to Aston Villa, £12m


RTFM is returning after a hiatus since we resigned as manager of Borussia Dortmund at the end of June 2015. The three seasons since then have been fully simulated in the original FM13 save, right up to the eve of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Our daily news will return on 15 June 2018, with regular blog posts between now and then to highlight what’s happened in our absence.
NB: The entirety of RTFM is being played on Football Manager 2013. Regen players will have ® after their names to indicate this. Be aware that changes to competition rules since the summer of 2012 will not have been implemented in our save (e.g. UEL winners do not automatically qualify for the UCL), and this includes any new clubs or franchises, though we will endeavour to report on correct/current competition titles.
We will return to club management after our save generates the domestic leagues we’ve selected for the 2018-19 season on, or shortly after, 20th June. Feel free to ask questions in the comments or @realtimefm.

Catch-Up: L Is For… Liverpool, League Cup

Part eight of our whizz through the past three seasons takes us to L. Apologies to J and K, but I couldn’t find much of interest. Just for completion sake: Japan are ranked 30th in the world, with South Korea 35th, and both are off to the World Cup. Kim Jong-il’s lot are 103rd. Right, that’s out the way… L time!

The English Football League Carabao Coca-Cola Carling Capital One EFL Rumbalows Worthington’s Milk Cup Sponsored by Littlewoods. Last time we took a look at it, Arsenal came from behind to beat Championship side Reading.

Fresh from their success in the 2015 FIFA World Club Cup, Chelsea marched through to the 2016 EFL Cup Final with wins over Huddersfield, Newcastle, Manchester United, and Burnley. Wigan Athletic’s route to the Final came with victories against Barnsley, Arsenal, Bolton (where they were 0-2 down away from home, then scored three times in four minutes to win), Fulham, and Reading.

Chelsea were three-up inside half-hour at Wembley, before Wigan struck twice after the break to put them back in the tie, but an Aidan McGeady goal ten minutes from time gave Chelsea their third silverware of the summer.

Wigan would make the Final the following season too, where they’d face Everton. Crewe, Leeds, and Derby stood in their way, before Wigan knocked-out Arsenal for the second year in a row. They lost 0-1 at home to Sunderland in the Semi-Final First Leg, but won 2-0 in the North East to book their place at Wembley.

Like the Latics, Everton were also in their third-ever League Cup Final having also lost their other two. Walsall, Manchester United, Aston Villa, and Fulham were all dispatched at Villa Park, before squeaking through after extra time 5-4 on aggregate against Bolton.

The 2017 Final was decided by a solitary goal, with Tarik Elyounoussi striking in the opening ten minutes to give Everton their first trophy since the 1995 FA Cup and Charity Shield.

Newcastle met Stoke in the 2018 Final, the first time that either side had appeared in the match since the mid-70s. Newcastle’s route to Wembley took them past Cardiff, Burnley, Sunderland, and Arsenal. The first two ties both went to extra-time, before a 4-1 stuffing of arch-rivals at the Stadium of Light. Arsenal won 2-0 in Newcastle, but a stunning 4-0 win for the Magpies at the Emirates had them one game away from a trophy.

Stoke City battled past Oxford United, Nottingham Forest, West Ham, Fulham, and Manchester United to reach the Final, with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford booking their place in the showdown with Newcastle at Wembley. Juan Agudelo gave Stoke the lead after quarter of an hour, but an equaliser from 16 year-old Jimmy Salvin® took the game to extra-time.

Adam Campbell, transfer listed at Newcastle, won it for them just 85 seconds into extra-time with a thundering header at a corner to give the club their first major honour since 1955 (though they had won the Championship four times since).

I wasn’t going to include Leicester in this catch-up as they’re not in next season’s Premier League, but quickly realised that explaining how the “real life” 2016 Champions wouldn’t be there in 2019 needed an entry of its own.

Our last look at the league tables back in 2015 saw Leicester finish 4th in the Championship, but they lost to beaten-finalists Cardiff in the Playoffs. Another Playoff campaign followed in 2016 after a 3rd place finish, and the Foxes booked their place back in the top-flight with victory at Wembley.

Alas, it wasn’t a glorious return to the Premier League after twelve years away. The club won just five matches in their league campaign, finishing rock bottom on 22 points, some eighteen points behind 17th-place West Ham. Relegation cost Simon Grayson his job.

Back in the Championship this season, the Foxes couldn’t bounce-back under new boss Paul Jewell and they’ll spend another year in the second tier.

Liverpool finished 7th back in 2015 during a stinker of a season where Rafa Benítez was replaced by Eddie Howe before Christmas and the club miss-out on European football. Luis Suárez left for Barcelona for £14m, and the money was reinvested in Eduardo Vargas from Napoli, and Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea.

2015/16 started brightly, with Liverpool losing just twice in all competitions up to the end of November. The first came on the opening day away at Norwich, while the EFL Cup campaign was over at the last sixteen with a 0-5 home defeat by Manchester United.

A wobble came in January with the club losing five out of six, including FA Cup defeat at home to Reading, but form picked-up and the club finished 4th on the final day when victory instead of defeat at Manchester City would have sealed 2nd. Diego Contento arrived from Schalke in a £16m summer transfer, and Dennis Praet joined from Dortmund for £8m.

2016-17 started with the club overcoming FC Twente in the Champions League Playoffs to make the Group Stage, despite a First Leg defeat at Anfield. Galatasaray, Lille, and Valencia would await them. Liverpool drew all three at home, and lost all three away to finish bottom of the group.

Domestically, the club didn’t get off to a good start either with just ten wins on the board by the New Year, and Eddie Howe was dismissed in favour of Luis Enrique. They scraped to 5th place, meaning they’d have to go through the Playoffs to make the 2017-18 Europa League Group Stage.

£60m was spent in the summer of 2017 as the club brought in Alexander Merkel (Dortmund), Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), and Lorenzo Crisetig (Inter) in substantial deals. UEFA’s draw was kind to the Reds, as Welsh side Bangor City were seen off 8-0 on aggregate, and Liverpool found themselves alongside Fenerbahçe, Partizan Belgrade, and Metalist Kharkiv.

Despite the significant summer outlay, results were inconsistent both domestically and on the continent. Despite progressing behind Fenerbahçe, a run of just one win in thirteen matches put an end to Enrique’s tenure at Anfield by December.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man: Rafa Benítez was appointed Liverpool manager for the third time in his career at Christmas 2017.

Alexander Merkel’s time at Anfield was cut short as the central midfielder was shipped off to Arsenal, and the money reinvested in Steven Caulker to shore up Liverpool’s leaky defence. Raheem Sterling also left the club after failing to score in 18 months, though Swansea were still happy to stump-up £11m for the 23 year-old’s signature.

Fiorentina and Shaktar Donetsk came and went in the Europa League, but Wolves and Sunderland ended the club’s domestic cup runs. Liverpool were drawn against Arsenal in the last eight in Europe, but did themselves no favours losing 0-4 at the Emirates before a draw at home. Arsenal would eventually go on to win their third successive Europa League.

Liverpool eventually finished 7th in the Premier League, with a good run of results under Benítez, but the damage was done before Christmas. With Newcastle’s FA Cup win, it will be a year without continental competition next season for a Liverpool side who are without a major honour since 2006.


RTFM is returning after a hiatus since we resigned as manager of Borussia Dortmund at the end of June 2015. The three seasons since then have been fully simulated in the original FM13 save, right up to the eve of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Our daily news will return on 15 June 2018, with regular blog posts between now and then to highlight what’s happened in our absence.
NB: The entirety of RTFM is being played on Football Manager 2013. Regen players will have ® after their names to indicate this. Be aware that changes to competition rules since the summer of 2012 will not have been implemented in our save (e.g. UEL winners do not automatically qualify for the UCL), and this includes any new clubs or franchises, though we will endeavour to report on correct/current competition titles.
We will return to club management after our save generates the domestic leagues we’ve selected for the 2018-19 season on, or shortly after, 20th June. Feel free to ask questions in the comments or @realtimefm.

Capital One Cup Final: Arsenal 2-1 Reading

capital-one-cup-logo540

Arsenal have lifted their third Football League Cup, and first since 1993, after a 2-1 win over Reading at Wembley this afternoon. Last year’s Europa League winners were behind to the runaway Championship leaders when Danny Rose headed Reading in front midway through the first-half, but two quick goals before the break turned the game around.

Kenny Gordon fired Arsenal level with his first competitive goal for the club, as Arsène Wenger played a largely second-string side ahead of their trip to AC Milan on Tuesday. Four minutes later, in first-half stoppage time, Miroslav Stoch cut inside and drilled Arsenal in front with only his second goal following a £12m move from Fenerbahçe.

It’s the first time since 2005 that Arsenal have won trophies in consecutive years under Wenger when a FA Cup win over Manchester United followed their undefeated 2003-04 Premier League campaign.

capital-one-cup-trophy540_2015

Diary: Capital One Cup SFs; Manager Updates

daily-diary-header

DAILY DIARY, Thursday 22 January 2015:

70-capitalonecupArsenal and Reading will contest next month’s Capital One Cup Final after winning their two-legged Semi-Final ties this week. Reading drew 1-1 at Aston Villa to progress 3-2 on aggregate, while Arsenal went down 2-3 in extra-time at Sunderland but progressed on away goals.

Reading feature in the Final for the first time in their history and are the first club outside of the top flight to reach the Final since Cardiff in 2012. The last winners from the second-tier were Sheffield Wednesday in 1991. It’s Arsenal first League Cup Final since 2011 where they lost to Birmingham City, their fifth Final defeat in seven appearances.

daily-divider_managerialupdates

After Dortmund manager Gray Surman ruled himself out of the running for the vacancy at RSC Anderlecht, the Belgian champions have announced that AZ Alkmaar boss Gertjan Verbeek will take over at the club following a compensation agreement between the two clubs.

Elsewhere across Europe, Brescia manager Alessandro Calori has left to join his former club Udinese as manager, sixteen years after he left there as a player following eight seasons of service.

Marítimo have revealed Domingos Paciência as their new manager, while Darije Kalezic has taken charge at KV Mechelen.

Capital One Cup Final 2014: Manchester Derby

capital-one-cup-logo540

Manchester United have retained the Capital One Cup, their fourth victory in six seasons, with a 1-0 victory over neighbours Manchester City in a fiesty match that saw Jonny Evans sent-off for United shortly after half-time.

Yaya Touré was cautioned inside the first minute for clattering Rafael, who took a knock that saw him substituted shorty afterwards. With clear cut chances rare throughout the first-half, the match came alive seven minutes after the break.

Neymar, City’s £40m summer signing, was clean through and 25 yards out when Jonny Evans made a clumsy challenge that took both man and ball. Referee Howard Webb deemed it a foul, and Evans received his marching orders. Samir Nasri hit the outside of the crossbar with the free-kick in the closest City came all afternoon.

United sacrificed Shinji Kagawa after going down to 10-men, but refused to sit back, considering attack the best form of defence, and Aidan McGeady and Yohan Cabaye gave the City midfield a torrid time, working the ball into the box on several occasions, though Danny Wellbeck couldn’t force Joe Hart into making a save.

The breakthrough finally came in the 80th minute when Milan Badelj out-muscled James Milner before firing a great square-ball right across the six yard box for Rodrigo at the far post to smash home his 10th goal of the season under heavy pressure from Clichy and Kompany. Now in front, United were happy to pack men behind the ball, and City heads went as they battled – too hard for Webb’s liking – in the closing stages, with Ballotelli, Tevez and United’s Patrice Evra all picking up cautions in the final five minutes.

It looks like the first trophy of many for United this season, as they currently hold a 14-point gap over Arsenal at the summit of the Premier League, with eleven matches to play. They’re 2-0 up over Schalke in the Champions League Last 16 from the first leg, and face a trip to QPR in the FA Cup Quarter Final later this month.

capital-one-cup-trophy540_2014