It Only Took 5 Seasons…: FC United Promoted to League One

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It was a slog. Getting to League Two went smoothly however the time it took to break out of it was surprising. The team was always expected to be fight desperately against relegation and for the first three seasons in the league fulfilled those expectations (21st, 22nd, and 20th). It wasn’t until the 2024/2025 season that the team fixed itself firmly midtable. 

Inconsistency was a constant. It was infuriating. Every quality run of form was followed by a longer streak of totally collapse. The 24/25 season opened with a 9 match unbeaten run (22 points) but closed out with a 10 match winless streak (2 points). It was maddening. However, over the course of the seasons it became clear that overthinking tactics was causing issues.

For the 2025/2026 season, I decided to fall back on the traditional 4-4-2 with a 4-4-1-1 as a back-up. Training focused on fitness and team cohesion, because I wanted the players to a tighter unit with a deeper understanding of where their teammates would be. It turned out this worked quite well. A 10 match unbeaten run from January to March shot the team up the standings essentially guaranteeing a playoff spot for promotion. This was a genuine surprise as I had resigned myself to only being incrementally better this season shooting for a top-10 finish.

By April, there was a serious chance to not just gain automatic promotion but win the title. I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the team to collapse down the stretch. But it didn’t happen. A core of loanees from the Premier League shored up the defense raising the club profile just enough for me to sign a high quality centerback in the January window. These pieces complimented the attacking players perfectly leading to the winning streaks. 

I’ve entered that stage of play where most players are now generated, which is kinda freeing in that it divorces me from any prejudices about a player’s quality. Head over heart, I suppose. For FC United, Jack Reeves at centerback, right midfielder Colm Conning, and striker Chris Morgan will be cornerstone players going up into League One. All three are between 22-24, so they’re just hitting their stride. Hopefully, I can fill in the team with a slight upgrade at both fullbacks (always a bane), a central midfielder who can boss around the opposition, and a left winger who can provide the necessary service. Those will be the priorities with the goal for 2026/2027 to simply stay up.

I’ve yet to be relegated, which I think is rather impressive over the 9 years I’ve been at the helm of the club. Along the way, I crossed the 400 game milestone. I’ll be honest, being able to stay with a single club this long has been a surprise.

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However, while I regularly declined the myriad of lower division job offers from European clubs I had never heard of, I did interview to take over Minnesota United. Twice, actually. Both times they passed me over although I was the ‘leading candidate’ by all the social feeds in game. Each time they did, the team got worse. Minnesota now has had 7 managers in the time I’ve been in League Two. It was tempting to get to take over Minnesota but now I’ve decided to stay on at FC United until I’m fired; this is entering dynasty territory now.

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