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Season 12 -3rd Division
Posted by Allan Sellers on Tuesday, Feb. 21st, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Who will win the 3rd Division?

Readers Comments

Went with Carlisle, though Jake's squad should push them all season.  Defense wins championships, and Carlisle's is the best in the division.  That and they have 6 times the cash Bristol does for another auction pickup or two to help the offense.  Or trade a Mf + cash to get a Fw in return.  Lots of options for Mark.

Kevin Martin on Tuesday, Feb. 21st, 2012 at 11:35 PM
 

backing myself in both united's to at least get promotion and hopefully go up as division 3 champions in both united's :D

Jake Hanny on Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, 2012 at 10:04 PM
 

Gotta back Jake to have learnt something!  ;-)

Andy Bate on Thursday, Feb. 23rd, 2012 at 1:58 AM
 

Division 3 preview [not forgotten, just really, really late]:

Teams listed as follows:

Name.  Combined record for Div 3 play, all seasons. (rank in most Div 3 wins).  Winning % in Div 3 play, all seasons combined.  (rank).  Last season’s result.

Breakdown of players SL 8 and above on roster listed by: GK-SW-DF-MF-FW.

 

Before jumping in, I need to point out that all of these teams have been here and have plenty of experience in Division 3.  Every team is in at least their 4th season of play, headlined by LEI, who are in their 10th out of 11 league seasons.  Also, it is important to remember that a “successful season” in Division 3 does not necessarily mean getting lots of wins and a promotion spot.  Sometimes, building a solid youth core and powering up some age I players to respectable levels is more important than actually winning matches this year.  Teams that try to win every match instead of build SL through the youth and core age I/II players tend to stay down in Division 3 for a long time.  So take these previews and rankings as they are intended: a best guess as to this season’s outcome and some critique/pointers for teams expected to finish poorly this season so that next season will be a far brighter and more promising place to play in.

 

Listed in order of expected finish:

Carlisle United.  26-25-75 (17th).  .306 win % (21st).  Last season: 3-3-12, 10th place Div 2, relegated.  2-1-5-5-3 (SL 8+).

Here is an example of what can happen when a team goes “all in” on the rebuilding process.  Kicked around last season in Div 2 and finishing in 10th, Mark committed fully to rebuilding from the youth up.  This season they are 2nd in T11 and 1st in T16 as a result in Div 3.  They have good depth headlined by a great Gk (+1 SL player), 8 age I players that could be max SL, and another 3 age II/III players in peak form.  There is no way there is enough CP to get them all maxed out, however that’s a beautiful problem to have!  Carlisle will build strength on their T11 core while keeping around enviable depth for next season’s campaign which is all but assured of being back up in Div 2.  Only one team even comes close to Carlisle’s class in Div 3.  They have a long history of being the Div 3 whipping boy, spending multiple seasons on the bottom of the league under prior management.  They are tied for most Div 3 league losses at 75, and their 312 goals against is the most in league history.  This season, they may not add to either total!  They’re 7-2-0 to start the year and gaining steam.  With plenty of cash in the bank for another T11 player, CAR could make a splash in a Cup or two along the way to their division title.

 

Bristol City FC.  29-14-11 (12th).  .667 win % (4th).  6-7-5, 7th place Div 3.  2-1-3-5-4.

Of any team with at least 3 seasons of Div 3 play, Bristol has the fewest losses at 11.  Their +63 goal differential is the current tops, made possible by their 3.30 goals/game average at home (3rd best) and 1.89 on the road (4th best).  Their .815 home win % is the 3rd best, and they are the only team over .500 in away play for Division 3 at .519.  They addressed their only weakness by picking up a II/12 Fw at auction early on to help with goal-scoring and a T11 boost.  With no youth at Gk or Sw stealing playing time from the goal stoppers, this is a team that has no weakness to exploit.  They can still be overpowered by a top league team, however I see nothing that can stop them from earning another promotion spot this season.  If they invest the CP earned into maxing out the 3 top-SL players and the other 3 on the roster, and bring up the youth behind, they should roll out a solid team next season as well.

 

Leicester City FC.  68-24-70 (1st).  .494 win % (15th).  8-3-7 last season, 4th place Div 3, missing promotion by 1 point.  1-x-6-3-3 at SL 8+.

No team has racked up more wins (68) or points (228) in Div 3.  Their next closest competitor on points is more than 50 behind!  Their 297 goals for is also tops.  Of course, that’s what comes about from a lot of mid-table finishes over ten seasons of play.  This season they have the potential to finally break through that 4th place barrier and reach the promotion zone.  They have a solid lineup for Div 3, without any position being ignored.  They do have an apprentice at Gk that may cost them a match or two, and their Sweeper position has no one on top and a Sby coming up.  That keeps them from competing against CAR or BRI for the title.  Still, they have the talent elsewhere to make a run and the 3rd best T11 and 4th best T16 to show it’s not smoke and mirrors.  Figuring out how to win on the road while protecting an App in goal is going to be hard.  Even a few road draws might be enough to hold out for the #3 spot though.  This is the best chance that they’ve had of reaching that goal in at least four seasons.

 

Leeds United.  27-7-20 (15th).  .565 (tied 11th).  5-5-8, 8th place Div 2, relegated.  2-1-3-2-6.

Leeds has an outstanding history of defense in Div 3.  Their 1.09 goals against/game (1.41 away, .78 home) are all 5th best overall and tops of the current teams.  However, this season they have an App in goal and a Sby at Sw along with 7 other youth to worry about.  Coupled with playing a lot of hardness (3rd highest avg. hardness in league), that’s not a great recipe to keep out cheap goals.  To offset that, they do have the deepest front line in the division.  There is a very good chance of Leeds just going for a strategy of scoring more than they give up and hoping for 4-3 and 5-4 wins each match.  I don’t doubt Abe’s ability to pull that off.  If they stick to the developmental plan though, and the youth get playing time, I see the hardness keeping a few too many of the T11 guys out of league matches once the suspensions start piling up.  At 5th-best T11, they can’t afford to have even one guy out for a T11 clash on the road against the other contenders.  That will cost them a few points and will be the difference between 3rd and 4th place this season.  If they continue to build the youth and the 4 top players currently on the roster, they should have no problem competing for the division crown next season.

 

Weston-super-Mare AFC.  47-15-46 (tie 6th).  .505 win % (14th).  4-4-10 in Div 2 last season, 9th place and relegated.  1-1-4-2-2.

WES has a good core at Gk/Sw/Df.  That should lead to solid defense and some road draws helping out the final points total.  They have a very thin line at Mf and Fw though (12-10-6 and under at Mf, 12-12-7 and under at Fw).  That could lead to goal-scoring problems and draws at home as well.  Throw in an App at Gk & Sw, along with 5 Sbys needing playing time, and Weston just doesn’t have the depth to play to win most matches without giving up youth time.  Developing youth needs to be the priority with just 2 top-SL players on the roster.  While our elder gamesman Mr. Blair does have a sizeable bank balance to invest in some top players, saving it for this coming off-season may be a wiser approach.  Once the youth come up, and the current top players and a few of the almost-top-players get the CP attention this season, this team will probably be just one or two players from competing with the top clubs again.  A big off-season auction splash with two T11 players will have this squad in great shape.

 

Swindon Town FC.  52-19-37 (tie 2nd), .569 win % (10th), 7-6-5 last season, 5th Div 3.  2-1-1-4-3 breakdown of SL 8+ players.

A team in transition, Swindon needs to find direction.  They have only three players at max-SL potential on the roster, and those are all at age I.  They have 8 promising youth, with none at Gk or Sw, so the older, higher-SL players can play and help prevent goals.  The youth need time elsewhere though, leading to fewer goals being scored.  Their greatest area of strength is at midfield, where they have two apprentices that need playing time.  The team might be well served to trade off the III/12 or III/11 Mf for a comparable defender to balance the lineup and have a better chance of getting draws and needed CP to max out the age I players.  There is too little cash in the bank to make an auction splash, so any moves will have to be through a similar trade.  Mostly, this is a team in 6th at T11 rank, 6th at T16 rank, and 6th in my rankings.  Try to win at home and play for draws on the road, with the youth maxing out and all CP attention going first to the age I players.  This team will not push for promotion with their lineup and SL, so rebuilding wisely and sneaking victories with unexpected tactics as the youth max out will be a good season.

 

Dagenham & Redbridge.  47-17-62 (tie 6th), .440 win % (19th), 8-2-8, 6th place Div 3.  3-1-4-2-2.

This team needs a firm commitment to the youth development plan.  Last season they finished in 6th.  This season I have them pegged for 7th.  If they don’t right the development ship, it could be lower next year.  With a low bank balance, there is no outside fix coming in.  Their best trade chip could be the II/11 Gk to move for an SL 10 or 11 outfielder.  With 3 Gks on the roster, he’s definitely a spare piece that could serve the team best by going away to bring in a more useful match-to-match player.  The problem for this squad is that of the (only) 6 youth, all are Apps and none are at max SL.  Similarly, the age I’s on the roster started the season with 2 at SL 7 and 1 at SL 9.  In Div 3, teams struggling can go all-in on the rebuild and have at least 4-5 age I, SL 10 players come up in two seasons’ time, with another 4-5 Apps behind them ready to also max out.  DAG has instead pushed for wins and used hardness to get there.  Injuries and suspensions have kept his youth from their potential, and also has currently crippled his front line, with his only two decent forwards currently injured and unable to play!  There isn’t a single max-SL player on the roster, and that needs to change in a hurry.  Without starting from scratch with a stable full of Sbys this season though, the rebuild has been put off another year… along with any hope of improving upon this season’s performance.

 

Wycombe Wanderers.  43-26-75 (9th), .389 win % (20th), 4-4-10 last season, 9th in Div 3.  1-x-2-1-2 players at SL 8+.

No max SL players on the roster.  No age I/10’s.  No maxed Apps coming up.  Only one Sby for future seasons.  Of 6 youth, 5 are Apps with all at least 2 SL off max pace and 2 being mostly ignored this season.  While this team has a better chance of winning at home than the two teams below, there is a definite need to commit to a rebuilding plan.  What should have started this season with  6 fresh Sbys to max out will instead have to be put off until next season.  In fact, the team may still be best served by ditching the Apps currently on the roster and discovering 5 Sbys to replace them.  They’ll start 1 SL down, however 5 age I/SL 9 players in two season’s time will be far better than what the currently youth crop can produce.  For a team that is currently tied for most losses in Div 3 history, there are plenty more coming this season and next.  What happens in season 14 will hinge on what the rest of this season brings.

 

Oldham Athletic AFC.  47-17-44 (tie 6th), .514 win % (13th), 7-3-8, 8th place Div 3.  1-2-2-1-2.

OLA does have some bright spots, with 9 youth headed by 6 Apps getting attention.  With just 3 max-SL players on the roster (2 at age I), they will be needed in a hurry.  This is a team with a confusing roster build though.  2 good Sweepers, and just two decent Fws and 1 Mf?  They have no offense, as shown by their early goal famine.  Their first 6 matches brought just 9 scoring chances combined.  Their goals came vs. a non-league team with no Sw and an SL 10 Gk and one PK given up by another team’s hardness.  OLA isn’t going to out-score anyone this season, so it’s a good thing that they are able to measure success by how much the SL grows on the youth players for this season.  With just two I/10 players on the roster needing CP, there should be enough to max them out and have at least two players to build around when the youth start coming into form next season and beyond.  9th place this season, with more optimism for next year, though admittedly at DAG’s and WYC’s expense.

 

Brentford FC.  3-7-62 (22nd), .090 win % (22nd), 0-1-17 last season, 10th Div 3.  1-x-2-1-x roster lineup of SL 8+ players.

Brentford has been hard up for many seasons now.  And yet, this is the most excited I’ve been for the team’s future chances since they last won an FA Cup!  Sure, they’ve never won a road match in their Div 3 history (4+ seasons of play) and their -234 goal differential is the worst ever.  That’s about to change if they can make it through this season with the youth intact.  They have 15 youth on the roster, with 9 App 5’s and 6 Sbys to start the season.  6 of the Apps are maxed out so far, with 5 Sbys on top pace as well.  The rebuild is looking good and the SL is steadily increasing.  Since they started the season with only one player on the entire roster with an SL over 8 (the Gk, who started at SL 9), there are few players worth sticking CP into.  The Gk and probably the two I/8 Dfs are the only ones needing CP to perhaps help the team to some draws and extra CP.  PFD in every match is a great idea.  The rest of the CP can be sunk back into fitness points for injured youth players to keep them on the field and getting playing time.  No one is expecting them to win.  They don’t have to.  They just have to keep the youth playing and next season is going to look much, much better.  If they bring along the Apps next season as well while putting CP into 3 key age I players, they can rise above last place in the league for first time since season 8 and win more than one league match for the first season since 6 – when they were in Div 1.

In fact, the worst enemy this team has may be their own manager!  His insistence on playing 10 hardness in every match with all the youth out there continues to amaze me.  Suspensions and injury are the only things that can derail a youth rebuilding plan, and he’s maximizing his own players’ chances of both every match.  If you’re probably not going to win anyway (as the .090 win % shows), then save the hardness and keep the players healthy and on the field!

 

Odds of winning Div 3 (for entertainment purposes only):

CAR 2:3

BRI 2:1

LEI 5:1

LEE 7:1

WES 12:1

SWI 20:1

DAG 50:1

WYC 100:1

OLA 150:1

BRE 200:1

Kevin Martin on Tuesday, Feb. 28th, 2012 at 6:53 PM
 
 
 
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