One of the reason why I started a save with Reading FC in FM17 was to play with young players who are in the club at the start of the game. Jordan Obita, Dominic Samuel, Liam Kelly, Jake Cooper or Danny Loader.
And the last one made very good progress during the first five years with this save as he became the best Premier League goalscorer of the last season I played so far.
Danny was a member of our Under 18 team when I started the game and he was 15 years old striker. I promoted him to the Senior squad and he was one of our seven strikers.
We played with 4-3-3 formation so I had to have a lot of strikers. Same as Josh Barret for example, Danny Loader was wanted by much bigger clubs like Everton, Liverpool, Leicester, Southampton or Stoke. But I refused to sell him…
During his first season in the Senior squad he played mainly for our Reserve squad in Reserve league, Premier Division Cup or Checktrade Trophy. He also started in two Championship matches and one EFL Cup match and he became the youngest player in the club and EFL Cup history.
Danny, dubbed the new Michael Owen by media, had value of determination attribute 18 at the start of the save. In August 2016 this value started to decrease. He was not injured, he was not unhappy, he was only tutored by Yann Kermogant who had same level of determination.
Some my friends told me there could have been some personal issues and that could be the reason why this value dropped so massively.
The second season was another one with formation with three strikers and Danny Loader played much more time in the Senior squad as he had 6.66 average rating in the Championship but he did not scored in the league and made only two assists.
He scored one in the only one match in the FA Cup and two goals in EFL Cup matches. He was injured for one month and it was during the time of the season when we changed our formation from 4-3-3 to 4-3-1-2 and he lost his place as other strikers had to be prepared to play.
Danny also broke the Reading record for the youngest player to score in a match, at the age of 17 years and 22 days.
Danny, still wanted by several Premier League clubs, started the third season as our striker #4. We played with 4-3-1-2 and Danny was trained for Pochaer role. During last two years he made a good progress with some attributes, for example Off the Ball (8 to 11), First Touch (8 to 11), Acceleration (13 to 16) or Decision (7 to 10).
During his third season he was outshined by Rob Harker surprisingly. Dominic Samuel was the number one and Harker became the number two during the season as he scored 16 goals in 22 matches (Harker was released in June 2021 after unsuccessful loan spells in Coventry and Newport County in previous two seasons).
And Loader played just only three matches in the starting XI in the Championship. He scored two goals and made one assist.
Despite not good season with the club he went to FIFA World Cup U-20 with England and with 11 goals in six matches he became the best goalscorer of the tournament and England won it.
After this season we were promoted to the Premier League and there could be two ways how to develop him next. We could send him to lower league for loan spell or keep him in the squad. I think many of FM players would send him for loan spell but I did not make it because of this way how I deal with loans…
I have two ways how to deal with youngsters loans. If it’s very big prospect I never sent him to another club for loan and he is member of my Senior Squad, he trains with Senior Squad and he plays for Reserve team or in cup matches for the first team. I rather keep youngsters in my first team than to sent him on loan.
Loan could be good even if he will be a first team player in his new club and he is played in right position. To keep younsters in your club is good when your Reserve/U19 teams play with same formation and player roles as your first team.
I always sent players on loan if I’m not sure they will be good enough for my first team. It’s all about your own experience but as my teams have always average age around 20-22 years old my advice would be to keep your youngsters around your first team.
If your youngsters will be first team players or key players in the 2nd division clubs, it should be good. If they will be only rotation or backup players keep them in your club and let them play regularly for your reserve team.
That’s my way same as everything in this save. I have a lot of confidence in Loader and also expectations so it was logical to keep him in the first team. If you read the summary of the 2019/2020 season, our first season in the Premier League after the promotion, you know it was the right decision.
We had great first half of the season and the main striker was Dominic Samuel who scored many goals. But some key players including Samuel were injured and Loader became our main attacking power.
He played in 35 Premier League matches and scored 16 goals. He was voted Youth Player of the Month four times during this season. And he also signed new contract until 2024.
I knew the fifth season will be massive for him. As Dominic Samuel had more injury problems during the last season I decided Loader will be my striker #1 because I did not want to rely on Samuel. I had to trust to Loader.
As we had magnificent season in the Premier League and also in Europa League, Danny Loader was a key player for us.
He played in 36 Premier League matches and scored 29 goals. He scored 9 goals in Europa League too and three goals in the EFL Cup. Due to rotation policy he did not feature in FA Cup for example.
The stats of this season were fantastic: 41 goals and 20 assists. He scored five goals in league match against Cardiff City for example.
His value increased to 27M, he extended his contract until 2025 and he earns much more than before five years of course.
The bonus was he was called to the England Senior Squad and won many awards…
In my 4-3-1-2 formation I use Danny in both attacking roles. He can play as Target Man and also as a Poacher.
This screen is from league match against Southampton in which he played in Target Man role, he scored two goals from five shots (one missed target, two blocked). The picture included also his heat map and overall average position.
The second example of the same things is from the friendly match against Benfica before the 2021/2022 season. Loader played as a Poacher, we won 4-2 and Loader scored three goals from four shots on target.
I just started the new season already and during pre-season Danny played in three friendly matches and scored five goals.
He will be our number one striker again and the only one thing I have to decide before match is in which position I will play him as it depends on with he play in attack.
Maybe if he would played more matches during the first two seasons in the Championship, his progress would be even faster but I’m happy how his career evolved. I’m curious how it will continue…
Thanks for reading, @KeysiRensie.