So I’m a week late on this due to illness, however that works for me as the ending to this series will overlap with the start of my FM19 content and for a few weeks, this will be alternate to that stuff. I have two more pieces planned which should come on October 29th and November the 12th while my first piece of FM19 content should come out next Monday 22nd of October.
My illness also stopped me from releasing the second parts of my real life squads, among a few other things, but you can find part 1 of Chelsea and England by clicking on the respective names and I should have the second parts up soon-ish, basically as soon as I can find a break in my blog plans but hopefully at the weekend.
Hamza Choudhury (2021 – ) – I have to start with the captain on this one. This season marks my 6th with Choudhury and his 5th as captain of our club. He’s been instrumental in our success, first playing as a CMs before dropping back into the DLPd role that he has really made his own.
Since dropping back to be our fulcrum he’s averaged a 90% pass completion rate over 3 seasons, including 2 seasons in the Premier League, that is a pretty good start for a guy who cost my less than a million.
Now rated at over £10m, 29-year-old Choudhury has seen his place in the team threatened by young German signing Marian Engel but there’s always only one player I turn to when I want a steady hand to help guide my side in big games. He’s just signed a contract to stay with Cambridge until 2031 but as this is my last season as Cambridge manager who’s to say if he’ll be in the next guy’s plans.
Choudhury has made 239 appearances for Cambridge, scoring 11 goals and creating 11 assists. He’s never managed to make an appearance for England, something I tried to fix in my last season after making a bid for the vacant England job, however, the English FA, in their infinite wisdom….., went for Frank de Boer.
Emmanuel Osadebe (2017 – ) – Part 1 only had one player from my Three Musketeers post, this part will have 3 and the first of those is Emmanuel Osadebe. Osadebe has failed to make a single appearance for me this season, having dropped down to a rotation option during our Championship years.
He has, however, given this club 10 years of committed service, apart from the loan to Bristol Rovers I had to give him in our final Championship season and despite not playing, Osadebe is still considered a highly influential player in the Cambridge United dressing room.
Raking up 272 appearances scoring 32 goals and creating 28. He also made 11 appearances, creating 2 assists while on loan with Bristol Rovers in League 2 for half a season.
Mainly playing as CMs or BBMs while being rotated through my CMA when needed, Osadebe used his physicality to get from box to box and bully opposition midfield and defences. Now 30, Osadebe has never managed to gain a cap for Ireland or Nigeria.
Izzy Bunce (2019 – ) – Brought in as a free after being released by Everton, Izzy Bunce was one of a number of cheap promising young players that I’ve taken a gamble on over the years, while he was never able to decide on what skin colour he wanted to be, he was able to improve his mental and physical attributes greatly, allowing him to be a major asset in midfield.
Joining our first team squad in 2021 after two loans (Crewe and Ebbsfleet) Bunce held down a regular first team slot for 4 seasons and was a big part of our Championship promotion winning team. His first season in the top flight proved too much for him however and he’s only managed to make 2 sub appearances this season.
Izzy played as a CMs for most of his time with us, when I signed him I’d hoped to use him as a playmaker to make the most of his vision, currently sitting at 16, but his complete lack of any progress on the technical side of things make that a non-starter.
Bunce played 161 times for us, scoring 12 goals and creating 21. In his first loan with Crewe in League Two, he made 16 appearances scoring once and creating once and in his second loan before coming back to us full time he made 1 single sub appearance. This key here was Ebbsfleet’s superior training facilities allowing him to progress without playing.
Josh McEachran (2021 – 2026) – So the 3 player’s I’ve already talked about occupy the 3 midfield slots in our best ever XI but the next two men I want to talk about sitting in that list as subs. One is a man I spent a few season’s chasing as I saw him playing a key role for us as a playmaker.
While using Josh McEachran as the playmaking heart of our team never fully worked out, he did play an important role for us while we were in the Championship. One of the best technical players to ever play for us, Josh was supposed to be the focal point of my attempt to play a rotation of 3-5-2/3-4-3 with Josh filling in as Regista or Trequartista wherever applicable.
In the end, I used him as an APs in my midfield 3 which worked very well and allowed him the time and space he needed. Josh only made 112 appearances for Cambridge but he scored 11 goals and created 24, however, if the second assist stat was available on FM18 I’m sure he’d be one of our best ever.
Josh hung up his boots after being released and is currently looking for work as a Director of Football, however, I’d love to give him a role as a youth coach with Cambridge to help our youngsters improve their technicals.
Liam O’Neil (2016 – 2021) – The next player to feature on our best XI squad list is surprising to me, not because he wasn’t a good player for us but because he never really stepped up and made a position his own. Personally, I would have expected the next player I’m going to talk about to have taken that slot but then after him, there isn’t really anyone that has been with us for any length of time to truly fight for their place on this list.
Players like Gary Deegan, Jason Molumby and Anthony Wordsworth all played for us for a maximum of 2 seasons whereas Liam O’Neil gave me 4 seasons and Cambridge 5. Mainly used as a rotation option, O’Neil was a steady hand that could be called upon when needed, giving us some extra steel in midfield. Used primarily as Ad or CMs, O’Neil possessed good mental attributes for the lower leagues even if his physicals weren’t always the best.
O’Neil made 132 appearances over his 5 season’s at Cambridge, scoring 10 goals and creating 4. After being released he made the move to Oxford United for another 5 season’s, 3 in League One then 2 in League Two, making 211 appearances for them, scoring 12 goals and creating a massive 33 assists becoming a creative force I never saw him being.
After being released by Oxford he spent this season with St Albans in the National League with 34 appearances, 7 goals and 13 assists showing that he can still do it at 33, even if it’s in a lower league.
Conor Shaughnessy (2019 – 2026) – It shocks me that the game doesn’t consider Conor Shaughnessy to be one of our best ever central midfielders after the man gave us 7 seasons of his career. Signed from Leeds for 110k, Shaughnessy was the rock at the base of our midfield for many years.
A typical Brazier Cambridge signing, Shaughnessy was a big strong player with decent all-around physicals and good metal. As I did away with the Ad position, I tried to move Shaughnessy back to defence, I’d already experimented with this during my time using 3 at the back with good results, and he managed most of his game time in the Premier League playing as the back-up in that position.
Shaughnessy managed to make 203 out of his 242 appearances for us, scoring 9 times and creating 9 assists. At the start of this season, he moved to Crewe for 170k but has only managed to make 3 appearances for them, a great misuse of a very useful player, even more so when you see that Crewe is playing in League One. Shaughnessy at 30 still has time to get a few more seasons in, however.
Jevani Brown (2017 – 2026) – Well I’ll get this one out of the way first, Jevani Brown is the greatest ever player to play for Cambridge United. In his 9 season’s with us, he helped us from League Two to the Premier League. I’ve talked many times about just how good he was, I even have designs on getting a Cambridge United shirt with Brown on the back in real life.
I’ve talked lots of blogs and on my slack channel about how much I loved this man so let’s get into the stats. Making 249 appearances for Cambridge, Brown managed to score 92 times and created 109 assists. Since leaving us last summer he’s been playing for League One Gillingham and has managed 26 appearances, scoring 3 goals and creating 2. Brown has also managed 31 appearances for Jamaica scoring 2 goals and creating 5.
Simon McGrath (2022 – ) I talked earlier about young players who I would take a chance on, Well Simon McGrath was one my Director of Football took a punt on, with me checking him out before confirming of course, and he worked out immediately.
McGrath was supposed to be a rotation option for our two main wingers at the time, Brown and Redan, but he soon proved himself as a worthy player for a first-team slot, playing mostly on the left, he started to chip in with some great performances and while he has struggled in the Premier League, he’s still an important squad player to this day.
Making 161 appearances and scoring 40 goals while chipping in with 36 assists, McGrath was another very important part of our Championship promotion winning side. Now a Northern Ireland international who has 24 caps, 6 goals and 10 assists to his name at 24 he has plenty of time to impress at all levels but especially at international.
Lewis Fisk (2020 – ) – I have to include at least one homegrown player in this list, I’d love to have had more break into the squad but with all Cambridge United’s facilities being pretty poor when I joined it’s been an uphill struggle.
While I’d point to players like Izzy Bunce, who came in as a youth player to make the first team, as proof of my attempts to create youth players the fact is that developing your own facilities and then bringing players through takes time. It becomes even harder when you’re moving up the leagues and the jump to the Premier League was just too much for some of my youngsters, Lewis Fisk among them.
Cambridge born and bred, Fisk managed to break into our first team without even going out on loan, first as a rotation option but in our last two seasons in the Championship he was basically the first team competing with both Brown and McGrath for the wide spots. Just sat here I can remember at least 4 goals Fisk scored that were vital in our promotion run in.
Making 103 appearances for us, scoring 22 goals with 23 assists, Fisk just couldn’t impress in his 16 Premier League appearances and has spent the last season and a half on loan, first with Nottingham Forest in League One and then with Fleetwood in the Championship.
He made 20 appearances in half a season with Forest, adding 3 goals and 3 assists to his tally, in a season with Fleetwood he’s managed 45 appearances, scoring 12 goals and creating 7.
I fear that he’s found his level however as I’ve seen to real improvement in his attributes to suggest he’ll be able to make a positive impact for Cambridge in the Premier League. At 22 he’s still got time and obviously will have a decent career but for a time I really thought that he’d be the one.
Nikola Ivanovic (2025 – ) – “IVANOVIC!!! Duh, duh, duh duh duh” I used to sing that chant at Stamford Bridge for a big Serbian right back but now it’s sung at Stadium MK, we move back into our stadium before the start of the next season after having it expanded this season, about a pacy Serbian winger.
In only 2 seasons with us, Nikola Ivanovic has become a firm favourite of mind and the fans. He won the fans player of the season last season after making the right wing slot his own. brought in for £625k from Partizan, he’s now worth nearly £30m.
One of 3 cheap but brilliant young Serbian players I’ve managed to bring in to bolster our Premier league campaigns Ivanovic has been the main stand out, even winning the European Golden Boy award. Ivanovic has managed 66 appearances in 2 seasons, with 22 goals and 17 assists to his name. He’s also managed 7 starts for Serbia with 5 assists.
David Donaldson (2024 – ) – When I signed David Donaldson for £750k I had no idea that he would go onto be the player he’s become. Just 3 short seasons later Donaldson has to lead us to promotion, scoring the winning goal in the playoff final, won the European Golden Boy award, become the 3rd best goalscorer in his first season in the Premier League, club vice-captain and become an integral part of his National side.
Boasting great strength with top acceleration and pace as well as the work ethic and intelligence of knowing exactly where to be at the right time, splashed with the decent technical abilities I’ve tried to bring into my side since we won promotion to the Premier League Donaldson has a firm place just behind Brown as the second best player to ever pay for Cambridge.
Crazily Donaldson, 22 years old and valued at £29m has attracted no interest from bigger clubs despite being one of the best young players in the entire game. Managing 121 appearances in 3 seasons and scoring 69 goals (the lad) while creating another 22, he’s had a hand in 91 goals in his 121 appearances.
That’s mental. He is the single biggest influence in me not wanting to leave this save, I’d love to be the man to help Donaldson win the Ballon d’Or. The stats don’t get much less crazy when looking at his international form scoring 9 goals and creating 4 in his 18 appearances for Scotland. Best thing is he desperately wants to sign a longer deal to stay with Cambridge.
Uche Ikpeazu (2016 – ) – Talking of Cambridge United legends, I could only end this with one man. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few great strikers at Cambridge, with Iké Ugbo, Zhang Yuning and Aleksandar Jovic just a small selection of strikers who have left a big impression on the Cambridge faithful.
However, one man spearheads the Cambridge United all-time best XI 4-1-4-1 and that man is Uche Ikpeazu. In hindsight, I should have allowed myself more than 2 strikers on this list but I wanted to stay faithful to the formation that got us so far, also picking 2 was easy as while he had a lot of great strikers, Donaldson and Ikpeazu were something special.
Ikpeazu has given Cambridge 11 years of loyal service, if you ignore the half a season he left to join Sheffield United in 2019, and while he now plays most of his football in the U21’s he still manages to make the squad, granted as the 3rd choice striker. Making 236 appearances, scoring 84 goals and creating 29 assists.
If you add his brief time with Sheffield United, he adds 9 appearances and 3 goals to his total. It’s one of my dreams that Ikpeazu will score in the Premier League like Brown did, but with 5 games left of this season and Ikpeazu not wanting to extend his contract past this summer that’s looking less likely. Still, it would be a fitting end to a legends Cambridge United career.