Life after CM 00/01 --> exploring CM 01/02
For this is my very first post on this forum and I immediately have the nerve to open a new thread with it, I want to apologise in advance if my story doesn't apply to the general standard(s) people might be used to. Furthermore I truly hope my somewhat retrospective introduction isn't scaring everyone off!
At the beginning of my managing career - playing the CM series starting in the seasons 95/96 and 97/98 - I was confronted several times with a typical game message after playing thirty seasons within one single save game. It tells you something about creating a new save game in order to be able to keep on playing the game and next to confirming this message, the game automatically closes. For me it was no more than a logical step to haunt for this sort of screen by playing season after season with the version probably known best as CM 00/01. Unfortunately achieving that goal was rudely disturbed at the end of April 2014 (in real life), when the save game that brought me all the way to April 2436(!) (in simulated life) couldn't be restarted anymore from one day to another... During the restoring of the game, at the point where the progress bar is finally heading home, CM all of a sudden gets closed and I'm returned to the Windows screen empty-handed and most of all completely dejected. Most likely aspect for causing this behaviour is the, with all due respect, rather old age of the CM version in combination with the size of the save game, being 1.41GB.
I'll have to admit that the quest for an end message made me some kind of a lazy manager. From the moment I had 'discovered' the 4-1-3-2 formation, I just kept on to this settings no matter what. At almost every team or country I arrived, it had the smell of instant success written all over. Because I insisted on not changing a thing, it sometimes worked for twenty or even thirty years at the same club, but it also happened that the chemistry was already over after just a couple of seasons. Nevertheless, I will continue at the same club or country until the day I get sacked, apart from combining jobs at a club and a country at the same time of course. Therefore it's not allowed for me to show my interest in a job whilst having a contract elsewhere. The only possible exception is when I'm actively approached by someone and I have no serious prospects of turning the 'magic' back on at my current side.
With this concept of play in mind, I expected to be ready for the step towards a - to me - new version of CM, namely the one which kicks off at the season 2001/2002. As was the case with 00/01, for me it's perfect to play the original game without any updates and/or patches (in the case of 01/02 that's Version 3.9.60) and I totally accept the default settings concerning wib/wob. Why not try to copy the tactics that I'm used to into this one? How ignorant can one be! At first, the choice of team was not so difficult, while my native country is Holland and my favourite team there is - I can't help it - PSV, often described as a fantastic team in CM 01/02. Perfect way of getting to know the game a little better, isn't it? Well, there's a reasonable chance of me being the worst manager at PSV ever... After being replaced fully deserved and having tried some other formations at a number of other teams, both club and country, reality kicked in and it became clear to me that my players were overly instructed with unrealisable combinations of tactical duties. Later on my achievements progressed a tiny bit and I decided to start a whole new game yet again, but this time at last it's the one I desperately want to share with some of you fellow addicts - if that's appropiate to say as a noob.
Over the years, I've been jealously reading stories of players that succeeded at converting a squad from the English Conference to a top team at the English Premier League and inevitably in European competitions. If it has proven to be possible for them, then I could give it a go as well. The likes of Telford United caught my eye and a very longlasting adventure seemed to be in the offing. I don't need to tell you guys how hard it is to build a decent enough squad when there's no money available and a maximum of two players can be on loan simultaneously. Despite my previous experiences within CM 01/02 I recalled my favourite 4-1-3-2 nonetheless. Aside from minor adjustments in player arrows on the pitch or player instructions through the menu, the tactical game plan surprisingly survived for numerous seasons. After celebrating three national titles in total and reaching the semifinals of the Champions League twice, the board became pretty demanding in my opinion. Suddenly all the good work done since 2001 was forgotten and during the second half of the 2024/2025 season I was fired as a result of our mid table position. Such a shame... (Please excuse me for combining two screenshots together, nay in poorly fashion. My laptop won't allow me to switch screens with Alt + Tab when CM is involved, without disabling me to return to the game properly. So it's not very easy for me to produce tons of images while playing. On the bright side, the difference between the lower divisions and the Premier League is sort of emphasised this way).
Having coped with this, though it was coming, huge disappointment, I started applying for a new job. Basically, I'm not picky. In other words: every club will do, whatever league they are playing in, funds they (don't) have and whatsoever. Being actually offered the job at Fenerbahçe - at that moment 8th of 18 in Turkish Premier League and demanding European qualification - wasn't that bad after all. With only slightly more than a handful of games to play, my main focus was to come up with a brand new formation and gather suitable players for the next season. The bank balance showed a stunning € 170.000.000, but an unexplainable maximum of € 1.900.000 can be paid per transfer however. In short: I made up a disaster 3-diamond-3 that let Fener drop from 8th to 12th in the remainder of the season and not winning a single game in a big part of the first half of the next. Well before Christmas the board asked me friendly but firm, and rightly so, to pack my bags and go on looking for another challenge elsewhere.
That search never had a real chance, as soon as Kayserispor convinced me to accept having a new chance in Turkey after just three days of unemployment. For me it's no big deal that they represent one of the teams in the Turkish Second Division B - two steps beneath the Premier League and the lowest playable division in this country - and don't have much cash to spend. In the first half of the season clubs from this league play in - I thought - region based competitions with home and away games against every opponent to qualify for the following, differently composed promotion competitions. Kayserispor was placed on a spot that would result in, provided that it's held onto, competing for direct promotion in the second half of the season. In doubt of yet a new tactical master plan I was considering a 4-3-2-1, but then I made the decision to put in a defensive midfielder as well, resulting in my own creation of 3-1-3-2-1.
I can't state that playing this way gives me confidence about gaining clean sheets regularly, but still, it enhances the attractiveness of the games starring Kayserispor. In the mean time, it's clear that when you can afford players of better quality, even this system can deliver some massive results. By not using the services scouts have to offer and usually have to deal with (merely) regens, that's what keeps the game so exciting for me. In general, I tend to update this story after every season from now on. Just before the first league game of a new season the past season is considered over. That's the reason why I will conclude this message with a real scoop for the ones who have read this (part of the) story until this point on. The 2030/2031 season ended with an excellent final league postion for Kayserispor and even the Turkish Cup is ours. The club record was broken for the second consecutive year, finishing 4th in the Turkish Premier League. With other teams from Turkey performing extremely well in Europe, they now have a sufficient coefficient ranking to let four teams participate in the Champions League. Due to these developments, we were entered in the draw for the third - and last - qualifying stage of that specific European competition. Sadly, faith thought it would be nice for us to meet a team that plays in one of Europes leading competitions... Anyway, for people who work and live in Turkey it's not the presence of the sun that makes a trip to Spain worthwile. Challenging Badajoz for a place in the group stage, with the first leg (at home) played half a week ahead of the league start. Without having a world class squad myself, the fact that such an opponent could be unfamiliair with the few qualities we do possess, may be working in our favour. As unexpectedly as it seems, we took a major step towards actual qualification: 3-0!
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Next to the home game against Badajoz, there were two league games scheduled before we went to Spain for the return. Although we had an 3-0 advantage, picking up just one point in the Premier Division did not buy us much confidence. Luckily the board of directors are only expecting Kayserispor to stay clear of relegation, so this could prove to be a very carefree season. We had to cope with a half-time score of 1-0, but after beinn given a penalty in the second half, we managed to turn the game completely around: 1-2. This means we'll be participating in a tournament amongst Europe's best teams! After the draw my first thoughts however were that the major benefit for us would be the financial component. It didn't seem to be possible that we're already capable of collecting enough points against Dutch champions Ajax, Spanish champions Toledo and German runner-up Union Berlin. Because I always try to start a game with all eleven players at 100% fitness, even if this means some really crappy guys have to appear between the lines for 90 minutes, the restriction of 25 men in the European selection is often bothering me. Let alone the quality of the current back-ups for my ideal starting eleven. Nonetheless we were the better team in almost every single European match we played in this first group phase. Playing against better teams teaches you that it's not the number of chances that counts, but the number of goals scored do. After minimal losses at home to Union Berlin (0-1) and away at Toledo (1-0), the first international goal was made at the Atatürk facing Ajax without losing as well: 1-1. In Amsterdam the most common result returned (lost 1-0) and in Berlin the scoreline was equal, but this time in our favour: 0-1! The last game in this group could propably provide us a place in the UEFA Cup to the utmost. In front of our fanatic home crowd we defended our bottom spot in the group successively: 0-0. So far for the international experiences gained by our squad this season...
After all, it's just another typical CM season, with an almost neverending series of not given penalties, numerous disallowed goals, many missed chances and easily conceded goals too often. Sounds like we're ready to defend our national cup title after all, isn't it?!? Premier Division clubs are starting this tournament in the third round at the beginning of November. For us it meant an away game against league leaders Antalyaspor. We were heading at an early exit after approximately half an our played, when the host team doubled their advantage: 2-0. Clawing one back before the break gave us new hope, but the second half stayed goalless for a very long time. Then again, a match isn't decided before the final whistle is blown: 2-3 with goals in the 85th en 89th minute! Fourth round draw: playing at home to Sekerspor, number two in the league at that moment. A rather tensive game was the result, with another decisive goal in the 89th minute: 1-0! After eliminating these two big teams, winning back to back cup trophies can even be a realistic possibility. Our opponent in the quarterfinals is fellow league team Gümüshane Doganspor, currently positioned 10th. In our own stadium the audience witnessed a late winner yet again: 0-1...
From now on we only have league games programmed and all will be played on weekend days, causing little rotation compared to the first half of the season. Perhaps we can conquer for a Champions League spot for the second year in a row. Therefore we had to climb a couple of places, when standing 7th momentarily. Of course we're not ready to compete for the top spot of the ranking, but we can beat every team that is capable of doing that, though. I found myself cursing out loud more than once when yet another opportunity of closing the gap upwards or encreasing the distance towards our competitors remained untaken. Certainly because we played very well in all those matches, I could only hope for an amazing final position in the league, with me being somewhat more ambitious than the Kayserispor board are. Meanwhile I can proudly announce that the club record is broken for the third year in a row (and counting?): Kayserispor finished no less than third in Turkey's top-flight division!
Over the years I always tried to be a national coach as well, which resulted in working for some minor countries mostly. I've won the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana and so far had contracts at Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria and Mexico too. At the moment I'm responsible for the Ukrainian national team. Qualifying for the Euro Championships wouldn't be easy in a group with Estonia, Spain, Latvia, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Because not all players from Ukraine can be filtered out in the Player & Staff Search section, I once in a while search for "Ukrainian" within the Find section and place all of them on my shortlist. I use these kind of teams for trying out some different team formations. In fact, I doubted about playing 4-3-2-1 with Kayserispor and now actually doing that with Ukraine, quite defensively though (see image below). It had nothing to do with te number of chances created during the matches played, but eventually Ukraine wasn't strong enough to keep in front of either Spain or Switzerland, finishing only third in the group with fourteen points out of ten games.
A little teaser for the upcoming season (report): As Turkey's number three, Kayserispor have to play in the third qualifying round of the Champions League, just as they did last season. This time the draw doesn't look that bad, as we saw Dinamo Tblishi from Georgia appearing as our opponents. Before exiting the game, the first leg at home is already completed. Even though the majority of chances was produced by us, our goalie had some decent work to do as well. While he's obviously capable of doing so, our trip to Georgia should be a formality: 3-0!
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Just the team
Tonight my television set is providing an oppurtunity to actually watch a game featuring Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) and Fenerbahçe (Turkey). For me that's reason enough to divide my laptop attention between this forum and the save game where I'm playing with both Kayserispor from Turkey and Ukraine's national team at the moment. The loyal readers of my story so far have every right to get an impression of the squad I've composed over the (fictive) years.
Please bear in mind my obsession about starting matches with all selected bodies 100% fit. This might explain why I'm so fond of contracting that many players. Even then there's absolutely no need for having such an excessive number of goalkeepers. I'll try to explain that matter. When I arrived at the club, possibilities regarding transfers were scarce, so I had to play the ones already at the club. Afterwards I signed up some better rated goalies and kept all of the other ones, mainly in case of emergency, however it's very unlikely to have three or even four unavailable goalkeepers at the same time. In the past few seasons our youth setup also delivered three talented young goalies and two of them still being under twenty years of age, which is very useful when selecting the European squad. In fact someone who I'd signed as player/coach, another goalkeeper, finally retired from the playing staff this summer at age 40, reducing the number of goalkeepers from nine to - still way too much - eight. Let's hope some of them will retire soon too! Anyway, I'll show you an overview of the full selection first and then zoom in on the individual players that are chosen in my first eleven. Special attention might be paid to the purchase values, if existing, of these guys.
I don't really care about squad numbers within the game. Therefore the ones you'll see are automatically selected by the game itself.
- After promoting from the second division B to the second division A, adding a quality goalkeeper was a real priority. Buying Burak was the best solution at that time and he had never lost his place ever since. At 30 years I think he can play his role for years to come.
- Towards the end of last season I agreed to sell my right centre-back (age 32, received € 2,500,000) and decided to move my left centre-back - with preferred foot "Right" - to his position. Certainly after signing Ellis (24) as a new lefty in defence it was an easy choice altogether.
- Only clubs in the premier division are allowed to contract foreign players and/or staff. As freshly promoted side we were able to conclude a deal with Prado, taking him away from Chaves (Portugal). I don't know if the expression 'solid as a rock' finds its origin in Guinea-Bissau, but our central defender (32 nowadays) is doing much to prove so.
- As described before, our left centre back from now on is our right centre-back. Metin (28) is no less than a pure quality player, with still a lot of good seasons ahead of him. I'm wondering though if he's planning on scoring a goal for me eventually.
- 30-year-old Ersan is appointed fo fill in a vital position in our formation. Thus far he has been a reliable option, who maybe needs to get more involved at giving assists and putting one in himself occasionally.
- Because of his phenomenal first season, for the time being I'll keep on playing Halim (25) as left midfielder, giving him every chance to repay my trust in him.
- Scoring goals for fun when going forward as a central midfielder, golden oldie (33) Kerim is still hugely important for the team.
- Occupying the right side of our midfield, Turkey international Kenan, who turned 30 last summer, partners pretty well with Kerim. Unfortunately he has requested a move, because he wants to play at a bigger club.
- Playing a little leftish from behind our striker, 29-year-old Erdinç is putting in some decent performances throughout every season, although he isn't as steady as I would like him to be.
- At the age of 23, right-sided attacking midfielder Cumhur still has a lot of promises to live up to. Quite frankly I'm expecting a bit more goals and assists from both him and Erdinç.
- Kaya, 28 years of age, came in as our new striker last season and also is the most suitable player for that position in the upcoming one. Guess what? I wouldn't mind seeing him lifting his netting average as well.
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0102 is easier than 0001.
Good luck though
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Again the chairman and his entourage would only like to see us retaining a spot in the Turkish highest division. Personally, my aim was to strengthen the squad by bringing in at least some better substitutes. So I did, but still I wasn't sure of what we could achieve this season... Whatever the outcome was going to be, I was ready for some hours of heavily fist pumping in the direction of my screen!
The start of the league season was similar to the previous one, by losing one and drawing one before travelling abroad for the return in the third qualifying round of the Champions League. A boring match in the capital of Georgia brought us another victory against their local heroes: 0-1 (0-4 on aggregate). Entering the first stage of the tournament with no expectations whatsoever, we were drawn in a group with defending cup holders Charleroi (finished 12th in the Belgian league though), Denmark's Herfølge and English side Liverpool, both national champions. We kicked off at Anfield, where Liverpool clearly showed to be the better team, but Kayserispor took home the points: 1-2! Next to that we faced the Danes at home and no one will remember that for too long: 0-0. Then a double confrontation meeting the Belgians awaited us, at first away from home. Even after we saw two of our goals being disallowed, we accomplished to take three points from an away game again: 1-2! At home against Charleroi we managed to put in a clinical performance: 1-0. By reaching the ten point mark after just four matches the second phase was in the offing already! As a result of that, we had some trouble - to say the least - completing the group games against teams which had something to fight for. Liverpool came to Turkey for a decent revenge (0-2) and Herfølge pleased their home crowd (1-0). Nevertheless we marched on to the second group phase ending at the top of this group.
Were there any possibilities of reaching the quarterfinals of the Champions League? The opponents in this group were Deportivo (Spain's number four last season), Everton (finished third in England) and old 'friends' Union Berlin (German champions). Apparently we like playing in any Liverpool stadium, by beating Everton 1-2 at Goodison Park as well! At home to the Spaniards we had to show some character after getting 0-1 behind before the half time break: 3-1! So far we had an even better start in this group than at the first one. There couldn't be a better time to get started with the Turkish cup, playing at home against Inegölspor in round three. It promised to be a tight game, given the fact we were ranked just one place above them in the league at that moment: 1-0! How did all these major successes reflect at our league performances? Not quite well to be fair. We had to improve a lot if we wanted to reach the Champions League again next season, assuming we wouldn't be able of winning that cup this time. Here's the situation before the winter break arrived:
I will continue describing the progress we made in the national cup tournament. Round four was all about another home game, in a battle against a second division A squad. Being the favorit in this match was converted into the final result of the game: 5-1! Gümüshane Doganspor was the next team giving a go at trying to eliminate us at our own stadium. Standing close together in the league, this again was a stunning game, with us deservedly reaching the semifinals, albeit a golden goal was needed to decide so: 3-2! Finally we had an away game to be played and it was Besiktas who were the hosts. Although we went ahead at 0-2 in the first half, it developed into a tensive game. Despite a canceled goal the home team came back to 1-2, but Kayserispor refused to allow an equaliser. Without a doubt we were outplayed by Antalyaspor in the final. By a late goal in the first half we somehow made it a draw at 1-1 and with no goal scored in the extra time we still had a chance of winning it on penalties. Missing three out of four spot kicks didn't do us a real favour at all...
After our flying start in the second group phase of the Champions League we'd better be ready for some action against a German opposition. At Kayseri we frustrated them with a fine 1-0 win and in Berlin we got 1-2 ahead, then they received a red card and we smashed home two penalties, making it 1-4. With only four games played, qualification was already a fact! At home to Everton a visitors goal was ruled out, which led to yet another win: 1-0! Just on the stroke of half time away at A Coruña, a second yellow card caused one of our defenders to get sent off at 0-0. After that we weren't able to compete anymore: 2-0... The quarterfinals delivered a double confrontation with fellow Turkey side Istanbulspor. At Istanbul slight damage was conceded: 1-0. Nonetheless we went in rather confident at the return and probably deserved more: 0-0 and out...
Back to the league then. Without much perspective of winning the title, the main goal was to give it our best in every single match to the end of the season. It already has been a real rollercoasting year so far and this chapter added some positive elements too. In the second half of the season we clearly performed better than we did earlier on. After all we didn't improve compared to last year, however in this case an equal ranking isn't that bad. At the end the league table was as follows:
During the Kayserispor season Ukraine began their World Cup qualifications tour at Israel. Thanks to the home country missing a penalty, a win was assured: 1-2. At home against Scotland unfortunately for us the ratio of goal attempts wasn't expressed in the scoreline: 1-1. After receiving a red card in Germany we saw the home team progressing to a 1-0 victory. At home to both Albania and Israel we were able to add three points to our total: 1-0 and 3-1. With summer approaching, Scotland produced an injury time goal to let the Tartan Army cheer as never before: 1-0...
Of course I'm aware of the aging matter at Kayserispor. Therefore some mutations have been going on throughout the season. After a couple of weeks in the 2032/2033 season, I sold Ziya (DC, age 25), one of the best backup defenders, for € 2,500,000 and despite an expiring contract, Børresen (FRC, age 32) left at January 1st 2033 after receiving € 250,000 for him. At the end of the season Sebahattin (GK, age 35), Ilker (GK, age 33) and McMahon (SC, age 32) were out of contract and all left the club. By the end of the summer Ramazan (DC, age 35), Arda (MC, age 33) and Bülent (AMC, age 32) retired. Now some space arised for bringing in some new faces. I signed Makris (SW/AM/FC, age 21) on a Bosman, paid € 1,500,000 for dos Santos Souza (SC, age 20), € 50,000 for Ercan (AMRC, age 24), another € 50,000 for Bora (FC, age 22), € 500,000 for Adem (AMC, age 24), € 750,000 for Georgiadis (DMC, age 19, turning 20 in May, so he can play continental matches without being selected in the European squad) and € 1,000,000 for Blanco (SW/DC, age 25). 34-year old Kerim is taken out of the first choice eleven, with Kenan moving to the centre of the midfield in his last contract year. Adem will be played at the right-hand side of the midfield from now on. This squad went to Zagreb to play the first leg of the third qualifying phase of the Champions League against Dinamo. Erdinç made the only goal of the game: 0-1.
Last edited by Vèrkûh; 09-08-15 at 06:53 PM.
Reason: In 2034 there's a World Cup to be played obviously.
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Until now, all my seasons at Kayserispor - regardless of what division we played in - had in common that the directors would like to see avoidance of relegation was achieved. After we finished 4th once and 3th twice, their moment of greediness arose: they demanded a league title! This kind of pressure was new for me and the squad as well. Between the two matches against Dinamo Zagreb we did traditionally bad with only two points from an equal number of domestic games. On the bright side, a draw also counts as going unbeaten. So we had to defend the smallest of leads, welcoming the Croatian champions in front of our home crowd. I still can't believe the devastating outcome of this fixture, especially given the course of events during it...
This meant we had to move our European aspirations towards the slightly less prestigious UEFA Cup. The first round of that tournament saw us being linked to ÍBV. Our trip to Iceland was accompanied by a pretty comfortable home win: 2-0. Ending up one a piece in the second match is all that has to be told. Next it was up to Poland, again with a 2-0 lead in the pocket. Olesnica never really gave us a hard time and therefore we extended the aggregated difference by scoring a single goal. In the third round a double encounter with Rapid Vienna got on its way in Austria, without pointing out a winner: 2-2. Going marginally ahead on away goals, the return game in Turkey started disastrous for us. All of this was caused by a reckless challenge of young Georgiadis, for wich he was shown the red card in the 4th minute already! Somehow we could manage to stay in the game nonetheless and because of that one decisive goal in the 88th minute was enough: 0-1... No need to worry, there was still a national cup to challenge for. In December we were entered into the draw for the third round and it resulted in a meeting with Ankara from the second division B. Although we played away from home, we were supposed to win this rather easily and so we did: 0-4!
Arguably playing in the UEFA Cup is less demanding than doing so in the Champions League. What consequences could this have for our league results? At first, we needed five games before our first victory was noted. As in the previous seasons, we dit not had the best of starts, to put it mildly. Despite these mediocre performances, we weren't that far behind the big guns, but also had to keep in mind not to get jumped by the clubs just behind us on the ranking. Awaiting the matches after the winter break, I even had time to do some business. Because his contract was no longer protected, Kenan (MC, age 31) chose to walk out the door in exchange for € 1,500,000 to be paid by his new club. On top of that a bid for Cumhur (FRC, age 25) was negotiated up to his minimum fee release clause of € 5,000,000. That's why Turner (AMC) and Kerem (FRC) - both of them already at Kayserispor - were added to the new established 'best' eleven. Meanwhile Ufuk (DMC, age 17) graduated from our youth academy into the first team squad.
Were we in the right shape of winning one or more national prizes in the second half of the season? Diyarbakirspor - playing in the second division A - was the first obstacle in the cup tournament. At their stadium we did the right thing: 0-2. In order to proceed to the last four, we had to defeat Yozgatspor. At home against this second division A team, one goal proved to be sufficient: 1-0. Our semifinal was played at Kayseri as well, but Besiktas scored four minutes before half time and converted a penalty four minutes before the last whistle as well: 0-2...
Maybe a schedule of play with only one game a week suits us best. At the end of the season there was a three-team-battle for the title going on. Antalyaspor and Istanbulspor both made it to the semi finals of the Champions League (with Istanbulspor eventually going through and winning the final) and Kayserispor had to play them in the 32nd and 33rd game of the league. Under hostile conditions in Istanbul the game developed in a nerve-racking one. We had to come level twice to keep at least a chance of getting some result out of it. At the end, we truly deserved a win and a late goal was scored as well: 2-3! As a result of that, cup winners Antalyaspor remained our only contenders for the title. A rich atmosphere at the Atatürk nearly forced us to settle for nothing less than a win against the Antalya side. After a quarter of an hour the crowd went berserk, when one of the opponents was sent off and the home team had a penalty to take. Thereafter we comfortably extended our lead: 3-0! This result gave us an advantage of three points on Antalyaspor. We just needed one more point away at much lower placed Samsunspor to crown ourselves as Turkish champions for the first time in the history of the club. What a thrilling final day of the year it was! We had nothing to claim during the whole of the match and hence sadly went down: 2-1...
In earlier seasons our stadium had decreased to approximately 10,000 seats and after the celebrations the board expanded it to - as equally unimpressive - somewhere over 13,000. With Ayhan (GK, age 29) leaving on a Bosman, Yusuf (AMC, age 29), Ilker (MLC, 22), Akin (MC, age 30) and Prado (DC, age 34) given a free transfer and Çetiner (DC, age 33) and Mehmet (DC, age 33) retiring, there were some new and most of all good/better players needed. All of the money saved over the years was spent on transfer fees and signing on fees: Moraes (DC, age 27) on a Bosman, Ilker (DC, 22) for € 1,500,000, Kemal (FC, age 26) for € 7,500,000 and Albayrak (MRLC, age 22) for € 7,500,000 as well are the new faces coming in. Last year's signing Blanco replaces Prado at the back, Albayrak comes in for Halim - who is moved to the bench - as the most left placed midfielder and the same goes for Kemal in favor of Erdinç, playing at the left side behind our striker Kaya.
Completing the World Cup qualifying campaign with Ukraine, an away game against Germany (4-0) and a home game against Albania (2-0) were played. Because Israel defeated Scotland and secured their first and only win in this group, Ukraine finished second and still had a chance of playing a the biggest tournament in the world. The first game of the playoffs took place in Ukraine, where a penalty decided the match against Switzerland: 1-0! Away from home kind of the same result appeared: 0-1! The start of the tournament facing Costa Rica wasn't that bad: 1-1. Next to that the Brazilians showed to be the better players, without creating significantly more chances: 0-2... A win against Finland was needed and after we got ahead 1-0 there seemed to be a possibilty of winning the game as well. Probably my players couldn't cope with the associated pressure and were beaten fair and square: 1-3...
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Let's start with an update on the Ukraine job for a change. The disappointing turn of events at the World Cup made my position a bit unstable, so it would be nice if qualification for EURO 2036 could brush those feelings away. Therefor we have to play games against Germany, Romania, Azerbaijan and Slovenia. We kicked off with little confidence at home against Germany. One goal in the first 45 minutes and one in the second period later the conclusion must be that our fear was unfounded: 2-0! How about giving this result a proper continuation, preferrably away at Romania? It turned out to be a game which was decided with the smallest of margins, already reached before the break: 0-1! When the Azeri visited Ukraine after that, another three points were expected for the home team. Like the first home game of this cycle, the same number of goals per half was shown: 2-0! There was no chance to to keep up the good run straight ahead, because a friendly game against Russia was scheduled in between. Personally I don't pay much attention to such 'unofficial' games, but I was glad to see Ukraine has their own superkeeper! So conceding no goals so far seemed to be no coincidence after all. Slovenia however used another approach to keep the points at home, starting the match very aggressively. We managed to survive that phase and even scored a first half goal, which sadly was ruled out. In the second half there was only one man who found the net: 1-0... The last qualifying match of the season saw us visiting Germany, where another spectacular result was booked only by scoring before half time: 0-1!
The club management of newly crowned champions Kayserispor wanted me to retain this title in the upcoming season. We had a flying start to meet their demands, winning six and drawing one of the first seven league matches. As always a drop of form was inevitable, losing the 8th game was followed by four wins, two draws and another three losses. Despite that we weren't far behind at the winter break, which felt pretty good, compared to previous seasons.
No great timing to enter challenging for the Turkish national cup. In the third round it was Ankaragücü - 9th in the Premier League at that moment - away. Saban and Erdinç did everything right to guide us into the fourth round: 0-2! Even though a match at home against Antalyaspor followed and Kerem managed to get one in, the result was dreadful: 1-4...
For the first time under my guidance we didn't have to qualify for the Champions League. Surviving the first group phase would be a tough job though, facing FC Jokerit from Finland, Fiorentina from Italy and Paniliakos from Greece, all reigning champions of their home countries. With two matches a week to be played regularly, I almost played two separate line-ups in both domestic and continental games. Our European campaign started away at Paniliakos. A Saban goal couldn't prevent us losing 2-1. Time to set things straight immediately at home to Jokerit. With Kaya (2 times), Halim and Makris (two times as well) on the scoresheet we ran out easy winners: 5-1! Losing 0-1 at home to Fiorentina made things more difficult again. Down at Florence Halim and dos Santos Souza renewed our chances: 1-2! Back at home against the Greeks it was dos Santos Souza who scored again, but it was by no means enough to pick up any points: 1-4... A must-win game awaited us on Finnish soil. Turan scoring a hat-trick and Heino putting one behind his own keeper provided us another three points: 0-4! Nine points were sufficient to let us sneak through to the second group phase. Believe it or not, yet another three champions were drawn in the same group with Kayserispor. Barcelona (Spain), Rosenborg (Norway) and Sedan (France) to name some names. No problem, Blanco (two goals), Saban and Turan gave us a comfortable win away at Sedan: 1-4! At home to Rosenborg Erdinç and Makris (penalty kick) made the difference: 2-1! The double confrontation with Barça began at the Atatürk, where Makris (penalty) and Saban scored on behalf of Kayserispor and the Spaniards could even afford a miss from the spot: 2-4... At the Camp Nou the home side missed another penalty, but were in no danger of losing the match: 2-0... The second match against Sedan resulted in a disappointing one, especially with an opponent shown the red card: 0-0. All or nothing in Norway, so to speak. Rosenborg were unlucky when a goal of theirs was disallowed and the game was decided in the second half by dos Santos Souza: 0-1! Ten points took us into the quarterfinals, meeting Paniliakos again. We lost both games against them and I wasn't happy visiting Greece at that moment, however Fuat proved me wrong: 0-1! During the return game the away side scored twice, but only one of these goals was confirmed by the referee. The extra time didn't change the score, so penalties had to point out who was heading to the last four of the tournament: 4-3! What are the odds on having to duel with Barcelona yet again? And more important, is it possible to beat them on aggregate? The first match in Turkey looked decisive already: 0-3... A late Makris penalty added some European coefficients to Turkey's total: 0-1. Too bad Istanbulspor played a final like this against the Catalans:
Battling for European success for so long made us dropping more points in the league than we could afford ourselves. After a while Kayserispor found theirselves behind any Champions League spot. Knowing the second title in a row was out of sight, we had to come up with a serious fight for participating in Europe's most attractive cup next season. Based on the first half of the season we would deserve something like that, but after the winter break we weren't that solid.
The European tour generated the greatest part of our income, only Coskun (AM/FL, age 30) delivered some money just before hist contract expired: € 10,000. At the end of their contracts we also saw Ellis (DLC, age 27), Turner (AMC, age 26), Tayfun (MC, age 23) and Erdinç (FC, age 32) leaving the club and Kerim (MC, age 36) quitted playing football. During the season Bosman deals were concluded with Walters (MC, age 23), Yilmaz (DC, age 22), Eyüp (D/DMRLC, age 31) and Vukovic (FLC, age 27). Without any messages our stadium capacity was lower than at the beginning of the season, so I asked for expansion again. My request was honored too and now 15,325 fans can visit our home matches, whilst only 4,685 of them will be able to sit down. The pre-season was used to spend a big part of the remaining cash for buying more new players, such as Anderson (D/DMLC, age 27, € 2,500,000), Schilder (SW/DC, age 27, € 750,000), Hakan (D/DMC, age 23, € 1,500,000) and Demir (D/DMRLC, age 25, € 7,500,000). A new starting eleven went to Bulgaria for the first match in the third qualifying round of the Champions League. In a moderate match a Kaya goal was seen in the second half: 0-1!
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Gathering all six points out of the matches against Germany made it much more likely for Ukraine to qualify for the Euros. However, drawing 0-0 at home to Romania wasn't the best way to continue our qualifying course. Down at Azerbaijan we were back in shape on time, leading 0-2 after 45 minutes and winning 0-3 in the end! One game to go, meeting Slovenia in our home country. We went 1-0 up during the first half and finished the game at 2-0! Conceding just a single goal in eight matches (and scoring eleven ourselves) helped us reaching a major tournament directly from the group.
This time the Kayserispor board wanted the team to be successful in the Turkish Premier Division as well as in a European competition. First of all we tried to defend a 1-0 advantage at home to CSKA Sofia in an attempt to go through to the group stage of the Champions League. In the meantime two matches in the league brought us four points. Anyway, in the first half Makris scored a goal and Makris missed a penalty. After the break Vukovic doubled the lead and the very first mission of the season was accomplished. We had to be prepared to play games against three national champions, naturally. The opposition consisted of Cambuur from Holland, Danish side Nørresundby and Stoke out of England.
The location of our first group match was Stoke-on-Trent. A second-half equaliser from Saban saved us a point: 1-1. At Kayseri we failed to defeat the squad from Denmark (0-0) and more or less the same happened against the Dutch (0-1)... In my native country there were no goals to be reported (0-0 obviously), which left us with three points out of four games. Something had to happen at home to the Potters and at least we managed to be on the scoresheet. Vukovic, Kerem, Adem and Blanco neatly divided the goals between the two halfs: 4-0! Going 1-0 behind before halftime in Denmark somehow broke us down and with only six points it's unthinkable of proceeding... Clearly the target of European success was set aside pretty early in the season.
In round three of the Turkish cup Kayserispor entered the tournament, receiving Fatih Karagümrük (I don't make these things up, I swear!) from the second division A. Saban opened the score before the break, where Kaya (two times) and Kemal did the rest afterwards: 4-0! The fourth round took us on a trip to Samsun. Local prides Samsunspor were placed 11th at that time and it was only thanks to our goalie Burak that the match went to penalties! Maybe he considered his work done, beacause we - albeit totally deserved - lost 3-5...
We hadn't show our best form during the end of the summer, the whole autumn and the beginning of the winter. League results made this even more clear. Winning just about half of the games played so far just isn't enough to push for honours...
Things got even worse after the break halfway the season. That being said, it should be no surprise that we didn't win the league. Remarkable fact though was that we scored one more goal than the ultimate champions and conceded merely six more. Nevertheless there will be no chance of playing on the highest European stage next season. Major letdown I suppose...
The Ukrainian players traveled to the Euro Championships full of confidence and I felt alike. Even losing the first game against Iceland didn't change those feelings and after a win against England everything could still be possible. Again the Danish dynamite had the opportunity to seal my fate. Shortly after this match I was fired and mid-July the Czech Football Association offered me the job of national team manager (among others, England and Spain didn't react in such a positive way as a result of my application). This gives me some room to try out a new formation, having found a new employer.
All things taken into account, maybe the magic between me and the Kayserispor players is fading. Without the Champions League income I decided to keep it quiet on the transfer market. I only sold Ersan (DMC, aged 33) for € 1,000,000 and - coincidence or not - Yücel (DMC, aged 17) is our newest home-grown player. Despite finishing 8th last season, Europe awaited us after all. In the third round of the Inter-Toto Cup we played Slavia Sofia. In Turkey it was Adem who scored (1-0) and in Bulgaria Vukovic repeated that performance (0-1). The order of the fixtures was similar in the semis, where we saw Badajoz again. I played my first European games with Kayserispor against them, but on this occasion we were completely overwhelmed, losting 0-3 at the Atatürk (with the 1-3 ruled out)... Away at Spain we were 0-1 up at halftime thanks to a Kaya goal. Our contribution to the match was over by then and we got hammered nonetheless: 3-1 (and 6-1 on aggregate, in case you didn't figured)... We're up for a season containing fewer matches than the ones in the near past, I reckon.
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The early exit from European football forced us to concentrate on domestic matches solely. After winning the title in the 2033/2034 season, we finished 3rd and 8th in the past two. The ever impatient club directors kept on demanding a new championship trophy however. Even without any new faces at the club and some elderly players still doing their bit every week, I wasn't malcontent about most of the gameplay shown. Ending too many matches like our first (and only) cup fixture of the season against Rizespor, was a big fly in the ointment nonetheless...
I'm definitely aware of the possibilities to be superkeepered or to get punished in some kind of a one-shot-one-goal way from time to time. That's exactly how it works in real life too. It's just bothering me that it happens (way) too often to the team(s) you are playing in the game, at least in my experience. No wonder the league table after half a season told the whole story already.
To put my thoughts slightly away I deleted about 23 pages of Ukrainian players from my short list and replaced them by approximately 19 pages of Czech footballers. Out of this collection I selected the players which were likely to be useful in a hugely jumbled 4-4-2, with roughly all areas of the pitch used. As long as I'm in charge of Czech Republic, I'll persist on playing this way, no matter what. This is not a formation I'll save and recycle, although not all qualifying matches were lost and the defeats weren't that heavy either. You simply can't talk about being succesful with six points out of two wins and four losses, as well as five goals scored and seven conceded.
Unfortunately there wasn't much improvement in league results during the second half of the season. By ending up far behind the new champions yet again, I saw something coming soon. Immediately after - winning - the last game of the competition, I got fired right away.
In my opinion the club benefited quite a lot since my arrival at the end of 2025, but the people on top of the organisation decided otherwise with regard to the future. As far as I'm concerned, it's their loss altogether!
In an attempt to find a new job as soon as possible, I directly applied for every vacant position - except the one at Kayserispor of course - at that moment. A few days later I already had three candidates to choose from:
- Croation side NK Zadar, playing in the Second Division that equals the second and lowest playable level in that country. If I accept this job, a respectable league position is what has to be achieved.
- Bidoeirense out of the Second Division B, Portugal's third and also lowest tier. Staying clear of relegation would be the main assignment.
- Falkirk, representing the Third Division - also known as the fourth degree of Scottish football - where relegation is technically impossible. Goal for the upcoming season is to improve the squad.
There was a lot of doubt going on in my mind, I can tell you that! Eventually, recalling my start at Telford United, the longing for a return in British football was decisive. Falkirk it is then! Based on my recent experiences, I felt there was a need for a more defensive approach. Being more prolific at the other end of the field couldn't do any harm either, but I had to put first things first. With no money available it's very difficult to sign any players, let alone the ones who can effectively reinforce the squad. Bringing in some guys on a free transfer was all I could do.
The first game of the season was a League Cup confrontation at home with Ayr from the Second Division. After recording score changes in the 4th and 90th minute only, I had to check the scoreboard several times. The win was fully deserved in the end, no doubt about that, but I don't think I'll be complaining when we're getting such presents more often! In the second round we're up against a Premier Division team, named Rangers...
When I signed my contract at Falkirk, I was expected to change the squad for the better. With the beginning of the season approaching, I was suddenly asked to achieve a respectable league position. Maximum € 300 per week (part-time) contracts to be offered, made the first assignment all the heavier, but the second one... As it turned out to be impossible to settle any loan deal, I had less than 30 players to choose from and that was it. Surprisingly some of them were disappointed at some level, because in their opinion the team should be at the top of the ranking. On the other hand I wasn't sure the quality of the players - not even my own signings - could bring the club any success. Not all that promising, isn't it?
In a league with 10 teams, all opponents are played three times a season. There are two (direct) promotion spots and no one gets relegated. The latter aspect took away some stress, for sure! Despite a lot of questionable circumstances I had to deal with, we had a flying start, going unbeaten in the first nine league matches. It's not all bad news in Scottish Division Three!
Next to the regular competition, we were entered to take part in three national cup tournaments. In the first round of the Challenge Cup we had to play Second Division's East Fife at home. Our guys produced more shots, but almost all of those were off target: 0-1... Exactly one week later Brockville Park was ecstatic when Rangers from the Premier Division came to visit in the League Cup second round. We boldly took the lead after roughly 30 minutes on the clock, but the balance was restored within 10 minutes. Apart from the opening goal, we never played a part in this match. Miraculously Rangers were forced to play 30 minutes of extra time against us. Even then it looked like penalties were needed to decide this match. Eventually it came down to a single one, given in the 120th minute: 1-2... The first round of the Scottish Cup was played early December and saw us facing Cowdenbeath away from home. Mainly because our goalie performed extremely well, we managed to defeat this team from the Second Division: 0-1! On the second day of 2038 we made a journey to Dundee, playing a team out of Divison Two again. My keeper showed his qualities yet another time, while the rest of the team let him down in a bad way: 1-0...
After the amazing start we had, the first league loss bruised our confidence. We said goodbye to the top spot first and then left the promotion places behind us as well. Even when we dropped to fourth in the ranking, there was still a chance of gaining promotion. As exciting as it got, I also had to think about compiling the coaching staff. Equally to signing players, this wasn't easy at all. Luckily some of my team members from the playing staff were persuaded to sign new contracts as player/coach. Out of nowhere came the signing of a player/assistent manager, a meanwhile 39-year old central defender who I once - season 2024/2025 that is - sold for € 20,000,000 from Telford to Barcelona! His 80 Dutch caps are telling a thing or two about the career he had so far. Although his playing stats weren't as excellent as they used to be anymore, he could be pretty useful nonetheless. At first I played him in the sweeper role, but since his move back to central defender, the quality showed right away. These developments made us come rather close in the end:
For the upcoming season I had to rely on Bosmans mainly, so most of the work had to be done in December. With some players leaving the club or retiring from playing football, I now am equipped with 36 squad members. Signing up a lot of free players means only four of last seasons's men are still in the starting eleven and just one of them was already at the club when I was put in charge. A chance to see how it'll work out, was the first round match of the League Cup, at home to Albion Rovers. With one goal scored each half, the result clearly showed which of these Division Three teams deserved the victory: 2-0!
The remaining two qualifying matches with Czech Republic delivered just as many points. Definitely no World Cup for that country in 2038... Despite this performance my position seems to be safe. I think I'll have to recall my earlier statement about playing the same formation all my time at this job. I'm thinking about a more conservative variant of 4-4-2, something like this:
Again the aim for this season was to improve the squad. In my opinion this part was already done by picking up lots of players on a Bosman. I even managed to bring in some guys that should be able to play in the sweeper position according to their profile, something that wasn't possible before. It was disappointing to see however that the 'best' player for this position delivered a 5.47 league average rating and 5.43 in total... No wonder I had such difficulties to win some awards of my own!
With three national cups to play for, a couple of extra matches per season are guaranteed. The first round of the Challenge Cup saw us hosting a game against Montrose, a clash between two sides from Divison Three. It proved to be a very one-sided affair: 3-0! Arbroath from the Premier Division were visiting us in the second round of the League Cup. It was a very decent game from both teams and it was decided by the quality of the players: 1-2... The Challenge Cup second round brought us another home game. Airdrie (D1) were difficult to play, but we delivered a poor performance anyway: 1-2... The only remaining cup tournament by that time was the Scottish Cup. We were playing at home on New Year's Day as well. Alloa - who were playing one league above us - provided all the fireworks that day: 0-3...
The new tactics are more or less paying off for the Czech Republic. Scoring enough goals doesn't seem to be a problem. Keeping clean sheets needs some more attention though. All in all we're still in the race for reaching the Euros in 2040!
Secretly I was pretty convinced Falkirk could do better than last year's 4th place. Consequently it was no surprise to me that we were heading for promotion almost the entire season. Occasionally we had to fight back from the 3th or 4th spot, but eventually promotion was a fact four games ahead of the end of the season! After that we sadly lost the first two games, but by winning the last two the league title was ours as well!!!
A good test for us playing a whole season against teams from the Second Division was the first round of the League Cup against Queen of the South (D2 obviously). Despite our home advantage both squads produced three attempts between the posts. Let's just say we were a bit unlucky in terms of shots versus goals: 1-3...
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Almost instantly after confirming the latest update last week, my laptop went down on me. To make all the drama complete, both hard disks are damaged unrecoverably... Because the most recent backup was made at the beginning of the 2032/2033 season, this story is likely to end here. I reckon this thread will be archived/deleted soon.
Why not start a new game and keep on exploring? Good thinking!
So I installed CM 01/02 on my new laptop and loaded all leagues but one in the background (3.9.60, ODB). Because I've rarely seen someone playing in Poland, that's were I went. The options of selecting a club were limited to the ones in the First and Second League. I wanted to start at the bottom and ended up at Polar - Polar Wroclaw in full, with a stadium capacity of only 1,500 (all seated). Although I had to spend more than € 600,000 on transfers, almost no even half-decent players were interested to join. In a league starring 20 teams our main focus was to stay up. Not an easy job, because a whopping 6 relegation places were used! After making some extra money by selling two players for € 500,000 each, I slowly convinced some recruitments to play for Polar.
As you can see above, in comparison to the Falkirk formation I'm trying to create a bit more attractive style of play. Including cup matches we managed to produce 257 goal attempts between the posts over the season. We had to defend 275 shots on target at the other end of the pitch. These figures resulted in a very, very thrilling season!
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Good job staying up! I have pretty much no experience with the Polish league at all, so this will be interesting to follow.
Is the six relegation spots due to a restructuring of the league (I think that's the case a couple of other places), or do they just have that many?
I don't exactly know why that is, but at the beginning of the second season I've noticed there are only 18 teams in the Second Division. You're still going down when finishing 15th or lower though.
Originally Posted by Pegster
A reduction by two teams in the league meant an inevitable decrease of the total amount of matches. Again I was assigned to keep out of the relegation zone, at least at the end of the season. Last season we had to do better than almost a third of the whole league, this season we only had to beat four teams at the finish. With some intended key players added to the squad, I had high hopes before the first game was played!
The start we made wasn't the best thinkable scenario, but after that a run of good form was shown. Despite this development it was unthinkable to end up at one of the highest two spots, which grant direct promotion. Because places three and four offer a chance of promotion in a two-legged confrontation with a team from the First League, we still had something to fight for.
I don't think the Polar squad is balanced enough to rotate as much as I'm used to, so unless someone of the starting eleven isn't injured or suspended, he'll play from the beginning each match. This approach works rather fine, but when one or more important lads are missing, it's hard to keep the motor running. I'm especially happy with the performances made by my striking trio. From left to right, Bociek, Ziarnkowski and Niedzielan scored 15, 18 and also 18 goals - including both cup and league fixtures.
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At the end of this season we would undoubtedly see a couple of players leave after their contracts are expired. Sort of a last chance to get the best out of the current squad, which wasn't mutated at all during the summer. The board handed in a request for a respectable leauge position, so I had to deliver the goods anyway.
As a season warmup we were entered into the First Round of the Polish League Cup. The first leg against newly promoted Radomiak was at home. Replacing the long-term suspended Ziarnkowski as the most central forward, Gortowski opened the score before the break. Afterwards it was our right back Pawel Lis who set the final score: 2-0! Three days later it was an early goal from Nicinski, playing at the most attacking midfield position, that decided the match: 0-1! Still before the league start, the first leg of the Second Round was planned. This one saw us hosting Groclin from the First League. Nicinski with an even earlier goal put as ahead, but our advantage only lasted about twenty minutes. Based on the chances our visitors created, the result wasn't fair at all, which is why we weren't complaining: 1-1. After one league game we went away from home to make the most of this confrontation. Just like the week before we were nowhere near being part of the game other than serving as cannon fodder and this time the scoreline told the story correspondingly to that: 3-0...
In the first two league matches we were facing an equal amount of relegated teams. After two losses we found every single team ahead of us on the table. Within weeks we climbed up to the 4th place. Apparently this caused too much pressure instantly and soon we were way more comfortable just to see it was (theoretically) possible to reach that kind of position at the end of the season.
Another cup tournament opened its doors for us in September. We had to visit Dolcan in the Second Round of the Polish FA Cup. They were promoted to the Second League two seasons ago and went back down immediately after that. In the first half it was our left frontman Bociek who gave us the lead twice and after the break Gortowski did the rest: 1-3! The draw deciding the Third Round fixed us a home game against Hetman (First League). Not the best goodbye match for our goalie Sejud, whose contract would have ended after the season and therefore was allowed to leave for € 100k: 0-2...
With Borkowski in goal from now on we looked a bit more uncertain at the back. We had a very, very lengthy winter break tough - between 22 November and 21 February there were no matches played at all - to figure things out. If replacing the keeper or the gameless period was to blame, is a mystery to me. The fact remained however, that things went from bad to worse in the second half of the season. Not much progression made these three seasons as a whole and everything to aim for in the next one!
The new season began with some League Cup matches as well. At first we played on the road against freshly promoted Flota. We totally dominated this first leg, but we had to wait until the last five minutes for Ziarnkowski to score the only goal of the game: 0-1! In the return match we badly needed an equaliser from Florek - who is our new left forward after the departure of Bociek: 1-1. Odra Opole played in the Second League two of the last three years and are now promoted back into this competition. Our own supporters at the Niepodleglosci saw one goal each half. Ziarnkowski broke the deadlock and right-sided defensive midfielder Scherfchen secured the victory: 2-0!
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For the second season running the chairman did not only wish for a continuation of our stay in the Second League, but also wanted Polar to finish in some style. I was just hoping for a better season than the last one...
At first we challenged for a good run in the League Cup. The return against Odra Opole saw them scoring almost immediately. In the second half Ziarnkowski and Nicinski gave us the lead before we had to concede a second one: 2-2 (and a 4-2 win on aggregate). Going through to the Third Round was a totally new experience for us! Widzew from the (only) league above us didn't let us get past at their ground, setting the final result in the first 45 minutes already: 2-0... In Wroclaw we were way better than they were in the previous match. Unfortunately only Pawel Lis found the net just before the half-time whistle: 1-0.
Well ahead of the frost we played an excellent first half of the season league-wise. It was all about winning matches against all odds like the one below. At the end of September I had to sell Scherfchen for € 500k, because he didn't want to extend his contract. In a reaction to that Tworek (DMRC) came in on loan and almost immediately after that he agreed to join us on a Bosman in the summer. Later I decided to take Dubiela out of the starting eleven and move Nicinski (DM/FLC) from midfield into defensive midfield. In his place Fojna (AMLC) got a chance. When I had the opportunity to negotiate a bid up to twice his release clause, it was an easy decision to let Nicinski go too and crediting € 1m at the beginning of January. From that point on several people were tested in defensive midfield, with Tworek (left-footed) switching between sides as a stable factor in the team.
In September we had our first go in the Polish FA Cup and it was Polkowice who came to visit us. They were playing alongside us in the same league every year. Florek did some damage after almost half an hour and this moment caused one of the opponents to lose his mind, receiving a straight red card for that. When the 90 minutes were nearly over, Ziarnkowski finished the game off: 2-0! Our opponents in the Third Round were Odra Wodzislaw, relegated to the Second League last season. Again at home and in the 25th minute we were 3-1 up thanks to Ziarnkowski, Scherfchen and Niedzielan. Surprisingly the game went into extra time and eventually had to be decided from the spot. Scoring 4 out of 5 did the trick for us! This cup brought us into a never reached round as well! The Fourth Round was played over two legs against GKS Katowice, continuous contenders in the First League. On the road Fojna (2'), Ziarnkowski (43') and Tworek (71') gave us a magnificent advantage: 0-3! With Ziarnkowski hitting the target from all angles (1', 14') and Florek in a fine form (59') we completed the set of tennis on aggregate at home: 3-0! Time for the quarterfinals already! We only had to wait until March to face Orlen - promoted to the highest division in het 2001/2002 season - at home. An early goal was decisive, even with a man down for half an hour: 0-1... The dynamic duo Tworek and Florek put in some away goals, but it wasn't even enough to get something done in this game itself: 4-2...
Again I don't exactly know if our league performances suffered from the cup adventures or the massive winter break. Unfortunately the second half of the season wasn't as good as the first one. Eventually we ended up 9 points behind the 4th place, gaining another € 350k of prize money however.
Maybe it's not so unrealistic after all, given the circumstances I had to work with. During the summer the training ground got an upgrade from adequate to good, but my request of a stadium expansion was refused. For me this was the signal to spend a lot of cash on the transfer market, because many players left the club at the end of their contracts or were retiring. Including Bosmans there were 16 new players - with Tworek amongst them obviously - welcomed at the club. Now I finally can go back to my favourite way of rotating: always trying to start a match with all players 100% fit.
Cracovia were new in the Second League and had to host us in the first leg of the First League Cup Round. Oberay (FRLC, prefferred over Niedzielan as right attacker) twice and Ziarnkowski once were the scorers before the pause, while Ziarnkowski was the only one to find the net after the break: 1-4! Three days later a much adjusted first eleven sealed the deal, with Tedeev (FLC, backup left striker behind Florek), Piwko (SC, playing instead of Ziarnkowski, the most central man of the attacking force) and Pawel Lis (D/DMR, replacing Augustyniak (DR) at right back) getting on the scoresheet: 3-1! Now we had to visit Hutnik, acting on the level of the First League for the second consecutive season. A really dreadful first half performance let to a one-goal disadvantage. Thanks to the miracle tea they gave us, Suker - AM/FC, he's not a Croatian and is called Marek - and within five minutes after the equaliser Ziarnkowski managed to complete the totally unexpected turnaround: 1-2!
Never mind a change of perspective following several transfers. The board of directors would still be pleased enough when relegation wasn't the case. The first 16 league games of the season made it clear whose ambitions were the most realistic.
Back to the League Cup then. After almost half an hour it was Hutnik to equalise the aggregated score. Five minutes later their goalie was sent off and Suker converted the subsequently given penalty. Just before the break Oberaj doubled our summed advantage. In the second half another red card was shown to an opponent, who nevertheless scored: 2-2. Good thing we won the away game already! The Third Round against Widzew - playing in the top flight four out of five seasons - again saw us travel for the first leg. There was little perspective left after we went down 2-0, but within 60 seconds Piwko gave us some hope back. The pause then was followed by one more goal: 3-1... 15 minutes into the return and Ziarnkowski opened the score, so we needed just one more goal. Another 15 minutes were played and Widzew scored a goal as well. Two minutes into the second half and Ciesielski (DRL, playing at left back) received a red card. No time to bother as Augustyniak responded with a goal directly afterwards and Florek saved the day in the dying seconds of the game: 3-1. No extra time to be played and in the penalty shoot-out we were able to score five out of six! Pogon, never finished outside the top three the last four seasons in the First Division, visited us in the first game of the quarterfinals. Only Oberaj managed to score on behalf of Polar: 1-3... Thanks to a sending off we were on the scoresheet in the return, with Niedzielan (from the spot) and Florek providing the goals: 4-2 (and 7-3 on aggregate)...
The Polish FA Cup saw us entering in the Second Round at home against Stal Rzeszow, playing Non-League football. Oberaj and Suker scored in the first quarter, so the game went as expected. At half-time, to everyone's surprise, the visitors were level and after 90 minutes we were out: 2-4... Besides a little revival during the second half of the season, our league performances were as embarrassing as this cup run. If only I could be a bit more successful, because otherwise I'm becoming worryingly jealous reading all the other stories on this forum
Towards the summer of 2006 and more particularly the World Cup, some jobs at the international level became available. I'm never too shy to apply, even if I'm not performing at all. Therefore I was amazed to get a chance in Ghana and on top of that had to turn down the same kind of offer from Cameroon. Too bad there are only two goalkeepers to represent this country... A new opportunity however to create a suitable formation. Let's try to push for honours this way:
The continental championship of Africa started with an easy win in the group match against Angola: 2-0 (Fusseini and Tanko). Next to that we gave away a lead against Republic of Congo: 1-2 (Samson). I had seen enough and gave Peter Ofori-Quaye - instead of Charles Amoah - time to prove himself up front.
To reach the last four, Cameroon stood in our way. After a 1-1 draw (Ofori-Quaye, who else?) the goals dried up and penalties decided the match. Ofori-Quaye missed his, but the other four didn't and we went through. Sierra Leone awaited us after this lengthy match, but lacked some quality to beat us: 3-0 (Ofori-Quaye (2x) and Aduobe). In the final against South Africa the only goal of the game was scored in the 100th minute: Ofori-Quaye!!!
My predecessor was sacked despite qualifying for the World Cup, so I had to manage at least the three games against China, Denmark and Brazil. All the confidence out of the African Cup of Nations brought us to only one point after two matches (China: 0-0 and Denmark: 0-1). Against Brazil we went up 2-0, but I was fired after the match...
So with a trophy won and a job lost it was back to business on one appointment again. Like last season we encountered Cracovia, still with us in the Second League, in the First Round of the League Cup. At home Augustyniak broke the deadlock after ten minutes, but ten minutes later the equaliser was scored. In the 25th minute their keeper saw a red card and Suker hit the target from the spot. Oberaj and Skrzypek (D/DMC, playing as the right defensive midfielder) settled it: 4-1! The return game let us concede a goal first, but Polczynski (SC) and Tedeev made this one count as well: 1-2! Now it was away to Ruch Chorzow, who were a top-flight team all six seasons, first. Oberaj and Ziarnkowski gave us a surprising first-half lead of 1-2 and at full time we still had two important away goals: 3-2...
Having failed to take the next step over and over again and instead just kept on consolidating quite anonymous league performances, the club's president suddenly demanded for promotion. I really don't know how to accomplish that with a barely changed, let alone strengthened, squad. Any predictions based on this kind of figures after the already completed season of 2006/2007? Looks like we're in it for relegation after all...
Not a great start of the season either with an away loss against the future champions of the Polish Second Division... Right after that we had the opportunity to brush away the 3-2 versus Ruch Chorzow. For almost the complete match we were in total control and a place in the Third Round looked up for grabs all day long. Just have a look at the course of events during this game and the final result of it yourself:
Another early slap in the face concerning our self-confidence. Nevertheless we managed to pick up ourselves pretty soon and in some style as well! Of course we were unable to keep that up for a long range of matches, putting us at mid-table once again at the start of the winter season and ditto break.
About halfway through September we played our first game of the season in the Polish FA Cup. It was a Second Round meeting with LKS Jakowy, a team out of the Lower Divisions. With Florek, Tworek, Polczynski (4x!) and Oberaj providing some goals in front of our home crowd, this proved to be an easy match to say the least: 7-0! Ten days later Pogon came to visit Wroclaw. They had won the national title two times in the past five seasons and never went below third place in the First League the other three years. I had no illusions thus about defeating them and the match exactly turned out that way: 0-4...
Maybe this was all for the better, with us playing only league matches in the second half of the competition. Just like in earlier seasons we were going up and down a bit and even after a definitive swap of goalkeepers, Piatek came in after a red card for Borkowski and did a good job, this yo-yoing continued. Everytime a spot in the ranking that really matters was reachable, our results went downhill again. So, no chance of a proper reponse to the chairman's wish...
Despite some of our players complaining about their expectations ("should be topping the table") last season, I had no choice but to stay quiet on the transfer market yet again. Traditionally the new season kicked off with some League Cup matches, starting at home to Piotrcovia, who were promoted to the Second Division for the first time during my spell in Poland. Polczynski put one home very early in the game to secure our win: 1-0! The first half of the return saw us take the lead through Tedeev first and Suker next. A second-half brace by Niedzielan (one penalty) settled it completely: 1-4! One cup match remaining before the start of the league. We hit the road to visit Orlen first. They were promoted to the highest division in my first season here and stayed there ever since. Both teams produced six shots between the sticks each, but the scoreline told an entire different story: 3-0...
Congrats on winning the Cup of Nations! No shock that you got fired from Ghana though, African nations change managers like crazy regardless of performance.
Crazy chairman suddenly demanding promotion without a stronger squad, even if it's clear that you're not getting them relegated play-off spots would be a more reasonable next goal. Hopefully he's a bit more patient than the Ghana chairman
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Thanks, man! I'm aware of the 'African way of working' within the game. Polar is going steady, but unfortunately that seems to be about it. However I'm looking forward to a possible new challenge, there's no way I'll give up my job that easy!
Originally Posted by Pegster
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No unrealistic expectations before the start of my seventh season at Polar Wroclaw. A respectable league position would be sufficient. To continue our run of form in first league games, a 4-1 defeat away from home wasn't a real surprise. More worrying though was a total of only four wins in the opening half of the Second Division... So we had to give our very best to stay out of the bottom four!
How about the national cup tournaments? The home return against Orlen in the League Cup gave us a goal scored by Suker, but the result on aggregate was only lifted from 0-3 to 1-5... FA Cup Second Round then, playing at Jagiellonia's ground. They won the Second League in 2004/2005, but back-to-back relegations in the next two seasons made them some kind of amateur team for now. Fojna and Maximenko (FLC) kept us somewhat alive in the first half, with 3-2 down. Although we had more chances in this game, we couldn't win it: 4-2...
Should a tally of just eleven matches won be enough to extend our stay in the Second League of Poland? Throughout the second half of the season there was no real need to panic about that. Sure, it would have been nice to leapfrog some more opponents, but it's not bad either to secure at least another year of professional football. Let's see if I can set some kind of record by not getting fired without winning any trophy!
Amica played in the league above us all seven previous seasons, but were relegated after the most recent one. We had to visit them first in the First Round of the League Cup. As usual it was Suker who scored our goal, however the value of it was debatable: 4-1... Three days later our front three from left to right Tedeev, Ziarnkowski and Oberaj - in that order as well - repaired the damage within the first half an hour. After the break and the 3-1 Ziarnkowski and Oberaj - again in that order - completed their braces. To put the icing on the cake and make this match one to watch for certain, Suker found the net again: 6-2 (and 7-6 on aggregate)!!! The Second Round also started with a travel. After Miedz were promoted to the Second League they only needed one season to go up to the First League as well. This is their third season in the top flight and although Gasiorowski (AMLC) and Niedzielan were amongst the goalscorers, we had to thank Piatek in particular for keeping us into this match: 2-2.
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Without the possibilities to invest, I still wasn't convinced about our chances to survive another year of Polish professional football. For a change we didn't lose our first league game of the season, however it wasn't won either. This moral boost gave us no confidence whatsoever. We remained winless until the sixth match in the Polish Second Division. When winter came, things didn't look pretty at all. Much to our luck, a lot of matches were still to be played and we weren't that far behind.
Likewise, challenging for the Polish FA Cup title wasn't within our reach as well. In a poor First-Round match at home against our league opponents Belchatow, someone had to win it: 0-1...
After the unlikely result of 2-2 we welcomed Miedz for the League Cup return at our ground. The first-half goals scored by both Tedeev and Suker were helpful, but again it was Piatek who put in a stunning performance: 2-1! The draw for the Third Round connected us with steady top-flight representatives Orlen. Wroclaw's crowd saw an early opener by Ziarnkowski and as usual Piatek did quite okay: 1-1. On our travel, there wasn't any pressure for us. Despite going 2-0 down after somewhat over 30 minutes, Piatek once again delivered an outstanding game. With Oberaj finding the net in each half, the opponents were left a wee bit frustrated: 2-2. In our battle for a place amongst the last four, we started at home against another team from the First Division. Zaglebie were clearly the better team and if it wasn't for Ziarnkowski to score, it would have looked like we didn't even participate in this encounter: 1-3... The Second Leg away from home was just a formality, in which we never stood a chance: 1-0...
Back to the league then, where some serious business needed to be done. To my dismay, as one can understand, leaving the bottom section of the rankings proved to be very hard, if not impossible (for me). In the second-to-last fixture of the season, we eventually had a golden opportunity to go past one of our closest competitors and move above the truly-feared relegation zone. During the whole match I really thought things were finally going our way, right at the time it was most necessary. Just explain to me why the bloody hell our often-praised goalkeeper decided to pick out exactly this overly-important game to let the team down?
So, my fighting spirit was destroyed to the last bit. It was up to the players themselves to convert the supporters' last hope on to the pitch. They even managed to score seven goals in the remaining 180 minutes of the Second League! It was all too little, too late and unfortunately conceding another six didn't help us out of course... In terms of collected points, this was by far my worst season at Polar Wroclaw.
As you can see in the league table for example, our record of finding the oppositions' net couldn't be counted as the main problem for underachieving. To highlight this positive point of my time here, I'll have to give a lot of credits to the leader of our attack. Ladies and gentlemen, please give it up for our main man: Jacek Ziarnkowski!!!
Relegating from this specific division automatically meant that I was forced to leave the club. Maybe it was time for me to go anyway. Before I do, a quick recap of the last eight seasons. As mentioned many times before, in the long run a not-so-tight defence caused our fall. It was great fun trying to make something out of this however. Polar Wroclaw, you will never be forgotten!
Immediately after becoming an unemployed manager, I applied for every free job in the world. By all means, a new adventure is what I was looking for. I literally got a total of one response. That's why I didn't have to choose between several offers and had little difficulty accepting this one. My new club is called Grunwald most of the time and Grunwald Ruda Slaska in full. They are promoted to the level of professional football for the first time and own a stadium that can host 6,000 people at one time. And you know what? For me it's a rather quick return to the Polish Second Division!
A relatively large stadium doesn't mean there was any money to spend. With only eleven players in the squad, something had to happen in one way or another. I sold Hartman for € 50,000 and Bochen decided it was time to enjoy his retirement. In came goalkeeper Sundby - mainly because of his coaching skills - on a permanent basis and a whopping 14 loanees. I was aiming for a lot more of those constructions, but sadly many clubs and/or players weren't interested.
Yes, all these new conditions made way for me to experiment with yet another unorthodox formation. Despite the fact that I don't even trust any of my own ideas anymore, I'll keep on trying. Can this be the kind of defence that a(ny) team can rely on? It's hard to believe...
Kicking off the season with a couple of cup matches gave me some information about the (possible) strength of the team. The rumor goes that Grunwald could be in trouble straight away for their difficulties to cause danger through their attacking force. Only time can tell what this season will bring me, but I'm scared...