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Thread: The Alphabet Game #3 - April 2017 Data Update

  1. #926
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    Another season at Cardiff beckons but we have made significant progress.


    Hull were the leaders for a time but they collapsed, starting when we beat them on Boxing Day. They were 17 points ahead of us going in to that match. The same couldn't be said for Reading and a 3-0 defeat at the Madejski Stadium in February meant that catching them was always very unlikely. It was one of just three defeats in the regular season after my arrival but too many draws, especially away from home cost us. At home, it was a different story as we have won all but one Championship fixture at the Cardiff City Stadium since my arrival and in fact, we completed an entire league campaign unbeaten at home (W18 D5). We could have overtaken Hull but promotion would have made things too difficult (I know, I'm a coward). I had no intention of being promoted via the playoffs either, but we beat Brighton in the semis to generate some extra revenue from our Wembley visit. Wolves took advantage of my unwillingness to make things more difficult for myself and will be heading to the Premier League instead.

    In the FA Cup, we knocked out Oldham in the Third Round but Premier League Derby ended our dreams at the next stage. The Rams went on to lose the final to Charlton (also Premier League)!

    In January, I strengthened the squad with the likes of Wes Morgan (who got himself sent off twice, including on his debut), Lee Cattermole, who was immense and Mexican forward Marco Bueno. I inherited an unbalanced squad, with lots of wide players but some of them have been sold on. There is still plenty of money in the bank, so I'm fully confident of success next season.

    Also, is there going to be a new alphabet game starting soon? If so, I'll probably wait until then after ticking off C.

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  3. #927
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    Another bumper Update !

    After resigning from Queen’s University, it took longer than expected to land a “R” job. Actually that is not strictly true, I could have taken over Roskilde (Danish second tier) after just a few weeks, and I did think hard about it, but there was no chance of them winning the league this season and they were out of the cup. If I had to wait 12 months for a trophy than there had to be better options available. A few similar clubs came up, but I didn’t even apply. I wanted either something quick, or at a decently high level. It took until the middle of April, but it was worth the wait.A top flight club and 3 chances of silverware in the next 7 months !

    Racing

    It was worth the wait. They are a top club and I take over just 2 points behind Central with 5 games to play in the Closing season. The transfer window was closed, but I already had a decent team. A quick title was certainly possible and we were on fire. 5 wins, 17 scored and none conceded …. But we failed to pick up a single point on Central who also closed out with 5 wins.



    Next chance was the Copa Argentina. For some reason we were not at our best. Narrow wins over Los Andes and Santamarina, both from the league below us, took us to a semi final against River. The game was rescheduled several times for Rivers Continental commitments, but that gave me the chance to stamp my own signature on the squad. It didn’t need much, a bit of dig in midfield and an upgrade across the defence, however for this first outing it just didn’t gel. Although we were by far the better side, we missed a hatful of chances. River defended well and with 20 minutes left, they broke from our corner and bagged the only goal of the game.



    Two down and one to go. Before the next League program, we had Austria’s challenge for the Euro’s. Despite not winning anything, we were ranked 1st in the world and therefore one of the favourites. That was underlined by a 7-2 whipping of Czech Republic in our opener. We followed that with a 1-0 win over England. All we needed was a draw with France, which we got, and we progressed as group winners, along with the French. That was important as we avoided Spain and instead took on the Russians who we beat 1-0. Typically, the squad was now tiring and we just didn’t have the resources to challenge Belgium in the semi final.For the second tournament running, we go out in the semi final.

    Idly looking at the international jobs, something caught my eye. David Moyes had retired from the Scotland job, I immediately applied,and so for the next World Cup, I will have my dream job ! Thistle and Scotland in the same career …. The gods are being very kind !

    Back to Racing, and although we never regained that free scoring football of the first 5 games, we were very tight at the back and wrapped up the title with a game to spare. All Boys pushed us close and even led with 5 to play, but we were so consistent. Once we beat them, we never looked like anything other than Champions.



    It was very much a team performance so picking a key player is hard, however I will award that to Gastón Igartúa. The 22 year old midfielder was a £725k capture from Independiente and had been brough in to provide a bit of a backbone to all of the flair midfielders that we already had. Instead, he chipped in with 9 goals and 5 assists. Not all of my plans work as they were supposed to !

    Just a week before my title was confirmed, Southampton appointed a new manager. Sporting had done the same, a few weeks earlier. Either would have been interesting as I was looking for a move back to a top club in Europe. It didn’t quite work out like that, but I did get a job very quickly

    Sassuolo

    Serie B would not have been my first choice, but to be handed a 2 point lead in the league with 19 games to play, I’m not sure that I’d get anything better. Not surprisingly, it was already a very good squad, but with a transfer window about to open, I could again upgrade the defence. I certainly didn’t need any strikers as I already had a beast of a Uruguayan (Cavani regen ?)



    I’d need to check, but I think that Pérez might have scored in every game that he started. We quickly built a small gap on the chasing pack and from there on it was a when we win Serie B, not an if. Cittadella kept us honest, but we secured the title with 3 games to play.



    No question who the key player was. Sebastián Pérez had to be the man. Luigi Alberto Napoli, a DMC that I got from Castelfidardo, was the best of my additions to the squad.

    Back to the job market and it didn’t take too long to get a club with European ambitions.

    Trabzonspor

    This was certainly a hot seat. I was the 13th manager in 23 years. 5th place last season was not good enough for the previous incumbent to save his job. My task was to close the 34 points that we were behind Galatasaray last season.

    Again I had a good squad that just needed a few tweeks. We had too many average foreign players and too many strikers. The prime target was a good keeper. It was a surprise therefore that the first signing was a foreign striker ! Sebastián Pérez made a £7.5m move from Sassuolo before anyone else could snap him up ! I did get my keeper, a former Turkey U21 who was a Bosman from Besiktas, and I added some more defensive players. It was a big improvement and early one, I thought that we were going to run away with the league. Pérez kept up his amazing goal scoring. I don’t think it was every game, but it was rare that he didn’t score. Gradually Galatasasray wore us down and while it was always very close, with a game to spare, Galatasary held onto their title.



    The Türkiye Kupasi was a different story. The draw for the third round and last 16 was horrendous. Gaziantepspor who we beat 2-1 (Deniz last minute winner), then Galatasaray 3-2 (Günes last minute winner). Both were away. With them gone, the draw opened up. Quarter final Erzin Bld. 8-2 on aggregate, then a semi final with Yesil Kirsehir 4-1 on aggregate put us in the final. Just a one off game and Akhisar Bld. Were never going to cause us a problem, particularly when their keeper was sent off after 24 minutes.



    That was the trophy that I needed, but there was stil a Europa League final to play. Earlier, we had got past Gorica VG, Sheffield Utd, Red Star, Dortmund (two defensive performances with a goal in each game from Pérez got it on away goals) and Leicester City. We would face Wolfsburg. How we didn’t win is a mystery. They played for 40 minutes with 10 men. We had 22 shots on goal, 13 of them on target. They had just 2 efforts, one of them in first half injury time and it found the net. If we had not already won the cup, I would have been gutted.

    I don’t want to, but I have to give the the key player again to Sebastián Pérez. You can’t deny his goal total, he just misses too many games with suspensions or international call ups, and one he has his goal, he thinks his job is done. I don’t think he ever got a hat-trick. Günes with 15 assists and 6 goals deserves a special mention.

    Before the next club, an update on Scotland. In the qualifying group, Spain were our nemesis. Twice we did enough to win the ties, but twice they picked our pockets with the decisive goals. They topped the group and we qualified by beating Bulgaria in the play-off. And so to the World Cup proper. Netherland, USA and South Korea. 3 wins and an easy qualification. Poland had put out Portugal, but were still no match as Knox and Cadden both scored in a dominant first half. The quarter final is always tricky as the first string are starting to get tired, and Italy give you nothing. Twice we went behind and twice we drew level, the second from MacDonald was the last kick of the 90 minutes ! Again we went behind, but Walker, with his second of the game made it 3-3. It was heading for penalties when right back Keiran Anderson went forward for a corner. Captain Billy Gilmour swung it in …. 4-3 Scotland !

    We were totally spent for the semi final and that gave Senegal an easy passage and recovered to beat Ukraine for 3rd place. That is 3 tournaments in a row where my team has made it to the semis, but no further.

    Back to the main plot and I thought that “U” might take a while. There were no clubs in the top tier of any nation, so when a job did come up, I didn’t think twice.

    Utrecht

    This is the first club that I have used in both of my Alphabet games. 13th in the Eerst Division means that I have work to do in the summer and with no money to spend, it will need to be freebies, exchanges and loans.

    Despite having next to no cash (we did get just over £1m when the league fixtures were announced), it was a revolving door at Utrecht as last seasons failures were swept out and a raft of additions brought in.
    31 players departed over the 2 transfer windows. 19 players were added, along with 4 loans (3 of them turned permanent) and a complete new backroom. It was a risk to make so many changes, but I didn’t have much choice. The ones that I inherited were nowhere near good enough.

    It may have been a risk, but it worked. It was all very close upto the start of December. We beat Achilles ’29 to go 5 points clear, then won our next 10 in a row to seize control. A 4-0 win at Gronningen won the title with 5 games still to play.



    That left us with a KNVB Beker semi final against ADO Den Haag. Previously we had put out Feyenoord (sorry guys) Rijnsburgse Boys, Helmond Sport and Jong Ajax (who have finished above Ajax in the league for the last 2 years !). We gave it a good shot, we created the most chances, but ADO had that little bit of Eredivisie class and it was they who got the only goal. The league was the focus and as we got that, I am free to move on.

    It was very nearly a third key player running for a Uruguayan striker. Maximiliano Martínez was on fire for the first half of the season, but the goals dried up after January and that allowed his strike partner, Kosovan international Myqerem Skourtis to pip him to the honour. Right back Ben Baas would have been in the running were it not for an injury that kept him out for 2 months. He still got 5 goals and 8 assists !

    Where next ? There are some very good V jobs around. The VfB Stuttgart fans have been complaining about performances, and Villarreal has been in various states of insecurity for the last 2 months. I do need to be careful. I want to be in a good place to last a few seasons waiting for “X”. That could be tricky as XV de Piracicaba have been relegated from their regional league and have diced with relegation from Serie C for the last few years. Xanthi survived a relegation out of the 2nd tier in Greece with a draw on the final day of the season. On the positive, Xerex B are in the second tier in Spain, but I’m not sure if they are a separate club from Xerex who are not in the league structure.
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

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  5. #928
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    Great stuff again, Kingsley! I believe trunky had the same situation with Xerez and ended up managing the B team, so you should also be able to.

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  7. #929
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    Season 23 - G



    The League Two title was secured with 4 games left to play at Grimsby!

    It'd been a bit of a journey to that stage though. Having won the Scottish League One title at Forfar in March, I didn't actually get a 'G' job until July where I made the trip to Turkey for the first time to take over Gebzespor in the lowest tier. That certainly saw my world reputation take a hit, especially as I could only managed a 3rd place finish, missing out on 1st only in the last couple of games. I didn't enjoy it there, only being able to sign Turkish players so I kept an eye out for any other 'G' jobs and fortunately, Grimsby came up the following year. 8 signings and 9 months later, I'm now on the hunt for a 'H' job though there is nothing immediately available.

    In terms of my world reputation, I was 226th when I won the title with Forfar and that move to Turkey along with working in League Two with Grimsby had seen my reps drop massively. Thankfully, I'm on the up again and now I'm 231st.
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  9. #930
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    Nothing was happening with Vilarreal or VfB Stuttgart, so when the chance came up to move to the Portuguese top flight, with £11m available to spend, I took up the challenge

    Varzim

    The club had finished last season in 14th place, 26 points behind the champions Porto. In fact Os Três Grandes have won all but one of the titles since this adventure started, Braga being the only other club, and Vit. de Guimarães the only other to make the top 2. This would be quite a challenge.

    Looking at the squad, we did have a reasonable first 11. Unfortunately that was it, so I set about recruiting another 11,some of which would be upgrades and some backups. I was reasonably happy that we would be contenders, but possibly the cup being the target rather than the league.

    All of the big 3 made terrible starts, particularly Benfica who were toying with relegation when they sacked their manager. Typically, they all came good our early lead was cut to just 4 points by Christmas. That was when back to back wins against Sporting and Porto gave us some breathing space and while we were always looking over our shoulder, we were never put under too much pressure.



    Could we make it a double ? The draw was being friendly. Carapinheirense, Benfica C. Branco and Cesarense provided little opposition. We then had a 2 leg semi final with Sporting. A Frank Acheampong equaliser earned us a 1-1 draw in the away leg and that was important as there was a stalemate in Varzim, which allowed us to go through on away goals.

    The final was against Desp. Chaves who’s keeper performed miracles to hold us to 0-0 in the 90 minutes. Extra time and the drama unfolded …



    There are many candidates for my key player. Honduran striker Luis Costa bagged 27 goals, but regularly didn’t last past 60 minutes. On loan keeper Ferreira Otávio Ferreira Neto was very solid, but he refuses a permanent move from Porto and Equatorial Guinea midfielder Eusebio da Silva Inacio provided the bite in midfield that I paid £3.5m to Desp. Chaves to bring in. I am going to go for Filipe Luís Souza Silva a Brazilian leftback, who just never had a bad game. He also provided 5 goals and 3 assists, some of them vital to our success.

    Looking at the jobs vacant, Werder Bremen is the only one on the horizon, however there are plenty of “W” clubs around, so I don’t expect to have too much trouble. Looking forward to “X” and both XV de Piracicaba and Xanthi survived bad seasons, so if I can get a quick title, I’ll take it as they may not survive another season.
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

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  11. #931
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    Varzim sounds so much like a Russian team!

    Good work, getting ever so close to becoming the third to complete this!
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  12. #932
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    Mark .... Nice rescue after Gebzespor. Lets hope that you can land a decent "H" job
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

  13. #933
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingsley View Post
    Mark .... Nice rescue after Gebzespor. Lets hope that you can land a decent "H" job
    I have one already with Heist of Belgium who have just been relegated into the bottom tier. Hopefully they have the squad to go straight back up although I am keeping an eye out every month to see if any other H jobs crop up, in case being at Heist ruins my reputation all over again
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  14. #934
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    Varzim sounds so much like a Russian team!

    Good work, getting ever so close to becoming the third to complete this!
    I had to google where Varzim are. There's a German side "Worms" that I would have loved, but they have just been relegated from the bottom tier
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

  15. #935
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    Let's hope they can wriggle their way back into the league soon

  16. #936
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    Quote Originally Posted by AMC View Post
    Let's hope they can wriggle their way back into the league soon
    And if they do, I hope I am the early bird
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

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  18. #937
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    Well “W” was short and sweet !

    After the cup final, I resigned from Varzim as there are no “W” jobs in Portugal. Nothing happened before the Euros so I could concentrate on my Scotland squad who had qualified top of the group, knocking out Italy in the process. France also failed to qualify for the finals held in Azerbaijan. Our group consisted of Slovenia, Serbia and Nethelands. First up were Slovenia and well into the second half it was still 0-0. That was when I brought on young striker Dean Dick (Norwich) for his international debut. Within 5 minutes he had broken the deadlock and we went onto a 3-0 win. We followed it up with a routine 2-0 defeat of Serbia and topped the group with a 1-1 draw against the Dutch. That set us up with Portugal in the quarter finals. It was backs against the walls and keeper Jack Potter (Newcastle) was man of the match for the second game running. Captain Billy Gilmour (West Ham) and winger Barry Stewart (Derby) got the second half goals that put us through to face the Russians. After failing at the semi finals for the last 3 tournaments this had to be my best chance, even if legs were tired. That didn’t show as we raced to a 2-0 half time lead (Gilmour and Dick). Back came the Russians, but Sean Smith (Cagliari) made it 3-1 with 30 minutes left. Then the collapse. 3-3 at full time and extra time which would cripple us if we got to the final. Smith made it 4-3 but that was soon 4-4. We were heading for penalties when with one last final attack, the Russians got a 5th and out we go again.

    But back to the search for a “W”. The first job to come up was West Ham and I was a bit pissed off that they thought Frank de Boer a better option than me …. **** them ! I guess I’m not foreign enough to be a Premier League manager. That was only a short delay as the International sackings and appointments left a vacancy in Poland.

    Wisla Plock
    I thought that I was quite lucky to land a job with the defending champions who were looking for a 3rd consecutive title and also promised Champions League football. What I didn’t realise when I accepted was that my new charges would be playing for the SuperPuchar in less than 2 weeks time.

    6 transfers later (2 loans and 4 free agents) and we were ready. Within 18 minutes, I had my cup in the bag.



    Damian Grzesik was named man of the match, so I guess he has to be my key player. He was one of the free agents, only 2 of my signings started the game.

    I’m going to stay at Wisla for the time being. There are only 3 “X” jobs so it could be a while and I might end up doing something else, but Wisla Plock in Europe looks like a challenge. Xanthi is slightly insecure, but it has been for the best part of 2 years, so that means little.
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

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  20. #938
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    Four years after ticking off B with Berwick, C is finally done and it was easy. Sort of.


    The final table doesn't tell the full story. We led the way after five games but then came a bad run of form, which left us nine points behind early leaders Burnley after twelve games. The run included a defeat in the South Wales Derby, my first at home in the league as Cardiff boss. After losing at Carrow Road, I made some minor tactical tweaks and our run of form was ridiculous. We would not lose again in our remaining 34 Championship fixtures, winning 31 of them! We had returned to the summit by early December following Burnley's collapse and this time, we never looked like relinquishing top spot. Huddersfield emerged as our nearest challengers and showed good form themselves for most of the season. We just never gave them a chance and the title was wrapped up with four games to spare with a victory against the Terriers themselves.




    In the EFL Cup, we made it as far as the Fourth Round, before being dumped out at Old Trafford, largely thanks to some dubious refereeing. The referee gave them a penalty, denied us one and sent two of our players off. We did well to keep the scoreline to 2-0. We did even better in the FA Cup, dumping Premier League sides Leicester and Arsenal out. The Fifth Round draw was kind to us, handing us a home tie against non-league York. A comfortable 3-0 win and we were off to the Stadium of Light to face our third Premiership team. Sunderland couldn't live with us and 2-0 to us flattered them. It meant that we were in the semi-finals and would have a real chance of lifting the trophy with all of the big guns out. Stoke City stood between us and a final spot. We fell behind in the first half but two second half goals booked our place at Wembley. Sorry, Mark!

    We nearly faced Swansea in the final but they were beaten on penalties by Crystal Palace. After weathering an early Palace storm, we gradually asserted ourselves and Nathan Redmond fired us in front just before half time. Exciting young Belgian midfielder Francesco Antonucci doubled the lead just before the hour and we were in dreamland. However, five minutes later, Palace pulled one back to make things interesting again. Substitute star striker Oliver Hawkins (he wasn't fit enough to start) scored a splendid solo effort and this time we were in no mood to let the Eagles back into the game. Cardiff fans could celebrate winning the FA Cup for the first time in 94 years!


    Hawkins was our man of the season. Although I have revamped the team considerably during my time, he is one player who was there when I joined who I was desperate to hang on to. With 37 goals, it's easy to see why. Summer signing Stefan Johansen's performances from midfield also deserve a mention.



    I resigned after the final and was rejected by Desp. Chaves ,Denizlispor and Deportivo. The search for a D job goes on.

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  22. #939
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    After resigning, I discovered that quite a few teams abroad were willing to offer me a job. Unfortunately, none of them began with D, so the wait went on. I did at least manage to get back in to international management with Senegal, who sacked their manager three days after qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. We will face the Netherlands, Croatia and Uzbekistan, which looks like a tough draw. When D jobs finally became available, the chairmen weren't interested, as I was rejected by Russian side Dinamo Bryansk and Dutch clubs Dordrecht and De Graafschap. I also had a chance to take over at Derby, who were hovering just above the relegation zone in the Premier League. I felt I would have to take them down to win a trophy and with more than half a season to go, I wasn't prepared to do that. It took until New Year's Day to find something I was happy with and I would be returning to Scotland.




    As well as being rock bottom, we are also £180k in debt and my first two games are at home to Hibs and away to Dunfermline.

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