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Thread: You Can't Win 'Em All ....

  1. #351
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    I'm saving the rest of the Bra jokes as I may end up there sometime in the future.
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

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  3. #352
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    I fully support that decision

  4. #353
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    Big update so will split my posts up into club and international.

    Well I was right in proper random, just not the right team, I'll be disappointed if Susan Boyle doesn't get a mention

    No directors and stadium, while the club colours also lend to a ghost like team it all has a bit of an eerie feel to it, even more so if I ghost write at any point

    Smith and Gregory are definitely a cut above Scottish League One standard and no surprise they and you romped the league, how did you fare in the cups though?

    No Susan Boyle and Rangers languishing in League One, I'm not happy

  5. #354
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    You are clearly more of a SuBo fan than I am. I had no idea that she had any links to Bathgate.

    As for cups, we made strategic exits after a couple of rounds to concentrate on the league

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  7. #355
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    Ha ha I heard it once and it stuck with me (honest).

  8. #356
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    Should we put it to a poll ? See how many think you are a closet SuBo fan 😀

  9. #357
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    Chapter 65 - Bring On Barca




    Aris

    Aris Football Club is a Greek football club based in the city of Thessaloniki and part of the multi-sports club A.C. Aris Thessaloniki. Aris is one of Greece's most successful clubs, having won the fourth most Super League titles after Olympiacos, Panathinaikos and AEK Athens, while they are tied with PAOK. Created in 1914 as Aris Thessaloniki Football Club, the club was a founding member of the Macedonian Football Clubs Association, as well as the Hellenic Football Federation. The colours of the club are golden/yellow, a dominant colour in the culture of Macedonia and reminiscent of the Byzantine heritage of Thessaloniki, and black. It is named after Ares, the ancient Olympian "God of War", associated also with courage and masculinity, whose image is portrayed on the club's logo as depicted in the Ludovisi Ares sculpture.

    Aris was also one of the strongest and most popular teams in Greece during the interwar period. They have won the Greek championship three times (1928, 1932, 1946), the Greek Cup once (1970), and they have remained undefeated at home in European competitions in 26 home matches since 1968. The team's home ground is the Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium.

    In more recent history, they have claimed 12 additional Superleague, and 10 Kypello Elladas. All though there is £18m available for new players, this season has been a struggle and as I take over, Aris are 5th, with 2 games to play. However they could end up anywhere between 3rd and 9th.


    The real interest, for me, is not the league, but the cup, the Kypello Elladas. Aris face Thessaloniki city rivals Apollon Pontou in the semi final and have a 4-1 lead from the first leg, with the second leg to be played at their ground. I have 24 hours to prepare for that second leg. Of the players that I would want to select, only the Greek International defender Michalis Vlachos is unavailable (suspended for 1 game). The squad was in decent shape, especially in central midfield where Croatian Ivan Vasilj and Czeck Milan Buchta would pull the strings




    The main issue appeared to be who would put the ball in the net. There was no shortage of tricky forwards, but none that looked like natural scorers. Not that you would have known as we put 5 past Apollon to secure our final place and again failing to make the 10 goal aggregate score. Buchta, Iliadas, Ioannidis (2) and Muriel all finding the net.

    A win at AEK, where it ended 10v10 after 2 red cards and a draw with Veria, when I fielded a reserve team, completed the league program and a 5th place finish. Next we would be playing League champions Panetolikos in the cup final.

    I had no injury or suspension concerns and so I could field my strongest 11. Again Iliadas and Ioannidis would be leading the line, but it would be the midfield who I needed to be on their game. It should have been a great game, however Panetolikos just couldn't get the ball upto their front men as we totally dominated the midfield. For long periods we were encamped in the Panetolikos half and despite peppering their goal, just could not find a way past Zisis who managed to block everything that came at him. When he saved a Vlachos penalty it looked as if it wouldn't be my day and we were 15 minutes away from extra time. I had just made my first 2 changes, thinking that fresh legs up front might help. Vasilj started the move and exchanged passes with his midfield partner, looking for one of the forward players to make a move. It came from Colombian winger Jeison Muriel who came off his wing. Buchta's pass was perfect and Muriel hammered the ball from the edge of the box for the only goal of the game. It was the only goal that mattered.




    Job done and I had my second Greek title with only the 2nd tier league to go. It was time to move on and to do that I would have to resign. The chairman was not happy, but he could kiss my Aris. I knew what country I was heading for, but not which club. The strange situation was that both Copa del Rey finalists were looking for new managers !





    At. Baleares

    Club Deportivo Atlético Baleares is a Spanish football team based in Palma, Majorca. Founded on 14 November 1920, it currently plays in Segunda División B hosting games at the 1,250 capacity Camp de Futbol "Son Malferit" as its main stadium as Estadi Balear, is being rebuilt.

    Las Balearicos are one of the big success stories of the last 30 years. 4 La Liga titles and 4 Copa del Rey are already in the cabinet, along with 2 Champion's League semi finals and 3 in the Europa League. Estadi Balear is now a 31,000 capacity stadium with undersoil heating ! (a necessity in Majorca). They had just finished 8th in La Liga, but over 20 points behind a resurgent Barcelona and, 24 hours prior to my appointment, beaten Leganés to retain their Copa del Rey title. The fact that the title is already won is not a problem as I have already claimed that with Valadolid, however it does mean that I have a Supercopa to play against Barca and if I fail in that, a Europa League campaign to look forward to. The other attraction is £86m of available transfer funds.


    It is not unexpected to find a very good squad with top class players throughout the 30 at my disposal. There were 4 who would be leaving, including the 2 central defenders who I would have wanted to start, however before he was sacked, Frédéric Adler had already set up deals for 2 replacements who on paper looked even better.

    I was particularly impressed by the defence and the midfield, however I did need to find at least 1 (preferably 2) strikers and a goal keeper. The other issue was that the left back would be suspended for the Supercopa and there was no obvious backup. My plan was to keep transfers to a minimum until after the Supercopa, but to go for the best quality I could get. If it goes to plan, I may need them for just 1 game.

    The goalkeeper was easy. Bryan Mina, the Ecuadorian international, had been on my radar for several years and the 32 year old jumped at the chance to end his playing days with a big move. He cost just £375k and made 566 appearances for his only club Delfín, but I did have one of the worlds best keepers

    The left back is another long term target in Cameroon international Eric Kongnyuy. The 24 year old has played all his football in Japan and was looking for a move to a bigger club. For £1m I was happy to oblige and his versatility (left or right back) will helps if I need to play past the Supercopa.

    Up front it was much more difficult. Obviously José Reyes was the number 1 target, but Spurs had no intention of letting him go and even turned down a £50m bid. I doubt we could have matched his wage demands even if we had done a deal. It was a similar story with all the other strikers that I made bids for. No one was willing to sell. Needing to get something over the line, I made a £2.5m deal for Serbian 20 year old Mladen Mijailovic, who may be a future star, but I had been hoping for better. I also picked up a free agent in veteran Danish international Rasmus Qvist (ex Red Star) who's experience may help Mijailovic. I got him for free on a Bosman transfer deal. They would be the attacking players in my 4-4-1-1.




    Bring on Barca !




    International Update



    Iran

    In their wisdom, the Iranian FA did not arrange any friendlies before the World Cup and so the first players I select will be the ones to face USA. With games against Germany to follow, this is a must win. I was not expecting to progress, but finishing 3rd would be decent in this group.

    Although there are some decent players, they Iranian's are a bit one dimensional and lacking in versatility. That made getting 23 players with cover for every position a bit of a problem, and so I went with just 2 keepers. I did have former Gent striker Amirhossein Sadeghi and strike partner Ali Ali Asgari was on my short list, but otherwise the players were unknown to me. I kept it simple and lined up 4-4-2 against a defensive looking 5-3-2 from the Americans. They were probably fearful of the run of wins I had inflicted with Mexico.

    It did look like a bit of a stalemate. The States didn't have the will to attack and we didn't have the skill to break them down. That changed in the run up to half time. It was a poor cross that was headed clear by the US defence. Mehdi Mohammadi picked up the loos ball and pumped it back into the box, looking for Sadeghi. He's not the tallest striker, but he lept like a salmon and Sadeghi's head connected firmly and the ball smimmed the underside of the bar, giving the keeper no chance.


    I expected a reaction, but got none. Instead the Americans laid down and accepted their defeat. Sadeghi got his second with another bullet header and Ali Asgari made it 3-0 with a hopeful shot from well out. It was a comprehensive win and perhaps the goal difference might be useful. Germany beat Russia 3-2 in the other game.

    We had a boost before facing Germany. Russia had only managed to draw with the USA, If we won, we were through, but even draw and Russia would have to beat us 2-0. Even so, I opted for caution and dropped Sadeghi to bring in a holding midfielder. It almost worked. True we didn't create a lot, but we restricted Germany to very little and dealt with them well, except for first half injury time when Reichert got free to head in his 10th international goal. Surprisingly Germany didn't build on that, so after an hour, I went for 4-4-2 to see if we could sneak a draw. We almost did, but Ali Asgari's celebration was cut short by the linesman's flag. If we could defend that well again, we might get the draw with Russia that we needed.




    With more confidence in the defence, I opted for a return of 4-4-2. If we could get a goal then it would be very difficult for the Russians to score 2 against this side. We didn't score. In fact the game was a real borefest with very little goal mouth action to report. Not that it bothered me as the 0-0 draw was enough to see us through and the fans loved it


    Iran in the last 16 !

    There was no easy option. As Group winners, Germany would play Turkey, while we would face France. This was not a game to be overly aggressive and so it was a return to 4-1-4-1 and rely on counter attacking breaks. What we didn't need was an early goal. It was therefore a huge disappointment when Dehghani took away Hernandez legs as he was lining up to shoot. Dehghani was lucky to get away with a yellow, but France had a 15th minute penalty. They scored.


    I fully expected us to capitulate and for France to win with ease, however we restricted them to very few chances and it was still 1-0 deep into the second half. It was then that French keeper Hugh Lacroix had a minute that he will want to forget. First he mis hit a goal kick directly to Masoud Kazemian. The midfielder hit it first time and Lacroix should have had an easy gather, however the ball took a nasty bounce off a divot in the turf and he failed to hold it. Kazemian was first to react, chipping it over the keeper for the equaliser.


    That left 24 minutes for one side or the other to find a winner. Neither side came close. It was the same story in the 30 minutes of extra time, where both sides were suffering with heavy legs and concentrated on not making any mistakes. And so we went to penalties.

    It went to 2-2. Diaby scored for France and it was the holding midfielder Esmaelli up next. He didn't look confident and skied it over the bar. Boissier had no problem with his to send France 4-2 up and put the pressure on left back Hosein Jafari. He hit it well enough, but at a good hight for the keeper who guessed the right way and made up for his earlier blunder with a solid save.


    France progressed and Iran can hold their heads high. The more important battles are still to come in the Asian Cup, assuming we are in the draw.

    Spain went on to beat Italy in the final.
    Last edited by Kingsley; 05-06-19 at 03:21 PM.
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  11. #358
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    A bumper International update with Mexico then.

    The usual straightforwardness in the group stages of the Gold Cup, before the inevitable match against the States and despite falling a goal behind a tweak of your formation saw you get the advantage and go through by a single goal to take on Panama which you wouldn't have expected at the start of the tournament. Job done then with that 3-0 win and some confidence to take into the Confederations Cup and them two big games against Germany and Holland.

    An ideal start then with beating Germany in the first game although a blow to lose Reyes, thankfully it was only a knock and the rest of the lads made do without him also beating the Dutch to qualify for the semis, which soon became three wins from three games with the late win over Lebanon.

    The business end of the tournament then and a tough game against France in the last four, but a nice boost with Reyes returning to the line up, and after a tough game with no goals you made it through after the lottery of penalties.

    More bad news with no fit strikers for the final but a stroke of luck means you can call up a whole front line! Let's hope they make the most of their call up. Another tight game but this time you don't make penalties as Germany strike twice in extra time to lift the trophy, and see you fail at the last stage once again

    Easy stuff in World Cup qualifying but it's good to see you move on from Mexico, like you say you can always come back to try and crack that Confederations Cup but in the mean time Iran present you with a chance to tick off another trophy in the shape of the Asian Cup.

  12. #359
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    To Greece then and what looks like a plum job in Aris, a nice advantage from the first leg of the Semi Final so possibly two cup wins away from a trophy, although it does only take a super keeper to stop you in your tracks.

    A thumping win in the Semi Final then but once again you miss out on hitting double figures on aggregate A bonus that you could field your strongest side for the final, let's hope they do the business now! You dominated the game from the off but it looked like you would face that dreaded super keeper, especially when he saved a penalty! You finally managed to break the deadlock in the final 15 mins though and that goal was enough to lift the Greek Cup.

    What a bonus that both Copa del Rey finalists were looking for a manager and so just after Baleares retained the trophy you took over and could look forward to a summer of strengthening ahead of the Super Cup, and plenty of funds to do just that.

    A keeper and left back signed then to ease a couple of the problem areas you felt within the squad, a shame you couldn't get Reyes in from Spurs, a player you know very well from your time with Mexico, and someone who you know is guaranteed goals. More difficulty ensued trying to get other strikers too until you secured the signing of Mijailovic who looks a snip at £2.5m but like you say is probably just short of world class and has his best days still to come, still I'm sure he'll bag a few given a chance. Despite his age Qvist looks a great signing on a free, he should easily be a big player for you for the season (or one game hopefully!).

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  14. #360
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    Cruzeiro – can't say no to a threesome! Another state championship ticked off, although it sounds like Mineiro made you work for this one. I imagine you'd have preferred one of the continental trophies, though.

    Shame you turned down Bra as they must have a couple of hidden gems up front.

    Not sure what Bathgate are doing in the database if they haven't played for so long. Some fall from grace by Rangers too! An easy title to complete the Scottish leagues and a nice Brucey bonus in the form of a quick cup win with Aris. You certainly played your cards right there.

    Never heard of your new club but sounds like a good one, with three chances to tick off a difficult trophy in the coming season. Some good transfer business already and I imagine more to come.

    So near and yet so far in the Confederations Cup again with Mexico, although it does sound like you rode your luck to reach the final. Leaving them for Iran when you don't know for sure that they'll be in the Asian Cup draw is a bit of a gamble but let's hope it pays off. You should be encouraged by your World Cup performance and if you're in the draw, you should be one of the favourites.

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  16. #361
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    Chapter 66 - Bish, Bash, Den Bosch




    At. Baleares

    So we had built up a very good starting 11, but this was not a squad to challenge the likes of Barcelona over a full league program. I did have money to spend if that was to be a target, but for now, we were set up to play one game. On paper, the Barcelona squad was far superior and boasted 3 of the Ballon d'Or nominations, they were clear favourites, but over one game, anything can happen.

    Ther trouble was that the Spanish Supercup is played over 2 games, home and away, and Barcelona had home advantage in the second leg. Nothing we could do about it other than be at our best and hope for a slip up from them.

    The mach could not have started better. After 4 minutes, Qvist set up Mijailovic and as the young striker was setting himself, he was barged by Alberto Martín. True, the Serb went down very easily, but the referee decided that there was sufficient contact to award a penalty. Mijailovic picked up the ball himself, placed it on the spot and beat the keeper with a confident shot into the left corner. A dream debut.


    The confidence was oozing from the side as we took the game to Barça, however it does seem unfair, when you are already up against one of the best sides in the world, for them to have a superkeeper. That tag maybe unfair to place on a keeper with 89 caps for Spain, so lets just say that in his man of the match performance, Alberto Martínez López demonstrated why he is the highest paid goalkeeper in the world. Despite numerous chances, we failed to beat him again, but at least we defended well when we had to, so Mijailovic's penalty would be the only advantage we would take to Camp Nou. Would it be enough ?


    The message was simple. Same again, so even though Diogo Pinto was clear of his suspension, Kongnyuy had done enough to keep his start at left back. Over 103 thousand fans were their to watch their beloved Blaugrana overturn the deficit and claim their 40th Supercopa. There was a small pocket of blue and white shirts who had made the trip from Mallorca to support us, but I'm not sure even they believed.

    It started off predictably with Barça attacking and looking to get on level terms as early as possible. We defended well and important tackles from Manninen and Diáz, along with 2 good saves from Mina preserved our lead. It was past 20 minutes before we had a serious attack, but from it, Coronel won a throw in. He took it quickly, Moser had a touch to tee it up, then lashed a shot across the keeper, curling just enough to go in off the post. It is amazing how quiet 100,000 Barcelona fans can be. Their players were also stunned as 4 minutes later, Sauer crossed from the right and Mijailovic was left in acres of space to pick his spot.


    This was not the script and most of the Barça fans set off for home, or to drown their sorrows, leaving huge empty spaces in the stands well before half time. They would have been glad that they did. 7 minutes into the second half, Mijailovic headed in his second from a Coronel freekick and, like the supporters, Christian Méndez had seen enough. He lashed out at Coronel and was walking for his early shower before the ref could pull the red card from his pocket. Ten men now had to score 5. The job was done and we and the small pocket of supporters could enjoy the second half.




    And again it was time to move on. I might have stayed in Spain with newly promoted Izara, but for them to challenge in La Liga would have taken a miracle. I was on the brink of taking on Fleetwood's return to the Premier league until I remembered that I had won the Championship with Preston. RC Mechelin could offer the Belgian Cup which would have finished another country, but before it was offered, there was an opportunity to start a mammoth challenge.




    Fortuna Sittard

    Fortuna Sittard is a football club in Sittard, the Netherlands. The club currently plays its football in the 12,500 capacity Fortuna Sittard Stadion and features in the Eredivisie. The club was established through a merger of former clubs Fortuna 54 and Sittardia who merged as the Fortuna Sittardia Combinatie on 1 July 1968. The club experienced mixed fortunes throughout its history although they were a regular fixture in the Eredivisie in the 1990s, with many talented players such as Kevin Hofland, Mark van Bommel and Fernando Ricksen emerging from its youth system. The team's management also had an eye for talent, as they snapped up Wilfred Bouma and Patrick Paauwe from the youth setup of PSV. Both players developed well under manager Bert van Marwijk, before breaking into the Dutch national side and moving towards bigger clubs. When van Marwijk left for Feyenoord, standards slipped and financial problems followed. After 16 years in the second tier, they were promoted for the 18/19 season and managed to survive by a single point. Kenny Tete and Ibrahim Afellay are amongst the former managers.

    Since then, they have mainly been an Eerste Divise club with occasional spells in the top tier. They also have one cup final to remember. Last season they finished 13th in Eerste Divise and have not made a great start to the current campaign.


    The challenge is to end Ajax run of titles, now sitting at 39 in a row. Clearly this is not going to happen with Fortuna Sittard, but I will be using them as a stepping stone. If I get a chance to move to one of the challengers in Eredivise then I'll take it, but 10 points behind the leaders is not impossible to have eyes on the Eerste Divise this season.

    The problem is that the standard of player is very poor, with only 15 having the stamina to last for 90 minutes. As the transfer window has closed, I can't even make use of the loan market, so I will have to go with what I've got. Robert Pieters is probably the best of a bad bunch, but he is out for a month, along with goalkeeper Michael Martina who has a 2 game suspension


    If I can stay within the current 10 points of the leaders then with some new recruits in January, there might still be a chance. As it turned out, we did a little bit better. It was helped by Heracles taking their foot off the gas once they won the first period and assured a play-off, but Den Bosch went on an 11 game winning run, including a win over us, which takes us to second place and 6 points off the lead.



    It needed some careful use of substitutes, and often we had players close to exhaustion by 90 mins, but I managed to get here by using just 14 starters. It did need to juggle with formations on a match by match basis (mainly 4-1-4-1) and I did have makeshift wingers who were more natural at fullback. On loan Nick Moes was the unexpected star, with 10 goals from central midfield


    We were even still in the cup. Danny Peters (now the PSV manager) managed to get Fortuna through the group stage before he resigned and I was brought in. Heracles (1-0) and Volendam (4-0) were my contributions, but we have a great chance to go further as it is non-league OJC Rosmalen for a place in the quarter final.

    But first, the additions. There was over £6m of debt so no mater how many I sold, I was never going to clear that. For what it's worth, I did manage to move on 8 players for a grand total of £105k. 2 others moved in exchange deals, bringing me in a central defender and a right back. They were in addition to 6 permanent and 2 loan signings, concentrating on midfield and attack.


    It was like a new team as we set about catching Den Bosch. The chase was boosted by their winning run ending in a defeat at Helmond Sport, but for them that was just a blip and were back to the winning ways. To our credit, we stayed within 3 points until the second head to head which arrived with 4 games to play. Win this and we go top, on goal difference.

    We set our stall out to attack, and managed to get the early goal. A freekick caused Den Bosch all sorts of problems. The ball finally landing at the feet of Luca Giraudo who prodded it home. We stayed on the attack, creating a multitude of chances, but not managing to convert any. But Den Bosch are no mugs and those missed chances cost us when they equalised with less than 20 minutes to play. Neither side could find a winner, so Den Bosch keep that 3 point lead with 3 games to play.


    That was it. I started looking round the vacancies to see if there was a better option for next season while planning on how to lose the playoff. I was still in charge as we beat Cambuur 3-0 and was glad that we did. Den Bosch lost at home for the first time all season. Volendam the 2-1 winners. We were top on goal difference with 2 to play.

    We beat Heerenveen while Den Bosch beat MVV. All we had to do was beat MVV, in a local derby, to take the title. It should have been easy, but somehow we never got going. To make it worse, we gave away a penalty, from which they scored and could sit back and make life harder for us. Not long after, a second goal arrived for MVV and we were in real trouble.


    Half time arrived and I had to do something. I'm not giving up without a fight. Pieters was brought on to join Kim and van den Berg up front and we switched to a 4-3-3. It didn't make much difference as we struggled to create any decent chances. It was 63 minutes before we pulled one back and it was that man Moes, with his 17th of the season from midfield. What a star he has been. 27 minutes to find 2 more. Moes was unable to finish the game, so experienced south African Syabonga Hunt came on. 12 minutes left. It was the other midfielder Dusan Kovac who took the responsibility. He picked up the ball just outside the area and his jinking run took him past 3 players before he got a sight of goal and then he fired low and hard into the corner.


    What a moment to score your first goal for the club and what a way to do it. The crowd were going mental. There was still time. Kim went down under a clumsy challenge. PENALTY ! NOOOOO ! Not given. Klok tried a shot and it hit the outside of the post. Another chance for Kim, but saved by the keeper. The whistle blew. It had been so close.

    The crowd were still singing. It had been a valiant effort and the players deserved to be recognised for that. I was ready to shake the hand of each one when my assistant, Jeffrey van der Linden came sprinting over. Den Bosch had lost at home to Sparta. We were the champions !


    But we still had one game left. We had easily beaten OJC Rosmalen, then defended well and taken our chances to beat Twente 2-1 to reach the cup semi final. Again it took a bit of luck and a red card, but a late Kim goal gave us a 3-2 win at Jong PSV. We were in the final of the KNVB Beker.

    I had the chance to give Ajax a warning of my imminent arrival.




    International Update



    Iran

    Nothing to report. There have been no games played since the end of the World Cup, however we do have a firiendly against Czech Republic scheduled for the summer, when we will also know our Asian Cup fate.
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

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  18. #362
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    Quote Originally Posted by CMAdventurer View Post
    Not sure what Bathgate are doing in the database if they haven't played for so long.
    I suspect that whoever put them in intended on it being Bathgate Thistle who do exist, but are not in the database. It suited the story for me to be pedantic about the name
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  20. #363
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    I thought I was going to get up to date today you

    Iran then and not ideal with no warm up games for you and your side, so straight into a baptism of fire with the match again the USA. The Americans choose to defend rather than attack Iran (which must be a first under Trump's presidency), and despite rebuffing your attempts at the beginning you soon broke the deadlock and then ran out easy winners to continue your record against them.

    Hard luck in your next game then against Germany, but not disgraced at all and the ball still firmly in your court heading to the game against Russia. A really drab affair against the Russians but I'm sure you and all of Iran don't care as you make it through to the round of 16.

    A tough foe in France and no surprise you reverted back to a more defensive formation as you looked to hold them at bay and try nick something on the break or from a set piece. Definitely not the start you needed then giving away a penalty in the early stages which they duly dispatched, but it didn't signal the start of anything and you got yourself even midway through the second half. No further goals then even with extra time and so to penalties you go were unfortunately after scoring your first two you miss your next two to go out, still a decent effort in your first tournament with Iran.

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  22. #364
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    So to that massive game against Barcelona, well games really as you play two legs, hopefully you'll have an advantage from the first leg at home to take to the Nou Camp.

    A great start then with being rewarded a penalty then and new signing Mijailovic took full advantage to give you the lead, but you couldn't add to it unfortunately and although you took a lead to Barcelona it was only a narrow one. After a tough start you somehow make the breakthrough and then double your lead moments later to make it 3-0 on agg but still plenty of time left for a comeback. 2-0 at the break then and then another dream start with Mijailovic getting his second of the game and when Barcelona were reduced to 10 men minutes later the game was done and you had your hands on the Super Cup.

    I thought you may have gone with Mechelin to tick off another country, but to neighbours Holland it is instead and Fortuna Sittard.

    Still plenty of time left in the season to make a fist of the Eerste Divisie and still keep one eye on the Eredivisie, but things made more difficult with the window being closed and you having to make do with what you have. Even when you did make it to January and a good run in league and cup, you had a £6m debt to contend with too which made recruiting even more trickier. After drawing with Den Bosch it looked like that would be it, but they then slip up and you capitalise to go top, but then disaster as you fall 2-0 behind in the last game, what a time for a Derby! You bring it back to 2-2 but then news filters through of Den Bosch's loss and the trophy is yours!

    Through to the Final of the Cup too, but you don't mention what happened there so I can only think you've moved on ahead of it, unless you want a big build up for it.

    Up to date at last too

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    Talking

    Chapter 67 - Arabian Knights




    Fortuna Sittard

    Cup final day in The Netherlands and it was Eredivise Champions (Ajax) against Eerstedivise Champions (Fortuna Sittard). 30 times in a row champions of The Netherlands against a team that had never been higher than 5th. 37 times KNVB Beker winners against a side that has won the cup twice, both times over 100 years ago. One of the richest clubs in the world facing one with almost £7m of debt. Goliath v David, but as we know, Goliath doesn't always win.

    The loan players had not yet returned to the parent clubs, so we lined up in very familiar lines with Dong-Jin Kim and Jasper van den Berg leading the line and the wingers Peter Klok and Joey Berghuis expected to be the supply with crosses. A lot would depend on Hans van den Sar and Mees de Graf at the back as we expected to be under pressure for long periods.


    Ajax were looking to attack and lined up in a 4-3-1-2 formation with the outside midfielders looking to get forward to make a 5 man attack. Of the starting 11, only their Spanish keeper was uncapped, and there were 5 more capped players on the bench. We didn't stand a chance.

    As the game kicked off, you couldn't tell the gulf in class. There were a couple of half chances at both ends, but neither keeper was seriously tested. When another Ajax attack broke down, Klok was found with space to advance down the left wing. He crossed early and found the head of van den Berg who had timed his run to perfection. The ball rocketed off his head and was past López before he knew it. 8 minutes played and it was first blood to David.


    Ajax were stunned and it took a while for them to recover, but gradually, they started to take control as we were pushed further and further back. A goal seemed inevitable and it arrived 4 minutes before the interval, but it was a second for us ! A long ball to Berhuis on the right wing, another cross, which Kim couldn't direct at goal, but flicked on to Klok. His first effort was saved, but he calmly chipped his second attempt over the stranded keeper. Half time Fortuna Sittard 2 Ajax 0


    Second half and Ajax had changed to a less aggressive 4-4-2, matching us man for man. They took control from the kick off and having nullified our out-ball to the wings, Ajax were rarely under threat. Importantly Dutch striker Vincent Witsche got them an early goal and that gave them belief. I probably should have switched to a more centralised midfield, but failed to do so until after Argentine striker Leonardo Coronel had got their equaliser. As soon as I did, Ajax attacked down the now open left wing. Marcos Róldan made a late run from midfield and was left unmarked to place his header in the corner.


    I immediately went back to 4-4-2, but the damage was done. God Ajax are good. God I want to take them down.

    I was desperate to stay in Holland and so I turned down the chance to spend the £138m that Galatasaray offered me. Instead I waited and a job came up that offered me the chance to take on Ajax again.





    NAC

    Normally I would give you a load of crap about how they were founded in 1912, won the league in the 1920s and the cup in the 1970s, but **** all else. However, in this case the name is more interesting (and I hope our dutch friends will correct me if I'm wrong. Firstly it is pronounced naak, rather than N A C. But more interestingly what it stands for. I had always thought it was a corporate name like PSV, but I was wrong.

    The club was formed when two clubs ADVENDO and NOAD merged to one club. NOAD is a Dutch abbreviation for Nooit Opgeven, Altijd Doorzetten (Never give up, always persevere), while ADVENDO is a Dutch abbreviation for Aangenaam Door Vermaak En Nuttig Door Ontspanning (Pleasant for its entertainment and useful for its relaxation), the C stands for Combinatie (combination).

    The full name of NAC Breda expands to Nooit opgeven altijd doorzetten, Aangenaam door vermaak en nuttig door ontspanning, Combinatie Breda. I think I understand why they shortened it !


    Although they've not won the league again, they have won the KNVB Beker on no fewer than 5 occasions, including 9 finals in 16 years. In the season just finished, they were 3rd in the league, but a whopping 22 points behind champions Ajax. Edgar Davids and Denny Landzaat are both former managers. The chairman has given me £6m to end Ajax run of 30 titles in a row.

    While we are on the finances, here are some of the stats that give you an idea of the challenge that I face

    With a salary of £16,250 per week, Joey Bakker at ADO Den Haag is the highest paid player outside Ajax. Ajax have 20 players paid more than that, with Leonel Coronel topping out at £75,000 per week. Chris Darlington is my highest paid player on £6,000 per week.

    Over the last 5 years, Ajax have spent £208m on new players. NAC have spent £28.45m in the same period. Twente are the second biggest spenders having paid out £59.9m.

    After replacing the entire coaching team and recruiting an entire physio room, it was time to assess the squad, which was not in bad shape. There were 2 decent keepers, including Youri Neinhuis who had been onloan with Fortuna last season and would be my number 2 this time round. The defence was solid, especially the central pair of club captain, Joost Reekers and Gökhan Aydogdu. The midfield looked good, especially on the wings. The problems were all up front where there were just 3 strikers and I didn't like the look of any of them.




    I decided to keep spending to a minimum and keep some in the bank for January. I did bring in 2 back-up keepers, one for free and the other on loan. Souleyman Sanogo had been released by Cruziero and I had no hesitation in adding him to the defence where he will be the starting right back. 3 came in to bolster the central midfield, Chilean Luis Díaz, Slovenian Marko Radovanovic and Iykut Isik who had been around most of the Eredivise clubs without ever getting a chance. Again, all were available for free.

    The money spent was all on the 3 strikers. Michiel Van Den Broeck was out of favour at Bocholt and jumped at the chance to rejoin me for a paultry £150k, while Donny Wijnaldum arrived from Feynoord for £850k. The grandson of former Feyenoord favourite Giorginio had been in and out of the team for 6 years. Finally Jos Vos arrived on a free having left NEC and joins his brother Marcel who is already in the squad.

    That makes 3 lots of brothers as they join the Buijs brothers Sander (GK) and Gerald (DL) and the van de Beek brothers Harry (AM L) and Laurens (AM RLC). And we might have had Little Jonny's brother too after he walks in on his parents having sex. He asks what their doing and the father says: “Well…We’re making you a brother.” So little Jonny runs off to let his parents finish, happy that he’s going to have a brother soon. The next day when little Jonny’s father comes come Jonny is crying out on the driveway. The father sits down next to Jonny and asks what’s wrong. Jonny cries: “I won’t have a baby brother!” His father is confused. “What do you mean?” He asks. “Because the postman came by today and ate him!”

    Back to NAC where the transfer business was completed by releasing 3 and selling 14, which generated a further £5.5m for the club funds.

    The season got off to a flier, with Donny Wijnaldum particularly productive. In fact we won our first 18 in a row, but had still to play the also unbeaten Ajax. That would be our final home game before the Christmas break. Even a draw would put us in the driving seat.


    Spare a thought for poor NEC. Just 5 goals scored in 19 games. They are currently on a run of 9 games without scoring. I don't know if there are any brothels in Nijmegen, but if there are, they won't be doing much business.



    International Update



    Iran

    Firstly, and most importantly, we did make the draw for the AFC Asian Cup, where we would face North Korea, Malaysia and Iraq in the group stages.

    But first we had a couple of friendlies that resulted in an unconvincing win over Czech Republic (2-1 late Sadeghi winner) and a very disappointing 1-1 draw with Uzbekistan. It was hardly the build up that I had been looking for.

    And so to the finals. North Korea were easily dispatched 3-0, but we almost came unstuck against Malaysia. Twice they led and were still 2-1 up with 8 minutes left. It took a late brace from substitute Amin Kalantari to finally see us through. That left Iraq who were demolished 5-0 with another brace for Kalantari coming off the bench.


    Now it got tougher as we faced hosts and favourites South Korea. It had worked in the World Cup, so I decided to go for the 4-1-4-1 defensive formation. We came from behind to lead 2-1 thanks to a brace from Boca midfielder Amirhossein Moradi, only for the Koreans to be level at half time. Our keeper, Mohamed Reza Deghani was having a howler. The second half had far less drama, more what we had expected. There were few chances for either side, but one that we got was converted by Hannover's Ali Ali Asgari and that proved to be the winner.


    And so to the semi final, which is one step further than Uzbekistan got to 16 years ago. It was a return for North Korea, who had beaten Kyrgyzstan in the last round. This time the drama was at the start and finish, with the rest of the game largely dull. Kazemian and Rafiei got us off to a dream start as we went 2-0 up inside 7 minutes. It looked like we would be able to cruise home until Deghani rugby tackled their winger and was sent off. With 10 minutes left, Kim converted the penalty and we were left hanging on for the win.


    It was not entirely unexpected to be meeting Japan in the final. They had only conceded 1 goal on route, but to be fair, the passage had been slightly easier. Jordan, Krygyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Uzbekistan.

    The 4-1-4-1 had not been entirely succesful last time out, so I stuck with the trusty 4-4-2. That looked to have been a mistake when Kurihara gave Japan an early lead. We kept to our game plan and in truth deserved the equaliser from Mehdi Mohammadi just before the interval. The next goal would be crucial and it came from veteran striker Sadeghi, who stretched to reach Kazemian's pass and lobbed the keeper from 20 yards out.


    With Japan committing players forward, Kimura took one for the team as he held back Sadeghi when we were 3 on 1 on the break. The resulting free kick led to a corner and that was floated over for Sadeghi to put us 3-1 up and land us the title.




    All too easy in the end.
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  26. #366
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingsley View Post
    I suspect that whoever put them in intended on it being Bathgate Thistle who do exist, but are not in the database. It suited the story for me to be pedantic about the name
    It's always good to pay attention to detail. Obviously I wouldn't dare suggest that the name had any influence on your decision to manage them.

    Incredible start with NAC but still plenty of work to do of course. Win the next game against Ajax and nine points could be difficult for them to recover. Even a draw would be a decent result. You've certainly taken on quite a challenge but it should make for great reading.

    Well done on getting the Asian Cup ticked off. It was always going to be a dilemma on how best to approach it with all the randomness in the draw but leaving Mexico proved to be the right decision. This was not an easy tournament to win as you had to beat both South Korea and Japan. Just the Confederations Cup to go now and plenty of time.
    Last edited by CMAdventurer; 13-06-19 at 02:34 AM.

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  28. #367
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    Chapter 68 - Rat Catchers




    NAC

    NAC's nickname is ‘The Rats’ after former player Antoon ‘Rat’ Verlegh. The stadium is also named after Verlegh who played almost 300 times for NAC between 1912 and 1931 before going onto coaching and administrative roles with the club. The name seems strangely appropriate.

    The head to head with Ajax was always going to be decisive. If we lost, we would still have a 3 point lead and a very small goal difference advantage, but they would have the momentum and with a trip to Amsterdam still to come, I was not convinced that we could hold off the chase.

    The cold gusty weather probably didn't help in creating a smooth flowing game, but there was enough incident to keep a near capacity crowd excited. There were chances at both ends, but of the ones that counted, Witschge scored first for Ajax and Días equalised for NAC in first half injury time. It was Witschge who got the winner for Ajax 10 minutes into the second half. In truth, they probably deserved it as they were more clinical with their finishing while Wijnaldum and Van Den Broeck both had off days for us.


    Ajax didn't drop another point, beating us 3-0 at their place and it might have been close on goal difference, however an outrageous super keeper performance resulted in a 0-0 draw at home to bottom club Emmen took that away from us. Although we broke the previous Eredivise points record, in the end Ajax took their 31st consecutive title. The Rats had been caught.


    Note that it didn't get any better for NEC fans. 8 goals in 34 games ! They did find their shooting boots, scoring 9 times in the playoffs and managed to hold onto their Eredivise status for another year.

    I probably should have mentioned the cup runs. In the KNVB Beker, we made it through to the semi-final, where I fielded a team of academy players and lost 4-0 to AZ. Although I do still need the cup at some point, I think I have a team to challenge Ajax for the league and don't want to start from scratch with a new club.

    In the Europa League, it was a grand tour, taking in Krylya Sovetov, Shakhtar Donetsk, Alavés, Crystal Palace, Vanezia and Werder Bremen. Beating Zaragoza in the final would be a trophy worth sacrificing the chance to take on
    Ajax next year. When Díaz gave us the lead just after the half hour mark, it looked as if it could be possible, however Zaragoza equalised within a minute and so it was a stalemate going into the final 10 mins. In trying to avoid extra time, I went for all out attack, and got caught on the break …. twice.


    So, what for next year ? The team I have is pretty close. There are a few who want away and a couple who are upsetting the squad, so there will be some changes, however I would like to keep the core together. I would like another striker to help Donny Wijnaldum and have looked to see how Mladen Mijailovic is getting on at Atlético Baleares. Unfortunately he is doing rather well and is now valued at £21m !

    Being realistic, we need Ajax to falter, but if they do, we need to be in the right place to profit from that.



    International Update



    Iran

    Not a single friendly has been scheduled since the AFC Asian Cup final, so the only International news is the search for the next job. The Euro qualifiers ended, but the only interesting job (I didn't fancy Liechtenstein or Malta) was Sweden, but even then I'm not convinced I could get them to the Confederations Cup, let alone win it. I was not to disappointed not to get it.

    More interestingly is that my old job at Mexico is in the “Slightly Insecure” category, as is U.S.A. I would jump at either of them if they came up.
    Last edited by Kingsley; 14-06-19 at 10:35 AM.
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  30. #368
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    Quote Originally Posted by CMAdventurer View Post
    It's always good to pay attention to detail. Obviously I wouldn't dare suggest that the name had any influence on your decision to manage them.

    Incredible start with NAC but still plenty of work to do of course. Win the next game against Ajax and nine points could be difficult for them to recover. Even a draw would be a decent result. You've certainly taken on quite a challenge but it should make for great reading.

    Well done on getting the Asian Cup ticked off. It was always going to be a dilemma on how best to approach it with all the randomness in the draw but leaving Mexico proved to be the right decision. This was not an easy tournament to win as you had to beat both South Korea and Japan. Just the Confederations Cup to go now and plenty of time.
    With a decent side and a bit of luck in getting into the tournament, the Asian Cup is not too hard. Any of Australia, Japan, South Korea or Iran should be able to win as none of them are unbeatable by a human manager. Outside those 4 it is a bit harder as the squads are just not there and there is always a weak position.
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  31. #369
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    Quote Originally Posted by AMC View Post
    Up to date at last too
    Sorry mate. A bit more work for you !
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    You do stick around for the cup final and a big ask against Ajax, but in a one off game who knows? Even more so when you then take the lead early on, I was going to say possibly too early to score, but then you make it 2-0! Disaster strikes though as Ajax regroup at half time and comeback to win 3-2, that's why they're untouchable domestically though.

    Ajax must have got under your skin then (or you just liked the challenge) as you plumped for NAC Breda over Galatasaray. What a flying start though, absolutely flawless with them, but Ajax still on your coat tails, what a massive game against them coming up, you'd probably take a draw but if you win that would be awesome.

    South Korea gave you a scare in the Asian Cup (due to your keeper mostly) but you got the win and closed it out with two tight games to lift the trophy and almost complete the international collection.

    All wins not even a single draw since that Dutch Cup Final last season, unbelievable stuff!

  34. #371
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    Quote Originally Posted by AMC View Post
    All wins not even a single draw since that Dutch Cup Final last season, unbelievable stuff!
    Not quite, we did suffer 2 draws in Europe, but even so, it was still some run.

    With Iran, it's not too hard as the opposition is pretty poor (outside of Japan and S. Korea)

    The Dutch leagues are more of a surprise, however, because Ajax are so strong, the rest of the league is much weaker. Basically any Dutch based players who show any form get bought up by Ajax and the AI managers are happy to oblige. They have been sending in bids every week for some of my guys, but Ajax is the last place that they will be going to. Upto now, nobody has been standing up to them and as a result the squads get weaker and weaker. It only needs to take a few good players to be a clear second best. That, coupled with a strange spell from the AI where I've not faced any injuries and absolutely no red cards, and that can explain the exceptional run.

    If it wasn't for Ajax, the season would have been rather dull. But note that they finished the season with 26 consecutive league wins.
    Last edited by Kingsley; 14-06-19 at 10:28 AM.
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    31 straight league titles is outrageous.

    So unlucky not to pip them though. Bloody Emmen and their super goalie!

    Great work in the Asian Cup as well. Hope a job comes along soon as I don't think you'll be up to much there for a while!

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    Chapter 69 - The King Is Dead




    NAC

    Going into the third season and I was expecting only a few changes to the squad, so the 10 out and 9 in was a bigger turnover than expected. The one I was most disappointed to lose was Albanian midfielder Ardit Sadiku who had scored 7 and made 10 assists last season. He had been upsetting the squad with persistent transfer requests, under interest from Ajax. I eventually agreed to sell him to Rennes for £7m, despite a £10m offer from Ajax. I brought in a ready made replacement in Croatian Matej Knesovic and I hope to get a similar return from him.


    The other big money departure was striker Dimitri Kiselev who had been with the club for 8 seasons and been player of the year 3 times. Unfortunately he scored just once last year and had been shunted down the pecking order. He went to Entente SSG for £2m. The rest of the departures were all fringe players or backups that would not be hard to improve on.

    Coming in were 2 fullbacks. Peter Kluivert on the left is just 20 and is one of the rising stars. It took £2m to tempt him away from Jong PSV where he had already played 50 times. It took only a couple of months before Ajax were offering £10m, but nothing doing. On the right, it was more experience as we welcomed Linus Zhubi, a 31 year old Swede who had been with Norwich and New York City. His arrival would allow Souleyman Sanogo to switch to central defence, thus improving 2 departments.

    Upfront, I had wanted to replace Kiselev, but didn't manage to land any of my targets. Instead I brought in 2 who could play behind the striker, or out on the wing. Brazilian Jonas Filho had been in my Fortuna side where he had gained an average rating of 7.91, while Richard Haar arrived from Clermont on a £4m deal. He will join up with his brother, Mark, a left sided defender, who arrived from Geel for £3.4m.




    For a net spend of £3m, I though we had improved every department, however there were a lot of players who would be expecting to play every week and I can't keep them all happy.

    As the season started, the focus was not on Breda, but on Amsterdam, where Ajax lost to Oss and drew with Den Bosch and Excelsior. Their manager upped sticks to head for Toronto and the new man took a few games to settle. They had a record of W2 D2 L2 and were already 8 points behind us when they arrived at the Rat Verleigh Stadion for the first league game. It was all NAC. Somehow it stayed 0-0 until half-time, but into the second half and they couldn't live with us. Jos Vos and Guiseppe Maimone got 2 quick goals to send us on our way, but it was the last 7 minutes which saw more action. Firstly Richard Haar put us 3-0 up, at which point Filho celebrated by flooring Cataldi with a superb punch. Despite being down to 10 men, Vos got his second and the 4-0 win put us out of sight.


    11 points behind. Ajax were not going to make it 32 in a row. As the season moved on, it was between NAC and Feyenoord for the title. Upto the Christmas break, there was nothing in it, our 3 point lead was thanks to a win at De Kuip. It has to be said that our progress had been thwarted by a confetti of red and yellow cards. Our final tally of 5 red and 53 yellow cards is not quite a league record, but not far off it, and quite surprising when for the most part we were the attacking side. When each red card comes with an 8 or 10 game suspension, they really hurt. Winger Edwin van der Steen managed to get 2 10 game bans with just 23 minutes of playing time between them.


    Rounding up the cups first. I hadn't intended on competing for the KNVB Beker, but after a team of youth players beat Kozakken Boys and we drew Ajax in the quarter final, I was not going to give them an easy passage. Instead, we beat them 3-0 (van der Steen, Reekers, Brouwer) in Amsterdam, before going out to Twente in the semis.

    In the Champions League, wins home and away against M. Tel Aviv put us through to the group stage. We easily progressed to the knockouts against some fairly mediocre opposition.


    That took us to a quarter final with former side Nîmes where we took a 2 goal advantage back for the home leg. It wasn't enough as we put in an uncharacteristic poor performance, going down 3-0 and going out.

    Back to the league, and Feyenoord were hot on our tails, with a 12 point gap between them and 3rd. It was a two horse race, and stayed that way until the end of February when Feyenoord fell apart. Of their last 11 league games, they W2 D2 L7, opening the door for Ajax to recover to second place and they dropped to 4th.

    It left us as champions by quite a large margin.


    Again the poor old NEC supporters suffered with just 11 goals after 8 last season. Looking at their history, only once in the past 11 years have they scored more than a goal a game.

    Back to NEC and we had an exceptional season. Donny Wijnaldum (18), Richard Haar (17), Jos Vos (11) and Wilco Brouwer (10) all getting amongst the goals. Brouwer and Jaison Muriel on 9 led the assists, while of the defenders, Mark Haar, Peter Kluivert and Shayne Kruiswijk put in exceptional performances.

    And so it is back to the job pages where I hope to find a quick win in a cup or league that is not yet completed.



    International Update



    Iran

    The important news is that I'm still based in Tehran, but closely monitoring the situation in Mexico and U.S.A. Cameroon has been added to the list.

    As for Iran, World Cup qualifying has started, however Kuwait, Malaysia and Bangladesh are not providing much of a contest. A full update to follow once the qualifiers have completed.
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

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  39. #374
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    Long live the King! Admittedly, a small part of me was worried that the title meant you'd got a corrupt save file or something.

    Back to last season, the home defeat against Ajax looks to have turned the tide in their favour and your arrival probably brought the best out of them. 26 wins in a row is insane. To get such a high points tally and still miss out must have been agonising. I bet Wijnaldum Snr would have told his grandson about how he suffered a similar fate with Liverpool half a century earlier. Bad luck in the Europa League final too, a season of what might have been.

    Some great transfer business ahead of the new season, surprising that they haven't earned more international caps.

    Interesting move by the Ajax gaffer thinking Toronto was a bigger club. Clearly you scared him and he didn't want to be the guy responsible for Ajax's run coming to an end. In the end it was too easy and I'd guess a little anti-climactic too. Still, you can only beat what's in front of you and in the end, you've achieved what you set out to do.

    I'm curious to see whether you'll stay in the Netherlands to win the last two trophies or if you fancy a change. Perhaps NEC would make for a good challenge. I bet when you leave, NAC collapse after losing their star players to Ajax.

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  41. #375
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    Quote Originally Posted by CMAdventurer View Post
    Long live the King! Admittedly, a small part of me was worried that the title meant you'd got a corrupt save file or something.

    I'm curious to see whether you'll stay in the Netherlands to win the last two trophies or if you fancy a change. Perhaps NEC would make for a good challenge. I bet when you leave, NAC collapse after losing their star players to Ajax.
    So far the save is holding up well and I’ve not spotted any cups that have hung. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

    NEC I originally thought “no way” but perhaps I would take it. I need to win the cup and a good defender is more important than attack in cup games. Besides surely there is a striker out there that can get them some goals.

    That said, my preference would be to break into Sweden or Finland, or the Croatian lower leagues which have been hanging around for ages.

    The only jobs currently available are in Brazil Serie C and in state champs I’ve already won

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