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  1. #1851
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    Now that the 31/32 season ended in Northern Ireland, it's time for a short evaluation. Still managing 16 NI clubs in a world where every teams are playing the same ol' 4-4-2.

    For the first time (and maybe the last), we were able to send 3 teams in CL groups. Infortunately, Distillery and Loughgall ended 4th in their respective pools and were eliminated. Sports & Leisure qualified for the next round after inflincting a severe beating to future french champions Lille (victory 4-1). The next level was much harder of course, and S&L finished 3rd with honors, only missing 1 point to reach the quarters.

    None of my teams did particularly well in UEFA. All of them were eliminated after the second round.



    UEFA coeff. for the next year indicates we lost 1 point, 3 positions and 1 CL spot. Still 8 NI teams will compete in Europe, and the 9th country is behind enough to say we secured this silly number for some time (remember NI Premiership counts 10 teams only, so every club above relegation zone is now automatically granted an european access).


    Domestically, I summarised the season using the « amazing » Pointometer (date is wrong, it's 31/32 season):

    Spoiler!


    S&L lost only once in Premiership, and a second time in NI Cup semi versus Armagh. They were mostly untouchable for the entire year. Promoted Newry were surprising until the mercato where they were stripped of their most promising players by our « Big 3 », S&L, Loughgall and Distillery. The rest of the league is more or less of the same level, far behind our « inspiring » Big 3.

    S&L has nearly 20,000,000£ in bank, and a transfert budget of 2,800,000£. Highest wage is 97,500£, most valuable player is evaluated 350,000£ worth.
    For Distillery, we had almost 4,000,000£ in bank and 400,000£ for transferts. Highest wage is 75,000£ and the most valuated player is now estimated 170,000£ .
    Loughgall : more than 10,000,000£ in bank, 2,600,000£ for transferts. Highest wage possible « limited » to 29,000£ and highest value for a player is 275,000£ now. Note that CM explorer indicates that max attendance for Loughgall is limited to their average attendance (10 times less than S&L and Distillery). It could block the board to allow more funds.

    We can see something is changing by looking at NI 'B' team...



    … cause some of my players, now granted a second nationality, are climbing their way up to the international level. And no AI team are bothering me to buy them.

    Some numbers : My 16 managers rejected 34 contract propositions last year, coming from Northern Premier to EPL sides. Sometimes the same team can offer the job to 10 of my fake managers. No proposition came from Ireland or Scotland, only from England. Loughgall worldwide manager rep' is 55th and S&L rep' is 75th. S&L has a youth academy and an extended stadium of 7750 places, none seated, so it seems they just mowed more grass around the field to make room. Players were praised 17 times by medias when only 1 was criticised (poor of him, he took all the bashing).

    We bought for 2,475,000£ worth and sold for 7,882,000£ worth players. A real economy took place now that some teams have a lot of money and can have specific target, including in NI where my other teams need to give release fees and cannot pay their squad the same way the Big 3 does. In return, some of those little clubs have now a little cash and it's easier to adjust squad quality through transferts when needed.

    Can we (I) do better next season ? Well, we'll know, in some times...

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  3. #1852
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    As the agony grows with every passing season the question of whether we can finally beat Rosenborg over the lengths of a full season seems to be impossible to answer with a definitive "yes".

    Eight years at Jerv have flown by (see last update) but I remain determined to not leave the small Norwegian town of Grimstad before holding the only trophy that matters in my hands.


    It's time to invest: over the years the bank account has grown dramatically. What used to be a chronically underfunded football club Jerv FK is bathing in the money right now. I struggled to make use of this in the last few years, though. Finding and attracting players that really can make the difference in a dog fight with Champions League regular Rosenborg is not so much a question of money but more of who wants to come and play for a little known Football club in the south of Norway?

    But being a 5-times runner-up now, with regular stints in Europe, knocking on the Champions League group stage as well, we become a more attractive destination, as it turns out.

    Over the five months long season break our scouts work long hours all over the globe. We invest nearly €8 million during this time - an absolute record for small Jerv FK! Days are over where I was looking for the young talents that could be nurtured and developed. I want players who're ready to step in and perform! A sign of the time is clearly when we land Lille's playmaker Florian Sissoko for €2.3 million. A nobody in the Ligue 1 but he's going to be star in Norway!






    The transfers are noted by football experts in country: the media calls it as I see it as well: 2029 - it's Jerv's time to shine! Also expectations around the club are outspokenly heightened. No less than a serious challenge for the title is expected - and I'm fully on board with that.


    After years of tinkering with the tactics I want us to utelise the available fire power up front this season more than ever before: not conceding used to be our strengths; not enough scoring, on the other hand, the difference in winning the title... or rather not winning. So three strikers it's going to be!






    With fire in the belly we head into the 2029 season..... but the fire deflagrates as rapid as it has been lit up: two scoreless draws and a meagre 1-0 win after three league games - did we lose the title race this early again because of our slow start as happened so often in years before?




    No! The team needed some time to adjust to the new tactics and the new signings who made it into the starting XI. From here on we go on a run that sees us unbeaten until the 21st round. Missed in the past but not this time: the team finds the right balance between attack and keeping the defensive shape. We're hard to score against, major plaudits go to tackling machine Henry Lara (TCK 6.1).

    We outscore our opponents too, with our strikers leading the race for league's top scorer. We beat Rosenborg home and away comfortably and profit from the fact that the RBK stars seem to have aged beyond their sell-by date: they're cocked!



    So, we feel it for a few weeks that it's coming, but with four games to go a 3-1 over Molde finally secures the title that seemed so elusive for so long: Jerv FK wins the Norwegian Eliteserien!!!









    In the end this is our best season ever - obviously. Two unlucky defeats aside, it's a year where defeat seemed out of question soon after we got through the first few shaky games. 10pts more on the board than in our previous best. Scored more goals than ever. Conceded less than a goal per game in contrast. Goal machine Ian Murphy heads the league with 18 goals as well as finishing the season as player of the year with an average rating of 8.15. We were also lucky with injuries. Our key players didn't miss a lot of football.









    We end the year in the best possible way: winning a third Norwegian Cupen since I have taken charge of Jerv:







    After nearly nine years or 3024 days in Grimstad it's time to say takk og farvel. Taking over this small club in the second division, leading them to promotion, to win a Cup final (or three of them, for that matter), to five Eliteserien runner-up finishes to eventually bring the title home - it's been a hell of a journey. I've grown fond of this little football club. I've grown fond of Norwegian football as well. It's a wonderful little league. As much as I would like to continue and see us defending the crown and breaking through to the Champions League group stage as much I'm craving for a new challenge. Where that'll be? We shall see.


    With an average reputation in 256th place in the world I hope to be able to through my name in the ring for something exciting...






    .........

    KTP Kotka (FIN): September 2017 - December 2017
    Haka Valkeakoski (FIN): December 2017 - December 2020
    Hearts (SCO): February 2021 - May 2021
    Jerv FK (NOR): July 2021 - November 2029

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  5. #1853
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    Great write-up Flo! Yeah playing in Norway can be quite hard with little money and no way to attract big names. And also I find that many players want to leave so it's hard to keep a squad together over several seasons. But once you get the ball rolling and start getting some results in Europe the tide suddenly changes and you can really build a squad that can go places, that can even compete for trophies in Europe as well!

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  7. #1854
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    Fabulous stuff, Porridge!

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  9. #1855
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    Thank you Pickpocket & AtomicAnt! Been probably the most enjoyable title I've ever won. In saying that, I simply love playing the Scandinavian leagues.

    ....

    It all goes so incredibly fast. Only a fortnight ago I resigned in Grimstad, now Portuguese giant Sporting Club de Portugal comes calling - it's an offer too good to refuse. Giant, though, might be a misleading description. Sporting's name will always be surrounded by an aura of "Giantism" but the sad reality is these days that Sporting is far from a giant where it matters most: on the pitch.

    Sporting haven't won the league for more than a decade. Ever since the last championship eleven years ago they never finished worse than fourth but never made it quiet back to the top either. It's been Porto with a subscription to the Portuguese Liga NOS title over the last decade instead.



    The 2029/30 season is still relatively fresh. Ten games played and Sporting is fading into insignificance. A mere 2 points ahead of the relegation zone; the last three games all lost, no win in five games, goals are hard to come by. Manager Felice Mazzu sacked - he survived less than 6 months in the hot seat. So, here I am, in Portugal's beautiful capital, tasked with breathing fresh life into a lifeless football club.








    I feel privileged but at the same time proud of the fact that my work in Norway has found international recognition. Yes, Sporting isn't quite the household name it used to be, nonetheless this is a massive step up and chance for pushing my career further ahead.

    Sporting is swimming in money - there is every opportunity for me to put my stamp on this team. Probably not this season. Securing the league first and then finishing as high as possible has to be the goal. Next season I aim for the big push.

    A clear-out is required at the same time, though. 42 players on the book - way too many! Half of them reside in Sporting's B team and are hopeless youngsters. The other half is either miserable or approaching the end of their respective careers. In fact the majority of Sporting's key players are 32 years of age (and older!). It's quite a sad situation, actually.



    The situation is so desperate there isn't even a half decent right back in the squad, so I got make 33 year old Joao Gambo responsible for the job. Usually home in the defensive midfield, at least he knows how to utelise these funny things called legs and can use them also to tackle. A rare combination here at Sporting at the moment!

    I promote youngster Francisco Afonso from Sporting's B-Team to the senior squad. He's going to be the key forward. Didn't get a look into the team in four years at the club but I feel he's got more to offer than most of the other strikers at my disposal right now.







    When the hope was that these type of drastic moves would shake things up a little bit then it failed dramatically in game one of me on the touchline. A meager 1 all draw against the last Gil Vicente…. desperate stuff!

    Home debut, only 20.000 come to see green and white play CD Piedade. A last minute goal secures at least the first three points in a chaotic 3-2 win. It looks like this is the confidence booster that was so badly needed. Another four games until new year's eve, four wins, scoring in any of these games at least three goals. Conceding nearly as many too! Some wild rides, but points on the board and we climb the table.




    Time to sign some players. Our defence is rotten. Thankfully the transfer window opens. But first it's time to say good bye. 11 lads depart Sporting for a healthy return of €13 million.

    I splash the money that is so loosely available, on the other hand. Like a kid in a candy shop I'll put nine players in the basket for the expense of nearly €50 Million at the checkout: a 35 year old keeper from league rival Porto is the discount option as even a €15 Million offer is not enough to soften PSV Eindhoven's stance to sell their highly sought after number one!

    Three defenders, three midfielders and two strikers join Sporting also. I may overpay for Sergiy Koval, a 19 year old play maker. Valued at €1.5 million, Nantes doesn't want to sell the kid despite him not getting any minutes in the French Ligue 1 - I can understand why he is absent from training without any excuse there. Why keep such a rowdy kid? Anyway, €20 Million later he's ready for first lesson in Portuguese: Bom dia! Como está?









    There isn't really a winter break in Portugal. The third round of the Taça de Portugal is awaiting instead. All new guys in the line-up.... we crash out against Belenenses. A rare hickup, moving forward - the newly assembled forward line crushes everything that comes in its way from here on.

    Week after week we make progress, the top three clearly in sight by the end of February. It's early March when a real test looms large: putting our title credentials - by now we need to talk about this! - on the line against the hated local rival Benfica.

    A sold out Estádio José Alvalade, Benfica in suicide mode concedes two red cards within the first 20 minutes - we take full advantage - 2-0 - and closing in on Porto and Benfica, now only five points behind these two.

    Still ten games to go, a slight form slump sees us win only one of the next four; thankfully Porto and Benfica aren't having their best times either! It's getting desperately close now. By the end of April, only three games left on the clock, it's three points between the three of us. We're in third, trailing the leaders from Porto, with the chance to get up there hosting Porto on this warm Portuguese spring night.


    Kind of do or die. A loss and that's that for us. Conceding early means we're done, all hopes shredded to pieces, indeed. Not so quick.... though! A fantastic effort by Roberto Rolando, a €2.5 million signing from Genoa in winter, gets us back into the game. The young Italian soon turns the game on its head completely - bags a pair of goals - probably the most important ones of his still relatively young career: Sporting tops the table!!



    A 3-0 over Guimaraes later it's D-day - we're on top, 2pts ahead of Benfica. All that's needed is to win our game - it's in our hands. A draw on the other hand may not be enough, given Benfica has the chance with an easy game to swing things to their advantage with a decisive success thanks to goal difference.



    Hosting Boavista Porto for the title decider, it's disappointing that only 19.500 find their way to the magnificent Estádio José Alvalade. But we got a job to finish. Sergiy Koval - who turned out to be a brilliant €20 million spent - heads us in front early in the game. A second one before the break pretty much seals the deal. Benfica can do whatever they want.... they can't catch Sporting!!





    This is the sheer unbelievable end to a season that saw Sporting confronted with thoughts of a relegation battle before we turned things around in the most dramatic way possible: no league defeat since I took over the reigns. That accounts for an unbeaten run of 24 games - 19 wins, 5 draws! Surely the main reason for this has been the incredibly inconsistency of Porto and Benfica. We had no right to win this title. But we did. And I grab it with both hands!


    Of course, having €50 million to spend in the winter was a massive help. The squad was hardly fit for purpose beforehand. Having the financial freedom like never experienced before made it possible to bring in exactly the right type of players for what is required for my aggressive 4-1-2-3 system.







    The Title winning team and tactic (non wib/wob):





    Shall I stay or shall I go? That is the question now. The job is done. The league title won. Surely a bigger job needs to be the aim now?!

    ..........
    KTP Kotka (FIN): September 2017 - December 2017
    Haka Valkeakoski (FIN): December 2017 - December 2020
    Hearts (SCO): February 2021 - May 2021
    Jerv FK (NOR): July 2021 - November 2029
    Sporting (POR): November 2029 -

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  11. #1856
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    Wonderful stuff!!!

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  13. #1857
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    Fantastic work. As a recent Sporting fan, that's wonderful to see.

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  15. #1858
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    Turns out you can't pick and chose your next employer even if you do win two championships in different countries within the space of half a year. Have I been a bit too high up the nose given the jobs I applied to after resigning at Sporting?


    Man United emphatically rejects my application, anyways. Their loss, I guess. But even second division club Metz isn't all that keen on availing of my services. Neither are Strassbourg, Heracles Almeo from the Netherlands, not even 2. Bundesliga club Victoria Köln!

    So it is a relief when someone finally is happy to talk: third tier team Lecce from Italy and League 2 side Notts County having me over for interviews. Actually I feel this is surely beneath me at this point in my career, but what can you do?



    I seriously consider having a go at English football, when another job lands on the table - though from a slightly obscure league in the l world of football, one I clearly did not see myself ending up. But it's top-flight football, a club with tradition, fiery supporters and appears to be - on the surface at least - an ideal opportunity to win more silverware.



    Why MKS Pogoń Szczecin decided a mere three days before the start of the new Ekstraklasa season to change manager remains unclear to me but I figure it might have something to with the fact that the previous man in the saddle didn't deliver the goods in recent years and an unsatisfactory pre-season campaign meant change was needed before it's too late.







    Given Pogon's lofty ambitions ("Win the title!") this is understandable, as Pitr Stokowiec was clearly walking a thin line after last season's 6th place finish. It's been a third consecutive year without a title… here I come to change that! There is a lot of money at the club, though I'm only given a fraction of it to invest. Still €4.5 million at my disposal should be plenty - though, given the season is about to start right now, there are some logistical challenges and I may wait until the end of the first half of the season to put my stamp on this squad.

    Pogon has bled a loss of significant talent over the summer though. A comparatively small squad, with some of the key players heading toward the twilight of their career.



    Trying to force my aggressive 4-1-2-3 system on a squad largely consisting of more or less talented Poles works to some extend in the first phase of the season. We start strongly, though a form slump toward the end of the first half of the season (group phase) sees us barely scrambling over the line to qualify for the "Champion Round".


    The signing of eight journeymen from all over the globe during the agonisingly long winter break does look good in theory: strengthening the squad in the hope for a serious push in the second half of the season. In practice this backfires dramatically. Instead of improvement things get only worse. A non-cohesive unit stumbles over the pitch while Pogon tumbles toward a crisis that sees the board having a firm word with me in a quiet minute after yet another disappointing loss in early April. Somehow er can stop the free-fall and finish an unconvincing 5th in the end. Our point total would actually see us finish much closer to the relegation zone, if not for the obscure Polish league system.


    At Pogon nobody is happy with the way things panned out. While the main bulk of players seems to have lost confidence in the manager, the club bosses remain faithful and don't show me the door... for now.



    As a complete rebuild is required the summer turns into a dramatic coming and going but it doesn't stop there. At the end of the season 2 under my reign Pogon will have turned over a little more than fifty odd players. There'll be barely anyone left from day one.




    These drastic changes deliver some success, though. There's clear progress here and that is most evident during a hugely exciting European campaign. On our way to make it into the round of the last 16 we beat Young Boys Bern and causing a minor upset killing off Danish top club FC Copenhagen. Ajax Amsterdam is too much for us, despite an honourable 1-3 on aggregate.








    We play exciting football in the league as well: scoring plenty, conceding plenty. Fun football and a fine 3rd place finish at the end of the second season. The positives clearly outweigh the negatives, giving me the impression we're not far off having a proper go at winning the Ekstraklasa.




    Less turnover and a few quality signings to bolster an already fairly decent squad - we win our Group in the first half of the season in impressive style. 34 points, undefeated. Are we sailing toward an easy Extraklasa title? In the meantime there's another fair European campaign unfolding, after beating Russian top side UFA a date with Belgian league runner-up Patro Eisden awaits in the round of the 32. Unlike last year this is unfortunately the end of it.


    We continue to march on in the second half of the season travelling like a superior racehorse hard on the bridle entering the final furlong.... until an injuries crisis hits home in an untimely manner. A bunch of key players out coincides with a remarkable slump of form of our #1 goal keeper.... the replacement isn't doing any better and his replacement.... oh dear.... instead of cruising home it's now neck and neck with Slack Wrocklaw... in the ultimate deciding clash a win is required in order to keep our hopes alive... leading until the 92nd minute when another goalie error lead to the last grasp equaliser for Slack.


    A blow to the neck we do not recover from. Two defeats later the dream has died - Pogon finishes runner-up to Slack. Progress to last season, but one of those endings that make you feel physically sick, given we looked like having this wrapped up after three quarters of the season. At least we bag the consolation price that is the Polish Cup - a fifth National Cup career success for me and something that keeps fans, players and board happy.









    That's not gone unnoticed. Premier League side Swansea City just secured another season in top flight football offers me a job adding as a bait the chance of investing nearly €400 million in new legs! But I can't leave now, it's unfinished business here at Pogon.


    An eventful 2033/34 season sees us having difficulties to juggle many balls at once. League, Polish Cup and Champions League football. As we qualify for the first Group stage phase after beating last seasons Portuguese Liga NOS runner-up Rio Arve in the Qualifying Play-Off. A huge success financially but also as we produce the finest hours of football Pogoń Szczecin has ever seen. We beat German champions Leverkusen and Italian Serie A champ Sampdoria Genua, drawing with PSG and advance to the next round!


    At the same time we struggle to have a real impact in the league; while qualifying for the champions round, we do so finishing nine points behind group winner Kielce. Thankfully point totals from this initial group stage are halved before the season continues in the league format, which means we're closer than we should be as the league resumes in the new year - though what does that matter if you don't win games?



    We continue to set the world alight on European stage. In the second Group phase wins over French champion Le Havre as well as Premier League top team Manchester United sees us getting close to make it into the 1/4 finals of Europe's most prestigious competition - but remarkably with 7 points we finish bottom of the group in fact!









    As we're leaking goals galore in the league (strangely not so much in Europe) a slight tactical adjustment sees us putting full faith now in a lone striker again. Thankfully French goal machine Laurent Diakite remains largely injury free throughout the season and continues to bang in the goals when it matters most.









    That's badly needed because as we're on the home stretch with a slim point advantage suddenly our keeper - or keepers I should say as #1 also gets injured with two games to go - struggle to catch a ball. The opponents could shoot with beach balls and would still score... or so it feels.



    So it goes down to the wire. Only the better goal difference keeps us up before the final game. Not having won the last two games, confidence isn't at its highest. As we go down by a goal before half-time it seems once more the title we already could smell is gonna be ripped off our hands.


    Unlike last season though, this time we have a few more potent attacking threats and it's fitting that Diakite is the man who heads home for the league winning goal close before the end to relief this football club and its manager of all the agony endured over the last four years!!!










    The title winning XI:







    While I was unsure whether to leave Sporting after less than a full season in charge, there is no doubt in my mind that I'll pack the bags as soon as the party is over and move on from Poland. The fact that neither last year nor this time my humble self finishes in the top 3 of the Polish Manager of the year award shows they still don't fancy the Germans all that much over here (and who can blame them?!). With a world reputation equal to #150 there must be a good football club in a good league that needs my services?






    ..........
    KTP Kotka (FIN): September 2017 - December 2017
    Haka Valkeakoski (FIN): December 2017 - December 2020
    Hearts (SCO): February 2021 - May 2021
    Jerv FK (NOR): July 2021 - November 2029
    Sporting (POR): November 2029 - May 2030
    Pogoń Szczecin (POL): July 2030 - May 2034
    Last edited by The Porridge Flo; 02-08-18 at 12:34 AM.

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  17. #1859
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    Currently doing a save with Italian team Vicenza (2018 March update). I've won back to back promotions to Serie A and finished 5th in my first season in the top flight. Currently at 3rd midway in my second attempt at the trophy.

    I've gone for an all Italian approach (no foreigners in the squad or staff), it's bit of a challenge attracting the biggest names. I had a striker Lorenzo Insigne for two years, he was -insane- but he demanded a min release clause in his contract. Inter came along and poached him before this season, gutted. I haven't really found a suitable replacement, money is scarce and my club reputation isn't all that. I'm currently relying on a loanee from Sassuolo. He's alright but doesn't set the world on fire. For next season I have agreed a transfer for a 21 year old striker from Inter though, he looks very promising.

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  19. #1860
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    Quote Originally Posted by sashhead View Post
    Had a good season with Udinese

    Tactics?

    Изпратено от моят G3121 с помощта на Tapatalk

  20. #1861
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    2034/35:

    Having led Pogon to Champions League football has done the world of good for my reputation. I have some interesting offers on the table, though the desired move to one of the big leagues remains an elusive dream. However a tier below it's 2nd Bundesliga sides Mainz and newly promoted Waldhof Mannheim that try to lure me to back to the Vaterland.

    But, nope, instead I'll head further north again, not too far off a place I have known so well for so long….



    Randers, a small city on the Jutland Peninsula of Danmark is a 330km - inclusive scenic ferry ride - away from Grimstad, where the almighty Jerv FK is home (they just won their third Elitserien title since I left!). Jutland, that is also the place where the world's biggest water pump manufacturer Grundfos is home but what I envision when hearing the word Jutland: of course, the Olsen Banden!



    Randers is home to a tropical zoo - one could say the Randers squad is nearly as colourful as all the different species from all over the globe you can find there. This squad is full to the brim, nearly 50 players from all parts of the world alright - not the first time I'm tasked with a massive clear-out. I feel like this one will be a special challenge, though.


    Randers is your typical middle of the road club. Rarely good enough to challenge, sometimes in danger of going down. A 10th place finish, the worst in nearly a decade, however, meant Morton Wieghorst had to go after five years in charge. Too much for the poor man - he retires with immediate effect!








    Over the course of the next weeks and months the smell of change hangs over the place. 34 Players leave the club, bringing in a whopping €31.5 million which is only partially reinvested as the acquisition of 54 new legs (or 27 players, given they all have two legs) comes at a cost of €9.75 million.


    All this change makes for a roller-coaster maiden season with me at the helm of the football team. I struggle to settle on a starting XI and trial many different tactical systems. An ultra aggressive 4-1-2-3 yields early rewards but that may have been down to the new managers effect as the weeks go by toward the end of the year Randers only look downward, I'm afraid.

    The only constant is Magnus Mikkelson who nets 21 goals throughout the season. The second half is much more stable as I concede that attractive attacking football isn't on the menu with this squad yet. During the agonizingly long winter break I'm able to bring in my previous Pogon captain Marco Grbic for the role of the defensive midfielder. We hit some form in spring 2035 to win eight and only lose only three plus a few draws, which sees us climbing to a 6th place finish eventually.



    An excellent Cup run drives us through to the Danish Cup Final, where a data with the overwhelming favourite and newly crowned champion FC Copenhagen awaits - FCK is too strong on this night, unfortunately. A narrative that may not be heard for the last time....





    Spoiler!





    2035/36:


    Expectations are low the following year. Staying clear of relegation is the minimum ask. With an improved squad, being able to bring in "my guys" I'm confident we can do better than that.


    As good as leading the Superliga by a handful of points as the year turns 2036? Certainly not! But that's reality.


    A serious shot at the title, head to head with FC Copenhagen…. As injury crisis strikes in early spring the party is over, our advantage gone. The rest of the season feels like a grind. Will this season ever end? Nothing fluid, nothing sexy, just grinding it out somehow…. As we approach the last game of the season a 2 point gap to the league leaders from the capital.



    Neither FCK nor Randers seem to have the ultimate class to get this over the line. Copenhagen draws 1-1, the chance for us.... the chance we leave unused. Another home defeat on this last night of Danish league football in the 2035/36 season means we're not good enough in the end. Plain and simple.

    The annoying thing is: we are a clear winner in the away table, but at home it's always been a struggle. We enjoyed sitting back and go on the counter when playing away. But if we had to make the game? There was a clear lack of creativity. Ultimately we would have not deserved to win the title, I feel. We would have been lucky more than anything else.




    Spoiler!





    2036/37:


    Does this turn into a second "Jerv"? Stuck in a Nordics for ages until we get over the line? If ever?! Third season in charge at Randers, a clearly improved squad means we're we want to be: at the top! The year turns with Randers leading the Superliga yet again, albeit a slender lead it is. FCK always chasing. The champions struggled early on with too many games in league and Europe but as they crash out of the Champions League group stages Copenhagen's focus will be solely to hunt us in the second half of the season.



    Approaching April, it's only between the two of us…. Again. No other clubs are able to keep up with the pace. A two-horse race if it's about the Danish Superliga.



    Familiar story to twelve months ago: injury crisis strikes at the wrong time once more. With key players out and the squad simply not deep enough to cope with those on the sidline we can not keep up the tremendously overwhelming pace that's now set by an emphatic Copenhagen. We remain winless in the crucial month of April and that's that. Runner-up behind FCK - again.




    Spoiler!





    2037/38:

    Year four in charge in Randers. The magic number? At Pogon it was the year when things finally clicked. There is no doubt that it's all about the title this season. Nine signings for €7 million are a clear indication of our ambition.

    I'm reunited with Ilias Maas - the wonderful playmaker who was so influential at Pogon - one I brought in as a 16 year old youngster out of nowhere, who developed into a class player. Can he also make the difference in the Danish Superliga now?


    A new and more balanced 4-1-2-2-1 system stands the early test in the Champions League qualification rounds. Clear victories over Swedish neighbour Malmo and French top club Marseille paves the way to a historic first Champions League group stage participation for Randers FC!

    Domestically our start is unsettled. A defeat on day one of the new league campaign, followed by a few excellent performances as autumn ends with a brutal crash in the Danish Cup as we lose against third division side Hobro!



    Days later a clear cut success over the champions FC Copenhagen erases those bad memories quickly. A win that comes at the right time and finally provides - or so it seems - the confidence that Randers can go one better this time. At the same time we progress through the first group phase of the Champions League: not only was it a major achievement to even be here, but now progress to the second group stage!



    We're clear on top as the year turns - a massive winning run sees us shooting 11 points clear of Copenhagen! Unfortunately the sensational performances of striker Magnus Mikkelson finally find appreciation in the wider football world. He's called up to the national team for the first time and it's only days later that AS Monaco triggers the €6.75 million release clause.

    As he was already actively forcing his way on the transfer list eyeing the move to a bigger club there was nothing I could do about it.... only hoping to find a replacement with the money we got in return. Not an easy task, though, to replace a man who scored a whopping 67 goals in the last three and a half seasons for your club!



    We manage it, though! There is nobody on the market who for the money we have or the salary we can offer. Instead other guys simply step up their game. Max Sahlin, a €2.2 million signing before the season was a major flop up to this point. Now that I'm forced to play him he suddenly finds some form and bangs in some goals. The burden, though, is shared. Ilian Maas finally seems happy in Denmark. And the other expensive signing, Christian Hansen, finds the net regularly too!



    The bench also contributes. Important as we still dance the dance in the Champions League. Famous nights at the Randers Stadium that sees us beating West Ham, Levante and Anderlecht results in us topping our group and advancing to the Quarter-Finals!



    Dutch back-to-back champ Twente Entschede stands between us and the semis. Two hard fought games, Twente ultimately the smarter side, maybe the slightly luckier side... it's a bridge too far and we're out, leaving Europe with some wonderful memories and the head high - Twente went on to win the whole damn thing a few weeks later, beating Manchester United in an extra-time thriller.




    Spoiler!






    All focus on the Superliga now - let's bring this over the line! Injury crisis strikes once more in spring.... unlike the years before we're able to cope with it. This squad is so incredibly deep by now, nothing can faze us. As we keep the scoreboard ticking over, nobody else in the league is able to keep up with it. Not even Copenhagen. With four games to go Randers FC is officially crowned the new Superliga champion!





    In the end a 14pt gap to FCK. To be honest, it never really felt in doubt. As all the contenders were stumbling through most of the season, we were the only team able to play consistent- and successful football. Not always as attractive and goal rich as I would have liked. There were plenty of ugly, scrappy affairs that required adversity. Ultimately what stands out is: only one defeat the whole season - the one that came on the very first day!

    Without a shadow of a doubt we were a much superior team to anything else in the league. We were hard to score against but put pretty much two goals per game into the net of our opponents.



    Spoiler!








    It was a team effort. Nearly everyone contributed when called upon. The burden was shared. The wingers contributed as much as the attacking mids or who ever was playing as the lone striker.

    Nonetheless the one standout by a country mile was defensive midfielder Abdoulaye Diarra. A bargain at €550k three years ago, ever since he's been the rock in the XI. This season was his finest, though. An average rating of 8.30 and 10 assists - supreme class! A real warrior. A tackling machine. Thankfully the number 2 for that position did also an excellent job which meant we could "safe" Diarra for all the important games.







    The winning XI and tactic:





    With my reputation now at its highest - a 132nd place world wide - will the way finally lead to a top league? Germany, France, Spain or Italy preferably. If not, well, then another stint in Scandinavia wouldn't be too shabby either. As winner medals from Finland, Norway and Denmark have already been collected, it would be Sweden's turn now, clearly?

    ..........
    KTP Kotka (FIN): September 2017 - December 2017
    Haka Valkeakoski (FIN): December 2017 - December 2020
    Hearts (SCO): February 2021 - May 2021
    Jerv FK (NOR): July 2021 - November 2029
    Sporting (POR): November 2029 - May 2030
    Pogoń Szczecin (POL): July 2030 - May 2034
    Randers (DK): June 2034 - June 2038

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  22. #1862
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    Way to go!!!

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  24. #1863
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    \o/ Rather Randers than FCK any time. Kutgw!!

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  26. #1864
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    Felt a bit like leaving unfinished business behind at Randers. The league title as the only domestic title, no Danish Cup winners medal collected, though, but most importantly our incredible run in the Champions League has whetted the appetite for more. I feel we've got a bunch of players there that worked so well together as a group in the 4-1-2-2-1 system that an even deeper run for international glory wouldn't be unrealistic.


    But I have to move on. On the hunt for another domestic league title, somewhere else. That somewhere else doesn't wait long to emerge. Having won titles in largely "second-tier" leagues around the European continent so far, the chance to get a shot in one of the major leagues will have to wait.... as the opportunity to manage Celtic Glasgow is quite clearly one too good to turn down when it emerges only days after resigning at Randers.


    Celtic, though, isn't quite the force of old. No title in the last two seasons, and a 7th place finish in the most recent season means no European football for the first time in nearly a decade as well. So Fraser Foster's four-year long reign comes to an end at the club and I step in in a bid to bring back the "good old times".









    That certainly isn't going to be an easy job. The previous manager has done a tremendously poor job in the transfer market. A squad of soon to be pensioners this is, and the last actions of Foster were to burn millions on players that may be average at best. Instantly I have the overarching urge to get rid of half the team! But that isn't that easy, of course.

    While the transfer budget is opulent, the difficulty is to attract the right talent as the Scottish Premier League isn't all that sexy for the really good players, less so to play for a fallen giant who's to offer no European football either.


    What do in a situation like this? Well, you got to trust proven quality. That means I bring in a few of those players that I've already celebrated titles with: Jean-Luc Bompard comes from Randers - he was the #2 on the defensive midfield position for me the last number of years there. A exquisite ptalent who's now approaching his prime. Laurent Diakite, the striker who was such a massive cornerstone in the Pogon title winning side with his 20 odd goals that season. Play maker Anthony Mombris, also a former Pogon protégé, is the final piece to be added to the squad.



    Unfortunately the trip can't prevent a start to the new season that resembles a car crash against a tree at 160 kilometers an hour. Before the year turns 2039 we have lost already eight games and are miles off the top three. It's more than just a bad start at this point. It's a new managers nightmare who soon to be under the pump!

    Diakite scores for fun but that isn't enough as we're leaking goals like a super tasteful Swiss cheese. In fifth place on new years eve it's abundantly clear that this squad is as average as way too expensive coffee on the go sold in grocery stores.




    Radical change is needed. A new system is introduced. Moving away from a traditional 4-4-2 - it seems impossible to bring in competent full-backs, however, having a surplus of fairly decent wingers and attacking midfielders in the team - we're deploying three at the back with some defensively strong wingers in front of them, instead. Whether this works or not doesn't really matter at this point anyways. This season is done and dusted. Adding a few minor additions in the transfer window to add some youth and depth to the largely out of depth squad should ensure there's at least a solid foundation in place to be build on next year.



    With each passing week the atmosphere in the otherwise fairly unhappy team gets a little better, though. We're on a roll by February. Having scored 16 goals and a perfect five out of five record in the new year there's suddenly a bit of believe that at least Europe is now well and truly within reach.

    Soon after, though, a draw with Hibs and a poor loss at Aberdeen puts hopes for a strong finish to rest.... or does it?



    As the regular season comes to an end we aren't losing any more game, in fact win them all which means a top-two finish isn't unlikely now. It's tight between us, Hearts and Queen Of The South... only Hibs - with a seven point lead at the top before the final five-game Championship round starts - seem already home.




    Or are they? We beat Hibernian in the first game of the Championship round. Turning point? A subsequent draw with Hamilton isn't too bad as all the rivals around us struggle to pick up points as well. Two more dominant performances later, while Hibs, which seemed to have secured the title a long time ago, leaves the decision of the SPL up for grabs on the final day!


    Hearts, Hibs and ourselves all but divided by 2pts at most. As we meet Hearts on match day 38, we have it now in our own hands, in fact. At the same time, if we lose and Hibs win then they have what they seemed to have for such a long time of the season; but if they draw then local rival Hearts could have something massive to celebrate as long as they beat us at Celtic Park....


    As bad luck strikes, our top scorer Diakite has pulled up from the last game with damaged cruciate ligaments... a shock injury that'll see him miss 9 months of football! What a tragedy.



    Young Italian Jacopo Grossi has big shoes to fill.... and he does! 2-0 ahead after 20 minutes, the big chance to put it all to bed soon after... missed. Hearts aren't for nothing up there in the table, though. Two bad defensive mistakes later and it's all square before half-time -2-2 would you believe it?!!


    Hibs do their business early as well: a 3-0 lead means the title will go to Edinburgh for the first time since the 34/35 season again.



    All or nothing now, roared on by 50.000 in Celtic Park, attacking all out in the second half, as we desperately need goals. They aren't coming.... until the 65th minute when 35 year-old winger Ryan Morrison fires one past the excellent Hearts keeper from 20 meters out! Grossi adds the sealer hundred-twenty seconds later.... it's all out and over - we gonna win the title!!



    It couldn't have been much more dramatic. On the final day, in the final 45 minutes of the season, getting the job done. A job that for most of the season didn't look like one as we were never even in contention for the title whatsoever.


    Still, only a single defeat in all of 2039 meant we were closing in on the leading trio bit by bit as they were taking points of each other and lost games they probably shouldn't have.


    It's been the most improbable title given how far behind we were at the year turned. Celtic wasn't the best team over the full season. Hibs were.... but then, football isn't fair. It never was. Hibs are the champs of the hearts. But we're holding the title in our hands when it matters.









    A season that gets even sweeter as we also land the League Cup in a final against hated Glasgow rival Rangers! Making it a triple with the final game of the Scottish football season 38/39: the ultimate downer for Hibs, as they lose out not only on the league title but also on Cup glory against us.


    It's by far the most successful season of my now 21 year-long managerial career. One that didn't look likely for most parts of the season. How we turned it around in an unprecedented second half of the season..... I'm still not quite sure. Suddenly things clicked. Out of form players found a bit of form. We found momentum. Often the one with the momentum on its side becomes unstoppable. We were unstoppable in the end.









    Ultimately what was a big help - and I readily admit that - was the fact that we did not have to struggle with the extra burden of European football. This meant having the luxury of a largely fresh and healthy squad throughout the season. That says I'm not envying the next manager here at Celtic. A rebuild is required. And all that while trying to dance many different dances next season. What I've done here was merely filling a few holes here and there but that's not for the long-term.




    The Triple winning team:



    ..........
    KTP Kotka (FIN): September 2017 - December 2017
    Haka Valkeakoski (FIN): December 2017 - December 2020
    Hearts (SCO): February 2021 - May 2021
    Jerv FK (NOR): July 2021 - November 2029
    Sporting (POR): November 2029 - May 2030
    Pogoń Szczecin (POL): July 2030 - May 2034
    Randers (DK): June 2034 - June 2038
    Celtic (SCO): July 2038 - June 2039

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  28. #1865
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    Great season at Celtic. Love a close finish in the league...

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  30. #1866
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    AS St-Etienne

    I have been modding my DB for years so I play on a weird custom mash-up of 3.9.68 with some modern players, mostly inserted at the current age rather than as youth, but not always. This reflects changes in the way I have thought about customisation over the years, and so you can find a 30 year old Messi at Barcelona, while Fernando Torres is a hot up-and-coming talent at Atletico *shrug*. I also have quite a few random good potential youngsters around various lesser leagues although truth be told I can’t really remember which ones so there is no in -game exploiting possible. Finally I have played around with positions a lot, so there are less SCs in my DB and more multi-role forwards and less wingers who can only play one side, which to me seems to better reflect the way that players are used in modern football.

    I also use John Locke’s tool https://www.champman0102.co.uk/downl...?do=file&id=18 for creating PCTs from TCT files to vary the tactical challenge of games, and at any given time I have around 15-20 custom NWW formations on the opponent roster. Quite a few use one or three forwards so computer controlled forwards can sometimes score at a prodigious rate like the best forwards these days.

    Here are a few examples of my current AI tactics.

    Spoiler!


    AS St-Etienne are actually still the team with the most Ligue 1 titles, but most of their success came in the 1960’s and 70’s under three legendary managers; Jean Snella, Albert Batteux and Robert Herbin. They reached their peak in the mid-70’s, losing the 1976 European Cup Final in Glasgow to a Bayern Munich team completing a hat-trick of wins, although legend has it that they perhaps should have won, and the game will forever be known to their supporters as the game with the square posts (“les poteaux carrés”) after both Bathenay and Jacques Santini had efforts come back from the post and bar that ‘would have gone in’ had the posts been round.

    Spoiler!


    After this they would play one of the all-time great knockout ties against Liverpool in 1977 but further success would desert them. A number of financial scandals occurred during the 1980s, and the club was relegated 3 times between 1984 and 1999. At the beginning of the 01-02 season St-Etienne are languishing in Ligue 2 with a squad of journeymen, expensive Brazilian imports and a few promising youngsters. It’s a good challenge to bring them back to the top and win them the European Cup they should have won 40 years before. As an added bonus, they have a lovely green kit.

    Obviously the first season is all about promotion, and with €8m to play with it should be pretty straightforward. There are four promotion spots to aim for as Ligue 1 expands after the first season, and St-Etienne has one of the better squads. The main issue is that the squad is quite big so there are not many places for new signings, and I don’t want to randomly cut reserve teamers until I get a better look at them. Based on the current squad I decide to play a 442 with one withdrawn forward, although I want to bolster the midfield, especially in wide areas. These are the signings:

    Summer
    • Bill McKinlay (DMC -- loan from Leicester)
    • Ryan Williams (AMRLC - 750k from Hull)
    • Kevin Franck (AMC - free)
    • Angel Luis (AMFLC - free)
    • Magne Hoseth (AMFLC - 4m from Molde)

    January
    • Raffaele Morni (AMRLC - 425k from San Marino)
    • Samir Duro (DMC - 1.9m from Maribor)



    Almost all of them are ready for first team football (not Franck), and we play a lopsided system with a more advanced left midfielder and the right midfielder tucked in and expected to do more grafting. It is something like Liverpool in the late 1980s with Barnes playing as almost a third forward off the left, Beardsley dropping in to create, and Houghton tucked in on the right side (except we have Alex, Angel Luis and Ryan Williams).

    Our formation:
    Spoiler!


    We take a little while to click into gear but by the winter we hit the top spot and never really look back, although Caen in particular keep us honest to the end. Caen’s 4-3-3 systems really gets the best out of their forwards and it is only the fact that their defensive structure is not as robust as ours that prevents them finishing as champions.

    Spoiler!


    Several of the new signings have an instant impact, and young midfielder Julien Sablé looks to be a fixture for years to come. Sylvain Meslien emerges from the youth team to solve the LB position, while Loic Chaveriat does pretty well as the central striker. Nevertheless, by far the best player in the League is Tony Vairelles, a multi-role forward at Strasbourg. Strasbourg have a terrible season, yet he averages 8,06 in 32 games and scores 26 times. Signing Vareilles will be the main focus of the summer.

    Spoiler!


    With a return to Ligue 1 in the bag there are major surprises in both cups where St-Etienne win a League and FA Cup double! Both competitions are notable for the success of lower league sides, and we don’t play Ligue 1 opposition in either final. The FA Cup final is played versus Angoulême from the Championnat National, and they really make us work for it!

    Spoiler!

    Beanpole striker Nikola Zigic the man for the finals, there. He scores 19 goals in 10 appearances in both cups.

    On the back of this surprisingly successful first season struggling Marseille make me a tempting offer…

    Spoiler!


    … but it is of course rejected. There is still quite some way to go to bring Les Verts back to the pinnacle of European football.
    Last edited by Kenny Dalglish's Smile; 22-08-18 at 09:48 AM.

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  32. #1867
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    Awesome stuff mate, I particularly liked the explanation of your tactic and it's similarity to Liverpool's of the late 80s, I was a massive Barnes fan when I was younger and that would have been after he was in his pomp.

    Tony Vareilles is a name I remember, do you not have any hesitations he might not be able to cut it in the top league though?

    That's some offer from Marseille too, but like you say even with both domestic cups to go with the Ligue 2 title you've still a Ligue 1 title to go for as well as establish them back in Europe.

    Best of luck for next season mate

  33. #1868
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    Cheers, AMC. Yeah, Barnes was still quality as a kind of regista-type player in the 90's, but in that Dalglish team he was just incredible, playing as a sort of free role wide forward. He was very much a modern player both in style and physical fitness playing in the 1980's. although he still liked his ale... That goal against QPR ("Barnes won it... he won it from Brock... still Barnes... that's a fabulous individual goal!") was a real playground favourite as a kid! He also has one of the great sports photographs, where he backheels the banana off the pitch during a Goodison derby.
    Spoiler!

    Vairelles will be OK for Ligue 1, not so sure about Europe, but one step at a time!

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    AMC

  35. #1869
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    Nice one, well done!

    Have soft spot for ASSE and Ligue 1 in general, particularly those early 2000 years.... ASSE back then with the wonderfully eccentric Antonetti on the side line and some fine names like Feindouno, a young Gomis, Sable who I'm happy to see has found a spot in your team.... where is David Hellebuyck? Did you sell him? He was still young back then, probably not good enough for your ambitions? I loved how this rather limited guy carved out a pretty decent career at the highest level for himself in real life.

  36. #1870
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    Hellebuyck had a chance to claim a place but never really delivered, even in Ligue 2. I tried him at left midfield, and the two forward positions for 14 games but too many 6/10 performances saw him lose out to Alex and Chaveriat in particular. To his credit he didn't kick up a fuss despite wanting to be more involved, and in the end he will sign for Beauvais on a free transfer and be a regular there.

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  38. #1871
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    AS Saint-Etienne season 2

    With promotion to Ligue 1 secured the summer is spent strengthening the squad while taking in the European Championship in Ireland. Italy take the trophy 2-1 over Germany in the final with goals from Del Piero and Cassano.

    As mentioned our main focus is to sign Vairelles from Strasbourg before one of the bigger sides makes an offer. They won't let their main man go cheap, though, and he is signed for a club record €10,5m, and nice profit for Strasbourg on the €4m it cost them to acquire him from Lyon last year. The other main addition to the first 11 is Italian keeper Marco Storari, a very good keeper for the €1,6m it takes to sign him from Napoli, where he was only the backup to Francesco Mancini. To be fair, Napoli start the game with two great keepers, but I think Storari is the better of the two, and he is significantly younger as well. His wages are pretty high, though, at €1m per season, which puts him up there with Emerson, Alex and Vairelles as one of our top earners.

    Spoiler!


    The other signings are young prospects who will get some first team action during the season where possible.

    Transfers
    • Tony Vairelles (FRLC - 10,5m from Strasbourg)
    • Marco Storari (GK - 1,6m from Napoli)
    • Aurélien Mazel (DR - 1,5m from Toulouse)
    • Koly Kante (DMC - 1,4m from Angoulême)
    • José Elpys Espinal Marte (AMFRLC - 130k from Albinoleffe)
    • Joris Gnagnon (DC - 19yo talent on loan from Stade Rennais)



    Let’s take a look at the competition. Lyon won Ligue 1 last season and we will play them in the Champions Trophy, losing 2-1 to goals from Wiltord, Lyon’s big summer signing. Paul le Guen has them playing a narrow 442 formation, and their forward Pegguy Luyindala was last season’s player of the year. Runners-up Lille maybe look the strongest overall, Claude Puel is a canny tactician playing mainly a 4141 and they don’t concede many. Stade Rennais were perhaps a surprising 3rd place finish, but they have signed well, including two dangerous attacking midfielders in Sănmărtean and Igor Chumachenko, although their star player Anthony Réveillère is destined for Real Madrid at the end of the season. Other big Ligue 1 stars include Ariza Makukula at Nantes, Djibril Cissé at Auxerre, Ronaldinho at PSG and James Rodriguez at Monaco (see part 1 for the reason my DB is a mishmash of old and new stuff).

    We start off with a win, 1-0 away versus Sedan, Vairelles scoring the only goal on his debut and we look fairly comfortable at this level although we end August with two defeats against Stade Rennais and Bastia. Bastia don’t have many stars but their 343 means they score a lot of goals and are hard to play against for many sides

    Spoiler!


    As cup winners we are entered into the UEFA Cup and will get the chance to see how well set we are to make an impact in continental football. We draw Iraklis who finished 3rd in the Greek Superliga last season. A 0-0 draw in Salonika sees Les Verts much the better team and we are confident of going through at Stade Geoffrey Guichard but it is not to be. Iraklis’s Polish target man Marcin Mieciel scores from their first foray forwards, and despite goals from Hoseth and Vairelles they quickly equalise again through left back Giorgos Simos. With the score 2-2 after 26 minutes the game surprisingly peters out and we exit Europe on away goals at the first hurdle without ever really showing our best. Disappointing!

    It seems our confidence takes a knock, and our league form stutters; defeat against champions Lyon is followed by disappointing home draws with Le Havre and Caen, both of whom were promoted last year. But we turn it around with an excellent home win against Lille (1-0, Vairelles with a late penalty) and maybe the real moment our fortunes change, coming back from 3-1 down away at Bordeaux to win 4-3!

    Spoiler!



    That result completely changes our form and we won’t lose again for the rest of the season in Ligue 1! Our worst form in fact will be two consecutive draws in January… unsurprisingly the rest of the division cannot live with that pace and when Lille draw at home against Caen in April we are Ligue 1 champions at the first attempt! We will be in the Champions League next season, another major milestone on the way achieved.

    To be honest, this is quite a bit more than I expected from our first season back in Ligue 1. Success has been built on the defence, with only 19 goals conceded, and a fair proportion of those through set pieces where you just have to accept that the opposition will sometimes score. Storari has a very good season in goal, while the back four of Meslien - Emerson - Diawara/Gnagnon - rotating cast of right backs is pretty dominant. We score 61 goals in the season, so less than 2 per game, with Vairelles justifying the large investment with 17 league goals in 31 games and an average rating of 7,65. Alex weighs in with 11 goals from the AMC position.

    Lille are runners-up in the league, for the second consecutive year, with Stade Rennais also winning a qualifying round for the CL. Last year's champions Lyon are disappointing in 4th. That finish will cost Paul le Guen his job, and he is replaced by Italian boss Edoardo Reja from Union Berlin, a somewhat left-field signing!

    It is easy to forget about the cups given the shock league win, but we defend the League Cup with a solid 2-0 victory over Bordeaux in the final. Troyes beat us in the 9th round of the FA Cup, though, and that trophy will be taken home by Bastia, a nice win for them.

    Spoiler!


    A Ligue 1 and League Cup double, then! Onwards and upwards to Europe’s premier competition next year.
    Last edited by Kenny Dalglish's Smile; 24-08-18 at 09:56 AM.

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  40. #1872
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    A great debut season in Ligue 1, good to see Vairelles perform well after spending big on him, shame about going out early in Europe though.

    I take it with averaging less than two goals a game you're looking to strengthen your attacking midfielders and strikers, or are you debating a change of formation as well?

  41. #1873
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    I think it is safe to say that I will be looking to enhance the forwards next season, although I still see Vairelles as the go-to guy. A winger, AMC and back-up striker are on the list. I don't have plans o change the formation though, afterall, it is working rather well overall

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    AMC

  43. #1874
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    Winning the triple with Celtic in Scotland must open the door for bigger engagements now... a date in the big leagues, surely, finally, yes? No! Football is a fickle business and achievements in Scotland aren't rated that highly, I'm afraid. I'm not prepared to sit around for half a year hoping for some top-flight club desperate enough to make a managerial change in the middle of the season which would see me potentially taking over a club that has hit rock-bottom, either.


    Nonetheless, I feel ready for the challenge as never before - if they don't give me the job I'm after then I have to walk the walk myself, in first place.



    It's not like my services aren't sought after. They are. Not at the highest level but still there are two serious offers on the table regardless: from Union Berlin - 2nd Bundesliga, a club I personally love as parts of my family still live in the German capital and of course as a man from the east there's only one club in the Hauptstadt: Eisern Union!

    It feels too early to head home, though. Retirement isn't beckoning yet.



    There is no hesitation, though, when the call from West London side Fulham comes. Where can I sign, please? Fulham, freshly relegated from the Premier League after an abysmal season is in urgent need of a proper rebuild.The last years of chasing the big money promotion, finally getting there and then trying to assemble a competitive Premier League team, meant the club has now an overblown squad, paying foolish wages to mediocre players while heading into an uncertain future.



    Stepping into this type of toxic environment of a relegated Premier League side that - rightly or wrongly - has the clear ambition of getting back right away, has seen many managerial careers become derailed over the years. It's a gamble I'm prepared to take. It's the chance to finally make it into the big leagues. Not quite the direct way as I had previously hoped. But how many more Danish, Norwegian or Scottish leagues would need to be won to come to the realisation these titles aren't as highly rated by Premier League, Seria or La Liga clubs?


    So I sign, fully knowing the Fulham board isn't the most patient one, and their expectation is a serious charge for promotion.









    With the transfer window soon to be open, this is a good time for a new manager to step in. There is plenty of money to play around with, I can have a proper look at the squad and put my stamp on the team right from the beginning. What's clear - and no surprise - this is an incredibly unhappy bunch of players. Half the teams wants out. The other half has transfers already arranged.


    The turnover of players is dramatic over the next few weeks. Nothing new, given I tend to prefer a fresh start and like to dispense old baggage when taking over a club.

    Over the course of this maiden season in charge of Fulham 39 players leave the club, the majority during the summer window, bringing in the a whopping €119 million! On the other side I spend €92 million on 36 players to join us. This turns out to be quite a wild ride!



    Adding familiar faces to the team helps to get us off the ground in the early part of the season. With Rasmus Bengtson, Ilian Maas and Kjetil Saebö are three players in the starting eleven on match day one that I used to celebrate titles at four different clubs already! Maas, who was a 16 year old when he joined me at Pogon, played key roles during the title winning campaigns in Poland and also last year at Celtic.

    Saebö, a defender I signed also as a teenager at Jerv, is a testament of how times fly. Now in his early 30s, he leave Grimstad for the first time in his football career - and what makes me proud, during this Championship season should become finally an international for Norway.



    Opting to deploy the 3-1-3-2-1 system that proved to successful at Celtic, sees us become more competitive as the season advances. The frantic pace of the incredibly long Championship season has its unique challenges. There is little time to rest between the games and my aggressive playing style takes its toll on the players. Wear and tear and fatigue sets in and we're developing an inconsistency that means we're hovering in and around the play-off spots without ever going on a real run of successive wins. The constant need for personal change makes things difficult.



    As the January transfer window opens I'm able to bring in a few more familiar names to bolster the depth of the squad. Jean-Luc Bompard comes from Celtic. He was staring at Randers and in Glasgow in the defensive midfield in years before during my times there. Jacobo Grossi and Laurent Diakite also join from Celtic.


    These additions, and a slight adjustment of my tactical system to 3-1-4-1-1 helps to eradicate the enormous inconsistencies of the first half of the season. With Maas finding finally is feet in the Championship, now deployed in a free role behind the lone striker, he makes life incredibly difficult for the opposition. Not only does he score goals and becomes our assist king, but also opens up space for lone striker Bader Al-Sudairy.

    The Malaysian bangs in the goals for fun. A €3 Million signing from Danish club Odense, he turns out to become a revelation this season.








    It's a grind, but one we continue to excel in with every passing week. as I now get a better handle on the tight schedule of two games per week, adjusting the workload in training and also finding the right balance of playing our best XI vs. adding "second tier" players to the mix when required.



    A handful of games to go by end of April and we're closing in on the long standing inhabitants of the two promotion spots, Leeds and Cardiff. With two more games to go, a heart fought 1-0 win over Fleetwood catapults us from outside the promotion spots suddenly to the top of the table! We have it in our own hands - all that's needed now is another three points to secure the Championship title. It's incredibly close, though and anything less then a win could mean we drop right down into the play-offs.




    An agonizingly tight game at Barnsley drags on on and on without a breakthrough. Still, so fitting for this season, one more time the magic of Ilian Maas saves the day - a 20 metre wonder strike is required, but hey, who cares?! The goal of the day, three points in the bag and Fulham Football Club's heading back to the Premier League!



    24 goals and 11 assists for superb Ilian Maas, were only topped by Al-Sudairy's 28 goals and 9 assists. It's these two alone who pretty much made the difference between going up or not. It's abundantly clear life will be tougher in the Premier League and that means investment is needed.



    Particularly defensively we're low on real quality. That's the area to focus on most if we want to avoid the drop. Money shouldn't be a problem. Just making it to the Premier Leagues pays handsomely and we finished the season with a tidy profit anyways.

    But can we attract the right type of player? Fact is, I'm not prepared to gamble the future of the club away and overpay, as Fulham did in the past. Rather step by step I intend so see us improve. First aim, though, will be to stay in the league and avoid the fate this club suffered only twelve months ago.







    ..........
    KTP Kotka (FIN): September 2017 - December 2017
    Haka Valkeakoski (FIN): December 2017 - December 2020
    Hearts (SCO): February 2021 - May 2021
    Jerv FK (NOR): July 2021 - November 2029
    Sporting (POR): November 2029 - May 2030
    Pogoń Szczecin (POL): July 2030 - May 2034
    Randers (DK): June 2034 - June 2038
    Celtic (SCO): July 2038 - June 2039
    Fulham (UK): June 2039 -

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  45. #1875
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    That's some overhaul of the squad, got some screenshots of Maas and Al-Sudairy please? They sure did the business for you in getting that league title after a late surge.

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