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  1. #1901
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    Really love these updates, Sure! Shootometer

  2. #1902
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    Wanted to try out Luessenhoff's enhanced ODB, so just started a game as Liverpool for the millionth time. Had to self-impose some kind of restriction to make it interesting, so decided I'm only allowed to sign teenagers. It's been difficult.

    Signings: Trond Fredrik Ludvigsen, Mark Kerr, Kim Kallstrom, John Heitinga, Marek Szmid, David van Zanten (loan)

    I also stupidly decided to stray from my trusty formation to a 5-3-2 (GK, DC DC DC, DML DMR, MC MC, AMC, FC FC) to incorporate John Arne Riise (had to, I guess), so I'm playing with wing-backs for the first time in about 10 years. That's looking like a one-season experiment becasue, as you can see, it led to me getting bloody Marek Szmid and David van Zanten in to cover the DMR position while Vegard Heggem was injured.

    Can't believe I haven't been sacked after finishing 11th, though I did get to UEFA Cup final (lost 1-0 against Parma, thanks to a last-minute Hidetoshi Nakata penalty).

    So due to the dearth of teenage full/wing-back talent (and Liverpool's lack of them - I'm so used to arriving at a club and having to offload half a dozen full-backs!), I'm going back to my trusty 3-5-2 (GK, DC DC DC, DMC DMC, ML MR MC, FC FC) in the second season. I usually like to play attacking players in the wide-midfield positions, but I'll give Riise a chance there first!

    Haven't got to the season rollover yet but already tried in vain to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Pepe Reina, so can see this being a frustrating summer. My last chance to sign Reina as he turns 20 in August. Also means I have to keep players I'd normally sell straight away, because I can't replace them so readily!

    If/when I get sacked, think I'll drop down a division or two and continue to only buy teenagers... see how it goes.

  3. #1903
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    Think I would give Smicer a go at wingback myself

  4. #1904
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    Trophy Hunt part 1

    It's been a while since I played cm0102. Probably 6 years... But the recent World Cup brought me back to this old love.
    There was still a thing I wanted to achieve, winning all the trophies in one save game. So I'm going to give it a try.

    Only rule I have for myself that I use non-wibwob tactics that I created myself.

    Here is my challenge:


    Season 2017-2018 Ajax Amsterdam
    I started my trophy hunt with my favorite club in the Netherlands: Ajax Amsterdam. A very talented squad with a lot of youngsters waiting to collect the first prize in their careers.
    Before the start of the season I bought a few players to strengthen the squad:

    Good old Maarten Stekelenburg as my reserve goalie
    Enfant terrible Hatem Ben Arfa as a reserve for my wingers
    Youngster Mitchell van Bergen to challenge Kluivert at the right wing
    Pacey Kingsley Ehizibue for the right back position

    Managing Ajax means you have to play by the Ajax philosophy. I recreated a tactic that is based on Barcelona from a few years ago:


    The season started with a try to qualify for the Champions League. After defeating Legia Warszawa we had to play against Porto for a ticket in the group stage. It became clear in this games the team needed time to get used to the new tactic. We lost and went on in the Europa League.
    FC Midtjylland was our opponent in the 2nd Round of the Europa League. Away we won with 0-1, but in the Johan Cruijff Arena we played to arrogant and lost 1-2. September was not yet over, but our European campaign was already done.

    Time to focus on the national competition. Ajax started great with winning the first four games. In the fifth game AZ was to strong for us. I feared we could head in to a rocky period, but the team showed it's potential and we kept a unbeaten run untill we played away against PEC Zwolle in February. After that we didn't lose anymore games and became champions nine points ahead of PSV.



    In January we started in the 3rd Round of the KNVB Beker against Twente. It was a thight game, but with a lucky shot by Huntelaar we managed to get through to the Quarter Final. In the Quarter Final we easily defeated ADO Den Haag with 5-0.
    Next up was Vitesse in the Semi Final. It was a though match, but we pulled through: 2-0.
    In the final we had to defeat one of Ajax biggest opponents PSV. It was a thrilling match that went into extra time. 2-2 after 90 minutes and then the winning goal in extra time by Huntelaar again! We also won the KNVB Beker!



    This was a great start of my trophy hunt. One season, two prizes!

    At first I was planning on staying in Amsterdam for another season, but two months after winning the cup I decided to move elsewhere...

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  6. #1905
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    Quote Originally Posted by riise View Post
    Wanted to try out Luessenhoff's enhanced ODB, so just started a game as Liverpool for the millionth time. Had to self-impose some kind of restriction to make it interesting, so decided I'm only allowed to sign teenagers. It's been difficult.

    Signings: Trond Fredrik Ludvigsen, Mark Kerr, Kim Kallstrom, John Heitinga, Marek Szmid, David van Zanten (loan)

    I also stupidly decided to stray from my trusty formation to a 5-3-2 (GK, DC DC DC, DML DMR, MC MC, AMC, FC FC) to incorporate John Arne Riise (had to, I guess), so I'm playing with wing-backs for the first time in about 10 years. That's looking like a one-season experiment becasue, as you can see, it led to me getting bloody Marek Szmid and David van Zanten in to cover the DMR position while Vegard Heggem was injured.

    Can't believe I haven't been sacked after finishing 11th, though I did get to UEFA Cup final (lost 1-0 against Parma, thanks to a last-minute Hidetoshi Nakata penalty).

    So due to the dearth of teenage full/wing-back talent (and Liverpool's lack of them - I'm so used to arriving at a club and having to offload half a dozen full-backs!), I'm going back to my trusty 3-5-2 (GK, DC DC DC, DMC DMC, ML MR MC, FC FC) in the second season. I usually like to play attacking players in the wide-midfield positions, but I'll give Riise a chance there first!

    Haven't got to the season rollover yet but already tried in vain to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Pepe Reina, so can see this being a frustrating summer. My last chance to sign Reina as he turns 20 in August. Also means I have to keep players I'd normally sell straight away, because I can't replace them so readily!

    If/when I get sacked, think I'll drop down a division or two and continue to only buy teenagers... see how it goes.
    Second season! Came 4th (the smile is cos it was courtesy of a late surge - very ordinary season, did NOT deserve it). League Cup 4th Round and FA Cup 5th Round, so nothing really to note there. I think board wanted the title but they've stayed "generally satisfied".

    Signings:
    Baki Mercimek (DC, Sunderland, £300k)
    Tonton Zola Moukoko (AM/FRC, Derby, £250k)
    Calum Davenport (DC, Coventry, £1.4m)
    Alexandros Tzorvas (GK, PAO, £1m)
    Jermain Defoe (SC, West Ham, £5.5m)
    Joleon Lescott (DC, Wolves, £8m)
    Bjorn Helge Riise (MC, Aalesund, £180k)

    Might seem boring to some that I'm buying several of the usual names, but I've never actually been a Kerr/Moukoko guy, so it's staying fresh! Always buy Kallstrom though ha.

    Missed out on Franck Ribery on a free, chose bloody Fulham over me! Have just stopped after the last game of the season, so got a lot of shopping to do over the summer. Le Tallec and Sinama-Pongolle on their way due to the arranged transfers... the latter looks the better prospect at the moment!

    Guess I'll be keeping hold of players for longer than I usually would, but need to make sure there are successors for Hyypia and Henchoz (both 29) lined up... Mercimek and Davenport probably not good enough. Also need to keep an eye out for regens of great keepers as Dudek is 32! Tzorvas probably not gonna be better than a backup, sadly.

    Best XI: Dudek; Hyypia, Henchoz, Lescott; Gerrard Hamann; Kallstrom, Berger, Litmanen; Defoe, Owen

    Average age of squad: 22.33

    Every team in the world wants Heitinga, for some reason, even though he's my seventh-best DC and has been out on loan at Crewe all season.

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  8. #1906
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    Trophy Hunt part 2 - Moving across the North Sea

    After my succesfull first season with Ajax Amsterdam I decided it was time to move on and try to win prizes in another country. With just the reputation of one season there was not a lot of choice. After a few unsuccesfull attempts I ended up in...

    Hartlepool
    Hartlepool won the English National League in the previous season and had been recently promoted to League Two.
    I had a pretty decent squad and a little bit of money to start with. I introduced a new tactic inspired by the Ajax team of 1995 and brought in a few players to strenghten the squad.
    After a great first game, 3-0 home against Rotherham, we had a lot of draws. 1-1, 0-0, 1-1 etc. Once in a while we won or lost a game. There was no real progression in our play and it looked like this would be a season without a trophy. At the end of October Hartlepool was still a performing at midtable level and the gap with the first spot was growing almost every week. And then a new opportunity opened up:

    Cardiff City
    In the first week of November I moved to Cardiff City. At that moment Cardiff City was at place 10 in the Championship.
    My first game was the 3rd round of the EFL Cup and we started with a 0-1 loss against Burnley. The other games in November we had to adjust to the new tactic, Ajax 1995, and won, lost and draw some games. In December we started a good run. After bringing in some new players for a whooping 45 million Euros in January we became a unstoppable team. The signing of Vokes, Pléa, Ehizibue and Forshaw proved to be right ones. We didn't lose another game untill the last game of the season. But at that time we already were crowned champions!





    My first international job: Panama
    In March I got the chance to manage Panama and prepare the team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup that started in June.
    After spending a lot of time searching for good Panamanian players I introduced a very attacking tactic that was inspired by the Dream Team of Cruijff when he was coach of Barcelona.



    After a 6-0 win against Puerto Rico and a 1-1 draw against Nicaragua I was ready for the Gold Cup. We had a mediocre squad, but with a bit of luck our attacking strategy could pay of. We had to play Belize, Guatemala and Costa Rica in the group phase.
    The 4-0 win against Belize made me believe we could do something special. That feeling kept growing when we won 2-0 against Guatemala and draw 1-1 against Costa Rica.
    We made it through the group phase and now we had to play against Mexico in the semi final. I was afraid that this would be the end of the road, but we pulled through and won 1-0! We made it to the FINAL!!!
    Could I win my first international prize with Panama? All we had to do was to win against Honduras in the final...

    We started of great with the first goal in the 15th minute and making it to 2-0 before the break. Nothing could stop us now! But then something went wrong. 6 minutes in the second half and it was 2-2!
    After that the teams looked like they gave their best already and the game was in lockdown. A penalty shoot-out had to decide the winner of the Gold Cup.
    Honduras didn't have the killers and we won the shoot-out with 3-1! Panama, champions of the CONCACAF!



    After two seasons I managed to get 4 prizes:


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  10. #1907
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    As the writing was on the wall as soon as the season was finished, I packed my bags and fled the scene, before the Union Sportive Quevillaise-Rouen Métropole board could hand me a first sacking of my career. I take a relaxed approach the next few months. No rush to stumble into another reputation killing job. Offers come from far and wide, in particular from the Premier League. Secretly though, here's hoping for another go in France.......



    January 2048 - the waiting game finally pays off!



    Ever since Racing Club de Lens managed to cause an upset to win the Ligue 1 title a mere 17 years ago (2031) it's been a continues struggle for the club from North of France. In fact, a decade later and Racing Club got relegated to the third tier of French football! Only four seasons later and the club would have recovered from the lowest of lows, celebrating the return to the top flight. Two seasons of putting up a brave fight to retain this status yielded in the closest of encounters, ultimately with success - avoiding relegation.



    After a relatively positive start to the most recent campaign, things started to untangle, slowly but steadily. Only one win in their last ten games, and already 13 defeats on the board only halfway through the season. No surprise the club bosses saw no other option than sacking Paul Pogba, who took over the reigns nearly twelve months ago in a similar situation. In fact, this was already Pogba's second spell at the club. A decade ago a two year long stint ended in tears as well.









    The squad looks decent. I feel confident we can avoid the drop. A second relegation within two years would be a clear sign for my managerial career coming to an end? Better make sure this isn't going to happen.



    First things first: he's now retired; the Dutch magician Ilias Maas won't be able to help out on the pitch, I'm afraid. Let's hope he can do it off the pitch: the 35 year old will join Lens as my assistant coach. Hopefully his magic rubs off on some of the players.









    It takes three shaky efforts for the first three points to be finally won. A new 3-2-3-1-1 system seems to strike the right balance; at least it helps to tighten up the defence while we're able to score a few goals as well. It's not sexy, all workmanlike, but gets the job done.


    In the remaining games of the season we collect enough points to retain top flight status. That's the most important thing: the 18: 8-7-3 record since my installment secures a 12th place finish in the end. After two rather horrendous years in Rouen, I consider this a positive start.











    2048/49:


    I don't mean to ageist, nonetheless it's a dramatic clear-out over the summer:anyone over 30 is let go or sold. In comes a hole armada of young and sexy talent to fill the vacant spots in the squad.

    A €57 million invest in solely French legs brings in pretty much a whole new squad. Half of the new faces are considered for the Reserves, though. I want to build a second team of promising teens, as they'll get regular match practice through the extensive French reserve rounds - those that develop will get a chance to prove themselves with the big boys.



    My aim is to improve on last seasons 12th place finish, nurture the talent, and then go after some bigger fish next year. Top-Six would would be nice. That type of considered, thoughtful and reasonable plan gets somewhat thrown out of the window by the blunt announcement of the board: "we want win the league!"



    The reality on the pitch looks slightly different as we lose the first three games of the season. Not scoring a single goal.

    We're certainly first. If you turn the table. Clearly having a completely new squad doesn't make things easier. Neither the fact that the team is all young and green to most parts. An average age of roughly 21 on the pitch, many of these promising talents grace the fields of Ligue 1 stadiums for the first time. Fluctuations are bound to happen, but our form improves after a few tactical changes as I introduce a second striker.



    In the second half of the season things finally click. We find the right balance from a tactical perspective and some of the young guns who'd been quiet so far start to show their true ability. 21-year-old playmaker Toufik Hery, by far the most expensive purchase in the summer, a €16 million signing from Rennes, had to battle injuries, now with a clear run, puts a string of excellent performances together. His goals and passes even more so, give this young team some sort of footing each game in a way that wasn't there a few weeks ago.


    The newcomer of the season, though, is defender Jordi Berthomier. A cheap €275k signing, boyish 19-years of age, started out in the reserves as "one for the future". Done brilliantly there, grabbed his chance in the senior team with both hands.


    At the end of March, after a tremendous unbeaten run, we're suddenly top of the table! Hard to fathom, and to good to be true?


    Montpellier, the champ of the last two seasons, has a couple of games in hand. With three to go, we lose a game in Loriont, thanks to a late penalty decision against us. Montpellier doesn't blunder. Instead they make it a hat-trick of Ligue 1 titles!


    Nonetheless, it's been a superb full season under my reign, particularly the second part of it. A better start and we would have gone incredibly close. Would, could, should… next time…… here's hoping. The board is "satisfied" as well. Not delighted, mind. A Ligue 1 runner-up finish - the best in nearly two decades for the club - not too shabby I'd argue.











    2049/50:


    It'll be a long season with Champions League football and hopefully a serious challenge for the Ligue 1 title. We spend €50 million on half a dozen signings - striker Thibaut Kone turns out to be the best of the lot.... and he only joins us in January 2050, which says a lot about the first part of this season.


    Halfway through the season, we struggle to gain real momentum, hovering in and out of the top six - but the title is long gone already! Clermot proves nearly unbeatable. Fortunes in the Champions League aren't much better either. We qualify for the second group stage, leading a tight group approaching the final round of games, with one foot already in the quarter-final - an agonizing defeat to Ajax sees us crashing from first to last in the group - out.



    At least in the league our form improves. Kone's goals - 13 it'll be bey the end of the season - are a huge help to decide plenty of tight games in our favour. A 5th place finish in the end - despite a one goal better goal difference than last season, it's an 8 point worse finish!






    2050/51:


    Change… yet again. So far, our recruitment policy focused solely on "French only". This policy is softened. An influx of new signings deepens the squad…. On the other hand, some of those French youngsters I have nurtured over the last two years turn into thankless brats as soon as they smell some money and leave Lens - nothing I can do about it, due to release clauses in their contracts. But this hurts.



    All this change leads to a tumultuous season. I can't find the right balance…. Nothing new, or so it seems. A squad of mediocre talent put together in a rush and a vague hope some foreign talent will be enough to turn this team into a real title contender again. It has the opposite effect. A dramatic slump of form after an okayish start and we are in the danger zone for most of what is a bleak winter.


    The winter break provides time for thought. Another change of tactics. And some of the lads who haven't performed wander down to the reserves. With a fresh- and attacking oriented 4-2-1-3-1 system we can turn the tide through spring…. No danger of relegation, and thanks to a ten game unbeaten run in the final months, we crawl our way back into the top ten as well - an 8th place finish feels like a wasted season after all, regardless. We're miles off the top and a club regressing.... to the means?



    Not quite. While we struggled to hit domestic form for most of the season, Europe is a different story! It's certainly no champagne football we put on show, but the lads seem to get their act together when it matters: we pass some tough assignments with BATE, Fenerbace, Roda and Sporting Lisbon - and make it all the way to the big final in the Europa League!



    A date with the freshly crowned Turkish champion Antalyaspor awaits - just in time nearly everyone is healthy…. Our strongest XI is certainly required for this final test!


    A scrappy game. Ugly. Of course, it always is when Lens plays these days.

    The Turkish side is favourite and puts us under severe pressure right from the beginning. Whenever possible we counter. There aren't many of those opportunities. But to win a game of football, sometimes all you need is one moment - this one moment comes only minutes before half-time as Wilfried Tia makes his run in to free space at the right time and puts the ball easily past the keeper for a surprising half-time lead!



    Hard to watch on the rest of the game. A nailbiter, as we find less and less relieve from the Turkish pressure. In the end we "champman" Antalyaspor, which is desperately unlucky not to score on the night - but Pierre Perez has a night of nights, seemingly wearing some sort of magic gloves!


    It's no Ligue 1 title, but I deliver a second European trophy 29 years after Lens won a historic first Europa League title.












    2051/52:


    Contract negotiations stall with the hero from Gan, Pierre Perez. His contract expires at the end of the season and he's not willing to sign a new deal but rather prefers to move to a 'bigger club' instead. He's only a few days on the transfer list then he finds his new home…. the almighty Tianjin Quanijan. The Chinese trigger the €8.5 million release clause. Sure, that's the massive step forward Perez was looking for, I guess.



    With the positive momentum from finishing last season on a high domestically and internally, there's less change this time. Only seven new signings - Aaron Morris, a boyish left-back signing for €10 million from Bournmouth is the pick of the lot - he proves to push us forward in a season of hope... the youngster doesn't miss a single game and will be honoured with the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award eventually!




    As a team we nearly complete the triple of winning the Cups that nobody needs: kicking things off with the European Super Cup in August, disposing Champions League- and reigning Spanish champion Cadiz!








    The doubtful honour of taking part in the Club World Cup results in another final - where we have one of our rare off-days this season: a one nil defeat to Chicago Fire.



    Domestically we do not hit the ground running and throw a challenge for the Ligue 1 title rather early away. As we improve gradually with a few tweaks tactically, PSG isn't for catching this season anyways. Once more we do excel particularly in the second half of a season. Only two defeats, plenty of high scoring wins - 3rd place in the end. A massive improvement on last season.




    We can celebrate the Coupe de la Ligue as well, which completes the triple of meaningless Cups. A competent 3-1 victory over Brest; another title, though, that keeps the board satisfied and my job safe.











    2052/53:




    One of the main issues holding us back is the one of finding prolific goal scorer. So far the responsibility has been evenly distributed among the squad but I feel a top class striker would be able to bring us to the next level. Introducing Eric Kok - only 20 years of age, not getting a lot of love by the current Tottenham regime, so for €22.5 million he joins us.







    Kok isn't the most expensive signing, though. This honour belongs to Rob Hall. The 26 year-old playmaker commands a €36 million transfer fee. I feel it's well worth to make the splash.







    The new fire power gives us a massive boost. We're off to our best start ever - 20 games into the season it's more than that! Unbeaten, at the top of the table, Kok already with 15 goals on the board.... everything looks rosy!


    It's this time of the year that is most hectic in the Frensh schedule, though. Two domestic Cup competitions, squeezed in between league games and for teams like ourselves, Champions League group stage games - it's tough. What starts to bite us now is the fact that the squad is near world-class from one to eleven. But we aren't as deep as the likes of PSG, Caen or Clermont.



    The second half of the season is a little disaster. This tight schedule, injuries... it all means we more often than not at our best. It's telling on the score board: only eight more league wins - not enough for the title win. A five point lead on Christmas eve, long gone by March. Caen wins the title - it was coming for SMC - second and third the last two consecutive seasons.


    Paying big money for Kok and Hall has half-delivered. Kok with 18 goals and 9 assists will b a force for many years to come. Hall, 4 goals, 6 assists, was solid. But I would have hoped for more leadership, particularly when it mattered most, in the second half of the season.


    The season ends on a sour note as we also lose the Cup the France final against PSG - a 1-2 defeat is symptomatic for the season.





    2053/54:


    There isn't allot to improve on from last season. I trust this group. Only four new signings - but those should make a difference comes push to shove. 18 year-old Polish striker Tomasz Mrozek and the versatile defenders Junior Mombo and Michael Millar combine €39 million of transfer fees. As we switch to 3-striker system, I felt more class is needed up front and Mrozek has everything to be a superstar.



    We have an excellent start to the season, only a single defeat in the first two months, only wins otherwise - Mrozek and Kok prove a lethal attacking threat for the opposition.


    Nonetheless, a couple of our star names make trouble and endanger the squad harmony. Aaron Morris, now back-to-back French Player of the Year, is unhappy not be allowed to move to PSG. His form drops markedly, but I'm not prepared to let our star man go to a rival.

    It's a different story when Premier League leaders Blackpool make an offer - as sad as it is to see him go, in January Morris will be shipped to the west of England in a €24 million move.

    Rob Hall, the €35 million record signing, is equally unhappy - he feels it's his time to move to a bigger club. Now, I'd say if he'd played a little bit more like his expensive price tag last year, he might be playing for quite a big club now... anyways, he's off to Arsenal for €29 million in January as well. It would be unfair to label him a flop. But clearly in 1.5 seasons in Lens he never quite lived up to the expectations.



    As the big names are dropped, others step up. It's a real team effort week in week out, the issues off the pitch don't impact the weekend action on the pitch. By the end of the year, we conceded a mere six goals, leading the league by seven points!



    We've been here before, right? 12 Months ago, a similar scenario.... and we all know what happened. The title that was meant to be ours, thrown away.

    As the time of the tight schedule approaches fast, we add three more players in the January transfer window. Crucially, another striker. Kok and Mrozak done well, but I struggled to find a third man who performs with consistency. I feel we need another top man here, and if it's only in case one of the two gets injured. It's tough to find a suitable candidate at this time of the year. So I break my rule - not to sign anyone over 30 - as Ukrainian striker Bogdan Petrov, a prolific striker for Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League over the years, looks to have still something left in the tank. A reasonable €6.5 million price tag accompany his signing.



    Clearly the going gets tougher. What was free-flowing in the first few months, now in January, February and March is suddenly hard work. What were 3-0 wins over relegation bound sides, are now lucky one goal escapes.

    What turns out to be constant, though, is one thing: Bogdan Petrov. The veteran in the team, he backs two goals on his debut and continues to be our life insurance on days where we struggle. 14 of what will be 30 wins over the course of the whole season are by the tightest of margins: 1-0; many of those in the final few weeks. Bogdan is the man, who finds the net!



    We crash out in the Quarter-Final of both French Cups, but make it all the way to the Champions League semi-final. A date with the past looms - Barcelona FC. A near unbeatable force these days.... the tie is decided after an 0-3 home defeat in the first leg. We hold our head high at Camp Nou two weeks later, leaving with a scoreless draw and the knowledge that we're close to top class but not quite there yet.



    In the league our advantage is eroded - Caen continues to win, whereas we drop points. Two defeats on the bounce in early May, two games to go - now only three points between us and Caen. The title that seemed only a fortnight ago to belong safely to to Lens, is now in danger to stay in the North-East of France.


    Something like a game of fate, hosting mid-table side Le Potet. A meangingless game for them. Clearly we can't throw this away? We scrape through the penultimate game of the season, it's ugly, far from champion-like - but another late Petrov goal, in yet another 1-0 victory, much seals the deal - not only on the night, but, baring a disaster on the final day of the 53/54 season, also for the league title! Thanks to our superior goal difference, the only hope Caen would have to retain their crown is a disastrous defeat of ours in Monaco.


    We ain't let it happen. Bogdan ain't let it happen! The best €6.5 million spent ever - an arch typical 1-0 win, and the winning goal headed home by Petrov - his 19th league goal, in 17 appearances. Enough for another three points - victory number 30! The most important one.


    As the final whistle sounds, finally over - Racing Club de Lens wins the Ligue 1 title!


    Nine years after leaving Barcelona, it's also the first league title for myself. It's been quite a journey. The disaster in Rouen aside, it's been roller-coaster here in Lens all the time. Avoiding relegation, twice Ligue 1 runner-up, Europa League winners, Cup de la Ligue.... but this is the sweetest of them all. Probably one of the sweetest ever! Of course, who can forget the near decade long adventure with Jerv FK, but in truth, this is the one that felt even less like it'd ever be coming!


    A next chapter will be written somewhere now. Job done in Lens. Open for offers from anywhere....








    The man who made it all possible - it's hard to believe, that without the winter signing of Bogdan Petrov we would have won the title:





    League winning tactics:





    Six and a half seasons in Lens:





    ..........
    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 - May 2043
    Barcelona (ESP): May 2043 - June 2045
    Quevilly-Rouen (FRA): October 2045- June 2047
    RC Lens (FRA): January 2048 - July 2054

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  12. #1908
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    What an update! Great report, PF. A very well deserved league title in the end and you really had to work for it. Sometimes that bit of experience is what you need to take a band of avid talents and pricey purchaces who have never tasted success to the very top.

    Very nice to see you connect with Ilias Maas again, makes perfect sense. Another one who knows just what it takes to reach the pinnacle.

    I hope you get to settle in at a Champion's League regular club soon and have a crack at the Barca side you created. I had a great game once where I built Napoli up into Serie A champions where they went on to win several successive CL trophies under their next manager. I had some great battles with them in the semi and final itself, always tasting defeat, before finally turning the tables on them as they went for their 4th in a row.

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  14. #1909
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    Before I start, let me preface this as a "No work permits" save. I don't believe it to be cheating mainly because everyone benefits from it, not just the player. Plus, I think it's more fun this way!

    That out of the way, here we go.

    Playing as Stockport County on Lussenhoff's DB. 1st season, currently 7th in Division 1, putting the actual team's season to shame by challenging for a playoff place & potentially more this late in the season (February 2nd)

    Transfers In
    FW - Yuri Rodriguez - 22k
    ML/MC - John Rankin - Free
    ST - Tallan Martin - Free
    GK - Arnold Origi Otieno - 150k
    ML/MC - Fabian Unzurrunzaga - 50k
    DC - Warren Kenna - Free
    AMC - Isaac Chansa - 725k
    DL/ML - Danijel Pranjic - 825k
    DC/DM - Kjetil Rekdal - Free

    Future Transfers In
    DC - Erick Cecilio Vallecilo - Bosman (2/13/02)
    DC - Emir Spahic - Bosman (6/4/02)

    Transfers Out
    GK - Andy Dibble - Dover (18k)
    MC - David Smith - Falkirk (50k)
    GK - Lee Jones - Released
    The rest of the reserves. Useless, all of them!

    Rekdal came over after being sacked from Valerenga, and at only 4k a week, which surprised the hell out of me. Still got the skills to get it done, but it's dependent on him staying on the pitch and me finding the perfect position for him. I'm also aware that I've taken a calculated gamble with my spending, as I'm banking on this being enough to get to the playoffs, shock the world, and be playing Premier League football at Edgeley Park next season.

    Arnold Otieno has been good too. 18 years old, already a Kenya international, and only given up 11 goals in 14 games (13 starts). Yuri Rodriguez is our top scorer (15), but he's hit a drought due to some pretty nasty growing pains, and I've begun to look to others for goals. Richard Sneekes, 32, has proven that he can still hack it at this level, and he's been key to our success. Isaac Chansa was brought in as his successor as Sneekes is starting to show his age.

    We were as low as 19th earlier in the season, but we've had some success lately and pushed on towards the playoffs and still in with an outside chance of catching 2nd placed Coventry for promotion. Out of both the FA Cup & League Cup in the 3rd round, so only the league left to worry about.

    For some reason the forum's not letting me post my photo of the table, so please accept this typed out version of it instead. All teams listed have played 30 of 46 games.

    1. Portsmouth - 68 pts (+34)
    2. Coventry City - 60 pts (+17)
    ---------------------------------
    3. Wolves - 56 pts (+25)
    4. Bradford City - 56 pts (+16)
    5. Millwall - 55 pts (+21)
    6. Watford - 54 pts (+16)
    ---------------------------------
    7. Stockport County - 50 pts (+11)
    8. West Brom - 47 pts (+8)
    9. Nottingham Forest - 44 pts (+6)
    10. Preston North End - 43 pts (+9)

    Really hoping there's 8-10 more wins in this group so that we can put some pressure on the sides ahead of us.

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  16. #1910
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    You have to wonder about the AI sometimes.

    Just taken the Reading job, bottom of Championship - December Season 4. They have a squad of 32 of which 8 are goalkeepers. With 2 weeks to the January window, I let the game run..... and 2 more join, seemingly signed by predessor (Xabi Alonso) ...... with one other striker added (some complete waste of space) - the squad is now 35 in size with 10 keepers.

    The really annoying thing is that amongst those 10 keepers only 2 of them have a CA > 100. Basically, despite having 10 on the books, I think I need to buy another

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  18. #1911
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    That bug is such a fucking pain! Spend 7 months updating the database and then Man Utd, Arsenal and Spurs go a buy 15 goalies between them from English non-league

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  20. #1912
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magus978 View Post

    Transfers In
    FW - Yuri Rodriguez - 22k
    ML/MC - John Rankin - Free
    ST - Tallan Martin - Free
    Cannot argue with a Tallan Martin/Yuri Rodriguez front 2!

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  22. #1913
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny Dalglish's Smile View Post
    Cannot argue with a Tallan Martin/Yuri Rodriguez front 2!
    Even better, I've gotten Tallan going a bit after Kuqi went down. He's played the majority of the games up front today, and we're up to 4th now! Yuri's also gotten back on track a little bit, now up to 21 goals on the season, just one off the leader (Jovan Kirovski - 22).

    Once again, the forums are not letting me post a photo of the table (the photo uploads, but then a red X appears next to it without any reason for it), but as mentioned, we're up to 4th now on 70 points with 39 played. 7 games to go, and just 5 points off of the automatic promotion places.

  23. #1914
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    WE. ARE. PREMIER. LEAGUE!!!

    After finishing the season strong on 86 points and just missing out on automatic promotion, we had to face Bradford City in the playoff semifinal. Drew 1-1 at Edgeley Park, and with a tough job to do at Valley Parade, played the Bantams to a 3-3 draw after extra time. With it 4-4 on aggregate, I forgot that away goals didn't matter, so to penalties we went. Eoin Jess missed Bradford City's first penalty, and that proved to be the difference because we made all five of ours. On to the playoff final against West Brom, who stunned Watford in the 2nd leg of their tie 2-0 to win 3-2 on aggregate.

    Playoff Final vs West Brom - The Drama Has Only Just Begun!

    Scott Taylor, who was playing well and earned this chance to start ahead of Shefki Kuqi, scored inside the first 10 minutes of the match to give us an early lead. Neil Clement equalized for West Brom, only for Danijel Pranjic to slot home in the 26th to give us a 2-1 lead, which we would carry into halftime. 15 minutes away from the promised land, right?

    WRONG. OH SO VERY WRONG!!!

    Andy Johnson's 59th minute goal equalized matters, and it would remain 2-2 to the end of regular time. Another extra time heart attack waiting to happen, right?

    CORRECT!!!

    With just a minute left in the first half of extra time, Scott Taylor grabs his second goal of the game! 15 minutes away from the promised land, again.....would it be that easy?

    N...oh you already know how this goes!

    Adam Chambers gives me yet another heart attack by equalizing in the 107th minute. Despite a desperate push from County to try and wrap this up before penalties, it was not meant to be. Onto the 3rd heart attack, aka penalties.

    Playoff Final - The Penalty Shootout, Where Many Poos Came Out

    Double goal scorer Scott Taylor started it off nicely for us by scoring his penalty. Andy Johnson was not so lucky, as he missed wide. Danijel Pranjic scored his, as did Jason Roberts. At 2-1, up stepped longtime West Brom servant Richard Sneekes, only he forgot he wasn't playing for West Brom anymore, and missed. If it were a crossbar challenge though, he would have been the winner. Neil Clement could equalize for the Baggies...but Arnold Otieno rises to the occasion and stops Clement's shot in its tracks! Advantage Stockport! Just remember kids, when you Wiss upon a star, Jarkko Wiss scores from the spot because he doesn't care who you are. Future manager of many teams Michael Appleton would step up needing to score to keep West Brom alive, and much to my dismay, he was not put off by my scary faces and threats of violence, and thus he scored.

    It would come down to the man who joined after getting sacked from Valerenga, the former Norwegian international Kjetil Rekdal. With a smug look on his face reminiscent of Jeremy Clarkson, he scored past Rene Higuita. The celebrations could begin. Stockport County were Premier League.

    Yes. THAT Stockport County.

    WE. ARE. PREMIER. LEAGUE!!!

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  25. #1915
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    If you are playing no work permits then might as well sign Marajo for whatever it takes!

    By the way, for screenshots I host them on some image hosting service like imgbb and use the forum bb code you can generate after upload

  26. #1916
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    Bought a new, shiny gaming PC and obviously CM 0102 was one of the first games to be installed (and one of the most played so far). New PC means new saves (I very rarely bother moving old saves over), and the one I'm currently on is giving me more fun and excitement than I've had in a long time on CM. I started with randomly picked Derby County, and in the first season I was relegated (and barely avoided getting sacked) - can't remember the last time that happened. Season 2 brings a proper promotion fight, and I'm savouring it, only playing a few games a day. Almost at the end of the season now and play-off seems to be pretty secure, but the competition for the direct promotion spots is fierce.

    Spoiler!


    Derby were relegated in real life in 2002, and they very often are in-game as well, but they do have a pretty decent squad for the top of the 1st division. I did make some improvments on it, and these two are probably my best and most important signings so far. Machlas joined for 3.6M from Ajax at the start of the 0102 season, while Emam has only been at the club a few months, having joined from Zamalek for 1.2M, but is already making a nice impact.
    Spoiler!


    I'm planning to make this some sort of alphabet game, but haven't yet decided if I need to win the top division or just a trophy to move on. I'm also only signing players from my shortlist, which consists of every player my scouts regard as "excellent" plus any man of the match in my players' international games. So far I've only signed players that were replacements for players I lost (apart from Machlas who joined before that rule was decided on) or youths, so there won't be any quick building of good squads.

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  28. #1917
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    I don't have to wait long for the next call. And finally it's the one that completes the Nordics! Given I originate from the German Baltic Coast myself, I always have been fond of Scandinavia, and particularly Sweden - certainly ever since my local football club Hansa Rostock broke the Bundesliga record for fielding the most players of the same foreign nation - the 1st February 0f 2003, six Swedes in the starting line-up, and of course the winning goal scored by Swedish striker Rade Prica. Good old days….



    Career wise it always proved difficult to construct a move to Sweden. Jobs rarely become available. And if they do they come at an unsuitable time due to the fact Sweden's season ends in November. This time it's the right time: still early days, the league isn't quite halfway through, and a club full of tradition is in dire need for help...


    Djurgårdens IF, in free fall for a number of years now, ever since their last Allsvenskan title five seasons ago, is battling relegation once more.









    The most pressing issue on hand is quite obvious: untangle the massive squad and do a proper clear-out: 50 players on the book right now, mostly youngsters, an average age of 21, but not half of those lads are good enough for top flight football - even in Sweden.

    The expectations are modest for a start: stay clear of relegation. The squad should be good enough, is my feeling. Though, it clearly helps that the transfer window opens only a few days later.



    Right away I can ship off more than a handful of youngsters that have absolutely zero future. Many are let go for a small compensation fee. A few others turn into some fine profit. After all we cash in a handsome €2 million, re-investing in a striker, two midfielders and two defenders. I guess an even bigger clear-out is bound to happen at the end of the year.



    Setting out with a 3-1-4-2 system, we quickly gather some momentum, remain unbeaten for eight games and leave any relegation threats behind. We only look one way: up! Two back-to back defeats bring the positive trend to an abrupt ending - a third-and final loss since I took the reigns over, on the final day of the season, means we miss out on finishing in a European spot.


    That's a pity, but having taken 31 points from 16 games must be rated as quite excellent. Extrapolating this to a complete season and we would have finished comfortably in third place.











    2055:


    The renewal process is fully under way during the four months seasonal long break: 20 players gone, 12 new faces in. We're deep, we're strong and we're expected to challenge for the title. I can see us finishing anywhere in the top-four. This is a tight league. So better reign in the expectations a little.


    As tight as the Allsvenskan is, as soon the title race emerges as a dog fight between hated local rival AIK Solna and ourselves. For more than half the season we're in the lead. But fate isn't on our side: three games to go, a late red card- and penalty goal sees our lead in the title race slipping away…. thankfully as AIK fails to take full advantage themselves, so we have it in our own hands....


    All it needs are two wins from the last two games. Given we're facing two already relegated sides from the bottom of the table this is now our title to lose.




    Despite out best efforts, Syrianska's keeper Elias Bergman plays the game of his life in what is the crucial title decider as it turns out - a scoreless draw; AIK wins their game - with one game to go Solna now with two points ahead. It matters little that we beat Varberg 5-0 the next week - AIK isn't denied against Syrianska in their game…. where Bergman plays potentially the worst game of his life, resulting in him being substituted at half-time!



    We can't complain, though. We had plenty of opportunities to put the race to bed. We've only got ourselves to blame. Runner-up: a fine improvement on last season. In truth, probably as good as we are. While the squad is deep, it lacks the bit extra class that AIK Solna, who's been a Champions League Group Stage regular over the year, simply possesses.












    2056:

    The board decides for the second year in a row to increase capacity of the already over-sized Tele2 Arena. Realistically only full for derby against AIK, the now 48.000 capacity stadium is half-empty for any other regular season game.


    What this also does: eroding all significant transfer budget. Thankfully I'm well accustomed to putting a team together on a shoe string, and feel surprisingly confident about the handful of new signings we brought in. In fact, I'm as confident as hardly ever before that DIF will be an incredibly tough nut to crack - mainly because the depth of the team is so good now that there should be little to no drop in class between player 1 to 18.

    We also land a bit of a coup, signing Swedish international Filip Hansson on a free transfer. The striker left fading giant Malmö.



    Despite five assists and a couple of goals for Hansson, two early season defeats scream crisis. Beside Hansson we do struggle for goals. Creating shots on goal aplenty, but few high danger chances. No panic. Not all is bad. While some of our misfortunes are house made, a lot can be attributed to simply not getting the right bounces. Luck can play its part in football.


    A few tactical tweaks, meaning the central midfielders are now instructed to move forward when we have the ball, while looking for the pass rather the shot from distance, sees our fortunes improve dramatically - thankfully!



    And that despite the fact that Filip Hansson is sold soon after for €8 million to the MLS - an offer too good to refuse. Yes, the striker has been excellent so far. But in truth, he's not irreplaceable. That is vecause with James Aliyu we've already found a new goal machine! His partner in crime for the rest of the season, French youngster Eric David, scoreless last season, has a breakout year also.








    Aliyu and David team up for 32 goals in the remaining games of the season, a few others chip in as well…. DIF isn't for stopping in 2056!

    A long way out it becomes clear that the title is ours and we won't throw it away as we did twelve months ago. A crisis? Was there ever a crisis? We certainly don't require any luck; with three games to go we have the title - a +55 goal difference does all the talking.













    We top the year with a run all the way to the Svenska Cupen final. After disposing hated rival AIK in the semi-final, meeting amateur side Eskilsminne is a gift.









    While all of this is great, the greatest success comes on international level. As last years runner-up we qualify for the Champions League Play-Offs. After successful dates with Steaua Bucharesti and Belgian First Division A runner-up Sprimont Comblain we've made it to the big stage!


    Anything else is the cherry on the cake. This is the (financial) breakthrough we needed! On the pitch we continue to deliver. Victories over French- and German league champions Niort and Leverkusen, over Kasimpasa and Kopenhagen, while pushing Barcelona to the brink, secure a spot in the 1/4 Final!!




    A date with PSG awaits - as we dominate in both home- and away leg, the goals we need won't fall. It's the bit extra class missing on this level. 1-2 in aggregate over two legs, mean we miss out on a historic Champions League Semi-Final. For another year, maybe?










    2057:

    It becomes the new normal: new year and the board announces plans to increase capacity of Tele2 Arena. Last season we averaged nearly 28.000 fans per home game - by far the most in the Allsvenskan. The capacity of the stadium is 48.000 after last years increase. However, with recent Champions League success, the club banks big on Europe, where only 28.500 are allowed in because of capacity restrictions. So, here we go, installing 12.500 new seats…. For a cost of €33 million!



    I'm a little bit annoyed, but as no intriguing opportunity arises elsewhere I decide to stay put and lead DIF into my third full season at the helm of the club. The aim is clearly to go back-to-back in the Allsvenskan and see what we can do in Europe once more.


    Adding new quality, players that have the ability to bring us to the next level proves difficult. It's a money question. But it's also a question of reputation. Last season's Champions League run has been noted, certainly. But not enough to become suddenly a 'sexy' destination for star players. So, only 3 new signings - they give us a bit more strengths in depth in the middle of the park in particular.



    While last year nearly everything clicked, this season feels a little less smooth, a little more workmanlike and certainly not like a season that'll end in glory. We don't score as many goals. We don't win as many games. And production from pretty much anyone drops off rather significantly. Nonetheless, we do the business. The squad is too strong for the rest of the league. Which means at least domestically we remain on top of the game, even though without the domination of last year.








    In Europe things don't work out. Qualification for the Champions League Group stage is achieved, thanks to victories over Scottish champion Ross County - but we go out in our group as third placed with 5pts. Our only win comes on the last day of the group stage over Blackburn Rovers - a vital one as this secures the Europa League qualification at least.



    DIF title winning tactic:





    I won't see out the rest of the European campaign, and decide this is the end of the road in Stockholm for me. Leading DIF two Allsvenskan titles, a Cup success and a Champions League Quarter-Final - it's been a great few years in the North. With league titles in Finland (Haka), Norway (Jerv), Denmark (Randers) and now Djurgårdens in Sweden, the Nordics are completed, so to speak. A new chapter will be written somewhere else, soon….

    ..........
    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 - May 2043
    Barcelona (ESP): May 2043 - June 2045
    Quevilly-Rouen (FRA): October 2045- June 2047
    RC Lens (FRA): January 2048 - July 2054
    Djurgårdens (SWE): July 2054 - November 2057

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  30. #1918
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    Season done and the decision of whether it has to be the top division title or just any trophy will have to wait. Manchester City secured the top spot with 2 games to go and we secured 2nd place in the penultimate game, causing the anticipated season final between us and them in the last game to end up being a game without importance. It was a good game for neutral supporters though, ending 3-3 after a lively match.



    This was pretty much the same squad that was relegatet the year before, and despite some outstanding season totals by the likes of Nikos Machlas it's not an impresive squad.




    I've decided to do one "squad improvment purchase" in the summer and one in January in addition to replacing outgoing players - buying a new player for the position that had the worst average rating of a "best XI" the last season/half season. Unsurprisingly, 36 years old Stefano Eranio retired in the summer (though continuing as coach), and he was replaced by another experienced midfielder when Alexander Mostovoi joined from Celta on a free transfer. Central defender was the position most needing improvment, and Olof Persson joined from Malmö FF for 28k, whereas the January signing was a right back, Álvaro joining from Portuguese side Trofense for £40k. Not exactly world class players, but I'm trying to sign as cheap players as possible from my shortlist.

    Spoiler!


    Returning to the Premier League my board wanted me to battle bravely against relegation - and battle bravely we do, even if not very successfully. At least they're still quite pleased with my managerial efforts, unlike the first season where I was very close to being sacked.
    Spoiler!



    Here's the tactic that got me promoted in case anyone are interested:

    Spoiler!


    Still enjoying this save a lot, it's fun to be in a relegation struggle and last season with its proper promotion fight was a blast. It also feels quite realistic to be struggling at the bottom as a newly promoted team (that was relegated the seaosn before), and the same goes for the signing of not-exactly-world-class players for peanuts to a struggling club (relying on scouts and a tight budget), rather than just fixing the squad with a snap of the fingers. Might be it takes years before I win anything, might be I get sacked this season if we don't improve, but it's fun playing a struggler game for once

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  32. #1919
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    @Flo: Well, not quite the European giant I had hoped for but a nice little stop off in Sweden. Quite amusing little side show with the Syrianska 'keeper Bergman at the end of that first full season.

    Then, in James Aliyu, you look to have found your new Ilias Maas and all hell breaks loose! What a run to the CL 1/4 final.

    In the end it seems that you and the board won't really see eye-to-eye over that stadium so probably better off heading for new pastures. Swedish prices!

    @Pegster: still better than Billy Davies

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  34. #1920
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    If performing better than the 2007/8 edition of Derby did was the goal, then we reached it without much struggle. The goal of staying up for another season, however, was a different story. Despite a good run of form in the early spring with 3 wins and a draw in 5 games, we had some tough games near the end of the season in addition to the teams just above the relegation line starting to win a lot. 4 games before the end both we, Tottenham and Coventry were without hope of catching up with the teams ahead of us. The closest we were was being 18th, 6 points behind 17th placed Watford (24 vs 30) with 8 games to go - we were then on a run of good form and I had a small hope of staying up, but it was not to be. On the bright side, I didn't get sacked and it's now a new season in the 1st division with a good chance of getting promoted (and possibly a title).



    The squad was almost the same that was relegated two years ago and promoted one year ago, and should be able to compete in the top of the 1st division. Not too happy about the performance of some players, and potential key players Nikos Machlas and Mart Poom both had runs of bad form early which left them out of the team most of the season (picking the team based on form).
    None of the three new signings made a big impact, but they were all decent contributors at least. The 50 man squad is currently full, but if an opening appears a left midfielder/forward is my target for this transfer period.

    Last edited by Pegster; 23-01-19 at 04:15 PM.

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  36. #1921
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    That is a very high number of dribbles from Hazem Emam there

  37. #1922
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    Yep, and he's also by far the one with the most assists and has been that since he arrived. He's frustrating me a bit now, though - he's angry and shocked that he's not a first team regular after missing one single game from August to late December (which was in the early autumn some time). Horacio Carbonari has the same - played pretty much every single game yet being angry at not playing.
    Last edited by Pegster; 25-01-19 at 07:51 PM.

  38. #1923
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    Glorious failure




    I was 3-0 down in the semi-final first leg promotion play offs (A very attacking Scunthorpe side punished my initial caution in the first leg)

    In the second leg I managed to level the tie on aggregate despite being down to 9 men and surviving extra time.

    But the 9 men lost in sudden death in a penalty shootout.

    The annoying part was I had tackling set to normal and still two players got sent off.



    The match itself was very strange Forest Green had the overall good player ratings, ending in a 4-3-1 (false 9) counter attack formation.

    I had to play midfielders as full backs because I started with a 3-4-3 formation.








    However, the match stats showed it was a combination of accurate finishing and keeper heroics.






    )



    Naturally, the man of the match who got a 10 rating missed his penalty.



    But if that was not bad enough I was two points off automatic promotion.







    This may sound good considering I was supposed to battle against relegation.


    But for most of the season I was comfortably in second place and promotion looked a formality.







    For some strange reason the season was much more enjoyable/memorable in glorious failure.

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  40. #1924
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    Ouch, 96 points as well!

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  42. #1925
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    Looks like an exciting season, and if the goal was to avoid relegation it was surely a successfu lone too even if promotion slipped away at the end.

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