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Thread: How are you doing?

  1. #2001

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    Had the pen and paper out tonight for my UE Cornella save, third tier Spanish side. Started the season really well (expected to avoid relegation) but have middle out and am mid-table heading to Christmas.

    Only made one signing, building my team around him. Got some youngsters already and then another couple coming in.

    First save I've tried on tablet too!

  2. #2002

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    Post JOURNEYMAN

    I have started the 'journeyman challenge'. The goal: to win every major league in all countries on the game within the same save. (original game)

    I begun at Llanelli in Wales signing just Monti and Sveen on free transfers before dominating the league and winning it with many games to go.

    I instantly applied for jobs across the world on my background leagues and ended up at Crusaders in Northern Ireland. With ten games to go of the opening season of the save I had to battle to save them from relegation and fortuitously won the Irish Northern Cup through lucky draws against lower league opposition. Onto the second season!

    Has anyone else tried a similar challenge?

  3. #2003

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    Quote Originally Posted by footymanagerfrowen View Post
    I have started the 'journeyman challenge'. The goal: to win every major league in all countries on the game within the same save. (original game)

    I begun at Llanelli in Wales signing just Monti and Sveen on free transfers before dominating the league and winning it with many games to go.

    I instantly applied for jobs across the world on my background leagues and ended up at Crusaders in Northern Ireland. With ten games to go of the opening season of the save I had to battle to save them from relegation and fortuitously won the Irish Northern Cup through lucky draws against lower league opposition. Onto the second season!

    Has anyone else tried a similar challenge?
    Yes, in my story and one offline. Offline did Swedish Second and First, then went to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and then England with Bristol before dominating with Chelsea for a few seasons. Gone to PSV atm, all on .68. Not played much as time allows only story one which I have won a league and cup in Wales, promotion from Spanish Second Division B and now trying to win Second Division with a final push.

  4. #2004

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    Having a decent two-player save with my mate on the March 2019 update.

    He's Napoli, I'm Milan. I ended up finishing 4th in Serie A, he finished 7th and won Coppa Italia. We lost three games due to me kicking the power outlet out of the laptop accidentally, causing it to crash - it mean I lost three wins on a 10-match winning streak, and also a Europa League quarter-final win, which typically I lost on penalties when we replayed the games.

    Over the summer I've splashed the cash to sign De Ligt and Declan Rice - fingers crossed that's the catalyst for a real title tilt this season!

  5. #2005

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    It has been a long time since I updated the status of my game with 16 teams in Northern Ireland are competing in a world where everyone plays the same dull 4-4-2 (even me of course).

    The 38/39 season is now about to start. Did my teams succeded in dominating football in Europe so far ? Here's part of the answer :

    Spoiler!


    Well no, that's not exactly what we could call an achievement, although there are some discreet signs of improvement. Let's see if another indicator could reveal our real ranking :

    Spoiler!


    What a pleasant picture. I can't remember the last time there was not a club representing NI in CL second groups stage and in UEFA quarters the same year. Slowly, we are digging our way up. Very slowly. Against all odds. Last year we sent Loughgall up to CL semis where they conceeded an honorable defeat. This time it was S&L which knocked much bigger opponents until a short 1-2 defeat in the feet of Premier Ligue winner Liverpool.

    So it means that almost every team competing in NI Premiership will defend our colours in an european competition, barring the bottom two. There was even a year where a ninth team was chosen to play in a surprise extra UEFA qualifier. And as a result, yearly boards expectations are now limited to "win the title", or "qualify in Europe", or "battle against relegation", reflecting the status of the ligue :

    Spoiler!


    Sports & Leisure and Loughgall are the big fishes with plenty of money and "fame" (reputation are 4740 and 4943 respectively)...

    Spoiler!


    Loughgall almost doubled their stadium capacity, adding 5000 places to their complex. Impressive.

    Distillery and Glenavon are usually completing the podium, with quality and stability in their finances and players. Carrick are relatively newcomers with a lot of potential due to their usual affluence. Ballyclare are following and strenghtening after having been bailed out by a new chairman who rose to power with a very appreciable jackpot. The same scenario happened to Armagh, a club which is coming back in NIPS this season, after filling their ranks with able players. Bangor, Limavady and Donegal will struggle to secure the seventh and last secure slot, having no funds and relying only on luck and good deals. It could have been ever harder if Warrenpoint didn't go mad after their first CL participation and fell in the second tier.

    Managers reputations are somewhat interesting...

    Spoiler!


    ... as it shows reputation can grow relatively high without winning any major trophy (no, winning the NIPS is not yet considered as a major fact). For the clubs themselves, playing in CL is an extraordinary reputation boost, but missing board expectations can lower it noticeably. For example, Loughgall reputation one year before was 5205 ; they did participate in CL second groups stage this season and did rather good, but finished third in NIPS instead of topping it, losing some hundred of reputation points in the process.

    With all those games played in great stadia...

    Spoiler!


    ... well, obviously not ours (even with this truly wonderful 30 seated terrace).

    Ahem. With all thoses games played in great stadia, varied money prizes from our good results, and cheap costs to run our team (qualifying to CL first groups stage is more than enough for us to start bathing in gold, so imagine doing it every year), we now have way enough funds to engage in active intra-league transferts (those players are not fools and are demanding release fees almost every time)...

    Spoiler!


    ... as well as raising our players values and wages possibilities up to levels never reached before :

    Spoiler!


    With skilled timing and acute contract management we were able to settle some sort of global enhancement program. Imagine how many good players could be spotted by all those scouts prospecting around the world, all those potential stars tracked and introduced to the league, all those non-UE leaking into our ranks (thank to the "contract around the transfert window date" bug) and raised through different NI teams until they are granted a second nationality here. Surveying my dual nationalities regens, I'm now waiting when the current NI manager will be sacked to take over the national team and make those players play in, hoping to shift their first and second nationality to see with which one they will regen (i could cheat a little more here, but don't want to risk to ruin the save with editing)

    So, we haven't reached our limits yet, meaning that our future is bright, or at least somewhat properly lighted by now. NI teams are fearless and more than ready to kick some balls with the big boys out there for years to come, especially in our opponents goals.

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  7. #2006

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    Started a game with Coventry a few days ago. Finished 3rd in FL1, played Barnsley in the playoff final. Was 2-0 up at half time, 2-2 full time, 4-4 after extra time (after being 4-2 up!!) and finally clinched promotion on penalties.

    Nerve-wrecking stuff!

  8. #2007

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    Returned to this wonderful game after burning out on some truly awful free2play games...

    Just finished stripping down Preston to begin rebuilding her into a juggernaught.

    Limitation will be that I have to use my own tactics (no wib wob) throughout...and transfers will be limited to two in every six months, unless I dont have 22 players.

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  10. #2008

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian MacNab View Post
    Returned to this wonderful game after burning out on some truly awful free2play games...

    Just finished stripping down Preston to begin rebuilding her into a juggernaught.

    Limitation will be that I have to use my own tactics (no wib wob) throughout...and transfers will be limited to two in every six months, unless I dont have 22 players.
    Welcome home Bud!

    Goodluck with the rebuild!

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    AJ

  12. #2009

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vèrkûh View Post
    The Porridge Flo is trying to show that money can buy happiness after all. You're doing a great job there, gaffer!!!
    Haha, thank you! Hopefully money can buy a title soon, also!


    ...........


    2027/2028: Blyth Spartans in the Premier League


    After last seasons tremendous success you would think a Premiership runner-up is capable of holding on to its dearest assets. But Blyth is a little bit different in that regard. After all, we remain a comparatively small football club, with a 15.000 capacity stadium, crappy training facilities and zero infrastructure to develop talent on our own.

    When crunch time approached a few months ago to talk about contract extensions some players clearly didn't see the potential here; how wrong they were. The majority of those that turned my fair offers down may now be more than happy to sign and stay with us - but it was was their decision to chase the money somewhere else.


    So Salas Cannonier leaves the Spartans for a second time. A crying shame because he's been outstanding over the last two seasons. He moves to Wigan, so does Brem Soumaoro - one I also didn't want to lose. Brem turned out a proper bargain, has done sensationally well as the destroyer in defensive midfield the last two years. Journeymen on the road again, unfortunatly.

    Polish defender Patryk Miller has progressed nicely over the last few seasons too, but he moves on to Birgmingham; with him leaving are Ekkelenkamp, Danny Mühl and also Blyth's first "big money transfer" Myziane Maolida - all off the freshly relegated Blues.

    The personal issues the French forward has had the last twelve months are well documented. Nonetheless, he remained, once his head was straight again, a solid attacking option for us, albeit only from the bench. On the other hand he never captured his strong maiden season form back again, when he netted 12 goals. Only six goals and a handful of assists the last two seasons isn't enough for me to warrant a big pay rise which would have been required to keep Maolida at the club.

    Leaving us is Maolida's partner in crime as well - at least in that first Premier League season Andrea Pinamonti and Maolida formed an excellent duo. His signing was a major coup back then, bringing the striker from Inter Milan over to the the small town of Blyth. He delivered certainly the first year, was solid the second season, but decided long ago he would want to move on beyond this season, not willing to negotiate a new agreement at all. He had ample rivals to fight for a spot in the team anyway. He'll write his next chapter at Stoke.


    It's a rather shot lived chapter for Blyth Spartans record signing Karl Doherty too. After one so-so year the €45 million man leaves. Leicester City triggers the €31.5 million release clause. Am I bitter? Not the least. I was the one who put him up for sale, in fact. We were close to see some expensive clauses for number of games in league and national team getting triggered and now selling - even with an overall loss, makes sense.

    calculation I make: yes, the net loss on the transfer is €14 million, but we enjoyed the services of a good Premier League player, who contributed 4 goals and 6 assists, helping us to finish runner-up in the Premier League and securing big profits. That's an overall win, isn't it? And to be honest, Doherty, as talented he is, simply didn't deliver on the pitch the fire works one associated with his price tag and salary.


    So, 11 players out, 15 remain as the players return from their well deserved summer break. The smell of change is in the air. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing. With a bank account exploding with cash readily available to splash, I feel this is the year we gonna go big.



    That means finally improving the infrastructure of the club as well. Despite being told in the past to mind my own business, I firmly believe the place we play our home games is in my f***ing business! Given we're now a Champions League club it simply isn't good enough to play in little Croft Park.

    The board agrees…. Finally! Although, non committal yet. What it means? I don't know because Croft Park still doesn't turn into a construction side anytime soon….









    The squad certainly is a construction side, though. Again the premise is quality over quantity. Bit given we play European football as well this season we need to do some depth strengthening at the same time. Overall I couldn't be happier with the transfer window. Class arrives with experienced attacking midfielder Armin Djerlek from Ajax - he's still a handful of years left in him, so €20 million seem a good deal.

    I'm really excited to bring in highly talented centre back Emanuel Larrea from Segunda Division club Granada. He's one who'll hopefully be a rock for us for many years to come. Another central defender arrives with solid Patrick Fritsch. We may overpay slightly, given he may only the #3 at the beginning of the season with behind captain Bakker and Larrea; but it's gonna be a long season with many games. Scottish international Anthony Rallston offers versatility. Can play full-back as well as in midfield, he'll be a key player, I feel.


    Young German Michael Graudenz (€ 18 m) is the future in defensive midfield, but may learn for now from experienced Joey Vermann, who's the transfer of the summer, with a €23 million price tag attached. The defensive midfielder should make us instantly better. 25-year-old Alban Lombardo joins from Lyon; an ultra speedy right-back.

    We're really strengthening the defensive part of the squad. Though struggle to add more quality to the attacking side beside Djerlek. Josip Maganjic and Devante Rodney to a lesser extend are solid additions for the forward position, but certainly no stars.

    After all: 14 new faces, €126 million invested. Blyth Spartans are here to challenge!










    Early signs are positive: wins over Arsenal, Man United and Northampton, plus a rather unlucky defeat at West Brom give us a start to dream about.


    Blyth march on - pundits predict success. Not sure if I agree with it yet. We're not firing from all cylinders yet. Although, when do you actually can start to believe to be on to something special? Eleven games in, we go to Tottenham, the early pace setter of this Premier League season...

    Despite decimated to ten men soon after half-time, later to nine men, we take a two goal lead with less than 20 minutes to play….. Until a third red card with 2min to go, when keeper Lombardo has to go as well! Spurs get the goal and press us deep for the remaining minutes…. It's pure luck we do escape with three points eventually. But it's also adversity. It's character. It's party luck, partly skill, partly mental readiness for these big games.



    But it's not all sunshine: we crash out of the Champions League group stage after a last minute defeat in Torino, meaning we finish only 3rd in the group behind Hertha BSC and Torino. At least the third place qualifies us for the next round in the Europa League.

    Unfortunately we're clearly not quite up to the standard required in Europe to make it any further, as even in the Europa League, we crash out. German club Nürnberg is the final destination in this first European campaign of the Blyth Spartans


    Winter always seems a time we struggle. A few draws too many see us turn the year not too far off the leading pack, but Tottenham and West Ham appear stronger at this stage. We struggle with production from midfield. On the other hand teenager Jacques Balbinoet, a cheap €350k signing in the summer, receives high praise from the media as the youngster is putting a string of brilliant performances together in cup and leagues games, making most of squad rotation that is necessary due to the tight schedule with games following in quick succession.







    The board remains coy making more money available. Despite an extremely secure financial situation I'm not allowed to spend big money in the winter transfer window. I'd love to bring in another quality attacking midfielder to ensure we have a proper go in the title race. But with €3.2 million you'll not getting far. Of course the situation around Croft Park remains the same also: a non-committal acceptance that the stadium development needs to be a priority, but no money is invested in increasing the 15.000 seater. Frustrating!



    As January sees all title chances slip away with defeats to Liverpool and Man United, it's time to clear the shelves: Dennis Man is sold for €11 million to Austria Vienna. The midfielder was one of our stars less than half a year ago, with nine league goals ans eight assists. However, age seems to be catching up quickly with him, as this year his performance can only be described as rotten.


    No further additions to the squad are made in winter - we're pretty thin, particularly in the middle of the park. It's a positive that we are already out of all cup competitions - on national and international stage - at this time of the year. Fingers crossed we can avoid major injuries….


    Sometimes it's strange how quickly the breath in the mouth can turn fresh pleasant once the rotten tooth is gone. It feels like Dennis Man was that rotten, stinky thing in our football club that dragged everyone down. Man is gone and bang, the mood lifts, everyone plays better. Maybe it's also simply the fact that days get milder and longer…..



    Certainly with spring in the step we finish the season in incredible form: after falling as far as sixth place, we really thunder home like Frankel did when demolishing his opposition in the Queen Anne nearly two decades ago! Even a month long injury of Bradley Hanson, who finishes the season on 19 goals, doesn't slow vibrant Spartans down. Veteran striker Josip Maganjic steps up his game instead, and bangs in the goals for fun!


    Eight consecutive wins, 20-8 goals… this is how we finish the season! And secure what didn't look likely for an awful long time: another runner-up finish in the Premier League, merely 2 points behind the new champions West Ham!


    We are improving on all accounts compared to last season - which was already a pretty good one. Given all the difficulties we experienced in the middle of this campaign, finishing 2nd is an amazing achievement.









    The good: €20 million for Armin Djerlek turned out a fine investment. The attacking midfielder scooped 6 MoM awards, scored eight goals and assisted six more. Emanuel Larrea was a rock in the defence. The youngster has been nothing short of sensational and even captained the team toward the end of the season. €800k for Paul Bernardoni and even less than that for teenager Jacques Balbinot were true bargains. Bernadoni established himself as the new number one in goal while Balbinot has received praised beyond Blyth for his talent.


    Not so good: I splashed cash last summer but the returns were not satisfying. €14.5 million for Patrick Fritsch were a waste. The centre-back couldn't break into the team. €23 million for Joey Veerman weren't a smart investment either. The defensive midfielder was solid when he played, but he didn't excite and was only the number three in that position toward the end of the season.



    .........



    2028/2029 - Blyth Spartans in the Premier League



    It is obvious - and I have been banging the drum for a long time on this one - we need a bigger stadium. The board agreed quite some time ago but took a long while to act. Only baby steps, 1.500 new seats installed at Croft Park is better than nothing, makes it a 16.500 all seater now.


    It's also obvious the squad needs strengthening. Some of the older players are sharing this sentiment in rather vocal terms as well. While we've done tremendously well the last two seasons, we may have outran the odds. In order to become truly a title contender there is more quality required.


    Forward Mitchell van Bergen is the first arrival. A €15 million signing from Lyon, the 28-year-old has incredible skills when on the ball. Mehdi David joins from Amiens for €17.25 million - a 21-year-old forward who scored 41 goals in the last three Ligue 1 seasons! From French second tier club Rennes Portuguese forward Filipe Carvalho joins for €24 million. His 38 goal spree last season made him an attractive proposition for a number of top clubs, but on deadline day Carvalho finally made the decision to join Blyth!


    But the highlight singing this summer is getting the transfer of defensive monster Dario Maresic done. I was keen on the Austrian for a long time but only now we could splash €42 million on him while German Bundesliga side Nürnberg was also prepared to sell him, with Maresic himself also quite keen to join us.He can play center back or defensive midfielder.










    Despite massive investments the gains on the pitch are small. In fact, it seems the added theoretical quality of star players creates friction in the squad, given only so many can play. I struggle to keep the team happy, but also find it impossible to create a working tactical formation early in the season.

    Out struggles are manifested in a number of games were we can't find the net - regardless of national competition or in the Champions League. In particular those players brought in with the clear hope they would help us to be more potent up front, having added depth there, are failing to have an impact. Whether it is their general youth, new language and league or club and team mates to get used to, things don't click one bit.

    Discipline suffers. On and off the pitch. An away game at Watford with three sending offs is the "cherry on the cake". Despite all this, we labour on, make it through to the second phase in the Champions League and continue to knock around the top six in the Premier League. Although, performances are poor, a title challenge a tale from the past by Christmas and I'm rather clueless how to steer the car back to the right side of the road.



    After tinkering with different tactics - with varying success - throughout the winter, the underperforming team needs a clear structure. I settle on a new system with two strikers for the first time during my decade long tenure in Blyth, while pushing up the full-backs. Success is instant:we're now creating more danger from the outside while the players love the aggressive style and respond with fireworks on the pitch.



    We march through to the 1/4 of the Champions League, trashing Real Madrid in our group, beat lonely leader of the Premier League title race Man United convincingly and also go through to the League Cup final, which results in the worst performance in weeks - yet enough to beat Watford by a goal to nil to land the very first proper silverware in the history of Blyth Football Club!







    One young man who clearly thrives in the new system is attacking midfielder Kevin de Haan. A low-key signing for €325k, the 19-year-old was thought to be a long-term prospect. But like a flower he starts to blossom in spring, whenever having an opportunity to play he scores or assists a goal. We may have a potential superstar on our hands here?



    Two Carvalho goals in home- and away leg against German champions Hertha BSC are enough to see us through to the Champions League semi-final…. Where we meet fellow Deutschländer Schalke 04, currently sitting comfortably at the top of the table of the Bundesliga! With the focus on those big European nights, the national competition takes a backseat. While we continue to perform much better in the new system than in the first half of the season, scoring goals remains an issue - a series of unbeaten games is positive, though I play only a "B-team" on Saturdays, and as a result qualification for the Champions League is in danger. All the while Man United wraps up the title with five games to go!


    But the Champions League…. A Domingos Quina show in the "Arena auf Schalke" gives us a two goal advantage over the German giants going into the second leg, in front of a boisterous capacity crowd at little Croft Park… 16.500 here, the smallest crowd for a Champions League semi-final ever? Whatever, it's the biggest night this football club has ever seen. It's not a pretty game of football. Hard work. Brutal tackling from Nelsson, Larrea & Co. Smash up the pretty legs of Schalke's star ensemble. Only a single shot on goal the whole 90 minutes for the "Knappen"…. We bring the baby home alright! Blyth Spartans in the Champions League final 2028/29!!!




    But before the season needs to be finished…. With three away games on the bounce! Two wins and a draw is enough to finish in 3rd place eventually. A fair achievement after the early season troubles. However, no doubt, our inability to put games to bed has hampered the season. Only 49 goals isn't good enough for a title contender. On the other hand conceding only 22 clearly shows where our strong point lies. Something to address for the future….












    But now it's all about the most important game this small football club has ever seen - from the sixth tier of the English pyramid all the way to the Champions League final - where Blyth Spartans will have to deal with the monster that is Real Madrid!


    We met them before - in the second group phase earlier this year. In two games we got the better of them, 2-1 and 3-1 it was only a few months back. Since then Real has wrapped up the Spanish La Liga title in emphatic fashion.


    This years Champions League final takes place in Vienna, the legendary Ernst-Happel Stadion. You can be sure the whole of Blyth and beyond fill the place, painting it green and white…. Let's fight like Spartans tonight!


    A first half full of nervousness, Real with more of the ball. The favourite scores after half an hour from a set-piece. We had little opportunities to score ourselves. A pep talk at half-time, wakes up the eleven men in green and white. Domingos Quina hammers one home for the equalizer a shot from 20 yards out! It's the call to action we needed, now with spring in the step rolling attack after attack….


    Real flat footed, but we're unable to capitalize; a final chance from a free header inside the box for van Bergen, wasted. Extra-time!



    Both teams are tiered. Only one team, though, even attempts to score. And that's not Madrid. They seem to waste time at every opportunity, clearly banking on their qualities in the lottery that is the penalty shootout. And so it comes…. One all after 120 minutes. A completely new situation for us.




    Graudanz misses the first, Djerelk the second…. Real keeper Sergio Bravo has the day of his life. Quina scores the third, but at this point Madrid has given Loui Pollock not even the slightest chance of saving one for us…. As the fourth penalty hits the net, Pollock down on the opposite side of the goal - it's over. Real Madrid's crowing their season.










    For Blyth Spartans it's a day to remember. Although one where we'll remember what could have been. If we would have played right from the beginning as we did in the second half? If we would have taken only one of the man chances we created then. Would, could, should…. That's not how you win the big games in football. We learn, move on and hopefully have a taste for the games we want to play a part in on a regular basis in the future.

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  14. #2010

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    Hello guys! My first time hopping on this section of the site. Won't be as thorough as some of the other members on here but wanted to document my quest for glory in Swdeen. I am currently in the year 2044 and after having great success with Sheff wed, Ipswich, Aston Villa and Tranmere (winning the league several times, FA Cups, League Cups and European success. Decided to take a move away from the big leagues and ended up being offered the manager job at Swedish 2nd division club IFK Karlshamn. A club that has a home ground of just 1500 and no money. Took over in the off-season and have been given the ominous task of trying to balance the books (250k in debt) as well attract quality players to what is a dull outfit void of any real quality.
    Will be a tiugh task to try and get them promoted (the 2nd division is tough with it separated into 6 groups and then the winners of each group fighting it out over playoffs to see who is promoted). However I am loving it and it's a real challenge. Reckon anyone that is a keen CM fan to give it a go and see if you can find any success.
    Currently procrastinating at my job but will post screenshots later!

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  16. #2011

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    2029/2030: Blyth Spartans in the Premier League

    The last three seasons were a success. Undoubtedly. Twice a runner-up in the Premier League. A Champions League final appearance plus the small matter of a League Cup trophy - the first trophy for the football club ever! Yet, the overarching feelings persist: I didn't quite find the key to get the best out of this expensive squad - or possibly not all the big money transfers delivered the goods as hoped they would. That comes down to the manager as well, after all.


    So it's time for change. Significant change. Not a complete new beginning but certainly an overhaul of a squad that hasn't changed an awful lot over the last 24 months.


    Forward Mitchell van Bergen leaves for €36 million. He's off to Dijon in the Ligue 1. It's an offer too good to refuse for the 29-year-old striker. Dijon will pay €36 million over 24 months - this agreement will pay high interest given the once off fee was €24 million. Van Bergen was one of those prominent signings last season who has not fulfilled the high expectations - 5 goals, 4 assists - not good enough.

    Anthony Ralston goes back to his native America for €11.5 million. Jacques Ballbinot, never happy in England lately - despite all the early promise in his first year - leaves for €10 million. Patrick Fritsch moves on for €5.5 million. The defender never found a spot in the team, despite a high price tag two years ago.



    This is most certainly the end of era: Andy Howe and Danny Howe say good bye. I can't justify an extension of their contracts. They are the last remaining pieces of the historic march from the dark days of sixth division football all the way near to the top of Europe. Howe in particular, now 33-years-old, captained this football club in more than 220 games! What else could he do in his career…. He decides to retire as soon as it becomes clear there is no future for the club legend. Farewell you heroes of Blyth Football Club.


    One we don't want to lose: Domingos Quina. The playmaker has been nothing short of sensational ever since arriving at Croft Park four years ago. The Supporters Player of the Year for the last two seasons also, he's the coaches and fans favourite alike. He was the one who kept us alive in the Champions League final with his stunner from 20 yards out. Yet Quina feels it's time for change. For him personally, though. A man who has done so much for the club, who am I to begrudge him looking for a new challenge, now as a 29-year-old?


    For €50 million I let him go - Quina is off to the Canary Islands, to UD Las Palmas. A blow for our ambitions, surely? Well, it's handy Tottenham star Phil Foden is put up for sale that at the same time: Spurs and Foden can't come to an agreement on a new contract. With the Quina money in the bank I happily chip in, and days later the captain of the English national team is greeted by thousands of Spartans fans at our small training ground. A €62 million transfer - an absolute record for Blyth! The board expects we do well in the Premier League and go far in the Champions League this season - so we need to upgrade.


    It's a tough bargaining with Europe's elite clubs for players. It takes until deadline day to get a bunch of crucial transfers over the line. With merely a week to go before the shutting of the window the "ins" looked rather bleak; thankfully late business means Blyth Spartans will have their best ever squad fighting for points and trophies in 2029/2030!


    While Foden is the highlight of this transfer period, the signings of experienced keeper Justin Bijlow, rock-solid defender Dayot Upamecano, highly talented left-back Damien Solet and German forward Maurizio Wähling feel like superb business, indeed. I also hope to have found a little jewel in 16-year-old Danish teenager Rasmus Christensen. An attacking midfielder, unlikely to be ready right now, however he's one who has the potential to become a star of the future with proper nurturing.











    A 4 and 1 start is excellent. Although first defeat against West Ham, throwing a two nil lead away blights those first weeks of the new season.


    One who struggles early on is Justin Bijlow - the keeper, an expensive signing, can't keep the ball out of the net and also gets a red card in a home game against Wigan, where thankfully the rest of the team holds firm, bailing the Dutchman out.



    Injuries start to pile up, so do red cards…. Our good start is suddenly forgotten. After two handful of league games the title seems to slip away; in Europe we crash out on the final day of the first group stage: a 0-3 defeat at Fiorentina means we're out and only finish 3rd.



    The downward trend can be stopped with a somewhat less attacking minded tactic, which sees us become dull and boring to watch but at least capturing well needed points. The year turns 2030 and we're in third, 10pts off pace setter Chelsea. This is also a time of further change: after many years as a true Spartans, Justin Bakker, Victor Nelsson and Sherel Floranus leave the club. I didn't push them out - it was their choice to seek a new challenge, as their respective careers are nearing the end anyway, hence their time as automatic starters in my XI were long gone.




    On the other hand we bring in fresh blood: I was mad keen on Chelsea teenager Josh Chambers. He showed plenty of promise but didn't quite break through in Chelsea's star studded squad. He'll get this opportunity in Blyth, costing us €22 million. Versatile full-back Alin Oltean joins from Steaua Bucharest, experienced playmaker Johan Hove comes from Portuguese side Guimaraes, where he was never happy. Veteran defender Lars Lukas Mai is a cheap addition from HSV II.








    We feel suddenly much fresher in the transition of winter to spring. We play an attractive brand of football, advance in all cup competitions and climb to second in the league. One who's receiving praise all around is youngster Kevin de Haan, who joined two years ago as a teenager for merely €325k. He showed promise last season, but particularly impressed in Europe this season; now making his mark in the Premier League also. He's been on a cheap contract so far and I'm baking on further progress, so sign him through to 2038 which will make young de Haan a well paid professional now.








    Strong form in league an cup competitions continues through spring: we advance to the FA Cup semi-finals, the Europa League semis and make for the second year in a row to Wembleyn for the League Cup final. Unlike twelve months ago, luck isn't on our side; in fact after a brilliant game of football over 12 minutes, Chelsea takes the cup home after penalties. A second Cup final in London won't happen either - a 0-1 defeat vs. Liverpool leaves those dreams stranded on the penultimate hurdle.







    An emphatic 5-1 aggregate win over Dutch side NEC catapults us into a second successive European Cup final - not quite the big one we would have hoped but every European Cup final feels like a special game, particularly for a small club as Blyth Spartans is.



    Between us and a place in history stands Serie A second Udinese Calcio. No easy task! With the league done and dusted for us, securing another podium finish, we are flying high on arrival to the Danish capital of Copenhagen, where Parken Stadium is hosting the final. With little injury worries to content with, all our main guys are playing in the now infamous 4-1-1-2-2 system that turned the fortunes in the second half of this season. Udinese tries to counteract with a flat 4-3-3….. Big mistake!




    The Italians have plenty of the ball but hardly find a way through - they have no shots on goal in the first half, whereas we beat them with their what one would perceive as their very own natural weapon: on the counter with quick vertical passing utilizing the pace we have up front. Chambers and Carvalho running riot - we're 2-0 up at half-time! After 61 minutes it's game over, as young striker Chambers runs away from the slow Udinese defenders and nets a third goal!




    A first European trophy: Europa League champions 2029/230: Blyth Spartans! We came so agonizingly close in last years Champions League final - twelve months later a major trophy is ours!








    On the other hand we miss out on any domestic trophy. EFL final, FA Cup semi-final and runner-up in the Premier League once more. But if I feel like never before we're on the right path! 82 points is a record for us, so is 73 goals and the fact we are unbeaten in the last 17 league games. I'll also take personal accolades: manager of the year, beating Chelsea manager Fernando Hierro, who finishes only runner-up despite bringing a Premier League title home to Stamford Bridge for the first time in over a decade!









    Most transfers hit home this year. Phil Foden's €62 million turned out a fine investment. He captained the club to its first major trophy. Though Damien Solet clearly provided the highest ROI. The full-back is still only 20-year-young but already one of the best left-backs in the world. Keeper Justin Bijlow had his problems early on but stabilized and has been outstanding the second half of the season. Upamecando was a rock beside Larea in defence. Young Chambers who joined from Chelsea mid-season for big money proved he has the potential to a superstar. He isn't quite there yet, still not consistent enough - but that's okay. The lad is 18.



    The team and tactic of the 29/30 season:


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  18. #2012

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    2030/2031: Blyth Spartans in the Premier League


    How to you progress your football club coming right out of the most successful season it ever enjoyed? Certainly not selling your most important assets: your captain and co-captain. Or do you?


    Well, Arsenal makes a shameful €42 million offer for Phil Foden - our captain. West Ham follows on with a €60 million offer. I make it clear to them: we have no need to sell my #1 on the team sheet. Yes, he recently turned 30, but he's still got two full seasons in his legs at the very least, I feel. He is an integral part of a system that works. We want to win titles. Now. For that we need superstars. Foden is a star.



    Croft Park finally gets another extension: 1500 additional seats aren't anything to shout about But every little helps, so to speak. Shareholders are happy about a €23 million payout. Still enough money around to go shopping. Although not in Lidl this summer. We go to the designer boutique!



    But not before a bombshell: football is a fickle game, one were things can change from one minute to the other: Foden is gone! Behind the back of the club he continued to speak to Arsenal, his agent leaked it to the press. Arsenal came in with a renewed offer - half the team is pissed, nobody is looking at Phil the next morning in training. I don't see another option than letting him go under these circumstances. For the sanity of the squad. so Foden is off, although not to Arsenal. Obviously I reject their offer, because Spanish side Betis sends in a €62 million offer out of the blue - bye bye Phil Foden, enjoy the sun in Andalusia!


    The next shock follows: Dario Maresic sold to Chelsea! The co-captain gone too: €59 million were too good to turn down. Are we prioritizing the money (that later is going to be paid out toe the shareholders of the club) over success on the pitch? Possibly, at least this sale is one that may sacrifice the here and now for the long term success of the football club. Maresic is world class in his role as defensive midfielder and has been nothing but brilliant since his €42 million signing two seasons back. But he's turning 31 in two months time. Realistically this is the last chance to cash in on him. Plus his successor has just arrived.....


    For one there is Michael Graudanz, now 24-years-old, this will be his fourth season. It's his time to step up. Plus over the summer we signed a highly talented defensive midfielder from Sporting: Paulo Jorge Camara, boyish 19 years of age - he's got a bright future. So with these two, plus a still young but already experienced Grodin as well as veteran Lars Lukas Mai, we have plenty of solid alternatives in hand.

    Chelsea clearly fears the Spartans, they attempt to raid us this summer: Emanuel Larrea is the another one moving over to London. The centre-back leaves for €21 million. It's one that hurts. I love this kid. I put trust him years ago, made him what he is now - but ever since the coaches provided the unanimous feedback they believe Ema has issues to withstand the pressure and rigours of playing for a top club I've been suspect of him.

    Chelsea will spend nearly four hundred million €uro in the transfer market over the summer in the end; including a world record €253 million transfer for Leicester forward Yves Rodrigues!



    We have to act: if you lose your stars you better bring in sufficient replacements: beside the signing of young Camara, we land a major coup in bringing 22-year-old attacking midfielder Philip Stieler from German Bundesliga side Nürnberg to Blyth: a €55 million signing - he's the direct successor for Foden. Although, despite the price tag his place is not secure, competition is fierce, given super talent de Hahn is knocking on the door to become a constant piece of the starting XI also.

    I bring in two new central defenders for €25- and €27 million respectively, with experienced Berlanga and mid-twenties Paviglianiti offering new strengths in depth in that position. The battle for the #1 spot in goal will be fierce: I couldn't let the opportunity pass to bring in Hungary internal Zsolt Fürjes. I regard it as a good problem having to decide between a €21 million and €17.5 million man - in fact I imagine one will play all the Cup games, domestically as well as on international stage, the other does the league games.


    The signature of €26 million playmaker Dieter Cuawenberg, a 23 year-old Belgian, wraps up a busy transfer period that resulted in another summer of major changes. Overall we're younger, fresher and even though having lost key pillars of last seasons team, we may well be a lot stronger overall, I feel, with those new faces. This is a squad with the right balance of youngsters, then those in the middle finally arriving in their prime years, plus some experienced veterans.













    The season starts as good as it gets. A couple of decisive wins early on the board, plus the small matter of a UEFA Super Cup trophy, where we beat reigning Champions League champ Bayern München - in fact we totally own the stars of "FC Hollywood" (as they're usually referred to in German media). Early form is strong, but it's a long season. Can we sustain?











    Only a single defeat at West Ham after twelve league games is surely a positive sign. Although, despite Chelsea already having suffered two losses, the blues cling to the top because we struggle sometimes to put games to bed walk away with one one instead of all three points. Following on from the Hammers defeat the ease of the early weeks is suddenly gone.

    This seems to be a recurring theme: each season at this exact stage we seem to struggle and lose vital ground while finishing strongly in the later part of the season: like a race horse that's trailing the field and is unleashing a devastating kick a furlong too late to peg back the leader of the race.



    Somehow we muddle our way through to the next stage of the Champions League. In the league we stay in touch with the leading pack of familiar faces Chelsea and West Ham.

    But while they have to play out December in cold England we have the chance to contest the FIFA Club World Cup in sunny Portugal. Unbeaten in our group, we beat Newell's Boys from Argentina in the 1/4 final and survive a penalty lottery in the semi-final against Atletico Minero.


    No issues in the final itself: LA Galaxy is merely an unwilling sparing partner in a game that can hardly be called a "Club World Cup Final". It's 3-0 at half-time. Two more in second half make it an easy victory. I think this is a competition nobody needs. But we surely take it as it enhances the reputation of Blyth Football Club, which hopefully makes us an attractive destination for more star names in the future.











    Only days later we ran riot at Stamford Bridge…. Unfortunately a grotesque inability to bury at least one of countless high danger chances means a single shot from Chelsea on goal is enough to result in a one goal defeat. Hard to swallow. It's up and down from there on. Emphatic victories, followed by disappointing results against the last and second last. Chelsea isn't exactly setting the world alight either, but neither us nor West Ham can seize the opportunity provided to grab the lead in the Premier League.


    On the other hand, the psychological advantage is ours in so far as we have plenty of games in hand to pass the teams ahead of us due to the Club World Cup. Despite investing heavily, Chelsea's squad of veteran superstars struggles to maintain form as well. Victories over Man City, Liverpool, Huddersfield and Southampton sees us moving up the ladder in January.



    I start to find "my team". Finally a bit of consistency. Tactically and on the team sheet. That is crucial and helps so we're holding our form, win games - often thanks to the brilliance of striker Carvalho, who in his third season in England has become a superstar that even almighty Real Madrid have an eye on the Portuguese. We're not selling. Of course.


    Our brand of football isn't sexy. Much more business like. It's what ensures we gather points. Like a hamster getting ready for winter. Chelsea and co. are struggling. There's no club overpowering the rest this season - unlike in years gone by when Chelsea or Man United were pulverizing nearly everything coming in their way. We've caught up with the leaders, in fact have taken over the lead in the Premier League. One pundit describes us it as follows: Blyth Spartans: they are what the the one-eyed man is in the land of the blind: the king". Possibly not too far of the truth. I wouldn't mind if we're king of English football by the end of the season - one eye or not.



    There is progress in Europe: off to the quarter final in the Champions League, where we meet Schalke 04 once more. A déjà vu: two years ago it was the very same scenario. And there are the domestic cup competitions: While we're gone in the 3rd round of the EFL Cup, another semi-final date awaits in the FA Cup. Last season we couldn't make it to London in the big one. Better luck this time? Yes! A Josh Chambers goal against West Ham is enough to see us through to Wembley.



    Arsenal is standing in the way of our first proper domestic trophy. Yes, we won the EFL Cup two years ago. But in seriousness, who gives a damn about that thing? Only those who win anything big. So us - at that time. Not any more. We want the "proper thing". Arsenal isn't old force any more. They're a mid-table team. Lost their way, lost their soul. They are even more bland and boring than they were in the latter years of the Wenger era. Julen Lopetegui is there since 2024. The closest they came to winning anything was an EFL final some years ago. And this FA Cup final now.



    No hope for them on this afternoon, though. We're rolling over them. 3-1 in the end. A lot tighter than the actual game was. We celebrate the first FA Cup of Blyth Spartans history.... only for a few moments. There is unfinished business to be taken care of.










    Weeks of truth: ten games to go in the Premier League. We kick proceedings off with a dramatic comeback win at Huddersfield. Once more Filipe Cravalho bails us out with two goals. Two home wins later the feelings starts to slowly sink in: Blyth Spartans have one and a half hand on the almighty Premier League trophy! Merely six games left, twelve points ahead…..




    The occasion could not be a better fit for winning the title we dreamed of for so long: match day 35, the reigning champions Chelsea, currently chasing us in second, visiting sold out Croft Park. A couple of former Spartans wearing blue today - but it's the new heroes that have their day to shine . Play maker Dieter Cauwenberg hammers home the winning goal with the final kick of the game!!!










    As focus lies elsewhere we lose the last two home games of the season and finish on 81 points - that's a point less than last year when we finished runner-up 7 points adrift of Chelsea. That shows that probably we were the most consistent team this season but certainly aren't an outstanding champion..... In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.












    The treble is possible but looks unlikely after a 4-2 defeat away to Schalke in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final. I change to a 4-3-3 system for the second leg….. In a dramatic game a 90th minute header by right back Grondin ends up in the net for our third goal - 3-0! Through to the next round!!!




    Another German side awaits in the semi-final: Hannover 96. Both legs are disrupted by red cards - for the Germans. It makes our job much easier and we move right into a third successive European Cup final! However miss out on a re-match with Real Madrid as Monaco gets the better of the Spanish champs. It's kinda sad because I would have wanted nothing less but having the opportunity to beat Real this time!




    As Monaco is a formidable opponent, regardless. Freshly crowned French champion, full of experienced internationals. Although, secretly I fancy us to beat this lot.


    Without injury worries I can bring the "A-team" on to the pitch of the Stade de France. "Home advantage" for Monaco? If there'd be any one wouldn't know, judged by the green and white tsunami that's rolling over them. Carvalho scores from a counter after only ten minutes…. Only for the offside flag to rule the goal out. We don't allow Monaco a single shot on goal in the first half. It will only become two more over the full distance of the game….


    But this a tight contest. If any chances to score it's us. Yet we can't find the net. Once more extra-time has to decide. Another goal is ruled out for offside…. When we already celebrated like winning. What an anti-climax. This is déjà vu - penalty shootout, just like two years ago in the final against Real Madrid.




    The first three all score for both teams. Then, young Paulo Jorge Camara steps up…. And misses the goal to the left side!

    Right here right now would be the best possible moment for Zsolt Fürjes to show why we paid big bucks for him…… and he does! In fact he saves the next Monaco penalty as well!



    This gives Damien Solet the chance of a lifetime. An awful lot of pressure for a 21-year-old. But I trusted him to take this fifth spot kick for a reason. The left-back has nerves of steel….. Hammers the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal!!!











    The treble completed!!! In fact if counting European Super Cup and Club World Cup…. Unimaginable! One of these titles would have been excellent before the start of the season. Although the focus was quite clearly on getting over the line in the Premier League. In truth, we invested heavily in new legs, which we had to after losing key players over the summer. Judged purely by league performance we were as good this season as the one before. But the true strengths of this squad showed in the fact we could dance on so many parties at the same time.





    14 years in charge of Blyth Spartans. Trusted with the job in the National League North - a football club in debt, with a squad likely fighting relegation. We managed to stay in the league in that crucial first season. Kicked on from there, with an extended stop in the National League. Won a League One title, but had to go through the agonizing experience of a Play-Off final in Wembley Stadium in order to make it to the Premier League. Seven years of top flight football. Three runner-up efforts, a third place. An EFL Cup win. A Europa League win. A Champions League final appearance lost after penalties and a Champions League win after penalties. It's been some ride!








    Tactics this season: 4-1-2-2 the standard tactic. Key player the man in the middle of the park. 4-3-3 on few occasions, like the semi-final with Schalke or when goals where needed late in a game.



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  20. #2013

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    19/20 update - won PL with Newcastle on first attempt!

    (I realise people on here win stuff all the time, but I rarely win the PL so this was huge!)

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