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Thread: Home is where the Hearts is

  1. #51
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    The question is whether to search for an AMR and MC and stay as we are, or go to try and sign a couple of MCs and switch to two up front.

    I think Doni and Kluivert will retire this summer.

  2. #52
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    I think 2 up top - you have quality there but sounds like not using them

    Very dissaponting season - 20 points + off the league is a shocker

    Unlucky in CL (what a result v madrid) but to lose to Grashop[per then Brindby knock you out doesn't show much backbone

    Average age of first XI/squad?

  3. #53
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    Season 14: Bouncing back

    Last season was nothing short of a disgrace. After building to where we had been, to finish 4th in such limp circumstances off the back of a title/UEFA Cup double was disappointing.

    I am very much a manager who likes to keep a settled team, and maybe I carried too many players I didn’t need last season.

    With very little budget available, in fact we were slightly in the red, we needed to try and reduce our overheads.

    Added was young defender Bruno Albertini (210k) and Nigerian left-back Joseph Eyimofe (Free).

    I moved on Kieran Richardson (2.1m) for a tidy sum, having made the decision to return to the 4-1-3-2 formation that had served me well.

    Retirements were common in the summer. Club legend Cristiano Doni hung up his boots at 41, and he was joined by Freddie Ljungberg, who had become bit-part over the past few years. Patrick Kluivert also hung up his boots, meaning a big saving on wages but also making my first team squad a lot tighter.







    This is how we started against Aberdeen, a 5-1 win:



    We certainly bounced back. After two wins and a draw to start, we then won eight on the bounce without conceding a goal.



    It wasn’t until the 14th game of the season that we lost, to surprise pacesetters Kilmarnock.



    By Christmas, we were setting quite a stunning pace.

    My biggest faux pas of the whole save came in December, when I lost first choice right back Daniel Backhaus to Chelsea for 1.8m due to the unprotected contract rule.

    Unfortunately, we were knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Parma.

    We suffered a shock defeat in the League Cup to D1 Berwick, which was a huge disappointment.



    But in the end, we won the SPL at a canter. Securing the title with five games to play.



    And we capped the season off with a League and Cup double, defeating Celtic 1-0 in the final.





    So a second league title in third years, or a third in six years.

    And probably the sort of title win we should have been commanding for many years by now.

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  5. #54
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    Great stuff on the league - what changed this year that contributed to that?

    What happened to Kilmarknock?!

    We need a decent stab at Europe now - still not sure you have the squad to comete on all fronts

    3 big retirements last year as well - iwl go down in Hearts folklore!

  6. #55
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    I returned to 4-1-3-2, two strikers. And a settled team. I think I played virtually the same starting 11 for the first 25 games.

    It's finding the balance between having a tight squad, and not having a load of Unh players moaning at squad depth!

    This is now my longest ever save. I'm starting to get a bit wary of what happens next, in terms of targeting younger players and building for the future.

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  8. #56
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    Season 15: Luck of the draw

    After last season’s dominant title win, it was important to follow that up.

    Realistically, if we are to become a European force, we need to be making light work of the SPL.

    There were a couple of surprise departures, most notably Steven Reid’s decision to retire at the age of just 33.

    Back-up goalkeeper Thomas Sorenson also hung up his boots, while we lost youngster Dale Buxton to Man City for a measly 350k on the unprotected contract rule.

    Defender John Kennedy left too, while the decision was made to raise funds by selling Adam Rundle (1m) to Everton and then released Michael Reid.

    In came Juan Blanco (Bosman) while my most intriguing summer signing was Federico Marongiu (675k) from Kilmarnock. Followers of the story may remember I signed Marongiu initially five or six seasons ago for 200k having earmarked him as the long-term replacement for Harpal Singh. I then went on to sell him to Kilmarnock two seasons later for Ł4.2m, where he has done fairly well. I partly went for him to ensure Rangers didn’t get him, but I thought at the price he was available he could do a job.



    Having sold Rundle to raise funds, I was able to sign English midfielder Charley Hearn (Ł2.7m). I’d been tracking Hearn for 5/6 years, and had bid up to Ł10m for him in the past. He has been part of a very successful Rotherham team that has made it to the Premier League.

    The season started fairly slowly with a 0-0 at Dundee United and a 0-1 at Raith Rovers, which had me worried that a dominant season was a one-off.

    I was to be proven wrong. After those two games, I then won seven in a row in the league to put me in pole position.



    From August until January, we went 32 games unbeaten.



    That included the Champions League group stage, where we topped a group including Grasshopper, Inter and Dynamo.



    The unbeaten run eventually ended at the hands of Rangers in the Scottish Cup third round.





    But we went unbeaten through a very favourable second group stage in the Champions League, which included Hertha Berlin, Club Brugge and St Gallen.



    By this time, we had the league all but wrapped up, and we ended up being crowned champions with seven games to play, even earlier than last season.

    That saw us through to the quarter-finals for the first time, and we progressed by beating Anderlecht over two legs.

    That left the final four - Hearts, Barcelona, Club Brugge and Galatasaray.

    Clearly my luck was out, as I drew Barcelona.

    A red card for Anton Ferdinand in the first leg, at the Nou Camp, made things difficult but we were fairly pleased with the first leg result.



    But sadly, Barcelona proved too tough a nut to crack, and once they’d got an away goal, three goals was always going to be far too much.



    The dream was over, but clearly significant progress had been made this season.







    Here is the squad list and player stats from this season:



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  10. #57
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    Great win against Real Madrid at home! It sounds like you're a team in transition at the moment. Hopefully you'll find some suitable replacements for Singh and Doni.

  11. #58
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    Pretty solid performances in Scotland you got over there. How is Blanco doing?

  12. #59
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    Blanco has done OK - realistically he's probably only going to get a sustained chance when Henry goes.

    I have got my eye on an unbelievable striker from Italy, who will be a top signing if I can get him.

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  14. #60
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    Brilliant season there with smashing it in the league and a good performance in Europe. Not much to do against Barcelona but huge improvements anyway. Should have rendered some money also?

  15. #61
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    That's much more like it! Stick to the 4-1-3-2 and a settled XI and you can't go wrong Samba's had a blinding season and Singh looks back to his best. What happened to Georcelin?

  16. #62
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    Blanco looks awesome

    How old is Marongiou - seems a snip at the price for what you bought him for vs previously sold?!

    Great stuff in CL groups - had a couple of decent draws

    Helluva effort against barca - kudos for being a SF'ist!

    Question - why is Georceline not getting more game time - 7 goals in 7 starts?!

  17. #63
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    Generated about Ł6m getting to the CL semi-finals, which was a timely boost. We had a transfer kitty upwards of Ł12m for the summer. Wages eat in to it eventually though.

    Georcelin - I just have never fancied him really for whatever reason. Samba and Henry are first choice.

    Marongiu is still in his 20s, think he's 28, so still a few decent seasons out of him. He was a useful addition as I was certainly left thin in midfield at times over the past two seasons.

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  19. #64
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    Somehow I missed Georcelin on the squad screen!

  20. #65
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    Season 16: Searching for the holy grail

    It’s been a while since my last update, so I thought it was worth a recap.

    1x UEFA Cup Winners - 2013
    4x Scottish League Champions - 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016
    2x Scottish Cup Winners - 2005, 2015

    So while it’s been slow going, we’ve certainly started to dominate the SPL in recent seasons.

    Last season, we had a very good season in the league again but bowed out in Champions League semi-finals to Barcelona. So the aim this season was to go one better.

    Recruitment

    What we learned from last season was the need to increase squad depth during the run-in, with so many games popping up.

    Mark Kerr - Kilmarnock - 425k
    Steven Gerrard - Rangers - Bosman
    Willie McKenzie - Rangers - 375k
    Mark Hutcheon - Middlesbrough - 1.1m
    Mickael Montero - Monaco - 1.3m
    Patrick Collet - Rennes - 3.2m
    Marco Cuscito - Venezia - 170k

    Some solid proven signings and also several players looking to the future, in particular the impressive looking Hutcheon who I first came across during my brief stint as England manager.

    Season Start

    This was how we lined up for the first game of the season, a 4-3 win over Dundee United.



    We started like a train. Winning 6 from 6 in the league. We had our usual wobble once the Champions League started, but after we navigated a few games we found our rhythm again.

    We went through the Champions League group stage unbeaten, and for a while, it looked like we might even be able to go the season unbeaten.





    That was until a surprise defeat to Aberdeen, which ended a run of 20 games unbeaten.

    Frustratingly, a second defeat not long after put paid to our hopes of a first League Cup triumph, as we lost to St Johnstone. This was immediately after back-to-back wins over Liverpool and Celtic, which made it even more frustrating!





    We continued to plough through the league season, barely dropping any points.

    I was able to add a couple of decent signings mid-season too, including Italian striker Daniele Di Lauro who I had been tracking for a few seasons.

    By January, we were 20-6-1 in the league.

    But we wobbled to 20-9-3, as battling on three fronts took its toll.



    So instead of having the league wrapped up early, it had to wait until a 2-1 win at Celtic at the start of the split stage.

    In the meantime, we navigated a tough second CL group and then beat Dortmund in the quarter-finals.





    Club Brugge, Bayern and Barcelona awaited in the semis. And yet again we got Barcelona.

    And yet again, it ended in disappointment.



    We were at least able to make it a double-winning season by winning the Scottish Cup.







    Where this save goes now, who knows. We must continue to dominate domestically while trying to finally add that elusive CL crown.

    Player Stats





    We carried too many players this season I feel, though with a few players like Singh, Gerrard and Henry coming to the end of their days, it would be hasty to get rid of too many before the future is clear.

    A special mention for my own CM legend, Harpal Singh, who managed 16 goals in 36 appearances from MC at the age of 35, including a brace in the Champions League against Valencia. That takes his club tally to 350 goals in 648 appearances.

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  22. #66
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    Cracking update

    Stevie G at hearts

    And the legend that is Mark Kerr!

    Great stuff domestically - crazy you lost that League game v 10 men

    Barca are your nemesis at the mo in CL - you're very close though - rub of the green in knockout stage would be nice

    Finances looking ok - you must be able to attract good quality now European reputation is good. Will be a shame to see the awesome Singh and Henry etc leave

    Good luck - maybe after this a new story on new update!

  23. #67
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    Got a new save lined up which I'll put on as a story - just can't drag myself away from this one at the moment! Plus there's the added issue that I'm not sure I will be able to save another game alongside the Hearts one due to being on Mac!

  24. #68
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    Great to see Mark Kerr back in a scottish team, where has he played before joining you?

    All about solidity in the league now and trying to win it several years in a row. Building up for the big one in Europe! Really appreciate this story

  25. #69
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    I'm a big fan of an ODB story so I'll make sure to catch up on this, Harpal Singh was a class signing for me on an old Rushden & Diamonds save I had years ago.

  26. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Felix View Post
    Great to see Mark Kerr back in a scottish team, where has he played before joining you?

    All about solidity in the league now and trying to win it several years in a row. Building up for the big one in Europe! Really appreciate this story
    He was at Celtic for virtually his whole career. Sadly, I couldn't afford to sign him in the first season and he ended up at Celtic. I went in for him several times but couldn't get him.

  27. #71
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    All caught up mate, and what a rollercoaster of a ride! Just as it looked like you'd cracked the league you'd dip again, and then come back, and drop again, before getting a real strangle hold on it the last few years. I can't believe you still haven't won a League Cup yet either! What bastards Barcelona are as well!

    Some great legends you've signed throughout the save, at the start of the 2nd season when you mentioned wing backs I immediateley thought of Duff and Victory, you'd do better to find a better cheap duo then them two.

    Hopefully next season will see you final conquer Europe, and the League Cup

  28. #72
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    I actually miss this one.

  29. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Felix View Post
    I actually miss this one.
    Don't worry, it's not been forgotten about! May have an update soon...

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  31. #74
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    Just read through this and thought it was a cracking story. Hope you bring it back.

  32. #75
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    Season 17: The beginning of the end

    A long time since my last update. I have played this season in fits and starts over a long period. I got a bit bored of the save and started a few others (one was my ill-fated story about Toulouse and the other a relatively successful run with San Marino - the club version)

    Ultimately, after 16 seasons, I’ve only really got seven major trophies to showcase and the major one is missing - the Champions League.

    The last few seasons had flown by, following the same pattern. Dominating in the league but then just falling up short in Europe.

    Recruitment

    As a result, my squad planning had completely fallen apart. I had somehow ended up with no fewer than 19 players over the age of 30.

    One of them was Rafael van der Vaart, who arrived in a Bosman in the summer. Another big name, Carlos Tevez, finally arrived after years of trying, himself in his 30s.

    Other summer signings were midfielders Carmine D’Angelo and Hans Schaap, while Greek goalkeeper Michalis Mouselimis was a crucial addition with Craig Gordon’s best years behind him. 36-year-old Mouselimis was very much a last resort, with several bids for keepers rejected and he arrived on the eve of the season.

    Out the door went Michael Dawson and Daniele de Rossi as I tried to get a grip of the squad, but frustratingly we lost top young player Danilo Di Loreto to Manchester United on the unprotected contract ruling (I think that might have been why I stopped playing!)

    Frustrating, in December, the same was to happen again as Bruno Albertini left for Liverpool on a similar basis. I got Ł1.4m for each. Gutted.

    Juan Ramon Valle and Mark Kerr were moved on as I desperately tried to ship out some of the old guard.

    The Season

    It was a poor start. I had completely lost the plot with my squad. I’d fallen in to the habit of signing players without really thinking about where they would fit. That’s not to say they didn’t fit, it just meant I wasn’t sure who my best players were and where they should play.

    I somehow managed to keep up with the top and was still sitting relatively OK come the autumn.





    I landed a bit of a tough group, as I faced Barcelona, PSG and Grasshoppers in the second group stage of CL. It was looking bleak when I was winless after three games.

    It was around this time that I went on a run that would ultimately rule me out of the title race.







    1-0 losses against Rangers and Celtic were followed by a defeat to Grasshopper. Not only that, but players were dropping like flies.







    I somehow managed to turn the group stage around with a huge result against Barcelona, the team that has been killing me each year in the semi finals.







    I then came across something I don’t think I’ve ever seen. Van der Vaart was forced to retire because of his injury, and I received compensation.





    A shame, because after a slow start, he had started to pick. Bizarrely though, his time at Hearts wasn’t included in his history (bug?)



    With the league season falling apart, I did at least manage to break my duck in the League Cup winning it for the very first time in this save, but only after some incredible drama in the final.



    The league was well and truly gone now, and so I started to prioritise the Champions League by completely resting my team where appropriate.

    I saw off Dortmund in the quarter-finals but then landed the draw I didn’t want in the semi-finals, Barcelona.

    A quick note here for the legendary Harpal Singh, who scored the winner in the away leg at Dortmund. He contributed a hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Partick Thistle. Very much a bit-part player now, Singh’s contribution to this save means he has won his place in my heart forever as a CM/FM legend. By the end of the season he had registered 669 appearances and 356 goals, all for Hearts under my stewardship.

    Anyway, back to the season. Winning the Champions League was the only goal now.



    Job half done. It was going well in the second leg too, until Fernando Torres bagged an equaliser.





    So through to the final it was, where Bayern Munich would be waiting.

    Unfortunately, the poor league form had the fans up in arms.



    Bizarrely, barely days later, this came through…



    As well as my lads dominating the Player of the Year awards...



    Surprising, given it was an embarrassing third in the table…



    And so it came to the big day. The holy grail. This was the first time I’d made the final. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.







    What next?

    Well it feels like this save is reaching the end of its lifespan. Most known players are retiring, and the game is full of regens, of course.

    I am tempted to either start a fully custom edited database with local league and mates teams, but I am also tempted by updating the database to the current season.

    That said, maybe I could try and re-build Hearts with youngsters and rid all the oldies and see what I can do...

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