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[FM 17] If You’re Not First, You’re Last Redux – Redemption For The “Nearly Men” Of Europe


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Sweet Baby RNGeebus, jumping on a pogo stick.  6'4", 200 pounds ... he only scored 2 against us in London.  Can't remember offhand if I've posted him before or not.  

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I'm sorry for offending thee, RNGeebus. 

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Not even 30 seconds in, and Juan Manuel Diez is on the scoresheet.

EDIT: That hurt.  And they didn't even leave a fiver on the bedside table.

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Edited by ManUtd1
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Wer Feuer frißt, scheißt Funken

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Bayer Leverkusen / Côte d'Ivoire 

December 2072 Mini-Update

We've well and truly hit the skids here.  Undefeated in the Bundesliga but sitting 3rd, 10 points off the pace.

Yes, you heard that right.  9 wins from 17 matches, with 8 draws.   There was a 5-week stretch in there where we didn't win a match in any competition.

Regardless, we sit in a good position.  Leipzig have a commanding lead, but we're finding our form again. We also snuck through to the Champions League knockout rounds, after West Ham embarrassed us fully.  Revenge for elimination at our hands last year, which seems all the more surreal looking back now.

While Leverkusen have a few weeks off, there's no rest for the wicked.  Preparations for Nigeria 2073 are in full swing as we look to secure our 4th straight title on the build-up to the World Cup in 18 months.

No rest for the wicked, indeed.

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3 minutes ago, BoxToBox said:

Cursed.

Indeed.  We also tried to blow a 4-nil lead against Hertha in our final match of the year.

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Sacrifices to RNGeebus are necessary.

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Bayer Leverkusen / Côte d'Ivoire 

Nigeria 2073 -- Africa Cup of Nations Preview / Squad Review

If you've been following this thread, this squad should be pretty familiar to you by now.  We're looking for our fourth-straight AFCON title, and are unbeaten in 51 matches (stretching back to the Confederations Cup in July 2069). 

Barring something strange (or injuries), this is the squad I'll be taking to Brazil this summer for the Confederations Cup, and next summer for the World Cup.  We're currently ranked 8th in the world, and ran straight through our pre-tournament opponents.

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Goalkeepers

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N'Guessan has been a fixture in the squad since my appointment, and boasts an insane 88 caps at the age of 22.  Cisse is his backup.  Kamagate would have more Caps if it wasn't for N'Guessan, even if he tends to be a backup at Marseille.

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Libero

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Kouassi is my primary libero, re-trained early in my Valencia days.  His backup is Demel, who will continue to pair with Guehi at CB in my first XI.  In a pinch, I have a slew of DMs that can play here.

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Defenders

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As indicated above, Guehi and Demel are my first-choice Sery and Moller are my centerback pairing.  Guehi is a former Partizan lad, and the rock at the heart of our defense.  Brazil 2074 will almost certainly be the end of the line for him.  Soro and N'Goran are on the flanks, with Kuoyo and N'Guessan-Bakari as their very capable backups.  Sery and Konan are the backups at centerback, although Diarra can provide additional cover.

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Central Midfielders

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A ton of depth here.  Kone and Diaby are my starters, with Kone taking up the more defensive, right-sided position.  Diallo and Traore are my primary backups for them, although Franck Kouakou and Diarra can easily fill in here or as a libero.  Kouakou has turned out great, but when he first came to my attention I thought he'd be a world-class, guaranteed starter...he just never fully developed 

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Attacking Midfielders

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Up top, Brice Kone is flanked by Sakanoko and Jonas Kouakou.  They're each immense, with Kone now boasting 87 goals in 85 international matches.  Parfait and Sogodogo are the primary backups here, with Sogodogo being preferred.  Parfait has not developed as much as I'd hoped...he's great, but I sincerely wish I'd been able to sign him.  Sogodogo would be a starter, but replacing any of the first-choice attacking midfielders is a big ask.

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Final Thoughts

Even though I'd really like another libero, this team is ready to go.  Anything other than the title in Nigeria will be a major disappointment.  The Confederations Cup will be a much better test, as we've drawn Brazil, Mexico and Portugal in the Group Stage.

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15 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

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Bayer Leverkusen / Côte d'Ivoire 

November 2072 -- Leverkusen Squad Review

Alright, let's take a closer look at the Leverkusen squad, and where we sit after the run to the CL semifinals last year.  There's some great potential here.  A handful of players I'd initially relied on simply haven't made the cut, but this current squad looks the business.

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Goalkeepers

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Forthmann is a beast.  It was a long wait to sign him from Furth but he's been well-worth it.  Cisse is solid, and the first Ivorian I've seen who might have the potential to challenge 22 year-old N'Guessan for the No. 1 jersey with the national team.  Suffice to say that Leverkusen are set between the sticks.

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Liberos

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Another position where I think we're stacked.  Groß is a solid first-team player, with Paraguayan Florentin a more than capable backup.  Another position where we're more than talented enough to compete for the CL title.

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Defenders

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Sery and Moller are my centerback pairing, flanked by Rother (still a standout star) and Henke.  Mesa and Kuoyo are the backups on the flanks, with tremendous potential.  Chornyi was a massive signing, and is coming on leaps-and-bunds with some time in games.  Ouattara, Lundberg and Konate need match-time...but they're kind of the deep backups here.

I've got some serious talent here, certainly enough to win the CL.  I had high hopes for Konate and Ouattara...frustrated with their progress.  I really need to loan them out.

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Central Midfielders

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Zuma and Shabani are my central midfield pairing.  Zuma has proven to be everything I'd hoped, even if his determination is beneath what I'd want.  Shabani...what a signing he's been.  They're easily good enough to take this team to the CL title.  Derou and Diarra are my backups here, the former hasn't developed as much as I'd like with Diarra needing to show some development.

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Attacking Midfielders

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Up top, we run with Toual and Sogodogo flanking Australian Carl Reynolds.  An attacking trident with more than enough firepower to get us to the pinnacle.  Reynolds is absolutely immense.  Signed on a free after his time at the FFA COE ran out.  Off the bench, we've got Ivorians Bamba-Kouassi, Koffi and Osuchukwu, each of whom can do the business.  Academy lad Garnier plays off the bench for our 2nd XI, and he could be the best of the lot when all is said and done.

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Final Thoughts

As we proved last year, this squad is capable of making a run in the CL at any time.  While I think we need some depth at CM/CB (1 for each), we're otherwise prepared to put out 2 solid XIs.  The foundation is being laid here for a side that will compete for years to come...I'm just ready to get out of Koln's stadium and back into our own.

Very good squad, though I'd probably say that Mesa is better than Henke.

 

13 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

Sweet Baby RNGeebus, jumping on a pogo stick.  6'4", 200 pounds ... he only scored 2 against us in London.  Can't remember offhand if I've posted him before or not.  

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Ridiculously good. £90m is the highest I've seen a player be valued at.

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2 minutes ago, Fer Fuchs Ake said:

Very good squad, though I'd probably say that Mesa is better than Henke.

 

Ridiculously good. £90m is the highest I've seen a player be valued at.

Henke is a hold-over from my prior squad, and still has an edge:

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If/when Mesa developes, though...I think he'll take over.  He's a huge talent.

Diez is everything.  He's obscene.

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14 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

Sweet Baby RNGeebus, jumping on a pogo stick.  6'4", 200 pounds ... he only scored 2 against us in London.  Can't remember offhand if I've posted him before or not.  

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Genetic miracle. Can jump over skyscrapers, carry fire trucks and run like a world class sprinter. He is a natural mutant, unlike those fake mutants that needed radioactive spiders or laboratory mishaps.

Edited by kidthekid
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Image result for africa cup of nations trophy

Nigeria 2073 -- Africa Cup of Nations Review

The Group Stage was anything but promising.  We left it late against Ghana, relying on Parfait to rescue us.  Against Angola, the 2nd XI saw Parfair once again take charge.  Yes, that's right, the lad I doubted before the tournament had 3 goals and 2 assists in 2 matches, carrying us to the knockout rounds.  The final match against South Africa was a dead rubber, and we were poor.  Nil-nil, and we both go through.

The 2nd XI once again featured against Tunisia in the quarterfinals, and took care of business.  The 1st XI ran wild in the semifinals against Morocco, racing out to an early lead before seeking to conserve energy as the clock wound down.  The final would see us face off against South Africa again, the first side to shut us out since the 2070 World Cup quarterfinals against Portugal. 

The final was everything that our dire Group Stage match wasn't...goals galore, and it was far closer than it looked as the Bafana Bafana hit the post three times.  By all rights, it could have been 5-5 with 10 minutes to play.  In the end, we took home our 4th straight title, as expected.  It all comes down to Brazil next summer.

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I've eventually finished reading this whole thread, and have thoroughly enjoyed it.  A great career, some randomly brilliant characters, and so many cliffhangers once I'd stopped reading this thread on a particular day.

Well done!

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10 hours ago, Sir_Liam said:

I've eventually finished reading this whole thread, and have thoroughly enjoyed it.  A great career, some randomly brilliant characters, and so many cliffhangers once I'd stopped reading this thread on a particular day.

Well done!

Thanks, man! For both the kind words and plowing through this entire thread, which has become more than a little unwieldy!

I'm hoping to keep the standards up as I move forward ... And a breather from work obligations! :lol:

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The phone just won't stop ringing. I let it go to voicemail.

There's too much to do, and not enough hours in the day. Back from Nigeria, but we host United in a few short days. If we have any hope of repeating last year's run to the Champions League semis, we need to start strong.

But the phone keeps ringing. No matter how much I ignore it.

Finally, I give in and pick up.

"What?! If this is you, Stal-"

"Boss, it's Silviano."

What in the name of urCristiano is my agent doing, calling me at 2 a.m.? This cannot be good.

"What is it, man... Kind of busy here. Tell me you've been in touch with the representatives for that Spanish lad at Sevilla."

"Not that, Boss. I'll make it quick. It's an offer I'd never really considered... For you. I really think-"

"I've been clear, man. I'm not leaving. No matter the offer."

"It's not like that, Gunnar. Not a managerial thing. In fact, it wouldn't even impact Leverkusen or the Ivorians. The producers would work around it."

Producers? What the heck...?

"Seriously, Silv. I generally trust your judgment. Is this like an endorsement thing? You didn't vet that last one very carefully, you know." 

"No, Boss. Nothing like that. I mean, you'd be an excellent rep for that doggie daycare... But that's bedside the point.  Trust me. This would be good for you... Your image, your life. Only a modest commitment, with a big payoff. Couple weeks over the summer, that's all. Once you're back from Brazil, they'll even-"

"Look, man. I really don't have the time. I trust you. Just take care of it and send me the details, ok?"

And like that, my attention returned to the Red Devils. 

Truth be told, when the email was sent I didn't read it. Too much to be done. 

And now it's too late. 

The promos have started running across the Continent.

A pan-European version of The Bachelor, starring yous truly?!  I'm never going to live this down, am I?

**** me, I need to get a new agent.

Edited by ManUtd1
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Mid-afternoon in a retirement home just outside of Prague.

Lukas Hrubes sits in his wheelchair, filled with rage. Another day. Another vote against him. Instead of watching his beloved My Little Pony, the others have voted to watch the reboot of Knight Rider. Again.

Time has not been kind to Lukas, once the all-powerful head of the Czech FA.  His speech has long since deserted him, and he is incapable of doing much for himself these days. 

His only means of communication? The bell taped to his wheelchair.

And now he's been denied one of his few genuine pleasures. His Ponies.

Just when Lukas' day couldn't seem to get any worse, the television begins to blare the instantly-recognizable refrain of Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me," over dramatic shots of his enemy's son and heir-apparent, Gunnar Vikander. 

What is this trash, wonders Lukas, as a piece of half-chewed corn from lunch dangles precariously from his lower lip. 

The nursing station behind him is abuzz with excitement, as the television extolls Vikander's status as Europe's "most-eligible bachelor," with shots of him stalking the sidelines menacingly.

Lukas snorts in derision, as the anger wells up inside him again.  Football royalty?! As if!!  The man is clearly a fraud.  The corn falls to his chest, accompanied by a distressingly large amount of spittle.

Lukas rings his bell, hoping that Adina will come help... Other than his Ponies, she's the only thing that he looks forward to each day... The only thing worth waking up for, really.

Alas, Tereza approaches, cooing at Lukas as if he were a befuddled infant, the boil on her cheek even more inflamed than usual. Lukas makes a mental note to soil himself later, out of spite.

Only then are Lukas' worst fears confirmed. Squeals of glee eminate from the nurses, Adina's voice instantly recognizable.

As the rock anthem reaches a crescendo in the television, the images fade to black, replaced by a simple, awful phrase:

"Coming this Fall on ESPN 8, THE OCHO. The Bachelor Europe: Love is Gunnar Leverkusen."

Adina squeals again, as the nurses and female residents begin to crowd around around her.

Tereza whispers softly to Lukas. "Oh, yes, that Adina... She just heard, dontcha know?! She's going to meet that handsome Gunnar man. Be on the TV, she is. Won't be seeing that trollop around here much longer, I reckon. Nope... Good riddance, I say. I'll get you all to myself now, yes I will..."

Lukas' heart skips a beat. Seeing red, he silently begs for an aneurysm to put him out of his misery. But it doesn't come. It never comes.

All feeling seems to dissipate from his body. The only sensation comes from Teresa's large, callused hands, which are suddenly kneading his atrophied upper thighs, her distressingly-unclean nails digging in.

"Are you ready for your sponge bath, Mr Hrubes, you naughty, naughty boy?  As the song says...Red light, yellow light, green light, go... Crazy little woman and a one man show..."

Tereza chuckles softly, as she rolls him down the hall. Away from the other residents. Away from his Adina. Away from the cursed television.

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Wer Feuer frißt, scheißt Funken

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Bayer Leverkusen / Côte d'Ivoire 

February 2073 Mini-Update

A hard-fought first leg, that saw us steal the win late -- a 90th minute free kick, taken quickly and lofted into the mixer.  Diarra rising to head home...beautiful.  90 minutes to play, back at Old Trafford.

An insane 2nd leg at Old Trafford, but one where we proved we were no easy meat.  We draw Leipzig in the quarterfinals...an all-German affair.  Excellent.

Domestically, our modest form continues.  No one takes us lightly these days, and we're not quite where we need to be in terms of breaking stubborn sides down.  Next year, though, we'll be there.

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Been reading through this - what a thread! Grats on your success.

If you have time, could I see a screenshot of Reynolds with the little attribute polygon included? I really like comparing the polygons :D. He looks immense!

Keep it up! :thup:

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3 hours ago, Adelaidean said:

Been reading through this - what a thread! Grats on your success.

If you have time, could I see a screenshot of Reynolds with the little attribute polygon included? I really like comparing the polygons :D. He looks immense!

Keep it up! :thup:

Thanks, @Adelaidean!

Here is Reynolds' attributes page, and a close-up of his polygon:

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20 minutes ago, Adelaidean said:

Nice! Thanks heaps. Will be keeping up with this thread (though I mostly lurk)! :thup:

Glad to have you aboard!  Hopefully Leverkusen can keep up their form...Leipzig have yet to lose in the Bundeliga, but have drawn a slew of matches.  So, we're only 3 points back...the CL tie and run-in should be epic.  Someone will have to blink!

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A quick glance at Europe while we enter the stretch run.  A resurgent Manchester City and PSG, although the latter remains miles behind Dijon.  Panathinaikos also look good value to win their first title in 6 years.

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Wer Feuer frißt, scheißt Funken

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Bayer Leverkusen / Côte d'Ivoire 

April 2073 Mini-Update

The first leg in the former East Germany saw us under heavy pressure.  A goal against the run of play in the 16th minute forced them to back off slightly, but we were still under pressure.    Another goal against the run of play just after halftime gave us a huge advantage...if we could hold it.  If we could hold it.  We were unable to keep the shutout, conceding an own goal under heavy pressure.  But at the end of the day we more than took care of business – 2 away goals and a win.  Leipzig will have to come at us in the 2nd leg.

After my 2nd XI won their match over Augsburg on the weekend, focus shifted to the second leg.  The gameplan?  Soak up pressure, hit them when given the opportunity.  For nearly an hour, we did just that, with Reynolds dealing Leipzig a potentially fatal blow in the 58th minute.  So close to the semifinals, we can taste it.  Leipzig have possession and chances, but never get a good look on goal.  Reynolds seals the tie in the 78th, set loose by Toual.  Up 4-1, there isn't enough time for Leipzig to find a way through, even if they were to start creating actual chances.

We're through.  A clinical first-leg performance, followed by another solid outing in the second.  We'll face Inter Milan, with the Italians likely heavy favorites.  West Ham will be favored against the Cinderella Belgian side Zulte Waregem, who eliminated Dijon.

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Honestly, this is ridiculous.

The network has sent various consultants and stylists to Germany -- all to get "me" ready for the media furor that they claim is about to unfold.

Do they not realize that I've managed in the World Cup final?  The Champions League?  That I've been one of the media's favorite playthings since my father's passing?

I shouldn't complain too much, mind.  A whole new wardrobe, new haircut...looking sharpish, if I don't say so myself.

But enough of that.  We've got Inter and 4 more Bundesliga matches to prepare for.  It's a three-legged race now, with only 3 points separating us as 3rd-place Wolfsburg beat Leipzig.  We missed a chance to go joint-top, losing away to Furth.  Tired legs.  Only a little further to go, lads.

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Wer Feuer frißt, scheißt Funken

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Bayer Leverkusen / Côte d'Ivoire 

May 2073 Mini-Update

In the first leg, Inter came out in a highly-defensive 4411 with 2 defensive midfielders, and never sought to push us.  Other than gifting them an early goal (which we promptly pulled back), we were in complete control of the tycoon-fueled Italians.  A massive task awaits in the return leg, though.

We began the match in PM Foquiado, aiming to shut down Inter.  To no avail.  2 goals for the Italians in the 1st half meant that we’d have to push...into PM Cafetero Aguardiente we went.  With just over an hour gone, Reynolds sent Toual through with the Algerian drawing us level on aggregate.  We tried to tighten up, but conceded 10 minutes later, as Jofre (yet another immense Spanish forward) hitting his 3rd.  Once more, we pushed forward…and were rewarded with Toual’s 2nd of the night in the 83rd minute.  From there, we defended valiantly, and closed out the match.

Through to the final on away goals.  The final will truly be the neutral’s choice, as we’ll face Belgian giant-killers Zulte Waregem, who scampered past West Ham.

One for the ages?  One way or another, history will be made at the Stade de France.

But before that, we've got 2 matches to play.  It's still a 3-team race but the title will come down to Leipzig and ourselves.  We need them to choke badly, as they have quite the advantage on goal difference.  With Augsburg and Furth on their docket, though, it seems a bridge too far.

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28 minutes ago, Rikulec said:

A new team about to become "nearly men", nice.

If we take care of business, that is...  Frankly, I'm far more interested in managing Zulte Waregem than I am HarryKanenham (fka Tottenham).

The Belgians had a tycoon, but he's withdrawn funding so they aren't the new Man City.

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Wer Feuer frißt, scheißt Funken

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Bayer Leverkusen / Côte d'Ivoire 

2073 Champions League Final; Stade de France

Zulte Waregem begin in a narrow 442.  We begin cautiously, in PM Foquiado, wary of the Belgian attack that has done for the likes of Partizan, Dijon and West Ham.

A dreary first half hour, as we effectively nullify their attack.  We’ve barely ventured into their half when…on the counter, we launch forward, Toual playing Reynolds through…the young Australian makes no mistake!!! 1-0 to Leverkusen!!!

Reynolds has a chance to make it two right before the half, but Afkir comes up with a big save. 

The second half continues apace…we’re nullifying them at every turn.  They have no ideas.  It will take a moment of individual brilliance (or comic ineptitude) for Zulte to get one, at this juncture.  Wave after wave, dying on the harsh, black shores of Leverkusen’s back line.

2 minutes of extra time…can the Belgians get anything from this match?

NO!!!  GUNNAR’S MEN ARE CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!!!  THE CLUB THAT SAW HIS FATHER’S ONLY TRUE FAILURE…  REDEMPTION, THY NAME IS VIKANDER!!!

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Hast du etwas Zeit für mich, dann singe ich ein Lied für dich

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Bayer Leverkusen / Côte d'Ivoire 

2072/73 Season Review

After 6-odd months of not being able to put teams away, I didn't expect this to be our year.  Then, something changed after the holidays.  Maybe it was my inspired team talks.  Maybe it was the extra "sugar" in everyone's water.  Maybe it was the grapefruit enemas.  I don't know.  I'm not a scientist.

All I know is that we've gone and done it.  Champions of Europe.  Redemption for all the near-misses.   Neverkusen no more.  Redemption for my father.

I have to move on.  By now, everyone knows that I've chosen to emulate my father in this regard.  Rennes is already on the phone with Silviano, trying to tie me down.  But I've got a flight to catch -- the Ivorians have a friendly against Algeria in Abdijan, followed by a flight to Brazil for the Confederations Cup.

There are discussions to be had.  Thoughts to think.  But not today. 

I hear through the grapevine that the producers for The Bachelor are both thrilled and dismayed...the latter because they've been planning to base the show in Leverkusen.  The former because they've been planning to base the show in Leverkusen.  Now, who knows where I'll be...Brittany, perhaps?  They're also thrilled to see my name splashed across the front pages everywhere, contributing to the pre-show hype.  Watch me get sacked by a new club in September...giving the show a rather dire, dark turn.  Now THAT, I'd watch.

Goals for 2073/74: Get a new club position.  Challenge for the Confederations Cup title.

Squad|League Overview|Finances Overview|Income Detail|Expenditures Detail|Transfers

Bundesliga Fixtures|DFB-Pokal Fixtures|Europa League Fixtures

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Champions League Review

This has been rather thoroughly documented above, but full credit to Zulte Waregem, the Belgian giant-killers who took down Partizan, Dijon and West Ham before falling at the final hurdle.  I'm thrilled that they're eligible.  At the same time, that's 2 new sides in 2 years leaving 9 eligible sides on the table.  My hopes of completing this challenge just took a beating.

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Challenge Overview

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Alright, a quick run-down on the eligible sides.

Rennes finished 6th, and sacked their manager.  They are a distinct possibility, having rejected me in 2068 in favor of Allan McAusland...who did **** all and was sacked earlier this year.  They're also the only side that is likely to have an opening in the near future, having decided that their interim manager isn't good enough. 

Atletico and Nice were relegated this year, so cannot be taken over until Summer 2074 at the earliest. 

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Sampdoria is currently in Serie B, so I won't know for a few weeks in-game if they're even going to be playable...and they already have a manager.

Among sides with managers who won't get sacked, you can count RB Leipzig (won the Bundesliga), Panathinaikos (won the SuperLeague), Tottenham (4th in the PL), Zulte Waregem (2nd in the Juplier Pro League) and Genk (4th in the JPL).

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Bottom line -- unless I want to sit around and wait for the likes of Sampdoria, Panathinaikos and Zulte Waregem (my top 3 preferred destinations at this juncture), I will need to jump on Rennes (who would fit into a second tier with Genk). 

The remaining sides either aren't appealing (Spurs!), or aren't a good fit in terms of the availability and/or the narrative (Atletico, Leipzig and Nice).

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23 minutes ago, ManUtd1 said:

the latter because they've been planning to base the show in Leverkusen.  The former because they've been planning to base the show in Leverkusen

He does it again!!!!

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An heni na avantur netra, nà koll nà gounid ne ra.

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Stade Rennais / Côte d'Ivoire 

June 2073 Mini-Update

Here we are.  The next steps.  I've barely had time to sign the papers before leaving for Abdijan.  This is all happening so fast.

The big question being...is there anyone I can bring with me from Leverkusen?  Do I even need to?  Initial reports from my staff suggest that Les Rouges et Noirs are underachieving.  We'll need to retrain someone to play at libero, and we'll have 2 natural forwards that need to learn how to play from deeper...but there is serious talent to work with here.

Under Robert Bauer, Rennes won 9 Ligue 1 titles beween 2052 and 2062 and twice reached the Champions League final (2058 and 2059).  But they've struggled to reach those heights ever since.

Their time is now.

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Another thing I've enjoyed about this thread is the variety of team's in the latter stages of the Champions League, a contrast to the stale tournament the real life version has become.

It's also been nice to see fluctuations in the league rankings with Belgium and France rising significantly.

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Fantastic news doing the business with Neverkusen! Fairly happy with Rennes as the next team too, though I think Sampdoria would be the ideal team. I miss those Fiorentina days! 

 I feel as though Ivory Coast need to step up at the next World Cup. It'd be a long 4 years beyond that to wait for the next one...! 

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3 hours ago, Sir_Liam said:

Another thing I've enjoyed about this thread is the variety of team's in the latter stages of the Champions League, a contrast to the stale tournament the real life version has become.

It's also been nice to see fluctuations in the league rankings with Belgium and France rising significantly.

I love seeing that as well.  Facing off against Madrid, PSG and City every year is boring...the upheaval in leagues has been nothing short of bonkers.  Spain's demise was very much unexpected.

35 minutes ago, Joe. said:

Fantastic news doing the business with Neverkusen! Fairly happy with Rennes as the next team too, though I think Sampdoria would be the ideal team. I miss those Fiorentina days! 

 I feel as though Ivory Coast need to step up at the next World Cup. It'd be a long 4 years beyond that to wait for the next one...! 

Sampdoria would be excellent, no doubt.  That's why they're among my favored "next stops" with Panathinaikos and Zulte Waregem!

I couldn't agree more regarding the Ivory Coast. They're so strong...and another 4 years of annihilating everyone isn't particularly exciting.

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Brazil 2073; Confederations Cup Review 

Time for the big test.  Can we hang with some of the best sides in the world?

We were drawn with hosts Brazil, CONCACAF champions Mexico and reigning World Cup champions Portugal.  We took Brazil apart, and then ran dead-even with nemesis Portugal, before stomping on Mexico.  Nevertheless, we finished 2nd to Portugal by virtue of goals scored (7 to 6).

Group B was a bit softer, but nevertheless a huge surprise came up with Copa America winners Uruguay topping the Group ahead of Spain.  We utterly annihilated La Celeste, in what could be the finest performance by the Ivory Coast during my tenure.  Ruthless.

Setting up a final against Portugal, who saw off the Spaniards, 1-nil, in the other semifinal.

We were in complete control, but couldn't find the back of the net.  Nevertheless, we never looked in danger of losing, even when we gave up a 69th minute goal to cut the lead in half.

It's a meaningless trophy, and we'd be kidding ourselves if we said anything else.  But it was a dominant display that bodes well for the World Cup in 12 months' time.

For now, it's back to Brittany.  To Rennes, so that I can introduce myself to the lads and get ready for our Ligue 1 kickoff in early August.  To begin filming for The Bachelor...filming is scheduled to be done by the September international break, with the show airing soon thereafter. 

It's utterly absurd.  I know.

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The non-disclosure agreement I signed with the producers precludes me from saying much of anything, but this show has to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever done.

Mind you, I once spent 5 weeks teaching a chicken to ride a pig, just so that I could set them loose at Stalin's 30th birthday party while angry monkeys ran in armed with water balloons.  So, the bar had been set rather high.

Yet, I won't deny it is a welcome distraction from the usual insanity of my day-to-day life.  That Spanish lass...what's her name...this is embarrassing.  No, not Saina, she's from Santorini...  I'll think of it...  No, I'll just have to ask one of the producers. 

Chantel from the Isle of Wight?  She proper hits my nail.  Adina from Prague?  Utterly divine.

Most of the lads are confused as **** by their new manager, Franck aside, and this bizarre media furor surrounding the club.  It's a far cry from the usual pre-season madness, focused on previewing the league and European campaigns.  But it has proven to be a welcome source of friendly banter. 

Of course, when the show actually airs they've vowed to slaughter me mercilessly.

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Excellent Europa League draw.  Trips to Serbia, Sweden and Greece.  The producers are pleased, as this will lead to various side trips for the last few weeks of filming.

I'm a man of particular tastes, and it really is down to the wire here.  My head isn't on straight.  I can't say anything more.  Non-disclosure agreements and all.

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FADE IN

Exterior.  French chateau.  Day. 

Guns N' Roses "Sweet Child O' Mine" begins, the guitar riff unmistakable.

VOICEOVER (seriously): Tonight, on The Bachelor Europe.  One man.  Footballing royalty.  A life well lived, but lived alone.

The video cuts rapidly between "confessional" style videos of GUNNAR VIKANDER, spliced with footage of VIKANDER standing stoically on the sidelines, haranguing referees and opponents alike, and celebrating victories with reckless abandon, along with shots of VIKANDER staring "meaningfully" into the middle distance.

VOICEOVER (eagerly): Tonight, all of that changes.  26 eligible women from across Europe have come here to meet the man some have called the rock-and-roll king of football, himself.  Gunnar Vikander.  European and World champion.  Soon to be the undisputed World Champion of these ladies' Hearts.

The video shows previews of the coming season, as the women meet VIKANDER and vie for his affections at increasingly-ridiculous "dates" that bear no resemblance to reality.  Truly, utter dross.  Ridiculous nonsense, this.  Honestly.  As the guitar solo begins to increase in intensity, the voiceover resumes, over footage of VIKANDER and several young women racing jetskis on a clear blue ocean.

VOICEOVER (excitedly): There will be passion, romance and some of the most shocking moments in Bachelor history.  Who will get the final rose?  Who will win Vikander's heart?  Don't change that channel, because it's "Gunnar" be the ride of your life!!!

FADE OUT

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At the retirement home in Prague, residents and staff have gathered around the television to watch the first steps in Adina's journey towards love.  As the last notes of "Sweet Child O' Mine" fade, and the show begins in earnest, they erupt in glee.  The months of anticipation are finally over.

Lukas Hrubes sits away from the group, staring into the middle distance, eyes unable to focus, overwhelmed by fury, humiliation and jealousy.  His Adina...gone.  Perhaps never to return.  Condemning him to a fate worse than death.  Tereza's shift has just begun.  Surely, she will be here any minute.

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THE BACHELOR: EUROPE (8:00 p.m.; ESPN 8, Ch. 888)

The remaining 16 contestants vie for Gunnar's attention on a "high flying" group date, as one lucky lady goes on the season's first one-on-one date. Drama ensues at the cocktail party when a woman from Gunnar's past appears and surprises him, and the other women, with a request for a second chance at love.

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5 hours ago, mjaferrie said:

Haha, seconded! In stitches :D

Thanks, man. Mocking "reality" TV is always a winner :lol:

1 hour ago, Fer Fuchs Ake said:

26 young women all interested in you? That's the type of thing Mr. 50ShadesBoziDarker would love.

Oddly enough, that was the plotline of his self-published erotic novel, The Bozidar Supremacy, the first in a three-part young adult series that mixes elements of Jason Bourne, Dirk Diggler and Twilight.

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Gortosit an noz ewid lavared eo bet kàer an deiz.

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Stade Rennais / Côte d'Ivoire 

September 2073 Mini-Update

Brittany has been nothing short of a revelation.

The days, long and beautiful.  The football, exceptional.  The women, breathtaking.  I have to admit that Stana appearing for the rose ceremony during the second week threw me for a loop.  I'd always thought of her as more of a passing fancy, but she's shown me sides of her that I hadn't seen before.  Of course, the rest are all angry, claiming that "she's not here for the right reasons."  I'm told that's code for something.  Whatever.  It's all nonsense.  Again, I'd be lying if I said Stana's arrival didn't change everything...  Something I can finally acknowledge, now that the episode has aired.  The banter in my direction is merciless.  As it should be.

On the pitch, we're taking care of business.  4 wins from 5 in Ligue 1, with our only loss away to giants Dijon.  No shame, there.  We've also drawn what should be a rather straightforward Europa League group, which kicks off later this week.

The Ivorians are marching towards World Cup qualification, with barely a hitch.  We're unbeaten in 66 matches.  Brazil, here we come.

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