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FM18 Journeyman - Chapter 1, The Blue Brazil


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Welcome to Cowdenbeath, Scotland. Using Classen's megapack, we've got most Asian, South American and European nations active, as well as North African and a few others.

I've also made some db edits, crippling the finances of most of Europe's richest teams, and altering the youth ratings of various nations. So it'll sort of be an experiment, as well.

I start out unemployed, with one license and a Sunday league rep, and am shortly approached by Scottish League Two semi-pro club Cowdenbeath. Cowdenbeath finished 10th (out of 10) last season, but stayed up via relegation playoff. Cowdenbeath is nicknamed The Blue Brazil, apparently sardonically, due to their lack of success.

I take over two days prior to competitive matches, The board expects a mid-table finish; experts have us pegged for 9th (out of 10). So, a tough gig for a rookie manager.

I start out with a 4-1-4-1 basic tactic, with quite a few players learning new positions.



The Scottish League Cup has a group phase, and gives 3 points for a win, 2 points for a penalty win, and 1 point for a penalty loss. I'm not optimistic about our chances; 4 points from 4 games would be great in my mind.

Our first match against League 1 side Alloa goes pretty well; they dominate possession but have a hard time breaking down our defense. They get a penalty late in the first half, but we score on a corner late in the second half to send it to penalties, where Alloa gets the extra point.

Championship side Morton takes us apart; this could easily have been 9-0, and is a pretty alarming game.

We bounce back against League 2 side Montrose, and win 2-1 in a pretty even match.

Premier club Motherwell dominates possession, outshooting us 21-4, but nothing goes in, and in the penalty crapshoot we get the extra point. So 6 points in 4 games, a very good showing imo, but not enough to advance (Motherwell advances from our group).

The IRN-BRU Cup sees us square off against the Rangers U20 side, and they dispatch us pretty easily, 2-0. Was hoping for a better performance there. The William Hill Scottish Cup is still to come; that's the big one.



After the cups, this is the basic framework of a tactic I'm working with. Nothing sexy, but seems to be sensible and solid.


At keeper, I've got two to choose from:



I slightly prefer the veteran McGurn at GK, but will give the younger McGovern plenty of action as well.


Rumsby is TALL.


McManus is another really tall centerback; the staff thinks he's got some potential. 


Ovenstone is vice-captain, backup center back, and assistant manager. On the pitch he's very much the generic LLM veteran centerback, quick as a sloth, but with a huge, hard head.



I started out featuring Syme at centerback, but have moved him to DR. He's being cross trained as a DM, as well. Staff considers him our best player, and I'm inclined to agree.


White was cut loose from Rangers, we signed him on a free for depth on the left side. He's emerged as the starting DL, occasionally filling at ML.


Backup DL, potentially could fill in at ML as well.


I like Reilly's combination of pace, determination, stamina and work rate, and his versatility. Right now he's the second string DR, but I'd like to find more ways to use him.


Hornby is who I want to play at DL; his pace and tackling ability should be valuable there, and he seems to have some potential. But he keeps getting hurt.


Love that work rate. He's definitely in the midfield mix.


Smith is probably my fastest player. I've tried him at DR, where he was awful, and am now trying him at MR. He seems like he should be valuable but the jury is still out.


Smith is also very fast, and skilled with the ball. He's one of our key midfielders.


Not especially mobile, but otherwise a good all around midfielder who will definitely be in the mix.


Another former Ranger (although most recently kicking at East Kilbride), picked up on a free because of his set piece skills.


Considered to have some potential, but at 21 is rapidly running out of time to realize it. Versatile, may come off the bench at MR, FC, or even DR at times.


Backup all along the midfield; interesting set of skills and traits, but so far has been very injury prone.


A 16 year old on loan from the Premier? The plan is to plug him in at ML and let him cook. 


Garden seems to be the most complete forward I've got. Yikes at that first touch, but he'll get some chances.


A journeyman striker, being retrained as a midfielder, but may also see some time up front.


An exciting prospect, will definitely get a look.


Another exciting prospect, this one with a bad personality. I've been looking for a tutor, but so far no luck. May look to sell him at some point.

Edited by mkeredbeard
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Reminder: we're pegged for 9th, and the board is expecting a mid table finish. Last season, IRL, we finished 10th, but stayed up via relegation playoff.


4 Saturday afternoon matches in August, and we get 6 points, which I think is excellent. We're pretty punchless going forward, but seem pretty tight at the back, despite conceding possession and shots. Most of the shots against us are very low quality. Our possession is often hilarious, with passes to nobody getting cleared to our defense. Quite typical LLM stuff, tbh. I'm still juggling my lineup a bit, trying to figure out the best combination, and also tweaking my roles and TIs.


September is even better as we get 7 points from 4 matches, including a home win against promotion candidates Peterhead, and a rout at Annan.


Winless in the League in October. We cruise in our first Cup fixture over minnows Buckie Thistle, but the loss against Berwick is ugly, we don't get a single shot off until after minute 80. I've a feeling we've been a bit lucky so far. Considering switching to a 2 forward formation, as we're just not getting good chances at all.

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The game against Montrose was the game of the year so far:


An excellent November sees us go unbeaten in the League, and draw away at League 1 Queen's Park. We've got a revamped tactical approach, that's resulted in better possession and better chances.


Doesn't look like we'll be in a relegation fight, and if our form persists we will be a promotion playoff. 

I picked up a new striker on a free:



And here's a look at our new tactic:



The problem that needs solving when going with more than one striker is the midfield. In this concept, on offense, the DR moves in to play something like an anchorman or deep lying playmaker, helping keep possession and freeing the two midfielders to make runs. On defense, the MR cuts in (depending on where the opponent is attacking from) to add a ball winner to the mix. So on defense this looks like a 4-5-1, but on offense it's more like a 3-1-2-4, with both wingers usually joining the attack. It's looked quite pretty so far, and has been more effective than my initial plan.

Edited by mkeredbeard
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Manager of the Month for November! Great news.



We edge Queen's Park in a close match to advance in the Cup. Alas, we've drawn Premier side Partick Thistle away for the next round. I'm sure they'll handle us with ease.

The rest of the month goes very well, except for the very bad day at Stirling.



When preparing for the matches against Queen's Park, I spotted this amateur and picked him up on a free. He looks very promising.


We're just one point off the top of the table now, things are really clicking for us.

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January opens up with a big win at first place Montrose, putting us top.


The rest of the month is a good month for us, except for the disappointing draw at home against Berwick. That's a game I'd like to have back. As expected, Partick Thistle easily handled us in the Cup.



I honestly did not expect us to be in a title fight, so I'm keeping my expectations low.

McGurn, my veteran goalkeeper, suffered a career ending injury, so McGovern has moved up from sharing time to being the full time keeper. He was playing better, anyway. There's not a lot of interesting keepers available, and I end up with another veteran as a backup:



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My second Manager of the Month award!


A look at my profile; no idea why Gasperini doesn't like me, I don't think I've ever interacted with him.


February doesn't go great for us; Annan and Peterhead are bottom of the league, so we should be beating them. The match against Stirling was a thriller; we were down 2-0 at the half.




It's a three way race for the title. Seems like the top 4 isn't likely to change, based on goal differential. 

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March goes even more sideways for us, as we cede points to the top 2 teams in the League:


Montrose really took us apart at home. Still, we're solidly in third, just 3 points from the top, with 4 matches to go.


We've a pretty favorable schedule down the stretch:


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April goes great for us; the match against Clyde was probably our best performance of the year.


We draw Stirling in the promotion playoff, a team we've not beaten in 4 tries so far - 2 draws at home, 2 losses away. Clyde plays Queen's Park on the other side.

I'm probably not planning to stick around Cowdenbeath after the season, I'm keen to take on a fully professional team. But we'll see what opportunities are out there after the playoffs.


It's the same old story against Stirling Albion, as their midfield opens up the first 20 minutes or so with total control of the match. I switch my B2Bs to a BWMd, and it works perfectly. The first leg is a wild match that ends in a 3-3 draw.



2nd leg we use the same successful midfield setup to good effect, but nobody scores in the first 90 minutes. In extra time, we trade penalties, the difference being that their foul leads to a red card, which gives us the edge we needto get a 2nd goal, taking us into the promotion final against Clyde.


1st leg away is a very sloppy affair. Clyde gets an early goal, and despite several good chances we don't score.


Well, this was one of the more thrilling games I've managed. It doesn't look good for us early on, as we concede a penalty, but McGovern saves it. Aiden Malone gets the equalizer just after half, but Syme gets a 2nd yellow at the 81st minute.  Best case scenario at that point seems to be penalties, but in the 89th minute Cox makes a nifty move on the left side and draws a penalty! Malone puts it away, and we defend well for the next 5 minutes to assure promotion.

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Bayern wins the UEFA Champions League:



They also win the Bundesliga:


Barca wins La Liga on the last day.



Man U smashes the Premier League, Everton is relegated. One of my database edits was a points deduction for Chelsea.


Juventus wins Serie A:



PSG wins Ligue 1:



Celtic wins the Scottish Premier:













Edited by mkeredbeard
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I reject an offer to manage in Vietnam in order to accept a job in Nigeria, managing Abia Warriors. From Wikipedia: 

Abia Warriors Football Club is a Nigerian football club based in the city of Umuahia, Abia state.

Between 2005 and 2010, they played under the name "Orji Uzor Kalu FC" in honor of Abia governor Orji Uzor Kalu who helped the club with state sponsorship upon promotion to the professional level. They reverted to their old name in summer of 2010.[2]

They won promotion to the Nigeria Premier League for the first time in August 2013 after winning their division on the last day.[3]


Our stadium and pitch are awful:



We're in 13th place, preseason picked to finish 12th.


The board is expecting a mid table finish. There's only 12 games left in the season, and we're only 6 points away from the relegation zone. So there's some pressure on us right out of the box.

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My new squad:


Shagari seems fine.


Backup keeper, staff thinks he has some potential, but at 24 I don't think he's going to improve much. Kind of a shrimp for a goalie.



Solid centre back, could probably do a job at DR or DM as well.


Even better. Looks like DC is well manned.


Zoumbia is out for at least the next 6 games with a shoulder injury. Shame, he looks to be a solid player. One of 3 allowed foreigners.


Our starting DR is also out for the next 2 weeks or so.


Amaefule will be pressed into duty due to injuries, but he doesn't seem a bad choice.


Cyril may be my best player, he'll definitely be involved in the attack somehow.


Another nifty attacker, and another member of the ambulance squad. That's two left footed winger types, amongst my best players. Hmmm.


Razak is on loan from Akwa Utd. He looks to be a good prospect.


A young striker who could be useful, out with an ankle injury.


Smart, versatile midfielder. 


Looks to be a competent striker, hasn't played much this year yet.


Similar strengths and weaknesses to Aiden Malone, one of the stars of my Cowdenbeath team. Malone was a player whose attributes didn't inspire me, but he played well when others didn't. I'll probably give Omoseibi a chance, but I'm pretty rich with strikers. 

The rest of the team is filled out with junky youth players, who may have to step up given the injury crisis.

Tactically I'm going with a simple 4-4-2, using some of the same roles I used in Cowdenbeath to improve the midfield situation.



Edited by mkeredbeard
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I've got a much smaller squad than I did in Cowdenbeath, so the injury crisis really puts some pressure on the squad. Also, we've got no physios or sports scientists on staff - no wonder everybody's hurt.

World Cup starts this month, as well.

I assume as long as we avoid relegation, the board will keep me around. I'm pretty confident we can do that, but we'll see. I'm not really familiar with the quality of teams in Nigeria, so I don't have any feel for whether my players are average or poor or good.

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Cowdenbeath has hired Brian Kerr to replace me. 

I find two players on frees to bolster the squad:


A promising young DC, who immediately hurts his knee. 




And a veteran Ivorian, who should certainly provide some leadership for the stretch run. Supposedly retiring at the end of the year, I may try to convince him to reconsider.

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My Nigerian debut is a sloppy affair that ends in a draw. My second match, a home game that draws a pitiful crowd of 185, we look much sharper. Our first two opponents are two of the poorer teams in the league, however, and things are about to get tougher for us.



Mexico wins the World Cup!




With the World Cup, we have an extended break, and are able to get most of the squad back to good health. With the addition of Zokora, I've got the personnel to try a proper 4-3-3, a formation I often have a hard time making work. Here's the initial concept:


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Winless in July:




However, when you look at the league table GD column there's a chasm between 7th and 8th spot - which implies, to me, that the top 7 teams are of a much higher caliber than the rest of the league. All of our matches in July were against top 7 teams, so the results aren't really that discouraging. We were actually close to winning the home match against Kano, looking the more dangerous side for much of the match. The other games weren't nearly as competitive, though. We're still in a relegation fight, 7 games clear with 6 to play, but the schedule becomes a lot more favorable now, and we're close to a clean bill of health, so I'm very optimistic. 

Found another midfielder free agent:


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August sees an improvement:


The win against Plateau Utd assures us of staying up. The matches against Tornadoes and Ifeanyi were disappointing, at least one of those should have been a win. I'm still pleased with the month.



Two games left. Two of my better players have been recruited. Cyril Idemekon, who's been playing AMR, has agreed to terms with Vardar, a Macedonian club. Ndifreke Effiong, my top DC has signed with a Saudi club, Al-Wehda. Both deals I insisted on pushing the transfer date back, so they'll be with us for at least part of next season.

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Last two games of the year, we play very well against Shooting Stars, but really bad against Sunshine Stars.



The board is pleased with our 11th place finish. I tell the squad I'm shooting for a top half finish next year. I think pushing for top 4 (continental qualification) is probably not realistic, but I am working hard to upgrade the roster.


Didier Zokora, veteran Ivorian midfielder, retires. He is available as a coach, but doesn't want to sign with us. I actually mostly played him at DL as our first stringer was injured and I didn't have anybody else that was good. In those situations, I usually just stick my smartest player there and tell him to figure it out. He did a fine job.

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The transfer window opened 9/14, 2 days before our last game, which is a little weird but whatever.

I've got one of my staff set to "find and make offers for young players". Well, between him and me we've brought in quite a few kids for next year.


KIngsley was a staff signing. We're not especially thin at forward, and he doesn't exactly fit what I want. He had been playing in Bangladesh and was available on a free.


A Scotsman! A St. Johnstone product, available on a free. I don't remember seeing him in Scotland, but he showed up on a trial here, and I snapped him up. He could definitely figure in my midfield setup next year.


Another forward named Kingsley who had been playing in Bangladesh. This one I like a lot more, and could see some senior action.


An Arsenal product, he's signed to replace Zoumana Doumbia, who was unhappy and transfer listed, but actually ended up extending his contract. Bola will definitely play, though - if not at DL, then DC or DM or maybe even DR.


A midfielder let go by a Slovenian club, Abuto is a mobile midfielder with some potential that I'll definitely use. Positioning, tackling, quickness and first touch make him a fine ball winning midfielder.


Another good young fullback, this one from Gambia, due to foreigner rules I probably won't use him. Likely to be loaned out.


Another Scotsman, another St. Johnstone product. Not totally sure what I'm going to do with him; he doesn't figure to make my first team, so I may loan him out.


Yet another forward, this one signed from Jomo Cosmos in South Africa.

Our youth intake was pure garbage except for one player:



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I've added one more player for next year. He'll probably be the last one, unless one of my players gets recruited out and I need a replacement.


A Frenchman, last seen playing in Reunion. Weirdly, my staff doesn't think much of him, but I expect him to be a starter and probably be our best attacker.

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Training camp opens.

We're very deep at attack, pretty thin on defense. I found an upgrade at goalkeeper, not something I was actively looking for: Ayotunde was last seen kicking in the Croatian 2nd tier, and was released on a free. Shagari was ok for us last year, had a couple of good games, and didn't need replacing, but Ayotunde was cheap and my staff likes him a lot. I may alternate for the first half of the year, and see if one of them plays significantly better.


Depth chart:


  1. Ayotunde Ikuepamitan, 21
  2. Ismaeil Shagari, 25


  1. Tolaji Bola, 19
  2. Ndifreke Effiong, 20
  3. Chizoba Amaefule, 24
  4. Ibrahim John, 18

Bola is the guy released by Arsenal - he should be one of our best players. Effiong signed with a Saudi club and is leaving midseason. Amaefule filled in last year and was ok. John hasn't played in the first team yet. We're alarmingly thin here, to be honest.


  1. Zoumana Doumbia, 27
  2. Anthony Ajah, 18

Doumbia is a foreigner. Theoretically Bola can cover DL. Ajah is pretty useless.


  1. Taofeek Biobaku, 28
  2. Peter Mohammed, 18

Biobaku is solid defensively, and played well last year. Mohammed is pretty useless.


  1. Simon Abutu, 19
  2. Cameron Thompson, 18

Two of our free transfers in at the end of last season. Thompson is a foreigner. Both are being cross trained to provide cover for defense.


  1. Freedom Omofoman, 24
  2. Razak Okereke, 18
  3. Emeka Ogbu, 17
  4. Isaac Ajah, 16

Razak is actually on a loan deal that ends shortly; hopefully I can extend it. Ogbu and Ajah are decent prospects. Freedom was a contributor last year, and played ok - both him and Razak are playmaker/cm(a) types. Mussa was loaned out because I was worried about too many foreigners (can only use 3 in the match day squad). Cameron Thomson will see time here as well.


  1. Stanley Okoro, 25
  2. Emmanuel Udeh, 21

Okoro scored 8 goals, and had 2 MOMs last year. He's a professional, with several years spent in Europe, mostly with Almeira B. Inside forward type who can also play on the right. Udeh is a decent backup, being cross trained to provide midfield cover.


  1. Cyril Idemokon, 23
  2. Florent Zitte, 25

Cyril is leaving for Montenegro midway through the season. I may use Zitte in midfield until then; both are among my most skilled players.


  1. Ibrahim Mustapha, 22
  2. Franklin Ogbonna, 21
  3. Joe Omale, 22

We're pretty deep here. Mustapha is another loaner that I don't know if I'll be able to extend. Zitte could feature here if not. Mustapha scored 10 goals in 26 games last year, but definitely blossomed towards the end of the year. Omale is being retrained as a MC.


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In case I needed reminding that this is a tiny club:



Last year's champion, Heartland, is picked 6th:


The board expects a top half finish. We're picked for 10th, so I'm pretty confident we can meet that. 

I lost my two loaners, BUT, I forgot I had one out there coming back, so not as bad a situation as feared:


Suleiman will figure in the MC/DMC mix. 



Edited by mkeredbeard
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We get off to a bad start against Rhapsody, picked for last in the league, conceding on a corner in the first few minutes. But once we get our sea legs under us, we rally and beat them handily.

Sunshine Stars, one of the better teams in the league, gives us a tough match at home. Again, we go do down 1-0, but tie it up before the half, and score late on a corner. Bola *should* have gotten credit for the goal, but the scorer ruled it an own goal. 

We match Enugu Rangers (picked for 1st) very well for 70 minutes - but then we fall apart, giving up 3 bad goals. Zoumana Doumbia picks up a red card, Ibrahim John scores a bad own goal - it's a total bottle job.

We bounce back with a clinical dissection of Nasarawa Utd:


Early days but we're in good shape:


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February is a busy month, but a great one for us:


We squeak by Lobi Stars, a mid table squad, in a tight match. A late goal by Franklin Ogbonna in the 88th minute gives us a win there. Dominion Hotspur is a relegation contender, but this match was a nervy affair:


A comfortable 3-0 lead almost vanished in the last minutes.

The rest of the month we go on a tear, excepting a home draw against preseason favorites Kano Pillars. The tactic is really clicking now. One particular highlight was the match against Erymba. In the first half, we got off 4 shots, and scored 4 goals.4f4.thumb.png.00551a5354ae992e439bfbce797f2870.png

We're now tied for first:


I do one important deal: selling my left back Zoumana Doumbia to a 2nd tier Belgian club. His attributes are great, and he's the vice captain, but on the other hand: He missed almost all of last year with an injury; he missed almost all of preseason with a different injury; in our first 3 games he managed an own goal and a red card. The deal goes through in July, but in the meantime I've recalled my other foreign left back, Mohammed Sannah, from loan. They'll take turns in the match squad until Doumbia leaves. I also added this guy on a free:


Note that he's left footed; I actually signed him to provide cover at left back, so he's being retrained.

Towards the end of the month, we lose two important starters to long term injuries:

  1. Cyril Idemekon, torn abdominal muscle, 6 weeks to 3 months (AMR, 5 goals and 3 assists in 9 starts)
  2. Qudus Suleiman, shin splings, 2-3 months (DM, 7.23 rating in 9 starts)

The injury to Cyril means Zitte will get a run at forward. Suleiman's cover is Thompson, the young Scotsman.

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One more highlight from February, this 7-2 smashing of Wikki:


4 goals for Ogbenna, 3 goals and 3 assists for Zitte.

I think one of the reasons my tactic has taken off is a tweak I made to the AMR position; I changed it from a Treq to a Ramdeuter. My thinking behind this was, Cyril was normally getting tight marked by the opposition, and the treq role is, I believe, a playmaker role - at any rate, my team was forcing the ball in his direction, even when he was tight marked. The ramdeuter does some of the same things as a treq, but won't demand the ball as much. This seems to have led to a more natural flow where the ball goes to the AMR when he's open. At any rate, Cyril and Zitte have both been wreaking havoc at AMR since I made the change.

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We continue to cruise in March, albeit not stomping our opponents quite as badly. We've had some injury bad luck, and lost Bola for the month for international duty, so our side wasn't nearly as strong as previously.


The match against Warri had a dramatic ending:



Another neat moment was the math against Rivers. Emeka Ogbu, a speedy young winger I've been retraining as an MC, was named to his first match squad. Used as my final sub in a frustrating 0-0 draw, he blasts a long shot into the far corner with his FIRST touch of the game. Wild.


Level with Kano, but with a game in hand. Really a 3 way race with Enymba also in the mix.



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April is the cruelest month...


It seems like the scouts have come up with some ideas about our squad. 3 goals in our last 3 games is really concerning; Enugu was the only really strong opponent we went up against. We'll make a couple of tweaks for May, obviously.


According to the various tabs, top team gets African Champions Cup, while the Cup winner (which hasn't started yet) gets the Confederation Cup. Considering games in hand, Enymba is the frontrunner for first place. 

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I make two small changes to my tactic: First, I switch the CM(s) and the BWM. It seemed like Cyril was maybe getting a bit isolated at times, especially when teams opt to tight mark him. The BWM may provide a better link between the defense and the forwards. Maybe. The other change was to add "be more expressive" to the TIs.



We do seem to improve somewhat in May:


The match against Nasarawa, we generate tons of chances, but poor finishing makes it look close. Lobi we handle easily. Dominion and Katsina are bottom 2 teams in the league, and I rotate my squad generously, and still win both games. 36 Lion, our 1st Round Cup opponent, is a lower division amateur team that I take apart with almost no starters. All this to make sure my squad is rested and fit for the big game against Kano. Well, we lay an absolute egg. Happily, we bounce back and absolutely level Akwa.


And around the world:




Barca wins La Liga:


The Red Bulls win:


Juventus cruises:


100 points for PSG:


Barcelona beats Bayern in the UEFA final:



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We start strong in June with a big win at Enyimba, getting 3 points off the top two other teams in the league in two games, which I'll take. 

Another strong win against Wikki, then a tough draw at Nembe - we've got some injuries piling up. We advance in the Cup over Shooting Stars. 


There's a big break after our Cup match. 3 players leave on prearranged transfers:

  1. Cyril Idemekon, AMR, 23 to Vardar in Macedonia. Our best player; 8 goals, 7 asissts, 3 MOM, 7.57 rating in 15 games.
  2. Zoumana Doumbia, DL, 28, to Roesalare in Belgium. Vice captain, played 16 games with a 7.16 rating.
  3. Ndifreke Effiong, DC, 20, to Al-Wehda in Saudi Arabia. Played 24 games with a 6.86 rating.

All three will be missed, but there's been a plan since the season started to cover these losses.


Edited by mkeredbeard
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Without Cyril at AMR, I spend July tinkering and fiddling with my tactic. We drop points at home to Heartland (defending champs, but bottom half) and Enymba, but win away at a tough 8th place Warri squad, and make it into the Cup semi final.


Another ugly draw at bottom half JUTH. One of the concepts I'm struggling with: When Cyril was on squad, him and Okoro (AML) were both left footed. This made a winger/ramdeuter combo make sense. Zitte, being right footed, hasn't thrived as well as I expected in the AMR spot. So, back to basics: move Okoro to AMR, Zitte to AML, and go with 2 inside forwards. The other change I make, as Enugu is one of those annoying teams that uses 3 strikers, is to go with 4 defend duties on the back line.

The result is an easy 2-0 win that was never in doubt.


Two games left plus the Cup final, we're 3 points back. Runner up seems the most likely place for us to finish.


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A lackluster finish:


Injuries have just caught up with us. In the match against Ifeanyi, I started only one actual defender. Starting DL and DRs were both natural MCs. Whether because of that or for some other reason, my tactical tinkering just doesn't work, and we look pretty helpless.

Kano wins the league:


The Challenge Cup final against Emyba sees us run out the same tactical plan we used in the semifinal, as it was the last plan I had that seemed to work. 



The result is a very evenly matched game, with the difference being an early Ogbonna goal. Okoro on the right wing, made a lovely move to get in the box unmarked, drew the defense, and laid it off to Obgonna wide open in front of goal. 

The Cup is Abia Warrior's first major championship.

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Overall a very successful campaign, exceeding my expectations.


Florent Zitte, 26 - 38 games, 18 goals, 17 assists, 7.42 rating. The Frenchman from Reunion was used at MC, AMR, and AML. Turned out to be more creator than scorer. Pulled some no-shows in big games. 

Franklin Ogbonna, 22 - picked up on a free from South African club Jomo Cosmos. Started 41 games, I think all at FC, scored an incredible 29 goals, 9 assists, 7.34 rating. Was very consistent, definitely our MVP.

Freedom Omofoman, 25 - A returning starter, used at both MC spots, also filled in at DR. 38 starts, 8 goals, 6 assists, 7.30 rating. Versatile and excellent player.

Stanley Okoro, 26 - Another returning starter, began the season at AML, moved to AMR down the stretch. 8 goals, 16 assists, 7.23 rating in 36 starts. One of our brightest stars.

Ismaeli Shigari, 25 - Goalkeeper. Started and finished the year injured, but in between started 30 matches with a 7.05 rating, outplaying Ayotunde Ikuepamitan, who I expected to be our top keeper. Excellent passer.

Taofeek Biobaku, 28 - Steady DR, started 28 matches with a 7.08 rating. 1 goal and 2 assists.

Tolaji Bola, 20 - Ex Arsenal prospect with dual English-Nigerian nationality. Started 26 games (missed an extended stretch on National team duty) with a 6.95 rating. Scored 2 goals on corners, which I honestly expected more. Held down the DC(L) position and was solid.

Cameron Thomson, 19 - Scotsman, started 25 matches and subbed in another 12 (1 goal, 3 assists, 7.03 rating) at either MC or DM. My scouts think he has good potential, but he hasn't really generated interest from other clubs, so could be they're wrong.

Chizoba Amaefule, 24 - Another returning starter. 1 goal, 1 assist, 6.96 rating mostly from the DC(R) position. MOM for the Cup Final. 

Qudus Suleiman, 21 - 23 starts, mostly at DM, 6.99 rating, just 1 assist.

Mohammed Sanneh, 19 - Gambian, and our third foreigner. 23 starts, mostly at DL, also filled in at DC (7.10 rating, just 1 assist). Solid prospect, seems likely to get recruited in the offseason..

Isaac Ajah, 17 - Hot prospect, getting interest from Belgian and Dutch teams (19 starts, 11 subs, 6 goals, 2 assists, 7.18 rating). Played really well, and definitely seems like a blossoming star.

Joe Omale, 23 - Natural striker being used at MC, started 19 games, subbed another 7 (7 goals, 3 assists, 7.19 rating). Did a terrific job, but was a bit injury prone.

Ayotunde Ikuepamitan, 22 - Signed to be the first string goalie, but ended up as a backup (14 starts, 7.04 rating). Will likely be transferred.

Simon Abutu, 20 - Hot prospect (12 starts, 16 subs, 0 goals, 1 assist, 6.66 rating) who didn't really shine. Played MC, DM, and DR.

Nzube Anaezemba, 26 - Natural MC, signed to play DL and DC(L). (7 starts, 13 subs, 1 assist, 6.78 rating). Held his own.

Ibrahim John, 19 - Young DC (7 starts, 7 subs, 6.80 rating), didn't fall apart when called upon.

Kingsley Chigozie, 20 - Young forward (5 starts, 5 subs, 1 goal, 6.67 rating), didn't impress.

Basden Wilcox Okpebholo, 17 - Emerging young DC (4 starts, 8 subs, 6.74 rating). Him and John actually make a pretty decent second string.

Emmanuel Udeh, 22 - Provided solid backup at all three forward positions (3 starts, 17 subs, 2 goals, 5 assists, 6.89 rating).

Emeka Ogbu, 18 - Speedy winger who was used at MC (2 starts, 4 subs, 1 goal, 7.05 rating). 

Kingsley Eleta, 22 - Backup forward (1 start, 1 sub, 1 assist, 6.65 rating).

Anthony Ajah, 19 - Backup DL (2 subs, 6.70 rating), not being resigned.

Ali Okoye, 18 - Young MC, was used as DC cover in emergencies (1 substitution, 6.60 rating).

Everybody but Anthony Ajah is under contract for next year, although I do expect some of them to get transferred for fees.


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Chapter 3 - The Jizzax!

Preseason is going smoothly, we lose in the Super Cup final on penalties:


When suddenly I am approached by an Uzbeki club, So'g'diyona Jizzax. That's right, THE JIZZAX.


The Jizzax have been a yo yo club in recent years. Board expects a mid table finish in the Uzbek top league.


Jizzax have a 9,000 capacity stadium, much larger than Abia Warriors. They have a larger payroll and transfer budget, and the wages they offer are almost triple. So even if the quality of play is probably about the same, this seems like an obvious move to make.

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Looking over the roster, it appears we'll be doing a 3/5 at the back. This is my initial concept, we'll see how it works:


Inverted WB and Carrillero on one side, Mezzala and Defensive WB on the other. Very fluid to reduce the gaps between the lines since I'm not using a DM. 

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  1. Iskandar Shoyqulov, 26
  2. Javlon Isqandarov, 28
  3. Sirojiddin Allaev, 26
  4. Shoxrux Xolmatov, 26
  5. Sherzod A'zamov, 30
  6. Gayrat O'Mirov, 29
  7. Farxod Miraxmatov, 25
  8. Xasan Asqarov, 25
  9. Obid Joraboev, 33
  10. Dilmurod Karimov, 30

Iskandar has just been brought in for 105K. He's well suited to the Cover role.  Xolmatov and Miraxmatov are more accurately described as midfielders. This is a very deep position.












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  1. Alisher Ziyovutdinov, 27
  2. Iskandar Shoyqulov, 26
  3. Farxod Miraxmatov, 25
  4. Abror Xusinov, 29

Staff likes Alisher a lot, thinks he's one of our best players. I'll give him a crack at WB(R), and use my DCs as cover. On the left, Farxod, another midfielder will get first crack.





Edited by mkeredbeard
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After several transfers in and out, and watching some friendlies, here's the updated depth chart:


  1. Javoxir Ilyosov, 26
  2. Farruh Turdaliev, 29

Managed to sell Akbar Tor'aev. Ilyosov is a clear #1.


  1. Shoxrux Xolmatov, 26
  2. Iskandar Shoyqulov, 26
  3. Sherzod A'zamov, 30
  4. Javlon Isqandarov, 28
  5. Sirojiddin Allaev, 26

Xolmatov will be the cover defender.


  1. Alisher Ziyovutdinov, 27
  2. Kamronbey Kapadze, 26


Kapadze was signed on a free to provide depth in midfield, especially at wingback.


  1. Gediminas Stonkus, 19
  2. Abror Xusinov, 29


Stonkus, a very promising Lithuanian, was signed to play WBL.


  1. Mussa, 22
  2. Vladyslav Pavlenko, 25
  3. Javlon Ibroximov, 29
  4. Iqboi Malikjonov, 24
  5. Farxod Miraxmatov, 25
  6. Parviz Sodiqov, 24


Mussa, a Mozambiquan, was bought from my previous club, Abia. He actually never played a senior game with me, as he was loaned out my entire time there. Still, I like his promise and his mobility.


Another depth signing. Solid first touch, passing, and decisions means I trust him in the middle.


  1. Javoxir Esonkulov, 24
  2. Takunda Sadiki, 28
  3. Ilxom Serazitdinov, 19 
  4. Temur Talipov, 24

Sadiki, a veteran striker signed from Zimbabwean club Bulawayo City, replaces Uilliams. Ilxom and Temur were signed for depth. This is still a weak position, but I've not really found any solutions so far.


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March comes in like a lion:


Lokomotiv Toshkent is the favorite to finish first. We beat them 3-1 in our third match to get our first win; that's a big deal. Otherwise we start off treading water, scoring just 2 goals in our other 3 league matches, and scraping by 1-0 against a 3rd tier team for our first Cup match.

Edited by mkeredbeard
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A perfect April sees us at the top of the table:


The Paxtakor match was the game of the year so far:


Down 2-0 at the half, we score 3 unanswered in the second half to get the win.

The tactic has evolved quite a bit:


DF/s is set to move in channels. Weirdly, the poacher role is getting buckets of *assists*. Not sure if that's a small sample size or an oddity of the setup. We've been dominating possession and looking impenetrable at times. 

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Just 3 games for us in June:


We advance in the Kupogi with a 3-1 aggregate win, then pile on FK AGMK's misery with a 2-0 league win. Our long undefeated stretch comes screeching to a halt against Paxtakor, however, as they kick our asses. We don't get a shot on goal, and it could have been much worse than 0-2.


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