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Sophara United - Academy players only, for better or worse (The sequel to the Kafra series)


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30 minutes ago, Cardiovascular said:

Are we finally going to see Lionel Wilkin's breakthrough tournament? Even if it is about 2 tournaments too late!

I don't understand why he wasn't called up to Brazil 2050 - he was already probably the best CD England had at that point! Thanks for always reading!

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2051/2052

 

TEAM REVIEW

A season after winning their first ever Premier League title, Sophara United had to give it back up to Manchester United as they slipped to 3rd Place. They also failed to defend the FA Cup title, losing in the Semi-Finals to Manchester City in a heart-breaking fashion on penalties, while in the Champions League they disappointingly failed to advance past Borussia Dortmund – a team that had dominated in the Second Round in 2043 with a 7-2 victory at home and which they had defeated just last year, also in the Second Round. After his record-breaking season, Ben Gibson – while still the club’s finest player this season – began to slowly show his age as he turned 33. He went from 44 League Goals to 25 this season, as Sophara United scored only 78 Goals (2nd in PL) after registering 96 Goals last year. The conceded 52 Goals (10th in PL), similar to the 48 from last season, but the defense definitely was not as consistent or as impressive. Overall, the club finished in the spot they deserved – still in Champions’ League football but definitely not good enough to be crowned champions for the second season in a row.

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PREMIER LEAGUE REVIEW

Manchester United (1st) recaptured the Premier League title this season after battling all season at the top of the table. They were 7 teams, including Man United, that were fighting for the title until the last few games, including the former defending champions Sophara United (3rd) and Runners-Up Chelsea (2nd), who finished 5 Points and 2 Points behind the newly crowned winners, respectively. Ben Gibson of Sophara United finished won the Top Goalscorer award for an incredible 4th time in a row (25 Goals) and 8th time overall, solidifying his status as the league’s greatest goalscorer of all-time. He was replaced as the PL Footballer of the Year by Man United’s Portuguese striker Manuel Soares, who led the Red Devils to their first title in 3 years and their 3rd in the last 5 years. Man City (4th) grabbed the last Champions League spot ahead of Arsenal (5th), Everton (6th), and Aston Villa (7th) – the difference between Man City and Aston Villa was a mere 2 Points. Liverpool (8th) and Burnley (9th) again missed out on Europe all together, with Tottenham (10th) also having a disappointing finish. Watford (18th) and Leicester (20th) could not survive their first season back in the Premier League and they were joined by Derby (19th), who spent the last 5 years in the Premier League. Middlesbrough (14th) were the only newly promoted team that will stay up next season.

 

Highlight on MANUEL SOARES (Manchester United – Portugal: 12 Caps): Born in March of 2026 in Luanda, Angola, he joined local club AFA in 2039. He was snapped up by Portuguese side Porto in 2043, making his debut for the club the same year. In 2048, at the age of 22, he was called up to the Portuguese national team, the same year Soares captured the Portuguese Premier League title after spending the previous 3 years on loan with 3 different clubs. His breakout year would come the following year during the 2048/49 as Porto won their 2nd straight title and Soares scoring 17 Goals. He would be crowned 2049 Portuguese Premier League’s Young Player of the Year and would win the 2049 European U21 Championship shortly after Man United bought him for £55M in the early parts of the summer. He became an instant hit at his new club, getting named in the 2050 Premier League Select Team of the Year during his first season while winning the FA Cup. During the summer of 2050, he would be part of the Portuguese team that would lift the World Cup trophy at Brazil 2050 as an impact substitute. This past year would be the one that propelled him to superstar status, however, as the 26 year old would score 20 Goals for the first time in his career as Man United won the Premier League title and he was named his club’s Player of the Year and the Premier League Footballer of the Year. His value now stands at almost £80M, with his pace and power making him one of the world’s most sought after players. How he has only won 12 Caps – and scored 0 Goals – for Portugal remains a mystery, but surely the elite striker will be front and center for his nation come this summer’s European Championship at Holland/Belgium 2052 and at the World Cup in 2 years at Spain 2054.

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REVIEW

For the first time in five years, the Champions League crowned a new champion and for the first time in 20 years, it crowned a champion from the Italian Serie A. It took AC Milan 45 years but they finally won their 8th title, defeating the more favored Bayern Munich 1-0 in Berlin. This was AC Milan’s 12th trip to the Finals with the last time coming in 2007 where they defeated Liverpool in Athens, Greece. Bayern Munich, who were last in the Finals in 2046 when they defeated Atletico Madrid in Dortmund. Despite being favorites to lift their 10th title, it was Milan who won it in dramatic fashion with a last second 92nd minute goal, finally bringing an end to the longest drought of one of the most decorated teams in the competition’s history. Ben Gibson of Sophara United won the Golden Boot with 8 Goals for the 3rd year running due to having played only 8 Games (they were knocked out by Borussia Dortmund in the Second Round), but AC Milan’s Jorge Simao – the newly crowned 2052 CL Forward of the Season – was the competition’s best player this season having also scored 8 Goals and led his team to the title. Porto were the surprise of the competition, advancing to the Semi-Finals after defeating Man United in the previous round before falling to Bayern Munich. In the other Semi-Finals matchup, it took penalties for Milan to finally move past Atletico Madrid, having comfortably taken care of Tottenham in the Quarter-Finals. 

 

Highlight on JORGE SIMAO (AC Milan – Portugal: 124 Caps/93 Goals): One of the game’s best strikers of the last 10 years, Simao was born in coastal town of Vagos, just south of Aveiro, in Portugal in June of 2022. At the age of 12, he was scouted and signed by French club Lille, leading their U19 side to the National – Group A championship in 2038 at the age of 16. His debut for the first team would come during the 2039/40 season and it took him only one year to cement himself as the club’s best player, winning Lille’s 2041 Player of the Year award at the age of 19. The year, he would win the European U21 Championship title with Portugal, impressing enough to get a call-up to the national team and earn his first Cap a few months later. The 2041/42 season was the one that put him on the global football map – he would break Lille’s record for most goals scored in a season with 27 while winning the club’s Player of the Year for the second straight season, get named the 2042 NxGn recipient, and the Ligue 1’s Most Promising Player. The summer of 2042 would be epic for him, as Portugal won the World Cup title at Russia 2042, winning the tournament’s Golden Boot with 8 Goals and its Best Young Player. The following year, he would capture the Ligue 1’s Top Goalscorer award for the first of two times with 22 Goals (the second was in 2045) but would get into it with the club’s management as he desired a move to a bigger club. With neither side willing to budge, the club allowed Simao’s contract to run out and he signed with AC Milan as a Free Transfer in the summer of 2045.

His 7 years in Milan have been a success – although he has only scored 20+ Goals in 3 of those 7 seasons, he has become one of the most well known and highest valued players in the world. He won the Serie A title in the first 3 years he was there and won his 4th this season as he also brought the Champions League title back to the club for the first time in 45 years. He was also a star for Portugal as he became a two-time World Cup champion when his nation lifted the trophy for the 2nd time in 8 years at Brazil 2050, joining a very elite club of players that won it twice in their career. The Serie A Top Goalscorer recipient for the past 3 seasons, he was named the Champions League’s Forward of the Season this year as he cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players – and winners – of his generation.

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GOALKEEPERS

It has been 7 straight seasons now that Chris Davies (’40 – Wales: 105 Caps) has played in every single game, bringing his career total to 320 League Appearances despite only being 27. His 1.34 Con/90 and 10 Clean Sheets were the 2nd highest of his career and his 7.32 AR continued to lead all GKs in the Premier League. To that end, he won the Welsh Footballer of the Year of the 3rd time in his career. Negotiations on signing a new contract have already started with the club management although it is doubtful there would be any conclusion before the end of the European Championships. Regardless, no one really believes Davies will be heading anywhere – he is the highest paid GK in the world and at £53M is the 4th highest valued player at his position on the planet. He is the one of the most important players on the team and there is absolutely no replacing him – in fact, he is probably the most indispensable player on the squad currently.

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FULLBACKS

Approaching 400 League Games for Sophara, Chris Parry (’39 – Wales: 13 Caps) has become one of the most reliable and consistent players on the team. A few short years ago, there were questions about his legitimacy as a starting RB for the club in the Premier League, but those have long subsided. Not only is he considered a capable RB at this level but he also registered his 4th straight 7.00+ AR season – in 36 Games, he registered 3.22 TpG, 94% Pass Completion, and 7.06 AR, the 2nd highest of his career. In the club’s Best Overall Eleven, he has now been named as the best RB in the history of the club, a distinction that very little can argue against. In fact, out of all the 4 defenders in the all-time lineup, Parry, who is 29, has the best total career-average with 6.91 AR.

At the other flank, Abdul Samura (’49) completed his first season as a full-time starter with relative success. In 31 Games, he registered 2.72 TpG, 92% Pass Completion, and 6.96 AR and has now earned the ‘Wonderkid’ moniker. He showed good improvement in training and has a resolute personality that has impressed the Sophara backroom staff. He will turn 20 at the beginning of next season in September, but his defensive awareness and abilities are already of a very high standard. Equally comfortable playing as CD, with the only critique about his game being his general lack of technique. He has been touted as a potential English international down the line, and if he keeps up his development progression, it could be sooner than expected.

Making room for Samura in the starting lineup was Nikos Dimosthenous (’44), who played in 18 (10 Starts) Games after playing in 28 last season. He responded with the best form of his career, playing his role very well and thriving in it. He registered a career-high 7.05 AR along with 3.42 TpG and 92% Pass Completion, with the 23 year old rarely making a costly mistake all season. There is little argument about the fact that he does not have the talent of a Premier League fullback, but his intelligence has kept him relevant and a big part of the Sophara rotation at the back. Simon Richardson (’46) continued to see his playing time dwindle, appearing in only 3 Games this season after playing in 21 Games two seasons ago. He does not appear to have much of a future with the club as his development has stagnated but he plays in a position that does not have depth (RB) so he remains part of the rotation when called upon. The Sophara backroom staff are excited about Keelan Tipp (’50) however, who made his debut this season playing in 3 Games and registering an impressive 5.98 TpG, 92% Pass Completion, and 7.27 AR. The left-back, who is still only 18, impressed in at the U23 and U18 levels, finally earning a call-up to the main squad towards the end of the season. He has a lot of work to do on his overall game but his form when called upon was of a player beyond his years. Definitely one to watch.

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

After years of pressure from the fans and the media, Lionel Wilkins (’52 – England: 7 Caps) was finally called up to the English team and will be joining them this summer at the European Championship at Holland/Belgium 2052. Perhaps the most controversial snub for the Brazil 2050 team, he has a good season but not his best. In 31 Appearances, he registered 1.65 TpG, 91% Pass Completion, and 7.02 AR, down from his career-high of 7.19 AR last season. Wilkins, 26, is considered one of the strongest CDs in the league, but it is his intelligence and natural defensive awareness and ability that sets him apart. In terms of talent, he is probably the most talented CD the Sophara Youth Academy has ever produced, and even though he lacks the technique or ball control that some of the great CDs possess, he makes up for it with his actual defensive skills. Holland/Belgium 2052 will be the first major tournament he showcases his skills, and at almost £60M, he is one of the highest valued players on the English squad.

Last year’s recipient of the PL Young Player of the Year award, Ryan Noray (’48), who is now 20, had another strong season on the pitch but did not develop as well as the staff would have hoped off of it. His 7.00 AR was a noticeable drop from 7.13 AR, which he registered last season, although he did play in a career-high 32 Games. His strongest trait is probably his aerial ability, where he constantly wins headers against stronger opponents thanks to his height. His maturity is beyond his age and he is an intelligent player, which was a big reason his manager has been so confident in placing him in the starting lineup. There is expectation that he will continue to improve both in form and ability as he crosses into his early 20s.

At the age of 34, Wayne Breen (’33 – Ireland: 107 Caps/3 Goals) has called it a day, playing his last game in his career at the end of this season. The Sophara United and Ireland legend played in 11 Games this season, and registered what would have been a career-high 6.97 AR had he qualified as he did not play enough games. His strength and speed has faded but his football IQ has not – he remained reliable and free of mistakes until his last minute. One of the oldest members of the Sophara United First Golden Generation, the vice-captain of the squad played in 531 League Games over the course of his career, registering 6.84 AR. He played a total of 19 full seasons, 16 of which were in the Premier League. He was one of the first names on the Ireland team sheets in all their major tournaments starting from the mid-2030s until the late 2040s. The void that he will leave will not be easily replaced.

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Eoin Hastings (’38 – England: 39 Caps/4 Goals) has again missed out on a major tournament as the defending champions will not feature Hastings in their lineup at Holland/Belgium 2052. This was despite another decent season from the talented CM, who played in 37 Games and registered career-highs of 5 Goals and 8 Assists to go along with 6.86 AR. Playing at the CM position has not been the most natural thing for him and he has stated as such, but he continues to be one of the most important players on the team. He has 373 League Games (29 were on loan with Dulwich Hamlet in 2039/40) and has 6.85 AR career average and despite not being considered one of the team leaders, his influence on the pitch is unquestionable. Now 29, he is in the prime of his career and his manager has spoken about having Hastings elevate his game one more step.

The most disappointing player on the squad over the past two seasons has been Chavez Straker (’44 – England: 19 Caps/1 Goal), who incidentally has only missed 2 Games over the course of the last 3 years. This season especially was very disappointing – he played in all 38 Games, but only registered 3 Assists and a career-low 6.57 AR. His form was so bad that the manager started playing young Allan Ferrier in his place as he became too much of a liability in the center of the pitch, taking him out early in the second half of games. He started playing better towards the end of the season but Straker, 24, will need to significantly better next season if he wants to maintain his place in the starting eleven.

With Straker’s less than impressive play, Allan Ferrier (’49), 19, was called upon and he stepped up, impressing in his 29 Games (10 Starts), 3 Assists, and 6.83 AR. The comparison to Paul Gascoigne remain relevant and he has proven himself to be a winner, grabbing the European U21 Championship on home soil with England. Like most of the players on the team, he is a highly intelligent player who naturally is a great decision-maker on the pitch. Rookie Daniel Okrah (’52), who is still only 16, played in 4 Games this year, scoring 2 Goals. Although he is naturally more of a striker than a CM, he spent time at the position thanks to his already impressive passing ability. He looks set to make an impression next year as he continues to develop with the coaching staff giving him a 5/5 PA rating.

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WINGERS

A club and Wales legend, Kurtis Thompson (’35 – Wales: 112 Caps/57 Goals) is now just 4 Games away from playing 500 League Games for the club. It has not always been smooth sailing and his injury-proneness robbed him of perhaps a truly elite career, but the fact that he has now scored 130 League Goals and distributed 148 Assists over the course of his career is a testament to just how talented the left winger is. He is now 33 and has lost a lot of the speed that made him so dangerous during the 2040s and true to form, he missed almost 4 months worth of football this season thanks to a hip injury that limited him to only 23 Games. Still, he managed to register 6 Goals and 4 Assists (his lowest since the 2037/38 season, his 3rd with the club) but it is now obvious that he can no longer carry the weight of being the club’s full-time starter at the LW position. A legendary career will probably come to an end in the new few years, but he will get one last shot at a major international tournament at Holland/Belgium 2052.

Sophara United have two legendary wingers – Thompson playing at LW and England international Tyler Craig (’36 – England: 77 Caps/17 Goals) at RW. Now 31, he bounced back from an injury-plagued season last year to register 11 Goals, 13 Assists, and 7.10 AR in 36 Appearances, marking his 7th straight season with at least 11 Assists. He is now only 6 Assists away from an extremely rare number – 200 Assists for his career. With 538 League Games under his belt, he has also scored 131 League Goals and has a 7.04 AR career average, turning out one of the most impressive careers for any winger in the Premier League over the past decade. Craig is considered one the world’s global superstars and despite his increasingly advanced age (for the game) his value remains north of £40M. He is the highest paid player in the history of the club at £525K per week, and while his contract has always been a source of controversy for the club and its fans, his manager stated he had absolutely no qualms about making Craig his highest paid player of all-time. He will be part of the English team travelling to Holland/Belgium 2052 to defend the title he won with his nation 4 years ago.

The biggest beneficiary this season in terms of playing time after Thompson went down with a hip injury was Hugo Good (’44), one of the most hyped players in recent memory to come out of the Sophara Youth Academy. Although he has not developed into the world star that was he was being touted he could’ve been, Good has become a reliable and serviceable player who has netted decent results for the team. In 34 Appearances (11 Starts), he registered 7 Goals, 4 Assists, 3 PoMs, and 6.92 AR, up from 6.87 AR last season. He has played in 30 or more Games over the past 5 seasons and while Good, 23, will most likely never live up to the hype that surrounded him during his teenage years, he looks set to have a large role to play in the rotation for years to come. Also playing down the left wing – and also right – was 20 year old Senegalese Papa Gueye (’48), who played in a career-high 13 Games (2 Starts) registering 2 Goals, 2 Assists, and 6.87 AR. Like Good, there was hope that he would develop into a leading winger but as he leaves his teenage years, it does not look likely.

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FORWARDS

Perhaps the Premier League’s greatest player this century and one of England’s finest of all-time, Ben Gibson (’34 – England: 147 Caps/109 Goals) is now his country’s record holder for most goals scored as he leads them into Holland/Belgium 2052 in their first ever title defense at the Euros. His speed is not what it was a couple of years ago but his 25 League Goals were still enough to win his 4th consecutive PL Top Goalscorer award, his 8th in total. He also won his 3rd consecutive Champions League Golden Boot award with 8 Goals (a far cry from his record-tying 17 Goals last year) even though Sophara United exited in the Second Round to Dortmund. He was named to his 6th straight Premier League Select Team of the Year – his 10th in total – and won a record 11th Sophara United Player of the Year. The former two-time World Golden Ball and World Footballer of the Year (2049, ’50) is now only 7 Goals away (493 League Goals for his career) from hitting a number no one before him has accomplished – 500 League Goals. The more amazing fact is that he has done so playing in 636 Games, turning out an amazing Goal per Game ratio. He also has 155 Assists and 109 PoMs in his career – at some point next season, Gibson will become the only player in history to join the 500 Goals/150 Assists/100 PoMs club. The 7.26 AR he registered this season was actually his lowest in 15 years, which goes to show just how dominant he has been since the early 2040s. In arguments and debates about who has been the greatest players of this century, Gibson is sure to be one of the names of the top of every list.

Anthony Wise (’43 – Northern Ireland: 74 Caps/25 Goals) will lead Northern Ireland at Holland/Belgium 2052 as perhaps their most famous player of all-time. Now 25, his value stands at around £75M and although he frequently voices his displeasure at not having been allowed to move to Leipzig – who offered close to £200M for the attacker – he remains the club’s most important force up front outside of Gibson. He had to deal with a few injuries this season, the most serious of which was a twisted ankle that ruled him out for 3 weeks, and that limited him to 30 Games. He registered 12 Goals, 9 Assists, 5 PoMs, and 7.12 AR, but the overlying feeling is that he should be doing better at this stage of his career. Nevertheless, his talent is undeniable and he remains a constant target for the world’s biggest clubs. His flair makes him one of the world’s most popular players to watch and he has a knack for the spectacular. If he can lead Northern Ireland into the latter rounds of the European Championships this summer, he will certainly raise his value and legacy another notch.

After showing potential to be a possible replacement for Gibson, Dave Foster (’47) failed to impress this season, scoring only 4 Goals and registering 5 Assists and 6.95 AR in 29 Appearances (10 Starts) after scoring 10 Goals last year. While the latest scouting reports on him do still have him considered as a potentially strong Premier League striker, the hopes that Dave, now 20, would develop into a star have died down. Making his debut this season was Nathan Young (’50), the 18 year old Scottish striker who plays almost exclusively with his left foot. The talent seems to be there and he is set to have more playing time next season as he is already an imposing physical specimen standing at 1.94 meters tall.

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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HOLLAND/BELGIUM 2052 – Euro Championship

 

INTRO/GROUP STAGES

A total of 6 Sophara United players represented the club at Holland/Belgium 2052 – three were tasked with defending England’s title including the captain of the squad Ben Gibson, with the other two being Tyler Craig and Lionel Wilkins. Northern Ireland were in Group F – the same as England – and had Anthony Wise in their lineup, while Wales were being led by Kurtis Thompson and world-class GK Chris Davies. The defending champions England – who defeated Scotland (Group A) in the Finals in Paris four years ago at France 2048 – were also up against Norway and Slovakia in Group F, while Wales were drawn with current world champions Portugal and former world champions in Germany and Switzerland in what was the toughest group on paper.

Scotland won all 3 of their games – including a 4-1 drubbing of Holland in their last match – in Group A as they attempted to prove their trip to the Finals last time around was no mistake. Belgium topped Group B ahead of Italy having defeated them 3-2 in their first match, while Portugal and Germany both had 6 Points in Group D despite Wales, whose best player was Sophara GK Chris Davies with 7.40 AR, defeating the world champions during their final match. Group C – classified the weakest on paper – was topped by Denmark who won all 3 of their matches with Austria coming in 2nd ahead of Ireland. Spain finished on top of Group E with Ukraine surprisingly finishing ahead of a disappointing French squad (all 3 made it through to the Second Round), while defending champions England won all 3 matches in Group F – all 3 Sophara United players played, with Ben Gibson scoring 3 Goals but Wilkins would have been disappointed with his single substitute appearance in the Group Stages. Northern Ireland came in 2nd with Anthony Wise playing well, scoring a goal and registering 7.23 AR in their first 3 games.

 

SECOND ROUND

A brace from speedy Valencia striker John Mitchell gave Scotland an impressive 3-0 victory over Austria as they advanced to their 4th straight European Championship Quarter-Finals (2032, ’40, and ’48 prior to this tournament) having scored 11 Goals and conceded only 1 in their four matches thus far…..It took penalties to separate Holland from Italy, but the Dutch finally took it after the match ended 1-1 after 120 minutes. This was the first time since Germany 2024 that the Italians were knocked out at this stage of the competition…..France, who were disappointing in the Group Stages, continued their bad form as Belgium defeated them 3-1. This was the 3rd time in the last 4 European Championship tournaments that the French exited out during the Second Round…..Norway came out on top in an Scandinavian rivals matchup against Denmark, winning 2-1 in extra-time as they inched closer to repeating their Semi-Finals appearance at Greece 2048…..Although they had a relatively inconsistent time during the Group Stages, Germany pulled it together against a strong Ukrainian side, leaving it late but ultimately winning 2-1 in a hard-fought match…..Ben Gibson scored his 4th Goal of the tournament and was England’s best player with 7.68 AR but Europe will be crowning a new champion after Poland shocked the defending title holders 3-2 despite their opponents playing the better game…..The world champions Portugal ran amuck on their Northern Irish opponents, defeating them 6-2 in a thrashing that saw Anthony Wise have a poor game…..Spain played a strong game against Switzerland, winning 3-0 and registering their 3rd Clean Sheet in their 4 games thus far at Holland/Belgium 2052.

 

QUARTER-FINALS

GERMANY vs. POLAND: Having started the tournament with a 4-0 loss to Portugal, Germany won their next 3 matches but have been less than impressive going into their Quarter-Finals matchup with Poland. The Eastern European side have also been mediocre but pulled off the surprise of the Second Round by defeating defending champions England. It ended up being Germany that would win out at the end thanks to 2 goals in the last 10 minutes, but they remained less than impressive and did not have the look of a team that would be able to take the title. They defeated Poland 2-1 with both teams having a player sent off in what was a rough and tough match, but ultimately Germany would advance to the Semi-Finals for the first time since they won the title on home soil at Germany 2036.   RESULT: Germany 2 – 1 Poland

BELGIUM vs. SCOTLAND: The last time Belgium made the Semi-Finals was at Germany 2036 when they lost to the eventual champions Germany. Scotland, on the other hand, were coming off a Finals appearance at France 2048 and were looking like the real deal. There would be no repeat trip to the Finals for the Scots, however, as Belgium took a hard-fought 3-2 victory to set up a Semi-Finals showdown with Germany once more – this time, however, the hope for the Belgians would be a different result and their first trip to the Finals since Scotland/Wales 2032 where they lost to, ironically, Germany. RESULT: Belgium 3 – 2 Scotland

NORWAY vs. HOLLAND: The Dutch exited the competition at this stage 4 years ago at France 2048 while Norway defeated Belgium to advance to their first ever Semi-Finals during the same tournament. This time around, Holland were the hosts and were looking for their first trip back to the Semi-Finals since Greece 2044 while the Scandinavian side were looking to repeat. The hosts were too strong for the Norwegians, however, and took the game with a 3-1 victory in front of their home fans as the Dutch continued their strong form at the Euros in recent times. RESULT: Holland 3 – 1 Norway

SPAIN vs. PORTUGAL: The last time the two Iberian sides faced each other at the Euros was during Italy 2040, with Portugal – the current world champions – overcoming Spain to reach the Finals before falling to Greece. Spain, for their part, won the competition for the 4th time in its history (2nd only to Germany’s 5 wins) at Greece 2044, and were looking to equal the Germans record. They got one step closer after defeating Portugal in an exciting game, one that went to 120 minutes before Portugal scored an own goal in the very last few seconds of the match, losing in the most heartbreaking way possible. RESULT: Spain 3 – 2 Portugal

 

SEMI-FINALS

BELGIUM vs. GERMANY: Despite an unconvincing tournament thus far, Germany took the game to Belgium from the beginning in what was their toughest match at Holland/Belgium 2052 since they faced Portugal in the opening game. The hosts held strong, however, and 90 minutes ended with a 0-0 draw. The Germans always looked like they were going to win the game, however, and early in the extra-time they struck their first goal and they finished the job in the 115th minute with their second. The 2-0 result was a fair result and the Belgians, who were playing in Amsterdam, had their hearts broken again by the German side. As for Germany, they were now going to make a European Championship record 9th Finals appearance. RESULT: Germany 2 – 0 Belgium

SPAIN vs. HOLLAND: Going into the match, the Dutch team had pundits less than convinced they could get into the Finals, having lost to Portugal 4-1 in the Group Stages and only sneaking by Italy on penalties in the Second Round. Spain, on the other hand, had taken victories against France, Switzerland, and Portugal on the way to their Semi-Finals matchup. As it would happen, however, the hosts showed up ready to play and with an exceptional team flow, ended up dominating and winning the match 3-1 against the favored Spanish side. The Dutch had not been in the Finals since 1988, when they defeated the former USSR in Germany – the same team that they would now face in the Finals. RESULT: Holland 3 – 1 Spain

 

FINALS

HOLLAND vs. GERMANY: There was no stopping Germany after they finally got going – despite a less than convincing start to their tournament, they got increasingly better as the competition got into its latter stages. After taking out Belgium in the Semi-Finals, there were no mistakes made against the hosts in Amsterdam, defeating Holland 2-0 in convincing fashion. While they did not have any stand-out performers, the Germans deserved their record 6th European title, although the Dutch fans were heartbroken having made their first Finals since 1988 and losing on home soil. RESULT: Germany 2 – 0 Holland

 

Jorge Simao of Portugal and AC Milan, having just won the Champions League title, continued to add to his legacy. Simao, 30, led Portugal to the Quarter-Finals of Holland/Belgium 2052 before exiting at the hands of Spain, but not before scoring 8 Goals in his 5 Games – the most scored by a single player since Goncalo Ramos, also of Portugal, did so in 2024. Simao won the tournament’s Best Player and Golden Boot awards, with midfielder Safouan Aarab, 22, of Holland winning the Best Young Player award after registering 1 Goal, 1 Assist, and 7.28 AR in his 5 Games.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 28/06/2021 at 11:47, deez0r said:

Some record by Gibson!

Honestly one of the greatest careers of any player I have had over the last 5 years when I first started my Youth Only saves. What a giant. 

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Maybe my greatest victory in this year's save - Barcelona have become an incredibly strong team, buying multiple £100M+ players over the past few years to go with their consistently great newgens.

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1 hour ago, scarp said:

I can see you're still going strong :) Great read I had while I tried to catch up on everything

Its summer and the so spending some family time with the kids, but will keep going until the next one is out! My team's current crop does not look equal to the generation before it, so it's going to be a challenge!

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7 hours ago, abulezz said:

Its summer and the so spending some family time with the kids, but will keep going until the next one is out! My team's current crop does not look equal to the generation before it, so it's going to be a challenge!

Have a great time with your family😊. Look forward for your next update. Keep going.

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On 13/07/2021 at 17:55, Assist4nt said:

Have a great time with your family😊. Look forward for your next update. Keep going.

Thanks! Working on the season update now, it should be up sometime this weekend.

 

On 14/07/2021 at 01:32, deltablue said:

That was quite a result against Barcelona!

Probably my finest result this save, although we couldnt carry that momentum past the Semi-Finals :(

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Posted (edited)

SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2052/2053

 

TEAM REVIEW

Sophara United finished in 3rd Place for the second consecutive season and although that was a good final result, the squad’s form was a far cry from their title winning 2050/51 campaign. Ben Gibson had to turn back the years, scoring 31 Goals to win the Premier League’s Top Goalscorer award for an incredible 6th straight time and also scoring 11 Goals in the Champions League to win his 4th CL Top Goalscorer in a row. The club advanced to the Champions League Semi-Finals for the second time in its history after a historic 7-0 victory at home in the Quarter-Finals against Barcelona, falling to Chelsea with 2 losses over both legs. In the Premier League, the team’s performance was a near replica of last season – they scored the same amount of Goals (78), the defense was slightly better (49 compared to 52), and they had one extra Point (74 compared to 73) – the only big difference was this team lost more games, dropping 10 instead of 7 games as losses. They were also disappointing in the domestic cups, losing in the Fourth Round in both the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup.

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PREMIER LEAGUE REVIEW

Manchester United (1st) pulled off their second straight title despite it looking like it would be Tottenham’s (2nd) destiny to win the title for the first time since 1961 – almost 100 years ago! Man United pulled it off, however, winning the league by just one point much to Tottenham’s disappointment, despite featuring newly crowned PL Footballer of the Year Roy Williams - there was, however, a clear Top Two this year. Sophara United (3rd) finished ahead of Arsenal (4th) despite both of them finishing with the same amount Points, GD, and wins. They beat out Manchester City (5th) and Champions League Finalists Chelsea (6th) for the last two CL spots so they will have to settle for a Europa League spot next season, as will Liverpool (7th) and Aston Villa (8th), who both ran out of steam towards the end of the year. Chelsea were especially disappointing as they finished in 2nd Place last season and looked in prime shape to compete for a title. Middlesbrough (20th) survived the drop last season – their first back in the PL – but could not do it again this year, getting joined by Fulham (18th), who could not survive more than 3 years in the PL this time around, as the non-newly promoted teams to fall. The only newly promoted team to be heading back down was Crystal Palace (19th), with both Southampton (15th) and Bournemouth (16th) both surviving their first season back in the league.

 

Highlight on ROY WILLIAMS (Tottenham – Spain: 33 Caps/26 Goals): Born in Gibraltar in August of 2020, Williams – despite declaring and playing for the Spanish national team – is perhaps the greatest player to ever come out of Gibraltar. Having first joined Lincoln in 2032, he was scouted and recruited by Espanyol in Barcelona at the age of 17 in 2037. It took him 3 years to earn himself a full-time starter position at the club and just one after that to be named Espanyol’s 2042 Player of the Year, scoring 17 Goals and registering 6 Assists, 4 PoMs, and 7.34 AR that season. He would win that award over the next two seasons, scoring 21 Goals in each and even registering 7.52 AR during his final year with the club. He would make a move to Bayern Munich in July 2044 after the Bundesliga team would acquire him for a total of £41M, capping off what was an incredible summer of the then 24-year-old attacker. That would be the summer he made his debut for Spain and then go on to score the winning goal at the Greece 2044 European Championship Finals against Italy.

His first two seasons with Bayern Munich were the best of his 7 year stay in Germany, scoring 17 and 22 Goals, respectively. He would win the Bundesliga (2045) and Champions League (2046) once each during his time with Bayern Munich, making 172 Appearances and scoring 94 Goals. In 2051, Tottenham bought Williams for a total of £50M, but he did not shine until his 2nd year with the club (this year), registering 7 Goals, 12 Assists, 8 PoMs, and 7.60 AR as he nearly led his new club to the title. Now 32-years-old, Williams proved that he was still one of the world’s best attackers despite playing down the wing with Tottenham as opposed up front. Once one of the fastest players in the world, his speed is starting to slow up as he inches towards his mid-30s. The Espanyol Icon capped off an incredible season by winning the 2053 Premier League Footballer of the Year award.

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REVIEW

For the 5th time in 6 years, Leipzig won the Champions League title – they had won it 4 years in a row from from 2048 to 2051 before giving it up for one year to AC Milan. England had a representative in the Finals for the first time in 4 years and Chelsea took the German champions all the way to penalties before finally falling. Since the 2020s, there has been 3 dynasties at the CL level – Man City in the 2020s and early 2030s, Arsenal from the mid-2030s to mid-2040s, and now Leipzig from the late 2040s to the present day. Tottenham knocked them out in the Second Round last year, but they are right back on top of the game – they are still the team to beat. Last year’s champions, AC Milan, lost out to Barcelona in the Second Round, who were then casualties of an exciting Sophara United team that ended up losing to Chelsea in the Semi-Finals. Leipzig knocked out two-time PL champions Man United in the Semi-Finals in what an epic run having defeated heavyweights Real Madrid and Man City in the previous rounds. Ben Gibson equaled 2 records – he tied Lionel Messi’s record of winning the Top Goalscorer award 4 seasons in a row and equaled Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of having won the award a total of 6 times.

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GOALKEEPERS

The most remarkable thing about 28-year-old Chris Davies’ (’40 – Wales: 117 Caps) great career thus far is that he has now played in 8 straight seasons without missing a single game. He has played in 38 Games every season since 2045/46, bringing his total 358 League Games so far. After the retirement of Wayne Breen, he was named the club’s new vice-captain and is now the clear choice to take over as Captain once Ben Gibson decides to hang his boots up. He came in 3rd Place in the 2053 CL GK of the Season award, and although his 7.25 AR was his lowest since his debut season with the club (2041/42), there is still little question that he is one of the very best GKs in the world currently. The Welsh international actually registered a career-high 1.18 Con/90 for any season he has played over 30 Games in, and his 11 Clean Sheets equaled his career-best. His £53M value is the 3rd highest in the world for the GK position, but at £325K per week his the world’s best paid GK.

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FULLBACKS

When the rumors started in the late 2040s that the club was looking at prospects to replace Chris Parry (’39 – Wales: 14 Caps) at RB because they didn’t consider him Premier League quality, it lit something inside the now 30-year-old Welsh defender who has now registered 5 straight 7.00+ AR seasons. He played in a career-high 37 Games this year, registering 7.05 AR, 3.36 TpG, and 94% Pass Completion. There is little argument against Parry being Sophara United’s best ever RB at this point, especially given how well he has played over the last few years. He has now featured in 419 League Games, registering 32 career Assists and 6.90 AR. He has been impressive enough that he finally won a Cap for his nation after several years on the sidelines, and he is young enough that he can still feature in a major tournament if Wales qualifies over next 3 years.

One of the most exciting prospects on the squad currently is rookie Ronnie Hickey (’52), who was given the starting gig halfway through the season and never looked back. One of the top two prospects in what is looking like a successful ’52 Youth Intake, his initial rating was 4/5 PA coming out of the Youth Academy. He ended his rookie season with 5/5 PA and having already locked down the LB position as his own despite being only a 17-year-old professional. He played in 17 Games and registered 2 Assists, 2 PoMs, 3.12 TpG, 94% Pass Completion, and 7.02 AR in what is a notoriously difficult position to play in the Sophara lineup. He won the English FA Youth Cup with the club’s youth side at the end of last year before making his debut this year for the first team. He showed fantastic improvement in training with a general lack of aerial ability being his biggest – and perhaps only significant – weakness. He looks like a definite high profile prospect if he continues to develop at this pace and play this well.

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

One of the most sought after CDs on the planet delivered his finest season of his career this year. Lionel Wilkins (’52 – England: 8 Caps), who is just as infamous for being one of the most famous snubs in the English national team’s history, played in 34 Games and registered a career-high 7.22 AR – this was his 5th straight 7.00+ AR season. Now 27, he is valued at £57M thanks to his smart and physical performances on the pitch. He rarely makes mistakes, he is almost always safe with the ball, and guarantees a battle for any striker that is playing against him – in other words, he is the ideal conventional CD. Part of the English team that went to Holland/Belgium 2052 before falling to Poland in the Second Round, he has once again found it difficult to break into the national set up over the past year. After breaking into the team under former manager Wesley Sneijder, new manager Simon Grether – who over after Euro 2052 – has frozen him out. Entering the prime of his career now, Wilkins is set to be one of the finest CDs in the PL over the next few years.

Partnering Wilkins in the middle of the defense is one of the most surprising prospects in recent years in Abdul Samura (’49), who has become one of the club’s finest defenders as well as one of its most versatile. Playing in a career-high 37 Games, he registered 2.89 TpG, 92% Pass Completion, and a career-high 7.03 AR while coming in 2nd on the team with 56 Interceptions behind only Parry. He will turn 21 early next season and has represented England 25 times at the U21 level but given the hype around the ‘Wonderkid’ defender, he could be in line for a main team call-up soon. He has put in tremendous work in training over the past two years and it has shown on the pitch, especially with his defensive abilities which are much improved. Much is expected of him going forward.

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Despite talk from some around that league that have mentioned that Eoin Hastings (’38 – England: 41 Caps/4 Goals) might be overrated, don’t mention that to his manager. The CM/CD hybrid continues to be one of the most relied on players on the club even as he turned 30 this year. Because his statistics don’t pop out he seems to have gotten more criticism than he deserves, especially with a misleading 6.85 AR. The reason his AR turns out low is because the performance of the squad as a whole is rarely out of sync with his AR – when the team plays well, he registers a high AR, and vice-versa when it plays poor. The same speaks for the other CM position as well – in general, they are very much intertwined with the rest of the team and rarely have the freedom to have standout performances. In that role, Hastings has done fantastic over the years for the club, something which his manager continues to recognize.

Chavez Straker (‘’44 – England: 19 Caps/1 Goal) must have heard the talk about him not being good enough to be a starter for the team because he played a lot better than last season. There were still games where he didn’t show up and his overall season was not great by any measure, but there was definite improvement. The 25-year-old CM played in 36 Games, registering 2 Goals, 8 Assists (up from 3), and 6.79 AR, a big leap from the 6.57 AR he mustered up last season and his highest mark during the past 4 years. Does this mean he has over the manager and the coaching staff? The resounding answer is no, although if he was to continue to improve his form next season then that will go a long way in cementing his role and position in the first team.

A lot of pundits believed Allan Ferrier (’49) was well on his way to taking Straker’s spot in the starting eleven, but it did not play out – at least not this past season. The 20-year-old did play in a career-high 33 Games (14 Starts), registering 2 Goals, 2 Assists, and 6.76 AR, a drop from last season’s 6.83 AR. The biggest gripe on him was that he ended the season pretty much the same player that started it – he did not show much improvement in his 4th year with the club, bringing up questions about how high his potential truly is. Daniel Okrah (’51), on the other hand, has the entire backroom staff excited, especially about his passing ability. A player with high flair and ball technique who enjoys doing outrageous tricks, he is only 17-years-old is looking like he is ready to take a step up. He played in 9 Games (6 Starts) in his 2nd season, registering 6.74 AR but showing a lot of positive aspects of his game.

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WINGERS

In what might have been Kurtis Thompson’s (’35 – Wales: 123 Caps/59 Goals) final season as a full-time starter, the 34-year-old LW delivered in style. Playing in 31 Games, he registered 6 Goals, 18 Assists (2nd highest of his career and top of the Premier League), 2 PoMs, and 7.02 AR, his highest in the past 4 years. The speed is no longer there and even in his prime he was never a strong player, but his ball skills, passing ability, and football IQ have ensured that he is still relevant on the pitch. It is good to see a player whose career was dogged by injuries that many feared would cut short one which has been legendary thus far continue playing so well as he enters his mid-30s. He has now played in 527 Games, scoring 136 Goals and dishing out 166 Assists with a career average of 6.99 AR. His rookie year was the club’s Championship title-winning one in 2036, and he has been rocking it at Sophara since. A legend for both his club and Wales, his career will continue adding numbers next season.

Tyler Craig (’36 – England: 87 Caps/18 Goals) had his first season under 7.00 AR in the past 8 this year, finishing it with 6.98 AR. The highest paid player on earth at £525K per week, the 32-year-old superstar became the first player in the history of the game to dish out over 200 Assists in his career at the highest level. He has earned his reputation as the Premier League’s finest passer of the ball this century, tying the PL record of 21 Assists in a season twice. His 10 Assists this season were his lowest in 8 years but it also ensured an 8th straight season of double digit assist numbers. Still considered an elite midfielder, the RW can potentially be the first player in the history of the game to register at least 600 League Games (574 currently), 150 Goals (139), and 200 Assists (204) over the course of his career. All of this could potentially be done next season if he scores more than the 8 Goals he scored this season – his career-high is 14 Goals and 2 seasons ago he hit 11.

For the first time in 6 years, Hugo Good (’44) failed to play in at least 30 Games – he had 28 Appearances (9 Starts), although he continued to be a solid play off the bench. He had 7 Goals, 5 Assists, and 6.94 AR, his highest mark in 4 years. The 24-year-old LW might see an uptick in minutes next season as Thompson inevitably holds back as he ages, but he does have competition at the position that might cut into it. Nelson Asamoah (’51) made his debut this season, playing in only 2 Games but showcasing that speed that seems to have his backroom staff buzzing. Just 18, he could be in line for additional playing time next season as well, especially if he shows decent ability to also play down the left flank. He seems to be preferred to Foster Dave (’47), who just a few years ago looked like a potential Gibson replacement up front. Instead, he has been relegated to second-choice RW after not showing enough improvement in either ability or form. The 21-year-old is talented but he only had 2 Starts in his 33 Appearances, scoring only 2 Goals and registering 6.78 AR.

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FORWARDS

As if to stick in the face of the doubters one last time, Ben Gibson (’34 – England: 151 Caps/113 Goals), who announced his retirement from international football after the Euro 2052, delivered his 10th 30+ Goals season, an incredible number that has no precedence. The Premier League and England’s finest player in the 21st century, he won the league’s Top Goalscorer award for the 6th straight year and 9th time overall, another crazy number that no one is likely to break. He also won the Champions League Golden Boot award for the 4th straight year and 6th time overall, proving that he can shine at the biggest stage of all, especially as he led the team to the Semi-Finals for only the 2nd time in their history. He belongs in a club of his own (at least 600 Games/500 Goals/150 Assists/100 PoMs club) with his career numbers, and he is sure to add to them next season as the 34-year-old has no plans of slowing down during his 20th professional season.

One of the most sought after players in the world, Anthony Wise (’43 – Northern Ireland: 85 Caps/32 Goals) was the subject of £200M bid by Barcelona, one that was quickly rejected by the team. After the debacle passed, he finally signed a new contract with the club, keeping him in London until 2057. That being said, he did have a down season – in 32 Games, he registered only 5 Goals, 10 Assists, 2 PoMs, and 6.82 AR, his lowest in the past 8 years. The general consensus is that this was an exception and that he will be back to his old ways, especially as the whole contract drama of the past year and half is now behind everyone. Next season should see the 26-year-old surpass 100 Goals and 100 Assists over his career, putting his on a tough but achievable target of getting an incredible 200 Goals and 200 Assists over his career.

There are only two 5/5 PA prospects on the team – the first is LB Hickey and the second is forward Alexandros Bolovinis (’53), who just finished his rookie year having played 7 Games and scored 3 Goals. His attacking skills are already of an elite level for a player his age having just turned 17 this past April, and his flair and ball technique have already endeared him to the fans. If his body and quickness continue to develop, he could become a very dangerous player up front sooner rather than later.

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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Edited by abulezz
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1 hour ago, Assist4nt said:

Ben gibson still on fire. Hope the best next season for you.

Thanks - yes, Gibson has been a hell of a player. Even though his speed and physical stats might make him a liability at this point, I can't bench him! Gonna keep playing him until he retires. 

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I read through all your updates over the last few days. Great thread, really enjoying it.

Some thoughts:

- Danny Marriot, every time I saw his name in the best ever 11 (until I think 2 seasons ago) I just kept thinking what could have been. I assume he just stayed in the Vanarama South and then retired?

- Gibson, wow, what can I say that haven't been said already?

- That being said, I think my favorite Sophara player so far is Mbah, just kept on defying the doubters. Did he find a club to coach at?

- What is the deal with so many of your players getting snubbed for their national teams, especially for England.

 

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6 hours ago, Netm said:

I read through all your updates over the last few days. Great thread, really enjoying it.

Some thoughts:

- Danny Marriot, every time I saw his name in the best ever 11 (until I think 2 seasons ago) I just kept thinking what could have been. I assume he just stayed in the Vanarama South and then retired?

- Gibson, wow, what can I say that haven't been said already?

- That being said, I think my favorite Sophara player so far is Mbah, just kept on defying the doubters. Did he find a club to coach at?

- What is the deal with so many of your players getting snubbed for their national teams, especially for England.

 

Hey! Thanks for the compliments and reading!

Danny Marriott left us and joined Weymouth and never played or another club. After he left us, he never scored double digit goals again, retiring at the age of 29 in 2033. He truly is a case of what could have been.

As for Ben Gibson, he has had one of the greatest careers of any player I have in the Kafra/Sophara saves. What a legend.

Arinze Mbah definitely has a soft spot in my heart and he is also one of my favorites! Although his coaching stats are not good, he is still with the club as one of our U18 Coaches! I didn't have the heart to let him go.

When it comes to England, I have no idea. There is a decent amount of English talent around, so that could be a reason, but there are certain players like Wilkins and Bayliss that never made sense to me why they didnt get called up. 

 

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2053/2054

 

TEAM REVIEW

While no one can deny that Sophara United have been one of the better teams in Europe over the past several years, they continue to find it difficult to get over the final hurdle and win a title. The exception, of course, was the 2050/51 season where they captured the English Premier League title for the first time. That being said, their 2nd Place finish behind now three-time defending champions Manchester United was their highest finish since their title-winning campaign. Usually, it would be the offense that would have been the star, but this season, it was the defense that took center stage. Finishing 2nd for the third time in their history (the last time was 2049), the Sophara defense set a new club record by conceding only 43 Goals, ranking as the 5th best defense in the league. The offense was not as potent as previous years but was still the 4th best in the Premier League, still led by the legendary but aging Ben Gibson. They participated in their 12th straight Champions League competition, losing in the Quarter-Finals to the eventual champions Leipzig. The team was also knocked out in the Quarter-Finals of the Carabao Cup against Aston Villa and were disappointingly knocked out in the Third Round of the FA Cup by Stoke.

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PREMIER LEAGUE REVIEW

For the third straight season, Manchester United (1st) finished on top of the Premier League table and for the 5th time in the last seven years. Led by 28-year-old club legend Manuel Soares, whose 10 PoMs and 7.38 AR topped the league this year, Man United captured the title in relatively comfortable fashion, finishing 7 Points head of Sophara United (2nd), who had their highest finish since capturing the title in 2051. Arsenal (3rd), the 2050 champions, also had their highest finish since 2051, with surprising Burnley (4th) rounding up the top four, with their 29-year-old Argentinean club icon and 2052 Cop America winner Claudio Ramirez scoring 28 Goals and winning his first PL Top Goalscorer award. The striker broke Burnley’s record for most league goals this season, finishing with 181 League Goals for the club since joining the club 9 seasons ago from Velez. Tottenham (5th) and Manchester City (6th) missed out on Champions League football but were compensated by spots in the Europa League, with Nottingham Forest (8th) earning the last European spot ahead of Wolves (8th) and Chelsea (9th).

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REVIEW

From the early 2020s until the early 2030s, Man City won 4 titles from 8 Finals, making 6 of them in a row from 2028 until 2033. Arsenal made 8 Finals in a row from 2036 till 2043, also winning 4 of them including 3 in a row from 2041 to 2043. Despite these hugely impressive and historic runs by the 2 dynasties, they are starting to pale in comparison with other dynasty of this century, Bundesliga team and two-time defending CL champions Leipzig. The German club has made 8 Finals in their history – once in 2022 and the rest coming since they won their first title in 2045. Out of their 8 Finals, only their first trip ended in a loss, meaning they have won in each of their last 7 trips to the competition’s final stage. This includes 4 in a row from 2048 until 2051, with only Real Madrid having won more titles in a row (5) than Leipzig. Their current 10 year streak is probably the most dominant in the history of the competition, winning their 6th title over the past 7 years by defeating Atletico Madrid in Munich. New French Ligue 1 champions Nice made the Semi-Finals for the first time in their history before falling to the eventual champions, while Atletico Madrid defeated Spanish La Liga rivals Barcelona in the other Semi-Finals matchup. Last year’s defeated Finalists Chelsea were non-participants in this year’s version of the competition.

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GOALKEEPERS

It has now been 9 seasons that Chris Davies (’40 – Wales: 26 Caps) has played in all 38 Goals, an incredible feat of durability. One of the highest valued GKs in the world at £53M, he is now only 4 Games away from 400 League Appearances for the club despite being only 29. He was also named the Kafra Player of the Year for the 2nd time of his career, ending Ben Gibson’s current streak at 7 while also finishing his second season as the club’s vice-captain. He registered a career-best 1.13 Con/90 to go along with 10 Clean Sheets – despite finishing with 7.16 AR, his lowest since becoming a starter, this was considered one of the best seasons of his career. The World-Class GK completed his 14th season with Sophara United and has become one of the fans’ favorite players over the past few years.

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FULLBACKS

Ronnie Hickey (’52) might just be the best full-back prospect to come out of the Sophara Youth Academy when it comes to pure talent, and the 18-year-old continued to support that narrative after an impressive sophomore campaign. The LB has shown especially good progress in his quickness and speed – has he matures physically, he has become a lot quicker than he was coming out of the Youth Academy. Of course, that is not the only progress he has made – his defensive skills and instincts have also shown marked improvement. His 7.10 AR was a good step forward from an already impressive 7.02 AR he registered his rookie season, doing so in 30 Appearances and registering 3.56 TpG and 94% Pass Completion while ranking 2nd on the team with 63 Interceptions. He’s already been signed to a new contract that pays him £75K per week, and his value has shot up to around £15M. The most impressive part? Even at his young age, he was probably the best LB in the Premier League this season, earning PL Select Team of the Year honors as well as becoming the third Sophara United player to win the PL Young Player of the Year award. He came out of the Youth Academy with 4/5 PA, but he is now one of 5 Sophara United players with a 5/5 PA.

After 6 straight seasons of 7.00+ AR, Chris Parry (’39 – Wales: 15 Caps) has finally been rewarded with a call-up to a major tournament for Wales along with GK Chris Davies. In truth, he more than deserves it, and this year his form was rewarded with his first ever selection to the PL Select Team of the Year. The 31-year-old RB played in 35 Games (454 League Games for his career thus far), registering 2.66 TpG, 94% Pass Completion, a team-leading 66 Interceptions, and a 7.08 AR that is the second-highest mark of his career. His 3 PoMs were also a career-best, and while he has never been known as a great defender, his physical style, speed, and professionalism has pushed him to the upper echelon in terms of RBs in the Premier League. A highly influential member of the team, his leadership has been essential in molding a young defensive line – along with Wilkins – into one of the best in the league.

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

The only player on the English national team representing Sophara United at the Spain 2054 World Cup tournament, Lionel Wilkins (’42 – England: 10 Caps/1 Goal) remains one of the highest valued CDs in the world at almost £60M. A lot has been said about his lack of technical skills, but again he delivered a strong season – in 35 Appearances, he registered 2 Goals, 2 PoMs, 1.66 TpG, 91% Pass Completion, and 7.13 AR. His career-average is now 7.03 AR having finished his 12th season with the club and Wilkins, now 28, is just entering the prime of his career. His strength is his trademark, and although he isn’t the fastest player on the pitch, his high intelligence means he is rarely caught out of place or making a mistake. Wilkins is a premier CD and is considered a global star at this point – if he can have a good tournament in Spain, it will also be very positive for his overall legacy.

As good as Wilkins has been over the past few years, it looks like 20-year-old Abdul Samura (’49) is starting to push his colleague in the back for the title of most talented CD to come out of the Sophara Youth Academy. Samura, while considered one of the better prospects in the ’49 Youth Class, only had a 3.5/5 PA at the time – now, he is 5/5 PA and is being said that he is on the way to potentially being a world-class CD in a couple of years. While not as strong as Wilkins, he is faster, a better passer, and better with the ball at his feet – some even say that his defensive skills might already be superior to the English international, which is no small feat. He put his signature on a new 5 year contract that will pay him £135K per week going forward, having played in 37 Games for the second straight season and registering his first Goal of his career, 2.18 TpG, 94% Pass Completion, and a career-high 7.08 AR. To put that in perspective, Wilkins didn’t register his first 7.00+ AR season until he was 24. He has exceeded all expectations thus far both in terms of talent and form,

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

The 31-year-old Eoin Hastings (’38 – England: 41 Caps/4 Goals), despite not making it into the England World Cup squad, remained a hugely important member of the Sophara United starting eleven. He had his best season in years – the 6.92 AR was his highest in 7 years, playing in 33 Games and registering 2 Goals, 3 Assists, 2 PoMs (career-high), 3.01 TpG, and 88% Pass Completion. Considered one of the smartest players in the league, he has made a career out of his versatility – he is equally comfortable playing as CD as he is CM, and in both positions he is capable of playing several different roles effectively. He might have crossed 30, but his game remained unchanged – the hope is he can continue playing at this level over the next 2/3 years.

Although he finished the season still the club’s defacto starter at CM alongside Hastings, Chavez Straker (’44 – England: 19 Caps/1 Goal) has pretty much been written off by everyone around the league. Teams who approached the club were limiting their offers to less than £10M, a far fall for a player who was once considered potentially England’s future at CM. Although he agreed to a new contract, his official value as of the end of the season was a depressing £3.5M. He played in 37 Games (25 Starts), registering 1 Goal, 5 Assists, and 6.69 AR, losing a lot of starts to young rookie Ryan Moffat as the season came to a close. Although it has not been officially announced, it looks like Moffat will start next season in the first eleven, relegating Straker to first option off the bench. Truth be told, it is as much as he deserves – he had been given every opportunity to succeed through the past several years and he could not deliver consistent strong form to justify it.

Ryan Moffat (’53) impressed when given his opportunity, playing in 18 Games and registering 2 Goals, 4 Assists, and 6.78 AR. The 17-year-old rookie was the star prospect of the ’53 Youth Class and looks set to be given an early chance to prove he will live up to that billing. His playing style has been compared to his superstar teammate Anthony Wise, although Wise is far better technically and when having the ball. One of his most impressive qualities has been his work-rate which was the reason he was able to improve his passing skills so quickly during the season. His potential allowed him cut into the minutes available for Allan Ferrier (’49), another talented CM in his own right. Ferrier, 21, continued to provide answers of the bench, playing in 26 Games (5 Starts) and registering 3 Goals, 3 Assists, 2 PoMs, and a career-best 6.88 AR. A highly technical player and a very good passer, Ferrier has impressed thus far at his time with the club and has carved out a nice role for himself in the rotation.

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WINGERS

What a career for the retiring Kurtis Thompson (’35 – Wales: 127 Caps/60 Goals), playing for Sophara United for 20 years and with Wales right up until it was time to hang up his boots. A legend for club and country, the 35-year-old found it difficult to keep up this year and so his retirement came at the right time considering his desire to leave while still at the top. His speed deserted him completely, although the skills were still there. He played in 22 Games, registering 2 Goals, 3 Assists, and 6.66 AR as he find it difficult to deliver consistent form. He will end his career having played in 549 League Games and having registered 138 Goals, 169 Assists, 30 PoMs, and 6.98 AR career average. He will end his career as one of both his club and his country’s best players ever, and definitely Sophara United’s greatest LW of all-time.

Tyler Craig (’36 – England: 87 Caps/18 Goals) might not be retiring yet, but like Thompson his speed and some of endurance has begun deserting him having turned 33. For only the 4th time since his rookie year (17 seasons), he failed to play in 30 Games – he had 27 Appearances, registering 5 Goals, 8 Assists, and 6.77 AR. The last two numbers were also his lowest since his rookie year and after 8 seasons of 10+ Assists, the greatest passer in the Premier League in the 21st century had his incredible streak ended. Look at these career numbers, however – 601 Games, 144 Goals, 212 Assists, 33 PoMs, and 7.02 AR. That means if he scored 6 Goals next season, he will be in an exclusive club all by himself – the 600 Games/150 Goals/200 Assists club. Craig, 33, is still the highest paid player on the planet, earning £500K per week, and although he might not be the best player in the world, his importance to the team over the past 15 years cannot be overstated.

The winger positions, for the first time in a generation, are looking weak and shallow. With one of the starting legends retiring and the other reaching the tail end of his career, there is no one strong or talented enough to their place and fill the void. Hugo Good (’44) was considered one of the best prospects the Sophara Youth Academy when he first came out but the 25-year-old has failed to live up to those lofty expectations. A solid if not spectacular role player, he had 23 Games (8 Starts), 5 Goals, 1 Assist, 2 PoMs, and 6.86 AR. He was unable to solidify himself and gain more minutes with the decline of Thompson, but he remains one of the manager’s most trusted options off the bench. The same applies to Foster Dave (’47), whose story follows a similar track to that of Good. Considered a possible replacement to Gibson up front during his teen years, the 22-year-old played in only 18 Games this season, his lowest over the past 5 years. He also failed to score a single goal, registering 4 Assists and 6.82 AR without starting any games. A driven player with limited potential, he still has his manager’s trust off the bench at both the RW and Striker positions. Perhaps the best performer off the bench at the two winger positions this season, however, was 19-year-old Nelson Asamoah (’51), who played in a career-best 11 Games (9 Starts) and registered 2 Goals, 6 Assists, and 6.96 AR in an impressive season. He came out of the Youth Academy with 3.5/5 PA and that has now been adjusted to 4/5 PA. While he has not convinced the club’s staff that he is the answer at RW, he seems to be preferred to Dave as Craig’s playing time is inevitably going to be decreased next season.

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FORWARDS

It finally happened – this was the season that Ben Gibson (’34 – England: 151 Caps/113 Goals), Sophara United and England’s finest player ever, started showing his age. Now 35, he still played in 37 Games but his 6.91 AR was the lowest of his career and his 18 Goals meant it was the first time in 17 years he failed to crack 20 Goals in a season. The PL’s greatest goalscorer of all-time, he has now scored 542 League Goals and has played in an incredible 708 Games. In fact, like his teammate Craig, he belongs alone in an exclusive club that is even more impressive – the 700 Games/500 Goals/150 Assists/100 PoMs club. Despite experiencing difficulty being able to keep up with the game at times this season, he was reassured by his manager that he will remain Captain and starter going into next season, as well. This was his 20th full season with the club and the veteran striker has yet to hint at the possibility of retirement.

Anthony Wise (’43 – Northern Ireland: 96 Caps/37 Goals), who will be headed to the World Cup at Spain 2054 this summer, has now become the highest valued player on the team at £66M. The truth is, however, he continues to underwhelm – he had a decent season, but he has yet to deliver on the promise of his talent and play a truly great season. In 31 Appearances, he registered 11 Goals, 4 Assists, 3 PoMs, and 6.92 AR – decent but definitely not great numbers. He is one of the world’s most famous and popular players and Wise, now 27, has talent that is worthy of such high praise. He is 2 Assists off of 100 for his career and he has already surpassed 100 League Goals having registered a total of 106 in 370 League Games. If he can start playing more consistent and closer to his talent, Wise is a player who could potentially hit the magical 200 Goals/200 Assists club, something which neither Craig nor Gibson achieved.

Unlike the winger positions, the forward position looks to be in good shape with two star prospects having made their presence felt this year. Daniel Okrah (’51) might not be a conventional striker but he definitely has caught the attention of a lot of people. The 18-year-old played in 23 Games (12 Starts), registering 6 Goals, 2 Assists, 3 PoMs, 83% Pass Completion, 60% Shot Target, and 6.94 AR while also playing at the CM position. His passing ability is nearing an elite level, he is a highly creative and tricky player, and he has developed quite a decent amount of speed to go along with his great decision-making. Although he is a different type of player and more of a conventional striker than Okrah, Alexandros Bolovinis (’52) actually spent more time down the left wing than up front this season. Bolovinis, 18, is one of the few players with a 5/5 PA rating, appearing in 21 Games (18 Starts) and registering 5 Goals, 3 Assists, and 6.78 AR during his second year with the club. He only turned 18 in April but has already developed enough strength, endurance, and speed for the Premier League as well has having improved his ball skills and dribbling ability. He might be called upon more extensively next season to play down the left wing, as was Gibson’s fate early in his career.

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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14 hours ago, Assist4nt said:

No luck yet to lift the trophy again. Keep strong mate. Every start will have an end. With that day yet to come, Gibson have doing absolute fantastic.

Not yet - our team isn't complete enough and the likes of Man United and even Tottenham have gotten alot stronger over the past few years. Our 'Golden Generation' - which is now coming to an end with the retirement of Thompson and inevitable retirement of Gibson and Craig - was simply more talented at its peak than the current crop, it seems, and they could only capture the PL title once. 

Gibson is a legend of any save I have ever played, and I've been playing consistently since 1998! 

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