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A Crusade of Kings - We're Going Dutch


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To start with I will say I have a few gripes with FM21. I love the match engine, but there are some UI bugs I have had issues with. I'm sure they'll get fixed, but I suffer FM OCD and might lose patience if they don't get fixed. Whether this save will last, or whether it will remain my main save is unknown.

I also love Paradox Interactive games, so this save is my attempt to recreate my first save in Crusader Kings 3, in which I started as the County of Dokkum in Friesland. For some reason I love playing Europa Universalis as Friesland too, but I have never once managed in the Netherlands in FM. I have added on databases for the Netherlands down to level 5 (Hoofdklasse) and Luxembourg down to the third level (I could have added below, but the clubs were a little underpopulated).

I have created a Dutch manager, born in Dokkum, but have invented a backstory of him playing lower level football in both the Netherlands and in Luxembourg. I just thought Luxembourg would be fun after watching Loki Doki manage there last FM.

The Manager

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The suave and educated Nid Rijkstra; a man of fashion who shows his Leeuwarden colours proudly

Meet Nid Rijkstra; a 36 year old native of Dokkum in Friesland, northern Netherlands. Despite a flourishing youth career that saw Nid on the verges of making it in the Cambuur Leeuwarden youth setup, Nid suffered a painful injury that hit him like an arrow to the knee*. Setting his sights lower, Nid enjoyed a good career in the lower reaches of the Dutch league system alongside a good career in finances. Career promotion saw Nid moving to Luxembourg in his late twenties, and a switch to the Luxembourg league system.

2020 sees Nid having retired from a rewarding career in the beautiful game and looking at trying his hand at football management. With the support of a good career, Nid is free to move about the Benelux countries to go where fate takes him in his early managerial baby steps.

Does Nid stay in Luxembourg or head home to the Netherlands and make a name for himself in the country of his birth? Will he find himself managing the teams of his home town?

A Cambuur fan as a young man, and as a promising young player, surely the goal is to lead his beloved club to Eredivisie glory.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to conquer Europe for Friesland.

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The flag of Friesland and the Coat of Arms of Dokkum

~~~~~

Sadly, FM doesn't have Frisian as a language, but I have tried my best to give Nid a Frisian name. Embarassingly, I named him Rijkstra thinking Rijk was something royal in Dutch. That would have been a nice link with the title. It's actually governmental or imperial, but that works nice enough considering the Netherlands has long had an association as a republic.

Let's get finding a job and see where this goes then.

"Fryslân boppe!"

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There's a lot of Europe loaded and I have a large database with as many players as possible loaded. A lot of Europe is view only because I don't really plan to go there. I just want a realistic European competition without my PC burning...

The database changes are add on leagues. I haven't changed any players or given anyone any money. I did try to mess with Norway to open up the Third Division, but I hit a limit in my ability to use the editor. I've reinstalled the game, so hopefully I haven't screwed anything up. That would be another reason this save could die.

I'm not Dutch. I know very little about the Dutch league system, but I like watching Ajax play football. I don't know where it comes from but I seem drawn to Friesland in Paradox games. I went to Amsterdam in the 90s - for education purposes (sure...) - but I've never been to Friesland. Nor do I have any familial connections with Europe's possibly freest country.

Maybe I like clogs...

 

* - medieval reference number one!

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Season   League Cup 1 Cup 2 Player Of The Season Top Goalscorer
2020/21 FC Schifflange '95 9th Promotion d'Honneur (Lux Tier 2) Coupe De Luxembourg Round 2 n/a Frédéric Marques Frédéric Marques (27)
2021/22 FC Schifflange '95 7th Promotion d’Honneur (Left with 4 games left) Coupe De Luxembourg Round 2 n/a Frédéric Marques Frédéric Marques (15 as at manager leaving)
2021/22 Union Titus Pétange

6th BGL Ligue (at joining)

Fiished 8th (only managed 4 games)

n/a (out before I joined) n/a n/a n/a
2022/23 Union Titus Pétange 6th BGL Ligue

Coupe De Luxembourg Round 4

n/a Rodrigo Parreira Jonathan Nanizayamo and Leonel Landim (12)
2023/24 Union Titus Pétange 1st BGL Ligue (Champions of Luxembourg)

Coupe De Luxembourg

Quarter Final

n/a Jonathan Nanizayamo Jonathan Nanizayamo (20)
             
             
             
             
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Rijkstra Finds A Home

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Lovely colours, but the shirts are a litle tight around the middle.... They have one lovely table.

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Schifflange (Schëffleng in Luxembourgish) is a small commune and town bordering the slightly larger town of Esch-sur-Alzette in south-western Luxembourg, close to the border of France. The town is most famous as a home of tennis player Gilles Müller and as the site of a steel works founded in 1871, but abandoned in 2013. At just over 15 minutes or 11 miles from the capital, Luxembourg City, Schifflange is in an ideal location for an enterprising financier to base himself and to enter the world of football management.

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           Main Street and Notre-Dame-de-l'Ėvangile in the background; Schifflange from the air

FC Schifflange '95 is an amateur football club founded in 1995 as a merger of The National and Amis des Sports. Since its creation, the club has played just one season at the top level (now BGL League), six seasons in the Promotion d'Honneur, eleven seasons in Division 1 and five seasons in Division 2. Their last shot at the big time came in the 1999-2000 season. After promotion in 2019-2020 the club find themselves in Luxembourg's second tier again.

The club play at the Stade Rue Denis Netgen, a ground with a capacity of 2,000 (3,500 according to wiki) that is also known as Stade Municipal.

The Team Preview

At first glance the squad is very forward heavy, though there are a fair number of defenders of much lesser quality. The answer to this may be to play a much more direct game hoping to utilise the attacking strength and put less pressure on the defence. This might be a case of score one more than we concede.

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The squad at the time of joining Schifflange

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In a league that seems to feature a bizarre number of promoted teams we are fourth favourites to go down, but we're heavily more tipped to do well than the huge odds of Bettembourg and Berdenia.

Prior to my arrival Schifflange have played a cup game and a league game. They beat Red Black of Division 1 4-1 in the cup and beat Bettembourg 2-0 in the league.

Key Players

I'll start by highlighting just a few key players and introduce more as the season progresses.

Our number one will most likely be 21 year old Frenchman Calvin Haïdara, a reasonable keeper with promise that started in the youth ranks of FC Metz.

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At center back we will certainly be reliant upon the ability of veteran Frenchman Sébastien Do Rosario. Séb is another player who began his career at FC Metz. He has lost a lot of pace, as he is now 36, but surely his footballing brain can make up for that.

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Mithat Hot is a 32 year old Serbian born, but Luxembourg naturalized, utility player that could be key to our season. Mithat is perhaps most comfortable at left back but could deputise across the back four.

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Midfield looks a weaker area of the team, but hopefully I can get some performances out of 28 year old Rabah Rahmouni. Rabah is a Frenchman that actually didn't start his career at FC Metz.

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In the forward areas is, as I said, where we are most blessed with talent. Frédéric Marques is perhaps the most adaptable of all our talent and is able to play across the park, but he might well be best suited to playing in the hole. Despite being 35 years of age, and entering the last years of a career that has seen him play in the top league of Luxembourg and as high as the National in France, Frédéric still has some pace and will be an asset for us this season. He has already scored twice in the game against Bettembourg.

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Also in our attacking lineup, and probably the man who will act as the focus of our attack, is the 22 year old Belgian Glenn Protin. Glenn is yet another player that started at FC Metz and has the potential to be the natural goalscorer that clubs cry out for.

 

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My first game comes quickly as we travel north to face Marisca Mersch. Actually, it is this afternoon.

I best get my skates on and go pick a team.

"Louis, je pense que c'est le début d'une belle amitié."

Let's hope it really does turn out that way.

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August 2020 - A Career Is Born

And it was born a day after I joined Schifflange. Not ideal, but they do say that being chucked in at the deep end can help. We were facing Marisca Mersch away and I suddenly realised the immensity of my task. It wasn't the poor players. Nor was it that every other team was seriously better than us. We were on the back foot against Marisca but we did well enough. Calvin Haïdara in goal was fantastic and Rami contributed a wonder goal to our cause.

No, the problem was home grown players. Whoever assembled this team wants shooting. We must have nine players trained in Luxembourg for three years before their twenty-first birthday in each match squad. Most of my best players do not fulfill this need and we are also very stacked with defensive homegrown players. We either have a bench full of defenders or we take advantage of being allowed a smaller bench. I have one winger who will probably never get a game because he is not home grown. He would be great on the bench too.

For the Marisca game we had no keeper on the bench and I chose to send the team out cautious with orders to counter whenever. I wanted an idea of our strengths without being too gung ho. Marisca were dominant throughout and pummelled us with shot after shot but Haïdara saved almost everything that was thrown at him. Just one shot escaped him as Marisca took the lead on 36 minutes. In the second half our task got even harder with the stupid sending off of Frédéric Marques for a second booking. It was a foolish tackle to make by a man on a yellow, and especially from one whom I consider to be possibly our star man. It put us even more on the back foot, but clearly our lads have something to prove to their new gaffer.

Just when I thought we were going home with nil points we got a freekick on the left hand side of the box. Up stepped Ahmed Rami to fire home a sensational strike to give us a point. We'd stolen it in all honesty.

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Next up was a tough game as we welcomed relegated top flight team Rumelange to Schifflange. I decided to be a little more adventurous but compacted the team to a 4-4-2 diamond. With a little jiggling, and no Marques, I was able to name a full bench. As in the Marisca game we started on the back foot and Haïdara was again brilliant. We took the lead in the 60th minute too. We broke on the counter and Protin played a delicious ball over the top for Lionel Landim to run on to and finish. In all honesty, I was convinced the strike would be ruled out as offside, but it stood. You have to take what luck gives you. 

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Leonel Landim

Rumelange came at us with a flourish after that goal and with changes we had to make we became weaker. Our full backs have not performed and our replacements in central defence are not as strong. Rumelange equalised after 67 minutes and stole the points with a late 87th minute winner. It was gutting, but we knew we had done well. There are things to build on here.

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Just a point from my first two games in control, but I'm not fazed. The other three points want by the team had been against drop favourites Bettembourg. There were many good points and we find ourselves in mid table at the end of August.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Saturday 29th August 2020

Coming Next

September sees a busy month in which we entertain Yellow Boys, Atert Bissen, US Esch and Junglinster in the Promotion d'Honneur. We also have a very tasty tie against six times Luxembourg champions Differdange in the cup. Granted, their last title was 1979, but that will be a strong challenge.

On the home front, I need to get my full backs playing football. I can't get replacements so a proverbial kick up the arse might just be needed.

 

I realised my player images don't have the player's names on them. I might have to fix that.

 

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September 2020 - Schifflange "Marques" On

September began with a short trip up the A13 to Weiler-la-Tour to face bottom club Yellow Boys. With the opposition predicted to finish much higher up the table we knew this would be no easy task. The 4-4-2 diamond was the order of the day, but with our focus balanced between attack and defence. The game proved a tight affair that would be decided late on. Yellow Boys were arguably the better team, but it was my substitution that changed the game. On 71 minutes Frédéric Marques latched on to a quality Protin ball and slotted past the Yellow Boys keeper. I had left the Frenchman on the bench after his red card against Marisca and he showed me in no uncertain terms why he should be starting. Ten minutes later it was two-nil. We broke quick from a Yellow Boys corner only for Marques to be tripped in the box. Marques stepped up to slot home the penalty himself and give us the three points.

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A week later we travelled north to face Atert Bissen and it proved a dull affair. We had the better chances and couldn't convert, but a point on the road is always taken. There's little else to say about the game. It wasn't a classic.

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Next was a sort of derby as we welcomed US Esch from the neighbouring town of Esch-sur-Alzette. We put on a blunted display in an attacking sense but were under pressure for most of the game. We actually took the lead as Frédéric Marques scored again after latching on to another ball over the top, but Esch equalised from the penalty spot after being awarded a very soft penalty in first half stoppage time. As I said, we were under a lot of pressure, but we defended reasonably well. Of course, the game would end in disappointment as Calvin Haïdara fumbled a cross and pushed the ball in to the path of the opposition forward. We tried hard in the final few minutes but to no avail.

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We had a break from the league in midweek as we travalled to top division Differdange for a second round cup tie. I never saw us winning this game as my focus was on the league and I decided to make a lot of changes. In came Yannick Germannaud in goal, Jordan Massaro in defence, David Kiambu in defensive midfield and Brandon Ikwa on the wing. We were set up to be very defensive and hope to hit Differdange on the break, but attacking-wise we were lacklustre. Yannick Germannaud was the best player on the pitch as we kept Differdange out for 90 minutes. Yannick made a number of good saves. Samel Bibuljica came on in place of a poor Rani in the second half and with more luck could have grabbed us a winner. It wasn't to be though, and it was Differdange who won their place in round three with a bullet of a shot from their right back. It was about the only effort that could have beaten Germannaud on the day.

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The most disappointing fact of the day, however, was a huge injury for winger Brandon Ikwa. He faces 12-15 months out with damaged cruciate ligaments.

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To end the month we welcomed slow starters FC Jeunesse Junglinster to Schifflange for a match in which we decided to push on and hope to grab a decisive win. In an attacking sense were impressive, but we have a worrying tendency to switch off and let teams back in to a game. We were 2-0 up within the first 20 minutes. Sébastien Do Rosario opened the scoring as he rose highest to head home an Ahmed Rani free kick and score his first of the season after just seven minutes. We were proving dominant in the air from set pieces, and it was a similar situation to the first goal that provided our second. Another deep free kick was swung in to the box by Rani and Marques was first to the ball. The Junglinster keeper got a hand to it but the next clearing ball only could rebound off of Eurico Gomes* for an own goal to make it 2-0.

Next came one of our periods of switch off and Junglinster capitalised on that complacency to make it 2-1 at half time, Erovic missing a header at the back post to allow their forward in. I spoke to the players concerning this complacency at half time, but it was much of the same for the first third of the second half. We got the break we needed when we were given a penalty on 58 minutes. Frédéric Marques won and converted the spot kick to gives us back a two goal lead. Two minutes later we further tortured Junglinster as Marques played some wonderful football on the touch line to tee up Glenn Protin for a simple finish. That goal made it 4-1 to us and also signalled another period of complacency in which we allowed Junglinster another simple goal with seven minutes remaining. It wasn't to be for the opposition, however, as Leonel Landim tucked home one of the easiest finishes of his career, after Protin had hit the post, to make the game safe in the 90th minute.

If we can play attacking football like that regularly throughout the season then we are sure to be safe.

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Sidenote: I must confess that the last two games, against Differdange and Junglinster, were replayed after my game stopped responding when I tried to bring up a match report for analysis. The Differdange score was the same but I had only beaten Junglinster 2-1 in the first match. Ikwa hadn't receieved his 12-15 month injury before I had had to force quit the game though. If I secure safety on goal difference at the end of the season I'll do a forfeit!

And with that dominant finish to the month we find ourselves sitting nicely in seventh place, just outside the promotion/play off places. It is better than I'd hoped for.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Sunday 27th September 2020

Coming Next

After that spectacular end to September we enter another five game month in October. It's five league games this time though as we visit Union Mertert, Berdenia Berbourg and Alisontia Steinsel. At home in October we face tough ties against Mondercange and early leaders Jeunesse Canach. That game against the leaders will be a serious test of our credentials. In reverse, though, Berbourg are showing early signs of struggling and that could be a game in which we fire like we did against Junglinster.

I must say that I love the team names in Luxembourg. Alisontia Steinsel. Yellow Boys. Marisca Mersch. Far more interesting than Reading FC. Or Watford. I'm a bit worried about playing Mamer though. Bound to get injuries in that one.

I just hope Frédéric Marques can keep scoring. The experienced striker has six league goals now and is behind only Cyril Wagner (a man who has scored all but two of his team's goals) of Berdenia in the goalscoring charts.

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Promotion d'Honneur Top Scorers as at end of October

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*Own Goal

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October 2020 - Defying The Odds

Going in to October on the back of a 5-2 slaughtering of Junglinster gave us a massive boost as we travelled east for a clash with Union Mertert-Wasserbillig. Mertert were a team that could score goals, having hit seven against Division 2 side FC Pratzerthal-Redange two weeks ago. The match couldn't have started much worse as Klica completely lost his man to allow Mertert a third minute opener. I'd dropped the team a little deeper for the game but switched back to our usual by pushing Rani further up the pitch after that goal. It worked wonders as we destroyed Mertert for the rest of the half. Our equaliser came as Ahmed Rani latched on to a crossed ball from Marques, following good hold up play by our top scorer, to bundle home. In two scintillating minutes just before half time we then showed real attacking intent to pretty much put the game to bed. Firstly, a peach of a goal. Klica picked the ball up on the halfway line and fed Benhamza who then fed Frédéric Marques for a lovely dinked finish over the advancing keeper. A minute later it was three. Protin centered for an onrushing Frédéric Marques who bundled the ball home at the second attempt, the first having hit the bar.

We slowed the game down in the second half for a wonderful 3-1 away victory.

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Nabil Benhamza whose lovely pass had set up Marques for our second against Mertert

We suffered a setback a few days after the Mertert game as Glenn Protin was approached by RC Paris of the French National 3. He accepted to return home to France. Glenn will earn a wage in Paris so it was unlikely he would have turned down the opportunity. We will have to forge on without him.

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The next weekend saw us entertain unbeaten FC Jeunesse Canach at home in what should have been our toughest game to date. It wasn't to be as another rampant first half performance saw us tear Canach apart. Our opener came from the penalty spot via top scorer Frédéric Marques after he had been fouled on the edge of the box. Our second was the easiest goal Leonel Landim will probably ever score. The young Luxembourger slotted past a floundering goalie after Marques had set him up after picking up a lose ball in the box. It was turning in to a defensive horror show from the league leaders, and it only got worse in first half injury time as we won another penalty. It was Frédéric Marques who again won and converted the penalty. The second half was a case of holding on to our lead. We conceded a sloppy 60th minute consolation but held on to claim an impressive win.

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I decided to make a change before our next game away to strugglers Berdenia Berbourg. The performances of Mithat Hot had not been up to scratch at left back and I chose to replace him with Do Rosario. Youngster Nick Schonckert came in to central defence and played a massive role in another win. It was not a comfortable win though. Berdenia were hitting us fast on the counter and it was after I dropped Schonckert to a deeper role that he pulled out all the stops to deny the opposition. Ahmed Rani had opened the scoring after latching on to a mistake in the middle of the park and racing in to beat the keeper. Berdenia had equalised five minutes later and they proved stubborn opposition to break down from that point onwards. It took an injury time strike from, you guessed it, Frédéric Marques to give us three points. He had capitalised on a missed defensive header to run in and beat the keeper with another cute dink. Goals on the break are doing wonders for us this season.

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Nick Schonckert whose defensive masterclass helped seal the win against Berdenia

We were now unbeaten in four games and next up were another team going well in FC Mondercange. THis was another incredibly tight game which saw us save a point late in the game. Mondercange were admittedly the best team. We had lost Nabil Benhamza to injury in the week and were finding it hard in the middle of the park. I am not really happy with the quality we have in midfield so to lose a player was not ideal. The first half was a stalemate but Mondercange came out of the blocks fastest in the second half and took the lead in the 52nd minute after catching my backline napping. We were now chasing the game but finding Mondercange hard to break down. Things became even worse with ten minutes left when we lost Rani to a calf injury. We had made all three subs and I thought this was the end of our unbeaten run. I never should have doubted Frédéric Marques though as he scored another late, late goal to secure a point. It was another ball over the top and this time a cheeky lob of the keeper. Where would we be without Marques? 

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Yep, still messing with skins

We got the bad news about Rani just after the match. Three to four weeks out with a pulled calf muscle. With Belkacem banned we were becoming very short in midfield.

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I was forced in to a change of formation for the trip to Alisontia Steinsel at the end of the month. I plumped for a straight 4-4-2 with Hot playing left wing and Bibuljica on the right. It was not a natural position for either, but needs must. Klica was also somewhat out of position in central midfield. January can not come around fast enough to improve this squad. I don't know how we're doing so well.

With so many changes Steinsel naturally took advantage and pressed us hard, but it was we who took the lead ten minutes in to the second half. Frédéric Marques, of course, capitalised on a sleepy defence to race in and dink the keeper again. Thirteen goals before the end of October is fantastic. I thought we might snatch a great three points but Steinsel managed to tie the game ten minutes later. If truth be told they could have gone on to win the game but a late winner was ruled offside. Thank you linesman.

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So the end of October sees us in fourth place in a very tight title chasing pack. I can tenatively say that we might be safe from relegation too. There is over half a season to go though, so I might be counting my chickens.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Saturday 31st October 2020

Coming Next

We march on to November with a squad feeling the pain or cut short by poaching. November starts with a trip to bottom placed FC Medernach before we welcome Käerjéng to Schifflange. Then it is two away games; Mamer (the last team we have not faced) and Bettembourg (in a return to already faced teams).

It's almost downhill from here.

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November 2020 - It's Never Easy, This Job

Since Ahmed Rani and Nabil Benhamza got injured there has been a malaise about the club. As has been covered, we struggled against Mondercange and Alisontia Steinsel, snatching draws somewhat against the odds.

Our first fixture of November would be a vist to the bottom team in the Promotion d'Honneur, FC Medernach. Everyone expected a big win but we had a bad start and never found our rhythm. Both Rani and Benhamza were training but I hadn't deemed them ready to face Medernach. I was really struggling to find a formation up front that would recreate the goals of Rani and Marques and this was another game in which the makeshift partnership of Marques and Landim failed to shine. Having to put Marques in to the attacking midfield role it was then a question of who played alongside Landim. Bibuljica is primarily a winger or inside forward but can play up front. Penning is a youngster that has the ability to forge a good career but what little he has played in the first team environment has not been fruitful.

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Penning has done fabulously in the U21s but it has been Bibuljica getting the nod of late. Penning did come on late against Medernach but was as unable to find the net as Bibuljica, Landim or Marques and we travelled home with nil points. A poor start to November.

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My scouts have been busy and had identified some young Ivory Coast nationals based in Luxembourg that could find a place in our team come January and we offered Ange Viera and Emmanuel Inagohi a trial period in which to get a better look at them. They are both from Yamoussoukro but neither have a club history to speak of. Viera looks the best prospect.

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I actually have no idea where either have come from. My scouts suggested them but neither have a career record. They do however have time in Luxembourg, for nationality purposes, so I presume they are very amateur players that are for some reason in the database. For the purposes of storytelling they are immigrants to Luxembourg that have been playing very amateur football in the local area. I like there to be a reason they are there. It's possible I am anally OCD about FM.

But on to our next game in which we welcomed the up and down Käerjéng to Schifflange. We got off to the best start possible as Rabah Ramouni fired us ahead from the edge of the box for his first goal of the campaign. Our visitors picked up the pace after that goal and were the better team throughout the rest of the match. They equalised shortly after the second half restart due to sloppy defending on our part. We weren't to be beaten however, and won a penalty when Nick Schonckert was felled in the box. Frédéric Marques stepped up to score another from the spot to take his season tally to fourteen. Rani and Benhamza had returned for this game but had to be replaced midway through the second half but we hung on to claim a needed three points.

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And on to the last side we had not yet met in Mamer. We were being tipped to struggle but held on for a precious point at their place. Ahmed Rani was our scorer in the 25th minute from a lovely grass skimming strike. The keeper probably should have reached it but I'll take the fortune. It was a fine equaliser to Mamer's early opener and they were easily the better team throughout. I was happy to take a point.

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For the last game of November we travelled a short way east to face Bettembourg. The return fixture had been the final game for Schifflange before my arrival. The side had won that 2-0 and I wanted more of the same. Bettembourg were struggling and had been thrashed 8-0 a couple of games back by Mondercange.

It wasn't to be however. We had so much of the ball in this game but failed to find an opening, more due to our poor effort in the final third than the defending of Bettembourg. Other than his penalty against Käerjéng Marques had been struggling throughout November and it fell to Sébastien Do Rosario to save our skins and score the winner courtesy of a fine long range strike that rebounded in off the far post. I had done everything possible in the game to find an opening. Well, short of having their players hacked off of the pitch.

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That final three points keeps us in the hunt for promotion in third place behind Canach and Mertert. It is incredibly tight in the promotion race though. As far down as US Esch in tenth are only seven points shy of us.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Sunday 29th November 2020

Coming Next

Now on the downhill stretch we have just three games in December. Marisca Mersch and Yellow Boys visit us and we also travel Rumelange. There is then a welcome break for Christmas before the much looked forward to transfer window opens on January 1st. The scouts have been told not to travel home until December 24th.

Need to start stepping up that recruitment drive. It won't be easy.

31 Recruiter Memes That'll Make You Laugh…or Cry - TextExpander

It's exciting isn't it...?

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December 2020 - Small Squad Hits A Winter Wall

Early December saw an addition to the squad in the form of Ivorian central midfielder Ange Viera. Ange had impressed during his trial in November and I decided to take the risk of having another non homegrown player in the squad. Ange has the ability to play the workhorse role in the midle of the park but can also play further forward in Rani's role.

Ange went straight in to the squad for the visit of Marisca Mersch at the start of December. Our visitors were on a four match unbeaten run and this would be a test. We started rampant though, and we were two up before the thirty minute mark. Two minutes in and Frédéric Marques arrived late at the far post to turn home a Landim cross. We then doubled the lead through Frédéric Marques with a 29th minute penalty. That is when things started to fall apart. We should have gone on to win comfortably but we let Marisca pull a goal back on the stroke of half time and that gave them the impetus in the second half.

Marisca equalised after 58 minutes and then took the lead seven minutes after that. The scorer both times was Gullit Ramos and he was doing his best impression of his Dutch namesake towards our defence. Whether he was named after the Dutch legend is anyone's guess. Just as I thought we were done for up stepped Frédéric Marques again to turn home a peach of a Mithat Hot ball from the edge of the area. A hattrick for our star man and a get out of jail free card for the team.

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Before our next match at US Rumelange it was a week of meetings. Firstly, discussions regarding the forthcoming transfer window with my chief scout and assistant. We're all on the same page and had fruitful discussions on what this club needs to move forward.

Next was a discussion with my head of youth recruitment about the state of our youth prospects. The lads we can expect to see progressing in to our U21s might not be the best ever seen but Sébastien Viola does have hopes regarding a center back and defensive midfielder. Let's hope someone surprises us.

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So, with meetings done, next on the agenda was the trip to Rumelange. Our opponents had been moving up the table and I expected an even tougher game than the Marisca one. Hopefully we wouldn't throw this one away. Both Benhamza and Belkacem were suspended and I therefore switched to a wider formation with just Landim up front on his own. Marques had moved wide but was given license to play a free game and get in the box.

Rumelange dominated the game, if truth be told, but again it was us that started with a bang. On 11 minutes it was Frédéric Marques with another penalty before he scored a second just before the half hour mark turning home a Rani cross with a powerful header. It was all Rumelange from that point onwards though and they were level by half time. The equaliser was a penalty that I will go to my grave claiming never should have been. I thought we might hold out in the second half but my defence completely lost their man to concede an 88th minute sucker punch.

You can't win them all but that hurt. To double the pain Marques picked up an injury and I had had to take him off at half time. I'll receive the news Monday and hope it's not too bad.

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The bad news regarding Marques was that our star striker would face near a month on the sidelines with ligament damage. He would miss the next game against Yellow Boys but might be available for the start of January.

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As it happened, the next weekend's match with Yellow Boys would be called off due to a waterlogged pitch at Stade Rue Denis Netgen and Marques would have another week to rest up. I wasn't expecting him to be ready though.

The games that didn't get called off would see us drop to our lowest position since the start of the season. We would need to show our true credentials against a Yellow Boys team precariously close to the drop. Rahmouni would be the latest Schifflange player to be suspended for the game, but I was able to switch back to our usual 4-4-2 diamond. I brought in Richard Penning to play in Marques' position. Richard is still scoring for fun in U21 matches so hopefully he could take this chance and show his worth.

We started dreadful. The first half performance against Yellow Boys was the worst I have seen from this bunch of lads in nineteen games as their manager. We were 2-0 down at half time and I gave the lads a rollicking. They didn't seem to accept any blame and looked rather down as they trudged out to the pitch. To credit them they played so much better for the second 45, well most of it. We were level within ten minutes and Leonel Landim got the first as he turned home a lovely Penning through ball. It had been lovely link up play between Viera, Rani, Penning and Landim to lead to the goal. Our equaliser was provided by Richard Penning for his first official Schifflange goal. It was a lovely finish after Rani had provided the through ball.

Penning should have had a his second, and our third, soon after but his chip over the keeper hit the bar and bounced on to the line. We then seemed to lose our way and Yellow Boys got back in to the game. We held on shakily and then got a 94th minute penalty that I thought would give us the win we probably didn't deserve. With Marques off the pitch Samel Bibuljica stepped up to take the kick...and blasted well wide.

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That was it then, I thought. Injury time should have been up but football is a crazy game and the most dramatic end was seen in this game. With the ball in Calvin Haïdara's hands he pumped it long up the field, probably expecting the whistle to blow. It landed on the feet of Richard Penning who finished wonderfully to give us the most undeserved three points of the season.

I love football.

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That result saw us rise back in to the lone play off spot where we find ourselves behind Mondercange on goal difference. But, just to prove how crazy this league is, Union Mertert lost their last game 2-6 away at Berdinia Berbourg. They're second.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 21.30; Tuesday 29th December 2020

Coming Next

With the postponed game, and the hastily rearranged tie, we have just a four day rest before we face US Esch in our first tie of 2021. We also face an away trip to Junglinster in January and entertain Atert Bissen at home to end the month.

The other focus of January is of course the transfer window. If truth be told we can sign any amateur player at any time*, but it will be interesting to see how we shape up come January 31st. I'd like at least two new signings. More strength in defensive midfield is a must and I want improvements in our full back positions. Do Rosario is ageing and would really benefit from being in the center of defence. Right back is a position we can probably cope with until the summer, as is central midfield and up front. We will see what is presented though.

It is key we get more homegrown players to make my squad picking an easier task.

Looking forward to it.

Transfer Deadline Day | Know Your Meme

*I had thought we would have to wait till January to register players we sign, but the signing of Viera proved otherwise

 

 

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  • anagain changed the title to A Crusade of "Kings" - We're "Going Dutch" This Round

January 2020 - New Year, Mixed Fortunes

With the late snatched win at home to Yellow Boys we couldn't help but go in to the new year with a sunny disposition. The game to test this new disposition would be the short journey west to US Esch. Esch had been up and down all season but having beaten us at our place earlier in the season then revenge would have been nice.

Boy, was it not to be. We never got going in a game Esch well and truly dominated from the get go. Marques was only on the bench as he was just coming back from injury and I didn't want to risk him. It was 2-0 to Esch within the first quarter of an hour, with defensive or goalkeeping errors leading to both goals. Asking the team to prove themselves in the seond half only seemed to make us worse as Esch went three up with 15 minutes of the second half. We did get one back a minute later when substitute Frédéric Marques latched on to a huge Calvin Haïdara goalkick to run in and beat the keeper. It was the forward's 20th goal of the season.

Sadly, this only spurred Esch on and they scored another three before Frédéric Marques was able to slot home a second consolation. You score two away from home and you think you'd at least get a point. Well, that's the cliché in football, but it certainly didn't hold true for us. To lose 2-6 was a dismal result and I made sure the lads knew it.

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I was approached by a number of the players early the next week, led by Ahmed Rani. They had come to tell me the dressing room atmosphere was poor and all I could do was inform them that if they put in the performances we needed then that would sort any atmosphere problems. I got a positive acknowledgement of what I was saying from a couple of the youngsters but Rani was proving difficult. Ahmed's performances had not been up to scratch since his injury and I told him so in a little private chat. He informed me he didn't want to bench sit and that things would improve. I'll hold him to that.

The first opponents in the trial of Ahmed Rani were Jeunesse Junglinster, the team we had stuffed 5-2 back in September. Marques came back in to the side, replacing Penning, but was hardly in the game first half as Junglinster had the best of the chances. I urged the lads on at half time and it was of course Frédéric Marques who opened the scoring with a lovely finish from a Landim cross. It had been Ange Viera, whom I had moved in to a deeper playmarking role with immediate results, that had set the move running with a sublime forward pass to Landim.

Junglinster came right back at us and they unforetunately managed to equalise via a tame outside of the box strike that our keep failed to get to. 1-1 is better than conceding six though and a point on the board was better than nothing after the disaster at Esch.

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The games after Christmas are well spaced out in this league and we had two weeks to wait for the visit of relegation threatened Atert Bissen. We had drawn 0-0 in the away tie with the three time Division 1 winners but surely we could score a few against a team still on 14 points. If the first half was anything to go by then we couldn't. We had a lot of the ball in our attacking third but weren't creating many decent chances. When we did have a good chance we'd find the Bissen keeper in the way.

We lost the influential Ange Viera to injury midway through the second half and I thought this just wasn't going to be our day until up popped our star man to change our fortunes. It began with fantastic work down the right from full back Nermin Klica. The young man tricked the opposing full back and put in a wonderful cross that Frédéric Marques piled forward to get on the end of. It was a lovely goal to break the deadlock, with just 8 minutes of normal time remaining. Now we just had to hold on.

We did more than that in injury time. Atert were commiting men forward and we punished then succinctly. First Nick Schonckert scored his first of the season with a powerful header from a Marques corner, and then substitute Richard Penning beat a defender to the ball to race in and deal the killing blow. That last ten minutes was the Schifflange of a few months back.

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Nermin Klica whose fantastic moment of play changed the match against Bissen in our favour.

So the end of January sees us remain amongst the teams battling for the promotion places in the Promotion d'Honneur. We are one of eight teams seperated by just four points. THis is going to be tense.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Sunday 31st January 2021

January Transfer Window

There was of course the small matter of a transfer window in January, and what a dismal affair it was for us. Pickings are incredibly slim and it seems to take our amateur scouting network an age to actually scout a player. We have lost two goalkeepers in the past month and a bit. Adil Sadrhazi moved to Moroccan lower league side RS Seddat and promising youngster Jason Georg dropped a division to sign for promotion hopefuls FC Koeppchen Wormeldange. I was a little saddened by the loss of Georg but I did everything I could to get him to stay.

In terms of incomings there is just one new face. Maxence Lejeune is a 21 year old full back/defensive midfielder that I signed primarily because I thought he was homegrown. Then I realised he played youth football in Saarbrücken to mean he is actually not homegrown (well, I foobarred that one up). That fact makes Maxence half as useful as I thought he might be. He might prove a wonderful talent. I shall work my magic.

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If truth be told, that transfer window was a painful experience. Left, right and centre I was fighting off attention for my players but prospects that I believed my improve us were few and far between. There were two players that I would have loved to have signed but for them being foreign or non-homegrown. Yannick Ouédraogo is a left back that came to my attention around the same time as Ange Viera did. Mehdi Sakani is Moroccan with Belgian nationality. He doesn't count as foreign but is certainly not homegrown. There is little point having more foreign or non homegrown players. I can't play all the ones I have now.

Hopefully I'll have more joy in the summer.

Coming Next

With the transfer window over we enter in to the final eight games at two a month between now and mid-May. In February it is home to league leaders Union Mertert and then away to former leaders Jeunesse Canach. If we finish the month with a point I'll be happy. If we want promotion we need to beat these sort of teams though. We have beaten both before, why not again?

gordon ramsay chef GIF by Masterchef

 

 

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February 2021 - The Going Gets Tough

February would prove to be our toughest month yet with two games against the top two teams in the league. Top of the table Union Mertert would be first up, though they had lost their last game at Steinsel and lost 2-6 at home to releagtion threatened Berbourg just a few weeks before. It would seem no team's form is perfect in this division.

We had completed a great win over Mertert during our fantastic period of form back in October so we knew we had the ability to win the tie but it proved to be more in their favour this time out. Our opponents were having the best chances but the first half ended goalless. In the second Mertert picked up a the pace a little and knocked in the opener in the 65th minute after our defence again switched off to lose their man at a corner. We were only behind for three minutes though as Rahmouni played a perfect defence splitting ball for Leonel Landim to latch on to and knock past the Mertert keeper. We held on to secure a valuable point against a good team.

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Later in a month in which we played just two games we travelled to Canach to play what would easily be our toughest game. Canach were 11-10 on to secure the title despite facing us on the back of two draws and a defeat. The Promotion d'Honneur is anyone's guess this year. I opted for a more defensive setup, dropping Rani back to left wing and bringing Bibuljica in to play on the right. Marques dropped back to play behind the spearheading Landim. It almost worked and the game would reveal a gut wrenching end for us.

After a first period in which we denied Canach our hosts found a breakthrough after 62 minutes. It was a lovely goal of intricate passing that left my defence paralysed. It also left me thinking we would now have to push a little harder if we wanted something from this game and I switched things up. It worked as Landim was felled after a direct run in to the box. Frédéric Marques stepped up to fire home a great penalty and now all we had to do was hold on for a point.

I really thought we might too, but Canach took advantage of tired minds to head home from a 92nd minute corner to take the points. I was pleased with the effort even if our disciplinary record seems to be getting a little long. We will be without Klica, Hot and Belkacem for the next game as a result of bookings. We are up to 52 yellows for the season now, though it will take some effort to equal the 6 red cards of Steinsel and Bettembourg.

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The defeat sees us firmly planted in mid table on 38 points. We are still in touch with the promotion chasing pack though, and a couple of good wins could see us back up there again. I'd wager we are safe from relegation now too. We have a healthy 14 point lead on the relegation play off spot.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Saturday 27th February 2021

Coming Next

We are back in action in two weeks with a trip to fourth placed Mondercange before we welcome the heavily relegation threatened Berdenia to Schifflange a couple more weeks on from that. Just the two games again in March, as indeed there is each month all the way through to May now. Just six games to go now in my debut season.

Can we claw back that promotion place that looked so attainable a few months ago?

35 Memes to Remind You That You Can Do It | Fairygodboss

 

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March 2021 - An Upturn In Fortunes

As we moved in to March I called the lads together for a heads up on the state of the season. Whilst we were on a little downturn in results, I told them, we have the abilty here to push on up and claim that promotion spot we so desire. The lads agreed and I've seen a massive number of smiles about the training sessions.

The eventual result of this will hopefully be fruitful, but the immediate result was that we made the short journey to Mondercange with the atmosphere buzzing. We were missing Hot, Klica and Benhamza so I gave Viera the more defensive midfield role with instruction to be creative. Erovic filled in at right back and I gave a debut to young Maxence Lejeune at left back. Maxence has done well in training to improve in key areas.

We started on the front foot and were causing Mondercange problems. This pressure came to fruition seven minutes before half time. Rani swung a free kick in to the boxand Landim was bundled to the ground by the Mondercange defence. Frédéric Marques stepped up to duly dispatch his ninth penalty of the season and his 25th goal in total. The second half continued much as the first. We were having the best possession whilst Mondercange tried in vain to stretch our defence. As the opposition commited more forward we broke and sealed the game. Rani won the ball in midfield and fed Lejeune on the left side of the box. The debutant played a lovely first time cross in to the box and Leonel Landim was there to head home a bullet from eight yards.

It was a great win.

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Youth Intake Day

A few days after the Mondercange victory I welcomed Sébastien Viola, our head of youth development, in to my office for him to inform me of the new youth candidates at the club. First up, he informed me, was a young Portuguese defender brought to the club via a scouting link. Sérgio Pratas is a very promising defensive minded player that can fill a role in central defence or midfield as well as at left back. With hard work Sérgio has the potential to be a star for Schifflange.

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Next on Sébastien's list of star recruits is another Portuguese youngster, this time a left winger. Dénis Agostinho has a good work ethic that might see him develop what we need to start expanding our ability on the wings.

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More quality in defensive midfield is something I could really benefit from and it therefore pleased me to see Sébastien's next notable recruit. Michel Trierweiler is a Luxembourg born midfielder with great tackling skills and the ability to make a real nuisance of himself for us.

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Finally I was given the details on a Luxembourger striker with pace and reliability in front of goal by the name of Fabio Merciai. Under the hopeful tutelage of Frédéric Marques I am hopeful that Fabs can follow in the footsteps of Richard Penning and become a promising striker for our club.

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The above are just Sébastien's picks of whom to watch most closely. The new candidates also include a couple more full back talents and some more hope on the wings. In my opinion this is far from the poor crop of youngsters that December's preview suggested, and with hard work I believe a few of these could make it. Finger's crossed. I certainly look forward to a potential excellent crop of youngsters.

 

Back to the league, and we welcomed strugglers Berdenia Berbourg to the Denis Netgen next. I put out a formation intent on getting forward and causing Berdenia trouble. Benhamza was out and he was replaced by Mustapha Belkacem. It took us just two minutes to open the scoring. Rabah Rahmouni fed Frédéric Marques and our star man slotted past a floundering keeper.

We found it hard to break down Berdenia after that goal and it took us until midway through the second half to make the game safe. Ange Viera's perservance won us the ball in midfield and his short ball to Penning was played beautifully on to the edge of the box by the frontman. Mustapha Belkacem was there to control the ball and shoot for 2-0. It was Mustapha's first goal of the campaign and made sure of three points.

That meant two wins from two March games and no goals conceded. I'll put it down to my team chat.

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We finished March a position higher in seventh. It is typical that just as we start winning everyone else is maintaining their form. Mertert have a three point gap now but it is so tight from first down to ninth; just ten points seperating those positions.

At the other end, Atert Bissen will drop down to Division 1 next season.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Sunday 28th March 2021

 

Coming Next

So just four games left. April sees us welcome fourth placed Alisontia Steinsel to our place and then we visit our close challengers Käerjéng. Six points from those two games must surely see us back in the promotion zone. Let's hope we make it happen.

One Does Not Simply - One simply does have Just four games left

 

Edited by anagain
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9 hours ago, Sheriff7 said:

Tough season.You participated in cup?

Yeah. Club won one round before I got there and then I lost to top division Differdange, I think, in a game I pretty much threw. 

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The Mother Of All Promotion Races - 4 To Go

As a little teaser (and because I haven't been able to play all week leading up to Christmas) I thought I would post the promotion race as run by the Luxembourger Football Gazette - that well known source of journalism throughout Europe.

With four promotion spots automatically, and a loan spot for a play off with a top flight team, it means a fair number of teams are involved. The added fact that it is so bloody close adds yet more story.

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Let battle commence. Report at the halfway stage.

Edited by anagain
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April 2021 - Well, So Much for Promotion

April was terrible for us. We got off to the worst possible start in the home game against Alisontia as Nabil Benhamza saw red for an attrocious tackle in a nowhere area of the pitch. That sending off left us on the back foot and Alisontia punished us half an hour in to the match with the sole goal of the half.

Trailing at the halfway mark, I tasked the lads with going out and proving themselves, despite having ten men. It was much better, and Leonel Landim had a goal disallowed, but the equaliser proved elusive and Alisontia hung on to go home with three points.

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As has been the case since the turn of the year we had a couple of weeks to prepare for the visit to Käerjéng and a game that would be a must win should we want promotion. Of course, we got off to an even worse start than we did two weeks previous. It took Käerjéng just 3 minutes to storm to a 2-0 lead, our defence guilty of switching off for both goals. We were blunt in attack and never looked like creating a chance, let alone scoring. Käerjéng were ruthless in front of goal though and were 3-0 up before half time.

I demanded more in the second half but didn't get it until things had become even worse with two more Käerjéng goals. Thibaut Bourgeois had thoroughly destroyed us to claim four goals and go above Marques in the goalscoring charts. Ahmed Rani had been poor all match and we actually got better when I subbed him for Penning. Marques dropped back and had we been only a couple down we might have had a chance of nicking a point. We ultimately fell to our worst defeat of the season in by far our worst performance of the season.

I called the lads together after the game to try and salvage something for our remaining two games. There will be changes for the visit of Mamer though.

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Those two results mean our chances of promotion are all but gone with just two games left. We are five points shy of Rumelange and Mamer in fourth and fifth. The ultimate goal of safety is assured though.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Saturday 24th April 2021

Coming Next

Our final two games are at home against Mamer and then Medernach. Medernach could be battling to stay up when we meet or they could be guaranteed to be facing a relegation play off. Either way they will want to go in to a play off match on the back of a win. We would like to finish on a high and undo some of the negativity of the Käerjéng game.

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May 2021 - Finishing Mid-Table On A High Note

We knew our fate regarding promotion without kicking a ball. Our Saturday game against Mamer was called off for a waterlogged pitch. We watched on as Alisontia recorded a 3-0 win over Marisca to move seven points clear of us. With us having two games left that was that.

After months of fortnightly games we would have to play our final two matches within four days of each other after the postponement. We really believed we could beat Mamer as they arrived in Schifflange on a Tuesday night despite us having lost so heavily the last game. Things didn't go as planned though as we handed our opponents a 3-0 lead by the hour mark.

Marques was playing deeper, in place of Rani and Do Rosario had returned after injury to replace the underperforming Schonckert. After their third goal I brought Rani back on and moved Marques back up front. It marked a change to the game as Frédéric Marques volleyed home a wonderful Klica cross to give us a glimmer of a hope.  We then got a second in injury time, as Leonel Landim beat the offside trap to make Mamer nervous, but sadly it was too late to change the result.

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After that defeat the best we could now manage was eighth. That was disappointing after we had done so well earlier in the season, but the board assured me they were happy with our accomplishments. To get eighth we would have to beat an FC Medernach side that wanted to win to stay in the relegation play off spot and not suffered direct relegation. Mondercange would have to not beat Marisca too. We got off to a good start at Denis Netgen as Leonel Landim slotted home a Marques assist in just five minutes.

Medernach were not proving easy to beat though and they tested us throughout. For once we were defensively strong. Klica was again strong at right back and even Hot had a reasonable game at left back. On the back of the defensive display we won the game with a quarter of an hour to go as Leonel Landim beat the defense to fire home a lovely Viera ball.

It was nice to finally win again but Mondercange's 4-2 win denied us eighth.

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We would therefore finish ninth in my first season, well ahead of tenth placed Yellow Boys and seven points off promotion. Medernach, Berbourg, Bettembourg and Atert Bissen would suffer the ignominy of relegation and Junglinster would have to win a play off versus Berdorf-Consorf.

Congratulations to Union Mertert as they grabbed themselves the Promotion d'Honneur title. To think we took four points off them. Also promoted are Rumelange, Käerjéng and Jeunesse Canach. Alisontia Steinsel missed out on promotion by a goal and will have to play Fola Esch for a chance to play in next year's top flight.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Saturday 15th May 2021 - FINAL TABLE 2020/21

Dropping down from the top flight for the 2021/22 season will be US Hostert, Wiltz, Rosport and Etzella Ettelbruck.

Joining the Promotion d'Honneur from Division 1 will be Lorentzweiler, Alliance Aischdall, Koeppchen and Grevenmacher.

Coming Next

Now we concentrate on building a squad that can step up that little further next season. The board wish for us to remain a Promotion d'Honneur side but also to be top half regulars. To do this we will need more strength, particularly in midfield. Hopefully Marques can manage another season to score our goals and I have a few targets in mind. The scouts will be working hard though this summer.

Player Stats -2020/21

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Not including Glenn Protin (8 Appearances, 1 Goal, 3 Assists, Average Rating 7.09)

Further awards and stats to come.

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The Start Of Pre-Season Update - 2020/21 Review & 2021/22 Preview

The relegation play offs went in favour of the better sides. Alisontia failed to get promoted and Junglinster survived.

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That means the new teams in the 2021/22 Promotion d'Honneur will be as stated earlier. FC Union Sportive Hostert, FC Etzella Ettelbruck, FC Wiltz 71 and FC Victoria Rosport from the BGL Ligue alongside FC Lorentzweiler, FC Koeppchen Wormeldange, CS Grevenmacher and FC Alliance Aischdall Hobscheid-Eischen from Division 1.

Frédéric Marques finsihed third in the goalscoring charts to sum up a good season for our French striker. Cyril Wagner is a man hot on my radar, and with Berbourg relegated might he join?

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A New Season

With the new season formalised, and the transfer window opened, we received our schedule for the new campaign. It was not entirely favourable in that we play the four relegated sides in the first five games. It's a conspiracy. At least we'll have them out of the way.

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Favourites for the title are US Hostert with the other relegated sides just behind them. The experts appear to have decided we have a relegation battle on our hands, although they said that last season. We've been given odds of 50-1 for the title, the same as promoted Lorentzweiler and Koeppchen.

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The Home Front - Developments at FC Schifflange '95

We have turned semi-pro and the club have offered me a new contract at a tantalising £250pw.

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Secondary to this the board have accepted my request to do a coaching course, which they will fully fund, and have given me a nice wage budget with which to tempt new talent.

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It's an exciting time at the Denis Netgen.

Transfer News

With the opening of the transfer window I decided to dive in early and and make an offer for a youngster playing in the lower leagues.

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Max Bernard is a Luxembourger that my scouts and the fans do not seem to rate. I believe the lad has a good mentality that could help him to improve. He was worth a shot.

I made an offer for the previously mentioned Cyril Wagner but he chose to stay with relegated Berbourg.

 

I can't help feel the future of Schifflange is looking promising. The new money will help me attract players and the board let me employ another scout to improve the scout network. Just have to sell the club now.

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  • anagain changed the title to A Crusade of Kings - We're Going Dutch

Pre-Season 2021-2022 - An Exhaustive Player Search

Pre-Season Squad Analysis

Goalkeeper: The goalkeeper spot, I think, is covered. Haïdara will continue as number one whilst last year's signing Sami Kubardovic has impressed in his development and is an able back up.

Full Backs: Finding players in Luxembourg is hard. At least, finding home grown players that can improve the squad we have is hard. I have searched and searched for full backs; the area that I feel is most desperately needed for improvement. I keep falling short.

A light was shone on that area near the end of July though. See below

Central Defence: A number of triallists came and went during the summer and a likely center back signing was one. This was not an area I was particularly needing to improve as urgently as others.

Midfield: This was the area of the pitch for which I found the most options. Sadly, many of those options weren't really improvements. We lost a member of last season's squad midway through pre-season, as I'll expand on later, but I did find players that were very much improvements. The squad had come to me as the pre-season kicked off to say we were very short in midfield and they wanted an improvement in quantity.

Attack: Up front I am happy with, although I did explore a few options. It is mostly about trying to work out which is the best way to line up the talent I have. Rani, Marques, Landim and Penning are like square pegs in round holes. Someone has to miss out usually. If I try to squeeze those pegs into the holes I lose something. I feel I have to play Marques in the role of primary goalscorer but that means Landim needs to play deeper; a role that is not his best. I have tried Rani up front in a deep lying forward role but it rarely works great. He needs to be more consistent this year though. Penning may have to continue to be the deputiser.

 

I made a very concious effort to sign Luxembourgish players, but there was talent from overseas that I couldn't ignore.

File:Animated-Flag-Luxembourg.gif - Wikipedia

Incomings

First in, and on loan from top division Una Strassen, is midfielder Rafael Delgado. Rafa is a player that I am sure can make a contribution this season and has a right foot that can play a good pass. Rafa may be best suited to playing a creative role alongside our more dynamic midfielders.

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The end of July proved to be busy with three new signings. First up is a young and pacey French born Moroccan left or central defender. Though he doesn't fill the homegrown requirements, Elias Bouazza is quality enough for me to be fine with that. Elias also frees up Mithat Hot to play in defensive midfield and Do Rosario to play centrally in defence.

Elias signs from Division 1 team Club Sportif Sanem.

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Next we have a 20 year old Italian born but Luxembourg trained midfielder with fantastic technical qualities. Johnny Matteagi is a great prospect that, whilst lacking physically, could be a star player for us.

Johnny signs after being released by Una Strassen.

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And the final signing of the three is a young winger from relegated Berdenia Berbourg. Whilst I don't primarily run with wingers, Mike Schiltz is a youngster with bags of pace and promise. If I can find the right players for the right side then that opens up a new formation for us to switch to should we need it. And he is just 17.

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With our first competitive game of the season, in the cup with the visit of FC Excelsior Grevels, just over a week away our summer dealings were almost done. There was one triallist center back I was keen to offer a contract to and a young attacking midfielder that I was umming and ahhing about. Our last first team friendly at Bourscheid would be the last chance for both.

There were a few other players on trials at the club that most likely would not be offered contracts. I'll give them a game in a reserve friendly midweek but I don't believe any will really improve the team.

I do have my scouts having a prompt look at a right full back that there is a chance we could sign on loan. Klica is improving but a BGL Ligue talent at right back would be nice. There is the concern with making too many changes though.

 

The Bourscheid game came and went with a slightly uninspiring 2-0 win. My first choice trio of Rani, Landim and Marques struggled to score, but it was my second half replacement of Bibuljica, Penning and our fifth new signing that caught the eye. This was the attacking midfielder I was looking at. He is a Luxembourg born 21 year old of Serbian parentage by the name of Munir Dragulovcanin. Munir has fair pace and an eye for the creative. He was direct and a handful against Bourscheid, plus he has not really had a bad game on trial so was therefore was worth a shot.

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That left just one defensive signing who arrived just two days before the cup game. Oliver Olesen is an 18 year old Luxembourger center back that is capped at U19 level for his country. For now he'll be back up to Brice Bernard, Do Rosario and Schonckert but he is one for the future of the club.

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Outgoings

We have lost one of last season's regulars in Nabil Benhamza. The midfielder moves to FC Saint-Lô Manche of the Championnat National 3 Normandie Groupe in France. It was a no-brainer for Nabil really as he'll earn a decent wage in France.

Also leaving, but only on loan, are youngsters Sérgio Pratas and Dénis Agostinho. They will spend a season at US Feulen and FC Racing Heiderscheid respectively. Both clubs are in Division 1 so it will be a good test for the lads.

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Another youth player, Toni Mehmedovic, left the club to sign for CS Bourscheid.

There have been many, many offers for my players. So far no others have chosen to accept the offers. Leonel Landim has twice turned down Jeunesse D'Esch of the BGL Ligue.

Friendlies

We played four first team friendlies and were largely uninspiring. The loss to Division 1 side Minerva was concerning. There were a fair number of triallists about though.

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The performances of the U21s was much more inspiring; the form of Bibuljica really giving me food for thought.

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FC Schifflange '95 Squad 2021-2022 - Promotion d'Honneur Campaign

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We're all set. Let's get this season underway.

Lets Go Start GIF

 

 

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Posted (edited)

August 2021 - A Painful Start

And so we got underway with the visit of FC Excelsior Grevels in the cup and a very attacking formation to try and put the minnows to bed early. It was indeed pretty much all over by half time. A first half hattrick from Frédéric Marques and a debut strike from Munir Dragulovcanin saw us 4-0 up at the break. Dragulovcanin was excellent throughout and his goal was a solo masterpiece.

The second half was a tamer affair but we added another couple of goals from Samel Bibuljica and a second from Munir Dragulovcanin. It was a wonderful start to his Schifflange career for Munir and a great way to start our season.

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The second round draw a few days later gave us an away tie at last years Promotion d'Honneur relegated team FC Medernach. Surely that is a chance to progress.

A few days later the Promotion d'Honneur got underway as we welcomed relegated FC Wiltz to the Denis Netgen. It was a start to forget though as we lost 3-1 to one of the favourites for the title. It was a poor performance with our only goal coming from Leonel Landim right at the end of the game. I had strong words with the lads for their lack of effort after the game. The only highlight was an energetic cameo from Dragulovcanin. It was the youngster's assist that provided for Leonel.

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Interlude - Transfer Window Closes

With the closure of the window I wanted to add one or two more faces to the squad. After our defensive display against Wiltz I was looking at defensive positions. There had also been an issue with filling the nine homegrown slots in the lineup and another homegrown face would help there. I really hate the rule, but I guess it must be good for Luxembourger football.

In the end just the one new face arrived and it was a new man in defensive midfield. Yannis Dublin is a former Luxelbourg U21 international who joins us in a season long loan deal from BGL Ligue FC Progrés Niederkorn. Yannis is a defensively sound playmaker who can hopefully make a name for himself here.

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~~~

With our squad now as complete as it was going to get we travelled north to face another tough tie at Etzella Ettelbruck. Our performance improved from a week earlier but it ended all in vain in a cruel way. We went 1-0 down just after the half hour mark, but we equalised shortly after through a wonderful free kick to notch a first Schifflange goal for Elias Bouazza.

We looked like we might hold on for a priceless point but were hit with an 87th minute sucker punch goal. 

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To end the month we welcomed Junglinster for a first tie of the campaign not against a relegated team. We were still being considered outsiders though and started poorly before going 1-0 down in the 27th minute. The lead didn't last long for our opponents though as Frédéric Marques headed home his fourth goal of the season after meeting a deep Nermin Klica cross.

To be fair we were holding our own against Junglinster but the game looked like staying level until the final minutes. I had brought on Landim to replace Bibuljica and it was he who changed the game with a positive cameo. Hard work from Landim set up a sitter for Marques which forded the defender to bring down our lead striker. Frédéric Marques stepped up himself to send the penalty home and secure our first three points of the season.

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~~~

That late goal made our start to the season look a little more rosey than it had been looking, but we end the first month in the relegation zone still.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Sunday 29th August 2021

Coming Next

Five games in September with two away games to start at relegated Hostert and Rosport. The final two league games of the month are home to Mamer and Marisca with the cup second round squeezed in between those two games. Let's hope we can manage to grab a positive result in at least one of the two tough month's openers. We don't want to get too far behind the pack at this early stage.

Things can still only get better.

Let's hope for the best - Futurama Fry | Meme Generator

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September 2021 - Fantastic Month With A Bizarre Blip

A new month, with no transfer business to occupy us, and just the daunting prospect of away ties at two relegated sides.

US Hostert could be the most challenging match of these two as they had been the side last to be relegated from last year's BGL Ligue. I went with a very defensive formation, sitting deep and ordering the lads to regroup if Hostert should attack. We did indeed face constant pressure and Hostert got what should have been the breakthrough after 26 minutes as Klica was adjudged to have gone in too forceful on Desweemer in the box. Hoffman stepped up...and Haïdara got down great to save.

Despite the pressure it was us who took the lead. Dublin picked up a loose ball in midfield and played a lovely searching ball in to the area. Marques was offside, and so left the ball, but Leonel Landim was not. He raced on to the ball to slot home past the keeper.

Hostert of course came at us after that goal but the lads held on to claim a wonderful win away at a tough side.

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~~~

With one tough game out of the way, a week later we travelled north to face Rosport. Rosport had had a poor season last year but were going well in the Promotion d'Honneur. I put out the same side with a similar outlook, happy to take a point back home. Rosport didn't test us as much as I had thought they would and it was we who took the lead on the stroke of half time. Rahmouni was the provider with a lovely direct ball in to the box and who else but Frédéric Marques was there to slot home on the edge of the six yard box.

We lost the improving Elias Bouazza late in the second half to injury but held on for a second incredible win.

Calvin Haïdara had the fortnight of his life in our goal.

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~~~

With us climbing up the table we welcomed Mamer to the Denis Netgen next. Our opponents weren't having things their own way and I hoped to continue our good form with a win. It wasn't to be however, and we battled to a 0-0 draw. It was probably a fair result with neither team really showing an edge in attack.

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~~~

Coupe de Luxembourg Second Round

In a break to the league schedule we travelled up the country to face FC Medernach in a tie we felt we should win. I made changes, this being a midweek match, but still expected the players on the park to deliver.

They really didn't and we found ourselves three down at half time. Medernach had destroyed us with strength and directness and my defence had had what can only be described as a mare. I was not pleasant at half time and I think the lads got the message, Munir Dragulovcanin pulling one back for us within ten minutes of the restart as he latched on to a lovely Viera ball.

We pushed hard after that goal and the incoming Landim was instrumental in what would prove a plucky fightback. Ahmed Rani returned to scoring ways to get our second after a lovely direct run from Delgado. Then, as we entered injury time, Leonel Landim blasted home a scorcher to level the tie and send us in to extra time.

Leonel should have gotten the winner late in extra time but the striker had drifted just offside as he fired home. The match would go to penalties and would prove deflating when Viera and Dublin missed to send Medernach into the third round.

We had been lucky to force the game to extra time and both Viera and Dublin were clearly exhausted when they took their spot kicks. Time to focus on the league.

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~~~

I had not really been pleasant towards the team after our exit from the cup and Leonel Landim did not take my words in a good way. The striker asked to see me in private to suggest my team talks needed some work. I'll take his words on board for the sake of team morale.

After just a few days it was back to the league and the visit of Marisca Mersch, a side that had not had a great start. We piled on the pressure with a thumping 4-0 win. Frédéric Marques got the ball rolling when he slotted home a lovely Dragulovcanin through ball in the 13th minute. And we found ourselves two up at half time. There was a lovely interchange on the right wing and Nermin Klica put a wonderful cross in to the box for Leonel Landim to head home after a defender had tried to clear.

The game was all over by the hour mark. Just five minutes in to the second half Rahmouni fed Frédéric Marques for the striker to grab his second of the game. Frédéric Marques then slotted home a 58th minute penalty to complete his hattrick and secure the win.

Marisca really did pile on the pressure late in the game and they might consider themselves unluckly to lose by four goals. It was ultimately our finishing that proved the difference though.

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~~~

That dominant win against Marisca sees us move up to the lofty position of second. Can we keep the form going this season and not trail off like we did last year?

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Sunday 26th September 2021

Coming Next

October sees us face newly promoted sides for the first time as we welcome Lorentzweiler to our turf and travel to Grevenmacher and Koeppchen. But first there is the visit of Alisontia and a trip to Yellow Boys to navigate. Lorentzweiler and Yellow Boys have both started well so we don't go in to these matches expecting a guaranteed points full house. I'll be happy to come out of October unbeaten. If we continue the finishing we showed against Marisca then why not 15 points though?

Positive mindset Memes

~~~

I mentioned team morale earlier and I am pleased to report that things are looking good in the camp. The unhappiness is as a result of minor issues that I hope can resolve themselves soon.

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7 hours ago, Sheriff7 said:

Very good start in league.Keep going!:thup:

Thanks. Quite surprised with how we have turned it around after a poor start.

Just developed a little problem with my vice-captain though. He missed training. He's being a bit of a diva actually.

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October 2021 - Trials And Tribulations

October proved a month of frustrations. There is a malaise about the club and it's proving to have an effect on the club's fortunes on the park. Quite frankly, the chief ringleader is vice-captain Do Rosario. Nothing seems to please him lately and he missed training twice this last month. I've spoken to him twice, once to say he might lose his vice-captaincy if his attitude doesn't improved and then I had to formally warn him over his conduct. The man is 37. I don't expect this from an adult.

His complaints change from moment to moment too. One minute he is unhappy with the depth of the defence, next he is unhappy at the depth of our midfield. I'm aware that we need better players to make promotion more likely but it's not an easy task to achieve that goal.

~~~

We actually started the month well, following on from the good league form of September. First up were Alisontia at their place and we went home happy after first half strikes from Frédéric Marques and Ange Viera, the Ivorian's first goal for the club. We took our foot off the gas in the second half but our defence and keeper held firm.

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~~~

Next came one of the low points of my career as we welcomed Yellow Boys to the Denis Netgen. They thumped us 5-0 due to a thoroughly awful performance from the lads. Only substitutes Mithat Hot and Johnny Matteagi didn't disgrace themselves and there was much criticism after the game. We just gave up and I can't believe it is just Rosariogate that is influencing performances.

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~~~

I demanded more against Grevenmacher in our next game and I am pleased to say that I got it with a professional 2-0 win. Frédéric Marques opened the scoring midway through the first half as he ran on to a great Landim flick on. Late in the second Leonel Landim completed a man of the match performance with a lovely solo goal, evading some ruthless tackling to secure our three points. This was another game where we showed up. That seems to be every other match now.

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~~~

With the above trend in my mind I wondered what might happen as we welcomed league newcomers Lorentzweiler to our little ground. Pleasingly we had all the ball in the first half but failed to find the net. Our goal did come early in the second, Frédéric Marques sidefooting home a wonderful Dragulovcanin through ball. Now all we needed to do was hold on to our three points.

It really looked like it would happen until a disastrous final five minutes in which we completely collapsed and allowed Lorentzweiler to turn the game around and grab the three points for themselves.

We should have had that game sewn up.

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~~~

Could we end the month on a high with a win at Koeppchen Wormeldange a week later? This was another match in which we had all the ball and should have sailed to three points. It was the normally reliable Viera who switched off and played a poor pass to set up the move that gave Koeppchen the opener, although Do Rosario really should have done better when challenging the scorer.

At half time I demanded better but never really got it. We were saved by a penalty given to us with just six minutes remaining. It was of course Frédéric Marques who put the ball in to the net and we had to be content with a lucky point.

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~~~

Why can't I just get two performances in a row from the lads? If they'd just put their minds on the game then we could be flying high. As it is we find ourselves still in fifth and only four points short of US Esch. It's a miracle really.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Sunday 31st October 2021

Coming Next

Managerial support is good but the atmosphere in the dressing room could do with a lift. December will see us half way through the campaign as we return to previous fixtures with the welcome of Ettelbruck just after Christmas. Before that we have our first meetings with Mondercange, Aischdall and US Esch. I really hope we're smiling more in thirty days than we are right now. If the adults would start acting their age then things might improve.

My message to internet trolls - Imgflip

 

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November 2021 - Goals Harder To Come By

After the mixed month of October I hoped for better things in November. It would be tough though, with fixtures against title challengers US Esch and relegated Ettelbruck. Surely we could beat an Aischdall side that were 200-1 outsiders and odds on for relegation?

We started the month by welcoming Mondercange to the Denis Netgen and I opted for a more attacking outlook that produced results earlier than I expected. Two minutes in and Leonel Landim reacted first to a searching Bouazza ball to slot past a floundering Mondercange keeper. Mondercange came back at us but were blunt in attack. We punished them with a second goal on the half hour. It was a first Schifflange goal for Johnny Matteagi as he scored a stunner from range. Mondercange did manage to put the frighteners on us near the end with a consolation in stoppage time but we held on for a welcome three points.

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~~~

A week later we travelled to the forested Belgian border for our clash with relegation favourites Aischdall. Our opponents were surprisingly well up the table after a good start to the season that had included a 3-2 win over Grevenmacher. Despite us having the best chances in this game we were held to a stalemate and had to be content with heading home with a point.

There's little more to say about the match other than that I really felt we should have won. Aischdall keeper, Bobby Jiang, was defiant in keeping us goalless. I should have a look at him.

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~~~

Another week on and we made the short trip west to face neighbours US Esch. I'll cut a long story short and say that this was another goalless draw but one that we can look back at happily. Esch are riding high again and to shut them out showed a resolute side to us. Nick Schonckert has been asking for more time on the park, and with De Rosario having a poor game I switched Nick on to the field in the second half. He played very well and has jumped ahead of De Rosario in the pecking order for me now. A combination of our vice captain's grumbling and his recent decision to retire at the end of the season has swayed me.

Three games without a goal for Marques is concerning. Our star striker also didn't perform well against US Esch. The dressing room atmosphere is buzzing though and a couple of players spoke of the support they have for my management of the club with the local paper. It's nice to know they are so supportive.

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~~~

To end November we faced the daunting prospect of welcoming Etzella Ettelbruck to the Denis Netgen. With our opponents having beaten us earlier in the season the focus was more defensive. Schonckert was now in central defense with Brice Bernard, Rahmouni was back on the bench after some good displays in the reserves and I chose Rani over Dragulovcanin, again after impressing in the reserves.

The first half was very even, and I'd almost say we had edged proceedings. I tasked the lads with more of the same in the second but it didn't materialise. Marques was having a poor game and I swapped him for Penning midway through the half. We started to look more dangerous with that change but it was Ettelbruck who then took the lead with just over ten to go. We are proving hard to beat of late though, and returning midfielder Rabah Rahmouni fired home a lovely goal for us with just four minutes to go. It was as much as we deserved and we might even have nicked three points near the end with some late pressure.

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~~~

It's great to have gone unbeaten in November, but we'll need wins if we want to push for those promotion spots. I'm very happy that we find ourselves in sixth at just past the halfway stage though. I'd certainly say we have enough about ourselves to avoid relegation anyway.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Sunday 28th November 2021

Coming Next

This season doesn't get any easier as December sees us face underperformers FC Wiltz and promotion chasing US Hostert either side of a very tough trip to face top of the pile Junglinster. Can we pull off an upset and still be unbeaten at Christmas?

I'm both terrified yet hopeful...

futurama fry GIF

 

By the way, I'm half-a-star now! And a C-grade coach.

02_Me_HalfStar.png.f02f91cb6972e358bf9bce5089402e2e.png

You Got This Spider Man GIF

 

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Shortly before the FC Wiltz game I receieved this little snippet of news.

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Racing are BGL Ligue, so a step up should I pass an interview. It's a given that I attended the interview. As much as I'm content at Schifflange the opportunity to climb the ladder can't be sniffed at.

I sit with bated breath...

Cookie Monster Waiting GIF

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December 2021 - Waiting On Word

I spent December finger-tappingly waiting to see if I'd get the Racing job. I wanted it now and was seeing in the press that I was favoured by the Racing fans. I didn't know I was this keen when the offer came in, but the chance to rise up was enticing.

My mind was still on the Schifflange job though and we travelled north to Wiltz with squad morale continuing to remain good. The FC Wiltz team were languishing in 20th place despite being one of the teams that had dropped down from the BGL. They had sacked their manager at the end of November and I hoped that meant we would be facing a team in disarray. It could, of course, mean we faced a team that were eager to impress any watching replacement.

The latter appeared true as Wiltz raced to a 2-0 lead inside 23 minutes. They were pumping balls in to the box and we were struggling to deal with them. The first goal was a bullet of a header and the second a man lost at the back post. I shouted at the team after that, along with a few tweaks, and things improved in a startlingly instant fashion. A minute after their second a lovely reverse cross from Marques found Leonel Landim unmarked at the far post and he duly slotted home. The game was back on.

In the second half we were an entirely different side and we had stunned Wiltz almost in to submission within three scintillating minutes. Firstly, a wonderful pass from Rahmouni found Leonel Landim onside on the edge of the box and lovely control allowed him to finish for his second. Viera was provider for our third, feeding Ahmed Rani with another great defence killing pass. It was good to see Ahmed back to scoring ways. I've dropped him deeper lately and despite him claiming to not be suited to the role he has grown in to it.

We had to deal with some real Wiltz pressure after those two goals but Haïdara was outstanding between the sticks, pulling off a string of great saves. We then truly punished Wiltz's poor finishing with a fourth in stoppage time. Leonel Landim was hattrick man as he latched on to another defence killing ball, this time from Klica, to stun Wiltz.

We had pulled off the archetypal smash and grab. Thirteen shots they had had. We'd had four and scored four!

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~~~

I must have impressed the Wiltz board because a few days later I was approached with this offer.

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As you can see I turned it down. I didn't fancy a relegation battle with a side low on morale. Truth be told, Wiltz are not a top BGL side.

~~~

We travelled to top of the pile Junglinster with the chairman happy at my apparent eagerness to stay at Schifflange. Of course, I had no need desire to walk, but I'd go if a bigger club called on me. Racing, for instance. I'd not heard back before the Junglinster game though.

The game itself was a tight one in which we performed well against a good team. Junglinster were marginally the better team but we got off to a fantastic start in the fifth minute as Frédéric Marques capitalised on weak defending that gave him the space to fire home a howitzer from just outside the box. Our front man's form had been declining and I had tasked him with improving before the game. That had been my answer. We couldn't hold on to all three points though, but I believed we were robbed for the equaliser they got. Just before the half hour mark Schonckert was adjudged to have pushed his man in the box in defending a long throw. The ref cruelly pointed to the spot and the penalty was duly dispatched. Their player had been in a heap but it was just argy-bargy. Some resolute defending, and clinging on despite yellows, allowed us to see out a wonderful point at the leaders.

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~~~

I was linked with the Etzella Ettelbruck job midweek before our final game of December. Etzella are a yo-yo team and I quashed the rumours with a case of denial to the press. That cheered up the chairman again. Etzella still haven't appointed a manager at the time of writing this so I might hear more. We're above them so I also might aswell just stay here.

We welcomed US Hostert a few days later with the camp in a strong mood. This would be a tough game against the fourth placed side but I believed we could continue our good form and get a win. I still set up more defensive but hoped our recent ability to counter would serve us well. We opened the scoring too, through our in form man up front. It was another searching long ball from Dublin that found Marques. Their defence this time coped with Marques but Leonel Landim had found himself free in the box and a simple ball gave him a clear shot at goal.

Hostert were showing us how to play football though with their constant pressure keeping Haïdara on his toes. Our number one must take the blame for the Hostert equaliser though as he misjudged a tester from the edge of the area. Hostert's second was a mix of poor defending and brilliance as our defence allowed their man all the time in the world to run in to range and then unleash an Exocet at goal. Haïdara stood no chance. Dargulovcanin was adjudged to be just offside late in the game when he headed in to the back of the net and we had finally lost again.

Hostert are a good side, despite us having beaten them back in September. They were all over us today.

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~~~

With just one game left in December - the postponed match between Aischdall and Junglinster - we find ourselves just outside the promotion spots but level on points with Yellow Boys. Oh how I hope to beat them after our humiliation last we met. A good early 2022 could see us cling to a play off spot at least.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Sunday 19th December 2021

Coming Next

We'll celebrate Christmas before returning to a new year transfer window. I have targets I hope to sign; a player to please those wishing for a better defence and a few other ideas further forward. Three of our squad have now announced their retirement at the end of the season; Yannick Germannaud and Frédéric Marques joining Do Rosario in their announcements. They'll need to be replaced so why not blend some new arivals in in the next five months?

In the league the new year starts with us welcoming high flying Rosport before we travel to lowly Mamer and Marisca. Next we speak we shall hopefully have nine more points and some new faces.

There is one last bit of news to make Christmas all the more merry though.

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It had seemed so likely when they had asked me for any staff moves I wanted to propose a few days back. Screw you, Muhovic!

screw you episode 14 GIF

We get to continue our relationship a little longer, dear Schifflange.

friends GIF

 

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Better luck in the next interview.Just don't ask anything and probably you will take the job.:lol::thup:

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January 2022 - Not Quite The Nine Points We Wanted

Firstly, a quick note to say I'm not finding the time to put in to FM of late, and with another new game I've been looking forward to releasing my usual weekend time to play FM has been limited. But let's have another tense transfer window to keep the amateur struggles going.

And it really is a struggle at this level. The club are officialy semi-pro now, but players earn a fee for games played and not a wage. They are still eligible to be snapped up. More on the transfer window later, but suffice it to say we managed to steal some players only to fall flat later ourselves.

After a poor end to 2021 we began 2022 by welcoming Rosport to the Denis Netgen. This first game of 2022 proved a dismal affair that ended goalless. There is little to say other than the admission that we were hardly in the game, and it was Calvin Haïdara that won us a point.

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~~~

Next on the schedule was a trip to relegation threatened Mamer and hopefully a return to winning ways. We've won just once since the start of November now and I asked the players to deliver the points. I may aswell have been talking to the wall though because what they delivered was an appalling display and a convincing 3-0 win for Mamer. Only Yannis Dublin can really be happy with their performance, perhaps Schonckert in central defence. It's a game I'll happily move on from but with an emphasis in training to improve.

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~~~

The last game of the month came shortly before the end of a transfer window that was frustrating me no end. It was a trip north of the capital to bottom club Marisca and produced a much better performance from the boys. We were comfortable in the first half but were unable to turn an effort home. All the lads needed at the break was an assurance that they were doing fine to push them that little bit onwards. My words worked as we scored a lovely goal in the 50th minute. Nermin Klica put in an outstanding cross from the right and Frédéric Marques timed his movement perfectly to be first to the ball and slide it in to the goal. Klica has impressed me this season.

Despite some nerves we saw the win out, adding a second in stoppage time from Brice Bernard - his first Schifflange goal - from a corner.

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~~~

So, a mixed month sees us pretty much firmly midtable. We have a comfortable thirteen points on the relegation spots but are five points off of any chance at promotion. We just need to start grabbing some wins and avoiding the poor loses.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Sunday 30th January 2022

January Transfer Window

The mid-season window proved to be another frustrating affair. Much like the summer I found targets only for them to join other clubs over us. Two players I thought would really improve the club were a couple of Belgians. I offered them good playing bonuses but they still close other clubs, and on lesser bonuses. We need to make more of a name for ourselves as a club. Players obviously just don't believe we can go far.

We did manage to snag ourselves a keeper of promise at the start of January. Lucas Rodrigues Antunes is a young keeper who impressed on trial after having been let go by US Hostert. Lucas has been doing so well that my U21s manager has been chosing him over Sami Kurbardovic. Later developments will mean he might be soon under the spotlight.

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The rest of my new signings all happened on deadline day. An improvement to midfield was first with the arrival of Adriano Ferraz, a young and hard working midfielder let go by Mertert.

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Lastly, we have the signing of two defenders to attempt to put to bed some of my squad's complaints that we need depth at the back. This is were the two Belgians I mentioned play. I suppose the fact that I was forced to sign two Luxembourgers instead will be better for the club, but one of the Belgians was a very good 19 year old and the other was a very able fill in for defensive midfield.

But anyway, firstly we have Christophe Araújo, a determined center back. Christophe has some pace too and he signs from US Esch where he was back up.

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Lastly in this window we have Jordi Oliviera who signs from Alliance Aischdall. Jordi is predominantly a tough tackling center back but has some proficiency in defensive midfield.

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~~~

There were outs of course and two players I would have loved to have kept. Sometimes you know you can't stand in the way of a player's career though. Would I have wanted to be denied the chance to manage Racing back in December? No.

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Our first loss was Ivorian Ange Viera who joined BGL strugglers Hamm and he has since become a mainstay in their midfield.

The second big loss is one I alluded to earlier. Calvin Haïdara joined BGL Ligue strugglers Union Mertert. Calvin has been immense for us, and whilst our former number one will be very missed I wish him well. There will be a battle for his shirt now.

Kiambu and Bouché were young players that I didn't feel were a big part of my plans. Bouché was on a youth contract and I figured it best for him for me to accept the bid. Kiambu moves on and hopefully can find regular football.

Coming Next

The big concern now will be how my squad see my efforts in the window. They don't know the ins and outs of how things work. They don't know how many players turn down my offers of employment. They'll still grumble if they believe their promises haven't been met. As long as they perform.

I am pleased with the window though. It could have been better but the players we lost were both non-homegrown and maybe soon we won't have to be so picky with what players we can sign. We have a very homegrown squad now.

We're now back to two game months and have Alisontia and Yellow Boys in February. I just want to avenge the 5-0 defeat we suffered to Yellow Boys back in October. I'm not making any promises about points hauls after my hopes for January.

D revenge - quickmeme

 

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Too bad losing key players without any money.That's the life until you go pro.:onmehead:

Edited by Sheriff7
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1 hour ago, Sheriff7 said:

Too bad losing key players without any money.That's the life until you go pro.:onmehead:

Haha, no big money dealings for poor Nid until he climbs a few ladders. It is frustrating trying to improve this club though. So hard to attract the players that will boost us and then the best have their heads turned.

WHY !!!! One Step Forward Two Steps back - Happy Squirrel | Make a Meme

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February 2022 - Not The Most Riveting Entertainment

Well, I don't think we'll get relegated. Of course, the way we are playing we stand no chance of promotion. We look insipid and a shadow of our best. I'd risk a chat with the team if I thought it might improve us. Perhaps an injection of something new is needed.

We started a quiet month with a home tie against bottom of the table Alisontia Steinsel. These are games we should be winning but things started in a bad way when Marques missed a seventh minute penalty. To be fair to the veteran it was a good save but recent performances from our top scorer have been spotty with good moments. Alisontia took full advantage of a lack of cohesion about our team to open the scoring in the 21st minute. Only Rafa Delgado was looking threatening for us with Rani showing glimpses in a more favourable position.

In the second half Rani came in to the game more and we finally equalised late in the game. It was a lovely effort from Ahmed Rani after neat footwork from our midfield just outside the area. I count ourselves lucky really.

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~~~

Two weeks later we travelled just up the road to face a Yellow Boys side that were doing well this season and whom had thrashed us in our last meeting. Setting up defensively we rarely threatened our opponents whilst Yellow Boys pinged numerous crosses in to the area. We dealt with all of these and never really looked like conceding. If only we had had a real threat up top.

There were glimpses from Landim and Delgado had a better game than most in midfield, continuing his form. Oliviera made his debut and was dependable if not inspired. In a battle for the keeper position I chose Germannaud this time out (young Antunes had looked nervous on his debut last week and may just be too inexperienced) and the veteran stopper did well.

It was one of those matches that makes you go pffft.

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~~~

It is all well and good that we're drawing games rather than getting beaten, but there comes a point where too many draws can drag you down and in to the fringes of a relegation fight. This is the possible future I can see for us if we can't start looking more threatening. I think a change is needed. With Marques retiring perhaps it is time to give someone else a chance. Rani doesn't seem to like that midfield role so I may move him in to attack and give Dragulovcanin more game time in the attacking midfield role. Munir had looked good early in the season, before his form dipped.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Sunday 27th February 2022

Coming Next

Six games to go and two games in March against teams below us in the table. We welcome Grevenmacher first and then travel to Lorentzweiler. These are two games we really should be winning. If we want any chance of fighting for a promotion spot then we need six points.

Must believe.

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  • 3 weeks later...

March 2022 - Draws Galore And Maybe Some News

First, a note on the three week gap between posts. For one, I've had so little time to play midweek. Winter blues just makes me sleep more and I usually just manage to get an hour of gaming week days. Second, a game called Dyson Sphere Program released recently and it is fantastic. It's a factory game that is more graphical than Factorio and less first person than Satisfactory. If it wasn't for the fact that I have a week off work then I might still not be playing FM.

Something happened in my latest session that might give me the boost to play more FM (read that as find more reason to want to play FM perhaps). It's the horrible truth that I have struggled to get in to FM21 as I got in to FM20. After Christmas I honestly felt a little like I was forcing myself to play the game. Will see how it goes. I love writing so my write ups here on the forums gives me more reason to want to play.

Hopefully people are enjoying what I write. I know my style is possibly story forum with pictures, but I can't do all that pictures with a little writing that others do so well. That, of course, is not to say my way is better. Anyway, back to Schifflange.

~~~~

Another slow month started with us welcoming strugglers Grevenmacher to the Denis Netgen. This was a game I really felt we should win and I decided to go for it. It was our opponents that started best though as they opened the scoring within ten minutes after my defence fell asleep and allowed Schott to shoot and score. A few shouts from the touchline and returning midfielder Munir Dragulovcanin got an equaliser ten minutes later after good work from Rani and a fortuitous deflection following Munir's first header at goal. We then took the lead thanks to a headed finish to Rani's free kick by Brice Bernard. It was the young defender's second goal of the season.

I hoped to go in to the half time interval with the lead but Schonckert was poor at the far post and allowed our opponents to head home a corner. We had the best of the game, but the second half ended with us unable to grab a winner and we had to settle for another point.

That result sent our draws tally in to double figures for the season and it's now nine draws in the last fourteen games. That doesn't secure promotions...just mid-table finishes.

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~~~~

Just the one more game in March and the morning of the game saw me get a phonecall from the chairman of Titus Pėtange of the BGL Ligue. It was an offer of an interview for the vacant manager's job at Stade Municipal.

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I accepted the invitation and got back to last minute preparations for the weekend's game with Lorentzweiler.

~~~~

The following game was a fantastic affair that really should have seen us get back to winning ways. Lorentzweiler were having a great season and are just a couple of places behind us in the table. Surely we could put the new boys from Division One to the sword though?

Again we got off to a poor start as we allowed our hosts an easy opener, again slow to react in defence. It was just the setback we needed to push the boys on though and we reacted in great fashion. The 21st minute saw Landim play a beautiful pass to set up Munir Dragulovcanin for his second goal in two games.

Three minutes later saw us take the lead by way of one of the most bizarre goals one will ever witness. Delgado took hold of the ball way back in our own half of the field. The midfielder then hoofed the ball upfield, presumably with the idea of having Rani or Landim run on to it. It was a little too strongly hit though and the keeper looked favourite to take control of the ball. A monumental misjudgment saw him lose complete track of his bearings though and the ball dribbled slowly into the goal to give Rafa Delgado his first Schifflange goal. A goal from 70 yards. 

We then grabbed ourselves a two-goal lead courtesy of a counter attack that saw Dragulovcanin set up Leonel Landim for a lovely crisp finish. I hoped we could go in to the break with a 3-1 lead but Lorentzweiler made that lead narrower after debut man Araújo misread a high ball to allow an easy finish.

I tasked the lads with holding their concentration to give us a valuable three points but our hosts won a probably justified penalty just eight minutes in to the second half to level the tie. We had a good amount of possession after that but couldn't find a winner. Secretly I was disappointed to have been 3-1 up only to go on to draw, but I told the lads we were unlucky.

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~~~~

And that was another month done. Just four games to go and probably no chance of promotion. That is not mathematically sealed but unless we up our game massively then we'll fall short.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur as at 17.00; Sunday 27th March 2022

~~~~

That wasn't it for the month though. Remember that job interview? Well, a day after the match Titus approached me to ask if I'd like to take any staff with me. I requested taking along my assistant, Ives Serneels. We have struck up a good partnership and Ives is a great coach that has been touted for his own management job a few times now. He'd get the wage increase he deserves at Titus.

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Let's not beat around the bush.

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A day later I travelled the short distance west to Pétange to meet my new press officer, Ms Magdalena Fabbro, and receive a guided tour of the club's facilities and meet Jean-Paul Duarte and Yassine Benajiba, the chairman and managing director, respectively.

It's sad to leave Schifflange after the work I have done there for the past two years, but I can be happy that I kept them safe from relegation and probably did the best I could with a team of their stature. They were relegation favourites two years running and I have been close to promotion both seasons. If the club's desires are anything to go by then Titus have a budget that I can really work with.

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Coming Next

New pastures now then. Tomorrow I take training and introduce myself to my new squad. Luxembourg is such a small country that there is no need to move home. My former job afforded me a nice property in the capital and it's not so far to Pétange from there. I'll just reduce my duties in the financial sector and step up to my new part time role at my new club.

Nid Rijkstra; financial expert to part time manager at a top division club in two years. At this rate in two years I'll be managing Ajax.

Maybe not, but it's new horizons.

Distracted Boyfriend Meme |  MY CAREER; SCHIFFLANGE; TITUS PÉTANGE | image tagged in memes,distracted boyfriend | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

I never thought I would use the internet's most used image...but hey.

Back with a Titus preview soon.

 

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A Crusade Of Kings Progresses - Schifflange Taken, Moving On To Pétange And West Towards Belgium?

Job Two: Union Titus Pétange - BGL Ligue, Luxembourg

My profile on day one of my time at Titus. It's pleasing to see the gains I have made. I've no doubt Titus will allow me to get even more coaching badges.

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Pétange

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Pétange is a commune in south-western Luxembourg, close to the borders with both France and Belgium. It lies within the canton of Esch-sur-Alzette, incidentally the same canton as Schifflange. Pétange is just 12 miles from Schifflange and 17 miles from the center of the capital, so a short hop for my career.

Like Schifflange, Pétange is best known for being a former center of iron mining and the steel industry. In August 2019 the town was the center of a rare occurance as a high-end F2 multiple-vortex tornado hit the town. 19 people were injured, two seriously, and over 160 buildings were destroyed. The tornado reached windspeeds between 200 and 250 km/h, suggesting F3 intensity.

Pétange is well known for Titelberg, a prominent hill on top of which lie the ruins of a Celtic oppidum. The walled hill fort was 1 km (0.62 mi) long. The entire settlement had a total population of 10,000 before the Roman conquest, making it the largest pre-Roman settlement in Luxembourg.

Pétange is also the home of Union Titus Pétange of the BGL Ligue. So what is known of them?

Union Titus Pétange

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Union Titus Pétange was created in April 2015 as a merger of CS Pétange and FC Titus Lamadelaine who were at that time both playing in the Luxembourg Division of Honour. I have no idea of the significance of Titus as a name. The team won promotion to the top division the next season and have been there since. Their best finish was 4th in the 2019/2020 season and that led to them entering the Europa League in 2020/2021 but they lost their first round to Santa Coloma of Andorra.

The team play at Stade Municipal; a 2,400 capacity stadium in the center of town. The home colours are plain white and the away a plain blue. Hopefully our keepers are in the snazzy orange kit above.

Image result for stade municipal petange

Where can I take them? They have ambitions to win the BGL Ligue by 2026. Hopefully when I meet the team I see good signs of that being a possibility. They are on a poor run of just three wins in 2022 though, so right now anywhere is probably up. The team are currently 6th in the BGL Ligue and were as high as third when the slump began. That cost Rene Roller to be rolled out (the puns just keep coming tonight - see last post) and I find myself here, looking to start a revival.

Up The UTP In All Directions! Yes, that's their nickname. UTP.

Hopefully the football is better than the choice of nicknames.

 

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Union Titus Pétange - Meeting The Squad

Before leaving my introductory tour of the club I asked Ms Fabbro if we could arrange a little friendly with a local side for the next day. We don't have a BGL Ligue game for twelve days so i figured this was the best chance I had to view the abilities of this squad. A quick phonecall with acquaintances and we had a friendly with ASL Porto arranged for the next day. Arrive at the ground and do some training with the lads. I'd give them the afternoon off and then we can travel up to Luxembourg City and play a bit of football in the evening.

The training went well and I gathered together with Ives and the club's solo coach Landry Bonnefoi to discuss the squad. Ives is as new this club as I am but his judging is a little better than mine. Landry has been here a couple of years and his thoughts were helpful. We have a technical team, high on creativity and vision. Defensively we have a squad strong in the tackle and we're overloaded when it comes to defensively minded midfielders. Landry believes the work rate of the team is one of our biggest strengths and the team is a solidly close-knit bunch.

Landry is a goalkeeper coach and it is his opinion that we could be a little stronger in that department. I concured when it came to my attemntion that we have just two keepers. It also appears we have a lack of quality depth outside of the first team and could do with some strengthening in the wide positions, significantly on the right. Centrally it seems we're solid.

My first conclusions to take away from this is that the first areas to strengthen are between the sticks and the right wing. Snatching up Rodrigues Antunes from Schifflange could be a good idea, though he was shaky when called upon and will need experience. Elsewhere from my former club I might have a think about making a move for Nermin Klica, Richard Penning and Leonel Landim. Youngster, Sérgio Pratas was having a good loan spell and he could be a possibility.

Whilst the players were enjoying their afternoon I met the press. You could say they're not convinced but who needs the press. I'll manage in my own way and they'll come around.

We beat ASL Porto 4-0 and I was especially impressed with the performances of Hugo Mesbah, a player I had admired in training, Rodrigo Parreira and forward Kevin Kerger.

With the friendly and training in mind I have assembled a list of our key squad members.

Goalkeeper

As I've said, we're short in this position and I'll need to look in to this fast. Our current number one is former national team keeper Ralph Schon. Ralph is 31 now and joined from Wiltz in the summer. I sadly think we need better and our only other keeper is 16 year old Yan Leogrande.

Scouting is needed.

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Full Backs

Right back is another area for which we could be said to be a bit lacking. Yann Matias is on loan from Progrės and could fill in at center back. Yann is probably slightly the better option over our other right back, Anthony Vacheron, but it's a close run thing. Anthony is pacier than Yann but Yann is the better defender.

That's it!

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At left back we could do with strengthening too. Our primary man in that position is currently Alexandre Laurienté and he is backed up by 16 year old Léon Duval. Hugo Mesbah could fill in at left back but he is a much better central defender. The dilemma here is that Alexandre is much more adept at a winger, and he is 32 now.

Another area to look at.

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Center Backs

Now this is a position I can be a little happier with and it almost makes me consider a back three. Laurienté may be better suited to play as a wing back anyway.

Allan Hauguel is the archetypal aggressive and hard tackling center back that began his club career at the youth academy of Le Havre. Allan is just 22 and has been at Titus for three years now.

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Our star performer in the friendly was 24 year old French Algerian Hugo Mesbah. Hugo is a determined and aggressive center back who began his career at Tours. Hugo was clear first choice under Roller and may be favourite to continue in that role.

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Denis Agovic is a player who I believe was the subject of scouting meetings at Schifflange. Denis is a slightly pacier center back who is in his prime years. He can play further up in midfield too but is probably our weakest center back option.

We also have youngster Pit Proietti, right back Yann Matias and midfielder Kakoko who could be called upon to play in central defence.

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Central Midfield

And on to our fullest area of the squad. Our midfield is predominantly defensively focused, though that is not to say there is not the ability to get forward and score from midfield.

The German born Congolese midfielder Kakoko is probably for me our best option in the middle of the park. Once on the books of Bayern, Kakoko is a utility man that can play from central defence to striker. Sadly he is out of contract in the summer and has apparently refused to sign a new deal. Can I change his mind?

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Burkinabé Valentin Kouamé is another creative midfield man that can play either deep or in a more advanced role. Like Kakoko, Valentin is out of contract in the summer but he's the sort of experienced name I'd like to keep around.

Both Valentin and Kakoko are non-homegrown players so it would not be wise to build a team around both. I do have a nice selection of homegrown players though.

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Matéo Lévêque is a younger solid option in a more defensive midfield role. Strong in the tackle and a hard worker he can be a reliable name on the teamsheet should Kakoko and Valentin leave.

These three are backed up by youngsters Brian Rouffignac, Rui Bento and Alexandre Müller.

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Wingers and Attacking Midfielders

First up is club captain and seven year Titus player, Artur Abreu. Artur is a natural winger with good pace and creativity but I believe he could also be utilised in a central attacking role, playing behind a target man. And I have just the man for that partnership later.

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Kevin Kerger is our vice captain and speedy wide man that is best on the left but could be utilised wide right or up front. Kevin has been at the club three years now.

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Rodrigo Parreira is an out and out winger that joined the club in the summer from US Esch. Pacey, creative and good to finish, Rodrigo could be a key asset.

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Strikers

At the top end of the pitch we first have experienced Frenchman Robert Maah. This is a man that has scored at much higher levelsm than we find ourselves, but at 37 he is likely to be backup.

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However, the man that I feel can lead the line for us and provide a focal point for our attacks is Burundian international and natural target man Jonathan Nanizayamo. Jonathan began at Tours and was also on the books of Rennes and Nantes before dropping down the levels. I am excited by Jonathan's possible role in our team.

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And that is the basis of the squad I am presented with. There is now the question of how to utilise them on the pitch and how easy it is to go about obeying the rules on homegrown players in Luxembourg.

Tactics

My grand idea is to play a more counter attacking formation with Nanizayamo as a focal point and Abreu behind him as the main goalscoring threat. On the left I want to play Laurienté as a very attacking WB overlapping a more supportive Kerger. I have three games where I won't be judged to fiddle so I have no qualms about trying this idea.

Alternatively I stick to basics and play a 4-4-2 with Kerger as a WM. The problem with this is it doesn't utilise my right wingers to their upmost.

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I feel I need to utilise the attacking ability of Laurienté.

As for homegrowns, and meeting the rules. Well, it is tight and I have to fill the bench with real back up players. I can field a strong team but my bench is weak. I can't have Matias and Vacheron in the squad, for example. I shall have to look for more homegrown players in the summer.

Coming Next

My first Titus match is in 11 days at Dudelange. Our opponents are just above us in 5th and it will not be an easy first test. As I have said, however, I'm not going to be judged on the final three games.

Let's have fun and experiment!

Fleischer Studios vintage black and white retro boom GIF

 

Okay, I have been something like six hours writing that. I don't have the energy to play the game now. Massive team analysis done!

 

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April-May 2022 - Well, That Was Just Awful

I expected better from the players in the squad I had just inherited. I didn't get it.

Just three games left to the season and I wasn't being judged so I just decided to put it in one update. We need something else, some oomph, some je ne sais quoi. Big changes will be needed this summer. Kakoko can go if the two games he got were anything to go by as to what I can expect from him. Kouamé too. Nanizayama excited me in training but he couldn't hit a football stadium, let alone a goal. Unless it's a penalty.

Confidence, or lack of, is certainly a thing. I think the team needs new blood though. I certainly needed more homegrown players.

~~~~~

My first game in charge was away to F91 Dudelange and that marked a tough start. We lost 1-0 and had just two shots on target. I thought we might hang on for a draw but Dudelange got a lateish goal to snatch the points. Mesbah was stand out for us in defence and Parreira impressed me on the right. Other than that performances weren't great.

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~~~~~

Next we travelled to bottom club Rumelange for a game I really expected us to win. I went all out attack for that very reason. We had all the possession but failed to utilise that really. Laurienté impressed me at left back. He got forward well and looked dangerous. Nanizayamo held the ball up well but we lacked a clinical threat and I was furious when Rumelange taught us a lesson with twenty minutes left.

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~~~~~

So one game left and we entertained a Käerjéng side that had nothing to play for. We started better but for all we created we never looked like we might tuck the ball away. The exception to that is the penalty our big Burundian tucked away in the 6th minute. Parreira had a good game again and he looked dangerous, but for all the chances created for Nanizayamo the big man didn't show any sign of putting one away.

Like the Rumelange game we were made to pay for missing our chances late in the day. Our visitors scored twice after the 80th minute to take full share of the spoils.

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So not the best start to my Pétange career but I'll take some joy from the performances of Mesbah and Parreira. Nanizayamo probably just needs some confidence, or maybe a partner. I'd like to see a little more from our captain Abreu and his vice captain Kerger, but surely a summer away and a fresh start can help.

Eighth place is not really good enough and I think I'm lucky I wasn't being judged for those three games.

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BGL Ligue as at 17.00; Sunday 8th May 2022 (Final Table)

Coming Next

We're on holiday now. Well the players are. For myself and my new coaching team it is a hard summer of trying to find the players that can improve us next season. Many of them need to be homegrown because it's hard to make a killer change when you have a bunch of youngsters on your bench. So;

1. Find a keeper.

2. Probably build a new midfield. Kakoko wanted a stupid contract to stay so he can go.

3. Raid the relegated teams. Must be some talent there.

4. I don't want to rely on loan signings but they might be the best way to get some quality homegrown player for the team.

5. Maybe I'll have a look at the Luxembourg squad. The board want U23 players but surely they can't grumble at an experienced international that might want to return home. Can they?

Off to find a goal for Nanizayamo to practice in front of.

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2022-2023 Pre-Season Preview - A Real Crack At A Title?

With pre-season closing in speculation has been mounting on the new campaign that starts in August. Early betting seems to suggest we have a real crack at the title as we're odds on for second place, behind Progrės. We also have a sprinkling of talent in the Media Dream Eleven for the forthcoming season.

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The fixtures start we have been handed is not the most favourable, in fact we have some of the biggest teams first. We play possibly Luxembourg's biggest club Dudelange second, right before we meet holders Jeunesse Esch in game three. A week after that comes favourites Progrés. I guess we have to play them all at some point. Our first game is a little more favourable as we face promoted US Esch. They're the team that thumped me 6-2 as Schifflange manager. Is revenge on the cards?

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As of 3rd July, just a day before the squad reassembles for pre-season, I have made two signings.

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Yann Matias has joined us permanently from Progrés after being here on loan last season. He's homegrown and can play right or center back which makes for good utility for us.

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(see a little above if you want to see his stats - my arrival assessment of the players)

Who is that other signing? Haven't we seen him before? I hear you ask. Why, yes. He was my keeper for nearly two seasons at Schifflange. He joined Union Mertert on a free in January. They got relegated, I wanted assured hands as a back up and decided to welcome Calvin back to one of my squads. The media of the fans don't seem overly enthused but I believe in Calvin. He was mister reliable at Schifflange and can surely make the step up.

Calvin is on a contract now so no more free signing shenanigans.

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I also signed a young center back that my scouts had suggested and whom were watching closely. Another club decided to jump in for his services so I pounced, possibly prematurely. Bryan Gonçalves is a young center back of Luxembourger and Angolan heritage. He is not the complete player yet but has the basics to become a good signing for us.

Again the fans are wishy washy. I have hard work to really make myself here.

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In a meeting with my assistant I had a surprise when he mentioned a young lad by the name of Noé Zimmer who is apparently joining the club at the end of the year. No one told me that, I assured him. If they ahd I must have been sleepy. I am assure that Noé is a very talented young striker with a huge future ahead of him. Ives showed me some scouting footage of the lad and I have to say I am now intrigued.

(When this deal went through I do not know. I am sure I was not shown this deal happening back in April, when I joined. Maybe I was but wasn't paying attention. It wouldn't be the first time. Ack! Dinner's on fire. Just kidding.)

Past Club Watch, With Nid

Only one former club but I thought it might be interesting to see how Schifflange ended last season. That club will forever hold a place in my heart after giving me my chance.

Well, the caretaker was obviously better than me as he managed two wins in his four games, beating Koeppchen and US Esch. The new manager at the club is Rainier Aleiter who joins from Atert Bissen.

The club finished a solid 7th in the Promotion d'Honneur in the end and will start the new campaign with games against Atert Bissen, Bettembourg and Etzella. They are predicted 10th; a solid departure from the predictions of bottom five we had both seasons.

There's been a fair bit of transfer activity at the club already too, signing two strikers, a left winger and a right back. Rabah Rahmouni saw his future elsewhere and has joined Boulongne-Billancourt in France.

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Luxembourg Promotion d'Honneur Final Table; 2021-2022

The Story In Europe

The major trophies had the usual winners.

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And The Big Awards - The Players I Won't Ever Sign

European Golden Shoe

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Europe's Best Player

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Ballon D'Or

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Well, I'm off to make an offer for Mbappé. Back for first game.

 

 

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Pre-Season & Early Transfer Window

Pre-season went swimmingly. After a slow start in matches versus Rumelange and Cebra we really found top form with a 6-0 win over Etzella and 4-0 over Belgian club Verviers. One new signing has changed my attack, or that and a change to 4-4-2. Nanizayamo with a partner is a force and with Parreira rampaging down the right our attack is a real strength.

Transfers

With the board wanting us to sign under 23s I decided to go and sign a 36 year old and a 31 year old for my defence. I made the board happier with the signing of a 26 year old striker that I know for sure will bang in the goals. Calvin, my return keeper, is 23 so hopefully the board will be assuaged with that. If truth be told I wanted both experience and ultilty along with more homegrown players. Fulfilling the homegrown requirements is still going to require some player juggling though. One midfielder, Matéo Lévêque, may well still have to be patient. It's saddening because he's good enough, but fitting the lad in is a trial. In hindsight I should have let Kakoko go rather than have him on the books at £220 a week. The German's form is patchy and I could have acquired as good despite being wary of that likelihood when his contract was running down.

~~~~~

First in after the start of pre-season was left back cover in the form of the experienced Mathias Jänisch. Mathias was let go by Progrės this summer and I snapped him up for that experience and a need to improve our left back position. Mathias is also a very useful utility man.

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Next up is the man that I believe will make us an attacking force. To be fair, I wasn't entirely sure he would be number one when I signed him but for a fantastic performance in the thrashing of Etzella. We all know him. We all loved him at Schifflange. Yes, I've been poaching familiar territory. It's Leonel Landim.

My scouts weren't convinced in all honesty but I know a man who can score. His name is Leonel.

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Also, I have signed an experienced former Luxembourg international center back. Tom Schnell fulfills my need for experience, homegrown status and to improve quality in the center back position. I just wish he were a little faster.

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And the probable last signing that will happen before the final day of the transfer window is a midfielder out of favour at Racing FC, Farid Ikene. Farid is another homegrown player to make up for the many that aren't. He's 21, to please the board, and your run of the mill midfielder, also known as good in all areas. He'll improve with age.

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No one has left, though plenty of offers have been made for some of my younger non-contract players, and I tried in vain to get someone to buy Yannick da Graça.

The media questioned my recruitment, or at least the numbers, but I'm pleased with our business. We'll have to meet league and cup objectives to get me past the lack of under 23 signings but what do the board really want? Do they want me to win this league, or not? A mix of youth and experience is what I've always believed to be the right way.

Sadly, the need for numbers proved a wise choice when we lost Mesbah, Landim and Parreira to injury. Parreira might make the kick off with US Esch, but the other two are out for a few weeks at least.

I had a close look at a number of other players. Early in pre-season I was made aware of a center back in Latvia by the name of Lukman Zakari. I made an offer but he joined Russian second tier club Novosibirsk. He's earning £975 a week now so I suspect he was out of our league. We also had a great young winger on trial by the wonderful name of Modeste Duku (he loves the Sith but he's modest about it). Modeste put in some great performances but I fear we will have to pass him by. I have enough trouble naming a homegrown rules meeting squad as it is. He'll be a replacement for Parreira one day but he'll just get unhappy sat in the reserves waiting for his chance.

To make me feel better, I suspect we'd have tough competition for his services as he is wanted by second tier clubs in Belgium and Greece. We won't compete with that until we start making European competition. Maybe not even then.

~~~~~

Oh, I forgot to mention last correspondence that I'm taking another coaching badge courtesy of the Pétange board.

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Coming Next

The BGL Ligue for 2022-2023 kicks off tomorrow when we entertain US Esch. We also have our second round cup draw and we welcome Promotion d'Honneur new club FC Koerich on September 21st.

Fingers crossed we start as well as we played in those last two friendlies.

Jim Carrey Chance GIF

 

 

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August 2022 - Disruptive Beginnings

First let's cover the end of the transfer window. No one else came in but I did let young defender Bryan Gonçalves go out on loan, to Mondercange.

It was a tough window, with a lot of players looked at, but very little leeway in whom I could sign. I may harp on about it but the homegrown players rule makes things much tougher. One promise I had made was to improve depth at left back, a request that came from our captain. I bought in Jänisch, and with Laurienté and a number of other back up options I felt that would be enough to satisfy Abreu. It wasn't. Abreu came to me the morning after the transfer window closed to express his unhappiness that his promises had not been met. Whatever I might have said was never going to be enough, despite him not being the manager and not having to negotiate rules. I might have been able to sign another foreign left back but I couldn't fit him into the team.

Our captain is now in a sulk. He's thrown his toys out the window and has become trouble. It had all started so well, too.

I mean, how many left backs does he think we need?

~~~~~

Day one of the season we made the short trip up the road to Esch to take on newly promoted US Esch. We started the match well and were in command throughout. In the second half we turned up the pressure even more and it told. Just after the hour mark Artur Abreu gathered a lose ball on the halfway line before turning and running in on goal and scoring. Ten minutes later and our lead was doubled. Again it was Artur Abreu, latching on to a speculative ball from Kevin Kerger to seal the points.

This was before our captain's outburst. I must remind of that.

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With our captain now sulking, and key players Mesbah, Landim and Kerger injured, we welcomed Dudelange for the first of three tougher fixtures. We were poor throughout. Abreu, Kakoko, Agovic and Laurienté showing nothing of the form they are capable of. Dudelange capitalised on this to secure a two goal lead within 30 minutes. We managed to pull one back before half time, Jonathan Nanizayamo slotting home a penalty after Parreira was fouled on the edge of the box. Truth be told, it was a tight call.

In the second half the game really got away from us. Having to attack left us a little open and Dudelange scored a third to go home with three points.

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The last game of August was another trip to Esch - a football hotbed in Luxembourg, it seems - to play slow starters Jeunesse Esch. We got off to a great start. We looked by far the better team and opened the scoring through Rodrigo Parreira after he was wonderfully set up by Agovic. Just as we looked to go in at the break with the lead the referee blew up for a penalty after a seemingly innocuous affair in the box. Laurienté was adjudged to have backed in to and pushed an Esch player and they slotted home the spotkick to go in level. It was the latest in a series of strange decisions that went against us in the game, and it would only get worse.

We seemed genuinely affected by the penalty and started the second half poorly conceding a strike from outside the box before Esch got a second penalty after another poor refereeing decision. Lévêque had started in midfield in place of Kakoko, but he was even poorer than the German was against Dudelange. Both he and Abreu went off midway through the second half and we started to look a little better. Jonathan Nanizayamo pulled one goal back just after the hour marked with a superb instinctive strike but we couldn't find that equaliser.

My interviewer, after the match, bought up the subject of the referee but it was regarding bookings rather than the penalties. I suggested I wasn't happy with his performance.

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Things had looked so good after matchday one but sulking, injuries, poor performers and poor refereeing have started our season off badly. The games don't get any easier with Progrės up after the international break.

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BGL Ligue as at 17.00; Sunday 28th August 2022

Coming Next

I need to find a way to deal with super sulk, Abreu. He is disrupting the team but too much criticism might just send him over the top. For now I think he'll sit on the bench. What to do with the form of midfielders is another question. I expect more from Kakoko and new signing Ikene is currently our best performer there. We can't keep losing though.

Why did Abreu have to be that guy though?

buggin out giancarlo esposito GIF

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September 2022 - Fortunes On The Up

What threatened to be a tricky month began with a tough tie as we welcomed Progrės to Stade Municipal. The league favourites were riding high in fourth after three rounds of matches and were strong favourites despite our home advantage. It was therefore a complete surprise to many that we made it to half time with a 2-0 lead. Leonel Landim had opened the scoring after just 13 minutes as he latched on to a speculative Nanizayamo ball and slotted past the keeper. Our second came six minutes before the break and was a simple header from Kevin Kerger after Parreira had done great to storm down the wing and get a cross in.

The second half would prove morale busting though as we threw away our two goal lead in the most dramatic of fashions. Progrės had pulled one back with about ten minutes to go and we were on the back foot. Queue the 92nd minute and a Progrės counter attack and shot turned home at the second attempt.

That's football. We hadn't deserved to draw that. Or had we? Perhaps we just have to learn to see out games.

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I hoped for a point proven from the lads in our next game, away at Una Strassen. This would be a tough game against a side that had been in the top league for seven seasons prior to this campaign. That thought proved true as we played out a tight first half. At the break I assured the lads we could win this only to look on shocked as Strassen opened the scoring just prior to the hour mark. Urging the lads forward to catch our opponents in a moment of post goal complacency we equalised within two minutes. It was Jonathan Nanizayamo with his third of the season heading home a Parreira free kick. That man wins everything in the air.

That goal gave us the ascendancy and we won the game just eight minutes later as Jonathan Nanizayamo, again, raced on to a Kakoko flick on to beat the keeper to the ball and slot it in to and empty net.

That was some way to come back from the disappointment of the last game.

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~~~

We had a little break from the league in midweek as we welcomed third tier FC Koerich for a third round cup tie. As heavy favourites to win I picked a very rotated side. I kept Leonel Landim up front though as our new striker had looked a little nervous in recent games. I hoped he could get a few goals here and boost his confidence.

Leonel did just that, though the game was far from a walkover. Koerich were countering with regularity and perhaps the old legs of Tom Schnell were not best for this tie. Twice we took the lead and twice they equalised. Our opener came from the head of Leonel Landim after a great cross from Vacheron. At half time I tasked the lads with improving, although maintaining they hadn't been awful. It was a shock, then, to see Koerich equalise after just three minutes of the half.

We took the lead the second time through youngster Alessandro Latik following a lovely through ball from Rouffignac. Two young stars combining.

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Just two minutes later and it was 2-2 though with our defence completely switching off to allow them back in to the game. I was furious and shouted at the team to concentrate. Maybe it was my words or maybe I had no cause to worry as we then saw the game out with two more goals in quick succession to silence Koerich. Our third was a dominant header from Alessandro Latik and our fourth the pick of the game as Leonel Landim fired home from 25 yards.

So safely through to round three but credit to Koerich for a great display.

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~~~

And so it was back to the league for the final game of the month. We welcomed one of the clubs that had one approached me to offer a job interview, Racing FC Luxembourg, and boy did I show them what they could have had. The first half was poor from us though and we found ourselves 1-0 down at the break. I demanded more and sent the lads out to win the game.

They did...or one guy did.

Our equaliser came three minutes into the half as Jonathan Nanizayamo rose and powered home an unstoppable header from a corner. It was cahill-esque from the big man.

Then...enter stage left the man of the match. Leonel Landim scored a superb ten minute hattrick to stun Racing and give us all three points. I won't describe all three goals. Just watch (I don't know where the guys in the center circle came from - also, can't embed it with streamable and it's too big to attach).

https://streamable.com/d6idmz

Three lovel goals from our in form man to win us the game. Racing did press us at the end but we held on for a great win.

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And that win took us up to seventh in the table at this early stage. After a poor first month it was good to get going in September.

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BGL Ligue as at 17.00; Sunday 25th September 2022

Coming Next

It doesn't really get much easier in October as we face ties with Käerjéng, Yellow Boys, Rosport and Swift Hesperange. Yellow Boys are struggling, and hopefully we can rack up some goals, but the other three are good sides. This will be the last full month until January as November and December make way for the World Cup in Qatar.

Luxembourg aren't there. My own Netherlands (feels bizarre/traitorous saying that, but story, story, story) face Chile, Sweden and the mighty Uzbekistan.

Feels good to have a goalscorer.

Cheers Feel Good GIF - Cheers FeelGood Party GIFs

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October 2022 - Flowing Now; Steadily, Not Spectacularly

October began with the start of a rivalry, new Rosport boss Palgen suggesting we were favourites for the drop. I quickly put that right and Palgen returned to claim they were the better side. We'll see in three weeks when our sides face off.

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I couldn't let the news put us off our game as we travelled the short distance to face Käerjéng, but it seemed the players might have been put off as our opponents started much better and had a two goal lead before we even hinted at reacting. When we did react it was a minute after their second, Leonel Landim sending home a wonderful Jänisch cross to get us back in to the game.

We began to press now but frustratngly conceded a third goal on the break with quarter of an hour left. Jonathan Nanizayamo slotted home a penalty in stoppage time but we couldn't get an equaliser and fell to a frustrating defeat.

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AFter the international break, in which Nanizayamo returned to Burundian action, I urged the lads to vastly improve against bottom of the pile Yellow Boys. It proved to be a result that never looked in doubt as we romped home. We were 2-0 up within five minutes through Artur Abreu and Rodrigo Parreira before Yellow Boys managed to hold themselves together enough to make the middle of the affair a tighter one. As they tired we began to assert ourselves again and two more goals from Rodrigo Parreira and Kevin Kerger secured us a wonderful 4-0 win.

Parreira was absolutely outstanding in this game.

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It was a wonderful win to be on the back of when we faced our new rivals in the German border town of Rosport. Victoria Rosport were flying high in second and I knew we'd have to be at our best to get anything from the game. After a tight first half we stepped up the pressure in the second and Hugo Mesbah was on hand to head home a Parreira corner and to give us the lead. We were good for the lead and continued to press Rosport. Queue a shock then as Rosport landed a fortunate equaliser with just four minutes of the ninety left. It would be a cruel turn of fate as we had been the better side.

Vice captain Kevin Kerger was having none of it though. Just three minutes later he turned inside from out wide and let lose a scintillating right foot shot that curved in to the top right corner of the goal, way out of reach of the keeper's despairing dive.

And that sealed the three points - and points for me in my new battle with Palgen. In quite the u-turn, Palgen claimed to be putting building blocks in place, but he did pay tribute to a wonderful goal from Kerger.

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Last up for the month we welcomd Swift Hesperange, one of six teams level on 16 points before the match. One of the others was us so we knew this would be a test. Truth be told we were all over Swift, dominating the game and taking the lead in the 11th minute through a wonderfully worked goal that was finished by Rodrigo Parreira.

We continued to set the pace but were struggling to find the net. After his wonderful goal last week Kerger had a poor game and Landim, whose own form had been waning, came on to replace him. Landim had a good game, beating Swift for pace regularly, but nor could he find us a second goal.

The hammer blow did of course come when Swift managed a 71st minute equaliser. We therefore had to be content with a point in a game in which i thought we were by far the better team.

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That result saw us drop out of the European places we had begun to occupy a week earlier. It's early days though and I'm pleased with where we are at. I don't think anyone is catching Dudelange...and to think the media laughed when I said they might win the title.

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BGL Ligue as at 17.00; Sunday 30th October 2022

Coming Next

We have just two more games before the Qatar World Cup starts, a cup tie with Koeppchen and a trip to Differdange. Then it's a nice long break before we begin again.

I'm not really sure why we need a break in Luxembourg really. I doubt there's too many internationals headed off to the World Cup in the BGL Ligue. I can enjoy the football though.

I also prefer a busier schedule after Christmas. None of that two games a month nonsense. Sit back and watch the show.

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November 2022 - Could Be Happier

November started with the cup and we welcomed second tier Koeppchen for a game we were fully expected to win.

I again switched to back up players and Muratovic made his debut for us in a forward position. We performed well enough and were only really troubled by Koeppchen on the break. Eliot Gashi started the game on the right flank, in my effort to find a cover for Perreira, and it was the forward who opened the scoring when he pounced on a ball that had drifted across the box. Just after half an hour had passed it was 2-0 as Gashi found Edvin Muratovic with a wonderful first time cross.

It was a much less dominant display from us in the second half but we made sure of progress in to the fourth round when Alexandre Laurienté scored a lovely free kick for his first of the season.

It was a great display from Gashi. He may not be a natural right winger but I am sure he can fill in for Perreira.

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The draw for the next round took place the next day and, bearing in mind we really need to make the final, I was keen to see who we'd draw.

The bad news is we meet runaway league leaders Dudelange at the end of December.

argh GIF

Our only league game of November took place just a few days later as we travelled to Differdange. Our opponents had been thrashed 4-0 by third tier Erpeldange in the cup and the press remarked that their manager would be looking for a performance. We were favourites but would have to be careful.

We had the run of the ball in the first half but couldn't make it count. Headers flew over and Differdange generally defended well. Landim is not a man on fire and he often passed when he should have shot. Confidence is low for the striker and I would have a word after the match.

The second half was woeful for us. Firstly, Differdange took the elad afterw e failed to clear a corner and then we lost star man Parreira after a nasty tackle on him. I have been continually aggrieved by the fouls on our wide men of late and am not happy with the refereeing of this.

The final score of 1-0 to Differdange was a poor result and I made sure the players knew this. I had a word with a number of my stars about form after the game.

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That result left us in a less than healthy middle of the pack position. We have to be more consistent or we might find ourselves left behind. My job will not be secure at the moment, though I have had little feedback from the board.

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BGL Ligue as at 17.00; Sunday 6th November 2022

Coming Next

We have a free month now to get our mojo back in training. In the back ground will be the world cup. Maybe my players can learn something from watching the movement and footwork of the world's stars.

world cup dancing GIF by Digg

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December 2022 - It's Just "Mehhh"

With the World Cup still not over we returned to action mid December with a home game over struggling US Hostert. I wonder why we had the break anyway.

Our form is so patchy that I demanded we win this game against a team looking likely to not survive relegation this season. We started on the front foot and dominated the first half. Hugo Mesbah got us up and running when he powered home a header from a corner after just 13 minutes. Despite all our pressure it took us until the stroke of half time to double our lead. Laurienté put in a wonderful cross from the left and Eliot Gashi (deputising for the only just fit again Parreira) smashed home his second goal of the season.

A 2-0 lead at half time would have been wonderful but our defence completely switched off from the restart and Hostert stormed through the middle of them to grab a goal back. With their tails up, our opposition were much better in the second half. We had so many chances but were struggling to put any of them away. My strikers seem to have completely lost the ability to score a goal and it was late substitute Rodrigo Parreira who finished off the tie following another wonderful cross from man of the match Laurienté.

A win is a win, but we really should have made that game a little easier than it turned out to be.

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A week later we welcomed another team haing a poor season in Mondorf. Having a European campaign seems to have affected last season's fourth placed finishes and another win was on the cards. Sadly our deepening lack of ability to find the net was glaring on the day. Mondorf were actually little better and the game ended in a bore draw.

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I considered that two points lost and it leaves us still outside the European spots in sixth. It's a tight division so hopefully we can push on in the new year and find some steady form.

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BGL Ligue as at 17.00; Sunday 18th December 2022

There was one more game for the month and it was the cup tie with Dudelange that I was honestly quite dreading. They have lost recently but Luxembourg's leading club are still looking the best of the bunch. I would be without Parreira who had gone down with flu and I decided to plump for a 4-3-3 formation to utilise inside forwards. My strikers couldn;t score in a 4-4-2 so it was time to try something else.

We really didn't play all that well in my opinion and Dudelange harried our goal throughout. I think we barely had an effort on goal in the second half and it was Calvin Haïdara who kept us in the game with a string of fantastic saves.

The game eventually went to penalties and Landim stepped up first. I thought he might get his mojo back with a strike from the penalty spot but he sent is effort well wide of the post. Dudelange missed their third penalty and it all came down to sudden death. Dudelange were up first and beat Haïdara. It would be young Allan Hauguel to keep us in the tie...but he missed. All the credit in the world to him for stepping up though. Allan and Hugo, in defence, have been our star performers of late.

So we're out of the cup in the fourth round. The board wanted us to reach the final so I'll hope they excuse us due to the fact we faced Dudelange. Of course, I'm already in their bad books for not signing enough under 23 players. I guess we need to qualify for Europe now.

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~~~~

I had a meeting with our youth academy chief midway through the month regarding his early preview of the youngsters coming through the ranks. Sébastien assures me we have some great prospects joining us at the end of the season. A good striker possibility is very attractive with our recent inability to score.

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Coupe Du Monde 2022 - Qatar

The four-yearly tournament produced a second win for a former champion and a number of surprises and disappointments.

The tournament kicked off with hosts Qatar losing to Cameroon before the USA won a huge battle with Russia. It would eventually be the two world superpowers that would advance and the hosts were out. My Dutch team were producing the most exciting matches, beating Uzbekistan 5-3 in their first match, and they wen on to top group B.

The biggest surprises came in groups D and E. In group D Argentina got off to a winning start by beating Australia 3-0 before losing 4-0 to Poland. A 1-1 draw with Mexico in their final game was not enough to stop them being sent home. The revelation of the tournament was Jamaica though. The Reggae Boyz beat Denmark and Uruguay to make the second round.

Second Round

Round two marked the exit of the Dutch as they lost on penalties to Russia and the Jamaicans couldn't beat France. Brazil were sent home by Belgium and England continued their scoring ways (they had scored eight goals in their group) to beat Mexico 3-1.

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Quarter Finals

The Quarter Finals marked few surprises really. The lowest ranked teams of USA and Russia were finally dispatched with and France won a tense game with Italy.

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Semi Finals

In semi final one a tight game between Poland and Spain saw the game decided by a later Sergi Roberto goal. The second game was more one sided with two Martial goals helping France to see off England. Mbappé was able to miss a first half penalty too.

Final

Spain snatched a dramatic final win on penalties after a tight 120 minutes produced just two goals. Martial and Hernández were the guilty parties for France by missing penalties. Sergio Reguilón tucked home the final penalty to send the Spaniards wild.

England finished third after dispatching the Poles 3-0 in the match no one wants to play.

The Golden Boot went to Ciro Immobile of Italy with seven goals.

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~~~~

Coming Next

Our next game is on New Years Day and then there is the small matter of a transfer window. I aim to improve this squad. Many of my midfielders just aren't performing and a backup right winger to Parreira is a must. Should any bids come in for our lads then I'll decide at the time. I'd be willing to let some go. Matéo Lévêque clearly has ability but he has shown so little of it under my tenure. Kakoko is another man that frustrates me with never being able to hold on to form. The German is on a high wage and I'd accept a big bid for him. I do want to keep my defence though.

Let's have a good wheeling and dealing session. Time to find my inner Harry.

 Best Harry Redknapp GIFs | Gfycat

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  • 2 weeks later...

January 2023 - Wheeling and Dealing But Form Plummets

I don't know what to do with these lads. Just when I think we're playing well they go and turn that thinking on its head. My left wingers come on in a second half and perform wonders. I start them the next game and they're attrocious. Leonel Landim, after starting so well for us has hit a brick wall - proverbially - he'd possibly miss it if it was real.

The striker I didn't sign - Noé Zimmer - joined the club at the end of 2022. Noé is a young striker with reasonable pace and a knack for finishing. He can play either up front of out wide right as an inside forward. Noé is by far the most promising youngster at the club.

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The first game of the new year - a day later - would be too soon for Noé, but it would mark a first league game for Edvin Muratovic. Whomever we fielded would seem to be not enough to deal with an overzealous referee and his awarding of two soft penalties for Fola Esch within 22 minutes. Jonathan Nanizayamo would pull a goal back for us just inside the hour mark as he raced through a sleepy Fola defence to finish easy, but the peanlties had killed us. The referee had sunk us. Lévêque had actually had a good game. Kakoko had been poor again and his place in the squad would not last much longer. Parreira had been his usualy fantastic self and Nanizayamo had finally hit the net after eight barren games.

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The squad clearly had a point to prove in our next game at home against Junglinster but not until the referee had tried to emulate the counterpart from a weeke arlier when he awarded our opponents an 11th minute spotkick. Rodrigo Parriera was having none of it and on the half hour he was free to slot home a Nanizayamo knockdown and equalise.

Either side of half time my gameplan seemed to go a similar way to the dodo as we allowed Junglinster two simple goals with a lack of effort in defence. I thought we were done for but the team seemed to understand my urging on on the touchline and they turned the game completely on its head in the final 30 minutes.

First Kakoko finally showed some brilliance to set up Jonathan Nanizayamo with a lovely through ball. It was then the turn of substitute Kevin Kerger as he scored twice in two minutes; the first a belter from the left edge of the box and the second a header from a Parriera free kick. Jonathan Nanizayamo made it five when he finished off good work by Zimmer in stoppage time.

It was a wonderful turn around and shows we do have the ability to put teams to the sword.

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Interval - New Arrivals

I got my transfer window incomings done in a two day period in the following week. Firstly, joining us from Hamm Benfica on a free is winger Gary Bernard. Truth be told, the fans weren't impressed, but Gary is a healthy back up utility forward. He can play up front, in the hole or on the right wing and is able back up for Parriera.

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I will be honest and say I took a punt on the next signing. Speaking to my director of football I asked him for some options in midfield. One of the lads he suggested was a young Dutch midfielder at VVV-Venlo. Tjerk Meijs is 19, can pass and is an intelligent central midfielder. I was hoping I had hit gold as Tjerk joined on loan until the end of the season.

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...and back to the football...

Next up was a welcome to US Esch for a game we really should be winning. We played well, I thought, or at least my front men did. Defensively we were a shambles and the squad was clearly missing the injured Allan Hauguel. The game kicked in to full speed with two goals in a minute just before the half hour. After conceding a free kick Kevin Kerger clearly felt the need to rectify things as he capitalised on a missed defensive header to see us level.

Fifteen minutes after half time we were 3-1 up. First Leonel Landim finally scored again as he raced through the Esch defence to put the ball home before Kevin Kerger walloped home a spectacular volley to give us a real advantage.

We never do things simply though and allowed Esch to score twice before the end of the match to take home a share of the points. So frustrating.

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We now faced two final games of January that would really test us. The first of these was Jeunesse Esch (Esch really is a hotbed of Luxembourger football). Hugo Mesbah got the ball rolling, but not in the way I was hoping. You could argue it didn't roll far enough as he attempted a back pass to Schon only to misjudge it and allow Jeunesse ane asy opener.

Rodrigo Parreira scored a great equaliser following great play by Zimmer and Nanizayamo but sleepy defending allowed Jeunesse to score again and snatch all three points.

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So we would go in to the final game of the month really needing a win. Who were our opponents? Only runaway leaders Dudelange. We were never in the game with a poor display pretty much all around. Only Ralpha Scon can hold his head high following the game. He made a string of saves that kept our opponents to just two strikes.

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I'm at a loss. I seem to be able to get nothing from these lads. Morale is okay. Support for myself is fine too and cohesion is very good. I tried to slow our play down against Dudelange and we were beyond poor. Nanizayamo's link up play has become so poor with the more direct game that I just wanted to try something else. If I don't turn this around and get these lads firing soon I'll be out of a job. The board aren't pleased.

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BGL Ligue as at 17.00; Sunday 29th January 2023

The Window Slams Shut

No, I've not been sacked - yet. The transfer window slammed shut at the end of January with no more incomings on our part. I allowed a few U21 players to leave on loan and get some experience. Hopefully they can develop in to players that can rescue my Pétange career next season - if I can't rescue it before that.

Coming Next

It doesn't get any easier as we face the teams in second, third and fourth in February. There's nothing like being against the odds to produce a performance. Right?

We must believe. The lads must perform.

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If I'm still here I'll be back in a month...

 

 

 

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February 2023 - Things Can Only Get Better

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February didn't start too badly, but it certainly ended badly. We went in to our first match against Progrės expected a tough game and under real pressure to achieve a result. What I witnessed was this team at its absolute best. Matéo Lévêque was outstanding in central midfield and scored a peach of a volley from 20 yards for the opener.

In the second half we were even better and Rodrigo Parriera continued his player of the season form when he turned the ball home at the far post to put us two up. Then came the goal of the match and a first club goal for young Brian Rouffignac as he fired home from outside the area.

Why can't we play like that every match?

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The answer to that last question is that I have no idea. The lads seem happy but when they get out on that pitch they just don't seem to care some times. In our next match we welcomed high flying Una Strassen and it was my defence that lost us points as we first lost a lead and then had to rescue a point. Noé Zimmer came in for the suspended Parreira and had a wonderful full debut, opening the scoring with a cheeky nutmeg and shot in the second minute.

We gave away yet another penalty at the 20 minute mark and gave away a poor goal to gift Strassen the lead ten minutes later. Jonathan Nanizayamo rescued a point in first half stoppage time when he slotted home a sitter.

The second half became a tight affair with both teams cancelling each other out and we had to be content with a point.

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The press continued to press me on our poor form before the next match at Racing and I could only say things would get better. The match was a tight affair and Racing stole things with a late winner. Parreira had come back in after suspension and was dreadful, though to be honest the whole team had hung on. The passion we had shown against Progrės just wasn't there.

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It was the board's turn to grill me after the match. I told them the fixtures were soon to become more favourable and to give me a chance. I actually just think the board are too ambitious without giving me the funds for this ambition. We don't have the squad that the top teams have. We don't even have a scouting budget that allows me to scout France or Belgium - just a few miles away. I guess the truth of it is we need that European football to make the club a success.

That match that might decide my future was home to Käerjéng - a team I had never had favorable luck against - and it left me feeling deeply concerned. The first half showed me we were as far from being where we need to be at as is possible and we were 3-0 down at the end of it. Parriera was again poor, Hugo Mesbah was woeful (and scored an own goal) and Matias looked like he was lost. The second half was better and we passed the ball about nicely, but we couldn't finish - hitting the woodwork at least twice - and suffered a second successive loss.

The board wanted words again. I told them the same thing.

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We find ourselves mid table with 8 games to go. Europe's not out of reach completely but it would take a miracle. We are, of course, looking over our shoulder at the relegation places. The players need to buck their ideas up.

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BGL Ligue as at 17.00; Sunday 26th February 2023

Coming Next

March will be decisive as we meet bottom club Yellow Boys and then mid table Rosport and Swift Hesperange. I need nothing less than nine points. I know we're capable.

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On 14/03/2021 at 15:37, TelcontarTargaryen said:

Good to see I am not the only one with the schisphrenic mix of Crusader Kings / Europa Universalis / Football Manager obsession. :idiot:

It's FM and Paradox games that stand out in terms of the number of hours on my steam played list. Haven't really mentioned CK enough since the first post though. 

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