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[FM21] When I said I wanted to manage at the highest level this isn't quite what I had in mind


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I think I will be putting my FM20 save on hold for a while (depending on how this save pans out) and try something a little different. I've been wanting to spread my wings for a few versions now but now I've finally decided to take the plunge and with the assistance of Timo and his wonderful mega pack (thanks a lot) have the means to do it. This will be a one-club save (provided I don't get fired of course) that will centre on the continent of South America.

Game Setup

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I've gone with a large database and loaded all the current international players from around the world. I've added all the nations of South America and their top divisions to ensure that when/if we get to the stage of competing on the continental level that the challenge is sustained. The save will be played in Peru so I've selected all the divisions from the country whilst I've only selected the top divisions from the other South American nations.

To add a little bit more challenge down the line I've also decided to add the top 5 leagues in Europe and chosen them as view only. The point of doing that to ensure that there is always a 'pull' from Europe for the best players on the continent while potentially making the club world cup much harder to win (not that we will be competing in that competition anytime soon). I've reused the club and competition badges which are provided in the megapack from fmscout.com. Given the starting level of the team I'm going to manage is in the Copa Peru which is a mix of amateur, semi-pro and professional clubs I've also decided to add players to playable teams to prevent all teams from having rosters filled with greyed out players. As you can see I've also selected prevent control of teams with managers in place and have prevented the use of the in-Game editor. The database provided by Timo isn't a totally faithful representation of the structure but it's fairly accurate and I'm happy to use it.

Manager Attributes

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The manager is as bad as it's possible to make but I've once again given emphasis to the determination attribute as I really want to be able to convince my board when it comes time to start asking for requests. I've started unemployed which means I'll have to interview for the job that I want.

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As I'm using a custom database the majority of clubs in the Copa Peru don't actually have managers but there was only one club that I had my eyes on (as it fits the narrative of the save) and that was...

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Why did I choose them? Well...one reason really. They are the football club which holds the unique distinction of being at the highest altitude. I don't think it much matters in this game as I don't think those sort of things are modeled in the game but I thought it was curious. Naturally, visiting teams would be at a significant disadvantage if they didn't have time to acclimatize to their surroundings. Imagine the scenes of players gasping for air trying to play a gegenpress, that's some equalizer against higher ability players that is for sure. It also doesn't get very warm in the city with the average annual temperature hovering around 5 degrees. Not really having seasons as such is going to take some getting used to. I feel this is going to be a very interesting save and I can't wait to get started.

History

Based in Cerro de Pasco, which is one of the highest cities in the world situated in central Peru they have a surprisingly good pedigree for a team that was only established in 1974. They have never won any major honors in Peruvian football but they have competed in the top flight for a total of 16 seasons with their last appearance being in 2001. They have become a team firmly lodged in the 3rd tier of Peruvian football since then although they have come closest to achieving promotion in 2002, 2008 & 2010 after reaching the regional stages but being knocked out.

Their badge is emblematic of the mining heritage of the city which has been a major centre for mining silver in Peru since it was discovered in 1630. Unfortunately, that 'silver rush' has had seriously negative impacts on the environment with the pollution becoming so bad that plans have been put forward to abandon the city and relocate its inhabitants. That has yet to happen which means that unfortunately the inhabitants have been suffering through a terrible public health crisis. Here's hoping that I can build this club and return it to competing at the highest level so that the inhabitants of the city have at least something to be proud of during difficult times.

Trophies Won

Completely blank although that is not entirely accurate as they have the following accolades to their name.

Liga Departmental de Pasco Winners - 2002

Liga Superior de Pasco Winners - 2010

Liga Distrital de Cerro de Pasco Winners - 1976, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1984

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Club

Basically a blank slate, no rivals, no favoured personnel, icons or legends. The most striking part being the fact that we operate at amateur status which is fine because the majority of other teams at this level operate at the same status also. It's going to be a massive leap if we were to get promoted though as we would then be playing against entirely professional teams in the division above. We are not considered favourites for promotion anyway but it's something to keep in mind going forward if we somehow magically overachieve and get promotion.

Facilities

A surprisingly decent stadium for the level although surprisingly they have one of the smallest capacities but then again for a city with below 60,000 inhabitants that is decreasing in population this actually is entirely appropriate I feel. We do have a youth intake but until we reach the top flight we will not have a reserve team or youth team competing in any tournament. The training facilities are dreadful and the youth facilities aren't much better but then again par for the course for an amateur club.

First Team Squad

These players have all been generated by the game otherwise we would be looking a completely blank roster. They are really awful to be honest, to give you an idea of what we are dealing with here. Take one of our strikers Alva, he has a finishing attribute of 2 so a lot of work is going to be required to assemble a squad good enough to compete for promotion.

Finances

Considering we are an amateur operation we really shouldn't have much expenditures at all and if I look at the projections we are actually forecast to make money which is a great sign. One of the perils of being an amateur club has been trying to convince staff to come here which has been next to impossible. I have had to resort to posting job adverts for staff, hopefully, I get some positive responses. We also will get absolutely nothing from players we develop making it absolutely imperative we start working our way up the leagues as soon as possible.

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Starting Conditions

The top division in Peru is considered the 9th most reputable in South America which is a decent starting point even if it does mean we lie below the Brazilian 2nd division. I'm going to have to get used to the formats of South American football as the rules are completely different to what I'm used to in Europe. In the Copa Peru which is the 3rd division, there are 17 divisions of 14 teams (an eye watering amount) we have been placed in Group B. It is a summer league where you play against each other team twice for a total of 26 games. At the conclusion of those 26 games if you win your division you enter the promotion playoffs.

According to the game these are single leg knockout ties starting from a quarter final stage (I have no idea how this works considering there are 17 teams that need to be whittled down, perhaps the worst league winner misses out...who knows?. The winner of the final gets promoted to the 2nd division and there are a total of 3 spots available for promotion. As the 2020 season has been cancelled our first season of fixtures will start in 2021 so I will be spending this season playing friendlies and trying to suss out where we actually stand and trying to assemble a squad which can be competitive for the division we are in.   

Career Objectives

The board aren't all that ambitious and would be happy with a top half finish. I'd quite like to do a bit better than that but given that we have semi professional and professional teams to compete with for 1 spot in our division it's going to be a real struggle to compete for a while. As a result, I feel this save will probably take on more of a youth oriented approach given our status. I feel this is going to be a serious long term project where I may be spending a lot of time in the 3rd division hoping to scrape together enough money to turn professional and have a real go at getting promoted up the divisions.

As for long term ambitions, I'd like to at least see this side back in the top division as I feel that would be a great achievement given our starting position. The journey begins.

Edited by pheelf
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2 hours ago, Makoto Nakamura said:

I look forward to seeing how this pans out, my sort of save! :D

There was actually kind of a small thread about the effect of altitude last week, don't know if it helps anything for you?

 

I think the save can go one of two ways, I either become immensely successful and work my way up through the leagues in a relatively timely manner or I spend an eternity spinning my wheels in the 3rd division. Hopefully, it will be the former rather than the latter but if my first friendly is anything to go by where we lost 5-1 to 3rd division semi-pro side Ecosem then perhaps it's looking more like the latter.

That's an interesting thread, it appears that the detail level impacts whether it applies or not. This is potentially great news for us as I intend on having the games on full detail. I'm glad to see this has been introduced into the game, can't wait to see the impact it has when semi-pro and amateur clubs teams come to town. I guess I better start looking for high stamina players then as otherwise it's going to be brutal. On the plus side, It could make our home ground an absolute fortress.

Thanks for the comment

Cheers

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1 hour ago, Polski97 said:

Great idea. Gave it a follow and I may actually copy this 

Thanks, the more, the merrier, it'll be interesting to see how other players approach the challenge.

I also got my first youth intake :)

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Not too bad but given that they are being compared with a first team which isn't all that great I'm not overly enthusiastic about it. I wasn't expecting much so the fact that they add some good depth to the squad is more than enough for me. just unfortunate that after signing them all my first team squad now has 39 players in it which is quite excessive due to a lack of U18s and Reserves squads. If I can get any of these players anywhere near their potential it will be a great achievement but given the terrible facilities and level of football on offer I doubt it.

Best Regards

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15 hours ago, pheelf said:

Thanks, the more, the merrier, it'll be interesting to see how other players approach the challenge.

I also got my first youth intake :)

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Not too bad but given that they are being compared with a first team which isn't all that great I'm not overly enthusiastic about it. I wasn't expecting much so the fact that they add some good depth to the squad is more than enough for me. just unfortunate that after signing them all my first team squad now has 39 players in it which is quite excessive due to a lack of U18s and Reserves squads. If I can get any of these players anywhere near their potential it will be a great achievement but given the terrible facilities and level of football on offer I doubt it.

Best Regards

Question, as I started the save it said no games till May 2021 ? Is that the same with you ? 

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5 hours ago, Polski97 said:

Question, as I started the save it said no games till May 2021 ? Is that the same with you ? 

This is correct there are no games until May 2021 in order to simulate C-19. It means you have a year and half with nothing to do but twiddle your thumbs but at least it gives you a lot of time to assemble a squad I suppose.

All the best

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Unión Minas

SEASON REVIEW - 2021

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The board would be satisfied with a top half finish in our first season. As for my own personal expectations, well, I'm not really sure what to expect. The media doesn't rate our chances very highly but considering we operate as an amateur club I think how we perform this season will much depend on the quality of player we are able to bring in. Even if we were to finish top we would still need to win 3 games against the best teams from all the divisions so it's a steep mountain to climb (no pun intended) to gain promotion.

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League Table - I'm delighted with that finishing position as the season could not have gone any better. I really enjoyed the nip and tuck battle we had with Deportivo Robles as we had to display unbelievable levels of consistency to keep pace with them. It was looking like we would fail to finish top after a loss to them late in the season which gave them a 3 point edge but a couple of poor results from them allowed us to draw level on points putting us back on top. We practically clinched the championship due to our superior goal difference on the penultimate matchday when we went 3 points clear after they narrowly lost to Miguel Grau. As a result, I played a rotated side for the final game which we lost but it didn't matter in the end. Looking around the other divisions and seeing the caliber of opposition we would have to beat to claim promotion is quite worrying. While our division was very competitive there are a few divisions where the winner won it at a canter. If I have to face one of the those teams I don't rate our chances very highly of getting promotion but the fact that we are still in with a chance is a great achievement. I'm probably going to need luck on our side but we will see what happens.

Copa Peru Promotion Playoff - Incredible, absolutely incredible. I was able to register some players for the playoffs which I couldn't for the league which I think gave us a massive boost. The players I brought in were much better compared to the players that were playing in the league (at least according to my assistant manager). After the quarter final result against fellow amateur side Racing FBC I was beginning to think that we could have a chance. When we drew Sport Ancash in the next round all of my optimism faded as they are a professional club and on paper had a much better squad than ours. As a result, I decided to have a bit of a re-think tactically. I knew that if I allowed a football match to break out I would lose and lose badly as they had a lot of quality. Therefore what I did was to add the team instructions to tackle harder and to mark tightly with the hope that if I could kick them off their game I would have the best chance of at least competing with them.

It worked as we made the game scrappy and frustrated them. When youth academy graduate Barco MR received the ball after a botched clearance from a central defender and then proceeded to dribble into the centre right channel and smash the ball into the top left corner from 20 yards in the 16th minute it gave us a huge boost and more importantly something to hold onto. Seeing that we didn't need to score I dropped the mentality to cautious and sought to hold on. They battered us for the rest of the game ending the game having had 24 shots, 14 of those on target with an xG of 2.64. Thankfully, our goalkeeper La Torre put in a man of the match performance and got a 9.0 rating which enabled us to get to the final.

One step away from promotion and the only thing standing in our way was CNI, a 2 star reputation professional club. Looking at the pre-game odds was a bit unsettling as they looked to be odds on favourites to win. Therefore I was left in the same predicament as in the semi-final, we had to find a way to get them to under perform and hope that we could scrape a goal. They lined up in a 4-4-2 much like us so I didn't feel the approach I had in the semi final would work when we faced a 4-3-3DM Wide. Therefore I had to formulate something different and came up with the idea of trying to sit deeper and play over the high press we were likely to face from a more attacking mentality given they were such overwhelming favourites. As a result, I put all our defensive line on more direct passes and started the game on the cautious mentality. It seemed to work well as we restricted the chances they could create against us while getting a larger share of possession.

That was the way of it until around the 75th minute with them controlling matters but us keeping them in check. Seeing my players flagging having sustained the pressure from them all game I decided to do something bold. I felt that if we allowed the game to get to extra time that they'd probably win given the fitness advantage they enjoyed training full time. Therefore I changed the mentality back to our usual starting positive mentality and went for it and within 5 minutes it paid off. Davila MC picks up the ball in the centre circle, he then launches a long ball centrally over the top for Carbajal ST to chase. The defensive line is split which plays him onside, he still has to get there before the onrushing goalkeeper. Unfortunately for them, their goalkeeper Garrido is too slow to anticipate and is caught in no mans land. Carbajal gets there first and smashes it into an unguarded net...Gooooooooooooool (The authentic match commentary is a nice touch). We hit the front and now it becomes a case of locking it down which I immediately proceed to do. Down to defensive, putting my right back on defend duty and hope that we can cling on. We do it and earn a unbelievable promotion to the 2nd division. Absolutely chuffed with that result and the potential it has to change the trajectory of the club.

Domestic Cups - We weren't entered into the Copa Bicentenario which is one of only two domestic cups to compete for in Peru. I don't think we will participate in it next season either but hopefully if we manage to survive in the 2nd division next season we might be in it for the season after next. The winner of that trophy enters into the Copa Sudamericana which is the 2nd tier continental competition behind the Copa Libertadores. The other domestic trophy to play for is the Supercopa Peruana which is a single game between the Primera Division champions and the Copa Bicentenario winners. Therefore it's unlikely I'll be competing for that trophy any time soon.

Reserves - We didn't have a reserve squad for this season. I like the feature where you can ask the board for a reserve squad (it may have been in the game previously but I've never encountered it) and on promotion that is exactly what I did which they accepted and for next season we will have a Reserve team. The team won't compete in a league next season though as you need to be in the Primera Division for that to happen but at least I can schedule friendlies to keep players fit and reduce the number of players in the first team.

Under 18s - I didn't have a U18s team either but I couldn't ask the board for one. I'm hoping that when / if we get promoted to the top flight one will be created to play in the U18s league. This is a bit unfortunate as it means that I will have to play 15 and 16 year olds in either the 1st team or in the Reserves but we will have to make do.

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Squad Part 1 / Squad Part 2 / Squad Part 3 - Just to give you an idea of just how overloaded with players the first team was I needed to split the squad screenshot into 3 parts just to get all the players in. All the players you see who are considered 5* are all players which we brought in after the squad registration window closed (with the exception of Carbajal ST). That is why they have hardly any appearances in the first team. They were an absolute gift at a vital time for us as I can't imagine how we would have got promotion without them. There was some standout performers, La Torre GK was a big player for us who turned up when it mattered in the playoffs putting in a pair of fantastic performances in the semi final and final. Mimbela ST was prolific in front of goal, scoring some important goals for us and ultimately allowing us to stay ahead of Deportivo Robles on goal difference. Chumpitaz MR was excellent on the right wing until his place was taken youth prospect Barco. Huaranca MC was a good player for us who scored a few direct free kicks and finally Carbajal who did well even though he was being played out of position.

There was also a lot of over-performance from some of the lower ability players in the squad like Lopez DC, Avellaneda DL, Flores ML, Villalobos MC and Zamora ST (who did well in the early part of the season before he lost his place). I sense the gap to the next division in terms of ability is much larger than the difference between clubs in the Copa Peru so I'm going to need to strengthen dramatically to have a chance of staying up. The fact that I don't have a single player considered good enough for the 2nd division is somewhat concerning and the squad will need a lot of work. At least we will be a professional club next season which will mean that I can develop players better and might get some rewards for doing so. The fact that we are situated at such a high altitude really did prove to be a massive advantage for us at home as some of the conditions of the opposition players really was rather shocking towards the end of games. The weather isn't modeled correctly as we played home games in 30 degrees heat but then again maybe that's a bit too much to ask.

Transfers - There was a lot of activity and some decent players were brought in. As is the case though with being an amateur club any of your players can be poached at any time. Thankfully for us, the majority of our best players showed loyalty to us after multiple attempts to buy them, surprisingly, with them sometimes turning down professional contracts to stay. There will be a lot of activity next season as it will be essential and I will be looking to take advantage of the 4 loans per season I'm allowed to see if I can bring in some quality from the top division.

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Average Rating: 7.79
Without his goals there would have been no chance of us getting anywhere near promotion so for that I'm grateful to him. He is considered favoured personnel now and will forever be etched in the history of the club but I don't think he has what it takes to make the step up to be honest. I'll probably keep him on anyway (provided his wage demands aren't silly) but I hope for him to become a backup player. If we needed to depend on him to be our main goalscorer next season that would be seriously concerning.
 
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Average Rating: 7.48
Came up with the most important goal of the career so far and that in of itself is enough to qualify him as the clubs best young player. He was quite consistent, even though his attributes aren't great I'll be keeping him to see how much improvement he can make when allowed to train full time.
 
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Finances - I feel that I'm going to have to be exceptionally careful with these operating as a professional outfit. We made under £200K from ticket sales and matchday revenue last season so we don't have the base to start splashing the cash. I've been given £9,639p/w as a wage budget but looking at it realistically I think I should be looking to spend at most £5kp/w, that would give around £240Kp/a which I think we could just about cope with given our income. It's strange that the season ticket prices are so heavily discounted, £9 for the 13 matches is an absolute bargain as opposed to £1.75 per match if you pay at the gate.

Facilities - I managed to convince the board to upgrade both the junior coaching and youth recruitment which is a hugely important step in the future of the club. Now we are able to offer full time training I feel if we could manage to get a youth prospect up to scratch every year or every other year we might be able to start the process of turning the club into a selling one. More so than in Europe , I think that finding and developing young talent is going to be critical as we are likely to be dependent on sales to raise funds for the club. It's going to take a while before I feel comfortable enough to think about upgrading the training and youth facilities and I'm hoping we might be able to borrow another clubs training facilities.

Youth Intake - Barco MR was the pick of the bunch and did manage to dislodge Chumpitaz when he came in. I signed everyone but it's very unlikely that any of the other players of the intake will ever be good enough to help us.
 
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League Reputation - I'm not sure whether the reputation of the leagues can change over time but we'll have to see. All the positions remained exactly the same so maybe that is a result of C-19 and the end of next season will see some changes. 
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Even though we won a 1* reputation league we still only have a 0.5* reputation. This is going to be an issue when it comes to player acquisition considering a lot of the other clubs in the new division are all at least 2.5* reputation clubs.
 
Club South American Reputation - I can see it being a while before we get anywhere near competing in a continental competition but at least it's nice to know that should we ever get to the top division that there are 4 spots in the Copa Libertadores to try and qualify for and another 4 in the Copa Sudamericana.
 
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Edited by pheelf
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On 17/12/2020 at 18:01, mikenevo said:

Have to say I enjoyed the read, will be an interesting journey for sure. If I ever move out of Europe on my save, I think I'll definitely consider Peru!

Thanks for the comment. I've found it an enjoyable and refreshing change so far, I would recommend it for someone who wants to try something a little bit different. Next seasons review coming up.

Cheers

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Unión Minas

SEASON REVIEW - 2022

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We are 500-1 favourites to win the league according to the media and are odds on to get relegated in last place so it would appear to be a slam dunk that we will finish in the bottom 3. Looking at the caliber of player I can attract with our reputation, I'm beginning to anticipate a season of struggle. I'm hoping that we can somehow build a squad that can at least compete at this level which I'll have until May to assemble when the league starts.

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League Table - This completely went against the pessimism I had going into the season. In the end, it appears that we stayed up comfortably but our safety was actually in question for a large proportion of the season although we were never in the relegation zone at any point. Our form in the latter part of the season was especially troublesome where our previously excellent form in the first half which had us in the top 3 completely collapsed. Overall, I'm delighted with this outcome as we end the season with a much stronger squad than we started with and no longer look out of our depth at this level. The other exciting aspect of the season is the fact that our finish gets us a place in the playoffs giving us the chance of promotion to the top flight in only our 2nd season at the club.

Liga 2 Promotion Playoff - This was a free hit in essence, we would once again need to win 3 one leg ties to secure promotion but went into it as heavy underdogs. After our narrow scraping past Union Huaral in the quarter final my belief that we might be able to pull this off started to increase. The fact we would face Alianza Atlético in the semi final further boosted our hopes given that we had beaten them 5-0 on the penultimate matchday of the league season with a rotated squad knowing that we had already secured our place in the playoff. Perhaps that optimism was misguided as they were a completely different team when it came to a game which really mattered. When we took the lead through a penalty in the 31st minute I was thinking we might just be able to beat them but from then on they took control of the game and managed to turn it around and held the lead by half time. We huffed and puffed in the 2nd half but didn't really have the quality to create good opportunities against them. They held out and condemned us to another season in the 2nd division. I was satisfied just to be in with a chance to get promotion, next season with some quality additions to the squad I hope that we can do even better. Our results this season have raised the bar and I would be very disappointed if we don't at least get into the playoffs again next season.

Domestic Cups - I'm really unsure why for next season we aren't competing in the cup. There are 8 groups of 4 for a total of 32 teams. That means that all the top flight teams (20) and 12 out of the 14 teams in the 2nd division should compete. Considering we finished in 7th I assumed that would give us a place but we haven't been drawn into a group. I really hope that I'm going to be able to play in this competition otherwise I'm going to miss out on a route into continental competition. More annoyingly, a team just promoted from the Copa Peru will be playing in it.

Reserves - As we didn't get promoted it will be another season without a league to play in. The addition of the teams was very helpful though as it really helped me to maintain a fitter first team.

Under 18s - This is a big problem as without even having a squad it is making me have to play really young players against guys much older than them which could be hampering their development.

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Squad - As you can see a much reduced first team roster which really helped to maintain a more harmonious dressing room. Early on in the year, I was really struggling to find players and the quality that I was bringing in wasn't really 2nd division standard. After a while bringing in duds, I then decided to get my Director of Football involved and get him to suggest some players to sign. Surprisingly, he was quite useful at that task and started to identify players which were better than what we already had. That steady stream of signings (I might have even gone overboard) raised the average ability level of the squad which made him alongside my scouts recommend even better players. Before we knew where we were we began to sign players considered good the 2nd division and now we have a squad which compares well with the other teams in the division. We aren't among the best but we should really be able to push for a spot in the playoffs, add a bit of quality here and there and the sky is the limit.

Although I was satisfied with how the squad developed there were a few things which I wasn't happy about. The lack of quality players I could bring in for the spine of the team was a real problem. There was a huge plethora of wingers recommended but hardly any quality central defenders, central midfielders or strikers. Yes, I could play players out of position like I did with Avalos AMR who was decent employed as an advanced forward but I feel I'm compromising an important facet of my tactic doing that. Wide players don't tend to be very strong and commanding in the air which is something which I need for a player I expect to play in the Deep Lying Forward role in a 4-4-2. You could argue that I should then change to a 4-3-3 Wide given all the wide players but that would exacerbate that issue (playing a lone striker) while also making the lack of central midfielders available even more of an issue. Hopefully, next season I'm able to find the players we need.

Transfers Part 1Transfers Part 2 - A massive amount of transfers (hence the need for 2 parts) which helped us to improve the squad. We even spent a bit of money which in retrospect looks a poor decision given that some of the worst players in our squad signed for a fee whilst our best players were actually free agents. I tried the approach of scouting Primera Division sides to see if they had any players available on loan which they did and I signed 4 of them. Unfortunately, for us as the season went on they began to look worse and worse in comparison with our squad which ultimately meant that they didn't play all that much and had their loans terminated early. I'll try again next season and hopefully will get recommended better players to bring in on loan. With my desperation to stay in the division, I didn't really stick to the plan when it came to the wage bill and we were above it for the majority of the season which had consequences which I'll highlight in the finances section. Our best signings were Avalos ST, Agurto MC, Vela GK, Ustrilla ML & Zavaleta DL. The rest were mediocre at best and I will be happy to clear a huge chunk off the wage bill at the end of the season when a lot of their contracts expire.

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Average Rating: 7.18
He's not really a striker at all when you look at his attributes but he still managed to become our top scorer which is a remarkable feat considering he was the final signing of the season which meant he played less games. Going forward, I can't see him being good enough to put us into the top flight so will be on the search for the new 'Nimbela' who can produce his numbers in the 2nd division.
 
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Average Rating: 6.86
Sometimes you don't know what you've got until it's gone and that was the case with Manzo. Manzo missed the semi final of the playoff through injury and I was surprised by how much his absence affected the attacking potency of the team. I'm kind of puzzled as to why he was so important to the team given he has no standout attributes and is operating at a Copa Peru level. It may be the case of me missing something about him which makes him capable of over performing what his attributes would suggest.
 
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Finances - Houston, we have a problem. I said I wouldn't be reckless but couldn't help myself in the end. On the plus side, I've been getting rumours of various different consortium's wanting to take over all season so maybe the owner will sell up and solve this problem for me (provided the new owners invest). Failing that, maybe we can pull off a promotion next season which would go a long way to resolving this. I'm also encouraged that we might be able to generate some cash from player sales if needs must whilst we also will see the wage bill falling when I release some players at the end of their contracts. Overall, not a great picture but not critical just yet although the board have insisted that we work towards repairing the clubs financial damage for next season and beyond. Getting promotion in the next few seasons is going to be imperative as the longer we languish in the 2nd division the harder it's going to be to get promoted especially if we plunge deeper into the red.

Facilities - Slowly but surely we are improving the junior coaching and youth recruitment but we still have a long way to go. Nice to see us filling more of the ground but given the ticket prices we can't really depend of that to be a major source of income for us.

Youth Intake - A weak intake which doesn't surprise me. I can see why we wouldn't exactly be the most exciting of propositions for talented youngsters, hopefully, over my time here I can begin to change that perception. I signed the players recommended but not all, hopefully, that doesn't come back to haunt me and I have somehow missed out on a superb talent that my recruitment team aren't good enough judges of ability to recognize. I guess we will have to wait and see.
 
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League Reputation - I'm getting a little concerned that this is remaining static. I really hope that these are dynamic.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - We are still only as reputable as sides in the Copa Peru which is troubling. It could work in our favour I suppose with opposition teams underestimating us and being more attacking against us than is prudent.
 
Club South American Reputation - We won't be on this list for a long time, especially since we aren't entered into the cup and have no route into continental competition until we reach the Primera Division.
 
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Unión Minas

SEASON REVIEW - 2023

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Given the amount of strengthening that has been done to the first team, I'm rather disappointed with the expectations from the board and the media prediction. The media still has us down as one of the favourites for relegation while the board just want us to battle bravely against relegation. I have much higher aspirations and would like to at a bare minimum participate in the playoffs. If we don't get promoted soon I sense it is going to become more difficult as I feel that the club could get crushed under an ever increasing mountain of debt.

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League Table - We met our objective of getting into the playoffs but I'm left with a hint of disappointment over what could have been. We were definitely in a title race this season but every time we got within touching distance of Santa Rosa PNP after they slipped up we also fluffed our lines and couldn't take advantage. When we did gain top spot we simply couldn't hold onto it or build a lead which was a result of our inconsistency. We started the season spectacularly with an 8-1 win at home over Unión Huaral only to follow that up with a 1-0 loss away to León de Huánuco which we then followed up with an 8-0 win over José Gálvez at home which was our largest ever win. That seemed to be the pattern of the season with us excelling at home, ending the season unbeaten and winning all games bar one giving us the best record in the division. Away from home was a different story though which proved to be our Achilles heel with us only finishing 7th overall away from home. This was a source of great frustration for us given the majority of those losses were only by the odd goal. Had we been able to convert a few of those losses into draws we probably would have been champions but it was not to be. We didn't have time to mope about our missed opportunity however as we still had a chance at promotion through the playoff which we would enter at the semi final stage.  

Liga 2 Promotion Playoff - It was by the skin of our teeth but we did it!! Next season we will be a top flight club!! I think that not having to play the quarter final gave us an edge. I was happy to draw José Gálvez in the semi final considering we had beaten them twice in the league (one of only 4 clubs I managed this against, the others were Santos, Laure Sur & Los Caimanes). The playoff game was however a lot tougher than I was anticipating and although we did manage to best them on xG and shots on target they were in the game throughout. Our goal came from a poorly cleared corner with the ball finding its way to an unmarked Cano MR who smashed it into the net from a wide position. 

I was feeling relatively confident about the final as we had beaten Alianza Atlético 4-0 on the final matchday of the league season. They had also played in the quarter final and played extra time in their semi final which naturally meant they weren't as fresh going into the game. Looking at that you would think we would have the advantage but then again the same things were being said about last season and we lost to them in the playoff. More worryingly, our top scorer Bazán ST was still recovering from an injury but given the importance of the match I had to risk playing him. I was desperate not to repeat the heartbreak of last season and get revenge. The players also felt the same motivation and even though the opposition dominated possession, we dominated the stats which really mattered that were the xG and shots on target. It took a piece of quality build-up play in the 78th minute to finally break them down but it proved to be enough to get us over the line. This is a huge accomplishment for us, now begins the hard work of assembling a squad strong enough to stay up.

Domestic Cups - We will be playing in the Copa Bicentenario next season which is great news with a guaranteed 3 games minimum in the tournament for the group stage.

Reserves - They will play in the reserve league next season which mirrors the first division format which means 38 games. This is great news for us as it means that I should have no problem keeping players fit next season which was a serious issue this season as if a player wasn't a first team regular they hardly played any games. This is one of the reasons why it's so important that we stay up next season if we can.

Under 18s - An U18s squad was created and they will also participate in the U18 league which is great news. The format of the league is slightly different though. We got drawn into Group B which is one of 2 groups of 10. The opening stage consists of 16 games and teams from each group can play each other. On completion of the opening stage, you get a closing stage which consists of another 16 games bringing a total of 32 games for all teams participating in the league. Once that stage is complete the top 4 teams in each group then go into a Champions Playoff. The Champions Playoff consists of a knockout tournament of single leg ties starting at the quarter final stage, the winner of the tournament becomes the U18 league winner and there is a 3rd/4th placed match for the losers of the semi final. If staying up for the reserve league is important then this is absolutely critical as it is the only way I'm going to be able to develop my youth players.

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Squad - I managed to strengthen the spine of the team as I was suggesting I would last season which gave me the confidence to believe that I would confound the pessimism from the board and the media. Even though the squad is the best it has ever been we are going to need to strengthen again to stand any chance of staying up. I don't have a single player that my coaches think is capable of making the jump to a higher level so I will need another rebuild. I'll have to be quick about doing my rebuild too as unlike this season I won't have 5 months to assemble a squad as Liga 1 starts in mid February. Thankfully, the majority of the players all have expiring contracts which should free up a huge amount of the wage budget even though we have been granted a substantial increase to our wage budget after promotion. We are going to be playing a lot more games next season (15 more at a minimum to be precise) so I will need a fairly big squad to cope with the strain.

Much like this season, I'm hoping that our home games can be our saving grace next season. I think it will be a lot tougher to win home games but I'm hoping that our inherent advantage should enable us to score goals in the 2nd halves of games much like this season. I am slightly concerned about the performances of our fullbacks however. They have been consistently our worst performers and I'm not really sure why but it is a trend that has been the case ever since I joined the club. My only thoughts are that perhaps the 4-4-2 is being exposed in some way but then when you consider that a lot of the teams we faced this season were also fielding 4-4-2 against us I'm not sure how much weight that holds. My fullbacks are also fairly quick and defensively sound in terms of attributes so it's not like they could be easily caught out either, further investigation is needed. I'm going to try and hold onto players which my coaches consider to have enough potential to play in the top flight but I will be moving a lot of players on which have no hope of helping us and are drawing a wage. Quality over quantity is definitely the way forward here and I suspect that the wage cap will be getting smashed next season provided we can find the right players.

Transfers Part 1Transfers Part 2 - We had to invest in improving the squad and we did that effectively I felt. A lot of good players joined the club who all played a significant part in the season although there were a lot which couldn't get a game. Not because they were bad signings necessarily but because they were unfit and at no point during the season could I afford to risk playing unfit players when we were battling so fiercely for the title. The result of which was a lot of dressing room unrest but I was able to deal with it so that it wasn't too disruptive. Signings of note were Bazán ST who was the Nimbela of the 2nd division I had been looking for. Cano MR was brilliant and provided the most assists while chipping in with some important goals. Morales MC and Chavez GK were also notable for their levels of consistency. I anticipate a similar level of activity next season which will likely see an increasing number of loans out of the club too.

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Average Rating: 7.81
He was magnificent this season and ended the season not only as our top scorer but the top scorer for the entire league. He delivered consistent performances throughout the season and without him I don't think we would have had such a good season. He is one of the players that my coaches feel could be decent in Liga 1 so I have signed him on to a new deal. If he becomes the new baseline for ability and all the players we bring in match or surpass his ability I think we have at least a chance of staying up.
 
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Average Rating: 7.40
We had no players under 21 in the first team which is why I had to award this to a player which had 1 appearance all season in a friendly. He's rubbish which is indicative of a serious issue with a lack of talented youth players at the club. I'm hoping that having our reserve and youth teams in a league next season will start to change this and we start to see development of our young players to prepare them for first team football at our club or another. They are currently stagnating being caught between a rock and hard place. Nowhere near good enough to play in the first team and not good enough to play in friendlies for the reserves over first team players needing fitness. Therefore, they are stuck not playing while desperately needing game time to be able to develop enough to be considered to to play games. A vicious circle which hopefully will get broken next season.
 
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Finances - Yikes!! The bank balance is seriously plummeting but at least we got a nice boost to our wage budget for next season, whether that is affordable however is up for debate. What isn't up for debate though is the massive chasm in player quality we have to try and traverse which is reflected in the wage bill of clubs. This seasons Liga 1 champions have a wage bill which makes even our increased wage budget look puny in comparison with their highest earner on £4,500p/w. Closing that enormous gap is going to be excpetionally difficult but at least there is some light at the end of the tunnel as we will get nearly £300K in TV money over next season. That's not enough to even clear our debt which will be added to over next season but is a start at least. The board still wants us to repair the clubs financial damage while fighting bravely against relegation which I think is a seriously tough ask as I don't think we can do both simultaneously. We really haven't established ourselves as a selling club either which is making us dependent on revenue streams which just aren't lucrative enough to keep us from plunging into debt. I am also skeptical of the new club culture additions of playing attacking football, playing direct football, making the most of set pieces and playing counter-attacking football. I don't see how playing attacking football fits into the whole picture of trying to stay up and play on the counter so I sense we will be disappointing them. I just hope that we can stay up otherwise my job could definitely be on the line.

Facilities - Progress has halted with regards to improving the clubs infrastructure and I can't see it resuming until we start earning some serious income and tackling our amassing debts. Turning a profit looks to be very difficult to envision at the moment. I've noticed some clubs in the top flight planning to move to smaller grounds which I think is curious although others are expanding their grounds or building new stadiums. I'm surprised to see Universitario who play in a stadium which has 80,000 seats performing so badly though, they finished 16th in Liga 1 this season. I hope to see a big bump in ticket prices and season ticket sales and a greater filling of our home ground. In the long term, we will be looking at a new ground as our current one can't be expanded but that is really a long way into the future. I haven't been able to request to share training facilities with another club but I'll keep trying.

Youth Intake - Another poor intake which is unsurprising. I signed those recommended by the Director of Football which was the majority. I can't wait to see the impact of what playing competitive games does for them to see if there are any hidden gems there.
 
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League Reputation - I'm happy to report that these are dynamic as the Ecuadorian Premier League overtook the Paraguayan Premier League to go from 6th to 5th in the competition ranking. It appears you need to be in the top flight to get the inbox message showing when they change which is surprisingly after the season reset date.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - The fact that we are still only 1* is going to be a huge issue when it comes to trying to attract quality players to the club. We still have less reputation than clubs in the Copa Peru which is a scandal really. We will go into the season as the only 1* team in the league with our nearest competitors newly promoted Santa Rosa PNP having a 2* reputation. As result, it comes as no surprise that the media has predicted us to finish rock bottom with 1000-1 odds of us winning the title. Mind you, when you consider that Leicester City had 5000-1 odds the season they won the title it's not impossible. I would be happy just to not get relegated though (maybe if I can find a Liga 1 level Kanté and Vardy maybe I'll raise my expectations).
 
Club South American Reputation - At least I'm now safe in the knowledge that we have more than one route into continental football with our place in the cup confirmed. I think if I manage to qualify for continental competition then I'll start reporting on how the other Peruvian clubs do.
 
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Unión Minas

SEASON REVIEW - 2024

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I'm delighted to have made it into the top flight but now comes the really tough ask of trying to stay up. We need to be better than 2/20 teams over a 38 game league season which on the face of it doesn't seem that difficult but when you consider the clubs finances and reputation, I sense it's going to prove challenging to find affordable players willing to sign for us that are of the required standard. Survival is all that matters and if possible I'd like to put in a decent performance in our debut season in the Copa Bicentenario.

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League Table - We managed to survive rather comfortably in the end with our home form enabling us to keep our heads above water. To show the extent of the difference, of the 47 points we managed to gain, 36 of those we earned at home with only 11 points earned away from home. This is a concerning statistic as we have really become dependent on our advantage of playing at high altitude in order to win games. I have the feeling that we are going to need to have equally impressive home form next season to stay up. We conceded 47 goals away from home this season which was the most of any club in the division. We have to find a way to become more miserly away from home which I think comes down to bringing in higher quality defenders.

The rules of the top flight are still rather idiosyncratic to me as I'm having trouble understanding them. As I understood it there should be a Champions Playoff every season between the top 4 teams but that didn't take place this season or last season. I'm also baffled as to why points were given to Alianza and Cristal who have had those points added every season for the last 4 seasons, I'll have to investigate further. I was also surprised to see the U20s rule which is particularly punishing to teams who don't give enough gave time to U20 players, the fact that you can get points deducted seems unbelievably rough. Combine that with the limit on having 4 foreign players in the first team and only being able to register 5 means that I'm going to have to think very carefully about how I construct squads going forward. Ideally, the best squad composition would be of high ability U20 Peruvian players but the competition for those players is fierce when you have other clubs which are far more reputable which can offer much higher wages.

Domestic Cups - I'm actually really happy with how we performed in our first season in the cup. We even managed to pull off an away victory in the group stage which for us is rare even if it was against a Liga 2 side. That win qualified us for the knockout stages where we met another top flight side who had been performing well in the league. We scraped through into the quarter final which had me dreaming of a place in the Copa Sudamericana. When we drew another home tie my hopes were buoyed even further. Unfortunately for us, perhaps as a result of the pressure of the occasion our defenders put in a shambolic performance and we lost convincingly. I quite like this format for the cup as it means that even if you draw a tough team in your group and lose to them you still have chance of getting to the knockout stages, whereas if it was straight knockout from the beginning a bad draw could see you out of the competition very early. The only issue I have with the cup is that there doesn't appear to be much in the way of prize money and the only real income appears to be from gate receipts.

Reserves - Not the best of debut seasons but considering that the squad was quite threadbare this isn't that bad of an outcome I suppose. I hope to see some improvement next season but whether that happens or not isn't all that important given the main purpose of the reserves is to keep the first team players fit which it did.

Under 18s - They had a brilliant debut season and made it to the playoffs by finishing 4th in their section giving them the opportunity to become champions. Unfortunately for them, a couple of poor penalties from them led to them losing the quarter final but I'm encouraged by this start to them playing competitive games. I don't think any of the youth players coming through the system are good enough to help us but at least I'm starting to see some development.

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Squad - I think I did a reasonable job of building a squad capable of dealing with the top flight but ultimately our chances rested on our ability to take advantage of tiring teams at home. We are definitely going to need to strengthen the back line next season if we are to make any progress up the table as we were ridiculously porous. We conceded the 2nd most goals in the league with the only team to concede more being rock bottom Carlos Stein who had a horrific season. The standout player of the season was definitely Serna ST who scored a lot of goals for us, just a shame that he broke his leg and will miss the first 2-5 months of next season meaning I will have to look for another striker. Having to work around the rules of the top flight has been quite difficult. Especially, since a lot of the best players I have been able to identify are usually either Brazilian or Colombian. Out of necessity, I'm going to have to move my squad building in the direction of developing HG talent by bringing them through the youth ranks. Labrin DR average rating looks quite bad for the top provider of assists but then again the average ratings of fullbacks in general appears to be depressed for some reason.

Transfers - All you can really ask for is to consistently end the season with a stronger squad than you had at the same time last season and in that endeavour we have definitely been successful. The foreign players that were brought in were the best of the bunch and I will likely use my full quota again next season. I was also pleased to be able to get fees for some of the worst players at the club when they were put out on loan. The Ruiz ML loan was out of necessity as we needed players for the left flank, he proved to be a good loan signing from a 2nd division club. Hopefully, with some precise scouting I'll be able to find some more of those sort of young talented players from the lower leagues next season which can help add depth to the squad as I think it's going to remain tricky to poach players from other clubs in Liga 1.

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Average Rating: 7.15
Came on a free after being released by the champions Alianza and had an excellent start to his career at the club by becoming the top scorer. Looking at his attributes you would think that he would be the last person who should finish as top scorer with such a poor finishing attribute and lack of composure. He does however have compensating attributes which help him to overcome those deficiencies, his athleticism and excellent dribbling being particularly strong. Those positive attributes enable him to create and utilize space more effectively meaning that when it came time for him to have a shot it usually was from a far more favourable position meaning that he didn't need a particularly good strike for him to score. Definitely one to watch next season.
 
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Average Rating: 6.70
Being the only U20 player in the first team guaranteed the award for him. Don't get me wrong, he had a decent season which has seen him garner the interest of Brazilian side Ponte Preta meaning we face an uphill battle to keep him but it highlights the issues we have with the squad. Now that we have requirements of needing to have an U20 player on the pitch for the full 90 minutes for every game in the league it will be imperative that we add more players that fit the criteria that are good enough to get game time. Simply being in the matchday squad isn't enough, they have to play so we meet the target at the end of the two phases of the league. Considering where we finished in the table, not hitting the target and having points deducted is simply not an option.
 
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Finances - We are going down and going down fast. I can't see how we get out of this financial mess without one of two things happening. We have to either qualify for continental competition (which will require a massive improvement in our performances in the league or maybe fluke our way to a cup win) or get a takeover which we almost had this season before it collapsed due to the proposed new owner not having the funds. Given that the on the pitch performances are the only thing I can influence I am just going to have to do all I can to get into continental competition. On the plus side, they have given me a slight increase to the wage budget but given we can't even afford our expenditures at the moment if we utilize the budget fully I can only see us more quickly going into debt. It may be a chance we have to take however and hope that we can get the players in that will give us a shot at competing for a spot in continental competition.

Our other revenue streams are very poor although we did get a massive increase to the money earned from our kit sponsor which went from £20.8K per year to £78K per year for the next two years. We seem to be stuck in an awful limbo at the moment which is making it impossible to turn the club into the selling one it needs to be to become sustainable. In order for that to happen we need money to invest in the youth department but in order to get that money we need to be able to sell our players for decent money given our poor revenues otherwise. One cannot start without the other so we can't progress until something fundamentally changes, Another issue preventing us making progress is the fact we can only offer one year contracts, I don't know the reason for that (perhaps our financial situation) but we are in a situation that teams can just wait us out if they want any of our players. I can see this becoming much more of an issue when big teams become interested in our best players and unsettle them. It is a difficult situation which we are going to have to devise a strategy to come out of, taking advantage of the interest in Rogério and selling him while slapping on a hefty percentage of next sale fee clause might be a start, hoping that he develops into player which has the ability to play in Europe and earn us a bit of cash.

Facilities - Unable to do anything to improve the club infrastructure which is understandable given the financial situation but damaging to the progress we can make as a club. We did however see a nice increase to our average attendances and season ticket sales which is good while the ticket prices have been on the rise. It's still nowhere near enough for us to generate much funds through gate receipts but at least things are moving in the right direction.

Youth Intake - We need much more than this but without investment I can see us getting similarly poor intakes for the foreseeable future. We signed those suggested by the Director of Football but that was only 4 from the intake indicating how bad it was. The problem we have is that none of these players are ever going to be good enough which makes meeting the U20 rule all the more difficult. I wouldn't want to have to rely on playing any of these players for 90 minutes to avoid point deductions.
 
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League Reputation - Holding steady which is fine but I can see it being very difficult to even overtake the Brazilian 2nd division. Even though we get quite a few slots in the continental competitions, the nations clubs haven't been performing all that well meaning that progress up this table is looking a tough ask. To give an example, this season, the furthest a Peruvian club went in the Copa Libertadores was the 2nd Round, which was also the case in 2023. In 2022, no Peruvian team made it out of the group stage, in 2021, Cristal made it to the 2nd Round only to get smashed 6-1 on aggregate to Brazilian side Flamengo. In 2020, no team made it out of the group stage. If we are to become a major nation in South American football then we are going to need to see a lot better than that, the difference in level of the players at our best clubs and those from Argentina and Brazil is genuinely terrifying. 
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Aside from the fact we stayed up this is probably the most positive news of the season. We are finally recognized nationally (if only just) which should prove helpful when trying to poach top players from clubs in the lower leagues. Getting to 2* will be the next major milestone which begins to create some distance between us and the 3rd division sides. That would have us in the same company as 2nd division sides but as long as we continue the steady progress I'm happy.
 
Club South American Reputation - I don't know if there are club coefficients as I think that the performances of all the clubs in nation get pooled together.
 
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Unión Minas

SEASON REVIEW - 2025

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Expecting a season of struggle, I was pleasantly surprised to not be involved in a relegation scrap last season. I would like if possible to build on that and clinch a spot in the top half for the coming year. To achieve that we will need to improve our away form which last season was abysmal. Having a good cup run would be welcome bonus.

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League Table - A significant improvement which will see us for the first time compete in the Copa Sudamericana which is a huge achievement for the club. We started the season very well and after a 1-0 win away at Cantolao in the early kickoff on matchday 12 we actually went top. Our stay at the summit however only lasted a few hours with eventual champions Alianza also winning to reclaim top spot. From that point on our form fell apart and we started to plummet down the table. The summer period being especially brutal with us only winning 10 points out of a possible 33 which saw us down in 10th. Thankfully, we had a late season surge which saw us pick up 19 points out of a possible 27 which propelled us up to 7th and put us in the continental qualification places.

Overall, a satisfying season which gives us the opportunity of making some reasonable money next season which we will need given the desperate state of the clubs finances. Elsewhere, there was a playoff to decide who would get relegated given both Santa Rosa PNP and UTC both had the same number of points and an identical goal difference. According to the league rules, the sorting rules suggest that there was no need for a playoff as the 2nd criteria used is goals scored but for some reason there was a playoff anyway which saw Santa Rosa win 1-0 to relegate UTC.

Domestic Cups - This was a rather poor campaign after last seasons great debut. We started fairly well managing to recover from 3-1 down to gain a creditable draw with first division opponents Cuzco which had me optimistic about going to 2nd division side Carlos Stein. I expected a tough game but ultimately expected the 3 points to all but qualify us for the next round. That was assuming that the lads were up for the fight. Well, we didn't get any fight what so ever and found ourselves 4-1 down at half time. I proceeded to read them the riot act in the dressing room and we performed better in the 2nd half but the damage had already been done. Going into the final game we needed to win to stand any chance and we did our part, we even got help with Carlos Stein beating Cuzco but the goal difference proved too much to overcome and we were eliminated.

Reserves - A nice improvement but way off the pace in terms of competing at the business end of the table. I feel absolutely gutted for Cristal who I feel are the rightful winners but miss out to Cantolao who finished a full 33 points behind them. Some of the rules in Peru are really cutthroat, how can something like that even be remotely fair?

Under 18s - Wow, just as I was bemoaning the lack of fairness for the reserve league winner our young lads go and do this!! I feel this was a fair reflection of the season however given we finished with the 2nd highest points total in both the divisions with us only being bested by Cristal who couldn't progress past the quarter final in the champions playoff. The U18s team deserve a lot of credit though as they have been able to pull this together with one of the lowest levels of investment into the youth department not only in the league but the country.

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Squad - The increased wage budget allowed the building of a fairly decent team although that method of hoping to spend high now in an attempt to reap future rewards will need to be revised given the slashing of the wage budget. That fact gives me pause but I'm also cautiously optimistic that the forced emphasis on buying young talented Peruvian players has created a good foundation going forward. When our star youngster Rogério MC left for Brazil I feared that would seriously damage the closing stage of the league but I think we coped fairly well. I was delighted to see the development of some of the young players I brought in especially the likes of Vásquez ST who has been a revelation. When he first arrived he was only considered a 3rd division quality player with a lot of potential but over the season he has shown unbelievable growth as a player and is now an integral part of the team. I think the clear out of coaches, a lot of which were a legacy of our days in the Copa Peru helped all the players. Training with better coaches has enabled us to get a lot more out of the players and if the players can continue to develop the only way for us is up. It will be interesting to see how they deal with playing continental football even if it is only for a preliminary round.

Transfers - Looking at the money we spent you may get the impression that I've completely lost the plot but I think we did alright. We only raised £12.5K from the sale of Rogério but I think we did a decent deal for a player which wouldn't negotiate a contract with us and would have left for free. Slapping on a 50% of next sale clause proved to be a profitable bonus too as I sold that for £84K. Aguilar MC was meant to be his replacement but he didn't have the impact I was hoping for and unlike Vásquez ST didn't really perform when put into the team. Quevedo ML was also another signing which had an excellent debut season. Falcón DC was overpriced but I think he has a good amount of potential to develop into.

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Average Rating: 7.29
A great continuation of the form from last season even though he appears to be at the peak of his powers I think he will remain a solid option for a few more seasons yet.
 
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Average Rating: 7.24
He was absolutely incredible and the most exciting thing is that he has only scratched the surface in terms of how good a player he can be. I don't think I have ever seen a player develop so much in one season before going from a player only considered decent in the Copa Peru to a player that is a Liga 1 player. He's consistent and trains well which really does lead me to believe we could have a great talent on our hands. The longer we can keep him here the better.
 
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Finances - I've stopped looking at these as they are just deteriorating year on year and there isn't much I can do about it. The best thing we can do for ourselves next season is win the preliminary round of the Copa Sudamericana and qualify for the group stage. If we could do that, it would go a long long way to clearing a lot of this debt and put us in a far better position financially. It's a long shot but it's either that or a takeover which doesn't look like happening any time soon.

Facilities - No changes and there won't be any until we start to improve the financial plight of the club.

Youth Intake - Not the best but the U18s team performance this season is making me reconsider whether I'm misjudging these players. The majority were signed and who knows maybe we might get a surprise.
 
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League Reputation - Very little movement, I sense it's going to be difficult to make any progress up the table.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Still rising but there is a long way to go until we become a well known name in Peru, hopefully, a good performance in the Copa Sudamericana might help.
 
Club South American Reputation - We will see if there is such a thing as a coefficient next season. I did notice something curious though, in that all the teams of a country got drawn against each other in the preliminary round of the Copa Sudamericana this season. I know who I would like and that is Binacional but I could get Melgar or Cuzco who I got indifferent results against this season. I will report in depth my run in the Copa Sudamericana and start to report in this section the results of the other Peruvian teams competing in continental competition from the next season review.
 
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Season 2026

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CONTINENTAL SEASON EXPECTATIONS

There is one two legged qualifier to get through in order to reach the group stage. The fact that we are guaranteed to play another Peruvian team does give me some encouragement as it will mean that I will go into the tie with some knowledge of the opponent. I'd like to get to the group stage as even though it wouldn't clear the debt it would go a long way in alleviating the financial problems at the club. I sense it's going to be difficult whoever we draw but I'm hoping that home advantage can help us to get through.

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It's a choice of one of Melgar, Binacional or Cuzco as they were the other Peruvian teams to qualify for the Copa Sudamericana. Of the potential options I would probably favour Binacional and would least like to draw Melgar although the difference in quality between all the choices isn't all that great.
 
Who did we draw?
 
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Escuela Municipal Deportivo Binacional

We got the draw that I wanted but that doesn't guarantee that we are going to find it any easier. They are still very dangerous opponents and we are going to need to put in a pair of good performances to get past them.

Our squad
 
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Their squad
 
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They have a decent team but I feel we have a chance. They will not be helped with the absence of Moreno ST and Buitrago ST, I'm hoping that will blunt their attack for the 1st leg which is away.
 
Preliminary Round 1st Leg
 
Here's how the two teams lined up:
 
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I can't say I'm too much of fan of the new team sheet format as you can't tell what formation they are playing but hey ho. I think they have gone with a 4-3-3 although I'm not entirely sure. Going into the first leg, I'd just like to end the game with a result which at least gives us a chance in the 2nd leg. Away goals count so if we could score at their place it would be immensely helpful for us going into the 2nd leg when we have home advantage. To get a good result, we will need to keep quiet their star player and captain Molina ST but that is easier said than done.
 
Result
 
Escuela Municipal Deportivo Binacional 1 Unión Minas 0
 
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That really couldn't have gone much worse to be honest in terms of a final score which you may think is an over exaggeration considering it's only a 1-0 loss but when I describe the game you'll see that it really isn't. As expected, they fielded a 4-3-3 which against our 4-4-2 enabled them to control the midfield and gain the lion share of possession. They scored in the 42nd minute after a dominant first half which had me concerned that we might be on the end of a trouncing ending all hopes of us making the group stage. Two minutes later we got a huge shot in the arm as one of their players got a straight red after a shocking tackle making them have to play the entire 2nd half with 10 men.
 
I thought that having the man advantage would have inspired us to turn the game around and put ourselves in a strong position for the 2nd leg. What was most disappointing is that we didn't really grasp the opportunity and even though we had our moments which the xG rating would suggest we never really looked like grabbing that vital away goal. We are really going to have to hope that our home advantage helps to bail us out here. The fact that we couldn't score against 10 men is troubling and makes me wonder if we can salvage this tie. The only bright spot in an otherwise disappointing night being that at least we kept them to only 1 when it looked like we might be getting blown out of the water but as for our prospects of getting to the group stage, I'd say they are pretty poor at the moment.
 
Preliminary Round 2nd Leg
 
Here's how the two teams lined up:
 
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They will be missing González through suspension which is a plus for us and they look a little bit tired after playing at the weekend. We also played at the weekend and got a resounding 4-1 win at home to Cristal but it came at a cost. One of our best players in the squad Ferreyra MR will miss the 2nd leg through injury which is a huge blow. I just have to hope that stand in Ramos can put in a decent performance. We are going to need a much better performance to stand any chance of turning this around. If there was ever a game where we need Vásquez ST to step up this would be it.

Result

Unión Minas 4 Escuela Municipal Deportivo Binacional 2
 
Unión Minas win 4-3 on aggregate
 
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What an incredible roller coaster of a game. When they took the lead with a header after 2 minutes after some shoddy defending from a wide free kick I pretty much thought the game was up. They had the away goal meaning that we would need to win by 2 clear goals and after our 1st leg performance and struggle to score against 10 men it looked a pretty much impossible ask. Then one of our players went down in their box after being fouled and we had a penalty after 5 minutes. I knew how important scoring this would be as we could in essence wipe out the damage to our morale we got after conceding so early. Therefore I was delighted to see Vásquez over power the opposition goalkeeper and plant it in the net to make it 1-1.
 
That was just what the doctor ordered and looked to give us something to build upon. That seemed to rejuvenate us and we began to look dangerous on the attack. Unfortunately for us, we also still looked terrible at the back and when a long ball over the top found our right back Silva completely out of position their wide forward Luquetta pounced to put us 2-1 down. Staring down the barrel of defeat I felt we would need to react quickly again to shift the momentum back in our favour. To my surprise we did and grabbed another equalizer thanks to great header from Vásquez after a quality deep cross from Ramos. Then even more surprisingly we managed to take the lead in the 42nd minute with a well worked corner routine. Torres MC played it short to Ramos who delivered a cutback to Pedro MC who was positioned on the edge of the box where he rifled in a long range screamer into the bottom left corner.
 
Taking the lead just before half time I felt was important and gave us something to fight for going into the 2nd half. All we needed was to win the 2nd half 1-0 and we were through and that simple message seemed to resonate with the players. Therefore when we scored in the 64th minute from a corner it was expected as we began to control the game. A fantastic delivery to the far post which was met by the head of Hernandez to give us the lead for the first time in the tie. As we were playing so well I didn't want to disrupt the rhythm so I kept everything the same and instead looked to depend on my substitutions to influence the game. We kept them quiet from that point on and only really had a moment of concern in the 88th minute when their striker Molina smashed a 1-on-1 off the post. An excellent turnaround to book our place in the group stage and slash the clubs debt to below 7 figures.
 
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CONTINENTAL SEASON REVIEW
 
We drew a group of Argentinian giants Independiente, Montevideo Wanderers from Uruguay and Chilean team Deportes Magallanes. As only the group winner goes through to the 2nd Round I'd say our chances of making further progress are very poor. I'd say that Independiente are a class apart from the others when I look at their squad and I fully expect to be scrapping for 2nd with the other teams. Overall, I'm very satisfied with our performance this season as the money we've earned is a huge game changer for us. It doesn't clear the debt but it has us moving in the right direction for the first time in my tenure. This will be the last in depth review until we get to the quarter final of a continental competition.
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6 hours ago, dom.march said:

Hi pheelf, do you use the same 442 ?

Still using it, I fully expected it to flop playing in a country which favours formations which exploit the weakness through the middle but it has been very resilient. That is quite remarkable considering the issues with fullback ratings and how important they are to a 4-4-2. In the next season review you'll see that it's actually becoming more effective as I improve the quality of the players at the club.

Cheers

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Unión Minas

SEASON REVIEW - 2026

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The board don't appear to have much confidence in the teams ability and would be happy as long as we avoid relegation. I feel we should be aiming a lot higher but I'm not upset that I don't have the pressure of having to improve. Perhaps the financial situation and reduction in wage budget is playing a part or maybe we are just seriously overachieving. We would do ourselves a great favour on the financial front if we could win the preliminary round of the Copa Sudamericana and reach the group stage which while difficult shouldn't be beyond us if we perform to our best.

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League Table - A great season from us with some very positive aspects to move forward with. The first of which being the massive amount of goals we scored, Getting into triple figures is a testament to how far we have come and if we can repeat that over the coming seasons that is a good foundation for a title challenge. Our home form was exceptional as usual and more importantly we have begun to build on that with better performances and results away from home which is helping to propel us up the table. The second major achievement was qualifying for the Copa Libertadores for the first time. The path to the group stage in the premier South American competition is a lot more difficult but if we were to somehow manage that it would transform the club.

Finally, we made it into the Champions Playoff (at least according to my inbox message) which even if we didn't play in it at least signals the fact that we are up there with the best teams in Peru. I'm still trying to get my head around the rules here in Peru. I think if the same team wins both the opening and closing stages then there is no playoff. This didn't happen this season as Binacional won the opening stage (a shock) and Alianza won the closing stage and won the overall table. What happened was that the semi-final was between Cristal and Binacional. Cristal being runners up in the overall table. Therefore my conclusion is that the winner of the opening stage plays against the overall runner up in the semi-final. The winner of that then goes on to play the overall winner. Cristal won the final over Alianza and therefore became champions. It's very convoluted and confusing as in 2022 there was a playoff but no semi-final and only the final which I don't really understand why.

Copa Sudamericana - A nice start to our journey in continental competition. I was delighted to make the group stages and the financial windfall it brought along with it. We even managed to win a couple of games in the group which was pleasing although we weren't realistically going to be able to better Independiente. Maybe if we could have got a result at home to them we might have been able to apply a bit of pressure but they were simply too good and finished the group with a perfect record which no team could have competed with. A solid season and a part of me actually wishes we had qualified for this competition again next season. Having to win only one round of qualifiers to get to the group stage is a whole lot different than having to win through 2 or 3 rounds. Of course the financial incentives for doing well in the Copa Libertadores are far superior but with that comes the problem of facing much harder opposition. Some of the clubs in the qualifying rounds we wouldn't stand a chance against like Peñarol or any of the Brazilian or Argentinian clubs. We are going to have to be exceptionally lucky in the draws.

Domestic Cups - We have hit a wall in this competition and I'm not happy with our performances away from home. Perhaps we were slightly unlucky with the draw having to face 2 top flight sides and another which wouldn't look out of place in the top division in Carlos Stein. That excuse won't be there next season though as we will face 2 Liga 2 sides and Cienciano so I will be disappointed if we don't make it out of the group.

Reserves - They are doing better and slowly inching their way up the table. Still a long way to go before they could be considered contenders for the title.

Under 18s - Excellent work from the young lads to retain their title. All the more impressive considering that their ranks have been so heavily depleted with loans out to lower league clubs.

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Squad - They had a great season and the development exhibited by a lot of the younger players has been impressive. The concern I have is that some of our best players are becoming a bit antsy about staying and want to leave for bigger clubs which is understandable. This isn't great as we simply don't have the funds to bring more players in given that our budgets have been squeezed yet again. I also have the double whammy of not being able to offer longer term contracts so all the players are once again in their final year. It may come to the point where I have to ship players out that significantly weaken us like Vásquez ST as getting no money for these players would be devastating to the progress we have been making over the last couple of seasons. There is definitely trouble ahead and we are going to have to work smartly in the transfer market to extract as much value out of the players as possible.

Transfers - I spent heavily but given the potential of the players brought in, I thought they were wise investments. Lobatón DC played regularly in the first half of the season which was justifying the spend but then Diaz DC came in on a free and forced him out of the first team. Herrera DR was a good utility player and good cover for Silva but didn't really develop as much as I would have hoped, I'm sure the fullback rating issue hardly helped either. Calero MC was brought in as backup, Moreno ST was a good rotation option while the other two paid signings didn't really feature. I know that I'm not going to get large money for my players (what clubs is going to fork out for a player which they can get for free in less than a year) so I'm going to have to work to try and get clauses as part of sales in the hope that in future I reap the benefits. Unfortunately, the sale of Rogério MC is looking like a bit of a disaster for the player, he hasn't played a single competitive game for his new club. He would have been far better off staying with us and playing regularly as there is no way he breaks into the first team given they are now a top division side.

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Average Rating: 7.59
The player of the year for Liga 1 is irrepressible and is just getting better and better. I think he is really under-rated and should be valued higher. If there is any fault to his game it's that he can sometimes be rather selfish. That's fine when he sticks the ball into the back of the net but can get somewhat annoying when he shoots from ridiculously tight angles when a simple squaring of the ball would mean a tap in for another player.
 
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Average Rating: 7.45
Another amazing season which saw him create records. 2nd highest goalscorer in the league, joint top goalscorer in a season for the club (tied with Mimbela on 40, although bear in mind the quality of opposition) and became the first player from the club to be voted young player of the year for Liga 1. He also got capped for the U20s, his development during his time here has been fantastic. I really would love to hold onto him and to see him develop into the player I know he can be with us but I'm also mindful of the fact that he may have outgrown us. I'd be gutted if he ended up at Alianza though as they are the only interested team so far. He has a release clause of £150,000 which is temptingly low for a player of his caliber. If we can somehow scramble our way into the group stage of the Copa Libertadores maybe that might convince him that his ambitions can be met with us otherwise it's not a matter of if he leaves but when. 
 
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Finances - We're back above 7 figures in terms of debt but at least we are in a far better position than we were last season. The future of this club really does pivot on how we perform in the Copa Libertadores. Getting to the group stage would do so much for us and enable us to start the process of investing in the infrastructure of the club. The prize money for getting to the group stage is £2.32M which would wipe out the debt and give us a strong working balance. Even if we could get to the 3rd qualifying round that would be great for us. £388K in prize money for winning in the 2nd qualifying round, another £427K for appearing in the 3rd qualifying round and then another £776K for competing in the Copa Sudamericana group stage. That would be enough to clear the debt and leave a nice cushion in the bank balance to deal with the expenditures of the season.

Facilities - We don't own the stadium but then neither does the council so that is the reason why I can't ask to expand the ground. I can't ask to buy it either which is a little bit of a problem, a new ground is going to be prohibitively expensive, it would have been much easier to just slowly build up this ground. At least the average attendances are on the rise again which is promising given that the ticket prices are still increasing as it means we are slowly starting to grow the size of the fan base.

Youth Intake - Llanos ST is definitely the standout player and who knows maybe he might be the next Vásquez (I doubt it but then again I didn't think Vásquez was going to become the player he has when he first joined). I got my Director of Football to once again make all the signings he felt appropriate.
 
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League Reputation - Why on earth are we still below the Brazilian 2nd division? This is why I really hope that we avoid having to play a Brazilian team in the qualifiers. When I look at the squads of Atlético Mineiro and Vasco de Gama who are in the draw for the 1st Qualifying Round it sends shivers down the spine. Both teams have players worth over £10M and are paying wages of over £20,000p/w, we simply can't compete with that and won't be able to for a long time.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - At least we are gaining credibility in how we are viewed by the rest of the clubs in Peru. Reaching 2* is a huge milestone for us which might make it slightly easier to hold onto some of our players.
 
Club South American Reputation - No individual club coefficients which means no seeding for draws so we are just going to have to hope that the RNG works in our favour.
 
Here is how the other Peruvian teams got on in continental competition this season:
 
Alianza - Lost in Semi Final of Copa Sudamericana to Argentinos Juniors 6-0 on aggregate - A great season from them but when they encountered a bit of class they were simply embarrassed.
Cristal - Finished 4th in Copa Libertadores group - They only managed to get a single point which was expected as they were drawn into a tough group.
Universitario - Lost in 1st Qualifying Round of Copa Libertadores to Libertad 5-1 on aggregate - Soundly beaten and deservedly so, I can only hope we can dodge a similar quality of opponent next season.
Cusco - Finished 4th in Copa Sudamericana group - Won 2 games but lost 4 which is why they finished bottom.
Binacional - Lost in Preliminary Round of Copa Sudamericana to Unión Minas 4-3 on aggregate - I'm not entirely sure I like the idea of having no country protection like in Europe as it means that in some ways you sabotage the nations ability to generate coefficient points which are pooled in South America.
Melgar - Lost in Preliminary Round of Copa Sudamericana to Cusco 3-2 on aggregate - Cusco were just that little bit better over the two legs and deserved their win.
Cienciano - Lost in 2nd Qualifying Round of Copa Libertadores to Atlético Nacional 4-3 on aggregate - This is the stage we will enter next season, I wouldn't be too disappointed if we drew a team like this as although they are clearly better we might have a chance of at least competing against them. Cienciano getting so close gives me reason to be optimistic.
 
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Unión Minas

SEASON REVIEW - 2027

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The board still feels we will be involved in a relegation scrap but we are a far better team than that now. How much progress we are able to make in our debut season in the Copa Libertadores will determine how the club develops over the next few seasons. Reaching the 3rd Qualifying Round guarantees group stage Copa Sudamericana football which will be the objective, we need luck to avoid any of the Brazilian or Argentinian teams to stand a chance.

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League Table - Even though it's a decline from last season this is still an excellent outcome as it gives us another season of playing in the Copa Libertadores which is huge for a club of our stature. Early on in the season, it was looking like we might be involved in a title battle but then as the fixtures started to pile up, so did the number of injuries which really hampered us and damaged our form. Even with that handicap we still had a chance of finishing 2nd if we could finish the season strongly. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a drop off and only managed 1 win and 3 draws in our final 4 games which meant we had to settle for 4th. I suppose it could have been worse given how close in points to us the teams were below. I am concerned about Alianza who seem to establishing themselves as the best team in the country and it looks like being a real challenge to oust them as the dominant force. Rather than closing the gap between them and the rest it appears to be stretching, if we are to close that gap getting to the group stage of the Copa Libertadores is going to be imperative. I was rather shocked to see Binacional go down considering that last season they finished 4th, I hope that isn't a sign of what is coming our way next season. As Alianza comfortably won both stages of the league there was no playoff this season.

Copa Libertadores - Absolutely chuffed with our run and we came so close to doing something incredible. Before I get into it though there appears to be a bug. We finished 3rd in Liga 1 last season and as a result we should have been in the 2nd Qualifying Round but for some reason we were entered into the 1st Qualifying Round. In the end, it didn't cost us anything and actually allowed us to earn some more prize money for participating in more games but I wouldn't have been so happy if we had been knocked out. Anyway, I knew that our home form would be key to us making progress in the qualifiers but we would also need to try and keep the scorelines competitive away from home to stand a chance. After our 4-2 defeat to Libertad in the 1st Qualifying Round I wasn't feeling optimistic but a fantastic turn around in the 2nd leg reignited my hopes that perhaps we could reach the 3rd Qualifying Round and guarantee group stage football. Expecting a tough tie against Junior in the 2nd Qualifying Round I was rather pleased with the pair of performances. We looked competitive and when Moreno ST scored with an 87th minute winner in the 2nd leg it was no more than we deserved I felt.

I was more than happy to guarantee group stage football and was happy to bow out gracefully against far superior Brazilian opponent Vasco De Gama. When we managed to take the lead in the 73rd minute in the first leg after stifling them throughout the game it practically floored me. I decided to not make any changes tactically as the plan appeared to be working and if ain't broke don't fix it. Unfortunately for us, defensive errors aren't something which you can prevent and ultimately they turned the game around scoring in the 75th and 86th minute. The defeat did give me a lot of encouragement however, I didn't expect to be competitive and we were and that was enough to convince me to rest my best players for the weekend league game so that I could go full strength in the 2nd leg, When we scored after 8 minutes, my decision appeared to be getting vindicated and when we added a 2nd in the 32nd minute to take the lead in the tie it looked like a master stroke. Unfortunately for us, we still remain a team prone to poor defensive errors which gave them a goal in the 61st minute putting them ahead on away goals. I felt we still had fuel in the tank and looked more energetic than the opponents which proved to be the case as we scored in the 71st minute to once again lead the tie but I suppose there is a reason why they are regulars in the competition and we are not. They scored once again in the 76th minute and try as we might we just couldn't find the goal to put us through. I'm very happy with the players though to give such a quality opponent such as scare, it really does bode well for the future.

Copa Sudamericana - I'm a bit torn on how to feel about this as on the face of it I should be happy to have only missed out on top spot on goal difference but on the other hand I feel disappointed. We started the group stage poorly which I can only attribute to the injury crisis which we were going through at the time. Had we been able to field our strongest team in those games I have no doubt that we would have been able to get more than a lousy point after our first 3 games. The fact that we won the last 3 games of the group proves that point. That poor start ultimately cost us a chance at making history by getting to the knockout stages. I'd be satisfied if we can continue to qualify for the group stage of this competition for the next few seasons but ultimately the group stages of the Copa Libertadores are where I want us to be given the differences in financial rewards between the two competitions.

Domestic Cups - Got out of the group stages with a perfect record but got embarrassed in the 2nd Round losing to a Liga 2 side. Not quite the progress I was expecting to see from the team in this competition but at least I can take some encouragement from the fact that Alianza doesn't appear to be quite as dominant in this competition as the league. As a result, I should be targeting this competition as more likely for us to be successful in to claim our first piece of silverware with the club.

Reserves - A dramatic improvement on last season which they can be satisfied with.

Under 18s - To win the title 3 times in a row is quite an achievement and they will participate in the Copa Libertadores U20s competition next season. They will probably get battered given the quality of opposition they will face but it will be a good bellwether to see how the increased levels of investment in the youth team is working out.

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Squad - Given all the rules that I have to abide by playing in Peru I have to admit to finding the building of squads a lot tougher when compared with my typical methods. Usually, I tend to focus my efforts on buying up young talented under 23 players and will generally not pay too much attention to nationality. At the moment, I'm having to adjust those principles and now am looking at Peruvian players which are 20 and younger to assemble a side. As we are limited to 5 foreign players in the squad that can be registered for the league I have to also look to ensure that our best players are foreign, at the moment, that isn't quite the case. Overall, I'm satisfied with the direction the squad is moving in but we will need to strengthen significantly to give our selves a better chance of doing well in the Copa Libertadores. After losing Vásquez ST we are going to need to find a quality striker as even though Moreno did a decent job he's 32 and the options behind him aren't particularly great. I'm also going to need to get someone in for the central defence as Diaz has expressed that he wants to leave so hopefully I can get a good fee to re-invest.

Transfers - I couldn't really prevent Vásquez ST from leaving as he refused to sign a new contract therefore I decided to cash in and added some good clauses. Given that buying the quality of player we need to improve the squad is prohibitively expensive I've decided to change tact and I'm now looking to the free transfer and pre-contract market to bring in players. I think it has been successful and I'm most happy with the signings of Ortiz de Orué GK and Rickard MC both of which made a good contribution during the season. I feel a bit gutted for Guerrero DR who looks a good signing but broke his leg so will have to recover from that serious injury before he gets his chance in the first team again.

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Average Rating: 7.62
He just seems to be getting better and better and this is in a team which was quite inconsistent at points in the season.
 
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José Diaz - DC
Average Rating: 7.01
A talented player who we are going to miss when he leaves. Would have been great to be able to develop him here but alas we won't, hopefully, he still goes on to have a decent career elsewhere and we can raise some good funds from his sale.
 
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Finances - What a difference playing in continental competition has made to the financial health of the club. Now begins the task of building on the finances and securing the future. Getting to the Copa Sudamericana group stages again would be good, getting to the Copa Libertadores group stages would be sensational. The key to closing the gap to Alianza will be consistently getting to the Copa Libertadores group stages so that we can compete financially with them. In order to do that we will need to become the best of the rest and start to secure 2nd on a consistent basis. The wage bill will help us to strengthen to help with that task.

Facilities - The improved financial situation has allowed us to start investing in the facilities once again and I have upgraded both the youth recruitment and junior coaching. I'm not prepared to make any investments in the training or youth facilities until we have at least a couple million sitting in the balance. 

Youth Intake - The intakes are definitely getting stronger and there are a couple of players in Valladares ST and Chavez MR who look like they might have a future here provided I can develop them to their full potential. I hope to see these get better and better with further investment. If we can develop our own players without having to buy that would be immensely helpful for us to meet the rules of league whilst also helping to transform us into a 'selling' club.
 
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League Reputation - No real movement this season and it doesn't look much like changing anytime soon.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Feels good to finally be considered on a par with the other top division clubs. I'm hoping that the increased reputation might help us to bring in some good players.
 
Club South American Reputation -
 
Here is how the other Peruvian teams got on in continental competition this season:
 
Alianza - Finished 4th in Copa Libertadores group - Not the best of seasons from them after last seasons performance.
Binacional - Finished 4th in Copa Sudamericana group - They did reach the 3rd Qualifying Round of the Copa Libertadores which was a great achievement for them. Unfortunately, maybe as a consequence of this extended run it knackered their league campaign which resulted in them getting relegated.
Universitario - Finished 2nd in Copa Sudamericana group - A decent season from them, considering they have such a large home ground (largest in the country) I want them to do well to help the nation develop overall.
Cusco - Finished 2nd in Copa Sudamericana group - Not too bad at all.
Unión Comercio - Lost in Preliminary Round of Copa Sudamericana to Cusco 3-2 on aggregate - Not bad for a team in Liga 2.
Sport Boys - Lost in Preliminary Round of Copa Sudamericana to Universitario 5-0 on aggregate - Took a bit of a trouncing which is surprising considering there isn't that much difference in quality between the two teams.
Cristal - Lost in 2nd Round of Copa Sudamericana to Llacuabamaba 5-2 on aggregate - A good run after finishing 3rd in their Copa Libertadores group.
 
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Unión Minas

SEASON REVIEW - 2028

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We are still massively overachieving according to the board given they still only want us to avoid relegation. I feel we should be looking to continue our run of qualifying for the Copa Libertadores as that is the key to closing the financial gap that is growing between Alianza Lima and the rest of the teams in Peru which means top 4 minimum. I'd like to make the group stages of the Copa Libertadores but know that a tough draw will likely see us out and scrambling for a spot in the Copa Sudamericana group stages. I'd also if possible like to do a bit better in the Copa Bicentenario as I see that as the best chance of getting the clubs first piece of silverware.

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League Table - An unexpected outcome but definitely one which is welcomed. Had we managed a better start we most likely would have won the title outright. We finished 3rd in the opening stage and won the closing stage to come very close to topping the overall table. The result this season is in sharp contrast to last seasons final table where it looked like Alianza were becoming the dominant force in the country. Now we have a fantastic opportunity to make history for the club and become the champions if we can win a 2 legged playoff against Alianza. It would be a remarkable achievement given where we was only a couple of seasons ago but would be perhaps symbolic of a changing of the guard at the top of Peruvian football.

Liga 1 Champions Playoff - I never envisaged that the first trophy of my tenure would be the league title but there it is, large as life. I knew that we would need to get a result away in the 1st leg which would keep us in the tie. We started the game exceptionally well and went into a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute which we kept until half time. Then just after half time we got a penalty which Timana ML slotted home to put us in dreamland and had me thinking that perhaps we were going to saunter to the title. Surely they wouldn't make it that easy? Well, my suspicions were well founded as in the period between the 58th and 87th minute they scored 4 to firmly put us in our place. I felt that a 2 goal deficit would be difficult to make up and thankfully for us Timana scored a screamer in the 90th minute to reduce the deficit and give us hope for the 2nd leg.

Our home form this season was very strong and we had beaten our opponents comfortably in the home games against them which had me optimistic of us turning the tie around in the 2nd leg. A sold out ground awaited us to see if we could do the incredible and win the title. The players looked pumped up for the opportunity to make history and started the game relatively well only for Alianza to score in the 13th minute from a deep free kick clipped over the top to their striker who lofted a header over our goalkeeper and into the net. That was hugely deflating and rather undeserved I thought but put us in the situation of needing a miracle to turn things around. Well, thankfully we had a miracle worker in former Alianza player Gil ST who chose this day to score 4 goals which single-handedly propelled us to the title. A brilliant achievement which has given me the confidence to believe that we can become the dominant force in Peruvian football. The £517K we got from winning the tie was also a nice bonus.

Copa Libertadores - A great season for the team in this competition. I knew to stand a chance of making the group stage we would need to avoid the toughest teams in the qualifiers and we managed to get the luck of the draw and do just that. Most promisingly, we didn't really appear to have much difficulty in the qualifiers which bodes well for the future. I'm not sure but I think I may have discovered a bug in the game. According to the tournament rules I should have got £2.32M for participating in the group stages but I didn't get this money. As I've qualified for the group stage automatically for next season I got this money for the start of next season so I'm wondering whether teams which go through the qualifiers to reach the group stage aren't entitled to this money. I guess I'll have to look up the rules and see if that is the case.

Back to the season, I was hoping to challenge for 3rd in our group and get knockout stage football for the first time. When we managed to finish 2nd I was delighted and even though we lost both games to Santos I felt we equipped ourselves well in the home game to compete with a far superior opponent. I didn't expect much from the games against Corinthians but knew we needed to take a result to Brazil for the 2nd leg to stand any chance of pulling off an upset. Well, we didn't manage that and in the end took a bit of a trouncing but I'm not dismayed. Getting this far and the money it has generated for the club has set us up for the next few years which should make it easier to make progress both domestically and on the continent. I was also encouraged to see us sell out the ground on a couple of occasions showing the growth of the fan base.

Domestic Cups - Our best season in the Copa Bicentenario yet and were it not for a collapse in the 2nd leg of the semi final we would have likely won the double given that we would have faced Sport Huancayo in the final who we were unbeaten against this season. It was encouraging to see the manner in which we dispatched 2nd division side Deportivo Coopsol who gave us our new record highest win, had Ferrerya MR not missed a penalty we would have reached double figures for the first time. Another bonus of our league win this season means that we should be competing in the Supercopa at the end of the next season against Alianza giving us another opportunity to pick up some more silverware.

Reserves - Excellent progress although for some reason it wasn't enough to feature in the Champions playoff. Instead the spot went to Alianza Atlético, perhaps a result of us finishing 8th in the opening phase while they won the 2nd phase, I'm still lost on how this is supposed to work to be honest.

Under 18s - 4 in a row in the league is brilliant and now that I have started to invest heavily in the youth department I hope to see them perform even better. The U20 Libertadores was a bit of chastening experience for them and shows that even though we have come a long way from where we were we still have a long way to go if we are to establish ourselves as one of the best youth academies in South America. They won't be competing in it next season however as it appears to be a tournament which takes place every 2 years.

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Squad - This is definitely the happiest I have been with the squad since the start of my tenure. We have a lot of talented young players which are developing well which are complimented with some more experienced players which we seem to be getting the best out of. I will not be resting on my laurels however as Alianza will be sore about losing the title to us and will have the money to strengthen so we will need to do so also. I fully expected to lose Diaz DC but seeing the season we were having he decided that he no longer wanted to leave which was a huge boost for us. I brought Vásquez ST back on loan after seeing him barely feature for his new club and might do so again next season. The fullback positions are looking a little weak and I will need to bring in a quality central defender to play regularly alongside Diaz.

Our defensive record in the league wasn't bad but we still ranked 7th overall in terms of goals conceded which isn't great for a team which became champions. If we are to become the dominant force in the country that will need to be improved upon. I can't say I'm entirely thrilled about depth in the wide midfield positions either and will definitely need a support duty striker given how poorly Carrillo ST now rates in comparison to the rest of the squad. The fact that he is 32 is also a reason to be looking at replacement sooner rather than later. It's an ambitious set of objectives in terms of squad building but given how the financial situation of the club has improved I see no reason why we can't do it. Moreover, we are going to need to do it in order to start looking at making further progress in the Copa Libertadores which is the only real income source we have.

Transfers - I took a chance in the market and spent big which worked out nicely for us. I was most pleased about the signing of Angelo ST who looked an excellent player to solve our Deep Lying Forward issue but I couldn't register him for the squad as he became the 6th foreign player at the club. The fact that I sold him on with clauses was superb and gave us a huge profit on a player that never played for us. Gil ST was an absolute bargain in retrospect given his contribution and looks to have a bright future of the club, failing that I'm confident of getting a good fee for him. Navarro ST was another excellent signing who did a good job as the Deep Lying Forward although he was brought in the provide competition for Gil ST.

I think the biggest mistake of the transfer windows was the signing of Guerrero DC who was overpriced. He has a lot of untapped potential but was unable to dislodge Falcón which is quite troubling. I hope that things gets better for him next season although I'm skeptical and still feel I will need to go into the market again to find a quality partner for Diaz. Vásquez DC was an okay signing and proved to be a useful utility player. Cerna GK and Quevado MC were backup players brought in to add depth to the squad and ended up in the Reserves, they have a lot of potential but will need to develop significantly before being considered for the first team.

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Average Rating: 7.64
Solid as a rock as usual but he needs better competition for his spot as Ramos simply isn't good enough. He has been remarkably strong with regards to injuries although he does tend to pick up a lot of little niggling injuries which keep him out for a few days here and there. It would be terrible if he did get a serious injury and I had to depend on Ramos though as when he missed a game his absence was felt. Therefore I will give priority to finding his long term replacement.
 
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Alex Gil - ST
Average Rating: 7.58
Ultimately, he was the difference between us winning the title and us merely competing for the top 4. He was sensational and Alianza will be ruing the day they let him leave to us who are now a rival for them. He smashed records all season long, top goalscorer in a season for the club, top goalscorer in a league season for the club and for Liga 1 and equaled the record of 5 for most goals scored in a match (in a 9-1 win - he probably should have broke that record given we were 8-1 up in the 46th minute). Add to that list of distinctions, becoming player of the year and young player of the year for Liga 1 and it's fair to say he has had an exceptional debut season for us. The most terrifying thing about this all is that is only 18 and nowhere near reaching his potential (according to my coaches), can't be too long before he gets capped for his country (he has been capped for the U20s).
 
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Finances - We're playing a whole different ball game now with these finances. This was before the £2.32M was added from participation in the group stages of the Copa Libertadores for next season. I think it's fair to say that we are secure financially and have the resources to start improving the infrastructure of the club. To make our situation even more secure we had a consortium take us over on the 15th November who pumped in £1.1M into the bank balance which suggests they are the type of owners which aren't shy to pump money in. The most encouraging aspect of this being that we still have huge space on the wage budget to improve the squad and if the squad we currently have is good enough to win the league then what are we going to be like when we strengthen the areas of weakness we have. Things are looking very good for the future, especially since for the first time we took over £2M in gate receipts for the season. That figure only looks on rising given that the ticket prices are still increasing and the average league attendance rose sharply this season.

Facilities - I've invested across the board in the infrastructure of the club and now we have the best youth academy in Peru (based on the ratings of the junior coaching and youth recruitment). The youth and training facilities need a lot of work and I have players complaining about the quality of coaching so that will need to be addressed although it will take some time. I'm also looking at the stadium and thinking that the capacity is almost too small already. We sold out a few games this season and now that we have won Liga 1 I feel that will turbo charge the growth of the clubs fan base. How long it will be sufficient for our needs will depend on whether we can become dominant domestically and challenge in the later stages in the Copa Libertadores. A new stadium is going to cost a lot of money and we definitely aren't ready for that so I'm hoping we can stay here for as long as possible.

Youth Intake - These are looking a lot stronger than before and we are starting to see the impact of the increased levels of investment. Hopefully, this continues to be the case as it is imperative we start producing HG players to meet all the requirements of playing in Peru.
 
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League Reputation - Unlike last season, there was movement in the table, unfortunately, it didn't involve the Peruvian league. It seems aside from TV money there isn't much in the way of prize money for competing in Peru except if you win the Champions playoff. I'm hoping that if we did start to rise up the table to see this change so that other Peruvian teams might start to benefit from more income.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Not quite the boost I was expecting given we just won the title and went far in the Copa Libertadores.
 
Club South American Reputation - I'm beginning to wonder whether it's possible to change the order in terms of the number of qualification places for continental competition. I really hope that it's not impossible for Peru to say gain the amount of continental spots of an Argentina or Brazil. If that is the case then it's going to make building the nation as a whole impossible. As there doesn't appear to be any coefficient points I'm beginning to suspect that is the case.
 
Here is how the other Peruvian teams got on in continental competition this season:
 
Alianza Lima - Lost in 2nd Round of Copa Libertadores to Flamengo 3-2 on aggregate - A good season from them to qualify from their group and gave their Brazilian opponents more of a game than we were able to do to ours at the same stage of the competition.
Huancayo - Lost in Preliminary Round of Copa Sudamericana to Universitario 4-3 on aggregate - I'm actually not all that disappointed that they lost as I want to see Universitario do well given they have the largest stadium in Peru.
Universitario - Finished 4th in Copa Sudamericana group - They didn't do too well on making the group stage and seem to really struggle to fill their home ground making what could be a huge advantage for them not that much of an advantage at all.
Cienciano - Lost in 2nd Round of Copa Libertadores to Santos 5-1 on aggregate - This was actually a surprisingly good season for the Peruvian teams but that didn't reflect in our position in the league reputation table.
Alianza Universidad - Lost in Preliminary Round of Copa Sudamericana to Cristal 3-1 on aggregate - Cristal are the better team by far and deserved to go through.
César Vallejo - Lost in 2nd Qualifying Round of Copa Libertadores to Independiente Del Valle 3-1 on aggregate - A shame to see them get knocked out at that stage which deprived them of at least making it to the group stages of the Copa Sudamericana.
Cristal - Finished 3rd in Copa Sudamericana group - Not the best really but not the worst season either.
 
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Season 2029

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CONTINENTAL SEASON EXPECTATIONS

After managing to navigate our way through an interesting looking group we then had to face Argentinian giants Boca Juniors. I fully expected to get knocked out but an incredible performance by Gil in the 1st leg of the 2nd Round saw him score 4 goals to give us a comfortable 4-0 win. Even though we lost the 2nd leg narrowly 4-3 that was enough to book a place in our first ever quarter final. I don't expect us to make any further progress from this point but perhaps I'm underestimating us and maybe with our home advantage we might just be able to continue upsetting the order in South America.

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There are no easy draws left at this stage of the competition as the only teams remaining are either from Brazil or Argentina. I suppose the only thing I can really hope for is to draw the 1st leg at home, that way if we can somehow repeat the performances of the 2nd Round and win comfortably at least we will have something to hold onto for the away leg. 
 
Who did we draw?
 
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Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas

I'd say they are perhaps one of the easier Brazilian teams we could have faced but that is all relative. They are heavy favourites and we are really going to need to over perform to stand a chance of competing with them and trying to cause an upset. At least we got our wish and will play the first leg at home.

Our squad
 
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Their squad
 
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If games were played on paper we simply shouldn't stand a chance, they have players who are worth as much as our entire club. The only slivers of hope I can look at is the fact that their most valuable player is likely to miss the 1st leg through injury and that some of their players aren't match fit. We are also able to select a practically full strength squad with the exception of Emilio ST which is always nice but all signs point to us losing this tie and losing it heavily.
 
Quarter Final 1st Leg
 
Here's how the two teams lined up:
 
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I fully expect to be on the receiving end of a barrage from them. They will likely dominate possession and control the midfield, our hopes lie with trying to hit them on the break. I won't change our tactic and attempt to go more defensive as I can't see how we keep such a talented team from scoring regardless of how many men we stick behind the ball. Instead, I'll keep my usual positive style in the hope that we can take advantage of any space they leave if and when we turnover possession. The aim is to keep in the game for as long as possible and hopefully pounce when our altitude advantage kicks in.  
 
Result
 
Unión Minas 2 Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas 1
 
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When we scored in the 23rd minute I was beginning to feel better about our chances but when they equalized within 6 minutes those hopes were dashed. I then anticipated them going on to win the game comfortably from that point given how much control they appeared to have of the game so I was pleasantly surprised when it didn't turn out that way. As expected they were able to dominate the ball as the match stats show and have more shots on goal but in one key stat we were on top and that was in xG. In that regard, therefore it came as no surprise when we are able to grab the winner in the 58th minute. The game plan appeared to work as although they managed more shots on goal they weren't opporutunities where they would expect to score. I noticed around the 85th minute them with a hint of desperation going with a ridiculous formation of 3 central attacking midfielders and 2 strikers but it didn't help them much and we able to hold on for a huge win that gives us something to protect when we go to Brazil for the 2nd leg. This result provides the template for how to beat them, let's see how well it works when we don't have the altitude advantage.
 
Quarter Final 2nd Leg
 
Here's how the two teams lined up:
 
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I didn't expect it but as we still very much have a chance in this tie I rested my players for the league game in between the two legs. We ended up losing that game away to UTC 3-2 which isn't great for our title aspirations but if we could somehow scrape through to the semi final that would more than make up for it. Our opponents also had a league game sandwiched in between so I'm hoping that we might get a slight edge in terms of energy towards the end of the game.

Result

Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas 3 Unión Minas 2
 
Unión Minas win on away goals after 4-4 draw on aggregate
 
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Isn't it great when a plan comes together? Looking at those match stats it would appear we had no right to get through but this result proved two things. Firstly, we aren't solely dependent on our home advantage to compete with the very best teams in South America as we were competitive in this game. Secondly, shots on target and possession aren't everything. The game plan looked like a total washout after 6 minutes with our opponents soaring into a 2-0 lead. I knew we needed to ride the rough patch and we did, I felt if we had gone 3-0 down early that would have broken us and we probably would have gone on to lose the game heavily. Keeping it to a 1 goal deficit meant that whereas our opponents began to become complacent we became more determined. That fighting spirit helped us to turn it around and by half time we were level at 2-2 thanks to a penalty deep into 1st half stoppage time.
 
The task in front of us for the 2nd half was very simple, don't lose by two clear goals and up until the 78th minute it looked like we wouldn't concede any which would have seen us comfortably ease into the semi final. Unfortunately for us, things never are that easy and when we conceded in the 79th minute that set up a nervy final 10 minutes knowing that one more goal would see us out. We seemed to be holding them but then disaster struck with Succar MC getting a stupid second yellow card in the 84th minute to put us under even more pressure having to defend our narrow aggregate lead with 10 men. At that point, I took off Gil ST for Vallejo MC leaving Navarro ST up top on his own. I also put my left back on the defend duty and just hoped it would enough to see us through. In the end, it worked out as although they really pressed us hard in the final 5 minutes (+5 minute injury time) we managed to survive to claim a spot in the semi final.
 
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Season 2029

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The dream continues as we move within one step of reaching the final. To claim our place we will have to beat one of Santos, Flamengo or San Lorenzo. Looking at those three I think I'd probably like to face San Lorenzo although there is a strong argument in favour of drawing Santos having faced them in the group stage and beaten them in the home game. Whoever we get drawn against is going to be a tough ask to beat, I'm just happy to be here however knowing we can play without pressure as we are expected to lose.
 
Who did we draw?
 
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Santos F.C.

I'm actually rather satisfied with this draw as at least we go into the tie with some prior knowledge of the opponent.

Our squad
 
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Their squad
 
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They are even better than Botafogo but there are some encouraging signs. They have a number of signings which are cup tied for the competition which can only help us. The fact we have beaten them already this season is also a huge boost. Emilio returns for us which is great news although we will miss Succar due to suspension. I'm hoping that Vallejo can step in to the central midfield and perform for us as he will need to be on top form to help challenge for control of the midfield against such talented opposition. Once again the 1st leg was drawn to be played at home, hopefully, we can use that to put ourselves in the strongest position possible for the 2nd leg.
 
Semi Final 1st Leg
 
Here's how the two teams lined up:
 
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I really don't know what to expect here. I sense it is either going to go one of two ways. We either narrowly beat them to take a lead to Brazil for the 2nd leg or they give us an absolutely hammering. I can't see a draw here and I think how we start the game is going to be very important. If we were to lose an early goal I think they could easily get more and kill the tie off. I'm just hoping that we can come away from this leg unscathed and in with a chance of making the final.
 
Result
 
Unión Minas 2 Santos F.C. 0
 
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This was a game in which our young team left boyhood and became men. We were brilliant and anyone watching the match would be left confused as to who was the bigger club. We defended resolutely and were absolutely lethal on the counter attack. Yes, they dominated the ball and had more shots overall but we never looked to be under the cosh and in significant danger of conceding. I'd go as far as to say I'm slightly disappointed with the outcome given how well we played which is something that I never thought I'd be saying. We really should have scored more and effectively killed the tie but between the woodwork and an excellent goalkeeping display from Hugo they kept the deficit to 2. Even though I'm thrilled with the performance and result, this tie is far from over although the lack of an away goal for them really does give us a huge advantage especially if we can score in Brazil.
 
Semi Final 2nd Leg
 
Here's how the two teams lined up:
 
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All we need is to be sensible and we are into the final. We can even afford to lose by two clear goals as long as we score ourselves which is an unbelievably strong position to be in. They are more than capable of giving us a good hiding but we have to block that sort of negative thought from our minds. There was over a months break between the two legs of the semi final so we have had quite a gap but we still need to recapture some of the spirit from the 1st leg and keep the same level of intensity. Succar is back in the midfield, the players look ready for the battle.

Result

Santos F.C. 1 Unión Minas 2
 
Unión Minas win 4-1 draw on aggregate
 
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Amazing result and much deserved for the players which left everything on field. Expecting an onslaught from our opponents we started the game tentatively but then in the 8th minute arrived the killer blow which allowed us to sail through to the final. Corner whipped in from the left by Succar which was met in the air by Cura DC who planted his header into the bottom right corner. With that goal alone I knew we had made it as they would need to score 4 without reply to deny us. They did manage to get 1 back in the 51st minute but as much as they huffed and puffed they just couldn't blow our house down. Seeing them absolutely exhausted after throwing the kitchen sink at us all game it then gave me a great sense of satisfaction when Gil pounced on a dropped catch from their GK after another corner to give us the win late. An excellent performance once again and now my thoughts are seriously considering whether we can actually win it all. I really didn't expect us to get this far but I can't say we don't deserve to be in the final. We have beaten teams much better than us throughout our journey so far, can we do the unthinkable and beat yet another? Without doubt, if we do manage it, it would be the best achievement I've ever had in any FM career, no question about that.
 
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Season 2029

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A story almost akin to that of a fairy tale, the story of the rise of Unión Minas has been a remarkable one. It is amazing to think how in under a decade the club has been transformed from an amateur club scraping an existence in the Peruvian third division to being one win away from becoming the best team in all of South America. It has been an incredible journey so far and one which all fans of Peruvian football will be hoping to see have a happy ending. They arrive into the final as only the 3rd representative from Peru to contest the final in the competitions history. The others being Universitario who lost their final in 1972 to Argentine team Independiente and Sporting Cristal in 1997 who lost their final to Brazilian team Cruzeiro. They will be hoping that where their predecessors failed that they might be able to go one better and become the first Peruvian champions of South America. Domestically, they have become a force to be reckoned with, threatening the dominance of Alianza Lima with last seasons Liga 1 title win providing the breakthrough.

They were drawn into Group E alongside Talleres, Santos F.C. and Defensor Sporting, they managed the following results.

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In a group where they were expected to struggle and perhaps battle with Defensor Sporting for 3rd they did remarkably well. Very strong home form provided the foundation for their progression to the 2nd Round and ultimately saw them beat Defensor Sporting to 2nd.

Their group finished as follows:

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A great outcome for the Peruvian team which gave them a chance to repeat their success of last season. Although after drawing Argentinian giants Boca juniors it suggested they would likely match their performance of last season but go no further.

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The first leg result sent shock waves around South America and indicated that perhaps they weren't in the knockout stages just to make up the numbers. A magnificent man of the match performance from young star striker Gil who scored 4 propelling the underdogs into what would turn out to be an unassailable lead. You sensed after this aggregate win that the team gained a lot of belief that they could compete as they began to revel in their underdog status.

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A far closer affair which saw them oust their Brazilian opponents to claim a spot in the semi-final. A clear theme being their impressive home form which remained a source of strength for the Peruvian minnows. They were definitely outplayed over the two legs but being clinical with the few chances they did create established a pattern of how they would proceed going forward. Next up was group stage opponents Santos F.C.

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A great pair of performances which saw them overcome all the odds and make the final.

They will go into the final as clear underdogs to multiple winners Flamengo but will be hoping that they can once again pull off another giant killing to claim glory. In order to pull of the unlikeliest of wins they will need to see the best out of two of their star performers Ortiz de Orué GK and Gil ST. Their fortunes in the final will depend much on whether they are able to get the ball forward to Gil ST and whether they can keep the ball out of their goal and for how long.

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Winning the Copa Libertadores would be an incredible conclusion to an extraordinary period of growth for the club. It seems almost unfeasible that they could pull it off but then again throughout their whole journey from the 3rd division, pundits have been saying the same and been proven wrong time and time again.

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Season 2029

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A team which has emerged as a dominant force within South American football, Flamengo go into the final as the overwhelming favourites to make it an incredible 3 wins in a row after winning both the 2027 and 2028 editions of the competition. They have 5 titles overall in their history having made the final on 9 occasions. They are without doubt the strongest team in Brazil having won the Brazilian league title every year since 2019. A team festooned with sought after internationals, they have a strong squad and huge fervent following. They are also one of the wealthiest clubs in South America and have been able to generate huge sums from selling a number of players to Europe. 

They were drawn into Group F alongside Caracas, Libertad and Deportivo Maldonado, they managed the following results.

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In what was expected to be an easy group for the Brazilian giants they met expectations and won every game scoring a bucket load of goals and conceding only 1, a resounding start to the defence of their crown.

Their group finished as follows:

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In the end, a very lop sided looking final table with even 2nd placed Libertad ending the group with a negative goal difference. Would they be challenged further in the 2nd Round against Chilean opponents Colo Colo?

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Maybe they were challenged slightly more but overall still a nice comfortable win for Flamengo to ease through to yet another quarter final. Fellow Brazilian team Corinthians awaited them in the next round.

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This was undoubtedly the first time they were really challenged as Corinthians ended their record equaling 10 game winning streak. For the first time they had to exhibit a bit of resilience to overcome a first leg defeat but they managed it and with the backing of their fans made their way to the semi final to face Argentinian opponents San Lorenzo.

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They were dissatisfied after a rather lackluster showing in the 1st leg but once on home territory they showed their ability and put their guests to the sword to reach the final.

Going into the final as overwhelming favourites, Flamengo's only real obstacle from making it 3 in a row will be themselves. They definitely have the ability to not only win the trophy but do so convincingly with the only question being whether their players will perform or whether they will be complacent opening the door for their underdog opponents Unión Minas. In a squad that is stacked with talent it is perhaps difficult to highlight key players that their opponents will need to keep an eye on but two of their best are right winger Sávio and striker Cunha both loaned from Europe.

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Winning the Copa Libertadores rather than being a dream for a club like Flamengo is an expectation especially against such a weak opponent. They will be greatly disappointed if they fail to bring the trophy home and it would be one of the greatest shocks in the history of the competition.

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Season 2029

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EL FINAL

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EL LUGAR

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The Estadio Centenario in Uruguay has been the scene of many an extraordinary game including hosting the final of the inaugural World Cup in 1930 and will host this fascinating David vs Goliath tie. The majority of fans in the 60,235 capacity stadium have made the trip from Brazil with the Peruvian underdogs only able to count on just under 7,500 fans. 
 
Our squad
 
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Their squad
 
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Their squad is terrifyingly strong and we are going to need them to have a off day to have a chance at winning. Maybe some encouragement can be taken from the amount of games our opponents have played this season with their goalkeeper having played 69 matches already. That is really clutching at straws however, they look fit and full of energy, we really are going to be up against it.
 
Final
 
Here's how the two teams lined up:
 
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We are going to need help to stand a chance as I just can't see how we beat this team which are clearly much better than any team we have faced so far. We just have to hope that we can hang in the game for as long as possible and frustrate them. If we can do that then maybe we can nab something on the break and pull off the greatest upset in the history of the competition. Venga Los Mineros!! Wish us luck, we are definitely going to need it.
 
Spoiler

Result

Flamengo 5 Unión Minas 0
 
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If the journey so far has been a dream this was the point at which we woke up and were brought crashing back to reality. They obliterated us and if I'm honest we were lucky to keep it to just 5. There really isn't much to report about this result really, they just have far better players than us and put on a masterclass. It was a shame that the floodgates had to open with an own goal from Abram ML in the 26th minute as he was one of the better performers of the season but we didn't even look like scoring against them so the result was well deserved.
 
I'm disappointed with the fact that we couldn't at least give them a challenge but I suppose it shows that with the absence of home advantage we really aren't at this level. It's been a great season overall and we can be pleased with our miraculous run. The money we gained should make a huge difference to us in the future. As we didn't win the trophy, I'll keep the in-depth reports until we do but restrict it in the future to the final of either the Copa Sudamericana or Copa Libertadores.
 

 

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Unión Minas

SEASON REVIEW - 2029

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Last season saw us reach the summit of Peruvian football with the Liga 1 title and make progress into the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores for the first time. I would like to build on that and see if we can also do better in the Copa Bicentenario and make the final. This board seem a lot more ambitious than the previous one and demand at least a top half finish which should be easily obtainable, although our sights are set much higher, if we don't compete for the title again it would be a huge disappointment.

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League Table - We managed to repeat our feat of last season and finished as runners up in the overall table but this was a far worse performance. We lost more games, scored less goals and didn't win either the opening or closing stages of the league. As a result, this meant that we would have to win both a 2 legged semi-final and final if we are to retain our title. The highlight of the season was a remarkable 10-2 win over Alianza Lima at home but overall whatever the outcome of the playoff we have to improve greatly next season if we are serious about competing for dominance in Peru. Perhaps the reason for the weaker performance was the overstretching of the squad given the progress in the other competitions we participated in. I was shocked to see Universitario go down, hopefully, they can bounce back straight away.

Liga 1 Champions Playoff - A real relief to see us retain the title after a bit of a turbulent season. Our comfortable win in the away leg of the semi final allowed me to rest players for the 2nd leg which meant we were fresh for the home leg of the final which we won convincingly to all but secure the title. I'm confident if we have to compete in this playoff every season that we can win given the home advantage but I'd quite like to not have to compete in it at all. That means we have to win both stages of the league which means we are going to have to be a lot more consistent.

Copa Libertadores - If last seasons run was great then this was incredible. I think we was definitely helped with the altitude advantage which allowed us to progress much further than the ability of our players ought to have taken us. The challenge now being how we build a team strong enough to compete with the likes Flamengo and Santos without that advantage as we are going to need to be able to do that to really have a chance of winning the trophy in future. The money from this run to the final should really help us to close the gap as now we can really begin to pluck the best young talent from around Peru. I sense this was just a flash in the pan and I don't really anticipate us being able to repeat this feat anytime soon but it was nice to sample playing in the final so early in the career.

Domestic Cups - A magnificent treble as we won both cups for the first time. We was perhaps lucky to draw Alianza at home for the quarter final but once we narrowly beat them I knew we had a great chance of lifting the trophy. Both the finals against Cristal were tight affairs but all that matters in the end was the victory as we clean sweep domestically.

Reserves - Another solid improvement although this time they did compete in the playoff. Unfortunately, they lost their semi final but won the 3rd placed playoff to rank 3rd overall. That outcome seems unfair given they won the league by 6 points but surely it can't be too long before they claim their first title if they continue with this level of progress.

Under 18s - 5 in a row and the impact of investment in the youth department is really starting to show. They absolutely smashed the league stage and are just getting better and better. A gauge of the progress will be next seasons U20s Libertadores where they will be looking to improve upon the 0 points they amassed last time.

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Squad - If there was any doubt before that has now been dispelled, this team is massively overachieving when you look at the squads of some of the teams they beat in the Copa Libertadores. I managed to cover some of the areas of weakness I identified last season but was unable to afford to remedy the rest. I identified a top quality DR which I was looking to bring in but couldn't afford him after splashing out on Emilio ST. Therefore that position will be the highest priority to bring someone in. We need another DC as Guerrero simply isn't going to be good enough, another MR as the drop off from Ferreyra has been dramatic and another attack duty striker as Moreno ST is retiring and the loan of Vásquez ST is ending and I don't wish to renew. I would like to keep Valladares ST a HG youth talent but he has expressed a desire to leave after I failed to find a loan for him which is rather silly as after offering him out on loan, no club appeared to be interested. Keeping the harmony within the dressing room was a lot harder this season as I began to transition the club away from the likes of Ferreyra and Moreno who played much fewer games and focus on the next generation to propel us forward. They of course were not happy about it but in the long run it's a necessary step if we are to improve as a squad.

Transfers - The money form the Copa Libertadores appeared to burn a hole in our pocket and I spent huge this season. In the end, perhaps I squandered money as the best signings were definitely the free transfers. Emilio ST came with a hefty price tag but couldn't displace Navarro ST, while Magallanes DL had a similar problem and was a rotation option. Of the players I paid for, I was most pleased with Abram ML and Hernandez MR who did both breakthrough as first choice players. I've sold Emilio ST on to China for the start of the next season and was very pleased with the deal which saw me recoup the majority of what I paid with the upfront fee and potentially make in excess of £500K in future fees. I sold a few other players during the season but none were really missed.

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Average Rating: 7.23
The guy was just too good to drop regardless of how much I may have wanted to accommodate Emilio. My assistant sees him as one of the best players at the club and I can't really argue with him. He provided the most assists in the team and got 24 goals which for a player in the Deep Lying Forward (Support) role isn't bad going. I had to make a choice between him and Emilio, I decided on him. He will need competition for his place but I don't think I'll be spending big like this season when looking to bring a player in.
 
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Alex Gil - ST
Average Rating: 7.66
Although he doesn't have the best of attribute profiles he is still a prolific goalscorer. If there was a question as to whether he could perform at the highest level of competition that was answered with his 4 goal haul against Boca Juniors in the Copa Libertadores. His record in that competition was actually very good managing better than a goal a game. My only concern with him is that my coaches think he has peaked but even if that happens to be true he has a wonderful knack of scoring loads of goals in all competitions which means he will be a player I look to keep for the long term if possible.
 
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Finances - We are loaded as a club and this is the balance before the addition of the Emilio transfer fee and the Copa Libertadores prize money which took the balance to over £9M. This gives me the confidence to be able to do two things at once, invest in the infrastructure of the club while simultaneously improving the squad. If there are any danger signs I'd say that would be the costs of running the youth department. It is becoming rather expensive but in the long run if we are able to develop our own players and sell them on for good money that will more than cover the elevated expenses.

Facilities - The junior coaching is at the maximum level and the youth recruitment is almost there also. The average attendance rose sharply which has me wondering how much longer it is going to be sustainable for us to remain at our current ground. With ticket prices now beginning to stagnate any increase in the size of the fan base are going to start being reflected in increasing attendances (more so than currently) and we haven't really got much spare capacity to accommodate any extra fans. The rapid development has me thinking that perhaps we may need to take out a loan to build a new ground. I'm not enamored with the idea but if needs must then we'll have to go for it, looking at our Copa Libertadores final opponents Flamengo playing games infront of 70 odd thousand fans just shows the massive chasm in terms of income we need to close to be able to consistently compete with that standard of team. The sooner we can start that process the better. Finally, both the youth and training facilities will be getting upgraded once again.

Youth Intake - Very encouraging to see such high potential players coming through the youth ranks. I signed the majority of them and only left the players which had 2 star or less potential.
 
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League Reputation - At last we begin to rise, only took us making the final of the Copa Libertadores!! At least we can now say that we don't have any 2nd divisions which are more reputable than us.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Alianza Lima are still considered the best team in the country reputation wise but surely it can only be a matter of time before we overtake them. I'm delighted to reach 3* as that should help with attracting players and now we have the money to back us, it should make taking top talent from other Peruvian clubs a lot easier.
 
Club South American Reputation - The amount of qualification places is fixed so we are just going to have to deal with that. It means that it's likely impossible to see the Peruvian league go far up the competition ranking but we'll have to work with it.
 
Here is how the other Peruvian teams got on in continental competition this season:
 
Alianza Lima - Lost in 2nd Round of Copa Sudamericana to São Paulo 3-0 on aggregate - Did okay to get out of their Copa Libertadores group in 3rd but didn't have enough to get past a quality opponent.
Huancayo - Lost in Preliminary Round of Copa Sudamericana to Cantolao 2-1 on aggregate - Consistently qualify for this competition but just can't get through to the group stage.
Cantolao - Finished 3rd in Copa Sudamericana group - A decent season from them when you look at their squad.
Cienciano - Finished 4th in Copa Sudamericana group - A pretty poor showing from them on making the group.
Cusco - Lost in Preliminary Round of Copa Sudamericana to César Vallejo on away goals after 2-2 draw on aggregate - A harsh way for them to lose but they didn't do enough.
César Vallejo - Finished 4th in Copa Sudamericana group - A crappy performance, might have been better off with Cusco making the group.
Melgar - Lost in 1st Qualifying Round of Copa Libertadores to Zamora F.C. on away goals after 3-3 draw on aggregate - A really poor showing from them, at least next season they won't be in this competition.
 
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Unión Minas

SEASON REVIEW - 2030

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Things are on the up and we appear to be consolidating our position at the top of Peruvian football. We have yet to finish 1st in the league but we are at least becoming dominant in the Champions Playoff. If we can get anywhere close to the performance of last season in the Copa Libertadores that would be superb but I don't think that's going to happen and I would satisfied with a journey into the knockout stages.

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League Table - It was pleasing to finally reach the summit and finish top of the league, it was just a shame that we couldn't win both stages which would have negated the need for a playoff. We won the opening stage relatively comfortably but sketchy form in the closing stage saw Alianza Lima finish on top setting up a playoff final. Universitario returned to the top flight as Liga 2 champions which was good to see, we want to see the stronger sides in Peru all playing in the top division.

Liga 1 Champions Playoff - I chose to have the home leg of the final first in the hope that we could take a big lead and be comfortable for the 2nd leg. In the end, the plan worked out perfectly which saw us finish as champions for the 3rd season in a row.

Copa Libertadores - I suspected that last season was a false representation of where we are as a club in South America and that we was just riding the crest of a wave, this season proved me right. After suffering two losses in the opening 2 games I felt that we was going to struggle to even finish 3rd in our group. Caracas proved to be the savior of our campaign with the 2 wins providing the foundation for us to challenge for 2nd. Going into the final group game, we knew we needed a favour from Caracas to stay in 2nd and get through. Thankfully for us, they managed to beat Bolivar rendering our loss to Atlético Mineiro academic.

Much like last season, I knew to stand any chance of winning the tie against Santos we would need a strong showing in the 1st leg at home. We didn't really get it and although we showed good determination to recover from 2-0 down I felt even though we beat them away last season that our chance of progression was gone. I give my players a lot of credit for putting up a fight in Brazil but ultimately as the game went on you could see them fading mentally and physically which resulted in our opponents scoring twice in the 2nd half which we were unable to recover from. We only needed a goal but just couldn't muster it which dumped us out. Overall, a decent season but we are going to need stronger players in order to get close to getting to another final.

Domestic Cups - Another clean sweep which was excellent. I'm not overly pleased having to play the Supercopa so late in the season though as it means that my players don't get much of a holiday. I feel it would be far better to play this game before the start of the season like in the European leagues but I'll just have to deal with it as we should be competing in the game on a yearly basis from now on.

Reserves - Fantastic to see us win the title after being comfortable winners of the league stage. Well deserved and long may it continue.

Under 18s - Crushing it at home as they won yet another league title. There was even a solid improvement in the U20s Libertadores as they won a couple of games which ultimately landed them 4th place overall which is excellent. Very encouraging from the youth team and the investment really seems to be driving them forward.

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Squad - I have to admit that I'm struggling to strengthen the squad with the restrictions here in Peru. As time is progressing, getting in U20 Peruvian talent is becoming increasingly expensive, in fact, prohibitively so. As a result, I'm finding that when trying to buy the best young players that the other Peruvian clubs are just playing hardball which they can as they hold all the cards. I'm getting quoted a starting negotiation point of £850K (asking price) for players that are only worth £110K, when I try to offer £850K they want well over a million upfront. Considering that the other teams aren't exactly awash with money I'm finding it hard to understand why they wouldn't jump at the opportunity to sell a player for more than 5x what they are worth.

I can't see that situation getting any better anytime soon either so I'm going to have to look toward my youth team for players. Thankfully, it looks like my youth academy is starting to produce better players but there are several major drawbacks with that approach. Firstly, it's unreliable and you can't expect that every intake is going to give you a player which will become good enough to play in the first team. Secondly, it takes time for the youth players to develop enough to stand a chance at competing at the level we need. Finally, you are not guaranteed to get the right profile of player you need. For e.g. one of the highest potential youngsters in my youth team has an awkward set of attributes. His best position is in the AMR position (which is a problem in of itself) but neither has the attributes to be a good winger nor does he have them to be a good striker so how do I fit someone like that into the team? Building a team strong enough to compete for the Copa Libertadores is going to be really difficult but I'm up for the challenge.

Transfers - As you can see I really had to overpay to land some of the young talent I identified. On the plus side, I was able to make a profit overall thanks to some sales. I'm rather surprised that the preferred destination for a lot of our better players appears to be China with no clubs in Europe showing any real interest. Of the players which I brought in, I'm most pleased with Martinez DR (although I play him as a left back) who was very consistent, Carrizales MR who looks to have a bright future and Hurtado ST who at times was performing well enough to keep Gil ST out of the team.

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Alex Gil - ST
Average Rating: 7.50
A slight dip from last season but another strong season from him. He was player of the year, young player of the year and top goalscorer in Liga 1. The vultures are circling from China and I might have a battle on my hands in order to keep him.
 
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Average Rating: 7.30
I'm very enthusiastic about the future of this player and he had a very strong debut season for us. I'd like to see a bit more in terms of creating for others next season and to see him get into double figures in terms of assists.
 
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Finances - Quite a dip from last season but we are investing heavily in the infrastructure of the club which in the long run I'm hoping will pay off while also trying to improve the squad. Doing both simultaneously has been very tricky and I could see us being in deep trouble if for whatever reason we missed out on the Copa Libertadores group stage money. We make a loss practically every month we don't get prize money from that competition and that just highlights how unsustainable we are financially. Now that we have the most expensive ticket prices in the country I'm hoping to see that plateau and be reflected in selling out the ground more often. It's becoming clear that our small stadium is a limiting factor and the sooner we get a bigger ground with better corporate facilities the better off we will be.

Facilities - The youth recruitment was maxed out and both the training and youth facilities will be getting upgraded. We still have a long way to go with the facilities and I sense that unless we have a great run in the Copa Libertadores next season that work will probably grind to a halt as the costs of the next upgrades will likely be beyond our pockets. We look like needing a new ground a lot sooner than I was expecting, what I'm hoping is that I can win a continental competition before we are forced to move so the board might be more ambitious with the new build and give us a good foundation for the future. That will be especially important when you consider that even our domestic opponents such as Alianza Lima are getting 30,000 or more fans in their ground for home games. We are at a huge disadvantage in that respect and when you consider that gate receipts are the only real source of income in Peru, we need to find a way to close that gap.

Youth Intake - Another strong intake where I signed all the players with 2.5* potential and better. Arias DL looks an especially exciting prospect but will need a lot of development before he can start getting games in the first team.
 
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League Reputation - Held firm in place although I can see further progress being difficult.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Remarkable that we are still considered behind Alianza Lima, hopefully, next season with another Liga 1 title win we might reach the top.
 
Here is how the other Peruvian teams got on in continental competition this season:
 
Alianza Lima - Lost in 2nd Round of Copa Sudamericana to C.A. Bragantino 6-2 on aggregate - Took a pounding from their Brazilian opponents after finishing 3rd in their Copa Libertadores group.
Binacional - Lost in Preliminary Round of Copa Sudamericana to Alianza Universidad 3-2 on aggregate - A close tie which could have gone either way, unfortunately for them it went the wrong way.
Alianza Universidad - Finished 3rd in Copa Sudamericana group - At least they avoided the wooden spoon.
Cienciano - Lost in 2nd Qualifying Round of Copa Libertadores to Liverpool de Montevideo 5-4 on aggregate - Gave a good account of themselves just fell slightly short of group stage football.
Cusco - Lost in Preliminary Round of Copa Sudamericana to Melgar 3-2 on aggregate - Another close game between two Peruvian opponents.
Cristal - Lost in 2nd Qualifying Round of Copa Libertadores to Botafogo 2-1 on aggregate - A creditable performance against a far superior opponent.
Melgar - Finished 3rd in Copa Sudamericana group - A decent showing from them.
 
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Unión Minas

SEASON REVIEW - 2031

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A decade into my tenure and we have gone from an amateur team in the 3rd division to the dominant force in Peruvian football while becoming a regular in the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores. Given how far we have come in the last decade, hopefully, within the next decade we can reach the pinnacle of South American football and win the Copa Libertadores.

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League Table - The opening stage was great as we finished on top by a good margin but the closing stage was poor which led to us having to compete in a playoff. We lose far too many games for my liking and to stand any chance of us winning the title without the need for a playoff we are going to need to improve on that. Surprised to see Universitario struggling to stay up but at least they managed it on their return to the top flight.

Liga 1 Champions Playoff - A complete blowout to make it an incredible 4 in a row.

Copa Libertadores - A massive improvement on last season as we came close to making our 2nd final but a late collapse in the 1st leg of the semi final gave us too much of a mountain to climb at home. This season was a wild one with some extraordinary swings in results, going from a 9-1 win at home to Boca to a 3-2 loss away. I was delighted to get revenge over Santos after last seasons knocking out by them, to get a 4-1 win away in Brazil after a disappointing 1-1 draw at home was magnificent.

Domestic Cups - 3 trebles in 3 seasons which shows just how dominant we have become. The semi final of the Copa Bicentenario was crazy, after the 1st leg I thought we were done but little did I know what was in store for the 2nd leg which saw us get to the final rather comfortably in the end. One of the most remarkable turnarounds I have ever seen.

Reserves - We don't have many players in the reserve squad but the players that remain that haven't been loaned out have been performing well of late to win another title.

Under 18s - The team is miles ahead of the competition which is good in some respects as it bodes well for the future but I'm left wondering whether their recent success isn't just a side consequence of the other teams not investing in their youth departments. Considering this was with a team weakened by loans of their best players out, they absolutely smashed it. The proper gauge of their progress will come next season in the U20s Libertadores.

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Squad - A squad which appears to be on the up but will need a lot of strengthening next season as key members Succar MC and Pedro MC leave. The former transferring to Lazio and the other being released at the end of their contract. It will mean that I will have to scout thoroughly to find players good enough for the central midfield. I'll also need to look for a new GK for the departing Laczko preferably one which is Peruvian and under 20. On the plus side, we should free up some foreign slots for next season which I'll be hoping to fill with quality.

Transfers - A busy pair of windows where we made a slight loss. As you can see we are having to overpay significantly to land the best young players in Peru but we'll just have to suffer it. The worst example of that being Barboza ST who was ridiculously overpriced at £1.7M but was solid for us in the run in. As can be seen the focus for a lot of our outgoings was China who can't seem to get enough of our best players and have been banging the door offering to buy even more of our players. I'm hoping with the sale of Succar to Lazio that might begin to change the favoured destination to Europe in order to benefit from sell on clauses more. Once a player goes to China and gets used to the overinflated wages they understandably tend to stay put where as in Europe they are far more likely to move around. We need that to happen as we are never really going to get the full value for our players.

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Alex Gil - ST
Average Rating: 7.68
Another really strong season from the prolific striker. I'm a bit surprised by the fact he hasn't been capped by Peru but then again attribute wise he is probably miles behind the best Peruvian strikers.
 
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Average Rating: 7.53
Probably our best player, just a shame he had to suffer a bad injury which kept him out of the 2nd leg of the Copa Libertadores semi final, he might have been enough to get us to the final had he played. Interesting that Chelsea appear to be interested in his services, hopefully, they make a massive bid for him.
 
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Finances - A huge amount of cash in the balance which we will need if we are to strengthen to compete for the Copa Libertadores.

Facilities - I decided to take a break from building the facilities as next season I wanted to pump all the resources into strengthening the squad. I'm a little bit perplexed with the stadium situation though. We clearly are above the threshold for a new ground to be considered given we have >90% capacity used on average but when I asked the board to consider it they responded that the fan base wasn't big enough to support it. That simply isn't true and considering that now we have the highest ticket prices in the country we are going to be missing out on a major source of income having no capacity to accommodate all the fans that wish to come to the ground.

Youth Intake - One of the weakest intakes we've had in recent years which is a little disappointing. I hope that maybe one or two from the intake can prove me wrong in my assessment of them but I'm not overly optimistic.
 
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League Reputation - I feel we will need to win the Copa Libertadores to have any chance of moving any further up.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - We are now the most reputable team in Peru which is a fantastic achievement.
 
As there is no coefficients or ability to gain/improve our qualification slots in continental competition, I'm going to stop reporting on how the other Peruvian teams get on in continental competition. I don't intend this save to be a build a nation type save so there isn't much point reporting how the other teams get on as their performances have no real impact on us. We could win the Copa Libertadores every season from now on and we would still only get 2 slots in the group stages of the Copa Libertadores. Much like the World Cup and competing nations from Europe, if you have more competitors you are more likely to win it, hence why we haven't seen a non-European World Cup winner since 2002 and a non Brazilian or Argentinian Copa Libertadores winner since the beginning of the save.
 
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